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FAQs on Reef System Operation/Maintenance 23

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Related FAQs: Reef Maintenance 1Reef Maintenance 2Reef Maintenance 3Reef Maintenance 4, Reef Maintenance 5, Reef Maintenance 6, Reef Maintenance 7, Reef Op. 8, Reef Op. 9, Reef Op. 10, Reef  Op. 11, Reef  Op. 12Reef Op. 13, Reef  Op. 14, Reef  Op. 15, Reef Op. 16, Reef Op. 17, Reef Op. 18, Reef Op. 19, Reef Op 20, Reef Op. 21, Reef Op. 22, Reef Op. 24, Reef Op. 25, Reef Op. 26, Reef Op. 27, & Marine MaintenanceReef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef Tanks, Reef LightingReef Lighting 2Reef Filtration, & Reef LivestockingReef Livestocking 2, Reef Feeding,

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1:
Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2:

New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
Book 3:

New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Re: Clownfish and coral behaviour. Reef op., chatting ongoing  -- 10/02/08 Hi Bob, Eric again, <Mmm, BobF here> I left the other emails attached below so you don't have to search to find the other stuff we talked about... I imagine you answer a lot of these thing. I really appreciate the advice, and your website. I had done a lot of reading before, I spend a great deal of time here (I think it's a credible addiction... but there's certainly worse ones, hehe). I read all the other stuff you suggested and have made the following changes. Removed the third smaller clownfish, who was being picked on. The clowns now seem very happy. <Good move> Removed the Goniopora...sigh. After reading about this I realize this was probably one of the worst possible corals to put in a tank, though very beautiful, this is one maybe I'll save for a decade down the road when I have my 1000 gallon reef tank (we all need dreams right?). Sad that the LFS would tell me it was an 'easy coral to keep, with no really specific needs.' No excuse for my lack of knowledge still.... though that is improving. Converted the wet dry trickle... now it just has the filter pad, no biological material, and I will be adding some active carbon in a bag. My Prizm skimmer came with a little plastic container to put carbon in which sits in the stage well after the bubble chamber, so water flows into the tank, through the carbon, I figure it's better to have two bags though so I can alternate them. <Ok> The finger leather died two days after being introduced, I'm guessing from toxins emitted from the Goniopora while it was being pestered by the clowns, allelopathy etc. <Good guesses> I did a couple of 5 gal water changes and put in new carbon right after that, to get rid of any coral toxins, and then just let everything settle. I will continue trying to remove the angel, but he is proving tough to catch. <Two nets... maybe a friend with one of them> He is still very small, but no doubt will grow. I found that many books and other online resources (about.com) say that they only need 30gal to move around in, but given all the other help I've had from this site, I think I'll trust you guys. There sure are a lot of varying opinions out there though. <Oh yes> I'm thinking of adding a hang on overflow with a small 10-15 gal sump, to increase the water volume of the system, plus refugium type benefits for macroalgae etc. <Good> I added a small star polyp colony about a week ago and they are thriving. Thinking of adding a leather or two, maybe some frogspawn, or hammer coral, some colt coral and maybe open brains or xenia. <Mmm, do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above... re techniques for alleviating induced imcompatibility> Need to do more reading on compatibility, but so far these all seem like good 'beginner' corals from what I understand. I'd love to add a small BTA on the other side of the tank (my live rock is organized into two separate piles), but I realize after more reading this is probably not the greatest idea in a tank this size with other corals, big risk of allelopathy and whatnot. This would be another benefit of the sump though, from what I've read. <Correct> I replaced the third clown with a small sand sifting goby, and he seems to be doing really well, spraying sand all over the place, and really does a great job keeping the substrate clean. The tank seems much better now, the cloudiness has pretty much disappeared, water conditions are pretty much spot on. The pH is still a tad low (8.1) <Not a worry> but I add buffer to keep this stable (and don't worry, I do only add it with water changes and top ups etc... I just didn't specify that in the last email, my mistake!) I'm really happy with how it's turning out though. <Good> So that's about it, once again I really appreciate your help, and let me know what you think of the changes thus far, plans for the future etc. This is a truly addictive hobby, I lived in the Seychelles for a few years, <Ahh! Have visited, dived there... very nice...> and the diving I did there is what really inspires me to pursue this hobby. It really is quite fulfilling, and quite the learning experience. Fortunately I have a girlfriend who tolerates the constant trips to the LFS! Cheers for now, and best wishes. Eric Milne <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Live Rock'¦Shipping/Storing/Curing - 09/30/08
Hey Eric,
<<Hiya Ken>>
Nice to hear from you.
<<Thanks mate'¦I'm happy to still be here>>
I hope all is well with you.
<<Not so bad, thanks>>
Yes, it has been 2 years this October.
<<My how the time flies>>
I will go with the rock as you suggested. I'm not in a hurry to put livestock in the tank anyway as I have a reef tank already.
<<Ah, good>>
I have to tell you that after two years of having my 90 gallon SPS tank set up, it is amazing how little work you have to do. Proper lighting, calcium reactor, a good skimmer, some water changes, and water movement.
<<Indeed'¦some good research, planning, and patience in the beginning can truly pay off in the long term>>
Thanks to my skimmer and Ca reactor, I have no readable nitrates or phosphates, and a constant alkalinity of 10 - 12 dKH.
<<Two pieces of gear that if chosen carefully, can make life easier>>
You did me a big favor when you mentioned needle wheel skimmers. My H&S kicks butt.
<<Ah, I figured you wouldn't be disappointed'¦so good to know>>
I will drop you a line after I get my rock and let you know how it is.
<<Please do!>>
Thanks again.
<<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>

Light Left On 24 Hrs. 9/25/08
Quick question for you. I inadvertently left the light on my reef aquarium overnight. Light was on a total of about 24 hours. Once I realized this, I turned the light off and then resumed the normal light schedule the next day. However, several of the corals appear shrunken now. How serious is this and could the corals have been toasted or over stimulated?
<Most will likely be fine, this can be serious but not usually so. Any damage is already done.>
Temps. remained normal during this period. Any chance they will recover?
<Oh yes, this does happen. The corals may look tired/shrunk for a day or two, but will bounce back unless overly stressed. Nothing to do but resume the normal lighting schedule, wait, and see. Do invest in a timer, consistent timing does help the overall health and success.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Natural Reef Tank? Set up, op.  -- 09/22/08

