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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A HOT mid-summer break from yard work and relaxing, so a great time to see if'n we can't get a thread going.....'summer semester' as it were. ;)

Way back in the early 80's when I first started dabbling in the marine hobby, I was introduced to 'skimmers'. Something we never had in the fresh water hobby......Basically a cheap, VERY CHEAP acrylic gizmo with an air stone that hung on the back of the tank. It was all Greek to me, BUT WE HAD TO HAVE ONE IN THIS HOBBY....OK.

When I got back in the hobby a handful of years + ago, I probably carried a preconceived mental opinion of HOB SKIMMERS from back in the day. I also saw where a lot of folks were saying, 'Well if you HAVE TO you can always use an HOB skimmer.'. Just reinforced my mental image of them.

Started out with a sump, and an IN-SUMP Bubble Magus Curve 7......PITA! Worked great, I think. Plenty of yuck coming out, BUT OH how I hated crawling under my tank to clean my sump, and skimmer......probably only got cleaned every handful of months. Finally got rid of THAT set up, and went sump'less....YEAH!!!!!!

Food Drinkware Ingredient Cup Cuisine

Plant Fluid Wood Water Liquid


And always a fan of 'bigger must be better', I built my own 6' Monster skimmer.......a counter current air stone driven beast.....OH, that could make some serious YUCK, and I didn't have to bend over......more like standing on my tippy toes at times.
Picture frame Interior design Wood Kitchen Building

Jaw Water Dog Carnivore Wood

Wood Shelf Shelving Machine Room


After 3-4 years THAT started to bore me, and spent less time cleaning it, and making my own air stones.....MUCH cheaper, but still one extra thing to do on my busy plate.

So did some researching, and dreaming, and was hooked on getting a LifeReef skimmer.....you know, another 6' beast. Well after saving my pennies up, I gave Jeff a call.....owner of LifeReef. I told him what I WANTED, and he schooled me right there on skimmers......down graded my wish list, and told me I needed his HOB skimmer......a 24" beast that hangs on the back of my tank. ?? Noooooo....NOT an HOB toy skimmer!

Jeff schooled me a little more.....and a more knowledgeable, straight shooter, not trying to up grade me to anything, other than wanting a happy customer. So I took the time to learn.
Light Blue Purple Gas Engineering

LifeReef HVS3-24" HOB protein skimmer.

For about the same price as other 'premium quality' skimmers, so isn't a cheap piece of trash from ....(insert your own pet peev country here).....

But I tell Ya what......I have never been happier, and have never 2nd guessed my choice.....Ease of maintenance, and convenience, and heck, even looks. It is caring for my over fed 210 gallon 'softies' tank with no problems.

I have missed a lot of years making poor choices and extra work for myself because of a 'perceived myth' that HOB SKIMMERS were junk, and a last choice.

Has anyone got other myths, or bad advice, or salesmen's pitches to share? Lets hear them, and see if'n we can't help folks out.
Peace,
Hack
 

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Probably number one myth.
your nurtreints must be super low for corals to thrive. As long as you don’t let your numbers get too high and keep them stable corals often have much better color if your numbers aren’t kept super low.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A big AGREE! Every time I've tried to go 'ULTRA LOW', my system suffered.

I do have a 'softies' tank, so my nutrients are higher out of necessity than would be a strict SPS tank. I run my NO3 levels between +0 and 5 ppm......any lower than that, my tank has issues.....above that, none, and have had it WAY above that.

Hack
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How about 'chasing numbers' vs 'stability? YES, I think standard agreed upon parameters are a good thing, and should be shot for in our marine aquaria. But I think over the years we've seen tight/rigid 'chasing' of those numbers has become more concerned with stability over trying to hit EVERY NUMBER dead on.
A stable reef seems to have become the preferred goal we suggest folks now shoot for.
Hack
 

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It is very hard to keep a reef stable at the low end without expensive equipment, in my opinion.
I could be wrong but it seems that way to me. It is much easier to run at a slightly higher level, and corals seem to look better at these rates anyway. Stable is best, you can always slowly try to reduce them once they are stable.
 

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I have a neat myth to post but it comes in reverse: proof first, then I’ll state the myth :)

ok here goes

using the web / search any site / someone link here any single example of a failed or incomplete reef tank cycle, just one example among the one million google can round up will do.

caveat: the proof cannot be api or red sea or seachem badge testing as proof, show a dead tank or dead fish soon after setup.

to recap, post from any year any forum a simple link where someone added fish or bioload to a new reef tank and that system died clearly, obviously, cloudy water dead animals lets say within three days of installation, ok go. Of course test kits can indicate a stalled cycle, but for this hunt you’re looking for the opposite of a test kit stall: a real verified loss stall. Shouldn’t be too hard to find ten or so, there’s a million search returns from google if you search cycling reef tank. We want to see dead reef examples this time, not someones .25 api ammonia

after we wait a couple days to see if there are examples posted I’ll state one of the biggest myths in reefing. Before the myth claim will be believable to you, we need to see some undoubtedly failed cycles-link one or two. if you can
 

