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Old 06-26-2008, 11:26 AM   #1
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Question stocking q's

I posted this in the nano forum, but since it is on getting started, I thought I'd post it here as well, just in case ; )

BioCube specs:
20lbs live sand
13lbs live rock (fiji and tonga) w/tons of coralline algae, a ton of small red mushroom things that I think are zoanthids (these open and close at throughout the day and stay closed at night), a very small bubbly "coral?" that sucks itself skinny when I first walk up to the tank, and slowly inflates again, about 20 "cone" shaped bony structures that feather duster-like guys poke out of and sweep about 20 times in a minute, some hairy green/tan algae that I'd like to get rid of, and one piece of what I think is living coral that is white, rounded, and pimply-it's about 1.25"x1" and sits in a crevice of rock
Ammonia:0, Nitrite:0, Nitrate:0, pH:8.4, sg:1.024, temp:79-80 daytime, 77-78 nighttime
I have one 15-30gal powerhead that pushes current along the back wall and down, in addition to the outflow of the filter system that pushes along the left side and up.

It has been running since last Sunday, the 15th, and the only biological starter I added was Saltwater Biozyme-at the recommendation of the lfs I got my live rock from (+ the live sand). I saw an initial ammonia spike, then nitrite, then nitrate over the first 3 days, and parameters have been on target since.
We use purple-up, along with kent essential elements, and strontium& molybdenum--all are added following the directions on the bottles. ; ) I also put 15 drops of microvert food 4 times a week. The damsels in the qt tank get marine morsels, and frozen baby brine daily. I initially had the 2 damsels in the biocube for cycling, until I read about how the live sand/rock that I already had did it on it's own, so I didn't have to risk the damsels!
My coralline algae has already started to spread to the sand/walls on the biocube, and my base rock in the qt tank.

How long should I continue to cycle before adding any soft corals--from what I've read, that's all the lighting system in the biocube will support--and whatever small fish you recommend? I will not be putting the other anemone in this tank, it will stay in my qt tank (29 gal bowfront), which will be a FOWLR (+anemone) after the biocube is stocked.

I really like xenia and stars, and had hoped for a clown/bta combo, and a mandarin--other than that, I am really open to suggestions--or "not-to do's"

We already do 25 gal water changes on our 125gal A.Cichlid tank (10 mos old), and 5gal changes on the 29gal qt tank each week (this has been up for 3 mos), along with gravel/sand vaccuums once a month, so the maintenance is already habitual for us--the biocube plans are 3gal changes once a week, and vaccuum once a month as well.

Thanks in advance for reading my lengthy message--I hope I provided you with enough info-- tee hee --and thanks as well for your suggestions/concerns!!
I am sooo excited!

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Old 06-26-2008, 12:37 PM   #2
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STOP ADDING SUPPLEMENTS! That means no more "purple-up, along with kent essential elements, and strontium& molybdenum"

Rule # 1. Never add anything you don't test for first. Supplements should only be added if necessary. Generally everything you need will be added/replace by regular partial water changes.

Best advice I ever received and pass on is "Nothing Good ever happens fast in a SW aquarium, only the bad happens quickly"

It does seem that your tank is cycled. You should now do a 20%- 30% water change, and test your parameters for another week. If everything is stable you are ready to add some livestock.

SKIP The MANDARIN! Your tank is waaaaay too small to sustain one. They normally only eat live food (pods) and it takes a tank of 75 gallon or larger with lots of LR and a refugium to generate the pop population necessary for a mandarin to survive.

Are the damsels staying in the 29 or moving to the cube?
You can not keep much in the way of fish that small a space. A clown and firefish or royal gramma, etc. would go nice in that tank.

Be careful with Xenia as it tends to take over a tank. What is the lighting system in the biocube?

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Old 06-26-2008, 01:02 PM   #3
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The supplements were at the advice of the lfs...guess to stay away? Their tanks looked so GOOD though! lol

Alright, am I ok to continue the microvert for whatever filter feeders (I am mainly thinking of those little feather duster-like guys, and mushroom/zoanthid things) are in my tank so far, as long as my readings stay consistant?
The version of your advice I've heard was "like a race car, the faster you go, the harder you crash"
SO, the mandarin obviously waits then---my husband wants to do a 150gal in a few years, and he will just have to wait until then ; )
The damsels will stay in the 29 gal. With them being somewhat aggressive at maturity (that I've read anyway), I didn't think such a small environment would be copacetic to thier personalities...
Can the xenia be "pruned" like I've read other soft corals can be? Or would I be better off to just wait until the biocube is finished and do it in the 29gal, or even wait until the "big boy" tank?
The biocube is fitted with the 50/50 (this is the most common description I've seen it with) of actinic and 10,000k, with "moon" led's. Our "qt" has the Power-Glo 10,000k.
From what I've read on corals, these will only support the soft ones(i.e. mushrooms, leather corals, kenya tree, and xenia) These are the only ones I've actually read about, so I am sure there are a wealth of other options.
About every biocube/nano reef setup I've seen has had the clown w/firefish or royal gramma (obviously due to size), and I was hoping there would be a different combo (I read James' post with the hawkfish, but do I hope for shrimp?)
I would even be happy with just inverts and such...or maybe a clown pair w/anem.?
I am 100% willing to do the work, including the waiting-that is the hardest work there is ; )
Just the last week and 1/2 have proven amazing with the coralline algae, and all of the little "things" that I've found on that live rock! Maybe I should leave it empty...hmm
Off to babysitters and work, will do water change in am, and continue to read read read!
Thank you for your reply, and any other offers of advice!!!
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Old 06-26-2008, 01:03 PM   #4
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I have a few stocking tips for you. I love my tiny yellow clown goby their max size is 1 1/2 inches. They sit on the coral and watch the world. The BTA will get to big for your tank, I think. You could get it but you would not be able to have much else. My RBTA gets bigger than my hand and my maroon clowns that host in it will get 6 inches each. Since you like stars I have two little Bali red stars and they stay less than 3 inches. They would work great and they are beautiful. Sexy anemone shrimp stay about an inch and they are so cool. It is better to get more than one of them. I would stick with nerite or nassarius snails they stay small. I love my Pajama cardinals, colorful and active. Royal Grammas a good choice. I am not as fond of my blue green chromis. I would not by them again if I had it to do over. As for coral because I am guessing you have lower lighting maybe later after your tank is older a sun coral, they grow slow and are very colorful even when they are not open. Hope these help! Still new at this myself but I have a little experience with all of these I mentioned.
72 gallon bow front, koralia 1 powerhead, approx 30 gallon sump and separate 20 gallon display refugium, Aqua C protein skimmer, Live rubble filteration, 80 # of LR, and a 4 inch sand bed.
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Old 06-26-2008, 01:07 PM   #5
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I think some of the best advice you will get will be from this site. We are here to help and not make money off you (like your LFS).
If you want to see more cool critters, get a flashlight with a red lens and check out what happens when the lights are out!
Age is relative, you are only as old as you act....of course, this works in reverse....