<<Hello Sue>>
I have been working with my son for the last 5 years on our reef tank, sharing the learning and the expense. He has moved on to college and I have the reef tank.
<<Good to know you're staying in the hobby>>
I have been reading everything I can on this hobby.
<<Wise of you>>
I have more time to reacquaint myself with the Wisconsin Reef Society and Reef Central.
<<The/a local hobby club is an excellent resource. Posting queries on the NET such as you are doing here is a helpful recourse in many instances, and certainly welcome'¦but nothing beats having a knowledgeable hobbyists available to come 'lays eyes' on your tank if/when a 'situation' develops>>
In doing this, I am quickly becoming overwhelmed by the numerous items used by the members to maintain the reef systems.
<<Oh? Taking your time and reading/researching should these 'items' should help with this>>
I do understand many differing corals need differing lights and so on.
<<Indeed'¦ We often encourage hobbyists to 'specialize' for these very reasons. How specific depends on the individual wants/likes of the aquarist'¦but by at least not mixing organisms from differing niches of the reef one can 'narrow' the requirements of their system and ultimately increase its chances of success>>
What I am concerned with is----I have only live rock, sand, protein skimmer, power heads working for my tank.
<<Not uncommon'¦and can be quite successful as such'¦though the addition of a sump and refugium would be a very worthwhile addition, in my opinion>>
We started off with an expensive Eheim canister filter but emptied it and just run water through, a kind of sump.
<<I see'¦ These units, though pricey as you state, are of very high quality. But unless one is very diligent about maintenance (cleaning the unit at least once a week), they are usually best left off reef systems. Keeping the unit in service but empty as you have done is fine, and does provide some small increase in system volume. It also makes the unit available for 'emergency' use re some chemical media. Speaking of which, you might want to consider utilizing a small bit of carbon in the canister filter on a punctuated yet regular basis. Running a cup or two of carbon in the filter for a few days (3-4) every two-three weeks will help to improve the REDOX of the system, help remove nitrogenous solutes, and help keep the water clearer>>
I have kept the fish load very low, one fish our damsel, sadly passed on while we were on vacation. I did add a Sixline wrasse, and tried a magenta Pseudochromis who is in the time out tank now.
<<Mmm, did you research these fishes beforehand? Both can be big trouble in smaller systems>>
I have beautiful frogspawn coral, gorgeous open brain, xenia, some polyp type coral sprang up years later from a live rock and those are growing well, some indo/pacific mushrooms.
<<So'¦leaning toward that common favorite the mixed garden reef>>
I also have a short spine sea urchin for years, dwarf variety reef crabs, Nassarius snails and a couple turbo snails and some grape Caulerpa in the tank.
<<Do read up re this genus of macroalgae as it can quickly become problematic in reef displays by overgrowing sessile inverts and/or releasing noxious chemicals>>
I use compact fluorescent 10K actinic at about 260 watts. The nitrates are never up, no ammonia; the alkalinity is up around 8.2-8.4 steady,
<<I'm guessing you are referring to the pH here, rather than the alkalinity>>
salinity I run about 1.026 to 1.028,
<<I would strive to keep this closer to NSW values (1.025/1.026)>>
calcium drip made from a milk jug and small tubing, nothing fancy. Will my tank be fine using this method?
<<I suspect it will/has been'¦but you tell me'¦is it running fine?>>
I was not feeding often maybe 1 time a week but with our new fish now feed 2 times a day, Formula 1, 2, Cyclops-eeze--all frozen, once a week DT's phytoplankton (live), occasionally Zooplex, Phytoplex.
<<Do be cautious re overuse of the liquid supplements'¦some even refer to these as no more than 'pollution in a bottle'>>
I use Lugol's iodine,
<<Most any system can benefit from iodine/iodide supplementation'¦but be very cautious here with this very strong iodine solution>>
molybdenum and strontium, these I add per bottle recommendations every 4 days.
<<There is still a need to test to determine dosage, even a need for such. Many systems can supplement these ions quite easily and economically through frequent partial water changes>>
Hopefully, I am not over feeding now.
<<Is easily done'¦ But I am a big proponent of feeding your fishes/reef, and a couple small feedings a day is much preferred over your previous mentioned feeding regimen>>
I try to adjust by the look of the critters and testing; if not what is my tank's normal, I adjust also with a small water change.
<<Ah! A fine methodology>>
I use RO water from the grocery store---very cheap by the gallon.
<<Mmm'¦you don't mention the size of this tank, but even so, I suspect an RO-DI filter would pay dividends here>>
I was having some issues with algae growth a couple years ago and so switched as we have higher phosphates in the drinking water.
<<A good move>>
Although, I have also increased the calcium a bit and that has helped too.
<<Yes'¦maintaining Calcium and Alkalinity towards the higher end of the scale is thought to hinder the growth of some nuisance alga>>
Not much algae, occasionally a little more Cyanobacteria than I want.
<<Based on some personal experience; keeping your salinity from going above NSW levels may help here. As will reading (if you haven't already) the articles and other hobbyist's accounts on the website. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >>
But, I do not have as many snails, reef crabs and cleaner crew as are recommended by some companies in the tank.
<<These 'recommendations' are generally unsustainable populations. Many of these critters (e.g. -- 'reef' crabs) are opportunistic omnivores that will consume much more than the nuisance organisms. You can use these 'cleanup crews' if you wish (some here like them, some don't), but be careful not to employ too many as they will only perish and contribute to fouling the system>>
My questions:
1. I am happy with my tank but am changing lighting to T5 6 bulbs 54 watts each (my lighting fixture is going, the bulbs are good but fixture is not).
<<The T5s are an excellent alternative/upgrade>>
Will that be too bright for my mid-ranged frogspawn?
<<I don't have enough detail on your system (size/depth of tank, placement of the livestock, etc.) to say with certainty, but these animals are quite adaptable to a wide range of conditions and, as long as properly acclimated to the lighting, will be fine>>
2. Can I keep the light fixture over open water on legs or over a glass covering- or do some people hang the T5 over the open water and how close to the water do they have to be ( the compacts are on legs and over glass)?
<<My preference is to NOT cover the tank to foster better light transmission. Whether supported on legs or suspended is up to you and what works best with your tank configuration'¦but either way, it is generally recommended to keep fluorescent bulbs within about three inches of the water's surface to maximize light penetration>>
3. What other corals would be found in the Indo-Pacific area that would complement what I have (I would love your opinion)?
<<My preference would be to steer away from the Corallimorpharians and 'polyps' and stick with Euphyllids like your Frogspawn with maybe the addition of Anchor coral (Euphyllia ancora) and/or Bubble coral (Plerogyra spp.). Adding some color variances of Brain coral (Trachyphyllia sp.), with a few Plate corals (Fungiids) scattered on the substrate should make for a nice display. Do keep in mind; the Euphyllids will require adequate separation from everything (some as much as 10') to prevent them stinging/killing their neighbors with their long sweeper tentacles>>
Do the mushrooms I have belong?
<<A few low in the tank might be okay for a time'¦but these most noxious of organisms have a way of propagating throughout a tank'¦and to the detriment of many of the other organisms>>
4. I thought I read somewhere that it is now thought beneficial to place a tank under a window with window light but I cannot find where I read that again, is that true?
<<Hmm, I doubt you would be able to position the tank such that this would prove of much benefit'¦or at least be worth the possible swings in temperature (drafts or heat build-up'¦depending). I would not do this solely for this reason>>
5. I would love some reassurance that having a reef tank doesn't have to cost tons of money-
<<This is generally in relation to the 'size' of the system'¦but even then, once the initial costs are done, a balanced system can be left to grow without undue maintenance expense>>
-i.e.: corals will grow to cover open areas,
<<Ah yes'¦ Many hobbyists are in a rush to fill every open space in their tanks (and then have to deal with the problems of overcrowding in the long term), but selecting a few choice specimens and giving them the room and time to grow will make for a healthy and attractive (and more natural) display>>
once the initial expense of live rock, sand, lighting and protein skimmer not much else is needed except maintenance (and up to date light bulbs)-
<<Indeed'¦as long as you can resist the urge to 'add just one more coral/fish'>>
-I do plan to add a refugium as I think that is a great idea for copepod growing.
<<As well as for fostering other planktonic and epiphytic life, increasing bio-diversity and water volume, etc.'¦a whole host of benefits>>
6. Is there something I am missing as reading the forums on Reef Central has my head swimming with so many items people have?
<<You have the basic components'¦as well as a bit of time/experience with this system. You stated you make adjustments to the system based on the look of your critters'¦well, what are they telling you now? If your system is healthy as is, there no need to be concerned with other's 'items'>>
I truly appreciate your information.
<<We're happy to share>>
I have many of the books but see that new ones are now written and plan to update my books as well.
<<Very good>>
I enjoy reading the questions and answers; I love reading the articles and keep them handy for reference.
<<There is indeed much info available on the site, and may I suggest a Google search on marine setups/maintenance'¦keep reading/researching!>>
Thank you on the Wet Web Crew!!
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
<<A pleasure to assist. Regards, EricR'¦Columbia, SC>>
R3: Natural Reef Tank? -- 09/26/08

<<Hey Sue>>
Thank you for all the time spent with me.
<<Quite welcome>>
I thought I would update you.
The tank came, a little on the smelly side but like a fish tank, so I ended up just utilizing the sand, as he has the reef crabs, they looked and healthy.
<<Likely fine>>
I also did add a good portion of my own made up water, and the extra substrate of which I will add more in a day or so.
<<Sounds good>>
There was so very little sand, he uses the filtration system which I will change to the protein skimmer made for the unit.
<<You will probably find that replacing this with a better unit is needed'¦perhaps a quality unit from AquaC (http://www.proteinskimmer.com/Product%20Pages/Remora%20Series.htm) >>
The water came in at 1.20 for salinity and so I added water with salt right or wrong it was too low for the coral he had
also given some polyps and frags, I am going to see what is what and if I don't like them see if I can give them away. I got the salinity up over time, and hopefully it won't spike up overnight. I had to make saltwater and usually I like to let that sit awhile.
<<Best to 'age' it a bit when possible, yes>>
I want to wait a bit with the mushroom rock and the Pseudochromis he is very personable alone.
<<Agreed'¦it will be fine as the solitary fish in this setup>>
I also have some frogspawn frags I am growing, some from just a mm in size and I want good water before I and those in. And, for the first time in 5 years---I had a mushroom field day in the larger tank. Must be because you let me know they spread. 3 or 4 just popped off to go move elsewhere so it is a good thing I think to move them to the new small tank.
<<Ah yes'¦this is a common propagation strategy of Corallimorpharians'¦unfortunately they often then end in places where you don't want them>>
I think I can manage now, and I want to thank you for all your support.
<<Has been a pleasure'¦and I'll certainly still be here should you need to discuss something>>
I was a little nervous setting this up and knowing what will be best for my larger tank.
<<I'm happy to know your confidence has grown/is growing'¦some great reefing adventures ahead'¦just keep reading/learning>>
I will research and see if I can find another fish that will go along with my Wrasse, the Sixline, and the watchman goby so I have 3.
<<Sounds good>>
And, I am not sure if the Pseudochromis will get along with anyone.
<<Not likely'¦especially in a 29g tank>>
But I don't know if I want to take any chances either.
<<I suggest you don't in this instance>>
Thanks again.
<<Always welcome>>
I tried hard to sell that idea to the guy giving me the BioCube as he is setting up a 125 g. But, he just doesn't buy into the idea and is spending 100's or more on equipment to filter and so on.
<<Different strokes'¦>>
He really doesn't have the money after telling me how much he earns. The hobby is great, relaxing and if one is able to do this as natural as possible I think it is less expensive to run.
<<It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it>>
At least for me it is.
<<And that is what counts>>
I was a die hard DSB when I first started, I think that is why the 75 gallon is so easy to care for and looks good all the time.
<<Possibly so'¦or at least a major component re>>
It was in the smaller setting I ran into problems; I think it was Anthony Calfo who told me the 4-6 was a bit too much for the small 10 gallon size.
And to go lower down to 2-3.
<<Mmm, I have chatted in the past with Anthony re his thoughts/position on DSB methodology'¦his suggestion to reduce the depth of the substrate was possibly based on increasing the 'open volume' of such a small tank>>
I took it to mean both tanks.
<<Not necessarily>>
But once in with all the live rock it was too hard to take out of the 75 so that still has a lot of substrate.
<<I see>>
I did have pockets of H2S with odor.
<<Possibly due to a 'too large' substrate gain size or inadequate water flow'¦or both>>
In fact, it gave me a new thought on the green house effect. The ocean's give off H2S in their own make up, this maybe even occurs in cycles and this will increase the green house effect. I am not sure if pollution is compounding this oceanic effect or not.
<<Most assuredly'¦though while doing a little research on Hydrogen Sulfide I read something about the use of broad spectrum alkanoamine mixtures to sequester C02 and H2S gases to combat this at an industrial level>>
Anyways, you don't have to respond if you don't have time.
<<We respond to all, my friend>>
I am just so happy for all the help and feel set and comfortable in my method.
<<Then I too am happy!>>
Thanks again!
<<A pleasure to assist. Eric Russell>>
R4: Natural Reef Tank? -- 09/27/08
Eric, <<Hello Sue>> I thought things would be going fine but a little problem developed. <<Oh?>> I placed a big live rock into the new 29 L and have the deep sand bed in place. When I put the rock in my bucket to acclimate the rock and some of the mushrooms it had on it a emerald crab came running out. I scooped him up and back into the 75 he went. Later in the day, checking to see if I could add my fish and frogspawn--the nitrates are through the roof'¦80 ppm. <<Mmm, yes'¦obviously the bio-filtration capability was severely disturbed/disrupted during the move of this tank. I suggest you also test for Ammonia and Nitrite'¦if either are present then you will need to remove any life from the tank until these read 'zero''¦if only the Nitrate is present then I suggest you take action re some partial water changes to bring this down until the bio-filtration ramps up again>> I have not had that with any of the other 2 tanks, those are next to zero as you can get. <<You haven't been dismantling and moving them around either>> So, I am assuming the tank is cycling. <<Perhaps (Ammonia/Nitrite testing will lend some clue)'¦or perhaps seriously neglected before you got it>> It does have the sponge, flat rocks and a filter that it came with running until I can get the protein skimmer. <<I would remove the sponge as a site for detritus accumulation'¦and I would be diligent about cleaning the other 'filter' for the same reason>> I wasn't too worried as I figure the tank is recycling itself'¦that is until I looked and inside the LR there must be another crab, I would assume emerald as those were the only ones I have ever had. What I saw was from one of the holes in the live rock a pincher as that of a crab came out picking at things and eating, then the eye. But, bashful he just goes back into the LR. Otherwise I had hoped to catch, and reacclimatize back to the 75 gallon tank. He doesn't come out far enough. <<You might try putting the rock in a bucket of water and see if you can catch it out of its hole>> I am rather worried that all will die with such high nitrates. <<Is a possibility'¦but less so with some diligent effort from you (water changes and adding some Poly-Filter to the filter flow path will help)> I have several hermits that had been living in the tank so I have left those, the Zoanthid coral the seller gave me and my mushrooms as I have some more in the other tank--not to many on this rock. What do you think? <<As stated>> It was so hard getting the rock out of the tank, I rearranged the 75 so have no place to put the huge rock, yet I do not want to lose the little emerald crab. <<Then give the bucket a try'¦what can it hurt?>> I would think the nitrates will remain high or even higher for quite some time. <<Not necessarily'¦If Nitrate is the only issue, the filter is clean, and something else isn't contributing to spike it (e.g. - decaying organic matter somewhere in the tank), the Poly-Filter and a few partial water changes could bring levels down fairly quickly'¦especially with the addition of the cured live rock from your other tank>> Can any of the inverts make it? Sue <<The crabs (hermit or otherwise) are probably the most at risk here'¦but you still need to bring the Nitrates down stat. EricR>>
R5: Natural Reef Tank? Chatting, ref. to bb... op. -- 09/29/08

