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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Nov 08 - I started my first ever saltwater tank 6 months ago. It's a 20g long. Put in 10 lbs of sand, enough for a little layer on the bottom, and about 11 lbs of live rock. Also immediately i put a few snails ( i think astrea) and a few small hermits. After about a week I put in a green chromis and another small damsel (not sure exactly what name) and let everything cycle for about a month. The unknown damsel died. Don't know why, but i'm thinking it's just the stresses of the cycle.

Dec 08 - Next I put a sixline wrasse

Jan 09 - Added a Maroon Clown. Green Chromis died. (Now i'm getting curious if it's something i did or are the two fish not extremely hardy)

May 09 - Bought Coralife 24 in dual T5 28 watt light setup . 1 10000k bulb and 1 Actinic bulb. Added Bicolor Blenny, Fire Shrimp, Flame Scallop, Cleaner Clam, and 7 Blue Mushroom polyp/anemone on one small rock (don't know the true name, some people call them polyps some call them anemones. Does anyone know what is correct?) Started supplementing with 3 ml Ecosystem Reef Solution and 3 ml Purple Up each night.

So far, everything is looking good. The fish all seem lively. They eat readily every other day. The shrimp comes out at night. And the mushrooms have almost doubled in size from when I got them.

I'm wondering about the lights. I see people using the same bulbs as me, but I don't understand the difference in the watts. Can someone explain the difference in having a setup with an equal amount of bulbs but more watts? ie. my two bulbs are 28 watts total whereas others two bulbs are say 56 watts?

Also, does anyone have any comments on my tank status and timeline so far?












I am wondering about the differences in watts pertaining to lights.
 

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Nothing out of the ordinary as far as your timeline, sometimes losses are part of the process. When I worked at an LFS, we would get hundreds of damsels in and dozens would die over the next few weeks in the shop. It wasnt water quality issues on our end, but rather the whole collection and transport process caused too much stress etc. Sad but true.

Regarding the lighting, there are different types of flourescent. There's the equivalent of Standard Output, High Output (HO), and Very High Output (VHO). The same length bulb may be rated for any of the three wattages.

Your 20Long tank is probably 30" wide. Closest standard length bulb that fits would be 24".
24" HO T5 are 24W bulbs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To understand this correctly, the bulbs i currently have right now are 14 watts apiece. I verified on the box. Now, when i replace these i can put HO lights that are 24 watts apiece. Does it make a difference? Do they just suck up more electricity or do they actually make more light?
 

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inTank
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Next time don't cycle with fish and just do it naturally. Your damsel most likely died because of the nitrogen cycle and that isn't normal to kill a fish because you want to cycle a tank.

Never add snails right away to a new tank. Also 11 lbs of live rock is pretty bare. In a 20 gallon I would run about 30 lbs. It is your biofiltration. If you do add more and you should make sure you purchase it fully curred from a LFS and do not let it out of water.

A marron clown is much too large for you tank size. Remove and return. They are also very aggressive.


Your lighting is pretty weak for a 20 gallon. You are extremely limited now and I would look at upgrading before stocking any more corals, even something low light like zoas. you will need a new fixture, just changing a bulb isn't going to do much.

Can you get a picture of this unknown anem or polyp?

Purple up is pointless. Just manage calc and alk and also do weekly water changes. Always test before dosing anything. purple coralline comes with time, not a bottle, and it is basically calcium and alkalinity buffer.
 

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you went really fast on stocking and didnt fishy cycle so thats my guess as to the dead damsel. go slow with salt water, its a whole diff. ball park then fresh! id add more sand and more 10 pounds of baserock, dont add LR you will disrupt the cycle because there will be more bacteria that be able to eat and will cause a huge dieoff and make ammonia levels go crazy. base rock is cheaper than LR anyways so that should be good. also id get higher lighting and a better system, anems and corals need alot of light, try for approx 4-5 watts per gallon. just my 2 cents, sounds like a good project so far!
 

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inTank
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No, you can add fully curred live rock to any tank if it has not been out of water. Base rock will only have to cycle, you have it backwards. If you add base rock you will only be seeding it and not adding any filtration for some time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not trying to argue, just further understanding. Where do these numbers for live rock come from? And sand. I think if i put 20 more pounds of rock, wouldn't i in turn displace a lot of water therefore my 20 gallons of water would be more like 13 or 15 gallons? Also, I check my ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and ph every thurs-fri (depending on my work schedule). I recently started checking my calcium, carbonate hardness, and phosphate as well. I figure I always have a slight amount of ammonia and nitrite, but my kit always shows both at the zero level now. Also, I'm not using purple up because i think it's corraline algae in a bottle. I am using it because it is a calcium and iodine supplement. My LR is already covered in Corraline Algae and the back and sides of my tank are spotting with it.

