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Old 01/10/2008, 04:16 PM   #1
packisbak1
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Conflicting Opinions - Newbie Help

I started a new 12 gallon Nanocube Dx 1.5 weeks ago with 10 pounds of LR and 15 pounds of live sand. I have never kept a reef or saltwater tank before and have been asking a lot of questions at a few local fish stores in addition to doing a lot of reading on this site. As a result, I am getting really confused and a lot of contradicting information. I thought I would ask all the experts on the board to help provide some guidance based on your own experiences. All thoughts and information are appreciated. Below are my questions:

1) I was told that I need to add hermit crabs in
order to clear off all of the debris and algae off of
the live rock. I have read elsewhere that snails will
do a fine job and that many people don't use hermit
crabs because they will eat snails. Which is correct?

2) I was told to do a water change at the two week
mark while the guy who I spoke to originally told me
to wait "a few weeks". Which is correct and how do I
know when it is appropriate to start doing regular
water changes?

3) When doing a water change I was told to siphon the
sand bed. The guy who I spoke to last week told me
not to touch the sand bed. My sand bed is about 1.5- 2
inches deep.

4) There is all of this lose "stuff" that is blowing
around on my rocks. One guy told me I can pull it off
while another guy said I should just leave it. What
is the correct answer?

5) How will I know I can start adding hardy soft
corals? Should I add snails/fish first? I am only
planning on having 1-2 small fish but would like to
have some nice, easy to keep soft corals.

6) Will I need to dose anything to my aquarium (calcium, iodine etc.) if I plan on doing regular water changes and only having soft corals? I have read that people are fine without dosing but my LFS insists that I should start dosing immediately.

Any thoughts and advice are greatly appreciated.
Thanks.


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Old 01/10/2008, 04:25 PM   #2
orbit
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first off

To Reef Central

im still kinda new at this, some of the question ive asked before so maybe i can help u out a little

u dont really need hermits crabs, they are reef safe however, but if you dont provide them with bigger shells in the tank they will attack snails for their snails, but just snail will do work as well

water change only depend on your filtration system or to be safe once a week will be fine

for question do u mean water change during the initial cycle? or after your tank is up and running?

i think that coral should come last, inverts first, fish second and coral last

always remember, if your not testing for the particular element, dont test it, like for instant, if u dont test for calcium, dont dose calcium. but if u want corals, u will need to test for cal, alk, and mag

hopes that helps


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Old 01/10/2008, 05:46 PM   #3
yankeereefer
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First off - Welcome to the forum and welcome to the hobby

#1 rule in the hobby - Unless you really know your LFS owner and they have a good rep with other hobbyists, take what they say with a grain of salt - Remember they are a retailer and have to earn a living.

Keep posting your questions on this forum, you will find that people will offer their advice most readily. Although most advice is going to be pretty good, again, take it with a grain of salt. You will no doubt continue to get conflicting advice.

As for your questions, my thoughts -

Crabs and snails are both great cleaners of live rock and live sand. Will the crabs eat the snails? Yes, periodically they will not only b/c they will get hungry, but b/c they will also grow and need new shell homes. The rick is to balance the number of snails and crabs so that the crabs don't have to resort to eating the snails. Your rock can also be cleaned by one of the reef hobbyists best friends, a turkey baster. Periodically you can squirt the LR, any loose detritus will be blown loose. You can insert filter floss or sponge temporarily into one of your cubes chambers to catch all of the crud.

Live Rock - Was your rock supposedly cured or uncured? The curing may take up to a few weeks. Some poeple say to do water changes during the curing process, some don't. I didn't and my tanks (3 of them) are fine.

Once your tank is cycled (get a test kit to determine, Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia should be 0) - I would suggest doing a small water change. From then on, depending on bioload, people do between 10-20% (of volume) water changes.

Some people siphon a little bit of the sand when doing tank maintenance. I will do it periodically. If you have enough circulation (flow), you may not have to. When you purchase your CUC (clean up crew), buy a couple of nassarius snails, they burrow into the sand bed and stir it up some. If you siphon, don't go too deep, you will cloud your tank, lose sand and stir up some potential bad stuff.

Use RO/DI water for making your salt water and for topping off evaporation. If you have a b-day coming up, ask for an RO/DI filter system and a TDS meter. You will not regret the investment.

Do not add any animals into your tank until you are sure your tank is cycled (again, buy a test kit) -

As for dosing. for a nano it's probably not necessary. Keep up with water changes and you should be fine.

My best advice to you is to go slow - Only bad things happen fast in a reef tank, especially a nano.

Keep posting and try to find a local reef club. Locals are a great source of info, equipment and frags.

Have fun.


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Old 01/10/2008, 08:24 PM   #4
kingfisher62
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packisbak1, welcome to reef central!

That's what so great about these forums ,you can ask a question and get a good consensus of answers. Try to follow the masses!

Definitely get a few snails in a week or two ,you will need them when you get your first algae bloom which is right around the corner if it did not happen yet.
I like hermits ,it gives the tank variety. I would recommend the electric blues IMO the most reef safe. As mentioned keep spare shells in the tank.