Hello Eric,
<<Hiya Sue>>
First, the little crab will not come out of his home.
But, from what we can see he might be a red form of Mithrax crab. I asked my son and he said about 6 years ago (guess the tank is a little older than I thought it is 6 years old) he added a red crab. Now we found him.
<<Would seem so>>
I have removed the sponges; he has a bag of some kind which is to aid in filtration.
<<Hmm'¦for carbon maybe? This can be useful>>
And, the hang on filter he added. I removed the bag and filter. I wasn't sure if this bag was a Poly-Filter--if so then should I just rinse it out well in salt water.
<<Mmm, no'¦Poly-Filter is an exchange-resin filter material'¦please see an example re here (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=4335)>>
I will add another piece or two of live rock so the tank will most likely have a 2lb/g live rock. Now, I have been pushing the sand aside to set the live rock on just a slight not measurable amount of sand.
<<This is wise>>
In reviewing the DSB I have noted that the size of the substrate is to be very fine sand.
<<This is my preference, for sure>>
Well, I put in an aragonite which is small in size but still definitely not sugar sand. I would say the grains are more about the 1 mm size although in looking at them they are small, just not fine.
<<This should be okay>>
When I first started the DSB (6 years ago) the information was limited and did not mention the size of the substrate as an important factor. My question is will this size substrate still be effective in the DSB?
Can the copepods live in this size of sand as they can live in the live rock?
<<Many species of infauna will be able to utilize this substrate just fine>>
Whilst I have to purchase a protein skimmer for the BioCube, the Remora won't work with this tank as the hood does not allow for the attachment of the skimmer and the size does not fit in the filtration area.
<<I see'¦perhaps a little DIY modification is in order>>
Fortunately Oceanic, the makers of the BioCube, have started making a protein skimmer that will fit in this area. Thank heavens! I could/would not want to do this without one.
<<Mmm'¦I'm skeptical of the efficacy of these units>>
Since I am making the purchase, from the same company I can purchase a refugium that I so want for the 75 gallon tank. Now this does not come with a light or a protein skimmer.
<<Should be easy to add such>>
From what I understand the light should be on at night
<<A reverse-daylight photo-period is optimal, yes>>
--I have a small or mini compact fluorescent light and I could purchase 2 of the small protein skimmers to put into the refugium.
<<The AquaC Remora would be better, I assure you>>
My question is: does the hang on refugium need a protein skimmer and the light?
If you already have a skimmer employed on the tank then no, but if you add a macroalgae to the refugium then this will require lighting. Have a read here and among the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm >>
Now for the BioCube tank. I did a water change on the 75 yesterday. Meaning I have used up the saltwater I had made and my RO water. I will have to make water to do a water change for BioCube. There are no nitrites only nitrates.
<<This is good'¦keep up the water changes and get some Poly-Filter or carbon going on the tank (can be added to that hang-on filter)>>
I did not check ammonia yet as I ran out and need more to test for this. I have not ever had any of these in the other tank except when I initially set it up
<<And a similar situation with this tank, eh>>
--of course, no one lived in there either.
So I am hoping that once the storm settles from the removing of the sponges that I can add the next piece or two of live rock thus decreasing the nitrates while I mix up the next batch of water. The last test of the nitrates was about 30-40 area, testing in between since last night and this AM.
<<Ah, about a 50% drop'¦very good'¦keep doing what you are doing>>
I have not tested since removing the sponges and the gunk coming into the tank.
<<Likely some elevation re>>
My poor sad magenta pseudo---he is still in his safe 10 gal tank, waiting patiently for the nitrates to go down.
<<For the best'¦ It looks like you have the situation well in hand. Be chatting, EricR>>
R6: Natural Reef Tank? ... chatting, op..... -- 09/30/08

Hi, Eric
<<Hey Sue>>
So the tanks are doing fine,
I had 2 Poly-Filters lying around and didn't know that they would work for nitrates.
<<Yes indeed'¦this product is a very useful adjunct to any filtration system>>
So they are in the tank.
<<Very good>>
All is well, nitrates down.
<<Ah'¦so this was all likely just due to the disturbance of moving the tank'¦that is great>>
Pseudo is in, has new home.
Corals added are continuing to improve and look great.
<<More good news>>
Now, I have sent an email to Marine Depot where the Remora from AquaC is available. Since they also sell a BioCube I sent an email to ask if this would be able to put into the back region, being submersed except for a small amount.
<<Mmm'¦I suggest you give Steve at AquaC a shout (info@proteinskimmer.com) and see if they can help too>>
I would have to get the Remora Nano; this says up to 20 g. But it is the only dimension that might fit even if I needed to fix the back and
hang it there.
<<Still better than the alternative I think>>
I have only so much money and need to spend it on what I need but which
would be best to do.
<<Agreed'¦quality gear is the way to go>>
I need a refugium so do I spend the money on the refugium and buy the
inexpensive protein skimmer made by Oceanic for the BioCube? At Marine Depot they make another type of BioCube Pro which means I can get both.
Or buy the expensive protein skimmer which I am not sure will fit or be the right gallon amount; a 20 gal with 900 Maxi-Jet power head, the next step up is way to large, and wait awhile on the refugium?
The elusive money situations. What to do, what is most important or how to manage the order of purchase?
<<Well Sue, ultimately it is up to you to decide'¦but'¦considering the 75g tank has been and still is doing fine, I would be inclined to wait on the refugium for it and go with a good skimmer for the new setup (do talk to Steve about fitting this to the tank first before making the purchase). Even at a 20g rating, I am confident the AquaC Nano; if it can be fitted to the tank, will be a huge improvement and a very worthwhile investment over your other option for this 29g tank. Regards, EricR>>
R11: Natural Reef Tank? -- 10/03/08

<<Hello Sue>>
Thank you.
<<Very welcome>>
I realize you have done a lot of research for me.
<<Mmm, not so much actual research on 'my' part'¦but more conspiring with/advising and providing opinion, as well as pointing you towards some data to help you make a decision>>
I do not plan on neglecting these tanks should catastrophe hit our family again.
<<I do hope this does not happen to your family again. And I do understand your concern/order of priority when it comes to your daughter'¦but that does not eliminate responsibility to the animals in our care and reliant solely on our actions thus. And I don't want to sound 'preachy''¦but if a situation should arise that warrants all of your time, attention, and energy'¦then in the interest of the animals under your charge, perhaps giving the tanks up (if only for a while) is in order>>
These tanks are such a great sort of respite.
<<I do understand'¦but they will only remain so as long as they are not burdensome and you/someone can give them the time and attention to keep them healthy>>
I would have no problem finding experts (not like those of wetweb but ones who care for other peoples tanks) from my kids and their friends from a former work place to pitch in for the in hospital times---I would even pay them their going rate happily.
<<Excellent'¦but let's hope it doesn't come to this>>
And, the tanks rely on us humans to care for the animals within them.
Just like our cats, dogs, chinchillas or whatever pet you may have.
With prayers God will continue to keep Kel out of relapse. She is a little miracle the way it is so we are thanking him daily. I have found the SR3 on sale at a different company; I think I will go this route for awhile.
Until I can get all the things, like the light repaired, the refugium, some books and then start to upgrade the CPR products and then we can go to the Aqua C Remora for the 75 and perhaps it will just come to me how to make a spot for the smaller one.
<<Ah good'¦you have prioritized/established a plan>>
It will also give me a chance to connect up with more people at the reef society who are handier than my husband and myself.
<<Very good! A local club can be an excellent 'support system'>>
He loves looking at the tanks but I dare not let him help with any of the care-he over feeds everything even when he tries not to.
<<Too bad'¦sounds like you could use the help>>
And, he needs time to read the books but he is one to jump in learn later.
<<Aiyiyi'¦okay'¦keep hubby away from the tanks (perhaps this is his master plan [grin])>>
Re: calcium, I am doing the small water changes but did not seem to see an increase in pH, I would think the tank would get plenty of calcium in that saltwater as well, and from the aragonite substrate.
<<Perhaps you need to 'check the checker.' You don't state how you are testing this, but if using dip-strips'¦don't. Dip-strips are unreliable'¦do use a proper test kit from a quality manufacturer (e.g. -- Seachem, Salifert, etc.) Or if already doing so, then maybe a new kit is needed>>
Perhaps, I was just thinking that would not have been affected in the setup cycle.
<<Initially, yes'¦but this should be balancing out soon. Keep up the water changes'¦and test your new saltwater too as you may discover a need to buffer this>>
Re: algae, yes I remember one of my oldest a daughter who has a good friend left from her LFS work. He cares for people who have reef tanks in their home but don't know how and he told me how the algae is normal but we people don't like the looks of it.
<<Ah yes'¦can put some reefers in to a real panic>>
And, for Kel's Make a Wish our entire family--my older kids and boy/girl friends all paid their own way. Got together for her wish to stay in an over-water bungalow on the island of Moorea--she stayed 1-2 nights on the over-water.
<<Sounds very nice>>
While all are beautiful on those nights she had a yellow puffer come up to her stairs to visit.
We snorkeled all the time and took what I thought was a snorkeling picnic but ended up---jump over board while the guide feeds black tip reef sharks all around you, and the same for sting rays. I would not normally support these activities as these are wild animals being lured by food, same as feeding bears in a national park to me. Not right.
<<Can be dangerous for sure if one gets complacent. I watched a program recently that showed a similar situation in the Keys'¦the tour guide became so complacent about the Nurse Sharks around during the dives that he began removing his regulator and kissing them'¦until one latched on to his face. The guy was quite lucky even though the shark nearly severed his upper lip, requiring more than 300 stitches to reattach. Some people'¦>>
It was an experience no one will forget.
<<Mmm, no doubt>>
And, a couple of us back at the ranch would snorkel far out into the bay near the reef and would swim with a spotted eagle ray which was huge, graceful like a bird in water.
<<Magnificent creatures>>
Anyway, it was the trip of a lifetime. Getting us to Moorea, and the entire family together!
<<Sounds like it was a wonderful adventure>>
Back to the algae. Sure is a part of the scheme, hair algae was out on the rocks in varying places not excessive but present.
<<If not problematic, the algae will provide food/refuge for a greater diversity of animals>>
So, I will again revisit the query with my husband about cutting out an opening for the AquaC and if he feels he still cannot do it I will get the SR3.
<<Sounds good>>
Thank you so very much.
<<You are quite welcome>>
I hope you have had a chance to snorkel the pacific reefs.
<<I have snorkeled and dived off the Big Island of Hawai'i on several occasions'¦is actually where I received my dive training. So, yes'¦and I have been spoiled>>
As time goes on, I hope to find some groups who love to snorkel for trips--like people for cruises or bus tours.
<<I'll ask Bob to interject here if he has anything to add'¦but I would suggest contacting your local dive shops and inquiring about such there. They may have info on local dive clubs which can provide contacts for such trips'¦and you might also want to consider getting dive certified yourself>><There are many such agencies, groups coming and going all the time... See the Net, your travel agent... RMF>
I would love to snorkel throughout the Pacific.
<<I hope you get to follow your dream. Cheers, Eric Russell>>
R12: Natural Reef Tank? -- 10/07/08

