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Old 06-17-2008, 11:13 PM   #1
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problems with my new aquarium


I am very new to Salt water aquarium. I bought my first aquarium 6 month ago. It is 75gal with 4 small fishes and 70lb live rock now.

My aqurium started to have some purpule plant like on live rocks. Nitrate level (currently between 20 and 40 ppm) seems to be the problem. To reduce Nitrate amount, I started to change 20gal of water with tap water every other day but it doesn't seemto help.

Is there anything I should do to eliminate Nitrate?

Also, I see sand is being pumped into the aquarium. I checked and cleaned the bottom water container and its sponges where the water is being pumped from. There seems to be sand in there. What should I do to clean the container?

Also what is the purpose of scamer?

Please tell me what are the acronyms if you are going to use them in your replies.


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Old 06-18-2008, 12:28 AM   #2
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Welcome to Aquarium Advice!

First off... an acronym list can be found here...

Aquarium Advice - Aquarium & Reef Forum - FAQ: Acronyms and Abbreviations

... but I'll try not to use any!

Nitrates are the main reason folks do water changes. If you're doing 20g water changes (about 25%) every other day, you should see a reduction in nitrates. UNLESS... the water you're putting in has nitrates in it. You said you're using tap water (mixed with salt mix, I assume) for the water changes. Have you tested your tap water for nitrates? My guess is your tap water is your issue because if you were replacing 25% of the water with 0.0ppm nitrate water, you WILL see a reduction in the nitrate level.

Nasty stuff in tap water is a big reason many people invest in a RO/DI filter unit, or at least buy RO/DI (pure) water from their local fish store.

Regarding the sand, I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but if there's sand where you don't want it, then clean it out. How? However you can.

I *think* you're referring to a "skimmer"... not a "scamer". A "scamer" I suppose could steal your hard earned money away from you, which is actually what a poorly made "skimmer" will do also. (Sorry for the joke... couldn't resist.)

A skimmer makes a ton of bubbles in an enclosed space using your tank water and a pump. There are various designs, but they all do primarily the same thing. Stuff in your water that will eventually turn into nitrates stick to the bubbles. The bubbles are then pushed up a tube and into a collection cup where it can't get back into your tank. You then dump out the collection cup. If you're having nitrate problems a skimmer might be a good investment.

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Old 06-18-2008, 09:15 AM   #3
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Thanks Kurt. Yes, I meant skimmer. You mentioned dumping collection cup of skimmer. Is this something that we should do on a regular basis as part of aqurium cleanup? If so, how often should I do that? Do you have a list of cleanup tasks I should do on regular basis?
You also mentioned good skimmer. How do I know my skimmer is good one?

Appreciate your input.
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Old 06-18-2008, 09:54 AM   #4
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If you are using tap then most likely you are adding the nitrates your self. Make a batch of SW and let it set a day or two and then do a water test on that water before you add it to the tank. I`ll be willing to bet nitrates will be in there. You ought to think about a RO/DI unit. JMO
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:06 AM   #5
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In addition to the above I note that you have 'bottom water containter' with sponges. I'm assuming that is a wet/dry filter where water from the tank drains into the container, over some type of material and possibly plastic bio-balls or ceramic rings, then into another chamber where it is then pumped back to the tank. Is that close?

The sponges, material, etc. are probably catching material (uneaten food, fish waste) that is decaying and producing nitrates. You should clean those pads, sponges, etc. in clean sw mix on a weekly basis to remove the junk that accumulates.
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:23 AM   #6
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Hello 75 er. Glad your here and bet there are lots of friendly folks here that can help. First, I would heartily recommend a RO/DI unit so you can be sure the water you are using to mix salt with is good. You can find them on Ebay for around $100. (Sorry, that's reverse osmosis/deIonization). Second, there is some argument over maintaining 0 Na. The presence of Na just tells me that your "cycle" is working and as long as it does not get high, no problems. 20-40 is a little high mine usually stays a little less than 10 ppm.Third, I cannot imagine trying to maintain a saltwater (SW) tank without a skimmer, good, bad, or otherwise. I scrimped and bought a cheap Visi-Jet PS 100. Dang thing fell apart regularly but, well it did do some good. Bought an Aqua Remora C and it is a hard working mule of a skimmer. Simple to install, took a couple of weeks to break in so I had to empty a couple of times daily but now that I have it adjusted to where I want it no problems. I empty/clean daily and you'll be amazed at the crud it removes from the water! There also is some controvery in water changes (wc) how often, how much..etc.. I have a 55 gallon that I do a 15% every other week UNLESS my tests reveal a problem or elevation in something undesirable ie; ammonia, Ni. I have never had a problem with either. I also keep a spread sheet that I began on day 1 when I put this tank together that contains every test and it's results, any additives, like Purple Up that have been added, new critters welcomed, etc. Anything new or changed I have a record so I can monitor any trends and tie back to a cause. This has worked for me. Good luck and keep us posted.
55 Gallon saltwater with more than 4 lines will allow.
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:30 AM   #7
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Thanks for all of your advices.
I never opened/cleaned my skimmer. Should I do that?

As I mentioned before, there is sand in my water chamber (where filters, skimmer are). This sand gets pumped back into aquairim. How should I remove the sand from the bottom chamber?
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Old 06-18-2008, 01:28 PM   #8
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You can siphon out the sand with airline tubing. It sounds as if you have a sump or refugium...can you get us a picture?
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Old 06-18-2008, 03:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 75Gal View Post
Thanks for all of your advices.
I never opened/cleaned my skimmer. Should I do that?

If you've never dumped the collection cup, then it's just overflowing and putting all that waste back into your tank. Kind of defeats the purpose.

How should I remove the sand from the bottom chamber?
Agree with Roka... a picture might help. I just don't see why you can't siphon the sand out with tubing. Think I'm missing something here...

Regarding a "good" skimmer... what skimmer do you have now?
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:01 PM   #10
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Yes, I opened the skimmer collection cup and it was very dirty. It is clean now.
My skimmer is coralife 125g from Oceanics and here is the link:
Oceanic Systems | Products | Super Skimmer - Needle-Wheel System
I attached some pictures to this posting. as you can see, there is plenty of sand in the chamber under the aquarium.
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