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Old 11-08-2003, 03:20 AM   #1
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Started today

Started today on my first saltwater aquarium. Ive been reading for a few months online, and I bought Martin Moes book (Marine Aquarium, Beginner to Breeder. Hopefully Im off to something closely resemblimg a good start. I know this is going to be an evolving endeavor, so Im not against changes to what Im considering now, but this is it.

55 Gallon tank. I will be using an external sump as soon as Im finished the plumbing, no underground filter. I rinsed 20 lb of pacific coral gravel in fresh water and lined the bottom. Before I forget, I have a 300 ft deep well that I get all my water from (no city water). I placed that gravel unevenly in the bottom of the tank and added 20 lb of samoa pink sand.

I used a hose from my sink to fill the tank. Ran the hose for a few minutes to flush it before placing it in the tank. Got lazy here and just added salt as I went. I dont think its all dissolved yet as salinity is low (1.015) but Ill check it again tomorrow an add more if necessary. I topped off the water (77 degrees and rising still) added a 300 gph power head and a hang on mech/chem filter.

Other than all the little pink thingies building up on the sides all looks pretty good to this point. Sand settled quickly and water is clear. NOw to take some readings. I took them all twice, just to be sure I was doing it right, findings were consistent.

Alkalinity - My kit just says low and high but its maxed out to the high range.

Nitrite - .1

Nitrate - .25

Ammonia - .025

PH - 7.4, scary low

I didnt have the forethought to get a PH booster, but I will get one tomorrow. In the meantime I added some baking soda ( 1 tbl and Ill check again in 8 hrs or so).

Im running my plumbing for this through the wall into the unfinished half of my basement. I intend on performing all filtration, heating and water changes from there. Plan on running 3/4" pvc out and in with a 300 gph water pump for the return. External filtration is still in the air, but here is the current plan.

Draw water from a collection cup at the top of the tank (gravity fed) , out to a ball valve and down to a canister for mechanical filtration. From there to the sump ( 10 gal tank) . Sump will be divided into 3 sections. Biological filtration (will be bio-balls or similar material) will feed into carbon chamber, then to heated chamber for return to tank. Thats the plan but please make suggestions for improvement.

Ill be using a timer on the lighting once I custom make my hood, for now Im using what came with the tank.

Question #1 - Whats up with the PH? I assume it could be low Oxygen in the water from 280 feet down. Is this going to be an ongoing battle? Any sugestions for raising it? Will I need to adjust with each water change? Whats the min to get it too before adding a couple damsels? (ok, thats more than one question but they are all related.

question #2 - I have yet to figure out how to regulate the outgoing water from the tank to work with the pump. Too little flow from the pump and the sump overflows, too much and the pump runs dry. I imagine I could place the sump high enough to break the siphon when the sump fills, but how is it normally done?

Question #3 - What changes will make this as low maintenance as possible? I wont ever have more than 15" - 20" of fish in the tank, maybe a few inverts once its cycled.

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 11-08-2003, 04:27 AM   #2
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Figured out number 2

Overflow, in all the reading Id done I hadnt seen (that I recal) anything about them till now. Ill just but the second box on the other side of the wall to limit noise.
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Old 11-08-2003, 06:56 AM   #3
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Get the temp stable from somewhere between 78-80 degrees. I keep mine at that range. The S.G. should be 1.02-1.025. If you are going fish only, you can keep it at the lower end but higher for a reef tank. The PH should be at 8.1-8.3 and tha salt mix you use should be it to the correct level. I use Instant Ocean mix and when the S.G. of the water is at 1.024 (where I keep it at), my PH always reads 8.3. You should get live rock at the rate of 1.0-1.5 lbs per gallon. Live rock will help the biological filtration of your tank once it is cycled.
Sorry, no salt water tank is low maintenance, you can only make it easier on yourself by constant vigilance.
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Old 11-08-2003, 07:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Started today on my first saltwater aquarium. Ive been reading for a few months online, and I bought Martin Moes book (Marine Aquarium, Beginner to Breeder. Hopefully Im off to something closely resemblimg a good start. I know this is going to be an evolving endeavor, so Im not against changes to what Im considering now, but this is it.
The book you chose is good, however, I recommend if you like Moes writing, check out his book The Marine Aquarium Reference. It will tell you more than you can imagine about keeping a marine aquarium.

