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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I had a 24 gallon cube I broke down and sold at least 5 years ago, that was my only reef experience which ended in Apistasia I could not control and Algae battles that seemed never ending. The main oproblem I think was a crappy all in one cube design with the false back being the only extra chamber, although I put in aftermarket skimmer, phosban reactor, and super mini-refugium with a light, they were all probably undersized.

I just bought a used 60 gallon cube that the owners had up and running for over 3 years, but whose principle caretaker just went off to college and after giving a go for a month they decided it wasn't for them anymore. My two year old is OBSESSED with starfish and so I thought I could just keep one real easy in an old 10 gallon tank I have in the garage and then I did some research and realized that not really plus they need some type of ecosystem unless you want to feed a meat eater all the time...so I was on the local Craiglist when this amazing tank popped up with a tank, stand, full sump and Aqua Illumination light system and total bonus, full of live rock and still cycling (at the advice of the company they had reached out to for monthly maintenance.

So my first act in getting it home was putting all the live rock in a kiddie pool and plug in a power head, I lugged like 20 gallons of the water home just for this. My second act is to start this "help please" thread, and my third act is to go get flat white spray paint cause my wife hates the brown stand, so the stand needs to be painted before anything can get set up. The sump appears to be 26"x13"x15" and divided into I guess technically five chambers. It falls into chamber one where it is forced through a sediment and detritus catching sock and through what appears to be a carbon sponge. Then it goes into chamber two which has what looks to be a pretty big protein skimmer and cup (saw it running, tons of bubbles/action). Then into chamber 3 which houses a Phosban reactor and had a clump of seaweed (forgot species) but it's lit with exterior violet looking LED set up, then through the 4th chamber which is some type of tight sponge (I guess to catch refugium plant matter?) then the last chamber has a massive submersible Eheim and a sensor that read low water and turned on a pump to top up with RO freshwater (will pull specs off it and along with the 3 powerheads, heater, and skimmer but I had a couple quick questions before I head off to buy the paint.

1) Will the bacteria and other critters on/in the live rock be okay without a heater. I'm in San Diego and its 88 outside right now, with the overnight low forecast to be 66.
2) I found a bristleworm crawling in the bucket, so I kept it separate from the LR tub, should I just throw it in? They are harmless (maybe beneficial) except for fireworms?
3) Once set up, I should still let the Live Rock chill for a while and make sure no apistasia appears right? They mentioned that they had seen it before in their tank but they had got in under control and I didn't see any one the rocks or glass. But maybe heading to the fish store tomorrow to buy coral is a bad move, or do the bacteria need the fish eating and pooping? If that is the case should I just buy some cheap damsel fish or something and then go on Apistasia watch?

Cheers in advance, glad to be back on here asking dumb questions!
 

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The bacteria should be fine with out a heater, throw the bristle worm in with the rock, if you are worried about aiptasia you keep the rock in the pool and feed like there is fish in it.
 

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I will start off by welcome to TRT,

you won’t be ready for coral for awhile, the tank will have to settle and you will have to do your water testing to make sure it’s completely cycled.
as far as the rock it will be fine without a heater for now while outside.
paint the stand and then set up the tank. I’m not sure if you have an RO/DI to run your tap water though. But if you are going to run a reef it a good investment. Get the tank running and check for leaks, no need to use the Phosban reactor that’s something you don’t use unless you are having the need to. or skimmer until all is good and you put the rock in. And start the cycle with a raw table shrimp. At this time no need to run lights. Treat everything as if you are starting fresh.
you will need test kits to check the progress of the nitrogen cycle.
im going to stop for now and you have a lot to do and don’t want to get ahead of yourself. Take it slow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks! So I'll throw the bristle worm in with the rocks and the rest of the s. What about the Sand? Does that have bacteria too or is it fine to let it dry out in the bucket? I have some cichlid pellets I could throw in the rock pool as a nitrogen source if that works?

The seller was nice enough to give me his RO/DI unit as they had no need for it. I bought a specific gravity meter at the store along with a through tank connector as the one that came off the tank looked really old. My plan was to top up the rock pool with RO water as it evaporates cause its been REALLY hot and dry lately.

I have a Nitrite, Nitrate, and Ammonia test kit from freshwater set up, what else should I test for? Also have a ph meter and TDS meter I was going to use to check the RO unit was working properly (the seller said they had never changed the membrane).
 

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When you top off the pool for the rock, check the salinity if it’s high, adjust to bring down To 1.0125. If high Ro water, if low try and bring up.
as far as the sand you said they only had it set up for three years, If that’s the case I would replace.
 

