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Old 05-08-2010, 5:18 AM   #1
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Age: 39
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City: Duluth
State: GA
Occupation: Design Consultant & Sales
Other Interests: Family, Dog, PS3/360/Wii
Post New to the hobby? Enter Here for the Basic Reefkeeping info

First of all, welcome to the club and welcome to a very rewarding hobby.

I never had ARC, or any web resources when I started. I had to rely on a local fish store (not in ATL), who was pretty shady and gave me a lot of bad info.

Anyways, many years later I am still here and there are many (more knowledgable) members of ARC on here to help you as you move forward.

I wanted to cover some basics of reef keeping in this thread and as you may know, there are a many books and online information out there for your reading pleasure. This thread should serve as a starting point or quick reference to those that are NEW to the hobby.

As with any information, check the source. I am totally willing to stand corrected and please do not take my info as gospel - this is a guidline only and as with any subject, there are competing theories and practices. Some of the info was copied from other sources to save typing.....

The goal is to have one decent (fingers crossed) thread on ARC at covering some basics and give you a reference point. It's all on you to ask questions and find other information sources.

This thread was motivated by an influx of new members to the club and we hope to see more! Again, much of this information was copied from other sources and the goal is simply to have a thread on ARC in the new members forum to help folks that have chosen ARC and see the forums here as a resource.

What do I need to start?

Here is a general list.....

(Some of the equipment listed below is optional, such as the sump and refugium. These are optional pieces of equipment but very nice enhancements to a tank)



Equipment Needed:
  • Aquarium
  • Lights
  • Light Timer or Control System
  • Salt Mix
  • Sand
  • Live Rock
  • Protein Skimmer
  • Power Filter (optional)
  • Algae Scraper
  • Sump and/or Refugium (optional pieces of aquarium equipment)
  • Quarantine Tank
  • Power heads (multiple)
  • Food (depends on what you plan on keeping in your reef aquarium)
  • Thermometer
  • Heater
  • Test Kits (chlorine, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, alkalinity, iodine)
  • Reverse Osmosis filter for make up water or even better an RO/DI (deionization) filter. I consider RODI a must.
  • Hydrometer or refractometer
  • 2 Five Gallon Buckets (clean and for fish tank only use) or larger Brute Trash Cans.
  • Fish, Corals and other Invertebrates
  • Macro Algae such as chaetomorpha or gracilaria, for use in the refugium if you decide to have one.
Books


Read, read and then read some more
There are many great saltwater books out there and we've reviewed a few of them. Some of the better saltwater books are:
The Conscientious Marine Aquarist,
The Complete Book of the Marine Aquarium,
Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies,
Reef Secrets,
Simple Guide to Mini-Reef Aquariums,
Complete Encyclopedia of the Saltwater Aquarium,
Marine Fishes, 500 Essential to Know Aquarium Species, and
TheNew Marine Aquarium.

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:19 AM   #2
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Age: 39
Posts: 1,106
City: Duluth
State: GA
Occupation: Design Consultant & Sales
Other Interests: Family, Dog, PS3/360/Wii
RESEARCH
This is the most important part of keeping not just a reef tank, but any type of fish or animal. Without proper research how can someone determine if they can adequately care for their fish and corals? We as aquarists have a direct impact on the life or death of our livestock. Please don't take this responsibility lightly. These are after all, living beings.
If you're one that doesn't like to read or someone that hates doing research, then you may want to rethink the whole reef tank thing.

DECIDE ON WHAT TO KEEP
This should be one of the first things you undertake when planning a new tank. The tank setup, size, shape, dimensions (depth) will all be influenced by the animals that you will be keeping. For example, if you want to keep corals, you may need to get a shallow tank so that you can get maximum light intensity to the corals you're interested in keeping. If you're wanting to keep tangs, you would obviously want a much bigger and longer tank.
Deciding on what to keep will have an effect on the lighting setup that you will need to get. Reef tank lighting can be quite confusing. We'll get into lighting soon. You may, while doing your research, discover that there is no way you could care for the animals that interest you. In fact this may happen several times before you end up with a final selection of species for your aquarium.

