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Discussion Starter #1
Do i need to use a mechanical filter during my tanks first cycle or do i just put the live sand/ rock in the water and let nature take its course?
 

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It really depends. Under some circumstances you can get away with it but in others you likely will regret not doing so.

If your going to buy no kidding cured rock, not what the LFS neccissarliy claims to be cured live rock, transport it home in buckets of water unless its a very short drive a few blocks down the road, with live sand then you can probably for go no mechanical filtration.

If your using Transhipped rock, ie..rock shipped fedex to you from someone such as Liveaquaria.com then I dont see how you could possibly get around anything short of a awsome filtration system firing on all 8 cylenders.

The real question I got is why would you not want mechanical filtration? Why would you want to start your tank off by allowing derbis to collect and decay in your tank instead of removing it so that you dont end up with a nutrient rich enviroment setting your self up for such things as outta control algae blooms? Starting a new tank is challenging enough why add to the challenge, right from the get go?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your help guys. Imaexpat: this is my first salt water tank i wasnt sure if mechanical filtration would harm the bacterias in my live sand. Go easy on me lol
 

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Sorry, wasnt trying to come off as if to be beating you up. I was just honestly curious why you wouldnt use mechanical filtration. Sometimes people do unorthadox things that are somewhat considered against the grain so to speak. But that doesnt mean there isnt a good reason or a sound explaination behind it. This is how break thrus and innovation comes about. Someone has to have an original idea other wise we would never advance.

At the same time I dont want to prostitute an idea or concept without providing an explaination as to why I have this or that opinion about something. Its easy to just say yes or no on something, but sometimes the why is more important that the actual answer. Hence the probing questions and bit of an explaination as to where I was going with it.

Additionally everyones tank is different and what works for one may not work in an identical looking set up.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No worries Imaexpat, you werent beating me up. I just wasnt sure about the filter. Thanks for the advice though
 

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elZacho,

I am an advocate of not using mechanical filtration in reef tanks though I do run a Simplicity filter with carbon and a protein skimmer. If you have an appropriate amount of live rock and sand the bacteria will take care of itself and after the cycle a cleanup crew will work on detritus and algae. You can have a small sponge filter or a filter sock but generally the filter is actually used as a place for bacteria to grow and since you have live rock it doesn't serve any purpose other than perhaps catching bigger chunks of detritus that work their way down to the sponge.

Your new tank will go through many kinds of cycles as it matures over the first year, algae blooms are normal, creatures that are alive in the rock will wax and wane depending on the food sources available, it is a fascinating process and you will be amazed at the critters that will show up in your tank over time.

Know also, that there are almost as many opinions on how to do things in this hobby as there are aquarists and except for major things like putting a fish that belongs in a 100g+ tank in a nano for example there are many ways to manage your tank(s) and eventually you will develop your own way.

Keep asking questions and weigh the opinions to see what works for you. Also, research, research, research - you can't learn enough....

Marlene
 

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You can have a small sponge filter or a filter sock but generally the filter is actually used as a place for bacteria to grow and since you have live rock it doesn't serve any purpose other than perhaps catching bigger chunks of detritus that work their way down to the sponge.
This is exactly the way I have my tank filtered.

Here is a link for you that will go into some details about filtration in a reef tank. I believe there is a menu to the left that will provide information on a variety of subjects as well as possibly more detailed info on filtration. Might find a couple things there worth reading.

Salt Water Fish Tank Filter Systems - Reef Filtration
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Marlene, you mentioned having enough live sand and live rock will do the job. As of right now, my budget is very tight and i dont have enough money for adequate amounts of live rock : (.... anyway, my 30 gallon tank set up with about 25lbs of live sand and an internal filter rated for fifty gallons that does bio, chem and mech. filtering. what do you think? should i make the live rock a priority? or can i do without it for a few more months?
 

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elZacho, do you have any rock? What else is in there other than the sand?

If you can't afford the rock right now then I would just let the tank be without additional filtration, good water movement and light, the bacteria and planktonic animals in the sand will not produce much waste and what they do produce should be eaten by them quickly anyway.

Let us know what else is in the tank. You can put some carbon in your filter (in a filter bag) after you rinse it thoroughly in cold water, see how it goes without any filter material (like floss or sponge) because they will trap the bacteria and animals you are trying to promote. The only problem with adding the live rock later is that because of the die off of things in and on the rock your tank will probably go through another cycle, though it may be a short one.

The more details you give us the more we can help.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I got a 29 gallon tank about 2 weeks ago for my b-day. I went to petco and listened to the fish guy ramble for a few hours and decided to start a salt water tank lol. I put 10lbs of live sand and 10lbs of regular aquarium sand in the tank. The tank is filled with tap water with marine salt mix. (i plan to have a fish only tank with the live sand/rock) I have a submersible filter that does bio, chem and mech filtering, a heater and a 60 gallon air pump thats moving ALOT of water right now.... its too loud lol i'm in the process of getting two powerheads. also, idk if decor makes a difference but i have a few fake plants, a fake coral rock and three little pirate statues.

the tank has been running with the filter and live sand for about a week now. I'm going to wait about another week, untill i put the power heads in, to put a damsel in and see how the tank works out.
 

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Ok, first, you should avoid using tap water if you can help it. Also, in case you didn't you should add the appropriate amount of a declorinator which you can get at an LFS. From here on in top off the tank with deionized water which you can get in gallon jugs at a supermarket.

