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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, new here and new to the world of SW tank. I bought a 24 gal. Nano cube & stand. I have it running w/ live sand and live rock. The store guy said I could add a fish in one week but all the reading on here & the book I bought says one month minimum. Should I add anything else to help this cycling process along? Also where can I learn more about the testing of the water for amonia & nitrates, nitrites,calcium etc. and what are the bests tests to buy and where to buy them? Can this stuff be mail ordered cheaper rather than at a local pet store? I have so many questions and don't want to bombard you all and if I should be on another thread just let me know. Thank you for your patience.
 

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The Bitter Mod
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First Welcome to the reef tank. You don't need to do anything other than sit on your hands for a couple of weeks. Its hard to do but you'll be happier in the long run. The cycle can take up to 2 months and a year before its completely balanced out. So sit back wait, watch and enjoy your stay here at the reef tank. Test kits. People like the Salifert test kits. Try foster and smith, Marine depot. Online is almost always cheaper than your LFS.
 

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Tang Lover
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First off...big hearty welcome to TRT!!! And to the hobby! Everyone here is really great, and very helpful!!

I'm currently working on a write up on this very topic..unfortunately, I'm not quite done. ahaha

in the mean time, I think you'll find this post VERY benificial on the subject (click the link to open it up):

http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/showpost.php?p=460046&postcount=2

and keep the questions coming!!

where abouts from Pa are ya? I'm from pittsburgh myself (living in DC area now though)
 

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Stinky Slimey FEESH
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Welcome to TRT! Patience is the hardest part of this hobby, IMHO. I'm sure your nano is beautiful even without fish - - I buy a lot of my Salifert test kits on-line when I'm not in a hurry for them....otherwise I go to the LFS.

Best of luck
HHC
 

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Tang Lover
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also want to add that you'll need to be patient early on. It's really hard, but your chances of success in this hobby will expand GREATLY if you wait the right amount of time early on.

most of the time, it's best to wait a month or two before adding fish.

here's some more info on the cycle:

something organic enters the tank. (if you add Live rock, this is sufficient).

Something dies/rots/decays. Ammonia is created.

Ammonia consuming/processing bacteria begin to populate. During their processing of the ammonia, they give off wastes that cause a rise in NitrItes.

Ammonia will start to drop, as NitrItes begin to rise

NitrIte consuming/processing bacteria begin to populate. During their processing of the nitrItes, they give off wastes that cause a rise in NitrAtes.

NitrItes will begin to drop as NitrAte levels rise

NitrAte consuming/processing bacteria begin to populate.

NitrAte levels begin to drop/level off.

Ammonia/Nitrites are toxic to fish/inverts.

Nitrates are tolerable to critters in lower levels (20 or less ppm).

When you see that the ammonia has risen, then dropped to 0, nitrites have done the same, and nitrAtes have dropped down below 20 ppm, it is now safe to add fish. You can choose to test every couple days to watch this process...or just wait a month or two. I suggest testing, as it helps you see the cycle happening, and get good with testing equip.
 

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Tang Lover
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additional info/opinons:

There is also bacteria that eat NitrAtes and turn it into nitrogen gas, however...these bacteria can ONLY live in areas where there's VERY little oxygen. Areas like the bottom most layer of a deep sand bed. or MORE importantly...deep inside your Live rock! For this reason, while your ammonia and nitrItes will eventually go back to ZERO...nitrates might not go all the way down to zero. That depends on a LOT of things, like your feeding habits, your filtration methods and their effectivness, how many areas in your tank allow these bacteria to live (non-oxygen areas...i.e How much Live Rock you have, or if you have a deep sand bed).

Anyways...I could go on and on. point is...once you're nitrAtes get below 20, this is generally considered safe for fish and means your tank has cycled (provided you saw ammonia go up, come down, nitrItes go up, come down, etc). HOWEVER...when you want to get into corals (not all, but most) you need to get those nitrate levels even lower. Effective skimming, water changes, Deep Sand Beds, overall better nutrient exporting vs importing. These are all ways to decrease nitrates. Some with problems of their own...so ask questions when you get to that point.

Now...I'm gonna try to wrap this post up before i bore you to death.

My last major point is...hopefully explaining the nitrogen cycle gives you a better understanding of it. But keep in mind, those bacteria aren't the ONLY thing fighting for survival and equilibrium in your tank. Little detrius (poop) eating bugs, feather worms, pods, on-and-on, are all ALSO fighting for their existance in your tank. EACH with their own advantages and disadvantages.

