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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry, I'm sure you get a million questions like this, so I'll try to be concise.

I'm a newb, just brought up a 55-gal tank and put a large live rock in it (fake) and I'm waiting for it to cycle. Here are my questions:

1. I read that adding crushed fish flakes to the tank will kick off the nitrogen cycle. Is this the easiest way to do it? I did this the past two days and haven't seen any NH. I assume it will take a week or so before I'll see any ammonia?

2. Once cycled I intended to get a cleaner shrimp and a snail. Do you suppose that is all the "cleanup crew" I'll need for a new tank?

3. Are Chromis rather easy to keep for a newbie like me?

Thanks, folks.
 

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There needs to be a source of colonizing bacteria to start the cycle, adding food only will not do it. You need a piece of live rock or a couple of cups of live sand from a friends tank to get it jump started. Bagged live sand from the LFS is pretty lame so try to find some real live sand. If nothing else see if the lFS will sell you a cup or two of the grunge out of the bottom of their live rock tank, that works great sometimes.
 

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Agree mostly with the above, but here's my .02

1. While the fish food may work, most fold now will just use a fresh shrimp from the grocery store. Try to find some RAW SHRIMP, make sure its raw and as unprocessed as possible. You don't want precooked or seasoned shrimp. I would suggest two for a 55ga tank. Take it home and throw it in the tank. It will begin to breakdown within a day or two and speed up your cycling.


Damsels or other fish used to be suggested more often, but since there is considerable risk to the fish, this is pretty cruel, and hardly suggested anymore. "Basically your making those fish live in a sewer processing plant for a few weeks until the bacteria bed can grow to a level where it can process the ammonia that is produced...not cool"

Also if at all possible I would recommend purchasing at least a few chunks of "seeded" live rock. While your "fake" live rock will evevtually become live, it will happen much faster with rock to seed it. Also this will further speed up your cycle. Not to confuse you, or recommend it, but I have seen tanks set up and had so much live rock added, that there was never really a cycle and levels were stable within 3 days... Not to say try it, just stressing if you can swing the money, get some live rock. Check craigslist if you are short on cash, there is always people selling it on there.

2. What is your final plan for the tank. I say this over and over, but marine tanks are a bit like planning an invasion. Everything you buy now, or place in your tank, will effect what you can and will do later on. Assuming that you are planning some sort of reef tank or even FOWLR (fish only with live rock), you will undoubetly want more then one snail and cleaner shrimp. Also important to note is cleaner shrimp are not know for "cleaning" your tank, but more to the point the "clean" your fish of parasites or dead tissue.

3. Chromis are very hardy fish, but should be kept in small schools.

Ok, I will get off the soapbox, hope you take all that like it is intended, to help you and give you some info. Any more questions just ask!
 
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I completely agree with salth2o. Getting a few lbs of seeded LR and/or sand should get your cycle going. The raw shrimp works great too. Adding Cycle might not be a terrible idea either: Aquarium Biological Starters: Cycle from Hagen Biological Water Conditioner
Chromis are good beginner fish, although they get rather aggressive/territorial in the long run. Something to keep in mind depending on what other kind of fish you would eventually like to keep in there.
Just take it slow and don't rush the cycle. It can get really annoying to wait, I'm a very impatient person myself, but your tank and its inhabitants will do much better in the long run if you establish a healthy biological filtration system in the first place. Keep us posted!
 

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Completely agree with salth2o. There are a few things that I need to add. As far as live rock goes I suggest at least 60 lbs (75 would be even better). If you want to save some money and don't mind waiting a bit more for the cycle to complete, use 30 lbs of live rock and 30-45 lbs of dry base rock. The rock becomes your primary biological filter.

Don't forget too that you are going to want a good protein skimmer to remove dissolved organic compounds from the water. Good luck.
 

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I recommend you add macro algaes to help "cycle" the tank. I use chaetomorphia and partition the tank with egg crate into a fish/coral/display area and a macro algae area.

my .02
 

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:point-laff: Bob, I wouldn't be surprised if you recommended Macro algae instead of lettuce in a BLT. It would probably help from developing halitosis. :really funny: *j4


*o2*o2*o2*o2*o2*o2
*r2
 

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see if the lFS will sell you a cup or two of the grunge out of the bottom of their live rock tank, that works great sometimes.
This indeed is a most excellent idea! I often use a product called GARF Grunge which is very comaprable to what one would get out of the bottom of a live rock vat, just for this purpose. Its a great way to add some diverse bacteria cultures to a tank and seed it with Coralline Algae spores and various other benefical items to the tank. In fact I will often add a bit of this to a tank periodically in an effort to increase the diversity in my tanks.

I agree, Slath20 made some very good points with his advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I do not want to cycle the tank with live fish for several reasons.

I didn't mention that this tank is not new and I did not clean the filter media in the Fluval filter cannister right away hoping that bacteria was still colonized somewhere in there even though the previous owner gave the foam a quick rinse.

Also, I used live sand whose label boasts of having 1000x the live bacteria of other live sands; A claim I rolled my eyes at and don't necessarily believe. I was shocked to read on the label and instructions for the live sand that as soon as you add it and the water clears they say you can begin populating your tank.

Let's just say I'm still skeptical of the sand, but hopeful that somewhere along the way my tank will colonize some bacteria on it's own. I'm going to take my water into the LFS (aquarium-talk for "local fish store", I presume?) to have it tested for TDS, maybe then I can get some tank grunge, that sounds like a great idea.

Thanks.
 

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Best of luck, sounds like you are on the right path. If you still are not seeing any cycle I would recommend throwing a shrimp or two in there. Also picking up some LR while you are at the LFS.

Let us know how it is going
 

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Thanks for the link...you just know I had to try it out. Im interested in getting a reply back! I will say with as many questions as they asked I am kinda curious as to what they will suggest.

You definitely dont have enough of a clean up crew even as new as the tank is.

On my tanks, which usually have lots of live rock, fine grade of substrate and corals with few or no fish I use a lot of Astrea, Banded Trochus and margarita snaisl to clean the glass and rock work. I use a lot of Nassarious and Cerith Snails to keep the sand bed tidy. I have a tendency to use a few pepermint shrimp and usually a small brittle starfish to take care of bits and pieces of food. I use both Scarlet Reef and Dwarf Blue leg hermits, with a strong preference for a gang of the latter as they are smaller and can investigate all those nooks and crannies in the rock work in the tank. I do not use Sea Hares, Sand Sifting Stars, Urchins or Cucumbers for a number of reasons. Yeah I am on that diversity kick when it comes to clean up crews in my tanks.

YMMV...
 

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Go with Reefcleaners.org and let them fix you up. They are one of the best in the business. John will treat you right and make sure you have what you need and then some. Your CUC should be the first thing in after the tank finishes cycling. You're going to get Ceriths, nassarius and nerites for sure. He'll also make other suggestions. Can't speak highly enough about him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
UPDATE: My ammonia levels are coming down, now I'll just wait for the nitrites to drop, do a 20-25% water change and then we'll get some critters! Woo!

*Glasses*
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The very day my Nitrites disappeared to trace levels I noticed small areas of brown in my aquarium. Brown algae. The good thing is I'll take that as confirmation that my tank has cycled. On the other hand, I have small areas of brown algae. *#3

Are there any critters that are effective at cleaning that up or do I really need to get in there and scrub?
 
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