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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Whenever we get started in a new hobby, we often take the time to ask, 'What's the BEST.....RIGHT WAY to do this?'. Guess what....,.,,..,THAT CHANGES!.......CONSTANTLY! :cautious:

HOW TO 'CYCLE'
WHEN TO ADD CUC
WHEN TO ADD FISH
WHEN TO ADD CORALS
QUARANTINE vs NOT
SAND vs BB
LIGHTING
NSW vs ARTIFICIAL SALT MIXES

The list goes on and on. So many things once 'written in stone' fall by the wayside......some surprisingly fast. Others hang on, and take a lot to de-thrown them. Some myths get in the way on occasion, as well as 'salesmanship hype' that is a tough one.
The concern/fear is when asked the BEST/RIGHT WAY by a new member, do we know the right advice? It's soooooo easy, and ingrained to simply repeat what we were told.....at some point though, THAT changes.....OFTEN.

When the 'HOW' is questioned, and changes there's often stiff resistance BECAUSE that's not how it's done.....I WAS TOLD!

And there's always more than 1 camp of course......not counting individual 'opinions' but philosophies. Such as 'NATURAL vs :unsure:...hmmmmm, UN-NATURAL?'

I'm curious what's the best, current, agreed upon advice to pass on to the next generation.......THOUGHT?
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
EXPERT, uhhhhh, NO! :ROFLMAO: There, there's my 'disclaimer'.

I am from the more 'natural' camp. I use the Atlantic Ocean which is readily available to me, but realize a lot of folks don't have THAT option. I still need to supplement my water with Instant Ocean Reef Crystals due to the lower salinity of the Ocean in these parts as opposed to the tropics. I am also more of a 'hands off' person, and see where Mother nature takes me. THAT being said, there's a lot of the basic questions my personal preference shouldn't influence me with, and will try to REMEMBER THAT.

I have even heard recently that even the most basic of information to new folks, the 'cycle' has even been discussed lately as 'flawed/changing'. Had been since the days of old that we had to watch and test our systems as they go through the nitrogen cycle.....AMMONIA to NITRITE to finally NITRATE. Each being less harmful to our fish than the one before. Just written in stone. I've heard it put forth on several occasions now that Nitrite in a marine system ain't as bad as we first thought.
Just a starting point, that even the most basic of our advice might be in question.

My standard advice to new members asking me 'HOW?' is to suggest.....
*("Once their tanks are set up with the appropriate salinity, temperature, flow and lighting.")

Begin the 'cycle with a piece of table shrimp, uncooked, unseasoned, just shrimp. Leave it alone and let it decay.....it supplies the fuel to get your 'cycle' going and will get you to the finish line.
What was once STANDARD PRACTICE of using a 'hardy Fish' to do this has fallen from grace with the information that the ammonia may be hurting our Fish......so creating another source of ammonia was required, thus the shrimp.

But even THIS has started a lot of heated debate as to whether we even need the shrimp...some find the answer in a bottle.....I am no expert on this, but has been with us for a while now.

See, it's even difficult to get out of the garage? :unsure:
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The best advice relates to whatever method you choose. Be patient.
There are many different ways to achieve a good stable system. Some methods are better for some people than others. A lot can depend on the budget. Some methods are faster but not necessarily sure. Where some take a little longer but are pretty much fool proof.
I think that the majority of talk about cycling refers to the inaccuracy of test kits showing ammonia or nitrites when in fact there are none.
Pure ammonia can be used to fuel the cycle instead of the shimp. I think that the shrimp may have a diversity of natural bacteria on it that will help the tank.
The bottled bacteria route I don’t trust due to not knowing if the bacteria is still viable. Some people have good results with bottled bacteria, some don’t.
 

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Red Tiger Oscars and Cichlids
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Wow. A topic here I can chime in on! I am still wet behind the ears when it comes to marine tanks. I have got a lot of proven, real life, info here. I have also studied the subject on the latest and greatest videos. I also read a book (thanks Paul!) relaying 60 years of experience.

This is where my current opinions are:

I tackled the cycle of my 75 with the shrimp method and it went exactly as planned. I used the bottled bacteria and it dropped the ammonia over night but it only lasted a week and the ammonia spiked - finished the cycle the old fashioned way.

