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ReefKeeper
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to saltwater tanks and just found the forum a few days ago. It's great and you all have a lot of great ideas and experience. I'm hoping that you can help me out and I get further into the hobby. Thanks in advance for any help and ideas. My questions are at the bottom. Hopefully i'm providing adequate detail on the tank.

Specs:

-New tank 4/1/06, LR added over several weeks.
-125g main tank with 30 gallon refugium
-210 lbs fiji live rock and 4 Damsels (for some color)
-Refugium has 15+lbs Seachem MATRIX on inlet, 50lbs live sand, LR rubble caularpa 3 150W heaters and a powerhead, return is a Quietone 5000 pump and Coralife Super Skimmer 125
-Main tank lights are Coralife Aqualight Pro 72" (just tested, not running a lot), Refugium light is a 32W powercompact that I have been running 24/7 based on LFS recommendation (for now).
-Currently NH3=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate=5, Temp ranges 75-78 F, S.G. is 1.020-1.024 (depending on method of measurement)

Here are some pics (I hope)...

Tank 050606.JPG

Refugium 050606.JPG

Refugium 050606-3.JPG

So, my questions:

1. What is all the brown slime . .algae in the refugium? Is it Diatoms. What happens from here?
2. I have been using a S.G. meter with a swing arm. I just bought a hydrometer to compare. They were WAY apart. Any advice on which to trust? The hydrometer says my S.G. is low.
3. What do you all recommend on lighting now and in the future.
4. When should I begin water changes. I have held off to let the system come to equlibrium.
5. I need to get sand next for the main tank. Any recommendations as to depth. LFS said 2". 50% live and 50% not would be fine.
6. When are the next key times when I need to be thinking about doing something? Specifically, other testing, other additives? I think things are going well so far but I don't have a great road map as to the next 60 days? Examples- when it's a good idea to start routine water changes, when I add a cleanup crew (and what), when I get other tests and additives, when I add other animals?

Thanks for any and all help...

Dan
 

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Welcome to TRT!!!

:wavey:

1. sounds like diatom algae. should go away in few weeks. almost vanishes overnight.

2. do you mean refractometer? if yes than trust the refractometer. if you mean a floating glass device, i would get a refractometer and trust it. :D

3. lighting has a lot to do with what you want to keep in the tank. if only fish than flourescents will be plenty. if you want clams or anemones than i would strongly suggest getting Metal Halide lighting.

4. i usually do my first water change a week before i think i am ready to add my first corals or fish. this way i can test the water right afterwards and see if i need to wait longer. if the levels stay the same after 2 days than all is well.

5. why do you need to get sand? i prefer BB tanks.

6. do not add any additives. the only thing you should need to add is Ca and alk. these are only really necessary if you have corals in the tank. with normal water changes these should stay at acceptable levels without additions

G~
 

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ReefKeeper
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306 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response...

For now, do I need to wait to proceed until the diatom algae is gone or should I do a water change and then see if things are stable (like you noted?) What do you use as an indicator that the tank is ready to proceed?

On the S.G. - No, I don't have a refractometer. I bought one of the inexpensive plastic S.G. testers with a plactic needle that moves once you fill it with water. I also have a floating hydrometer. The results are very different. I'm inclined to trust the hydrometer because of some past experience with a different application. Sounds like I should just buy a refractometer.

Lignting... I do have 3 150 W MH's (10000K) and 4 96 W PC's (Actnic) in the fixture for the main tank. Should I hold of on running them until the diatoms are gone or partially or ..? Is there a downside either way? I did leave them on for 2 8 hour periods to test them and I see some growth (algae like the refugium).

I think that LFS store told me that the sand in the tank helped with the biological filtration. I can see that it would be a pain to clean. Sounds like you don't like the sand. What are the upsides / downsides of having the live sand. Is is just preference?

Lastly .... (for now) ... do you test for Calicum and what is alk? I'm thinking that you mean alkilinity. If you test, what test kit do you prefer and then brand do you buy and what level do you shot for based on the testing?

Sorry for all the Q/A ... as you can see i'm still learning but I want to know so I move at the appropraite pace.

Thank you again!

Dan
 

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i like to wait 2 months before putting in any corals or fish into my systems after startup. this is usually long enough to wait out the diatom bloom. when the sponges start growing again under the LR they will quickly uptake any free silica from the diatom algae, so there will be less for the diatom algae to feed on. eventually there will be very little and the tank will be clear of diatom algae.

150w HQI's are good choice for that size tank. i have 250w moguls on mine. you may need to be a bit more specific on tank placement with the 150's but not by much.

i would suggest getting a refractometer. they really are worth the $40 they cost.

the sand/BB topic is a pretty heated on right now in some places. i prefer the easy maintenance of a BB tank. it is a lot easier to siphon out the detritus if you do not have to worry about sucking up sand. detrital removal is the biggest problem with all SW systems, this is also the thing that most people are not told about when first starting a system up. here is a very brief pro/con.

BB-easy maintenance, hard to aquascape due to slippery tank bottom (some use a plastic bottom cover, but it is still slippery), some do not like the look of BB, less light needed to keep corals happy, margin for error less on a BB. higher flow rates possible.

DSB- eventually the SB will need to be replaced (generally between 3-7years), hard to siphon detritus without sucking up some sand, margin for error greater with SB. the SB acts like a sponge for phosphates (major cause of algea problems), most people prefer the look of sand on the bottom of their tanks.

i prefer the Salifert test kits for Ca and Alkalinity. i prefer to keep my tanks at 400-450ppm Ca and 10-11 dkh in alkalinity.

i do not suggest getting LS at all. it is not worth the money. the critters you get in LS are already in the LR. it is better to just find some calcium carbonate based sand from the local HW store. usually sold as white carribean sand. if in doubt put some of the sand in some vinegar. if it dissolves it is the good stuff.

G~
 

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ReefKeeper
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306 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great ... thanks for all the info.

On my lights. How do you recommend me running my lights right now? Both Refugium and Tank. Today, the Refugium is 24/7 and i'm unsure on the tank.
 

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I like to run my tank lights when my refugium lights are off, and vice versa. Helps to keep pH a bit more stable. I'm running my tank lights 10 hours, and my refugium lights 14. :)
 

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I wouldn't worry about adding live sand to the tank unless you want the extra biodiversity. Any "dead" sand that you add will quickly become "live" within a few weeks. Is it my imagination or do I not see your entire canopy? The pic above looks like it holds PC's only, I don't see where you have the halides or how they would fit over the canopy with the PC's in place. Otherwise, it looks like an awesome setup and you're well on your way!
 

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ReefKeeper
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306 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No ... that's all the lights. The lights are a Coralife Aqualight Pro 72". They have 4 96W PC Actnics, 3 150W MH's and 4 LED moonlights. It's a pretty cool fixture.

Here is a link to the fixture (not where I bought but the same fixture.)

http://www.petmeister.com/item2917.htm

P.S. I've now run it on and off for a few days and now the main tank has to lovely brown diatom's on the glass and LR. It's interesting because there are also a lot of little bubbles all over. This is new, is the N2 gas?
 

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dont turn your sump light off!! with calerpa, i believe it can go sexual on a day/night scedule, and take over your tank. just keep your sump on 24/7 untill someone can correct me if im wrong. i went with chaeto just because of that.
 

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I would try to get some cheato for your sump if you can. Like Leveldrummer said calerpa can go sexual. The lights are nice. I like that its an all in one and a very clean looking fixture.
 

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Wow, I haven't seen a fixture like that before, very cool :thumbup: It's amazing how thin it is. There are probably few things you couldn't keep under that setup.
 
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