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Reefkeeping made easy- what was not explained.

899510 Views 1783 Replies 195 Participants Last post by  hackshobby
here are a few threads that were started in another forum about what is going on in our system. hopefully some of you all will read the information here and start to get a handle on what makes our systems work or not work. I know this may require some reading and those on the internet are allergic to reading threads that are not theirs, but give this thread a go. I am hoping that it will answer most of the questions you may have about reefkeeping. these first three posts may be a bit disjointed. as they came from the other thread. I will try and edit them so that they flow a bit better and lead into each other better.

the biggest things we will be discussing in this thread are the biological process that are going on in our systems. these biological process are what most of the false information that is out there is about. this includes reef forums and LFS. The two main elemental processes we will be discussing are the Nitrogen and Phosphate cycles that are occurring in our systems. these two elements lead to the greatest confusion about what is going on in our little slices of ocean.

There will be a lot of information in this thread. I will be linking to other threads with even more reading and papers on the subject at hand for even further reading. This hobby is easy if you understand what is going on, if you do not care to understand what is going on and listen to a lot of false information out there, then this hobby can be very frustrating and lots of wasted money.
I would anybody to ask questions if they need clarifications. I will try and keep things as short as possible to keep the reading down to a minimum, but some of this stuff is fairly long winded in general.



A sort of Table of Contents for the thread. please feel free to PM any subjects or pages i should add to the contents.

Introduction: Page 1
Nitrogen cycle: Pages 1-2, 22
Phosphates: Page 3, 31
Sources of Phosphates: Page 3
Phosphate Cycle Graphics: Page 35
Early Tank Processes: Page 30
Problems with Sand: Page 4, 19
Sandbed Cleaning:page 7
DSB's: Page 9
BB Alternatives: Page 25
About LR: Page 8
LR Purging: Page 19, 26
Cured LR: Page 23
Tank Flow: Page 7
Light: Pages 13-15
Kalkwasser: Page 12, 17
Feeding: Pages 17-19
Zoax: Pages 15-17
Carbon Dosing: Pages 24-25
Tank Self Feeding: Page 27
Conservation of Matter: Page 28
Beer!: Pages 6-7
Bad Experts: Page 19
Definitions according to Spanky: Page 21
My Reference Links: Page 37
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-- Arwen, i would think if you were to keep up on cleaning the sandbed and around/under the LR you would be ok. the only thing i would think that would be detrimental in doing so would blast all that around and then let it sit and ferment elsewere... thus the phosphates go into the water column. at least that is what i am gathering. ive been messing with freshwater since i was about 10 and at 15 rebuilt a 150 long on my own. saltwater i been messing with for about 3-4 years, but omg i got Tons of missleading info like... the "mechanic in a can" = Purple-up... after reading the ingredients on that stuff i thought WTHeck... thats all in a waterchange lol. my learning experience continues tody as well. im just glad i found a forum with some smart people like G on it. if you fit the mechanics and the science to the basic understandings i have it sure does help understand this waaay more than i did before. i thank you Geoff
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i will get back to this is just a bit. getting my study on again.

Arwen- we will heading down the path you mentioned earlier with the Ca/alk uptake, so any help with that would be great when we get into it.

i would also only keep enough sand to make you happy, yet easy enough to clean. as long as you only think of it as a decoration you are fine. it is when people start thinking that it is some magic filter that the trouble really starts to happen. CC is great for keeping clean. though i understand the look is not what a lot of people are going for.

i am tired of all of the bad info that is out there. we need to get this hobby under control or it will not make it much longer with all of the environmental trouble that is going on around the world. this hobby of ours is actually pretty self sustaining if we just understand the basics. nearly all of the corals are easily propagated and we really should not need to take any wild specimens. many of our snails are also self propagating. the fish are a bit of a problem, but luckily these are also not fished for other reasons, so we may have a bit more time on these till we get the breeding down for these. unfortunately planktonic breeding and skimmers just do not mix. :(

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Okay so I just finished readin last night slept on it and have some questions I guess. What I have tanken away is that a bb or epoxy bed is less maintenance and is easier to keep detritus out thus keeping phosphate from sinking into the sand and eventually exploding?

The Nitrate to nitrogen gas is what is limiting are home system du to lack of anoxic places for the reactions to take place?

To keep phosphates to a level not to grow algea but enough for your animals it's best to top off with lime water. And to manage detritus? (I don't get how you use lime water)

And lastly calcium supplement and reactors can actual create more phosphates in the water column because the phosphate bonds to the calcium?

Thanks for any clarification
very close.

it is not a lack of anoxic areas that tend to cause nitrates. it is an overabundance of high oxygen areas in the system. most of the time there are extra filters in the system that are designed to have flow through them to catch debris. this is the perfect environment for growing the ammonia-nitrite and nitrite-nitrate bacteria.

toping off with lime water is a great way to maintain your Ca and alk levels without to much difficulty. it does not really keep your phosphates down, though it does help to some extent. the best way to manage the phosphates is to remove them with the siphon.

calcium reactors are a great source of Ca and phosphates for your system. :D

So the lime water thing sounds like a great idea and through the forum others have been asking about it so I was wonder if you could elaborate on how much and where/what to get to put in the RO water to make it lime water.
Arwen pointed me to this article that explains the use of kalk quite well. it also explains the fact that it did not seem to matter if the container was sealed off from the air or not. it still worked. when i first starting using kalk everyone said you had to keep CO2 from reacting with the water. i have run it both ways and it worked just fine from an open container.

from the article i would be more concerned about using the kalk until it is done if you are using something besides RO/DI water in the container. since kalk acts as a binder for a lot of metals if you are using tap water then trying to reuse the sludge at the bottom would not be wise. just wash out every now and then and start over. the stuff is really inexpensive.

sorry, busy at work. i will get back to real stuff, hopefully later in the week.