Hi, Eric
<<Hello Sue>>
I have spent the week reading all the articles that WetWeb has on marine tanks, in particular those of the reef type.
<<Ah, very good'¦and there's also much info to be gained from the FAQs too!>>
Some questions arose:
Adding buffering--- there mentioned is baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate, which my son had mentioned also as a possible use.
<<To buffer alkalinity, yes>>
I didn't believe him; I guess I should give him more credit.
<<Hee-hee! Maybe so'¦but also good to read/learn on your own>>
I am wondering how often you would need to do this or what would be the indicators for its use and what is the measurement you would start at when "dosing" the tank with this type of buffer? It is inexpensive and natural? I like that.
<<Well Sue, there's much to relate here (and more to learn). One needs to understand the relationship among the differing bio-mineral elements of seawater such as the interactions between bicarbonates/carbonates with calcium and magnesium levels. Many hobbyists upset the balance of their system (which often leads to more problems) by dosing these products without a good understanding of what they are doing. As I recall, your current livestock selection/load shouldn't be making heavy demands on your bio-mineral content. I suggest for now that you utilize your partial water changes to supplement these ions as this is really the 'safest' and, at this point, most economical means of doing such'¦and in the meantime you can be reading here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm), here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm ), here, (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm), and here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm ) and do also read among the associated links in blue at the tops of the pages>>
For a quarantine tank could I use a bucket--like the kind we all get when purchasing the salt for the tanks?
<<You could, as long as you can provide a stable temperature, some water movement, and adequate filtration'¦but these buckets are really 'too small' for such use. A better solution would be a Rubbermaid tub of about 20 gallons in size>>
I have kept them for changes a heater and light. While these buckets are not clear I can look down into the water, the buckets are white so can easily see around in the water. I had been using the 10 gal tank that I switched into my BioCube as the quarantine tank so took that down.
<<Again, 10g is really too small'¦ The small volume is too subject to rapid changes in water chemistry'¦and depending on the animals/species kept, just too confining during this critical period. I suggest a minimum of 20g for quarantine purposes>>
How do you gage how many and type of snails, crabs that one would need in the tank to help control the algae varieties including the detritus?
<<Mmm, Serpent or Brittle Stars and the omnipresent Bristle Worms will do more for reducing detritus. But as for the snails and crabs, I suggest you go with about 'half the number suggested' by whatever source you get them from. Stocking too many of these critters leads to starvation, and further fouling of the system>>
Hmmm, I am wondering about the 75 gallon which has red algae/detritus color that grows rapidly on the sand.
<<This sounds like BGA (Blue-green Algae or Cyanobacteria). Do read here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm) and especially among the FAQs re>>
I usually blow that around daily and the coral seem to like the dust except for my slipper which was on his last legs and I am trying to encourage new/regrowth.
<<Don't blow it around (only spreads it), but rather siphon it out during water changes>>
We have had the slipper for 6 years--as most things in the tank are that old (except the Sixline wrasse). We could never find the spot that he loved to be in.
<<This animal lives on the sand bed>>
So he has a bare middle skeleton with one end larger in size and the other end smaller. About 5-inches in length total. The one end is about 2.5 inches the other tip is about 0.5 inches. Now that I am getting into the picture I have him looking good most of the time--puffed with tentacles waving--I have target fed him, added calcium and now have an open lighting system. I don't know if he will grow over his old skeleton but that is my hope. OK back to track with the 75, in taking off the glass plates it was easy to see a dead spot for which I added a pump and now there are no dead spots, one small area where there is slower movement back. I am hoping this will aid with the red color on the sand.
<<As you will see when you read up on it>>
The red is algae on the sand, it does not seem to be a bother to the brain coral or the slipper (although I worry it may be as the slipper has had opportunistic algae growth on his skeleton where he died).
<<Best to do what you can to limit/eliminate the BGA>>
For the cleaner crew I have 7 Nassarius snails, hermits of which I can count on any given moment about 10 they can hide well. I have 2 larger sized emerald crabs and one smaller size (not sure how I had 3 as I remember only adding 2 unless my son added one when he set up the tank and that one was in seclusion). No stars, cucumbers. A crazy small black spine sea urchin who I think was the first thing we put in the tank so has been with us for years! Only minor knocking over of my frogspawn which is huge and growing bigger--branching. I have the CPR Bak-Pak running and keep it clean, the pump with the cleaner, the pump from the Eheim canister which is just taking in water and pushing it back out--empty canister, the Rio pump which I have so it creates a ripple wave like movement from one end to the other, I added a new pump on the opposite side which pushes that water back. So it seems by looking at everything they are moving this way and that sort of random and no one is taking direct hits.
<<Very good>>
I am changing the tank water using the RO water and Kent sea salt about 7% every 2 weeks (if OK would like to go to once a month),
<<I think 10%-15% once a month would be fine>>
the tank tests out fine with no nitrates, no other chemicals with the alkalinity about 400
<<Mmm'¦I think this must be your Calcium level>>
and pH about 8.2-8.4 I seem to be on the higher end.
<<Is fine>>
I don't buffer the tank, but do add the Kalkwasser solution in a dripping setup which seemed to make the frogspawn start producing more heads, the slipper perked up.
<<Ah, okay'¦and if not already, do read up on our FAQs on Kalkwasser use (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/kalkh2ofaqs.htm) >>
For food I add the tiniest amount of mysis shrimp, formula 1 and 2 twice a day and then add Cyclops-Eeze for the coral, filter feedings twice a week.
I chip off a small amount about 1/2 tsp, mix it in salt water and directly feed the corals.
<<This is good, though the Frogspawn, Slipper, and Brain Corals would likely enjoy/benefit from some Mysis Shrimp as well>>
It seems the slipper loves this, as does the brain.
I add DT's once a week.
<<Caution here'¦very easy to over use>>
I don't seem to see any amphipods or copepods (when I have the lunar lights on is when I look for these). I don't have the refugium which will have to be a hang on and small as we have to use the side and when the tank was set up it is so close to the wall the Bak-Pak is so tight against the wall, nothing will fit behind. I am hoping the hang on refugium will be ok where the feet of the light is. But, that will be my next purchase--later this month or early November with the copepods and algae you had sent a link to.
<<I see>>
Meanwhile, back to the lighting. I received the new ballast from Oceanic and put it in. Still no light from the new bulb and the newer replacement bulb. My son tried the connectors still no light. Then he swapped the working bulbs into the area were the actinic did not work and they work fine. We bought the bulbs from Fosters and Smith and they tell me it is the ballast despite explaining what we did but are sending a new bulb out again.
<<Ah, excellent'¦I have always received very good customer service from this company>>
I have also emailed Ron at Oceanic to see what to do next. So I am still working on the lighting!
And, as I told you I am not good with the mechanical---setting up the new pump should be easy or so I thought. I sprayed myself, had it upside down,
<<Ha! (oh'¦sorry) [grin]>>
finally got it set and 1 hour later noted water all over the floor
---it slipped down. So now I have it rocked in, suctioned in and it has been fine for 2 days!
While the mechanics I have to learn, my main focus is restoring health to the slipper, and adequately taking care of everyone else. I need to purchase testing kits as my son's is too old. So what exactly do I need to test? I want to find something simple and not overboard testing kits.
<<See this article, particularly the segment on 'Water Quality Parameters' (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm) >>
Again, thank you for being there.
<<My pleasure>>
I am also reading the wetwebforums over the reefcentral.
<<Chalk one up for WWM!>>
I am looking for a natural way to run the reef setup, to be a reef hobbyist while not taxing or harming the natural reefs where great damage is being done obtaining fish/critters/corals that may not make it.
<<Mmm'¦much more damage being done by construction and manufacturing industries, even tourism, than is ever done as a result of the reef hobby, I assure you>>
I very much just want to have aqua-cultured corals/coral types, fish, and livestock. Can they aqua-culture the crabs we add for the cleaning crew yet?
<<Not that I am aware'¦much easier/economical to just 'pick them up' I think>>
R13: Natural Reef Tank? -- 10/07/08

Thank you, again!
<<Always welcome>>
Once done with this email, I will haul out the siphon tube to siphon the I guess, it is rather a brown algae than red on the sand bed. I am wondering what kind of brittle star----I was trying to keep all from the Pacific Ocean reefs but I know most of the brittle stars I have seen in a package w/reef critters deals are from the Caribbean.
<<Ah yes, this is true with most all the "clean-up" critters/packages available...but a small concern really...just pick what you like>>
You know I always mix up alkalinity with calcium when I tell you. I am not sure why.
That pump I put in, seems to have fine air bubbles it blows also I am not sure why that is. Any idea?
<<Hmm...possible air entrainment/a leaky seal somewhere in the plumbing>>
It is a 100 Med (Zoomed?) from the label the person I had the BioCube from also had this in the BioCube. From what I have seen it was a whirlwind in the tank without this extra pump.
Oh, I am sure the reefs are suffering terribly from over building--especially the Bahamas, in the Caribbean. I was thinking of the large amount of Hawaiian Anthias in a tub posted on the reef society's page. They are trying to sell them, 1 male, 2 females for $120. While might be a good deal they have caught so many. Maybe 30-40 are in this tub. To me it is reckless and scary.
<<I would need to know more to make an intelligent reply here>>
The society islands of Tahiti which include Moorea have sanctioned and protected their reefs.
<<Bob can probably comment better on this...but these type legislations usually have little to do with the realities of livestock collection for the hobby...and even fewer legislators with any real factual knowledge re>>
<More for PR in almost all cases... though several countries "make hay" (money from tourists enjoyment instead of other uses) from such practices... The Caymans, A,B,C,s... RMF>
While Moorea is not built up there is much that still could be done. Like a sewage system so when it rains it just doesn't run downhill into the water!
OH, yes my husband and I drank the water, fortunately we were fine. Very expensive! Bottled water was 10/bottle a L size and for supper we needed 4 bottles!
I agree, I have always thought that replacing the saltwater in water changes was the best way to treat the mineral replenishment in the tank. It is when I read various corals for sale they have on the list they need extra strontium and molybdenum.
<<A system heavily stocked with, for instance Acropora species, may have an increased bio-mineral demand that can't be easily met with simple water changes, but I don't believe that to be your situation>>
I plan to read the links you've sent.
I start with the article and try to follow all other related articles.
<<Very good>>
I have not seen the links you sent so I somehow am not finding all the articles.
<<Try using keyword searches in the Google search box>>
I do have the book Bob Fenner wrote--I read this but that was when we set up the tank.
I suppose he has this information in the book also.
<<Much of it, yes...and he has a revised edition out too! EricR>>
Re: natural reef tank, more chatting re reef maint./op.  -- 10/10/08