I would siphon the debris off the rock during a water change not the sand.If the sand is fine enough sediment will not really sink into it and the current should blow it away.

you should have a test kit, what are your water parameters?

I would add a fish first and if it does well for a week or two the try adding a soft coral .Maybe mushrooms or Green star polyps


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Last edited by kingfisher62; 01/10/2008 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 01/10/2008, 08:37 PM   #5
NanoReefWanabe
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#1...
yes hermits will eat snails when their shells get tight...
Yes hermits will do a better job cleaning the rocks...
yes snails will clean the rocks too...

#2...
no...two weeks is too early...only tests will tell you when you can do WC...your Ammonia and Nitrite should read zero before doing any water changes..Nitrates should be as low as possible...personally mine have never gone below 10ppm...

#3...
Shallow sand beds should be cleaned....as they dont have enough capacity to remove all the bad poop that will fall in them..loads of flow will keep poop suspended..

#4...
blow off what you can, and keep it suspended..it will find its way into the filters..

#5...
Clean up crew first, then it doesnt really matter...test teh water again after adding CUC...they may cause mini cycle....it would be better to ad afish next as it will push the bacteria to multiply...making your water better..but either wya the bacteria present in the system will be enough to purify what is in the tank...with or without fish...as you add pish and coral the bacteria populations will rise accordingly..

#6...
dosing in a small tank is not really necessary, especially with low consumption corals and inverts...regular WC should be enough to keep up with consumption..


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Old 01/10/2008, 08:53 PM   #6
black_majik
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1) Any kind of livestock should be added after your cycle and added slowly. The end of the cycle mark is when the diatom( brownalgae) break out goes away. Never before. As for hermits and snails, hermit crabs live in snail shells, usually dead shells unless their shell is too small and they cannot find a bigger one, then they will attack and kill a snail for theirs. Larger hermits will actually attack other hermits and kill them. ( If you see a "naked" hermit body you know the cause now)

2)Again with water changes the same thing with livestock, only perform them after your cycle is complete ( brownalgae disappears). You at that point can do a 25% to lower nitrates and everything else that build up during the cycle. After that create a routine and try your best to stick with it.

3)Siphoning your sand bed is more of a freshwater activity than saltwater. Ideally you should have micro organisms, burrowing snails, and other inverts ( including your hermits and snails) which will complete till and clean ( micro-burrowing snails) to lightly pick up debris ( hermits possibly snails, shrimps etc.). In fresh water you really don't have these clean crews to aid you. It wouldn't be bad though to lightly disturb your sand bed you do not having any burrowers so you can free nitrates and other things your sand holds onto.

4)It depends on what that "loose stuff" is. Sometimes you can small corals which will slime and add organics to your water if you do not clean it off. On the other hand you can have animals/inverts who feed in that style so you wouldn't want to clean it off. Depends on the loose stuff.

5)Ideally you want your livestock in before the corals go in. This way it is less stressful for the coral since they won't have to experience a "mini" cycle. Some softies wouldn't mind it's a lot safer to have the fish/inverts in before.Either way you would want to wait a month or two if you are adding "hardy" softies. You still will see organic problems up to 6 months of having the tank. You can speed up this process by larger or more frequent water changes there is a calculator on the homepage which will show you how long it will take you have your "pure" water levels over 80% ( ideal for coral adding).

6) There is no need for dosing if you have a decent salt and you keep up with your water changes. Now if you venture into hard corals they pull calcium and alk. out of the water and then you would need to supplement to keep up with them. Otherwise if you have iodide monsters ( which is rare) you could dose iodide I don't recommend it. Silica is something you want to dose. These is the cause of brown algae, but only in high levels if you put in small doses up to the point of brown algae growth than your fine. Silica builds up snails, sponges and diatom tissue. Iron is another you may venture into if you add a refuge. The corals zooanthae ( pardon my spelling) will benefit too, but if it is just for your corals than teh salt will do fine. Fatty Acids is good for new corals which are stressed and actually depend on the water column for food until they are comfortable to perform photosynthesis. Fatty Acids will ruin your water quality fast if you use too much only a small amount to a new coral and direct feed. Vitamin C is only good if your tank is in a stressful situation or if a coral is dieing. Aside for those OPTIONS I would not dose anything.


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Old 01/10/2008, 08:55 PM   #7
dileggi
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Re: Conflicting Opinions - Newbie Help

Quote:
Originally posted by packisbak1
I started a new 12 gallon Nanocube Dx 1.5 weeks ago with 10 pounds of LR and 15 pounds of live sand. I have never kept a reef or saltwater tank before and have been asking a lot of questions at a few local fish stores in addition to doing a lot of reading on this site. As a result, I am getting really confused and a lot of contradicting information. I thought I would ask all the experts on the board to help provide some guidance based on your own experiences. All thoughts and information are appreciated. Below are my questions:

1) I was told that I need to add hermit crabs in
order to clear off all of the debris and algae off of
the live rock. I have read elsewhere that snails will
do a fine job and that many people don't use hermit
crabs because they will eat snails. Which is correct?