Second, you will do much better going to a local fish store (LFS) than to PetCo. Third, you probably don't have enough life in there from 10 lbs. of live sand to actually cycle the tank, so if you can get maybe 10 lbs. of live rock that should help get the tank going. Do you have a test kit? If not you can take a cup of water to your LFS and they will test it for you. Basically, the first spike will be ammonia, which breaks down into nitrites, then nitrates - when you have no ammonia, no nitrites and nitrates of less than 5ppm. the tank is technically cycled. In reality your tank will actually take up to a year to truly be established which is why you add animals slowly to not throw the tank out balance and start the cycle all over again.

There are lots of ways to cycle a tank, these days thankfully most people don't use fish to start the cycle, but it is still done.

I suggest that you go to an LFS and tell them what kind of tank you want to have and they can help you get going. Also, a beginners book about the saltwater hobby is highly recommended.

Marlene
 

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Ok, first, you should avoid using tap water if you can help it. Also, in case you didn't you should add the appropriate amount of a declorinator which you can get at an LFS. From here on in top off the tank with deionized water which you can get in gallon jugs at a supermarket.

Second, you will do much better going to a local fish store (LFS) than to PetCo. Third, you probably don't have enough life in there from 10 lbs. of live sand to actually cycle the tank, so if you can get maybe 10 lbs. of live rock that should help get the tank going. Do you have a test kit? If not you can take a cup of water to your LFS and they will test it for you. Basically, the first spike will be ammonia, which breaks down into nitrites, then nitrates - when you have no ammonia, no nitrites and nitrates of less than 5ppm. the tank is technically cycled. In reality your tank will actually take up to a year to truly be established which is why you add animals slowly to not throw the tank out balance and start the cycle all over again.

There are lots of ways to cycle a tank, these days thankfully most people don't use fish to start the cycle, but it is still done.

I suggest that you go to an LFS and tell them what kind of tank you want to have and they can help you get going. Also, a beginners book about the saltwater hobby is highly recommended.
More good ROCK SOLID information there in that one short post than you can shake a stick at. Taking it for its face value is most highly recommended. Before you progress any further forward I would suggest that you do a lot of reading and research and ask a galzillion questions here. SW tanks aint all that hard, but they are unforgiving if you make a mistake and they can certianly be pretty expensive then, not that they have to be. A good game plan will up your chances of a successful tank and few problems to deal with along the way, making it the enjoyable experience that you hoped it would be.

There are advantages to buying Live rock on line or from the LFS.

LFS
- you can choose the pieces that are shaped just the way you want.

- you can buy a few pounds at a time and add them to the tank as your budget allows. This is not always optimal, but it can be good as sometimes not all of us have long arms and deep pockets.

- this generally is a more expensive route to go, but not by a whole lot by the time you factor in FedEx over night shipping cost and your time and efforts spent curing the rock before putting it in your tank.

- in my experience, you run a greater risk of issues with Apitasia and more recently Bryopsis. A good reputable LFS will try to minimize this although some do a much better job than others.

- The rock for the most part is cured if it is promoted as such. Rock thats fully cured will always command a premium price per a pound.

- generally your LFS will only have one choice in the type of rock to choose from. This is generally Fiji. Nothing wrong with it. Its the most commonly available rock and of okay quality and fairly cheaply priced. You may not want a tank with the same type of rock that can be found in 9 out of 10 tanks, you might want something different and unique.

On Line

- Some distributors are more reputable than others. Do a lot of research for a good idea as to which have a more consistent reputation for providing a good product. Dont depend up on testimonials posted on the distributors sites. Think about it...if you were a buisness and some one said your product was garbage would you let it stay on your web site where it might have a negative impact on your future buisness?

- generally this rock comes in boxes of pre determined weight. Sometimes you can get it by the pound but until very recently you generally found it in 25 lbs, 30 lbs 40-45+ lbs boxes. This is great if you got a 125 gallon tank but not always optimal if you got a Nano.

- While some places will fill your order with rock as per your requirements most just grab one of the boxes thats stacked in the warehouse that just came in on thier transhippment from over seas. So your buying rock thats sight unseen in most cases, but not all. At a LFS you can cherry pick rock that fits your needs specifically.

- Dont waste money buying so called "cured rock" on line. Unless its shipped fully submerged in water( a prohibitively expensive way to ship. I only know of one that did this and I am not sure they are in buisness anymore due to damage from a huricane to thier facility. They did have a reputation that was top shelf but the cost of shipping would bring you to your knees.) there will be some die off and it will need to be cured again. You will have less die off with this rock, but it will still need to be cured again. I prefer uncurred rock as its cheaper and while it has more die off, its been my experience that it has more "life" on it generally speaking. YMMV.

- While this rock can come with pest and bad macro algae to be sure, its been my experience that its less of an issue. I have also gotten a lot more benefical hitch hikers on it than I have from rock at the LFS. But you can get some bad things too. I just havent seen this to be the case too often and many of these can be delt with easier than ridding apitasia infested rock that you picked up from the LFS if the rock in their Rock tank is that bad.

- generally an online retailer will have several differnt varieties of live rock available. This might give your tank a different look that you want. You might also find lighter and more porous rock which is better than Fiji. For example, I have used a lot of Kaelini (sometimes called Deep Tonga), Tonga Branch, Marshall Islands and Pukani rock. While some of them may cost more, some are so light and porous that you need less of it than Fiji to fill a tank with enough to provide you the needed biological filtration for your tank. Point is if you want something different and a little off the beaten path, then a on line retailer might be just the ticket for you.

Im sure I missed a few details, but this should at least scratch the surface for you.
 
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