So did my reading, and continuing to do so. Thanks for the links, sometimes I can find articles sometimes not even with the search, I will end up with questions.
<As do I>
I like to read the articles then go to the questions.
OK, so I have siphoned up the surface algae and debris did a water change a couple days ago, will do another late tonight or early AM. Do I expect the substrate to look clear and free from any of the brown/red algae color eventually or will there always be some?
<Read on... with diligence most all such "scums" do go>
Not sure what to expect. I know macro algae is fine, not so sure on this. It seems to come back within 24 hours but again, I just started the twice weekly smaller water changes,
always did water changes but not always sucking the stuff off the substrate.
Getting alot
<No such word>
of substrate also, so should I replenish, can I replenish with sand or need to keep the same size aragonite?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/substrepl.htm
and the linked files above>
What is there to say about changing out the live rock, seems to be a huge expensive, heavy work and is it necessary as the rock itself is from the ocean--I hate not to use it.
<See WWM re... can be used, added to>
Reading on Redox--trying to figure out exactly what is meant here. What I need to do to help hopefully I will understand.
<Can be a complex topic... but a very useful tool for understanding what is "going on" in ones systems, improving overall life, quality>
I think I need some new "cleaner crew" so I thought Cerith snails(10), Nassarius snails (10), crabs that won't eat the snails -20 or 30, and 2 brittle stars for the 75. Then for the BioCube-a emerald crab, 10-15 crabs that don't eat snails,
<Mmm, do read re...>
5 Cerith snails, 5 Nassarius--unsure about a brittle star. I do have one of the pesty stars small white about the size of a fingernail in the BioCube--maybe he will be enough (hehe). Any guidance will be accepted.
<Keep reading>
At fosters and smith's Liveaquaria you can makeup your own group of crew rather than the ones they make up and amounts for you. I plan to purchase from there but they don't have the crabs that won't eat the snails in (unless I am mistaken it seems like there are several hermits that don't eat snails),
<There really are no such Decapods. They all will if hungry>
The refugium is again pushed back in light of this crew. It will be small about 14 inches x 4 inches x 4 inches. I barely have room for this size. It will have to hang onto the side of the aquarium. Is this small size worth having?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugrationalefaqs.htm>
Does this need a protein skimmer?
<Mmm... likely so... again... this is all posted, gone over and over, archived on the site... there are tens of thousands of folks every day that use it... You should become facile with the search tool, indices... Bob Fenner>
Seeing if my husband will have fun figuring out how to set up the sr3 CPR
skimmer tonight for the BioCube.
Re: natural reef tank -- 10/10/08

Sorry about the alot instead of a lot, this is a common mistake I have found in my research on the "not a word -alot."
<Ah yes...>
I constantly research and review all the Marine FAQ's, articles and use the search engine on WetWeb, some answers seen to differ or to conflict with previous ones.
<Mmm, yes... ofttimes a difference of opinion, take... Other occasions, a deficiency...>
Some articles are missing or yet to be posted.
<A lifetime, make that lifetimes worth... Still, I've become semi-satisfied with my (free to the public) efforts here, and deeply gratified at the many friends that make use, help to improve this site/tool>
When I am not always sure which is current information, which is older and may have been changed as dates are not always on the FAQ's. When I find more than one way to accomplish goals and feel confused I had been emailing my questions to WetWebMedia Crew.
<Might I ask you to offer your help in "refereeing" here? If you find particular areas, statements misleading, vague, incomplete. Please DO write a compendium of sorts re the topic and I will gladly post this with credit to you. Indeed, should you have interest, time... writing those "missing articles" we'll gladly pay you for>
It is a wonderful resource and I have been finding with my own copies of the articles I am reading, that for the Wisconsin Reef Society forum I am now posting articles for people with questions to go read as your WetWebMedia crew does.
<Ah, outstanding!>
I am very glad to see the answer regarding the hermits when hungry will eat snails, as I was waiting to make my cleaner crew purchase. I did read where you recommend not to purchase premade packages so was happy to find where I can pick and choose what I think I will need.
<I agree with you. This is a very good approach by Dr.s F & S.>
I am reading Reef Invertebrates, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and all the articles I can find on WetWeb. I want to be that conscientious marine aquarist.
<I salute your efforts. BobF>
Re: natural reef tank -- 10/11/08

Your free online web tool is outstanding to say the least. It was my son then 14 working at a LFS who along with his sister 17 also working at the same LFS who started up our reef tank.
At that time the DSB was just starting to be written about in books. I used your book the Conscientious Marine Aquarist to model the DSB. I don't believe back then the size of the sand was mentioned. In any case he set his tank up 4 inches of one step coarser than sand size about 1 mm, a protein skimmer with live rock 2 lbs/gal from Fiji and a few interesting pieces from Tonga. The LFS he worked for insisted he have a eheim canister, UV sterilizer and so on. So with the works his tank went up despite the DSB I favored from reading your book.
Within 1 year he took the "stuffing" out of the eheim and ran that like a sump. The tank took a more natural turn. We scoured your books, Tullock's book, and WetWebMedia. And, continue to do so today.
<I see>
This tank was such an impression on my youngest who ended up with a Make a Wish trip--She wished to go to Moorea, stay in a over water bungalow and snorkeling the reef. (she lost part of her lung and we are not sure if it is safe or not to scuba so opted just to snorkel)
Our entire family went--no easy feat to get everyone's schedule to work out as I have 2 adult children with their spouses who also came a long for a total of 8. Surely a trip of a life time.
<I read (present and past tense) all that comes/goes into WWM... and had seen this in your corr. w/ EricR>
In any case, my son left for college and I am trying to re-learn, update my knowledge and improve the care of the tank. Every thing in the tank is happy except the slipper coral, a low bioload helps. The tank is almost 8 years old. I added a fish, the 6 line wrasse. The only fish.
I had been in discussion with EricR over a BioCube 29gal I purchased used.
That is now set up and going well. While doing the BioCube set up I noticed the sand in the 75 gal turn in small patches a slight rusty color. Hence, the literature links he gave me to read. The tank is doing well and with those twice weekly small water changes hopefully with diligence the rusty color will be a thing of the past.
<Likely so>
I want to thank you so much for taking the time to create WetWebMedia and the crew that helps. I am truly honored to be able to correspond with you.
<Perhaps in time you will join us in helping others more directly>
I have one question for you, not about my tanks but the reef in general.
With your knowledge you have guided many people into studying the reef.
Coral propagation is doing well. What would you say the single most important aspect to keeping the reefs of the world intact?
<Reduced human population... no doubt>
and by any chance have you met Dr. Michael Poole of Moorea who studies Spinner Dolphins?
<I have... have done a bit of work (mostly indirectly) with Stenella myself>
Again, thank you!
in Milwaukee along the shores of Lake Michigan far from any reef.
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Algae? Reef maint. f'      9/19/08 I have a 1 year 8 month 90 gallon reef tank. 100 plus of LR, 4"-6" DSB, Over flow to Sump filter, felt type sock, Skimmer, UV filter, carbon in media bag. Water parameters= 8.3 ph, Nitrates and Nitrites 0, Phos 0, Ammonia 0, KH -10, Salinity .023, Temp 80-82 deg, Calcium 440-460. Vortech Wave Maker, small Hydro power head, and two returns on the main pump (Quiet One 6000 = 950-1000 gph) Problem is I have had a clear gel like substance grow everywhere. It seems to start on the glass and ends up all over everything even on the shells of my hermit crabs. It causes me to have to empty/rinse my filter sock every 12 hours ( I have to rotate 4 now). When it was at its worst the "slime" would grow and get stringy as it clung to my live rock. I would brush away what I could, scrape the glass, and do large water changes. It seemed under control, but never really went away. Every week to 10 days it picks up again. <Interesting... though exasperating I can imagine> Is this some kind of clear algae, if it was green, red, or brown I would say it was algae. Again, it has the consistency of a slime or gel, and tends to string out in 2 to 3 inch strands when it is bad. What can I do? Mike Orlando Florida <Mmm, something "drastic" to re-orient, change the dynamic here... I would raise the spg to 1.025-6, check your RedOx, perhaps we'll chat about this... Please do write back with your present livestock list... there may well be someone that can be added to aid you here... as a predator. Bob Fenner>

DSB trouble? System troubles period   9/2/08 Hi everybody great site. <Thanks, welcome> I'm in need of a little help. A quick run down on my setup, I have a 92gal corner bowfront tank, A 30 gal sump and a 30 gal refugium. the refugium has a 6" DSB and Chaetomorpha... algae in it and is lighted with a 100watt daylight compact florescent bulb. the main tank is lighted with mh250watt 2 compact florescent daylight 2 blue actinic, I have about 650 gal going back and forth to the sump and tank and mag 12 in a closed loop for circulation and a couple of 600 gal re circulating magnetic based pumps in the corners. the tank has been set up about 1 year. in the tank I have 120lbs of live rock about 1 " of 1 to 2 mm sand which the goby has distributed into bigger piles here and there? a small powder blue tang 3 Chromis 1 flame angle 1 red sea wrasse .Some pulsating zena growing like crazy and taking over, 2 clams some star polyp also growing some frog spawn and some finger leather the last two not doing so well as of late not opening as usual, <... for what reason/s? You need to address this/these... as this organism can mal-affect the systems occupants> also some green mushrooms has never done well tried moving a couple of times to a less lit area ,less flow area, not much help. I'm now having a problem with red slime algae getting all over my gravel and live rock. <... oh> I tried to siphon it off and it came right back <"It's the system"... no sense trying to remedy by addressing the expression> tested the water and have 0 nitrate,0 nitrite,.05 phosphates,.05 silica. I use and monitor my ro water for top off ph 8.3 temp 80 to 82 controlled with chiller. Aqua protein skimmer empty every 2 days . I have noticed that my macro algae in the refuge with the DSB has been wilting and a little slime so I toke it out and cleaned up the good and through <threw...> out the rest, and decided to vac the top of the DSB off .I noticed it had a crust on it so I broke it up with the vac and cleaned the top 1" it was pretty black but didn't stink.So?my Questions are .1)?Why the sudden outbreak of red slime algae? <Challenges from/by the Cnidarians likely... stressing all else...> 2)Is my DSB in trouble ?? <Your English, formatting are> 3) Should I take it out of the system ? <? I would not> It wouldn't be hard to do. 4) Is there anything? <Yes... lighting and circulation...> else I need to do to maintain the DSB? <Read re... on WWM> 5) Why the sudden decline in my Chaetomorpha? <A cascade effect...> 6) Where are the nutrients coming from to support the red slime algae? <Your animals... decomposition mostly> things I've already done changed the light bulb over the refugium, Increased protein skimming, added uv filter. water change and siphon top of refugium. Will continue to do the same to main tank. will change mh bulb to new one its been 8 months is that about the life span of useable light ? aprox.. lightly feeding fish. changed carbon. going to change Phosban filter media. <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above, elsewhere re circulation, lighting for your photosynthetic life, RedOx... and run your writing through a grammar and spelling checker before sending... Or it will be summarily returned or deleted. Bob Fenner>