2) I was told to do a water change at the two week
mark while the guy who I spoke to originally told me
to wait "a few weeks". Which is correct and how do I
know when it is appropriate to start doing regular
water changes?

3) When doing a water change I was told to siphon the
sand bed. The guy who I spoke to last week told me
not to touch the sand bed. My sand bed is about 1.5- 2
inches deep.

4) There is all of this lose "stuff" that is blowing
around on my rocks. One guy told me I can pull it off
while another guy said I should just leave it. What
is the correct answer?

5) How will I know I can start adding hardy soft
corals? Should I add snails/fish first? I am only
planning on having 1-2 small fish but would like to
have some nice, easy to keep soft corals.

6) Will I need to dose anything to my aquarium (calcium, iodine etc.) if I plan on doing regular water changes and only having soft corals? I have read that people are fine without dosing but my LFS insists that I should start dosing immediately.

Any thoughts and advice are greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Hi packisbac1 and WELCOME TO REEF CENTRAL! Good luck!

1. Has your tank finished it cycle yet? If not, do not add anything at all. The LR and LS will cycle for you. Snails and hermits area great part of your clean up crew. So are bristle worms. Hermits will eat the snails occasionally, as hermits are opportunistic feeds and also look for newer homes. The hermits won't however do much for any algae. That's where the snails come in. I have lost some snails to hermits...I just buy more snails.

2. I would not change your water if your tank has not cycled yet. Let it cycle. After that, water changes weekly to biweekly are fine.

3. Typically, you do not want to disturb your sandbed, or if you do, you'll want to do it as gently as possible. Disturbing the sandbed will bring up the detrius and bacteria that's in the sandbed. But, that statement is more true for someone with a deep sand bed, I'm guessing 5 inches or more. Since you're stating your sand bed is only 1.5-2 inches deep, you would be safe if you needed to siphon your sandbed, but I would stick with gently doing the top layer only.

4. The stuff that's settling on your rocks at this point is probably a mixture of sand and loose rubble from the rocks as well as "stuff" from the sand bed and rock itself. Using a turkey baster to blow it off the rock is a good idea. Keep your filters running and clean the pads/filter often after you've blown the rocks clean. Also, if you have a skimmer run it "wet" so that it helps get the debris up as well. Although, at this point, if your tank is that new, a skimmer most likely won't do much yet anyway.

5. You'll be able to start adding stuff to the tank once it cycles. This means your amonia has dropped to 0, your nitrites have dropped to 0 and your nitrates have dropped to 0, or at least under 10-20, but shoot for 0. I don't actually think it would make a difference if you added the corals, fish or snails/crabs in any particular order. I personally added the fish first. But, take it slow so that you do not put your tank into bio load frenzy! LOL! After adding a fish, or two keep tabs on your water parameters. Once your tank adjusts to the fish, then go ahead an add your next purchase. Typcially, there's not a big bio load with the corals anyway, but slow and safe is always better.

6. As far as dosing with a nano tank, most likely not. But, it's probably a good idea to keep certain things "handy" just in case. I always keep a bottle of Amquel for amonia spikes. That may be all. You most likely will not need to dose for calcium or anything like that because of the nano tank and as long as you keep up with your water changes.

Definitely invest in a test kit and test for:
PH - Should be 8.2
Amonia - 0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates -0
Salinity - most shoot for 1.025
Phosphates - 0
Calcium - you should be fine just testing. It probably won't go below 380 with weekly or bi-weekly changes in your tank
dKH - 9-12

I hope this helps and good luck!


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Old 01/10/2008, 10:17 PM   #8
cherubfish pair
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The number one thing to remember about the reef aquarium hobby is to use TLC. These animals, corals, and everything are adorable.

Also remember, every living thing will eventually die and these could be troubling times.


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Old 01/11/2008, 04:43 AM   #9
ljosh
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I prefer to do water changes during the cycle. Soft cycling will result in less die off of hitch hikers.


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Old 01/11/2008, 05:02 AM   #10
black_majik
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Doesn't the process take longer ljosh? Thats what I"ve heard how is it for you.


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Old 01/11/2008, 07:49 AM   #11
packisbak1
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Thanks for all of your thoughtful and informative responses. I had the LFS test my water two days ago and they said it looked "new". They used dip sticks which I have been told are unreliable yet assured me that my ammonia and nitrites were zero and that I could start adding a few snails/hermits. I ordered my test kits online and they should be arriving any day. Once I can start testing the water myself, I will hopefully have a better idea as to where I am in the cycle.

Algae is definitely starting to grow including these brown things on the glass and sand that seem to have little leaves/tenticles. It looks like some form of algae and not aptasias (I have one of those as well). I will try to take a picture and post it over the weekend for ID.

I think I am going to start by adding some Cerith snails to hopefully get working on the algae and then go from there.


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Old 01/11/2008, 12:10 PM   #12
yankeereefer
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Hey pack

I just noticed that you're in Chicagoland.

Check out the CMAS forum here on RC. There's lot's of us locals - You're bound to have a neighbor online.

here's the link http://reefcentral.com/forums/forumd...s=&forumid=180

Ryan


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