I am not quarantining at this point. I am only buying fish that have been at the LFS for a month or more. I am figuring if they are in a tank for a month by themselves they are quarantined.

Like I said I am an absolute newb in the reef world so not set in my ways - maybe a little more likely to experiment (out of ignorance) compared to those who have decades of tried & true methods. I expect in a few years I will be set in my ways and will take a seat with the old guard who have a proven routine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey Guys.....
Jerry, THAT, is the key in this hobby....PATIENTS.....which has stood the test of time. (y) ("Not saying tomorrow THAT will be sitting on the street corner next to DSBs")

Rick, that is the danger and flaw in HOBBIES, as wars.....we always fight the last one. With a little time and experience under your belt from being taught by those who came before, leaves us with THAT mindset. I believe saged wisdom is worthy, BUT fresh eyes and attitude goes a long way......CHANGE ain't inherently a bad thing.
I went through the sand to BB thing......cycling with Fish to using shrimp......chasing numbers to raising stability to prominence. Mother Nature has it down pat....,up to us to figure out what She's doing.
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Rick , even if a fish has been in a system at the local fish store you can still run into problems. Their tanks and system can be free if parisites, but they also get new fish in regularly and if something is sick it can spread and take time to appear. But it is the best way to buy local and observe. The store I purchased from is always healthy and they also treat for different things during the observation time if it appear to need it. So still use caution.
 

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Rick , even if a fish has been in a system at the local fish store you can still run into problems. Their tanks and system can be free if parisites, but they also get new fish in regularly and if something is sick it can spread and take time to appear. But it is the best way to buy local and observe. The store I purchased from is always healthy and they also treat for different things during the observation time if it appear to need it. So still use caution.
Agreed. One thing I like about this shop is that all the tanks are self contained - not a shared central circulation system. It does isolate populations from disease but opens the tank to possibly poor parameters if maintenance is missed.

He does medicate new stock as well. At this point I think that is good but I haven’t decided yet.
 

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I prefer my fish to be treated at low doses of different meds. Just like I do with seahorses they all get formaldehyde treatment for minimum of three days.
 

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So many ways to set up a Maine tank. I’ve done most but never bottle bacteria, there are a few good ones out there. Not all. Dr Tim’s, Fritz’s and a few more from all the stuff I’ve read. Then you got ammonium chloride which I used in the 70’s to speed up the process. But now they use it in a different manner then back then to speed it up.
I cycle with fish for years along with a seed from another system. Still take about a month. If done right it’s no harm to the fish. I can honestly say I have never lost a fish during the cycle or witnessed any long term problems. As I got older and more experienced in the hobby I just take my time . Seed tank, ghost feed fir a few months. Live rock helps but I still take a few months most of the time.
I think the problem really started when you had a bunch of people who saw the Nemo movie and had to have a Nemo and dori. The hobby exploded and never stopped.
then came Covid and people were bored and reignited the hobby. A good example is the amount of systems for sale lately. There had always been people jump in and only to get discouraged with in a year and then out.
Like Jerry said patients is the key to success and being able to rebound from the failures which many lack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Last I knew, my lfs, still recommended 'hardy fish' to cycle new systems.......next time there I'll see if that's still the case.
I understand the 'why' of the alternate options for cycling now a days.......but as Vinnie, I never saw any ill effects, or behavior issues. But this new 'kinder-gentler' method works just fine, so I'm firmly aboard with it. The PLUS SIDE also is people aren't stuck with them blasted evil Blue Damsels everyone tries to figure out how to catch and rehome afterwards. :unsure: ;)
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Yes, kind of ridiculous to put a fish in you aren’t going to keep. But then new people don’t know what a pain they are. There is just no reason in my opinion to cycle with fish when there are other effective ways to do it. And in many places there is nowhere to rehome fish. The store won’t take them back even for free and no other saltwater people around.
 

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I would say the easiest, most reliable way to cycle would be the shrimp method.
The bare bottom vs substrate debate really comes down to do you want the extra maintenance of sand bed for the astetic quality. It is pretty much just a question of preference. Bare bottom is definitely less maintenance.
 