Re: Reef Tank Newbie With Unknown Slug: Stomatella sp., Overcrowding Issues 8/28/08 <Hi there, KC!> Thank you for the speedy response, Lynn! <We aim to please!> I did forget to post that my salinity is at 1.025 and the temp is being held by a chiller at 79. Does this temp sound okay? <Both readings are fine. I keep my tanks at 79-80 with good results.> I noticed that others posting had slightly higher temps. <Some of the higher temps may be more a result of lighting/equipment, rather than an actual desired goal.> Also, according to the link you gave me, I should be at about 3" of sand, correct? <Yep, over 3' or 1/2" (or less) is the standard for sand beds. A good depth for a DSB is around 4'- 6'.> Do you have any tips on how to add sand i.e. should I pull everything out to add it <Ideally, yes, but it's not always practical.> or should I slowly add it and even it out by hand? <I've heard/read that some people have success using a length of PVC. You rinse the sand and use the PVC as a chute in order to deliver the substrate wherever you desire (with pumps, etc turned off). It keeps the sand out of the water column for as long as possible. Just make sure the bottom of the PVC is as close to the present substrate as possible during delivery. Also, when you're through, you'll want to put your hand over (or otherwise close off) the bottom of the pipe before lifting it out. Otherwise, all the fine sediment trapped in suspension will be released into the rest of the tank. Now *that* would be annoying!> My concern would be that I do not want to move the rocks if I can avoid it. Also, about the calcium, I perform water changes weekly (about 3 gallons from my 34g tank). <Great routine.> The calcium has stayed consistently around 460. Is there something I am not doing correctly? <Hmmm, if you're not using any calcium additives/reactor, and the salt mix you use doesn't have an off the chart calcium level, then I'd question the test kit results. Kits can go out of date and give inaccurate readings. I'm not sure what brand you use, but for what it's worth, I like and use Salifert. Their kit is quick, easy, reliable, and has a long shelf life.> I would assume that water changes would be fluctuating the calcium because of the amount the water has before and after the changes. I would also assume that the corals would be knocking that number down, as well. <Yep, that is a bit odd. My guess is that it's the test kit (or at least that's what I'd rule out first.) I won't insult you by suggesting user error, but do double check to be sure you're following the directions exactly.> As for the inhabitants, you are right, I did mean Flame Angel. <LOL Well, flame, fire - they're both orange and red! Either way, it's a beautiful fish.> Also, the three stripe damsel was bought because the LFS told me that it would be fine with everything I had in the tank. <It could be fine for a while, but not in the long run. Although they're pretty little fish, they're aggressively territorial and can grow to almost 4'. I've had the little suckers dart out and bite me while snorkeling (and they were small). Can you imagine a 4' aggressive fish in 20' cube? He's likely to claim the entire tank as his own personal territory! Just keep an eye on him and remove/re-home if/when necessary.> They did not mention that it was going to be aggressive and the tank was already overcrowded. <I could say so much here, but I'll resist the temptation.> It honestly did not look overcrowded to me. <That's understandable, especially given the fact that the fish/corals, etc, were/are all likely small. The problem is, you always have to factor in potential adult size and personality, along with the size/age of the system.> I guess I wasn't looking at the long term picture. <It happens all too often. You'll just need to keep an eye on things and act when/if you notice signs of aggression and/or stress/disease.> It is frustrating to buy from the LFS on the grounds that everything in my tank *will be alright*, and then find out that it is overcrowded and premature for some of the inhabitants, but that is why you guys are so helpful. It allows people to take a step back and realize what they may be doing wrong, as well as how to possibly fix it. <There you go. It's frustrating all the way around, but there are solutions and we're here to help!> Thanks for you time, Lynn, and thanks to all the WWM crew for their insight. Also, thanks for the ID of the Stomatella for me. It had me Worried because there were several running around the tank. <There will likely be 'several' more running around soon too! By the way, if you haven't already, be sure to look inside your tank after the lights have been out for an hour or so. A flashlight with a red lens is best, but a regular one will do in a pinch. You may see all sorts of neat little creatures that you didn't even know were there!> Thanks again! <You're very welcome, KC. Take care --Lynn>

Fish magenta Pseudochromis and 6 line wrasse, reef maint.   8/18/08 Here comes another mom who is inheriting another "hobby" as her kids go off to school. <Just teach them to do their own laundry.> I know the basics of reef keeping after helping over the past 5 years on my son's tank. And, I have to tell you I enjoyed snorkeling in the lagoon of Moorea. <Is fascinating and a learning experience.> My youngest daughter (15) had a Make a Wish Trip She wanted to go to Moorea to stay in a over water bungalow, snorkel and swim with the dolphins (I do not like this for the sake of the dolphins and normally would not support these touristy type of attractions). The over the water bungalow was wonderful for snorkeling, lots of what looked like gar fish at night, a huge yellow puffer just hung out at the bottom of the steps into the water. So we swam with Eagle Rays, puffers, sting rays, even black tipped reef sharks--yikes! Of course, we also swam with many Picasso triggers who were as curious about me as I them. Parrot fish, yellow tangs, blue chromis all which cannot look any more beautiful than in the crystal clear water of the lagoon. <Neat> Oh, I wish I could have stayed longer! <I know that feeling.> Anyways since the trip my son, yes- the one moving out, came home from a fish store he had sold propagated coral to and had a store credit. What came with him was what he thought was a fridmani Pseudochromis only to note that the fish was actually a magenta Pseudochromis, more aggressive. <All of these are usually somewhat too extremely aggressive, the worst of the bunch known to bully fish several times their size.> I am concerned as he also came home with a small 6 line wrasse--these were in the same tank water, dividers for the fish at the store. <Also can be quite aggressive.> Both of the fish are small at most 1 inch long. We have a reef tank of coral- frogspawn, mushrooms, umbrella xenia, a huge open brain, tongue coral and 1 frag of 1 small acropora coral. At one point we put 3 peppermint shrimp. And we have algae--macro both coralline a small amount of a red leaf like algae and grape Caulerpa. We also have a little unwanted algae but hey I saw the same on the reef in Moorea, hair algae. <As long as it is kept in check tends to not be a problem.> But, I believe the algae I don't want I simply remove--like pulling weeds in a garden. Hopefully, that is OK. <Oh yes, better than trying to treat it with some chemical.> We have Nassarius snails, a small red star fish who is growing, a sand sifting star, <May want to return this, can kill off a sand bed before starving to death.> blue footed hermits, a sea urchin (black short spine), turbo snails and Astrea snails. We have a 75 gallon tank with 3-4 inches sand and 150 pounds of live rock ( and I wish I could move the tank just 2 inches to paint behind it). <Doesn't sound like this tank is moving any time soon.> The lighting is a coral life compact fluorescent with 65 w (2) 10 k and (2) actinic lights. The light fixture came with a moon light too. A Bak pak protein skimmer, 3 pumps. We have a Eheim canister but use it just for the pump. Long ago we removed the filtration portion hoping this would substitute for a refugium until we could get one to fit the side of the tank---one is coming shortly. The live rock and sand seem to maintain the tank. At least they have for the past 5 years. <Sounds nice.> No fish. We have had fish in the past--when my son worked at a aquatic store 2 people brought in their mandarin who weren't eating. We tried to save them to the extent of having copepods sent from the gulf coast but neither lasted more than a year. <Once they start to slide they rarely recover.> We had a damsel who just disappeared while we were gone on our trip. All parameters are fine and everyone are happy campers in our reef tank. My concern is the natures of the two fish. The 6 line wrasse and the magenta Pseudochromis. <If they were humans we would call them mean, but as fish they are known to be aggressive and territorial.> Our tank has 2/3 of the live rock on the right of the tank, a open area about 20 inches by 20 inches for my huge open brain and the other 1/3 of the live rock on the left side. I have very much live rock. I am not sure if they will still be able to live in the same tank. 1. Will they be able to live in the same tank? <I would guess so, this tank is likely large enough.> 2. Will either one be harmful to the creatures currently in the tank? <Doubtful.> 3. I want to add a yellow watchman goby will he be safe? <May be, would have been better if it was added before the other two. Hard to predict here.> 4. I would love a lawnmower sailfin blenny would he be safe? <Same as above.> 5. And, 3 blue chromis to remind me of our trip---would this be too much fish? <Should be fine.> By the way, what is the difference in the Tahitian blue chromis and the indo pacific. Just curious, there is the sale at Foster's and Smith. <Not much, all still Chromis viridis.> Usually one would wait to put the fish in but I was concerned if the my wrasse and magenta will kill each other perhaps distraction and more creatures will help prevent territorial battles. <May just compound the problem too, also make sure to QT these fish first, since getting them out if they get sick will be quite a chore.> We just put the wrasse and magenta in last night. So if the chromis would help Foster's and Smith are great and ship quickly. <Probably not make much difference.> Some how I think I will enjoy this hobby I have inherited. <Is a good one with a bit or work.> I can tell you, this hobby is far better than my oldest daughter who left me her pet rats to care for. While I came to enjoy them (it took a while!), I would not replace them. <Don't blame you.> And, one last thing... Has anyone ever heard of Michael Poole, marine bio who studies Spinner Dolphins? ( in Moorea) He was not very nice to us on our expensive tour to see these wild dolphins. But, we are very thankful he successfully was able to establish the Tahitian waters as a sanctuary. <I personally have not, perhaps Bob has and will add so here.><<I don't know him personally. RMF>> Sue I would also love your recommendation on how often to feed these fish, especially the 2 we already have. I have formula 1, formula 2, mysis shrimp, Cyclop-Eeze--all frozen food. <Just a very small amount every day or so.> <Chris>

