Well....Been reading through various posts here on this forum, and I can tell we've jumped the gun in a big way with our tank! :| So first and foremost, I would like to apologize for however noobish this may all sound, and the sheer size.
Anyway...A little background.
55 gallon, bought new from the local pet shop.
Emporer 400 Filter (with bio wheels...err whatever they are called)
Our heater is a 250, or 300 watt.
60 Pounds of "live sand"
Roughly 6 pounds of Live rock (not sure of the type.)
1x Flame Angel
1x Banggai Cardinal (got two on the same day, but one didn't make it, explained below)
1x Yellow Angle fish (the one that looks like a yellow Tang)
1x Pink Anthias
3x Green Chromis
Also have 1 red legged crab, and 1 blue legged crab (originally had 6 crabs total, also explained below).
Now...I know we've added fish WAY too soon, but we weren't very well informed. So hopefully you guys can spare any shouting...and help us get our tank back in order.
Now, we added the three Green Chromis within the first week and a half. We'd been checking the levels daily (PH, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, and Salt) for the first 3.5 - 4 weeks. The first three fish went in with no problems...and after a week..we decided to add a couple more. At this point we added the Yellow Angle fish, and 1 crab. Again...We continued to check the levels daily, and all seemed fine. After another week we added the Pink Anthias, and a couple more crabs. Up to this point everything seemed great, levels were all in check, and the fish seemed very happy.
This about covers our first three weeks as SW
Aquarium owners, after those first three weeks, things have been a little rough. At about the 4.5 week mark, we decided to add some more fish. We took a trip to a different shop about an 1.5 hours away. At this point we picked up two Banggai Cardinals, the Flame Angel, and our ~6 pounds of love rock. Up to this point we'd been feeding the fish just some flake foods (Omega One Marine Flakes, and Omega One Super Veggie). The guy at this new shop said he didn't feed his fish anything but mysis shrimp...so we've started feeding our fish the mysis, and I still toss in a few flakes as the Green Chromis seem to like the flakes (when doing the mysis, I break a piece off and put it in a cup with a small amount of tank water, then I just dump the water with the mysis in tank slowly, so a few pieces come out at a time). When we got home and put the live rock in and added our new fish. The next morning we woke up to a very white Banggai Cardinal...that was just kind of resting on the bottum of the tank. We called the guy from the shop immediatley, and he said it sounded like stress. We gave the fish some time, but it didn't make it.
The next week we noticed it was time to give the tank a good cleaning (although after reading through this site a bit...seems as though we should be doing some small cleanings weekly). We noticed a large amount of brown algae built up on the glass, and on top of our sand. We took out about 10-15 gallons of water, cleaned up all the glass, vacuumed the sand and added our water back in. The following morning, everything seemed great, and the tank was spotless. Two days later...we lost three crabs overnight. I've been feeding them some pellets every other day. two of the crabs had acctually come out of their shell, and were just laying on the sand (one of them, the body was missing all that was left was the legs, I assume one of the fish ate it?)
After the third day we can see there is a large amount of brown algae starting to creep back up. So this is where I'm sure we have a problem. We are using some Phoslock to balance the phosphate levels, and I'd been feeding the fish twice a day (seems like most of you feed your fish every other day). The guy at our local shop told us to use double the amount of phoslock, as the phosphate levels in town are high (we don't have the proper meter to test this, but a friend of ours is coming over with one tomorow).
I'm sorry for this book of a post, but I figure the more information you gys have, the better response we're going to get. At this point, I'm wondering if this brown algae is from the phoslock? I'm also wondering why our tank is getting so nasty, so quick. How much/how often should we be feeding our fish? Why did our crabs die? Am I feeding the fish properly (the mix of flakes, and the mysis shrimp?) Currently, our water temp is about 81 degrees...is this too high, or is this a good temp?
Any help would be great! We've sunk A LOT of money into this setup in a very short amount of time, which we now realize was a big mistake. Hopefully with some suggestions from you guys, it won't be a total loss!
Thanks in advance.
EDIT: We've kept a "journal" of all our levels since day one. The first three weeks were daily...then we just started checking them a couple times a week. If any information on our levels since day one would be helpful, I can post the log.