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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off this is my mate and I's first saltwater aquarium. It is 55 gallon and weve had it set up for a couple of days. We plan to start adding coral and other live rock next week but right now we are wondering about this sand that was given to us by our local pet store in a deluxe marine setup kit. The liv sand is so fine that the tank has stayed horribly cloudy for 3 days, I'm assuming this is normal but we are wondering how hard this is going to be to keep clean? Anytime we even arrange the sand etc its a huge dust storm in there and I cannot imagine putting my fish through that when cleaning. Should I have went with a grittier rocky type sand? How hard is this going to be to keep clean? Should we change it before goin any further? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Once your tank has cycled and each sand grain has a coating of bacteria it won't cloud up like that and will clear quickly. I'd hold off longer on the corals but the live rock should go in now in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks alot for the quick response, I am very happy to hear that I was about to re-do the entire bottom of the tank out of frustration. I will put the rocks in asap, how long should I hold off on the coral? Also, and sorry for the newbie questions but we wanted a more dramatic tank, I know it's all about the lighting and we are currently using a Nova Extreme T5 for 55gal. I know it's a good light it is just so bright, I fear the fish wont look as good in such extreme lighting. I mean lets face it, in the pet store the lighting is not so harsh and the fish really stand out. We bought a blue background and the lighting is so stark that it basically looks black and white? Anything I can do to keep the UVs etc I need without such insane light?
 

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I can only suggest what i would do. If you don't like my answers (most people don't LOL) I'm never hurt by asking for more opinions. Just don't fall into the common new hobbiest trap where you keep asking until you get the answer you want.

I would wait on corals and fish until after the tank is stable, not just cycled. I'm started over 100 different reef tanks in my years and this is what works best for the people with patience. It can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks for a tank to become stable.

While cycling with live rock I feed the tank when ammonia is at 0.0ppm and I do water changes when ammonia exceeds 0.5ppm.

As far as lighting, corals thrive under intense lighting. They don't require intense lighting all day though, usually a few hours is sufficient. If your fixture has the ability to turn on individual bulbs then you can keep 1/2 of the lights on 8 - 12 hours and all of the lights on for 3 - 4 hours to obtain good results.

On the other hand, in my opinion, saltwater fish look fantastic under intense lighting.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the UVs". There are no UV requirements for a reef tank.
 

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+1. Definitely wait to add anything more than live rock for a while. I know it's easy to be impatient, but your results will be better if you wait it out. I'd give your tank two months at least before you add any coral; fish could probably go in a little sooner. What kinds of fish and corals are you looking to keep?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok, then maybe I should start by asking some of the basic questions. It's painfully obvious how new to this I am but plenty patient and an eagerness to do this right. This is my 4th tank, 3 prior being freshwater and all crashed from a fish disease called "Ich". Back then I did'nt do any testing (such a newb) and was changing the water too frequently for a spotless tank, mind you that I never did achieve.

My husband and I have decided to try saltwater this time and we have more time to invest and money into it. We don't want to have a huge bio load, we were considering 6 or 7 small fish for 55 gallon tank. We are taking alot of advice right now and many have suggested getting a few clown, 1 tang, and a couple damsels to start with. We also wanted a few live rocks, few coral (easy to maintain hopefully). Of course our general concern is keeping it clean without killing the fish hehe.

Knowing which coral to get with these type of fish has not been easy. Like I said we do not want a huge bio load, we want the few fish in there to be very happy. Anything that promotes the tank cleaning itself is a bonus and has been suggested to get shrimp, emerald frogs, etc to help. But how valid is this information? The tank has been setup for 4 days now and nothing but sand and saltwater hehe.

We are going to pick up some live rock tomorrow or the day after as suggested here and after the tank has stabled can coral and fish go in together or one before the other which how much time apart?

Aside from understanding which species go well together and what they eat the hardest part to learn has been the testing. I know you have to test for spikes in NO3 and PO4? What kindatester would you recommend for maintaining this tank? Lastly, and sorry for the long post but you said "feed the tank" ..exactly what should I be feeding an empty tank?

Any and all information is majorly appreciated and thanks for taking the time out to read..
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
+1. Definitely wait to add anything more than live rock for a while. I know it's easy to be impatient, but your results will be better if you wait it out. I'd give your tank two months at least before you add any coral; fish could probably go in a little sooner. What kinds of fish and corals are you looking to keep?

Thanks alot for asking, we want to keep this as simple as possible until we are more seasoned and has been suggested to go with a few clown fish, a tang, and a few damsels. As far as the coral we are clueless what would work best for them as I have heard Anemone are great for clown fish but are very sensitive to Nitrate? We are defineately in no rush and plan to stable this tank as long as it takes before adding anything to it. I am glad I came here because logically the coral should be the last to go in and my husband was going to add some in a week or two.