Success in my 55g LPS reef 125g refugium...For Scott V please 8-12-08 Success in my 55g LPS Reef 8/13/08 Hello Bob, Scott, and Crew <Hello Brian, Scott V. with you.>  I'm writing to you tonight only to share a success story, but first I'll give you some tank info. 55g with Package Contains 1 1/2" Bulkhead, 1500 gph Overflow Box that Glass-Holes.com sold me, I love there product line by the way very good business people, <Thank you.> 125g refugium loaded with blade Caulerpa and Chaetomorpha. G4XX Protein skimmer rated 400gph, more on this at end of letter. 2 Mag drive 12 pumps rated 1200gph, with 3/4 inch returns. 2 SCWD, 2 Ball valves, 2 check valves So after total head loss and the above, the tank turns over about 25x per hour. Correct me if I'm wrong please. <Honestly likely less total flow, but sufficient for your livestock.> Inverts. 2 Torch Corals, 1 Candy Cane Coral and 1 Kenya Tree Coral which is a Soft Coral. All corals are very healthy and happy, feedings for all every 3 days. Fish there's 2 Breeding pair of Banggai Cardinal fish and 1 Fire fish (Nemateleotris magnifica), that's it for fish, I want more fish/corals but to many choices to pick from so I left it like this.) Tank specs Sal 1.026 Ammo 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 PH 8.2 Alk 3.5 Calcium 430 Temp 78 deg <It is a nice system, I do recall the pics you sent me a while back.> So here's the success part and I hope I didn't leave anything out above. My Cardinals have released a batch of young in the aquarium and I'm writing to ask if anybody knows any tricks on catching them before they eat them or the overflow eats them.  Now I know the answer is a net or you would think, but with no success they hide and eat the young anyway.   Grrrrr I know there's got to be a trick on it. <Well, it is more of a matter of catching the males before the young are released, placing them in a breeding station either in your tank or another small system. Here is a great article on the basics of this: http://www.reefs.org/library/article/f_marini.html.> So please any help would be greatly appreciated... I'm also planning on building a 220g reef, Scott V knows all about these plans. That's why such a huge skimmer, <I do recall!> Thanks Crew Brian Coble, Wisconsin <Always a pleasure, Scott V. out in Hawaii.>

water changes how much is too much... Reef maint...   8/5/08 Hi Guys, <Bryan> Thanks again for all of your wonderful information! <Welcome> I have a 400g total tank including sump. I had been doing weekly 50g water changes for some time, however I have begun to notice some nuisance algae starting to grow in the main tank sand. I do have macro algae starting to grow in sump. I decided to step up my water changes to 100gallons <Mmmm, I know I should have gone long on those synthetic saltwater manufacturing companies.> and I have been doing this sometimes twice a week to help export some nutrients. <Not the route I would go> How much can I do before I start exporting bacteria, phyto, and other beneficial things? <Some is done with any water change... too much? You're likely past this point> The system is moderately loaded and includes many SPS, LPS, fish, and soft corals. Skimmer is functioning, I am also working on ozone addition but waiting on a few parts for this. <Ah, good... will assuredly help> A couple of points on my water changes: 1.) The system is designed to empty water as water flows in, so the water change is diluted by addition of the water. <Mmm, oh I see below> I don't think this is quite as effective as draining and then filling, but given the system design it's the only easy way to accomplish water changes frequently. 2.) I don't vacuum substrate. The substrate is a very fine sand, I prefer clean up crews to do this job. Is this something that is absolutely necessary? <Not likely so... might be a good idea to stir part of it (with a chemically inert dowel... plastic, wood... every change...)> Most of my snails seems to prefer rock and sides of tank and not the sand. Any suggestions for clean up crews to help keep my sand looking clear? <Mmm, need to chat a bit more before discussing this/these... As in, what's in the sump? Do you have a purposeful, large enough DSB? Culture macroalgae, on a RDP basis? Have you read re? Maybe start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm The tray on Sumps/Refugiums... Bob Fenner> Best Bryan

re: water changes how much is too much  8/5/08 would you cut back to 50g per week or 100? <I would...> I have to get my ORP meter checked before I start ozone. <I'd set on low mg/h per your volume, metabolism "draw"... not likely to "peg out"... about 300 or so micro Siemens per cm... See WWM re... RMF>

General health 8/2/08 Hello all, The aquarium is about 4 years old. It has less than desirable equipment I know. It has a power filter rated at 60 gallons and compact lighting. It has a protein skimmer that works when it wants to. It holds a royal Gramma and a yellow tailed blue damsel and two types of coral. About 18 months ago, a white, hard "fuzz" started taking over the live rock turning it white. Then, all of this vegetation started taking over. Is my live rock dying? <Mmm, sort of... there is a "trend" in captive systems for such substrate/life to lose diversity, finally biomass over time... as well as general solubility... Hence the suggestions on WWM, CMA... to replace, add some/more after a year or so, every six months or so...> Is the tons of vegetation healthy (it must be). I wish two things: that I would have had a larger tank, and that I would have waited 4 years to add livestock! Thanks guys! <I would like to say at least one thing... If it were mine, I'd "fish out" (mechanical removal) or seek a predator for the Caulerpa (the green algae) growing here... It is very likely modifying the environment to its further advantage and your disadvantage (see WWM re): http://wetwebmedia.com/caulerpacomp2.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Nitrates:), reef maint.    7/31/08 Hi Bob/Guys hope you are well, I have started reading your sight alot <... no such word> of late and have found it great and informative reading, but however has raised a few questions which I hope you can answer. My set up consists of a 125G tank 30G sump, I have 55 Kilos of Fiji/Tongan liverock , <What is going on with the grammar in this msg.? Do you run your writing through a grammar checker?> Instant ocean 1200 skimmer in sump with a Deltec pump set up for ROWAphos, PolyFilters etc,Deltec Kalk stirrer,wavebox set alternately powering 4 1000lph powerheads <Lots of gear> My tank is just over 2 years old and consists mainly of my favourite stony corals including G.Stokesii,Branching Alviapora,Elegance,Frogspawn and Hammerhead Euphyllia,several Caulastrea,one Acanthastrea and a lovely now softball sized red Closed Brain. I also have several rapidly growing species of Caribbean Gorgonians( strictly Photosynthetic ones of course). Fish include a 5" Zebra Lion, 4" Sailfin Tang, Pair of Leopard Wrasse, pair of Emperor Cardinals,3" Marin Beta. Now to my problem, well actually its only been a problem since reading your site but pretty much from the word go my Nitrate readings have been 30 ppm I do 12% water change per week with r/o and test water weekly keeping a log of readings typically 1.024 salinity 430 calcium 1300 Magnesium 0 phosphate/nitrite/Ammonia KH 10,PH 8-8.3My nitrate has been 30 or sometimes slightly less for well over a year even though I have added no fish or Coral in more than 16 months and to be honest the tank looks great. I understand from a fair bit of research that quite a few stonies like more lagoon like nutrient rich water, <Relatively... yes... and the poritids you have need such... the other Scleractinians fine with this> the question is is this why they all seem to be growing and happy or am I awaiting disaster ? <... no worries> Assuming disaster is around the corner I have 14 x12 x 10 space in my sump which I could either turn into a Mud refuge I think I have read every faq on this site) or I could fit about another 15kilos of rock in the sump. So in short am I playing with fire with nitrates and if so which is best use of the sump in your opinion. Thanks for your forthcoming reply and your great work on this site. <I wouldn't "sweat" the NO3 concentration here... as all is/seems to be functioning fine. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Reef Tank Temperature, Livestock, and General Advice -- 06/20/08 I have a 55 gallon reef I retrofitted w- 325 watts of Coralife compact fluorescent ½ 10K & ½ Actinic (sufficient for corals below) <<Mmm, is debatable'¦I prefer to see a 70-30 mix of 10K to Actinic lighting'¦a 50-50 mix may look nice, but it is not as 'useful' to the photosynthetic organisms>> under a hood w- a rear opening. I have 2 cooling fans salvaged (so not sure the CFM) from an old PC, one @ each end, one inlet & one exhaust. <<A useful employment>> The temperature consistently stays @ 82 degrees. <<This is not 'terrible' in my opinion>> Prior to adding the fans it spiked to 86 & I lost 2 clown fish. <<Hmm, would have expected this to be more of a problem to your corals than your fishes'¦perhaps there are/were other aggravating circumstances>> My question is can I get away w- the 82 degrees since there is not a swing in temperature? <<It is my opinion that, yes, you can. This may not be an 'ideal' temperature as touted by many'¦but it is certainly 'survivable' in my experience'¦and maybe even more 'natural,' if you've ever heard/read Dr. Ron Shimek. As far as temperature goes, I've been diving off the Big Island of Hawai'i a few times now (and talking/thinking about it'¦getting the urge to go again!) and the water temperature was during those visits was 82F'¦and not just at the surface but down to about a 100ft depth. I would also like to add that my own reef system often sees temperatures of up to 85F (with no mortalities re) during the hot summer months here in SC>> It seems to be pushing the limits I see published for acceptable range but I have also read in more than one source that the swing is more important than the actual temperature. <<That too is debated by some, but having to take unknown factors/possible aggravating circumstances in to consideration would deem some measure of stability to be a good thing. In other words'¦for captive systems, it may be best to keep the 'straws' that could break the camel's back to a minimum>> How much affect does ambient air temperature actually have? <<It does have an effect'¦but the heat producing devices of the system (pumps, lights, etc.) are generally an overriding factor>> We keep the house @ about 76-78 degrees but I could possibly add a window unit in this room (assuming I can ever get the window unstuck). <<You would likely need to keep the room uncomfortably cool to have much effect here. But adding more/more powerful fans to step up evaporative cooling is certainly an option'¦I would put one over your sump as well>> Filtration & Flow: 50 pounds live rock w- 1" sand bed Wet / Dry w- filter pad & Seachem Purigen & PhosGuard & charcoal (plan to replace PhosGuard & charcoal w- Seachem's SeaGel) Could I put the media in the overflow or should they stay where the bio balls would go? No bio balls. <<I would keep this where you have it. I am not a fan of placing items within/restricting overflows>> Excalibur SV1 skimmer in sump 600 GPH return 2 600 GPH Koralia 2 in opposite top corners 1 600 GPH power head next to overflow behind the rock ¾ of way down tank. The overflow is off-center @ about 1/3 of the tank length. Is the above sufficient when compared w- the info above & below? <<Livestock incompatibilities aside'¦yes>> Inhabitants as follows: 2 Peppermint Shrimp 2 False Perc's 1 Brittle Star 6 Red Leg Hermits 20ish Astrea (increase) Green Sinularia Xenia Finger Leather (Lobophytum) Green Stripe Mushroom (Actinodiscus) Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa) Ruffled Ridge (Turbinaria) Candy Cane (Caulastrea) Green Star Polyp (Briareum) Pink Tip Anemone (Condylactis, (passiflora or gigantea not sure)) <<Mmm'¦trouble waiting'¦in this mix of sessile inverts>> Mistake w- the anemone? It is new. <<In my opinion'¦yes. This tank is too small and likely too densely populated for such an animal. I predict problems one way or the other>> Water parameters: Salinity 1.023 (should I raise slightly?) <<Yes'¦closer to NSW levels of 1.025/1.026>> Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite consistently 0 Calcium 420 Carbonate Hardness KH 8 PH 8.2-8.3 Would like to add to tank: 1 Six Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia) <<Can be a terror in this relatively small system'¦even if added last>> 1 Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus) <<Again'¦the size of the tank may preclude this fish getting enough to eat/being able to meet its nutritional requirements>> 1 Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto) <<An excellent choice for this size system>> 2 Kaudern's Cardinal's (Pterapogon kauderni) Would the additional livestock on the wish list be too much for this tank & do you see any compatibility issues? <<You don't list any 'current' piscine livestock'¦if that is the case then no, not 'too' much'¦otherwise, compatibility issues are already noted>> I think I may have done too much to fast but have had no major problems as of yet. Would definitely like your opinion of the overall system & any advice on changes that may need to be made. <<Your 'mechanicals' seem fine, though 'I' would likely upgrade the skimmer to a suitable Euro-Reef or AquaC model. And you have my thoughts on your livestock as well>> Thanks for all you do, your site has been my best source of information. <<Is quite the collective effort'¦we are pleased you have found it to be of benefit. Regards, EricR>>

