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Old 12-05-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
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HELP! Nitrates, Algae & Sad Anemone

I acquired a used 75 gallon saltwater aquarium that had been up and running for a year. When I picked it up it was still running healthy. It came with:
a decent amount of live rock (50lbs?)
crushed coral/sand type substrate
3 damsels
4 snails & 3 hermits
protein skimmer
power filter
heater
2 wave maker pumps
I kept 30 gallons of the used salt water and
I kept the used filter media in it to keep the bacteria, etc...

I added a 48" T5HO light fixture 2 actinic bulbs & 2 daylight bulbs

So a a week later I thought I was good to go with adding fish assuming it didn't need cycled...and I did. First an emerald crab & mandarin dragonette. Then 5 hermits a pseudo and a coral beauty. Then 2 O. clowns & a bubble tip anemone. Three separate additions in 2 weeks time, I'm stupid!

Now there is brown algae all over the live rock. The Nitrates are 80 and the ph 8.2!

The anemone looks sad, but everyone else looks okay...

I removed the old filters and put in kent nitrogen sponge and added biological water conditioner last night. At the first sign of algae I cut feeding the fish in half and have only been keep the lights on for a few hours a day. I'll be adding a "poly-filter" today.

I'm hoping to get ahold of some RODI water at Jacks Pets tomorrow and do a 30% water change.

What else can I do? I don't want my fishies to die
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:31 PM   #2
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get rid of the power filter. the live rock and other surface area holds plenty of bacteria. How large are the grains of this substrate? If they are large, they may be holding a lot of detritus (uneaten food and fish poop) that may be causing problems.
I would get on a 20% water change schedule weekly. I would also invest in a RODI unit to make your own water.
What protein skimmer? What power heads?
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:02 AM   #3
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The skimmer is a Coralife Power Skimmer

The pumps are hydor koralia, not sure which model though.

The substrate isn't very chunky (I attached a pic)

Any recommendations on an RO/DI unit? I was looking into this one:

5 Stage Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System With Storage Tank Removes Fluoride - Amazon.com

Thanks a billion!
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Old 12-06-2013, 10:41 AM   #4
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That's just a R.O. unit. You need the D.I. stage.
Here is a nice system with everything you need-
4 Stage Value PLUS RO/DI System - Bulk Reef Supply

What model coralife super skimmer is it? If it's the 65, it's about worthless IMO.
It's important to have enough flow in the tank to keep detritus suspended in the water column until your skimmer can remove it.
Try to find out what gph the power heads are.

I don't see any picture.
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Old 12-07-2013, 02:14 PM   #5
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Your ph is perfectly fine at 8.2....normal ranges usually are in the 7.8-8.2 range...anything in the 8.0-8.4 range is ideal
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Old 12-07-2013, 06:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for the RO/DI unit recommendation Mr_X, it's on it's way!

It looks like the powerheads are 1200 GPH. What is the best way to place them?

The Coralife is the 65 model I'll have to worry about replacing that later though, running out of $$ with the RO/DI, etc...lol!

I tried to attach the pic again, I think it's aragnoite after I looked at the substrates in the petstores.

Monster: Thanks for confirming the PH is okay for me!

Thanks for being nice to me!
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:23 PM   #7
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You are going to have trouble with the mandarin, I'll say that right off. With themove I doubt you have enough pods to sustain one. Maybe you got lucky and it eats pellets or frozen but please keep a careful eye on him, they have a super high mortality rate in aquariums.
I agree the ph is fine but the nitrates need to be addressed asap. I would do at least a 50% water change followed a few days later by another 50% water change. this should drop your nitrates down to about 20, which is still high if you have an anemone. Dont overfeed and use only ro/di water to avoid the nitrates creeping up again. The sand, if you used the existing sand that came with the tank most likely is the culprit since you moved it and mucked up the sand all sorts of nasties are being released. If it is large grain sand or crushed coral I'd consider swapping it out slowly over the next few weeks/months as the large grains can trap gunk that will rot and cause unstable parameters.
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:32 PM   #8
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I've been keeping track of the mandarin and he's not looking emaciated and I see him picking at the live rock, fingers crossed! I keep meaning to run out and buy the bottled pods at some point.

The anemone no longer looks sad, it was actually squeezing through a hole in the live rock, that's what made it look weird. He eats every time I feed him too!

I should have my RODI unit by Tuesday and I'll do a big fat water change. Hoping everyone will stay stable until then....eeekkkk!
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:39 PM   #9
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I have the Coralife skimmer and never had a problem with it. I would get on the water changes. If you were using RO water, check the nitrates on it before you put it in tank. I've used RO water for years and never had it add nitrates. Your sand getting disturbed probably is the culprit. If so, you may want to beef up your clean up crew. Checkout reefcleaners.org for CUC recommendations.
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:08 PM   #10
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I agree with X. The coralife skimmers are worthless. Sure they "work" but not nearly as well as other skimmers.
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