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Old 01-26-2013, 02:16 AM   #1
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Where to begin

I inherited a salt water tank from my father in law. While he battles cancer. The tank is in disarray, lots of green and what looks like red algae and fish and other organisms that don't look happy. I am not sure what all the gizmos and do dads he has are for or what they do in his tank so ill take pictures and hopefully you guys can help me figure out what does what and how to get this tank back in good repair.

Just wanted to get thoughts on where to begin. Thanks!
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:22 AM   #2
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Hi gymmic, sorry to hear about your farther in law.
Snap a few pic of your setup and hopefully we will be able to talk you through a few things you need to do and explain what is what
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:17 AM   #3
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I'd call around to some local fish stores and see if they could do a house call and come give you some pointers , I know I'd really appreciate it .
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:17 PM   #4
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Get some pics up and people can tell you what everything is.

I'd ask him what he was doing to maintain the tank. How often did he do water changes and whatever else.

I'd take a sample of water to a LFS and see what the parameters are. If nothing was being done, then there are likely high Nitrates, which would mean water changes are needed. The tricky thing with that could be if the tank has not been maintained for a very long period of time. Fish can sometimes adapt to toxic water and getting them better water can cause problems ( think I heard to someone here refer to it as old tank syndrome.

First things first...get pics and get water tested...
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:53 AM   #5
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Here are some of the photos. Last water change was 5-6 months ago. Very little maintenance has been done in that time.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:12 PM   #6
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You have what looks to be a very nice tank on your hands. I don't think it looks too bad for 6 months of no maintaining. The red algae is coralline algae which is ok. Ill let the salty experts chime in with some real advice. Congratulations on your new tank and I'm sorry for your father in law. Hope you get everything squared away and can enjoy your new "world"
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:20 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for your posts. I appreciate your willingness to help!


Here is what I know so far. The tank is a 65 gallon tank. The tank at the bottom is supposed to be a refugium? But it filters the water too? Not sure how that works but, the water drops from the tank down to the smaller tank, and then it gets pumped back up.

There is a lot of red and green algae in the refugium tank and the red algae forms almost like a carpet effect on the sand in the main tank. Not sure if that's healthy or not, but I've never seen in in nice tanks so I'm assuming its not.

The tank evaporates water pretty fast, we have to add 2-3 gallons of RO water every week. The water is dripped in.

There is supposed to be a protein skimmer In the smaller tank he said but something broke and he's getting that fixed. The tank was in the shape it's in now with the skimmer in place. Not sure if that information helps or not. I am not 100% sure of what the skimmer is supposed to do or how it helps the environment.

I will try to get to a LFS today and get the water tested to get a baseline on the tank. I will post the findings as soon as I am able to.

Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:27 PM   #8
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The algae in the refugium is fine. I would get some salt and start doing 20% water changes, vacuuming out any loose algae in the main tank taking care to not vacuum out any sand or critters.
Water changes will replace trace elements and get a lot of the pollutants out.
Do you know how to do a water change safely on a salt water tank?

You must mix the water and salt in a different container. Use a power head and a heater if possible to get it up to temp. I would allow it to mix for a few hours at least. Overnight is ideal.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:19 PM   #9
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Wow...looks way better than I was imagining it would. If you are going to take this tank over, I would invest in a good test kit and refractometer. That way you can test your own water. Being a reef tank, you will want good water parameters.

Those Tangs will probably have problems in that small a tank, but that's a discussion for another day...
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:56 PM   #10
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I spent some time cleaning the glass so that we could see behind the glass. It was completely green. My concern is that the green bubbly looking organism in the middle was larger before and seemed "happier" now it looks really small like it does not want to come out. Also there was a clam that lasted about 2 weeks before it died. Is there enough sand at the bottom? It seems very little but I don't know for sure.

Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:58 PM   #11
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I have found multiple test kits in his possession. What should I test, everything?
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:51 PM   #12
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This is the red stuff I'm worried about my father inlaw says its a bacteria?

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Is this guy good or bad?



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This guy is taking over the tank. Good?



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This guy was like 5 times bigger. This is as big as he gets now.

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These guys good?
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:36 PM   #13
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You should vacuum out that red stuff with each water change.

Those little brown things with the tentacles are pest anemones called aptasia. They reproduce very quickly and sting what they touch. They need to be killed. There are products available that will be effective. "Joes Juice" and "Aptasia-X" are a couple.

The "guy" that's taking over the tank is Kenya tree. A soft coral that grows and spreads as fast as aptasia, and frankly, is just as ugly. I would remove it, but many like to keep it.

The bubbly "guy" is a Frogspawn. It's a large polyp coral that will come back as you clean up the tank.

Water changes and manual removal.

The sand is nothing to worry about. You don't need sand.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:04 PM   #14
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Ok. Thanks for the insight. I will work on a 20% water change today and tomorrow. Should I test the water before or after, or both?
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:58 PM   #15
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I would test regularly until you get this straightened out.
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:31 PM   #16
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This is the red stuff I'm worried about my father inlaw says its a bacteria?
It's cyanobacteria, thought I'd give the name as it wasn't mentioned, and as said should be vacuumed out.

It's fueled by excess nutrients (likely since the tank went months without maintenance) and likes areas of low flow.

This is a pretty good link for identifying nuisance algae in the display tank.

Nuisance Algae ID Guide

Sorry to hear about your father in law but I wish you luck with your new tank. I'm sure you'll get things straightened out.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:00 PM   #17
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I have found multiple test kits in his possession. What should I test, everything?
I applaud your willingness to take on this tank with so much to learn.
Start by testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Ammo and nitrites should always be zero. If they're not, then a PWC needs to be done because those 2 things can quickly kill fish. The nitrates should ideally be as close to zero as possible to help cut down on algae, but anything over 40ppm is dangerous to fish, so a PWC would be in order if its that high. BTW, if its an API test kit you're using, divide the nitrate result by 4 to get the actual result.

Later, you'll need to test for calcium, magnesium, pH, alkalinity. But first check the basics and get the algae under control, then worry about the advanced stuff later.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:42 AM   #18
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@Beengirl. Thank you for the clarification.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:16 AM   #19
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@Beengirl. Thank you for the clarification.
YW. Good luck! And keep us posted!
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:25 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Beengirl View Post

BTW, if its an API test kit you're using, divide the nitrate result by 4 to get the actual result.
Why would you divide it by 4?
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