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Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Aug 5, 2006
Hello everyone, I'm new here. I just started cycling my first Saltwater fish-only aquarium. I did all my research, and everything seems to be going smoothly so far, all except for my ammonia. although it is low (0.4), i still want to get rid of it. everything else is sitting at zero (nitrite, nitrate) and my ph is at 8.3, and my salinity is at 0.021. i know thats a tad low, so i am going to do a water change this weekend to adjust that and see if i can bring down the ammonia and ph a tad. i just want to make sure i am doing everything right! i also know that i should start adding fish after it's been cycled (4-6 weeks) and it will be one week on monday. i read on many sites that damsel fish are the best to start with as they are very hardy and easy to care for. any one else have any suggestions that may help me? i REALLY want to make this work.... Thanks!
Welcome to AA!!!

First off, how did you cycle? Fishless or w/ fish? It sounds like your cycle is just starting. 8.3 PH is fine. Your SG is perfect for FO tank. Don't add any fish til your NH3 and NO2 are both zero. HTH
If you're cycling fishless; I'd hold up on buying any fish. Damsels are very aggressive, and are hard to have in with most other fish even large ones. Unless you have your heart set on damsels then go for it. But their are other fish out there that you can get that are great first time SW fish. Clowns being one of them. They are generally not aggressive, and are great to watch. Some hawkfish, cardinals, chromis, and some people will say gobies.

The only reason I suggest people to stay away from damsels is people will want to add other fish, and then the damsels will attack the new fish. Then these damsels get brought back to the LFS hopefully.
i am cycling fishless, and i just started the cycling last monday. i do like damsels, but i also like percula clownfish. my tank is a ten gallon, so i could only keep 2 fish until i upgrade my tank. i was just wondering what i should use to break in the tank without killing it... my first try didn't work out as well as i would have liked it to so i am taking things a little bit slower this time around. should i add maybe a few crabs or shrimp to help break in the tank before i add the fish once the cycling is done?
Welcome to!!! :smilecolros: :smilecolros: :smilecolros:
Don't worry about the NH3 level. This is completely normal for it to stay elevated for a while. How are you cycling? If you put in a raw shrimp from the grocery store it will surely kick things of for you and you will experience a good hard cycle. Adding some LR will also be of benefit.
raw shrimp? lol what is lr? i'm not used to these terms hehe
raw shrimp?
yup...raw shrimp. Pick up a raw shrimp from the grocery store and throw it in the tank. This will really help get your cycle going and is the prefered technique for a fishless cycle.
lol what is lr?
LR = live rock. The single best biological filtration media for your tank. It is the best thing you can do for your tank. 1-lbs/gal is a good goal. Check out the "Articles" section at the top of the page for great info on LR and fishless cycling, as well as a host of other wonderful info.
Thanks for the help. i will go over to the grocery store and pick up a raw shrimp and let it decay in my tank... lol i was thinking of acclimating a mollie to start the tank in 3 weeks so that things will be better when i add my first saltwater fish. anyone have any luck doing that before?
The raw shrimp will cycle the tank for you. You don't want to do water changes to remove the ammonia as long as there are no live fish in the tank. The higher your ammonia spike the more good bacteria you will have later. The ammonia is the beginning of your cycle. it will turn into nitrite and then nitrate on its own. Right now the ammonia is a good thing
A fishless cycle is a bit faster as you do not need to do water changes. If you used fish to cycle, then water changes would be in order to keep the toxic levels a bit lower so (hopefully) you fish would survive the cycle. Doing water changes will slow things down. Wait a few days after the addition of the shrimp. You will see a very high spike in NH3. As it declines you will see a spike in NO2. As that falls NO3 will become detectable. This means your cycle is about over. Wait until both NH# and NO2 have climbed and reduced to zero. At this point you can expect a very high NO3 (40-80). Do a 50% water change and wait another few days. If you still have no detectable NH3 and NO2 with a lower level of NO3 you tank has cycled and you can start adding fish. This is wehre a lot of new hobbiests make mistakes. Once your tank has cycled, livestock still needs to be added very slowly to let the tank's biological filter catch up to the increase in bioload. Once fish every few weeks is good.
well i went over to my local aquarium store and picked up a pepermint shrimp and one pound of live rock to start for now. i will get some more live rock next week. are there any special requirements for the live rock? i am not worried about the shrimp dying as he would end up being my raw shrimp hehe anywho do i need to feed the shrimp anything? i was worried about that and i don't want to delibertatly kill the poor thing.
Sorry, but adding a peppermint shirmp now is not a good move. Many people on this site do respect the well-being of our aquarium inhabbitants. Adding a shrimp now is asking for cetain death to the animal. Inverts are very sensative to poor water conditions. Your best course of action is to take the shrimp back and proceed as we directed. Even if the shrimp does perish in your tank, it will not be enough to activate a full cycle.
well he seems to be doing just fine, very active in his new home. i am just as worried about his well being as everyone else here, so if i see that he's not doing well i will take him back to the aquarium store. but can anyone tell me if there are any special requirements for the live rock?
There isn't anything you need to do to the lr. It will pretty much take care of itself. i have had my tank for about a year and I can now see worms and all kinds of creatures in my rock. Its really cool. You can feed your shimp fish flakes. Mine like shrimp pellets. good luck
okay cool, i can already see some stuff growing on the LR. I am going to take the shrimp back to the shop tomorrow as i don't want to kill it with the spikes.

Sorry for the late post. I didn't get check the site this weekend. It sounds like you are doing great by taking the shrimp back and doing the fishless cycle. All the advice has been sound. I bought damsels, after my cycle. They were neat at first and very hardy. I think, for me, that was a good choice, since I didn't know anything about SW. Thanks to the folks here, I have learned a lot and am still learning tons more. Keep in mind, some damsels will become aggressive, as they get older.
When you asked about LR, most of these abbreviations will be underlined. If you put your mouse over the underlined abbreviation, a little window will pop up and tell you what the abbreviation is.
Put you mouse on these:
Don't be sorry for posting late, people have lives too lol thanks, i figured out that mousing over the abbreviation shows you what it stands for. very cool. i was thinking about starting with a damsel as i don't plan on having any real sea anemone's in my tank just yet as they are really expensive, and i would really like to have a clownfish, so i was thinking maybe once my tank had been running for 3 or 4 months then i would get a clownfish. i also know that damsels get aggressive as they get older, i did my homework :) okay so i continue to do tests to keep track of my spikes and once they all become 0 i am good to add fish? i can't wait :)
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