CREATE A LOG
A log book (file, notebook, paper, etc) can be extremely helpful when running a reef tank. It can be as simple as a notebook with your notes on the tank parameters. Whenever you test your tank water, write down the date and any test readings. Microsoft Excel or any spreadsheet application makes this task really easy. Create columns across the top of the spreadsheet for the test parameters (i.e. Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Calcium, pH, etc.) and then have the date in the first column. Here is an example of a reef tank log. The cool part about using spreadsheets is the ability to make a chart of your test numbers. For instance, once you have several month's worth of data on calcium test results, you can create a line graph on this data which will give you a good idea of how fast calcium is being depleted from your system.
Another interesting idea if you have a digital camera is to take a few snap shots of your tank at least once a week. It can be pretty cool to look back at the photos on the development of your reef tank and it can help paint a better picture of how fast your corals are growing.

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:30 AM   #3
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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State: GA
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Other Interests: Family, Dog, PS3/360/Wii
BUY EQUIPMENT
Look around some of the larger online fish and aquarium stores to find some of the better deals on most pieces of equipment. Remember that you have to add shipping to that price tag you see online. Even adding in the shipping though, buying online can shave a few dollars off the price, but the bad part is that you have to wait for several days while it's being shipped to you. You can even buy an aquarium online, but it will most likely be less expensive to buy the fish tank locally.
After deciding on the animals you're interested in keeping, it should be a rather simple matter to determine the absolute minimum amount of equipment needed. In this case, we're talking about setting up a reef tank and the list of equipment provided above is all recommended for just starting out. An optional piece of equipment is the Aquarium Chiller. If you're running metal halides or similar, you may very well need one of these chillers to help keep your tank temperatures stable.

SET UP THE TANK AND EQUIPMENT
First, pick out a spot in the house for your marine reef aquarium. Next, put the tank on the stand and fill the tank with freshwater to determine if there are any leaks. It's much easier to return the tank now for a new one before you have everything in it. Also get out a level to make sure the tank is level. You should also be able to "eye ball" it by lookin at the water surface. A small piece of foam placed between the tank and the stand can help reduce minor leveling problems, but for major problems you'll need to adjust the tank stand.
A fish tank weighs between 8 and 12 pounds per gallon, depending on what's in the tank. It's usually easier to use the average of the two, and use 10 pounds per gallon as a very rough guideline. This means that a 100 gallon tank could very well weigh over 1,000 pounds when setup. This also means that you should think twice before placing your reef tank on an upstairs floor. If you're unsure about how much weight the floor can hold, at the very least call a professional to come in and assess the situation.
If your tank passed the leak test and the level test, fill it with RODI water. Tap water can contain dissoved solids that could contribute to algae problems down the road. Once the tank is filled about two-thirds full, add in the pre-measured amount of salt mix. Use the directions on the back of the box or check the manufacturers website if you're unsure of how to mix their salt mix.
Fill the tank a little more with RODI water, (not all the way to the top!) and then put in some powerheads to keep the water moving. After several hours, check the specific gravity with your hydrometer. It should be in the 1.023 - 1.025 range. Slightly lower or higher should be ok too. A good range to shoot for is 1.021 to 1.026. If the specific gravity is too high, you can lower it by removing some of the tank water and replacing it with freshwater only. If the SG is too low you can add more salt mix. Don't worry if you're having trouble mixing the saltwater. After several water changes you should become quite the pro at mixing saltwater.

ADD LIVE ROCK
Add live rock to your aqarium next. Place the live rock in an interesting arrangement directly on the glass bottom of the tank. Placing it on the glass bottom instead of on top of the sand prevents burrowing inverts from toppling the rock structure. Some things to keep in mind: Don't place the live rock too close to the sides of the tank. Doing so will make it harder to clean the tank glass when algae starts growing. If you're starting with "cured" rock direct from your local fish store, you can proceed to the next step. If you're starting with "Uncured" live rock you will need to cure it for the next several days or even weeks. How long depends on the shape the rock is in when you put it in the tank. You will have to use your test kits to tell you when the rock is done curing. There should be no signs of ammonia or nitrite in the tank.