Get ready for changes. This hobby is full of them..

Quote:
55 Gallon tank. I will be using an external sump as soon as Im finished the plumbing, no underground filter. I rinsed 20 lb of pacific coral gravel in fresh water and lined the bottom. Before I forget, I have a 300 ft deep well that I get all my water from (no city water). I placed that gravel unevenly in the bottom of the tank and added 20 lb of samoa pink sand.
Tank size is good for a begginer. It sounds like this is going to be Fish Only? If so the substrate is cool however, if you plan on reef, you may want to consider using a DSB. There is more on these in Moes books and in our articles section.
While well water is good, there may be stuff in it you don't want.. I recommend a RO or RO/DI unit for future top offs and water changes.

Quote:
I used a hose from my sink to fill the tank. Ran the hose for a few minutes to flush it before placing it in the tank. Got lazy here and just added salt as I went. I dont think its all dissolved yet as salinity is low (1.015) but Ill check it again tomorrow an add more if necessary. I topped off the water (77 degrees and rising still) added a 300 gph power head and a hang on mech/chem filter.
Adding salt as you go is ok while you do not have animals in there, please do not attempt this after they are in there. You will want the salinity to rise to 1.024 or 25.
Temp should be around 82*.
You want a minimum of 10 times the tank volume in water flow, so you will want to get the PH's up to 550 gph or so.. more is better IMO.

Quote:
Alkalinity - My kit just says low and high but its maxed out to the high range.

Nitrite - .1

Nitrate - .25

Ammonia - .025

PH - 7.4, scary low
This is quite strange to me, as there is nothing in the tank so far to create those readings.. This means that your well water has nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia? Not a good sign.. Once you get the salinity up to 1.024, the PH should rise to about 8.4.

Quote:
I didnt have the forethought to get a PH booster, but I will get one tomorrow. In the meantime I added some baking soda ( 1 tbl and Ill check again in 8 hrs or so).
This can turn out to be a mistake... I wouldn't put anything in to boost PH. The reason the PH is low is because of the salinity being down and oxygen exchange on the surface of the water... More Power Heads and surface agitation means better PH.

Quote:
Im running my plumbing for this through the wall into the unfinished half of my basement. I intend on performing all filtration, heating and water changes from there. Plan on running 3/4" pvc out and in with a 300 gph water pump for the return. External filtration is still in the air, but here is the current plan.
All of this is cool except the 300 gph pump... By the time it makes it back to the tank, it will be more like 100 gph... You will need at least 900 gph to mak it 500gph at 4ft. etc...

Quote:

Draw water from a collection cup at the top of the tank (gravity fed) , out to a ball valve and down to a canister for mechanical filtration. From there to the sump ( 10 gal tank) . Sump will be divided into 3 sections. Biological filtration (will be bio-balls or similar material) will feed into carbon chamber, then to heated chamber for return to tank. Thats the plan but please make suggestions for improvement.
Canister filter will not be needed if you are going to have a sump... with all of the mentioned items... I would not use any of that except for the 10 gal tank for a sump only.. no filter media at all... I would use 75# of LR in the main tank instead. This would be all the filtration you would need.. However, for fish only, you could get away with the sump with you means of fitler media. I would really advise reading more on the subject before attempting to do this..


For all of your questions at the end,

1. The PH problem you have is related to salinity and oxygen exchange. solve this problem and your PH should stabilize. Patience is the key. do not try to rush things. No to the addition of Damsels.. You are not ready for fish yet. throw a dead shrimp from the market in there and let it rot. this will start off the cycle and be all you need to get things going..

2. This is normally done with an overflow system.. you can purchase one of these online or at the LFS. It is made for wet/dry filters...This will make regulating the water flow a breeze.