I agree with the maroon being to big for my tank. I bought it on impulse without prior research. I don't believe it is aggressive though. It swims around with my wrasse and from time to time with my blenny. I don't know if it's cause my wrasse can be an *** at times, but I have had no problem with the maroon so far.

I also agree about my lights. They are pretty weak, but right now my mushrooms are doing fine. I know to do anything else I'm going to have to get more power, but i'm limited at the time.
 

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inTank
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The numbers come from experience with reef tanks. they are a general guideline. yes you will have less water with more rock, but that is a good thing. Rock is your filter, not your water.

You should not have any ammonia or nitrite or even nitrate if you have fish and corals. test your test kit or double check it with a LFS. Any ammonia in a reef will kill the coral and fish.

Look into a two part solution and use water changes to replace trace elements. Purple up is just a bunch of stuff all together, you can't regulate one element from the next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks. I'll take a water sample to my LFS and make sure my readings are accurate. Right now I'm using API saltwater test kit and API master reef kit. I don't know if there are any others out there more accurate or if this one good. Do you have any suggestions? My LFS is the one that told me all i need is Ecosystem Reef Solution and Purple Up. If it's wiser to buy the individual elements on a needed basis then I'll do that instead.

Also, I'm planning on buying a 70 gallon tank in the next week or so. Is there anything you recommend doing other than what has already been pointed out earlier?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Also, I think there is a misunderstanding with where I said I'll always have a little ammonia and nitrite in my tank. If a tank didn't have any ammonia and nitrite, then the bacteria that feast on those would die off. Correct? Isn't that what a balanced nitrogen cycle is? Where your tank produces an amount of ammonia through feeding, waste, etc. and that is in turn converted to nitrite by the bacteria, which is in turn converted to nitrate by other bacteria which is then either consumed by algae or removed through a water change.

So when i say i always have a little ammonia and nitrite it's given the circumstances that everyone does. Please understand that I wouldn't treat my little ecosystem like that.
 

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small tank are very hard to keep.... the more water volume you have the more stabile the tank. I have kept everything from 1 1/2 gal to 600 gal and I have more problems out of the littletanks than the bigger ones..... zero is what you what on everything to keep the perfect tank???? IMO....
 

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inTank
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Thanks. I'll take a water sample to my LFS and make sure my readings are accurate. Right now I'm using API saltwater test kit and API master reef kit. I don't know if there are any others out there more accurate or if this one good. Do you have any suggestions? My LFS is the one that told me all i need is Ecosystem Reef Solution and Purple Up. If it's wiser to buy the individual elements on a needed basis then I'll do that instead.

Also, I'm planning on buying a 70 gallon tank in the next week or so. Is there anything you recommend doing other than what has already been pointed out earlier?
API is the test kit I used early on in my tanks life. Very accurate and inexpensive. Purple up is junk. Just use your weekly water changes to input trace elements back into the water. I use a two part solution every other day called C-ballance. It is calcium and alkanity. I have a lot of SPS so they consume them both quickly.

For cycling any tank big or small what I pointed out is the method. In that size I would aim for 100#s of rock.
 

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inTank
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Also, I think there is a misunderstanding with where I said I'll always have a little ammonia and nitrite in my tank. If a tank didn't have any ammonia and nitrite, then the bacteria that feast on those would die off. Correct? Isn't that what a balanced nitrogen cycle is? Where your tank produces an amount of ammonia through feeding, waste, etc. and that is in turn converted to nitrite by the bacteria, which is in turn converted to nitrate by other bacteria which is then either consumed by algae or removed through a water change.

So when i say i always have a little ammonia and nitrite it's given the circumstances that everyone does. Please understand that I wouldn't treat my little ecosystem like that.
No. You never want to see ammonia or nitrite. A reef can tollerate some nitrate, 0 is ideal under 20 is managable with some corals. The nitrogen cycle is the conversion of ammonia to nitrite. Nitrate to nitrite. Water changes and good filtration remove the nitrite. After the cycle the bacteria lives off of element in the water consuming wastes and breaking them down for you.

You are correct on nitrite being broken down by algae (macro) and water changes.

Never want to see ammonia or nitrite. You will have corals turning white if you do and if it gets high enough fish floating.
 

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inTank
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small tank are very hard to keep.... the more water volume you have the more stabile the tank. I have kept everything from 1 1/2 gal to 600 gal and I have more problems out of the littletanks than the bigger ones..... zero is what you what on everything to keep the perfect tank???? IMO....
They are "harder" but there are thousands of nano reefs around the world that are years and years old now. Tanks have come a long way and so has the experience. With a smart setup, smart stocking decisions, and regular water changes nano reefs are more than stable. A mature nano tank can run on it's own with little more than topping off, feeding, and water changes. Less work than a large tank.
 

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No. You never want to see ammonia or nitrite.
I believe if you re-read his post you will see he said he reads no Ammonia or nitrite when he tests, but assumes there is some small amount or the bacteria that feeds on it would die off. In which case the cycle would have to start over.
 
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