New Solana Aquariuum

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Aquarium Advice Freak
Jun 15, 2008
I just purchased this Solana Aquariuum... I have never owned an aquariuum before. This seemed like the best option for me. I want to do a little bit of everything (coral/reef, fish etc..) I got the sunpod 24 hr HQI lighting system - which was almost as much as the tank lol

So I had it set up with live rock and sand in less than an hour. Going to watch it and learn how to test levels for a week and then go get some coral's / fish.

i'm excited but also a little nervous cause I hear so many horror stories about salt water aquariums!

Anyone else have this and/or have any advise on what I should start with? oh, I love bright color's!
Please read this article on fishless cycling...

Cycle your salt tank

... as well as many of the other articles in that section of the site.

Even if you bought "cured" live rock, you should still throw in the cocktail shrimp per that article to make sure you have a good bacteria base in there to start with. When the ammonia and nitrites go away and you're just left with nitrates, you're good to go. If the rock truly was cured, then you may never see much (if any) ammonia or nitrites, and you'll just start to see nitrates showing up.

Research as much as you can BEFORE buying fish/corals (including appropriate tank sizes for fish), and remember that nothing good happens fast in this hobby, and you'll do fine.

A couple good introductory books are Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" and Robert Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", and for corals Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals".

Welcome aboard!
Welcome to AA!

I agree with Kurt. Take your time and watch the tank for signs of a cycle. You will probably see a diatom bloom fairly quickly since you put cured LR in the tank. After you have reached the 0 ammonia and 0 NitrItes level and you see high levels of NitrAtes then you need to do a large PWC. 30%-50% and you will be ready to start adding a cleaning crew and a fish. You want to go slowly when adding fish to your system to allow the bacteria to adjust to the new work load. Corals should be added after the tank has had a few months to mature and stablize. Most corals do not do well with high levels of NitrAtes. I would say that after 4 months of regular water changes and testing and the addition of your cleaning crew and a fish you could be ready for a few easy beginner corals.
All very good advice. I would also suggest a refractometer and the liquid test kits, for better accuracy.
This site is great. Thank you all for your advise. I did some water testing today. Results as follows
* Temperature 78.7
* PH 7.8
* Ammonia 0
* Nitrite 0
* Nitrate 0
* KH 161.1

This all seems to match what the tank should be at. It has been running for 24hrs now. I'm guessing that everything is matching because I purchased all the water from the Marine aquarium and it had "chemicals" already in it.

Am I correct that I just went through my cycle? If so, on Friday I was going to get a couple Margarita snails and Blue legged hermits (cause I read that they are the best to start with)

I am going to try to take some pictures tomorrow and will try to post frequently with updates. I have tried searching forums but can't seem to find many where someone has this set up.

Thanks again.
You did not go through the cycle yet. You have not even started it yet. The tank needs a source of ammonia to start the cycle. Uneaten food, fish waste etc. decay and a byproduct of that decay is ammonina. Ammonia even in tiny amounts is toxic to fish. It burns their gills and they die. There are bacteria that thrive on ammonia, and the convert ammonia to nitrite. Nitrite is also toxic to fish in small quantities(brown blood disease), but there are bacteria that thrive on nitrite and produce nitrate. Nitrate is tolerated by fish up to about 60-80 ppm, but is toxic to corals in nubers above aboout 10-15 ppm. Nitrates can be be controlled by partial water changes in combination with other means (live rock, deep sand beds, macro alage, etc.)

Read the article on fishless cycling to start. You need to go slow for a succesful outcome in SW,


First time adding pictures - hope they came out.


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* bottom right is the whole tank. This is about 35lb's of live rock but looks like I still need another 15lb's or so (want it to be higher)
* Bottom left is weird white growth (not moving)
* Top right is furry wavy white growth - don't know what it is (hope not bad!)
* Top left is front right rock... has purpleish color

CMOR - thank you for your post (everyone else too) ... I was so excited tonight when I got home just was jumping the gun. I am going to put a raw shrimp in tomorrow and let it go through it's cycle (while checking water daily).

If I want to add more Live rock... should I do this now before the raw shrimp, at the same time or after? I'm guessing now and before.

So far besides forums and articles online the only book I have read is Salt water aquariums for dummies - which I did find very informative. I will take your advise and get one of the ones you recommended.

I've heard mixed reviews (mostly bad) about the SW Aquariums for Dummies book. I haven't read it, so I can't comment specifically about it. But I know Paletta's and Fenner's books are good. Just be aware that you're going to encounter numerous opinions in this hobby on how something should be done. There are many different ways to do things, and some ways work better than others. Understanding the basics about the hobby will let you make informed decisions on what advice to follow, and what advice is just plain hooey!

Regarding the additional live rock... I'd add it now, or within a few days of throwing in the shrimp. If you wait too long, or after the cycle is over, any possible stuff dieing off from the rock will fuel another cycle, prolonging the whole thing.

As cmor mentioned, you haven't even started the cycle. All your water parameters are perfect because, well... there's nothing in the water to make it bad at this point.