REEF TANK WATER MOVEMENT
Think of the reef's natural environment for a minute. There are pounding waves and very high water flows at times. There is not a constant unidirectional flow of water, as is the case with power heads. We can reproduce these conditions on a much smaller scale by using either a wavemaker (which can be quite expensive and hard on power heads) or by using multiple powerheads placed strategically around the tank to generate these turbulent water flows that corals do well in. Try to direct the flow from one powerhead into another's flow. Bank them off the tank glass, put them in a crossing pattern, anything to create turbulence in the water. Don't direct the output of a powerhead directly on a coral. It could damage the coral's tissue after awhile. One thing to keep in mind with powerheads though is that submersed power heads can add heat to the reef tank's water temperature. If you add too many that are underpowered, you could have a serious temperature problem on your hands. It would be better to have a fewer amount of larger powerheads than many small ones.
High water flows are important for several reasons. They help keep detritus and uneaten foods suspended for filter feeders, mechanical filters, protein skimmers etc. so they can remove them from the water before they start to break down and effect the water quality. Water flow is also important because it can wash away any slime coatings that corals sometimes form to protect themselves from predators or other corals and the water flows carry food particles to the corals in the currents generated.
SETUP THE REEF TANK LIGHTING SYSTEM

Deciding on the proper lighting for a reef tank can be quite confusing to those just starting out and it is one of the most important components to a successful reef tank. Most of the corals we as reef keepers are interested in keeping, utilize zooxanthellae that in turn use photosynthesis to supply food to the coral. Certain corals are also filter feeders, but they may get most of what they need from the photosynthesis of the zooxanthellae in their tissues.

LIGHT TIMER
Skip this if you have chosen a control system. You will also need to get a light timer that will allow you to program when the different bulbs come on. These timers sound like a waste of money, but they really are worth the peace of mind they provide. Not to mention that you can create some really cool effects by staggering the on/off times a bit. They also provide a stable time period over the tank, which can be very important for the health and growth of your coral.

SUMP SETUP
A sump is a separate tank that is usually fed water by gravity using an overflow in the display tank. The water goes over the lip of the overflow, goes into the stand pipe in the overflow and then flows into the sump. A return pump in the sump returns water back to the display tank. Setting up a sump can be a little tricky. You have to make sure the the sump will be able to hold as much of the water that will drain from the main tank in the event of a power failure.
The aquarium sump can provide several nice benefits. It can hide/house ugly equipment. It increases the total amount (volume) of water in your system. It can make water changes easier, since the sump is usually lower to the ground. You can also add supplements into the sump instead of in the main display aquarium, which should give the supplements more time to dissolve without possible harming the tank inhabitants.

REFUGIUM SETUP (Optional)
The refugium is another tank that is as a place of refuge for desirable organisms. It is placed inline with the rest of the system. Hobbyists will often setup a refugium with a deep sand bed, some macro algae (such as chaetomorpha) and live rock. The use of refugiums has taken off lately. Companies are now producing quality models that can hang on the back or side of the tank. There are also setups that combine the sump and refugium into the same box. Way cool stuff here.
Why is a refugium important? Well, the macro algae does a great job at extracting nitrates, phosphates, carbon dioxide and other nutrients from the water. You can then export these nutrients by "harvesting" the macro algae. This essentially involves pruning the growing macro algae. The macro algae can also harbor many desirable life forms like amphipods and copepods. These tiny organisms can be used to feed the display fish and corals once their populations reach significant numbers. Refugiums most likely will need their own light source and power compacts that clip on the refugium work nicely in these applications.

TO MECHANICAL FILTER OR NOT TO MECHANICAL FILTER
You don't have to run a mechanical filter, such as a power filter or canister filter, on your reef tank. You can run a mechanical filter if you want to run activated carbon in between water changes or if we need to use phosphate removing pads when we start noticing any sort of algae buildup anywhere in the tank. You could also add a media reactor.
The main idea here is that the protein skimmer will remove most of the organics once they start breaking down so you really don't need to run a canister filter or power filter. In fact, these very filters could or might contribute to nitrate problems if the filter media is not cleaned and/or replaced on a regular basis, like every two days or more frequently. Speaking of protein skimmers...

PROTEIN SKIMMER SETUP
If you purchased a protein skimmer, either a stand alone, hang on the tank type, or one that is for use in a sump, hook it all up now. Some recommend not running the protein skimmer during the break in stages, but many consider it MUST. If you're curing live rock and running a protein skimmer, watch the collection cup closely because it may need to be emptied frequently during the break in stages.
We should mention here that it is not absolutely necessary to run a protein skimmer on your reef tank. Some swear by skimmers and others think that they do more harm than good by skimming off the good with the bad. Frequent partial water changes can be used instead of a protein skimmer for lightly stocked tanks. Running a skimmer might be cheaper in the long run compared to making frequent partial water changes (salt mix isn't cheap). However, I would only recommend not using a skimmer for those with more experience in keeping reef tanks.