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So there aren’t many actual examples of stalled cycles other than on non digital ammonia tests/ 6 days open request
We are getting close to the reveal…

we know that cycling is very consequential it’s not a guessing game


how amazing is it that we can’t readily find one simple recent fail to read about? Shouldn’t something as consequential as cycling a reef tank have some tangible fails logged…such obvious tank losses that one pic shows a wrecked wasteland scape of the too-early bioloader?


of the failed cycles you came across that were from api or Red Sea (which was all of them) how many had perfectly normal looking fish swimming about, feeding, acting not burnt compared to the pics you saw of quickly-killed fish
that skew, that ratio in data you saw means something as a proof of concept regarding a certain fact in reef tank cycling.
 

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Team its been two months, its darn hard to find an actual failed cycle right?

lemme know if we flat give up on the search. I found a post the other day online where the quick cycle seemed suspect and then he disclosed a few pages later his acclimation process was hours in the bag of very little water for the clowns...we have to make real stretches and quick eliminations of other confounds to find failed cycles, right?

I had been told of failed cycles, killing and harming fish with too quick a start, my entire reefing life. Searching for just one clear one here, before the turn of the year

how does lack of ability to find the null condition affect today's cycling approaches and procedure, and warnings? when we are given careful and rigid guidelines for cycling, and we often start the whole process over midway due to a test reading and wait days/weeks months longer, what if every bit of that was never needed?

if I try and make these points without the proof search it seems totally made up, that's why finding one or two clear examples really aligns the claims with what's really going on in reefing vs myths
 

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I think all this stuff with stalled cycle is something that’s been showing up more recently. I haven’t really gotten into any conversation on the matter other then reading. It seems to me it is usually by people who have used dry rock , bottle bacteria and an ammonia sours such as Toms, I think. That the name.
I haven’t seen it in a tank done with live rock or even with dry rock and a seed from another source. Now I’ve done the ammonium chloride back in the 70’s long before reef tanks. The process was set and you dose daily for a set number of days then stop and waited for a set number and then good to go. That was day 21. I do remember that day.
but now you hear all this about the new way of cycling. And adding coral and fish on day two or three without any lost or harm to fish or livestock.
One of the reason is over the year we have learned a lot more about low levels of ammonia and nitrites on our systems.
now as far as the timeline on how long a cycle is and when we put our livestock in hands definitely changed. People don’t like to look at a tank with just water and rock and want wait for the month or so it takes to run it’s coarse by ghost feeding or adding a table shrimp. It’s hard to learn patience and even harder now with all the media and information overload. Not like in the 70’s when it was only offed by the many books available.
may the end of the day nothing has change. The nitrogen cycled going to happen.
 

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This is why I love reef forums, what they've logged for us in megapattern. its totally free sampling data

I've asked for a single example of a failed cycle here, on nano-reef.com and at reef2reef and there isn't one example let alone 3


so its fascinating that bottle bac rush cycles have been around since the aughts

and if we put into google "reef tank cycle" you can see about two million samples we can dig and cherry pick through to find the very bad ones...and the very bad ones are still happy fish, happy animals happy cleaner shrimp (sensitive reef mine canaries)

and all the fails are: not from seneye lol. patently amazing, and this reshapes cycling science once we sell it hard enough lol.

why does it matter anyway? so the focus for new tankers can be moved away from cycle nitpicking and into disease prevention nitpicking.

when we inspect disease trending in tanks under eight months, now there's bucketfulls of losses unfortunately.

the cycling where we were told was most risky, wasn't, we've been aiming their concerns incorrectly for fifteen years and now we're paying a high loss rate through disease vectoring which was the real risk. in the last fifteen years the hobby has had a marked change in disease expression, we need to anticipate and curb that to keep standards and practices high.

consider this realignment of truth, at least as directly stated by any reef board online:

the beginners forum, where most cycling works are found, has the lowest loss rate on any board, check them. this is supposed to be the most dangerous time in reefing, where adding animals too fast before cycling is done, results in doom. every cycle ump has hinted at this risk, their observations are logged permanently for lookup.

the general forum, where complex dosing is underway, addition of mixed species, new gear is underway certainly has fish loss examples from error

but the fish disease forum on any board, its directly the highest loss rate subforum


we aim all the concerns coached to new cycles in the directly opposite direction of the need, its fascinating. we're creatures of habit, guided by what peers say nearly always even if that guidance is in direct opposition to what 20 years of logged patterns show on web board self reports at reefs through their life stages.

our cycles happen because engineers were able to sell us effective water bacteria in water.

all the preps a new cycler needs to worry about are centering around disease prevention.
 