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These materials are made by heating calcium carbonate until the carbon dioxide is driven off, forming quicklime (calcium oxide):
hey EC- do the blocking proteins have a threshold limit? i am just wondering if the lighting is so low and the nutrients are so high that the sun is just not triggering the coral to produce the UV blocking proteins to block the zoax from overproducing O2 and getting evicted. this is the only thing that makes sense on why corals can also bleach when they are in low light, when we know that they can grow in some really low light areas in nature. thoughts?

I have searched and can't find conclusive data on the subject. I believe that corals produce blocking proteins in response to chemical cues from their zooxanthellae. Maybe it's oxidants? As PAR increases, so does the amount of oxidants the zooxanthellae produce. This may trigger the coral to produce more blocking proteins to shield the zooxanthellae, reducing the amount of oxidants being produced. If lighting is low, the chemical cues are reduced, and the coral produces fewer blocking proteins.

Zooxanthellae are like house plants. Some strains can tolerate exposure to very bright light, and others have evolved to flourish in relatively dim lighting. These two strains are not interchangeable. There are many different clads of zooxanthellae. If we move a coral containing high light zooxanthellae (like most acropora) into low light, the zooxanthellae will begin to die. At this point the coral will discharge the dead zooxanthellae or digest them. Either way, the coral bleaches.
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if the Zoox clad that likes low light is present in the system, would the coral not invite them in? or are the corals so adapted to these clads that they can not go beck and forth between the two. in the article i posted about deep water photosynthetic corals both Porities and Pocilippora were found near the edge of the Euphotic zone. this makes it seem that at least some Genus of corals are able to house the different clads. though of course this could bring it down to the species level.

it is just better to remove all of the phosphates every week during water changes. if this is done then there will not be any phosphates available for either algae or any money sucking contraption you may feel like buying. :D more money for corals, and more time to enjoy them.
I know I'm splitting hairs here, so I apologize, but I think it's important for people to understand that they can not rid their systems of phosphate. There is phosphate available in every healthy reef tank. Even those low nutrient demanding, SPS corals can not grow or replace tissue without phosphate. Our goal isn't to eradicate phosphate. It's simply to keep the concentrations below levels that can fuel rapid growing organisms like hair algae.

I love this pic! What a great pic to demonstrate what can happen in a neglected sand bed. People think they can maintain a sand bed simply by sucking detritus off the top, having the right flow over the sand, or having a few critters that eat detritus off the top. The top of this sand doesn't look that bad. It's the lower sections that have become a pile of rot and decay. This is where the problem lies. The only way to keep this from happening is to keep organic matter form accumulating anywhere in the sand. Even at the bottom.
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Boy, i miss good discussions.

with EC splitting hairs brings us to our next topic.


what have you all been told about how to feed your system? why?

wow i have some reading to do, i have been busy with finals. im done now.
however Geoff i have that same science teacher (the one i took to class with this thread) for oceanology. i think that just means i can read this forum all day.
I have been told feed my corals a supplement of dt's every 2weeks a little dose not the full blown and I was told multiple small meals a day for my fish to reduce the excess landing on the bottom producing excess waste
if the Zoox clad that likes low light is present in the system, would the coral not invite them in? or are the corals so adapted to these clads that they can not go beck and forth between the two. in the article i posted about deep water photosynthetic corals both Porities and Pocilippora were found near the edge of the Euphotic zone. this makes it seem that at least some Genus of corals are able to house the different clads. though of course this could bring it down to the species level.

Different clads of zooxanthellae have evolved symbiotic relationships with different species of coral. One species of coral may be able to harbor several different clads of zooxanthellae, enabling them to survive in different habitats, but these relationships are species specific. Kinda like clownfish and anemones. There are ten different host species of anemone, but ocellaris only associates with three of them. Zooxanthellae clads are segregated by depth, species of symbiotic partner, and geographical location. Some clads are found in the Caribbean, but not in the Indian Ocean.
Thanks EC, good to know.

though clowns are not the best example. they will host with a Powerhead if given the chance. ;-)

Everyone: more examples of how you have been told to feed your system.

Thanks EC, good to know.

though clowns are not the best example. they will host with a Powerhead if given the chance. ;-)

I was talking about natural symbiotic relationships. In the confines of our systems behavior changes. In the wild, clowns don't use powerheads, coral, LR, or any of these things as a host. They are only found with those few species they've evolved a symbiotic relationship with.

It may be possible for coral and zooxanthellae to form unnatural symbiotic relationships in captivity. This remains to be seen though.
sorry, i guess my wink did not show up properly. you have been dealing with to many literals lately.

My bad Geoff.
geoff. guess what i did.... haha i removed my DSB from my fuge. the display sand will stay for now, but the next tank will be BB/epoxy bottom
man i have a ton to catch up 18 pages here i come see u guys in a few hours
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