Questions loved, heeded advice greatly appreciated!

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Good reading about:
Nitrogen Cycle
Fishless Cycling
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Old 06-28-2008, 10:34 PM   #6
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We went to a different LFS today to get a calcium test, (my "master test kit" didn't come with one), and it was recommended not to use the supplements unless I tested...oops; while I was there I talked to the owner about possible cleaners to start with next week assuming water is in line still, describing in detail, the types of algae we have...he said to wait on the cleaners because we have a phosphate problem.
My master test kit doesn't have a phosphate kit either...some master...he suggested cutting our lights back to 5-7 hrs a day, and that the algae will die off on its own, and since he was out of phosphate tests, to bring him some water Monday and he would test it for us.
Our Calcium level is at 400ppm (he recommended 350-450ppm?), so I guess that is ok.
My concern with the lights is with the other inverts...he didn't think it would be a problem, but I wanted to get your opinions as well, since they are not very strong to start with.
The algae I see are a mossy looking light green, a slimy looking brown and green, and a long hairy greenish-brown. They cover 2 of my rocks (I am worried about the now identified zoanthids surrounded by "moss") and the brown slime is in the sand, and some on the glass (gone with the magnafloat).

I always thought phosphate problems were hand in hand with nitrates :0--our nitrates are still reading 0.
Sorry to bug, and thanks again!
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Old 06-29-2008, 12:26 AM   #7
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If you have a nitrate and phosphate problem that is accompanied by an algae issue, test kits will often show zero for both. The reason is that the algae is using the nitrates and phosphate for food, and often times, it is "eating" it just as fast as it's being produced or put into the tank. If you have an algae issue, AND you're showing nitrates and phosphates... then you have a really BIG issue, because it means there's an excess of food - not just enough to keep the stuff growing.

As far as your lighting is concerned with your corals, you're going to have to figure out what you have before you know if your lighting is OK. Your descriptions aren't too descriptive... maybe post some pictures in the ID section of the forum to get some firm identifications of the little guys?

Regarding waiting on the cleaners because of phosphates... I'm not really sure where they're coming from on that advice. I also don't understand how your LFS knows you have a phosphate problem without testing the water for phosphates! Let me guess... they sold you some phosphate remover?! Phosphates are not harmful to snails or crabs so I'm not sure what the deal is. Obviously you want to get your phosphates down, but I'd add a cleanup crew as soon as possible - assuming your tank has cycled. (Think it has, but was confused by the comment "How long should I continue to cycle before adding any soft corals".) Seems like this LFS is giving better advice than your previous one though.
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Old 06-29-2008, 01:50 PM   #8
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Sounds like the new lfs is better than the original and may be on the right track, BUT I agree with Kurt. Without a test it's impossible to know if you have a phosphate problem or not. I beleive you are at the end of your cycle and it's time for a large PWC (30% - 50%). Do this after testing the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and finding the first two are ZERO.

I would then start adding the clean up crew to get to work on the algae problem. Cutting back the lights for a week will help (there's no corals ute, right?).

You may want to chekc out the 10 step article on alagea control too.
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Old 06-29-2008, 05:00 PM   #9
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I did the 30% water change on Friday (27th), and have been doing the daily water check...still out of whack.
The lfs did say, since he was out of kits, to bring him a sample of water to check in the store. He did not suggest a phosphate remover (I would have had sense to say "no" (surprisingly enough ; )) from previous experience with my fw tanks).
The comment about continuing to cycle was based on experience with much larger fw tanks where it takes weeks to cycle, and while having observed the usual amm-nitrite-nitrate process, I was still remiss to say it was "finished" without someone else's opinion.
We have multiple feather duster worms (red and white), and zoanthids (I found multiple images that are identicals) I don't believe there are any corals, unless I can't see them.
Having read that article, he-he, #9, quit using coral grower additives and microvert type food ; )
So I guess we'll keep up with the water tests, continue the weekly water change, and add the cleaner crew Saturday/Sunday as long as parameters don't go helter kelter.
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:54 AM   #10
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Is there an alternative to r/o water? I can not afford this process, and was wondering if bottled water that you can get in gallons at the grocery store would work. There are several types available, and I don't know if any of these would be a decent substitute. Thanks again. Sarah

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