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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Nitrate: 80 ppm
Nitrite: 4 ppm
Alkalinity: 180 ppm
pH: 7.4-7.8
SG: 1.025
Temp: 78F

10 Gallon
12 lbs of live rock
10 lbs of live sand
hob filter
Hydor koralia 240 power head
200w submersible heater

So I mixed my reef salt and distilled water in a garbage can following the directions. I measured the specific gravity and it was real high, about 1.033 or so, but I thought it was just because the water wasn't 77 degrees so I added it anyway. I added my sand and then rock and let everything run for a day. Today everything was pretty settled, but there were sand particles covering everything and it looks terrible, but the problem is the sg was still sky high at a perfect 78 degrees. So I did a 1 gallon water change using less salt this time and that brought the sg down to 1.025, but the pH dropped too low as you can see at the top.

Am I doing something wrong or was the specific gravity high when I measured it because of the sand particles in the water..?

I also don't understand the Nitrate and Nitrite levels being where they are. Do I already have some nitrogen cycle bacteria doing their jobs?
This is my first saltwater tank and I did a lot of research, but I may need some more help. :p Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The least important? And here I thought it was one of the most, haha. It's much clearer today. I ordered a seachem ammonia alert so I can track my cycling. Here's a pic because I'm excited.

12813999_1100928066626428_7328632654307905248_n.jpg
 

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Welcome to TRT! Since you bought live rock you likely have some bacteria already at work - as you can see with your nitrites and nitrates. What's your ammonia reading? Once your ammonia and nitrites drop to 0 you can do a water change and then think about adding a CUC (a couple snails or hermits - whatever your preference) if you're seeing some algae. I'd suggest feeding the tank like you would a fish for a week or so after your water change and if you see no more spikes then you should be good to add a fish. :) www.liveaquaria.com is a good place to research different fish and their needs.

pH is affected by a lot of things, as Whiskey mentioned. In a new tank where bacteria are working extra hard and multiplying they'll be creating more CO2 which can drop your pH numbers. Also make sure you're getting good surface agitation for oxygen exchange.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't know my ammonia quite yet. That's why I bought the seachem alert thing. When should I be more worried about the ph? When it's time to get the cuc or a fish?
 

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You should see it settle down a little after the cycle, but it'll still shift around as you add animals and between night and day. When you start adding living things you'll want to see it between 7.8-8.4. There are ways to check if it's the high CO2 in the room causing low pH as well, but I wouldn't worry about that right now. Just make sure you have good surface agitation and let the tank find it's groove. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So I got my ammonia alert and I placed it in my tank about 4 hours ago and it reads less than .02 ppm of ammonia. The readings from above remain about the same. It's been almost a week since everything was set up. Shouldn't I be seeing some ammonia?
 

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That would depend on how much life, and how much die-off was on the rock. When rock is transported some living things will die, that will give you ammonia. But if there wasn't much life on the rock (or if the rock was transported in water) you may not see much die off or ammonia. What most of us do is throw a regular piece of table shrimp in the tank, as it rots it will create ammonia.

Fish are constantly creating ammonia, so you want to make sure you have enough bacteria that it's able to eat up the ammonia and nitrite before the fish are exposed to it. By adding the shrimp you're giving the bacteria something to eat so they can multiply. You can also test the status of your bacteria by adding pure ammonia (most LFSs sell this now), which is quicker. I don't ever like to add fish until I see the tank processing ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay so one of my freshwater fish died today (Walmart bought, of course) and I threw that guy in there to substitute a shrimp. It seems like there's some algae growth on one of my rocks. :) I also bought a better filter and some chemipure blue. What are the cons if I add that now?
 

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I wouldn't add the chemipure - it could interfere with the cycle. The point of adding the decaying matter is for the bacteria to have something to eat and grow/multiply. The chemipure may remove some of that ammonia and nitrite before the bacteria have a chance to eat it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So the fish has completely decayed and through that process the ammonia went up to .02-.05 ppm and now today is back down below .02. After the first day with the fish in there I even turned the filter off(Still off). The nitrites have gone up to about 10 ppm and nitrates have stayed around 80.

It seems like the live rock and sand kept quite a bit of the first batch of nitrifying bacteria, but not the second?
 

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Yeah, a lot of the time it can take the nitrites longer to drop than the ammonia. Just wait it out. But the fact that you have nitrates is a good sign, it means you have all the necessary bacteria, now you just need it to multiply.
 
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