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The condition of the RO membrane depends on how much it was used and if they back flushed it regularly.
The sand will have bacteria and most likely bristle worms as well as other life. Whether the sand is good enough to keep or not depends on how old it is and how well it was maintained. You can rinse ir very well and reuse it but if you do that you will loose any larger life in it. You plus you have to rinse it very well, best way would be doing it in smaller amounts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If I decide not to re use it I would think Nitrogen eating bacteria will quickly make their way from the LR to the sand. Aren't their other types of bacteria that live in anaerobic portion of the bed that aren't in the LR? My memory is foggy on that but sulfur reducing? I have a good amount of Aragonite from a Mbuna tank that has been sitting outside in the sun for a couple of months, would that work?

I guess I'll just have the TDS meter tell me about the back flushing and general care of the RO membrane. I always back flushed according to manufacturer recommendations so hopefully they did as well. I'll probably order a new sediment and carbon cartridge for the RO out of caution, they are pretty cheap and easy to swap out anyways and an RO membrane doesn't remove Chlorine at least not like salts (I think, I'm not sure).
 

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If the membrane got dry it will be toast, in needs to be kept wet. I didn’t think of that. Chlorine will ruin the RO membrane that is why the carbon filter is there to remove chlorine before it gets to the membrane.
If you have good live rock, very porous there will be anaerobic bacteria in the rock.
even if you loose all of the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in the system it is every where, even in the air.
 

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Chlorine should never make it to the RO Membrane like, Jerry stated the carbon block should remove. Also as a good measure to keep things from drying out , But a shut off valve on all the lines to hold water in the unit, I keep my RO unit full all the time by having valve on the input, waste and output line, it worked good for me as I don't keep my unit hooked up after making water.
I really don't think sand will have much anaerobic bacteria in it unless it's a deep sand bed. I also think that sand plays a very small part in when it comes to beneficial bacteria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got the second coat of paint on the stand this afternoon. Will hopefully move it in tomorrow so I can start setting up the tank to connect up the plumbing and check for leaks.

If there is one book I should buy and read about reef tanks, what book would that be?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quick question, the wife put anti scratch furniture pads on the four corners of the stand, but I am worried that the stand is designed to sit flat to distribute the weight of the tank, and there will be stress/sag on the stand. Am I wrong?

Also, any tips on a good reefkeeping book?
 

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Can’t recommend any books.
I dependson how the stand is built. If it has legs it shouldn’t hurt. If not I wouldn’t.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It did not have legs, so we removed the corner pieces and put in strips of padding that run along the entire frame perimeter, so that should hold. Got about 2 inches of crushed coral/sand on the base and all the live rocks into the tank. The RO unit worked but the membrane def needs replacing, the product is being delivered way to slow, but the PPMs were like 15-20 so for San Diego that's fine. But wasting a lot of water out the waste hose, will likely order a new membrane and bring RO home from work in the meantime. Tank is 80% full at 78 degrees and 1.023 salinity, was going to double check salinity tonight and bring up a little if still reading the same. Going to start plumbing the sump tonight yee hah.

One of the Koralia powerheads I had running outside gave a little shock when I stuck my hand into the water, I should probably discard it and order a replacement rather than risk it correct? Or is there an easy fix for this?
 

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Sounds like you are getting it done, yeah one of the drawbacks of RO systems is waste is more then clean water. Try and use waste for outside plants and so on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, but I think its way more waste, like 5:1 instead of like 2:1. The wife already suggested bringing it inside to flush toilets and rinse dishes. VWD when you said use table shrimp to cycle the tank, you meant like raw uncooked shrimp from the fish market? How many should I chuck in there? then I'm looking for nitrite to go to nitrate and then ammonia, should basically read zero nitrite/nitrate once cycled?
 

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Yes on the shrimp, for 60 gallon tank one is plenty, if really large maybe half. I usually cut it into a few pieces. Yes on the cycle. Now nitrite may not be real noticeable before you start seeing nitrates. But you know the cycle is happening because the ammonia will go to 0.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
And the Nitrate can only be removed through water changes correct? So I should initially see readings on the Ammonia, it will dissapear over time as the bacteria convert it to Nitrite, which I may be able to measure before other bacteria convert to Nitrate? I will grab some shrimp for dinner tomorrow night at the fish market and sacrifice one to the aquarium.
 

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Correct, the nitrite depends on how fast the ammonia covert to nitrite and how quickly nitrite converts to nitrates, like in the seahorse tank nitrate was pretty much undetectable by time I got any nitrite reading.
on the larger tank I did get a reading before the nitrates, every tank cycle can be a little different. One I’m sure the tank cycle is complete, I like to do a 25% water change before I add anything to tank.
you have to remember that the amount of active bacteria there after is dependent on the biological load. So take it slow to not over stock right off . Corals not an issue but fish.
 
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