1.) We are down to 3 damsels. We got our water tested (still haven’t had a chance to purchase our own tests yet) and our nitrates haved peaked. Everything else was okay except our PH was alittle off but they gave us something to take care of that. The lady mentioned that she hoped the 3 damsels are enough to finish the cycling process and get our nitrates back down, but didn’t say anything else. So- will it just take longer with only 3 damsels or is there something else we can do to get everything stabalized? We are in no rush, of course (especially because we need to get our fish savings back up), but I am just curious to what happens next.
Well, if you have already seen the ammonia and nitrite spike, your damsels are pretty much finished their job. Their only job was to create waste, which causes the ammonia spike. From that point forward, bacteria took over and finished the process. If I understand the nitrification process completely, which I may not have a 100% complete grasp of.
As for your PH, couple of things I have read say that anywhere from 7.8 to 8.5 is acceptable with the ideal number being 8.2. So if your PH is within this range, you should be fine. There are a few caveats to that, but I won’t go into detail. Just see the link at the end of this section to read more about PH, particularly sections of the link that talk about acceptable ranges, and how to raise or lower your PH.
The only time I have ever heard that PH will “fix” itself is if you are testing at night when the lights are off. That is because at night, the PH in our tanks normally drops, unless you have a sump, in which you can offset the drop in PH by leaving your sump light on while your tank lights are off. When the lights come back on during the day, the PH will eventually come back up to its normal values. There is some scientific reason behind this and has something to do with the respiration of fish and the photosynthesis in corals, you can read more here if you like:
2.) PROTEIN SKIMMER. Recommendations? We currently have about 130 dollars saved up to go towards this purchase, and within the next couple weeks (next pay day) could have it up to about $200. However the lower the better because we still need to purchase our tests, a gravel vac, and something else someone suggested on my last thread that I forgot the name of (rodi or something…)
As I read through your questions, I noticed at the bottom you mention having a hang on mechanical filter, so that means you will need a hang on skimmer, I don’t know if there are any quality hang on skimmers available, but that is only because I have never looked for one. Most of the best skimmers require a sump, and then a quality skimmer for a 75g tank is gonna cost you at least $275 to $300. The ASM G1X is the one that I use on my 55g w/25g sump, and the one that I just put in my parents new 75g w/ 20g sump. In my opinion, if you find a hang on that seems to have good reviews, before you purchase it, place the link on here and let people comment back about it. Also, look for one that will handle at least a 100g tank, if there is one that big in the hang on variety.
You always want to go larger for your mechanical filtration, in my opinion. The reason being that you are only mechanically filtering a small portion of your water at any given time, whether its through a biowheel or charcoal media filters, or skimming, so why not aim for one that is meant for a larger tank, so at least it will be filtering that small portion of water faster.
3.) My fiancee has been looking online at fish and whatnot. He came across a coral banded shrimp, read up on, and says that it will be okay in a fish only tank and is easy to take care of. He has his heart set on it. Does anyone have any experience with these? Also, someone told us there are some types of starfish that work well in fish only and are easy to take care of (just with an extra supplement). Any advice on starfish? Fish wise all we have decided on are clownfish and figure we will work around them (fish that get along with them).
I don’t have any experience with coral banded shrimp, so no direct input there. But check out sites like www.liveaquaria.com or www.fishlore.com to get some good, normally unbiased, information on just about any livestock you can place in your tank.
As for starfish, I don’t have any direct experience on those either, so see above. What I have heard is that starfish can be ‘pushy’ with your live rock. So after aquascaping, if your rock isn’t 100% stable, there is a chance the starfish can inadvertently knock over the rock and when that rock hits your glass, it could be potentially catastrophic. Slim chance, but still something to take into consideration.
4.) Where to buy from?? What stores are your favorites and are best to get fish from? We live in Chestertown, MD and have to travel about 1 hour + to get anywhere.
From Chestertown, you are probably 2 hours from That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA, 1 1/2 hours from Dr. Macs (Pacific East Aquaculture), and 1 hour from The Fish Bowl (TFB) in Dover and Delaware’s Premium Aquatics (DPA) in Newark. Any of these places are great places to shop. Dr. Macs doesn’t normally have a great selection of fish, but only because he specializes in corals. I will warn you though, stay away from Dr. Macs if you are hell bent on a FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) tank… Once you see his corals and the tanks he has in his store, I can guarantee your mind will be changed, and you will walk out of that store with $200 worth of corals, and be back on here asking questions about a Reef Tank instead of a FOWLR… I know because I did.
One piece of advice I want to give about selecting fish is this. Find out when the stores you want to shop at get their fish deliveries. Then be there on that day to see what they got in. In most cases, you will be able to ask them to hold a specific fish for you for an amount of time. I like to wait about a week before I take a fish home from a LFS (Local Fish Store). Not because I don’t trust them, but it gives the fish time to get over the stress (or at least most of the stress) from the shipment, and also allows them to develop any stress related diseases, if they are going to get them. After the week has passed, come back to the store and take a look at your fish, if its healthy, you should be good to go by then. If you happen to be passing by a store a day or 2 after the shipment was brought in, try to resist buying a fish that was just delivered, it is probably still a little stressed and should really be given a couple more days to settle down, in my opinion.
