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Old 02-10-2011, 01:56 PM   #1
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Exclamation Starter FOWLR -HELP!

I have so many, many questions about my new set-up. 8 weeks in with my 55g FOWLR setup and I am still needing a lot of help. 40lbs crushed coral/sand, 2 large live rocks, 4 smaller live rocks, 60g Tetra filter, 1 heater, and bubble wands (to be switced to powerhead soon; see below)

I had my water tested 4 weeks ago, and it looked good so I added three black mollies (per the suggestion of FOWLR tank keeper at the store) to help complete the cycling of my tank. One Molly died after a week, although she was most likely pregnant and died before birth. The remaining two appeared to be doing well. My tests were looking good, so I assumed pregnancy complications were the reason for death and I added more to my tank, including a small hermit crab cleaning crew and two new Damsels. BAD IDEA. The first Damsel died within a day, and the second appears to have attacked one of my Mollies (who was also pregnant; I think the Damsel attacked while she was giving birth. Again, no babies. The mother was still alive but had been attacked and was wounded in the face and mouth; she just died today). I'm unsure if it is water conditions killing my fish or my acclimation process.

I have learned now that my test strips are inaccurate. I brought my water into the store to find out that my ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are completely high; he claimed he couldn't understand how my fish were alive

I purchased a used set-up (similar to the starter kits you can buy at the pet store) with a 60g Tetra filter and bubble wands instead of a powerhead. He informed me that bubble wands are a no-no, and that I need a powerhead or two, possibly also a protein skimmer.

So my questions are these:
-How do I drop my ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates with fish in the tank? (I added a quick responding biological supplement, but it doesn't appear to be helping)
-Which powerhead should I be looking for? Do I need two?
-Will better lighting help my tank situation? Do I require T5 lighting if I remain a FOWLR tank and never go reef?

My last problem is this: What I had thought was good algae that came around week 4 appears to be brown algae, something that is a result of sulfite? Is that right? So I have no green algae in the tank, only the unwanted 'brown' algae ... I'm failing this start-up and am ready to pull my hair out, so I need as much information from everyone so I can make this tank a success!! I'm too far in financially to keep failing and destroy everything I've put in!

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Old 02-10-2011, 02:14 PM   #2
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had my water tested 4 weeks ago, and it looked good so I added three black mollies (per the suggestion of FOWLR tank keeper at the store) to help complete the cycling of my tank.
First thing i can tell you is stop listening to employees at local fish stores. It is very hit or miss if they actually know what they are talking about. In my experience it is a lot more miss and they get people off to a very bad start.

Your tank is still cycling if there is ammonia and nitrite in the water. If you can return all the fish that are left in the tank. Read this article on cycling your tank with out fish.

Cycle your salt tank

I would try and return the damsels either way because they will get very aggressive and make it difficult to add any other fish.

If you are going to just have fish and no corals i would just buy one power head right now. Try to find where the spots of low flow are in your tank and place the power head to make sure you have a little flow over the whole tank. This is usually corners or around live rock at the bottom of the tank.

If you cannot return the fish or find them a differnt home then you will need to do a large partial water change to get the ammonia and nitrite levels down as low as possible. Please provide us with some numbers so we know what levels your tank are at right now.

Better lights are not going to help anything your dealing with right now and unless you get coral the lights are really just so you can see your fish. I wouldn't worry about upgrading lights for a bit.

Brown algae could be a lot of things but one of the first algae blooms a tank usually goes through durning the cycle is diatoms. The are generally brown or rust colored and will blow away like dust of you direct flow at them. This is a normal part of the cycle and i wouldn't worry about it until after your tank finishes cycling. Once it is done you can add some snails that will eat the diatoms and take care of it for you. Don't add a clean up crew before the cycle is finished though because the ammonia and nitrite will kill them as well.

Eventually you will want to get some of your own liquid test kits because as you have found out the stips are not always accurate.
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