3. Low maintenance in a marine aquarim is like a to each his own thing... One might say it is hard to maintain, I say it is easy. You will find things down the road that make things easier and less work to manage. However, there is nothing I can tell you now that will speed things up, nor make it any less work, than to say Patience is the key... Read, read, read, and when you are done reading, read some more.
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Old 11-08-2003, 07:58 AM   #5
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BTW, 11" of adult size fish is all a 55 gal will safely hold...
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Old 11-08-2003, 02:12 PM   #6
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If I were you i would invest in a good electronic PH monitor. When I first started out iin the hobby all i used was liquid PH kits. I always had low PH readings. When I got my Milwaukee PH monitor my PH was actually 8.1 not the 7.8- 7.9 the liquid test was telling me.
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Old 11-08-2003, 08:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for the help and info guys. Worked today on getting the sailinty up and im around 1.023 now. You were right, pH is rising with the salinity.

I tested the levels of everything again. Temp is stable at 81 now, Ph is up to 8.4. I will remove some water in a bit and add more saltwater to try to stabilize the salinity and pH balance. Alkalinity is still high, Nitrites the same, ammonia rose one notch to .5 (debris from the well water? test kit variance?).

I added some live sand from PETCO today, even though Ive heard mixed opinions on it. Cant hurt, right? By the way, I looked again at the packing and I actually have 40 lbs of the larger gravel and 50 lbs of fine sand. Base is 2"-5" in places. I like the uneven look of the bottom.

I am planning on adding the live rock, but all of it right away is beyond my financial ability. Luckily by the time the tank cycles my birthday will be here, so I can see me getting some rock then (uhmm..rocks for my birthday ? Should I be excited about that?)

I have another question. With the 70 or so lbs of live rock (yes, tank will be fish only) should I be able to skip the external Bio filtration? That would be great, if I am reading this right. Would I still need the mechanical and chem filters?


Im still reading. This is a long road.
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Old 11-08-2003, 09:19 PM   #8
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With the 70 or so lbs of live rock (yes, tank will be fish only) should I be able to skip the external Bio filtration?
That is the general idea... Save money on filtration equipment for more LR... \

LR and LS is the only filtration I have besides the 2 times a month I run GAC, and my skimmer...oh yeah I keep forgeting when I post my stuff,,, UV is on there also...
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Old 11-08-2003, 11:08 PM   #9
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Why are you doing all this water testing with nothing in the tank? Maybe get some plastic fish to bump around as well?

Get your water, salt and sand bed in the tank, get the temp up to 80F, and stop worrying about your PH. I also think having more than .020 of salt in a new tank without fish is a waste of time because nitrosomas and nitrobacter aren't corals and don't need that much salinity to live.

Now get some water flow going on in the tank, even if it's a simple back-filter or powerhead. Futz with your fancy plumbing later, but in the meantime get some circulation going on in the tank because it won't cycle for beans if you don't.

Beg, borrow or steal at least one chunk of LR to introduce some bacteria en mass. Don't buy pretty stuff...you just want fresh rock. LS in a plastic bag might as well be considered inert from a biological standpoint.

If you have at least a piece of LR and want to cycle that tank a lot quicker, throw a tablespoon of household ammonia in the tank. That will feed the nitrobacter on the rocks and sand and get them multiplying like crazy. Wait about a week, do a 50% water change, and you nitrite levels should start to spike and then die. Note that high ammonia levels inhibit nitrite reduction, which is why you do the water change before letting the ammonia levels dive on their own. The dead shrimp idea works to, but the straight ammonia dose saves you a couple weeks.

Once your nitrite's have flat lined, do another big water change, tweak your salinity levels, and then start adding more LR which you can hopefully afford. Or, start adding LR slowly along with a couple damsels or smaller gobies. Do not add lots of LR and fish at the same time because the die off from the rocks can kill the fish. At this point it's fair to play with you PH test kits because your tank will have hit a psuedo equilibrium.
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