A tank is TRULY cycled (mature) when ALL those different types of critters have populated...died off..and reached an equilibrium in the tank. This whole process can take a year or more.

While I don't expect ANYONE to wait a year to add stuff to their tank, DO consider your tank's maturity when picking things to add to it. Some of the harder critters won't do well until your tank is more mature. So keep this in mind. Be patient, start simple, and did I mention be patient? And you'll have LOTS of good experiences in this hobby!

Again, welcome...and hope to hear more from you!!

Very glad to have you with us, and please keep us posted!
 

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Stinky Slimey FEESH
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WOW Skeety good job of explaining the cycling process!!!!

HHC
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
many thanks all

Thanks for the welcome all, I will attemp to be patient. If I need a pep talk on patience I will ask you all:) I have a deep sand bed approx. 1 1/2 -2" in front and approx. 3" toward back of the tank. The live rock is approx. 10 lbs. Please don't think you are boring me with details ( I copied & pasted the info) and will print it out and study it. I really want to do this right. I am facinated with reading up on it. I have been testing my salinity, temp and ph with test strips. ( jungle quick dip 5 in one) which I suspect are not accurate? ...I've been testing daily. I am confused about the topping off of water. The new Nanos have a modular surface skimmer you place at the intake drain (it holds in place from the suction) but it says I must maintain water level in the rear water compartment to keep the pump from running dry. I am unsure when to add water and what kind of water. I added a bit of the left over salt water I mixed originally yesterday. Also there is a bit of "skummy" stuff around top back edge of tank......should I be cleaning that off and if so what is the best way. Also since I am unsure of my well water altho it goes thru three filtration systems I was going to buy a few bottles of RO water from Wal Mart to have on hand if I need to take the salinity in the other direction.......(if it tested too saline).......( I grew up in Phila.,have lived in a few other states but am now back in Pa. in Chester County horse country.......near Amish Country. Thanks again for helping a novice.
 

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Welcome to TRT!!!

:wavey:

while you are waiting for you tank to cycle, there are a couple of things you may want to look into.

i would really recommend getting a refractometer for testing salinity. pH probe is also a good thing. there are some really inexpensive ones out there made by Hannah. depending on what kind of critters you are looking to keep, a Ca and alk test kits would also be good. get Salifert. do not worry to much about the ammonia, nitrite, nitrates. if you wait a month these will have already happened and will most likely never need them again. if i am curious, i tend to take my water to a LFS and have them test it for me. :D

G~
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A refractometer is different & better I am assuming than the "deep six hydrometer" the LFS person sold me?
 

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Welcome to TRT! Glad to have you with us :) The nano cubes are a fun little tank I love mine. What lighting did you get with the cube? what are your long term plans for the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Lighting is 2 compact fluorescent lamps/polished mirror reflector/ 10k white daylight & 7100k blue actinic. Also has a nite-vu LED moonlight. No long term plans at the moment except to keep my critters alive & happy once I add them. Possibly experimenting with photographing them and also using them for inspiration for art work &/or jewelry design. My background is in the arts and I am inspired by nature. Thanks for the welcome.
 

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Welcome and enjoy the hobby. Yoe seem to be doing good is you are reading books/articles on SW.
See you around.
 

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since no one answered, you generally want to top off as often as possible, with fresh ro/di water. the loss of water in your tank is due to evaporation, and salt doesnt evaporate. so your only loosing fresh water, so only add fresh water back. the more often you top off (especially with a smaller tank) will reduce the fluctuation in SG. and hit everyone here with as many Q?s as you can think of. its why we all joined.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thnaks Andy, I'll probalby figure this out after I post and have a hit my forehead moment but what is SG? You say fluctuation of SG. Salinity/gravity?
 

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you definatly want to wait awhile before adding fish, I added some even after a couple of months and they did not do so well. Whatever you do don't by expensive fish yet!
 

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I would Start out with a damsle or two in about 3 weeks. Add real fish (reccomended a clown fish) after about a month. A good real fish for beginners would be the occelaris clownfish, cheap, hary, grows slowly
 

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Val said:
Thnaks Andy, I'll probalby figure this out after I post and have a hit my forehead moment but what is SG? You say fluctuation of SG. Salinity/gravity?
SG is short for specific gravity, the measurement of dissolved salts and minerals in seawater. Recommended to be 1.022 fish only, and around 1.024 for a reef/ invert tank. Measured with a hydrometer or if ya want to go like a pro use a refractometer like i do. All can be found at marine depot.com
 
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