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Hi All,
I'm trying to maintain a 30 gal saltwater tank in my classroom. My students enjoy watching the fish and I already have a couple of freshwater planted tanks going.

I have a 30 gal saltwater tank and I was having trouble keeping my fish alive. Here's what I have:

  • 15lbs of home-cured live rock in the tank (following DIY I found here)
  • Several inches of 3m Colorquartz S-grade substrate. (Cheapest black looking sand that I could find.)
  • Reef Octopus BH 100F skimmer/filter
Things were going well with a 2" squirrelfish, small barber shrimp, a couple of 1" gobis, and a 2" yellow tang (based on what I read here too small for this right?) Then one day I caught a 8" conger eel and decided to try keeping it. Over the next couple of days, the tang began swimming funny, got skittish, and only nibbled on his nori. He died a day later.

The test kits I got from a friend were old and I'm not sure how reliable they are, but when I used them the ammonia levels were very low (sorry forgot the exact number) but the nitrate level was pretty high (<25ppm on the colored insert).

I've been reading a lot and I think I may not be using the right equipment, may need more live rocks, and may be over feeding.

Here's some of my questions:

  1. With the Reef Octopus BH 100F, what am I supposed to put in the 3rd chamber? The first has the pump, the second is the skimmer, and the third is empty. At first I was going to put in bio balls, but after reading this site I see many people saying that it causes more nitrate buildup after the initial phases. It appears that people have used similar spaces for more live rock, but the chamber is so small that I don't know how much live rock I could fit. And even if I added some, that area doesn't get much light, is that important?
  2. I really like the black sand look. Is using the Colorquartz okay?
  3. I was feeding the tang a small piece of nori every day and leaving it over night. This was with a bit of flake food a couple of times a day. Was I supposed to take out the nori at night? Only feed him nori a few times a week?
  4. Anyone have a conger eel?
  5. What else am I supposed to do?
Much Mahalo!
 

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I've not used that skimmer so can't help you there.

You can use the colorquartz. I don't like it for a marine tank because the grain size is too large. That promotes higher phosphate levels in the tank and as a result more algae.

It's best to remove the nori after 24 hours, it's fine to leave it overnight but not much longer. If you use a good flake food with algae in it (I use Formula II) then you don't really need the nori very often.
 
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