LET EVERYTHING RUN
Ok, so we've added the sand and live rock, setup the sump, refugium, the protein skimmer, and possibly the mecahnical filter. Now we need to let the system run for a few days to a week while monitoring the water quality. If after running the tank for several days and you don't detect any ammonia or nitrites but you can detect small amounts of nitrates, you can slowly start stocking the tank. Sometimes live rock that is extremely porous can be excellent at denitrification and you may not get a nitrate reading with fully cured rock. Most seasoned hobbyists would recommend a new reefer should not add any corals to the tank until spots of coraline show up or 1 month or more has passed. Fish can be a little sooner....

DEVELOP A MAINTENANCE ROUTINE
After having the tank setup for several weeks you will start to see increased amounts of algae growth on the aquarium walls and maybe on the rock and sand. A magnetic algae scraper can easily rid the tank walls of unwanted diatom algae blooms. Gently using an aquarium vacuum over the top layer of sand will get rid of any algae trying to take hold on the sand.

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:37 AM   #4
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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Reef Tank Cycling....more info

There are so many misunderstanding about establishing a new reef system. In part because there are so many ways to setup a reef system. Most of this will be based on the most common tank setups; sand beds with live rock and skimming. Will not get into sulfur systems or scrubbers or anything like that, only common basic setups. Like building anything its all about the prep work. Much like if your painting a wall, didn’t use primer first or didn't sand it smooth, or maybe started the second coat to soon peeling and chipping results, the finish product will be flawed. Same thinking should go into building a reef system. So an understanding of what the long term goals are and short term goals is very much needed. The first part of this may be repetitive as most have heard about “cycling” So lets start;

Ok the long term goal is to set up and establish a stable balanced reef ecosystem that will support our creatures using a bio filtration system via bacteria. The problem is this takes some time, a lot of time, and our systems have limits and need help to keep thing balanced. Good thing is you can enjoy watching things come together along the way. That does not mean after you “primer the wall” its ok to hang a couple pictures before you start panting. So some do’s and dont’s to consider is needed, there are many posts and articles on how to do this with some explanations. Like cycling the tank, but only a small part is usually explained and the goals for the next steps are often ignored as well as little mention how the dynamic involved. Its understanding the current goal and prep need for next goal that seems to be missing and in the end causes the most issues. Confused, hope not after this;

Like I said before, there are many ways to setup an ecosystem; here I am basing it on sand beds and LR, the nitrogen cycle. So before you read on, read this, the whole thing and understand it, even if you are familiar with it…Nitrogen Cycle

The first goal to establish a bio filtration system. This is where cycling (nitrogen) comes into play (well, really everything is just a cycle-we are just getting the ball rolling). The word cycling might not be the best usage of words here. Instead lets talk about what we are doing, growing/culturing bacteria. This takes time and must be done in stages. What we need to reach this goal;

Stage #1-growing aerobic bacteria. Water prep is just keeping temp, ph and salinity right. No need to skim or use lights. Best not to hook up either for now. Base rock is fine to use and perhaps much easier, less issues, than uncured or cured rock that really is not so cured, most LFS rock. Choosing rock is another thread, just want to note the die off and pollutants that can come from LR, in these cases using the skimmer right away adding carbon, getting a refugium going with macros and lots of water changes will be needed. An additional curing process maybe warranted as well. I hope by the end of this you will know why I say these things about LR and curing and die off.

1. Provide a surface area, a place for bacteria to attach and grow "spread”. The outer layers of live rock and/or upper layers of sand beds (top 2”) are the most common substrates used for this.