All I know is I love fish and aquariums, have all my life. My few attempts at them have ended in tragic loss and uneducated choices. We are looking to run a nice aquarium, not over-stocked, that we can maintain and be proud of. Any tips or suggestions are highly appreciated.

Also, sorry to add to this but we are very interested in the placement and arrangement of the rock and coral. How do people stack them in such a way to reach the top of the tank? Are they placing them on the rocks themselves? After reading some posts here, I've heard of people placing them above the gravel/sand with strings and/or drilling rods through them..I am assuming this is to keep them upright? I think that is too elaborate at this stage for us but seeing how generally small some of these coral are just laying a few on the sand bed seems too plain. Should we be building the rocks up first then setting the coral on those? Thanks again ..
 

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I'm going to work from the bottom up.
-Substrate and live rock (LR) go in first. They go in first because a lot of times bacteria, plankton, and tiny invertebrates go through a stage of "die off" in a brand new tank, causing an ammonia spike. If you have fish and/or corals in there when you have a spike, they could get very stressed and in the case of corals, often die. So, sand and LR first. Let the tank cycle for at least two weeks (minimum). I don't know how you guys are going about cycling your tank, but here is an article about fishless cycling which I think is the preferable way to go:Fishless Cycling - Article at The Age of Aquariums - Tropical Fish

-People stack LR to get it closer to the light, if that's the look you're going for. Naturally, that much rock can be a little unstable, so if you're worried about things toppling over, use epoxy. Epoxy works wonders with shaky rock work.

-After you're tank is cycled, you have to choose fish. Clownfish are great for a 55g, with the exception of a maroon clowns and tomato clowns. They get too big for a 55g and are very aggressive. I know anemones look fantastic, but they are REALLY finicky. They need nearly perfect water conditions, stable water quality parameters, intense lighting, and are very sensitive to nitrate. If you are seriously considering an anemone, make sure your tank is happily running for at least 6 months before you actually think about getting one. Don't get a tang. They are absolutely beautiful, but they need a lot of swimming space and there is no tang that stays small enough to live in a 55g tank long term. Sorry. Damsels are goos in that they're really hardy and live through almost anything, but they are very territorial and often don't get along with other more docile fish, so they wouldn't be my first choice. Fish I would recommend are dwarf angelfish, genus Centropyge (as long as you're not going to keep small polyp stony [SPS] corals), gobies, blennies, basslets, pseudochromis, hawkfish, and clownfish. Check out Drs. Foster and Smith, LiveAquaria at the following link: Saltwater Fish: Marine Aquarium Fish for Saltwater Aquariums

-Corals. Good corals to start off with are leather corals, mushroom corals, star polyps, xenia, and zooanthids. They're all fairly hardy and tend to do alright in newer systems. There are all considered soft corals. If you want to keep stony or hard corals, water parameters like calcium and alkalinity are even more important than they usually are because if they are not within certain limits, your corals' skeletons can literally dissolve. So, hard corals are a little more demanding. Consequently, soft corals are much better to start with.

I think that covers most of the major stuff. The best advice I can give you guys is learn as much as possible, TAKE YOUR TIME, and understock before you overstock. Please ask as many questions as you like. We all want to see our fellow aquarists succeed and enjoy their fantastic aquatic friends. So ask questions and read a lot!
 

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I agree with ladyonyx but lets go back a little more. I would get the API master test kit for now and wait at least 1 month and even better 2 months after you get all of your LR in your tank.I would also ask you what you have for filtration and flow as in HOB, Cannister, WetDry, Sump/Fuge and Skimmer also Power Heads and how much sand do you have in the tank. I know it seems like a lot of questions and maybe even some odd ones but the more we know the better we can help you out and maybe prevent some problems for you. I know it will seem like we might suggest some odd or expensive items but it will help in the long run. I will suggest that you dont run your lights while you are cycling your tank for at least the first month to help cut down on the algae because you will get some algae during the cycle and that is normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ah thanks everyone this was exactly the information I was looking for. To give you some insight on our setup it is a 55gal. tank with Nova Extreme Lighting T5 running a Rena Filstar xP3 Canister Filter with roughly 3 bags of live sand. We also bought a Wave Maker and Super Skimmer today although we are having a helluva time putting the Skimmer together. (Some of the parts are not attaching together as they should). So it is not officially in the tank just yet. We are patient and plan to wait as long as possible before adding anything.

I really appreciate the info on the fish as those were exactly the ones we were going to go for. Right now the tank has been up for 5 days and Live Rock was added today (just 2 fairly small pieces). Someone suggested adding a piece of raw shrimp to give amonia? Is that a common thing to do?