5.) Acclimation. Once we start buying fish… how should we acclimate them to our tank? I know we should go slowly and not introduce too much at once… but what else should I know?
Fish and coral acclimation is pretty simple, when compared to acclimating snails, crabs, shrimp, etc… For fish, you simply take the bag that the fish or coral is in, open it by undoing whatever is holding it closed (the knot, rubberband, etc. and float it in your tank. I normally just cut a hole in the bag and drape top of the bag over the edge, then I take my magfloat and trap the part of the bag that is outside the tank against the glass with the magfloat, to keep the bag from floating away or falling into the tank. Let this sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. That gives the temperature of the water in the bag time to match the temperature of the water in the tank. Then, pour a portion of the water in the bag, maybe 25% or so, down the sink. Put the bag back in the water again to float and take a small cup (i use a 1/4 cup measuring cup) and pour about 1/8th of a cup of tank water into the bag every 5 or so minutes. Do this abut 5 or 6 times, you want about 75% of the water in the bag to be tank water. 5 minutes after you’ve poured the last portion of water into the bag, you are ok to put the fish or coral into your tank, but do not put ANY of the water in the bag into your tank. For a fish, with the help of my wife, I normally pour the contents of the bag through a fish net, over the sink or a bucket. The fish should fall into the net, then i put the fish into tank, and pour the water down the drain. For a coral, I just pull the coral out of the bag and place it in the tank, normally lower in the tank so that it gets acclimated to the light, then slowly, over the course of a few days or weeks, move it up to the spot I want the coral, if it is a coral that needs a lot of light.
As for acclimating invertebrates (shrimp, snails, crabs, star fish, etc…) It’s a little more tricky. Inverts need to be drip acclimated, or at least should be. They are extremely sensitive to water chemistry changes. Instead of typing all of the steps out, Dr. Mac explains it with pictures. Here is a link to his acclimation page on his website. This is also where I got my information about acclimating fish and corals:
6.)We have a filter that sits on the back of the tank… a marine land pro series bio wheel power filter emperor 400. Someone mentioned in my last post I might want to upgrade but didn’t give too much
more information. I of course over thought this and got paraniod thinking our filter isn’t going to do its job. Will our filter be okay for our tank and when will I know I need to upgrade? We arn’t planning on switching to coral anytime soon.
My personal opinion about mechanical filtration that includes filter media, biowheels, or bioballs is that they can be more hazardous to your tank than they are good… If you don’t regularly change the filter media, it can become a nitrate factory. Biowheels and bioballs are designed to allow algae grow on them to help filter out nitrates from the system. Ok, maybe not “designed” to allow it, but it happens, and they tell you not to clean either… and if you ask me, if the stuff is growing in your filter, what’s stopping it from spreading to your tank?
If you had the means, I would tell you to to put a sump in, with a refugium and a quality skimmer. The natural filtration of a refugium (chaeto grass or other type of macro algae, live rubble rock, and live sand) and the mechanical filtration of a quality skimmer give you your best chance of succeeding. However they have their drawbacks as well, and if you are interested, I can spell them out for you when the time comes that you are thinking about upgrading to a sump. Otherwise, the filter system that you have now seems to be just barely adequate for your size tank. The marineland website showed that the 400 was capable of handling up to 80g tanks. For mechanical filtration I like to go overboard and almost double what the capacity of the filter or skimmer says it can handle. So in your case, you probably should have a filter that can handle closer to a 100 to 120 gallon tank. Just my opinion though.
7.)Last question, I think… Can someone explain live rock to me? I cannot seem to find a straight answer anywhere. We have 2 peices of skeleton coral and 1 large base rock in our tank right now. From what I understand, the base rock will become live rock over time. Should we invest in live rock or just let nature take its course? We were planning on getting a couple more peices of skeleton coral, should we skip it and look into live rock instead??
The other replies have already answered this, but i’ll put my 2 cents in as well. In most cases, any rock that you put into a cycled aquarium will be live rock within a matter of hours or days. Even if it is ‘dead’ rock or dry rock, the copepods and amphipods that are living in your tank, that came from your other live rock, will eventually colonize the dead rock along with any bacteria in the water, and that essentially makes it live rock. It doesn’t have to have anything visible growing on it to be classified live rock.
Sorry for so many questions- I didn’t think I had that many when I logged on! Also, I apologize for any spelling or grammar errors… I have a 14 month old tugging on my arm Thank you all so much for your help, I truly appreciate it!
No reason to be sorry, the more questions you ask on here, the better prepared you will be. Besides, with the combined 800+ years worth of saltwater aquarium knowledge that you have access to on these forums, there is no better place to ask questions, no matter how silly you think they are.
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!!