2. Provide O2. Aerobic bacteria use O2 for energy. O2 is provided by water currents and air currents via gas exchange at the surface. Limited to what is in the atmosphere and the % of water surface area coming in contact with air. (even a small sump increases this % big time, thus big time increase in gas exchange, just FYI) The more flow the more O2 will be carried to the bacteria. Keep in mind though the amount of gas exchange (CO2 for O2) at the surface is dependant on the amount of air flow and water flow coming in contact at the water surface. So a rippling of the water surface together with air flow at the water surface and good flow throughout the tank is needed, esp. if the tank is in a smaller closed room or if you like to keep the windows closed with the heater on. Pumps and fans will do, as seen in reading the link above increased gas exchange is needed at this time because of the rapid aerobic bacteria growth rates consuming up much of the O2. Extra power heads and bigger/more fans is a good idea right now, reduce it later after things start to balance themselves. If you don’t provide a good supply of O2 you will get overgrowths of unwanted bacteria like cyanobacteria. No lighting and good gas exchange really helps reduce this complication.

3. Provide food- more specific nitrogen via decomposition explained in the link above—ammonification and nitrification. From that you can see this can be provided from just the atmosphere. But that would take a real long time to establish a system that will support a fish. So we need to provide the best conditions for growth of certain bacteria. Don’t think about supporting fish at this time, focus on the prep work, the goal here is to grow bacteria and that’s it. Some use fish to provide a nitrogen source, but this is not only hard on the fish and is likely to kill it, it may actually overload the growing bacteria making it take even longer to balance things, remember we only want to encourage certain types of bacteria to grow here, those that convert ammonia. So the use of a deli (dead) shrimp is often used, which works fine. IMO, though it is best to use a few pieces of fresh/raw live rock and lots of base rock for this, with some feedings of flake foods or other type foods here and there. Whatever you use the thing is to understand what the goal is here (growing aerobic bacteria) and how it fits in with the long term goal, a balanced ecosystem.

4. Now sit back and test until NH3 and NH2 are at 0.0 and you see NO3 levels steadily rising. All this takes anywhere from 1 week to a couple months. It depends on the environment provided. If all the live rock was fresh/raw it will take some time, up to many months with heavy skimming, heavy flow, good air circulating and many water changes along the way to prevent unwanted things from overgrowing(cyano, sulfur pocket ect..) If not enough food was provided you end up getting a spike every time you add the smallest something. At this point, stage one is complete, Now don’t go off and start hanging pictures on the wall yet, this is only the primer coat

Stage #2-growing anaerobic bacteria. Many issues get rooted in during this stage. The goal is two fold. Growing anaerobic bac and preventing excessive algae growths. Here is where your tank starts to balance things out. The issues are whether or not it will reach a wanted balance or an unwanted balance. Maintain ph, temp and salinity levels. Its gets a little weird here so hang on. Whats needed and going on;

1. Provide a surface area. The inner layers of live rock and/or deeper layers of sand beds does the job. Anaerobic bac grow in areas where low to no O2 is available. Through many mechanisms anaerobic bacteria do indeed use O2 as an energy source. They just can not uptake it directly. They must first steal it from NO3. As they grow close to aerobic bacteria, that produce NO3, they break it up and steal the O2 before the NO3 gets into the water Colum, in short that is. The link above should have given you a good idea of how it works here. By having to steal the O2 they grow a lot slower then aerobic bacterium. Major patients is very needed during this time.

2. Provide a steady food source for continual growth of aerobic bacteria which in turn will feed the anaerobic bacterium. The catch here is there are faster growing things like algae that feed on NO3 also, but they are able to directly uptake NO3 and use other means to obtain their energy like photosynthesis, thus algae competes with anaerobic bac for NO3. Futhermore, algae increase O2 levels fueling aerobic bac. consequently, we many not see NO3 but do see algae growth so we add more fish or add a fish too early, leading to the use of algae, instead of the intended goal of bacteria as the main bio filter. The aerobic and anaerobic bac may never balance themselves if the algae is allowed to out compete the bacteria. (not going into algae scrubbers here, common system basics only) Adding part of your cleaning crew is perfect for this job. Don’t wait till NO3 levels are at 50 or something before adding some of the cleaning crew. Around 20 would be max I would do. Its not a good thing to let NO3 levels rise and fall back to zero before starting to control it with water changes or what not. Once/if you see a diatom bloom or other bloom you know its time to work on the NO3 till your anaerobic bac take over, not algae. NO3 levels of lower than 5 or 0.0 dose not mean there is not enough for anaerobic bacterial growth, remember anaerobic bac removes the NO3 before it gets into the water column, the NO3 in the water column is what algae feed on not bacteria. Once NH3 and NO2 hit zero don’t let NO3 levels go to high, below 10 is a good target. you may need to do a water change or two to bring down the NO3 and keep levels under 20 at all times, the lower the better. After some of the cleaners have been in there about a week or so and start eating and producing some waste a hardy fish can be added. Do think about how with each addition you are providing a continued food source for aerobic bacteria, which grows many times faster than anaerobic bacteria, may end up feeding unwanted algae. To much continual food supply to early and the aerobic bacteria overgrows which results in prolonged balancing between aerobic and anaerobic bacteria or even worse algae balancing, will go into that next.
*note; even though NO3 are 0.0 your anaerobic bacteria levels are still growing but not yet fully established, why frequent water changes and testing is needed in the beginning to prevent NO3 form feeding algae but at the same time building the anaerobic bac. go slow-and keep the NO3 levels down till you can add a fish and see no rise in NO3 levels.