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Correct on the sand vs BB, I’m a Bb guy not only for ease of maintenance but the increase flow I can have and not have sand pile up. Everything collects in a few area which can easily be siphoned out during water changes.
As far as cycling I just ghost feed the tank over a period of a month or two. But I also keep rock in a sump I can move for emergencies. If I have to set up a tank really fast.
and as far as ugly stage I don’t worry, all things past in time. I try not to overact . I get different things pop up every so often and in most cases it temporary. I will take action when it comes to Byopsis or dinos. As they can become bothersome to a point of harming livestock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I agree with the substrate vs BB, and believe that is the bottom of that well now a days. I think the DSB part of THAT conversation has finally died......THOUGH in my little REEF in a JUG experiment, I actually have a DSB in use.
My wife, and most find sand on the bottom of tanks more appealing......and I'll agree. BUT the less maintenance I like even more.

And another aspect of having 'to rehome' Fish is the recommendations of some lfs, and the 'OH, but I really want one' of some new comers to have 'inappropriate Fish......too large, or too demanding' in their tanks. For a long time now Live Aquaria has been the gold standard for recommendations.....and still think on the whole it's a good reference/starting point.
Even with the best, and most sincere intentions, rehoming live stock, either to the lfs, or the notorious future 'upgrade' is at best unreliable.
As Jerry would say, PLANNING is everything. That's the advantage of the 'cycling period'.....gives one a chance to study, evaluate......rethink.....get guidance/thoughts on their future selections.

THAT is a hard, and most often futile argument to get into with a new member.....once some get set in their ways, nothing will change that.
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It would be good if all newcomers had to read up and learn what’s happening during the nitrogen cycle. Way to many set up a tank and follow the directions either from LFS, online forums and places like Facebook. They just follow the steps without understanding the processes taking place.
 

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A lot of LFS cashed in on Dori and Nemo.
Selling people small tanks to keep the clown and Tang in. A lot of don’t care as long as they make a sale.
The TV show Tanked didn’t help much.
from what I saw they build the tank, fill, add salt and bottled bacteria then add a bunch of fish. Don’t go into the testing and continual addition of bacteria for a while till the biofilter is good
 
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Last I knew, my lfs, still recommended 'hardy fish' to cycle new systems.......next time there I'll see if that's still the case.
I understand the 'why' of the alternate options for cycling now a days.......but as Vinnie, I never saw any ill effects, or behavior issues. But this new 'kinder-gentler' method works just fine, so I'm firmly aboard with it. The PLUS SIDE also is people aren't stuck with them blasted evil Blue Damsels everyone tries to figure out how to catch and rehome afterwards. :unsure: ;)
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I have two blue damsels that I pulled every rock out of the 75 just so I could catch them...Yup, first fish I bought. Angry little guys, my LFS will take them back. They are keeping my 10 gallon going at the moment.
 

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A lot of LFS cashed in on Dori and Nemo.
Selling people small tanks to keep the clown and Tang in. A lot of don’t care as long as they make a sale.
The TV show Tanked didn’t help much.
from what I saw they build the tank, fill, add salt and bottled bacteria then add a bunch of fish. Don’t go into the testing and continual addition of bacteria for a while till the biofilter is good
When I used the bottled bacteria on the 10 gallon it did kick in and work great for a week but the tank spiked afterwards. I think they need to be continually seeded for a period of time until the population is established in the rock. In my experience it does work but not for long - it kinda "wore off". I finished the cycle with shrimp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Guys, i think THIS is an important or at least an 'interesting' thread......BUT.....I am soooooo woefully in....in what? IN....I guess 'in' over my head as far as being an 'expert/trusted/valued opinion' here.
Vinnie and Jerry, you're both very much up on the 'science' behind our hobby......,to a certain extent I try to have a firm grasp of it, BUT at some point I began, and follow 'experience, and on the job knowledge' over the 'how and why'.

THAT puts me at a disadvantage, and a big part of the WHY I think this thread could be valuable. I fear I have become one of the 'that's the way it's done' generation. And that's fine if it works, and 'works for YOU', but I fear passing on antiquated ideas and technologies just because it worked before, and for me.

And THAT is a huge danger.......some times we don't even realize this is happening. I TRY my darndest to remember THAT, but it's soooooo easy to let an instinct throw an answer out there, and not be sure it's the right answer.
("MAN.....I was wrong Vinnie......I AM THE SLOW TYPER!")

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I’m one that like damsels, hardy fish with tons of personality. I really like the Sargent Major and dominos. The problem is that get big and you really need a large tank to house them.
 
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