The sludge is getting better but still a horribly filmy residue all the way around the top of the tank. The heater seems to be working properly but the water does'nt feel 80degrees, so we will be picking up a themometer and other accessories this weekend. I am however very concerned also about the testing kit and I will look for the one that you have suggested. You mentioned keeping the lights off to avoid algae, if we get algae, how do we keep it under control or rid of it? As my family does enjoy looking at the lighted tank in the evenings even though it is empty. hehe.

Thanks for trying to help, what started out as a 33gal. planitarium project has progressed into a 55gal marine aquarium. My husband is determined to do it right this time (2 previous freshwater tanks that crashed from "Ich") so any and all information is very much appreciated.
 

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What wave maker did you get?? I dont care for cannister or hob filters for reef tanks as they really should be cleaned every 1-2 weeks as they can be a cause of nitrates IMO. I like 1-2lbs of LR/gallon and good flow along with a skimmer is about all the filtration you need, to reduce the film on the surface point a PH towards the surface. The algae problem I talked about is the normal part of cycling but if you keep the lights off it will reduce the possible algae problem and once the tank finishes cycling you shouldnt have any algae problems. I would get all your rock and then let the rock cycle your tank and then sit back and watch all the life come out on the rock and then start adding some fish and the corals oh and please come back here and ask about any fish or coral before you buy it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What wave maker did you get??
Hydor Koralia 3 Flow Rate 3200 L/H 850 GPH. 115V - 60 Hz. I have no idea what all that means but I do see now that it may barely cover my tank (up to 50gal) by 5gal. Will upgrade this eventually if needed but hope it's enough to do whatever the job it is supposed to be doing. Making fun waves for the fishes? Moving the water around for better heating? I don't really know. But nearly every tank video or image we have seen has had one in the tank. *r2


I would get all your rock and then let the rock cycle your tank and then sit back and watch all the life come out on the rock
We only have 2 fairly small pieces atm Premium Fiji LR from the LFS and must admit it is more expensive than I had originally hoped. I also was not happy with the LFS's pieces. You could tell they were not more than a couple years old if at best and probably not "real" Live rock. I have read many posts and kinda know what to expect from my LFS pushing this type of "coraline" covered rock and fear I will not find good Live Rock for this aquarium, any suggestions on where to start?


Additionally, I must admit keeping the light off will be hard. Turning it off is like sucking the life out of the room. I will try, if I do get some algae, what do I do? I purchased Moonlights a few days ago and they'll be here any day. I know they are really just for my viewing pleasure and may even annoy some of the critters but the "atmosphere" is everything to me and after seeing how bright the normal lighting is I really wanted them.
 

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I would consider adding another Koralia 3 and I know that sounds like alot of flow. The flow is to prevent dead spots, to keep the corals cleaned up and for filtration by keeping the water moving over your LR because good flow and LR is your main filtration.

I usually use about 1/3 to 1/2 dry base rock like this 25 Pound box Key Largo Dry Rock, <br>Pre Cycled - DS-25 when setting up reef tanks and then adding some average Fiji LR like this Saltwater Live Rock for Marine Aquariums: Fiji Standard Live Rock and then get some really nice LR to top it off. The reason the rock is called LR is that it is full of beneficial bacteria and may have some critters running around inside it but then again some of the things on LR you dont really want. The LR will seed the base rock and any critters you get will spread to the BR and thats why I suggest to let your tank cycle for as long as you can because then you will see the life coming out on it.

It would be hard to give you advice on any algaes that might pop up because they can all be treated a little different but they are part of the cycle. I think you will get Diatoms first and you will just wipe down the glass and they will go away on there own, Cyno usually comes from flow, lighting and nutrients and hair comes from flow, nutrients, nitrates and phosphates. I would also suggest that you get a medium size mag float for cleaning your glass, a turkey baster for blowing off your rocks and maybe a 10 inch pair of hemostats.

The first things you will add is a CUC (clean up crew) to your tank and then fish and then some corals at least IMO
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I would consider adding another Koralia 3
Well we being so new to this, did not add a seperate tank for all this machinery - did'nt learn about them until after we set up. Sadly. So we were hoping that the Canister Filter with no media in it except the carbon and the Skimmer + Wave Maker would be enough flow. To put another Wave Maker in would make the tank so crowded, was kinda hoping not to do that but instead, upgrade the Wave Maker eventually. Trust me however when I say if it looks like we need more flow, we will def add more. So thank you, your input is most valuable.

The rock links are great thanks for those too, I am assuming by the CUC you are refering to the "recipe" ?

55 blue leg hermits
28 Astrea snails
2 serpent stars
2 tiger tail cucumbers
2 Peppermint shrimp

Are there any changes I should make to the clean up crew listed above? I found this recipe online so do not know how valid it is. When should I add them? I will most likely start a new thread titled alittle more appropriately so that I can add screenshots, ask relative questions etc,..
 
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