3. preventing excessive algae growths. Just prior to adding some of the clean up crew hook up the skimmer and skim wet, its time to slow the aerobic bacteria growth rates some and allow the anaerobic bacteria to catch up, which includes preventing excessive algae growths. The goal here is to provide the best environment for anaerobic bacteria growth. The addition of carbon and phosban will go a long way in preventing algae growths as well. If you got it, light up the refugium and add macros to combat micro algae growths. You still don’t need lighting in the main tank, but if you have a fish or just want to see things keep the lighting down to minimum so as not to encourage algae growth. Here is the deal. After your tank, what is commonly known and mistakenly so called “cycles” (stage one) it can support fish sure, but remember this for a reef tank not a fish tank. Reaching a balance with the aid of algae is fine in FO tank but with a reef tank we want to keep it to a minimum. We want algae but for different reasons and not now (again, not going into scrubbers here, basics only) Because the anaerobic bacteria have not grown/established themselves in numbers high enough to balance with the aerobic bacteria already established, the tank will use other means to balance out the nitrates. The fact that algae can uptake NO3 directly and combine that with the decomposition process and aerobic bacterial consumption of O2 the resulting elevated CO2 concentrations provides a great environment for algae growth. Why min lighting, we don’t want to make it the perfect environment for algae we are shooting for an environment perfect for anaerobic bacteria. Algae is just the fastest and easiest compensating mech our tanks have, to reduce nitrates. (for those in the know we are not going into other cycles like the sulfur cycle and photosynthesis effects on ph type stuff). Many see algae blooms as a good sign in a new tank, it is kinda, its exporting nutrients, aiding with ph regulations, many other things and more importantly marks the establishment of aerobic bacteria in a new system. Like said earlier though, algae is wanted just not yet. Instead, at this time, the bloom is only a indication of whats going on. Understanding that seeing the first algae bloom in your new tank is just a compensating mechanism. The tank is using algae to uptake the NO3 in a effort to make up for the lack of anaerobic bacterial activity. Simply put blooms are due impart to a lack of anaerobic bacterial growth. What little anaerobic bacterial growths are present can not handle the NO3 that is being produced by the aerobic bacteria. The anaerobic bac are slow growers and are just getting overwhelmed. So, in a new tank, if you see a algae bloom and your NO3 levels are 0.0 that does not mean your tank is ready to add another fish, no no, it means its time to start providing an environment which encourages anaerobic bac growth(which may include adding a fish), while keeping algae growths in check, unless you like lots of algae growths that is.

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:37 AM   #5
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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...cycling continued

4. Cycling the lighting in (while keeping nutrient levels down-phosphates, silicates, nitrate ect..while not allowing algae to get a foot hold), getting the chemistry set and playing with your water flow and stuff is whats next on the agenda. depending on the environment maintained the rock used and all that stuff it could take anywhere form 6-18months for the tank to fully mature. depending on how things go the time of adding things speeds up as you go. one fish every 30-45days for the first few months-the time between additions decrease as you go, its up to the tank on when/how long to add or wait. no worries, relax it does go pretty quick after things get going. its those first few months you really got to watch out for

5. chemisrty, flow patterns, turnover rates, respirations ect. ect... are topics to be mastered as your tank matures, basically too much to go into here

Well hope this helps someone understand whats going on while setting up a new reef. This was not/is not intended to be a how to. Its just a little more of holistic view on the goals and some of the major dynamics involved. Maybe just maybe this will help someone follow some of the good advice given around here instead of just doing what was said but not exactly, if you know what I mean.