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And one way to prevent disease is to get people to slow down, observe fish in the store for a period of time before buying, don’t buy fish when they first come in. Let the store take the losses. And to make sure everything you put in your tank will work with your tank, experience level and each other. Stress effects a fish’s ability to fight off disease and can kill them outright.
 

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hey that's a great call. they can still be enjoying the tank with some corals and CUC moving all about, earn their way up to fish vs instant grat. solid.

untrain the habit to use this nearly certain bioload carry ability for the top tier animals they'll keep

spend first mos/year getting those white rocks purple

handling ups and downs, practice anticipation prep

then do the observant prep for fish, solid plan. meets presenting pattern needs from forums.
 

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And one way to prevent disease is to get people to slow down, observe fish in the store for a period of time before buying, don’t buy fish when they first come in. Let the store take the losses. And to make sure everything you put in your tank will work with your tank, experience level and each other. Stress effects a fish’s ability to fight off disease and can kill them outright.
All good advice.
also try and deal with a reputable lfs. Plenty of them out there. Sad some aren’t. From my years of working in lfs business I know of the hits they take and also which fish present the greater risk.I have learned you are going to have lost. You have certain fish that don’t ship well as others and delays in shipping don’t help.
 

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I read an article years ago from an old time reefer on how he set up new tanks. This was an old deep sand bedder. If you use it go with a shallow bed or bare bottom it makes sense. The problem with it is takes much longer to do. They cycle the tank, do a massive water change to reduce nitrates, then let the algae grow. Until as they said it “looks like a golf course “. They then add a clean up crew to eliminate the algae after that they add corals then fish. This makes sense as they let the tank go through the uglies with out having livestock that need food, increasing nutrients. I have tried it due to the increased time taken. I have only set up 2 tanks and my patience is not quite up to that yet. I will try it if I set up another though.
 

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Jerry, many ways of cycling a tank. Lot of ideas from many people over the years. No reason why it wouldn’t work.
some people say don’t run lights during cycle to prevent unwanted algae, I think differently, I always run my light during the cycle.
I haven’t really notice a change in time with any sand bed deep shallow or even plenum or BB. Maybe because I have always just let it run it’s course. I prefer BB for obvious reasons. Ease of maintenance.
 

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The DSB was not connected with the cycle. Was once thought that a DSB would create more stability as the organisms consumed detritus and excess nutrients.
the thought I like is letting the tank cycle, then go through the uglies before adding livestock. Seems like it would be easier and less stressful for livestock and the person setting up thesystem both.
 

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Are you feeding the tank during this process? And what about lighting. Dark out or some lighting. I would have to go back and see my start days on the two tanks I have going presently.
neither have livestock. Both set up completely different. One with live gulf rock and the other smaller with all dry rock. I don’t have livestock in either yet. No reason other then lazy. Both have lights running on a regular cycle. The live rock tank had HA. They both been a little over two months. Both are cycled and perimeters all good.
so if you did do it I would be interested in how you do as far as feeding and lights and see if once you kick on the lights if everything pops up just at a later time.
 

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Lights would be on. They didn’t mention feeding. I believe the idea was to allow the algae to grow as it would during the uglies and then to add the clean up crew to remove it. They gave what and how much was in basic crew for a 150 gallon if I remember correctly and said it may need to be increased.
I need to see if I can find the article. I have the link stored somewhere. It was interesting reading.
 

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Another myth that profoundly impacts us

this lasting tenet and advice to new reefers:

go big, the bigger tank you run the more stable it is.


wrong, that’s killing reefs by the thousands but just like misplaced cycling consequence, the loss is not initial for large tankers it’s delayed, via invasion.

no doubt that salinity and ion chemistry takes longer to unbalance in a large tank compared to a forty breeder


but, context change alert, in 2021 there are myriad topoff machine options, phone text alarms, balancing salinity isn’t the swing vote any longer, just about everyone can maintain freshwater levels in the reef and that’s the small tanks worst character. That, and dilution afforded when fish die (harkens back to solid disease prep in all setups)


the crossroads comes with invasions

these large tanks on reef2reef we try and fix from invasion by and large aren’t practically able to access the niches in the tank correctly for cleaning, to control invasions right now vs in 2023 by hopeful dosing luck

theyll post a green algae forest that nobody wants entwining their sps, dose fluconazole and kill the algae then translocate dead mass into the rock and sand crevices. Next update is a year of cyano, they take down the reef or just simply live with permanent eutrophication in some form, and every viewer gets the excuse about why it looks that way. Enjoyment, lowered.


but folks with a forty breeder? You’re secretly immune to any invasion in reefing even if that’s not currently apparent, ask to see some nano reef rip cleans :)


so the new rule is, the best size reef to choose for starts is a forty breeder lol.
 

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Caveat: of course thousands of large tankers don’t have problems, I can see the posts. And Bob Ross painted perfect trees with a broken stick…how the masses present in pattern is what the advice addresses, artists will always be able to paint a wonderful scape.
 
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