First Tank.. First setup..Lots of problems and errors..

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Aquarium Advice Newbie
May 9, 2011
Hi Everyone,

I am new to the forum and really new to owning an aquarium.. I have always wanted a reef aquarium... I scuba dive when i can (on holidays mostly, cause its too cold in Melbourne :p ) and always love to watch docos about fish and new places... Anyway so all these things combined i dived right in..

I went to the local aquarium shop/collected items online and so far i have:

AquaOne complete 200 Lt tank (52 Gallons)

1x xp-30 mini skimmer
1x AquaOne Aquis 1200 canister filter
2x sunsun vibration jvp-102 pump
1x boyu intermittent switch
1x airstone and pump
1x heater

Seachem prime
Seachem stability
API liquid test kit
Tetramarine salt
coral subtrate (pieces about 5-10cm big)

So I have been having lots of problems from day 1 which i admit my eagerness was to blame but i feel i have learned some lessons but now i am getting stuck...

anyway so i setup my tank about 5 weeks ago with 9kg of live rock and rocky subtrate (should have gone sand)

left it for a week and brought 3 fish (an angelfish, a goby and 2 clownfish) the fish were happy for about 12 hours(or so i like to think) but when i woke up my fishtank was a pool of ammonia (darker than 8 PPM on my tests.. )and everything was dead apart from the goby...

SO i brought some books and DVDs and read more about the mistakes i made and what to do next.. kept the water in the tank did a few water changes every day almost for 2 weeks (ranging from 80% at the start to 10% later on).

2 weeks after this i brought more 17 kilos of live rock. I was foolish and added it all at once and well i had several crabs on the rock and they ate the goby as he went missing the day after(also just after i named him :( poor Henry ).

its been 4 weeks now and my tank has been cloudy for at least a week or more.. I performed a 85% waterchange on the water was clean (also tested clean) and I foolishly assumed i fixed my issues as i was getting around .5 PPM of ammonia in my tank (compared to the 8 PPM i was getting before) so I went into the aquarium shop just to look and well I couldnt help myself again and brought another goby (this one is about 9 cm long) (as well as an airstone and pump) as i caught my crabs in a trap i setup with a coke bottle previously so i thought it would be ok..

I only just got the powerheads yesterday as i thought that might increase waterflow to resolve my problems.. but my ammonia has spiked up again this morning to 8 PPM and the tank is really cloudy white..

So just now i have performed a 50% water change, cleaned my filters (I never did this part last time everything died and i did not clean the bio balls) from tank water and setup the tank and added a 5x dose prime..

My water is still really cloudy (but only half as bad) getting a read of about 4 PPM now of ammonia.. I really dont want to kill my only fish again.. is there anything else i can do, or am i doing enough?

Sorry for the long first post... Would really appreciate the advice to fix my tank up..

thanks in advance
Look at the links in my signature and click on the FISHLESS CYCLING link.

If the rock you got was LR, it probably was not cured LR and that is what is causing the ammonia spike.
That article should get you started in the right direction.
The cloudiness is most likely a bacterail bloom that will burn itself out in a few days.

Are you using RODI (reverse osmois/de-ionized) water for the tank top off and making up new saltwater?

Once the tank is properly set up you need to get on a weekly or every week schedule of partial water changes (PWC) of 10% - 20%.
I would also switch your tank to sand now while there are no fish in there, it will help keep nitrates in balance. I would removed the bio balls as well, another nitrate collector. Last few things I'd do is wait out the cycle and stop adding all those additives. Remember when you are finished cycling and want to add fish to only get one or two at a time, the tank needs to build up beneficial bacteria to support the fish and it takes time (weeks).
In my opinion id just start new... i would remove all water replace substrate with sand put in all your rock back in follow that link on a fish less cycle. With the subrate and the amount of rock you already have you shoul cycle within 2 to 3 weeks. I have a feelingyour live rock wasn't already cured which was causing the ammonia spikes. Once your ammonia and nitrites are 0 do a pwc at 20% add two fish of you chose i reccomend a pair of clowns. Wait a few days check ur levels again and do another wate change to get nitrates as close to 10 and wait the following weekend to do another watt change to get yourself into a cycle. Then procced as stated above with introducing your fish on a bi weekly basis. That way bacteria as a chance to grow with your tank.
And as stated STOP THE ADDITIVES"!!!!!!!!! The most u would want to use is a ph increase. Ur salt mix and rock should give you all you need.
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