You said you got the water from the "marine aquarium". What exactly does that mean? Do you have an aquarium near you that sells salt water? Just curious because for a reef tank, your water source is one of the more important aspects of the hobby. We strive for perfect water parameters, but if the water you're starting off with and doing water changes with is less than perfect, well... you're never going to get better than that. That's why many folks will invest in a RO/DI filter system to get 100% pure water. Just a seed to plant for future ideas. I have an aquarium within 30 minutes of me that sells salt water. But even filtered and sterilized, I'd still never even think about putting that stuff in my tank. Especially since it's being drawn from a point a few miles from some of the worst toxic dump sites in our state.

Also... just noticed that your pH is a little on the low side. Eventually, it ideally should be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.4... but stability day to day is more the key. But don't worry about it during the cycle. pH will swing around quite a bit during a cycle and will take a few weeks to stabilize after it's all over. I wouldn't even waste the test kit drops on it until you're done with the cycle.
I agree with the rest. SW requires planning and patience.
I will address your questions about your pics.
1st pic is coraline algae, great stuff!
2nd pic is a dead coral, maybe a plate (but I could be wrong)
3rd pic looks like a sponge, a beneficial filter feeder (might not make it through the cycle, but others will grow back)
4th pic is a nice start on your aquascaping.
Make sure when you add more rock to make some caves/ledges/pile and make sure the bottom of the pile is on the tank's glass bottom.
All, thanks again. Let me answer a couple of your questions.
1) Roka - I was going to purchase a refractometer because my book recommended it. However the marine place I purchased everything at said that my liquid test kit is good enough -- since I was going to bring my water samples there every month or so.
2) Roka - Thank you VERY much for identifying each of my pics!
3) Kurt - as for the water, I was going to just add tap and then salt / chemicals but the place I purchased everything from said that I should by their water (imagine that LOL) that is already prepared with all additives and I don't need to do anything. Not sure what that means but they came in 3 gallon jugs that were labeled "red sea".

Oh, the place I bought everything at is Untitled Document -- not the best website though. Everyone there was very friendly... could be cause I overpaid on everything! :)

On my way home tonight I will pick up 2 raw shrimps and drop them in. Then on Thur I am going to pick up 10-15 more pounds of live rock.
Web site of aquarium didn't come out on last reply. it's www .marinewarehouse .biz
I think you will soon figure out it is much more cost effective to premix your own water. I keep a 32G bucket on wheels, with a ph and heater constantly running for PWCs. It is best to premix for at least 24 hours. This will allow you to get the PWC water the same temp and salinity and pH as your tank's.
I agree with Roka, also you will want to avoid using straight tap water for your tank. Check out ebay for an RO/DI unit. You should be able to get a good one for around $150 and believe me it will save you a LOT of headache later. As Kurt mentioned the water in your tank is one of the more important parts of your system you want it to be as near to perfect as you can get it. An RO/DI filter will help you out there. It's always a good idea to mix your own SW, you know what is in it, how well it was mixed how long it's been sitting and you will have the ability to mix some incase of an emergency.
I can't begin to tell you how important both a RODI unit and a refractometer are.
A refractometer tell you the SG of your tank water and your PWC water (teh partcial water change you do weekly). There is no liquid test for that.
You need to test your water at least weekly for the first year. That's why it's so important to have quality test kits on hand.
Should you ever have a problem and and post a question here the first questions will be:
Please post the following info:
Tank Size:
Other Corals:

Do you add any chemicals to the tank? (ie. Buffers or Supplements)
What do you feed the tank? (Frozen, Flake or Pellet) How often do you feed?
What kind of Salt Mix do you use? Do you let it sit for 24hrs with a powerhead and heater to airate and mix fully?
Do you use RO/DI water? How do you Top Off evaporated water?

The more information you can provide the faster we can formulate an opinion on what the problem and cure are.

Take your time and all should be fine.

Good luck.
Stupid question. When putting the raw shrimp in for "cycling" - do I leave the shell on it or peel it off?
I left mine on. Some folks will put it in a micron bag so they cane remove it easier. I leave mine in for when I add my clean up crew.
Whew - what would I do without this website! I am learning so much from you guys, and love the links you have on your postings.

Question - My tank the first day was at 98.7degree. Today it has been at 80.7degree's. I have a nice submersible Heater but have NOT installed it due to haven't needed it. Also it has a small space in between chambers in the back of the tank for the heater but it does not face the glass - so i have been debating wether to use this or put it in the front tank portion.

Also, I have a return "Y" nozzle that circulates in the tank. Should I install the Hydor Koralia 400gph circ pump I bought or am I good with Y nozzle (i'm thinking only time will tell).

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The ammount of flow you need in your tank depends on what you want to do with it. If you are wanting to just have a few fish then the koralia isn't that important. If you are going for a reef tank then you are going to need more flow.
Also a tank needs to have a stable temperature. Anywhere from 75 -80 is fine but the temp should be stable to within +/- 1 degree. I keep my tank at 79 degrees. It ranges from 78.9 to 79.8.

If you can't keep the temp down you may need to add a chiller. I make sure my ac is on whenever the outside goes above 75.
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