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Hello,

I am wondering if anyone can help me with something I have inherited not by choice. A roomate moved out of my house and left his entire saltwater tank. I have NO idea what to do with this thing and im sure it needs help as he was pretty irresponsible. The tank is I would guess a 15 gallon, 24" long. It currently has a LED light with the lunar bulb a marine land pump. Shell sub-straight & live rock. The only fish is a blue damsel and seems pretty happy. The tank has algae growth in places mostly on the rock, there is purple stuff in the tank on the rock as well but ive been told this is good. I am not sure so i want to ask the experts. The tank was having an issue with salt buildup on top and around the motor i have since bought a new top for this tank to help slow evaporation. I am OK at checking the salinity and testing with the strips and comparing them to the chart. The tank is a little off balance according to the test kit. 1st issue is i have no idea what im doing, second issue there is one fish nothing else and no crabs or snails for cleaning. 2 I have been trying to watch over this tank now for 5 mos and all that Ive done is check levels, change the filter and feed the fish. I will be moving soon and i'm trying to decide if i should break it down and give everything away or if i will be able to learn how to keep this going and improve the quality of the tank. I am also looking in to getting a bigger tank if i move as I hear 55 to 100 gallons are easier to maintain. If someone could let me know the things needing to be done to this tank as well as help me to figure out the routines i should have in place every day/week/month that would be great. This tank also has these weird looking red and whitish worms that climb out of the rock. There are tons and i'm not sure if this is good or not.
 

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First off... Welcome to TRT

The "purple stuff" is coralline algae and it is a good thing. No worries there.

What does the temperature get up to with that top on the tank? Evap helps cool the tank.

What do you do for maintenance? How big and how often do you do water changes?
 

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Thanks for the Welcome!

The temp at the top of the tank is around 78 to 80 and stays pretty steady. The tank is glass if that helps. I have not done any water changing as im confused about the process to be honest. I add water when needed around every 2 weeks. With that I add the stuff to take out chlorine in the water before adding to the tank. Other than that i feed the fish clean the glass as needed, stir up the sub straight every now and then. and check all the levels. Everything stays pretty steady but im not sure what i should be doing and when.

I also spoke with a guy at the local pet store today and he said i needed a 55 gallon as the bigger the easier to keep stable. Can you tell me your thoughts on this as well.
 

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hey there and welcome to trt!

ok, lots of stuff to go over here so I hope we all don't overwhelm you.

first, how old is the tank? what kind of filtration is being used? is the water clear or cloudy? what are the current parameters? the important ones to know are ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, temp, and salinity. how much(approx.) rock is in there? how much sand? how deep is the sand? what was he doing as far as maintenance? what have you been doing for maintenance?

crabs and snails don't really "clean" anything, as they poo as well, so no problems there. I keep some small hermits and snails simply because they are neat to watch, not because they clean anything.

have you done any water changes in the 5 months you have been watching the tank? have you been topping off to compensate for evaporation?

the test strips are pretty unreliable as tests go. the minimum id trust is an api test kit. do you have any saltwater fish stores nearby?

as far as routines, a general outline would be:

daily, watch the fish and enjoy. feed the fish and look for any abnormal behavior.

wekly, test the water and perform a 10% water change. siphon any accumulated detritus.

as for the filter, depending on what kind, id recommend changing the media out every few days. or, just leave it empty. filtration in saltwater is different than freshwater. our saltwater critters are much more sensitive to "impurities" in the water than their freshwater counterparts. look at any river or lake and you can see what I mean! they are filthy compared to the pristine water conditions found on the coral reef.

now, your probably thinking "how is taking the filter off going to improve water quality". well, here goes.

it has to do with the nitrogen cycle. the nitrogen cycle is the process by which fish waste gets broken down into less and less toxic substances. fish waste is in the form of ammonia(very toxic) is broken down into nitrite(almost as toxic) and finally nitrate(far less toxic to fish, anyways), and then the nitrate is converted to n gas and escapes into the air.

now, ammonia is converted to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate in the presence of oxygen. this is pretty much everywhere in the tank. the glass, the surface of live rock, and inside your filter. the problem arises when you realize that nitrate is converted to n gas only in anoxic, or low oxygen environments. this area is found basically only deep in the pores of live rock. as you can imagine, there is far less of this area that the oxygen rich areas. this is why we do periodic water changes to keep nitrates low. now, how this relates to a filter. a filter is a higly turbulent, thus highly oxygenated environment. it is good at converting waste to nitrate, but no further. the better alternative is to let the detritus settle in a low flow area where it wont break down as quickly and can be siphoned out with your water change. phew, lotsa writing there! hope that is clear and understandable as its an essential thing to understand in this hobby.

if you haven't found it yet, the reef keeping made easy thread is a looooong but must read. it is the "easy" link in my sig!


bigger tanks are generally thought of as being easier to take care of. the larger volume of water is more forgiving of any mistakes you may make and buffers things like temp and pH swings better than a smaller volume would. that being said, a 55g is generally thought of to be the worst size tank for saltwater. it is too narrow and hard to take care of. I believe the 2 front runners for the most popular size are the 40b and the 75g. the 40b is a 3ft tank, and the 75 is a 4 ft. the 75 has the advantage over the 55 in that is is wider front to back allowing more room for maintenance and aquascaping. I personally have a 40b and am super happy with it.
 

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I would not upgrade @ this point. You first should determine weather or not you want to commit the time and energy to plunging into salt water with little or no knowledge.
Add to this that you're moving and this tank may become a headache you don't want.

Or.....this inheritance could prove to be an epiphany and you'll get hooked.

What is around in the hose for supplies.....like salt, a hydrometer to measure specific gravity? What are testing for with the strips? Nitrates? Sounds like your ok with temp. Ask your pet store if they sell RO/DI water, and consider using that to top off evaporated water.

Lots of help here @ TRT.

It's up to you to go for it......I say let's go!!
 

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While a larger water volume helps keeps things stable, one damsel is a very small bioload. I'm always for upgrading though.

When you say you check all the levels, what do you mean? What are your nitrates and phosphates like? Water changes may help with the algae issue.
 

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Welcome to TRT!!!

Here it is!

:needpics:
 
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