Note; bio balls and sponge filters are used for fish only tanks, as most fish are not so sensitive to nitrates, bio balls only provide a surface area to support aerobic bacterial growths and end up collecting decaying matter. So for a reef you can see why they are not the greatest thing to use. Your providing a greater surface area for aerobic bacteria (our tanks are already lacking in anaerobic surface area, unless you keep a 12”+ sand bed and the tank is extra long and wide increasing the sand beds area or something crazy like that). Crushed coral beds filter socks also have the same issues as bio balls.

Note; we all end up overstocking our reefs and our tanks use other mech to keep things balanced. We help with skimmers and water changes ect…,algae is one mech and many that have issues with algae in tanks is a result of not putting the “prep” work in. Understanding some of the dynamics well really help you enjoy your creation and avoid some future head aches. i hope it has become apparent why everyone is always stressing on stocking slow and limiting additions.

Note; algae is a great thing. It provides foods keeps ph steady absorbs excess nutrients removes CO2 and adds O2 + much more. it can cause some ph swinging issues too (will not go into that here). however, if you put the prep work in algae can be a tank savor. Yes is can handle the CO2 from the Ca+ reactor and act as a buffer for the system. It can consume that skimmate if the skimmer overflows. if the bacteria’s are balanced and you over feed or something die, no worries algae will help take care of it without blooming too much, but if its already being used just to keep NO3 balanced then huge blooms can result from just the slightest over feedings or a even a couple snails dyeing off will cause a bloom or worse. anything could result in a chronic problems, as one of the main compensating mech is already being taxed.

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:42 AM   #6
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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State: GA
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Other Interests: Family, Dog, PS3/360/Wii
Sumps explained....

Here is a great article on sumps: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-01/newbie/index.php

Enjoy!

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:46 AM   #7
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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Some valuable reefkeeping links for learning....

Anyway, each month Reefkeeping Magazine has an article in theie "Newbie Corner"

In these articles they try to give the neophyte pointers on how to start out in this exciting hobby.

Water
Tank Selection
Lighting
Sumps
Completing The Set-up
Natural Filtration I
Natural Filtration II
Natural Filtration III
Various Nutrient Control Methods
Adding Some Science to Your Tank, Part 1
Adding Some Science to Your Tank, Part 2
Let's Fatten Them Up!
Bogus Information
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Newbies
Pests, Parasites and Things That Go Munch in the Night, Part 1

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Old 05-08-2010, 5:55 AM   #8
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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Reefkeeping magazine Index.....handy!

There are various articles of interest, some advanced, some just plain interesting.

Sift through the pages and see what you find that can help you!

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/articles/feature

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Old 05-08-2010, 6:07 AM   #9
Ralph ATL Ralph ATL is offline
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awesome!
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Ralph's Reef & wrasses...

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Old 05-08-2010, 6:36 AM   #10
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wow.

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Old 05-08-2010, 7:47 AM   #11
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nice job!

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Old 05-08-2010, 7:51 AM   #12
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Dude, that is awesome. I can say that this article isn't just for beginners. There are plenty of us out there that sometimes get so bogged down in the more complex matters that we need to be reminded of the basics. I'm definitely subscribing to this one and keeping it for reference.

Nice work, and thanks!

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Old 05-08-2010, 10:38 AM   #13
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That is great!

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Old 05-08-2010, 10:41 AM   #14
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Great work Jamie! Need to sticky this one...

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Old 05-08-2010, 11:13 AM   #15
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Well done!

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Old 05-08-2010, 2:12 PM   #16
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my eyes!! my brain!!! so much information so quick!!! aaahhhhh!


Man that is a great write up. Now we need to get some more goin I think.

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Old 05-08-2010, 3:32 PM   #17
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I am going to sticky this thread so it will be easier to see. Great job.

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Old 05-27-2010, 8:39 AM   #18
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Great Information

It must have taken a lot of time to put together all this information.
Thank you for helping me, and probably many many others!

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Old 05-27-2010, 10:28 AM   #19
jcusmarine jcusmarine is offline
 
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No sweat. Actually, most of it is copied from other sources. I just wanted to centralize some of the basics for new folks here on ARC. Appreciate it though. I hope it helps.

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Old 05-27-2010, 1:27 PM   #20
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Your help

No matter how little time it took, it's still a great compilation of information!

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