Reef Tank Temperature, Livestock, and General Advice -- 06/22/08 Thank you so much for the detailed & informative reply, <<Quite welcome>> you guys are the best! <<Thank you'¦talented and knowledgeable ladies here too>> The lights that caused the spike were added in advance of all corals except for the 1 Turbinaria & 1 Actinodiscus that came with the tank. <<Okay>> I feel much better knowing someone with your depth of experience is successful at these temperatures. <<Mmm, yes'¦well'¦no room for error at these extremes (85F/86F)'¦But I think your tank's current temperature of 82F is quite manageable>> I will definitely add an additional fan over for the sump though. <<Will help>> As far as current fish there are the 2 False Perc's that is all. <<I see>> Was the anemone the only "problem child" you saw in my invert mix? <<You have a popular 'garden variety' mix of organisms which are problematic if not managed well'¦but yes, the anemone is the real 'problem child' there>> For the Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus) would it be acceptable to supplement feeding with an algae clip? <<These fish sometimes just don't take to prepared foods'¦might be best to culture algae on some live rock in a separate container and 'swap out' as needed Funny you mention the 6 Line as a terror, <<Have seen such in almost all instances'¦even in large (300g+) tanks>> just two days ago at one of our LFS's they had a Gramma loreto & Pseudocheilinus hexataenia in the same tank & the Gramma appeared to be the bully! <<Gramma loreto can be pugnacious'¦and differing circumstances/conditions govern behavior'¦but this situation would likely reverse with time as the Pseudocheilinus acclimates/matures>> I will keep my eyes on Craig's list for a more suitable skimmer. <<Excellent>> Have a great weekend (maybe a trip to Hawaii?) <<Ahh, if only it were that easy! [grin]'¦but perhaps a trip in the not too distant future>> Thanks <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>> (I just so happen to have one of my 5 Coralife's dead center that is a 50/50 so I can replace that with the 10K & get to a 60/40) <<Real good'¦is a more 'useful' mix. EricR>>

Reef Tank Stats, water quality   6/3/08 Hello Wet Web Crew. I had a question. Or a couple of questions. I was wondering what the levels should be in a reef tank for all these elements. Calcium- Phosphate- pH- Alkalinity/KH- Magnesium- Iodine- Strontium- <Rick, this is information commonly available on anything from the internet to the bottles of supplements or test kits at your local LFS. Your question will be quickly answered by searching WWM through our "Search Feature" link re saltwater parameters. To get you started, though, here's a link: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm> And are there any other elements/supplements that you would and to this list? <There are many supplements arguably of use- or of being worthless...including some on the above list. Ultimately you will find frequent water changes to be the best maintainer of trace parameters.> Thanks Rick Pluta <You're welcome. Benjamin>

Is my set up ok, reef... op.  04/28/2008 Hi, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I am just starting off with a reef aquarium and need advice. I will apologize ahead of time for the multitude of questions I have but I am being told differing things from my local aquariums. Okay, my set-up -4ft (200L) tank running a 600L/hr filter, 24volt UV stabiliser (450L/hr) 1700L/hr power attached to an inside protein skimmer, double T5 light (1 white globe and 1 actinic globe) and of course a heater. I currently have a Heliofungia, <Heliofungia don't generally live in captivity... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fungiidselfaqs.htm and the linked files above. RMF> a bubble coral, some other coral that looks like purple flowers with bright green centres, a bubble tip anemone, 2 clown fish, a mandarin, a starfish, a bit of live rock and a blue stripe goby. Everything is looking good and appears to be healthy and happy. <<How long has this tank been running for? I would like to hope over a year after reading your inhabitants>> So now for my issues - one of the local aquariums shops said I need at least a 2000L/hr filter and 3000L/hr wave maker on top of what I have. The other shop said to see how I go with my current filter but put in a 5000L/hr wave maker. As I have said I am new to this but currently my tank is cycling 2750L/hr and I am being told I need to increase this to 9150L/hr by adding in the other things. Like I said I am new to this but that seems excessive for a 200L tank. I really do want to do the best thing for my tank but I want honest advice. <<Flow wise, in a reef aquarium, its best to aim in the region of around 25 x water volume circulated per hour via powerheads. So, in this situation, you would want to be aiming for about 2175 "gallons" per hour. This can be achieved by adding some good flow powerheads like Hydor Koralia types that provide a good flow, however, its a dispersed flow>> Secondly I was told that corals love strong current so I had them positioned in direct line with the powerhead current (before I added the skimmer), when I attached the skimmer to the powerhead the current was considerably cut yet my corals seems to rather the lighter current especially my Heliofungia which has been "blown Up" (for want of better words) since the decreased current (not continually, it does go down overnight with the light off) and the bubble and the purple flower one seem to be the same as when the strong current was happening. <<Ahhhh. Heliofungia is one of them which is common to inflate itself. Most actually think this to be an anemone, however, it is not, its a stony coral. The inflation is used to allow the coral to move in the tank, keep stability, buoyancy on soft substrate. Its inflation is not something to be overly concerned about unless its inflated 24/7>> <<With regards to corals and flow, all corals have their own specific needs. Some like high / fast flow, some prefer slow gentle flow. What we, as owners have to do, is research each coral, ensure we can accommodate its needs and provide the correct environment. So, the statement of " Corals love strong current " is only partly correct>> One thing no-one seems to be able to answer is the fact that my bubble tip anemone closes up when I have the light on but opens (not to its full extent) when the light is off but it use to open up really well when I only had a single T8 light. <<It could well be just adapting to the change in lighting. Most times, a light change involves acclimatizing the tank to the new level of lighting by slightly diffusing the light and gradually build up the intensity into the tank>> As I said I really want to do the right thing in regard to my tank so PLEASE I need honest, reliable and good advice. I have attached a pic of my Heliofungia with the decreased current (pic 1) and the strong current (pic 2)(all the orange, green and white coral/plant is just a backdrop) <<Yes, took me a moment to separate reality from backdrop, very confusing on the eye>> Cheers, Lozza <<Hope the above helps Lozza, good day. A Nixon>>

Anemone Lighting/Overall System 4/28/09 Hi, I am just starting off with a reef aquarium and need advice. <Hello Lozza, ok.> I will apologize ahead of time for the multitude of questions I have but I am being told differing things from my local aquarium stores. <Understood.> Okay, my set-up -4ft (200L) tank running a 600L/hr filter, 24volt UV sterilizer (450L/hr) 1700L/hr powerhead attached to an inside protein skimmer, double T5 light (1 white globe and 1 actinic globe) and of course a heater. I currently have a Heliofungia, a bubble coral, some other coral that looks like purple flowers with bright green centres, a bubble tip anemone, 2 clown fish, a mandarin, a starfish, a bit of live rock and a blue stripe goby. <Mixing anemones with corals usually ends up in trouble. Also, your lighting is nowhere near sufficient. Your tank is also much too small to sustain the Mandarin. A larger system with plenty live rock and ideally a fishless refugium are required.> Everything is looking good and appears to be healthy and happy. So now for my issues - one of the local aquariums shops said I need at least a 2000L/hr filter and 3000L/hr wave maker on top of what I have. <This gives you 25 X turnover an hour, a bit high for a non SPS system.> The other shop said to see how I go with my current filter but put in a 5000L/hr wave maker. As I have said I am new to this but currently my tank is cycling 2750L/hr and I am being told I need to increase this to 9150L/hr by adding in the other things. <9150 LPH is much more than you need. Something in the range of 3000 total should suffice. What is your current filter? How much live rock?> Like I said I am new to this but that seems excessive for a 200L tank. <Yes, it is.> I really do want to do the best thing for my tank but I want honest advice. Secondly I was told that corals love strong current so I had them positioned in direct line with the powerhead current (before I added the skimmer), <Hmm, you do not want to do this, too much of a laminar flow. The flow needs to be indirect and random, usually accomplished by directing flows at one another.> when I attached the skimmer to the powerhead the current was considerably cut yet my corals seems to rather the lighter current especially my Heliofungia which has been "blown Up" (for want of better words) since the decreased current (not continually, it does go down overnight with the light off) and the bubble and the purple flower one seem to be the same as when the strong current was happening. <Likely due more from the total environment than just the flow.> One thing no-one seems to be able to answer is the fact that my bubble tip anemone closes up when I have the light on but opens (not to its full extent) when the light is off but it use to open up really well when I only had a single T8 light. <It is likely declining due to lack of light and the total environment it is in. You need more lighting (at least 5-6 times what you have) and ideally more live rock from the looks of the pictures. Theses anemones basically require a full reef type setting in a mature, stable tank.> As I said I really want to do the right thing in regard to my tank so PLEASE I need honest, reliable and good advice. I have attached a pic of my Heliofungia with the decreased current (pic 1) and the strong current (pic 2). <Honestly not much of a notable difference from the pictures. This too will need more lighting, in addition to your other corals.> (all the orange, green and white coral/plant is just a backdrop) <A nice background it is! It makes the tank look very full of life.> Cheers, Lozza <A few links are included for you to study and follow below. Good luck, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemonelightngfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anemcompfaqs.htm

Whamma jammed jah! RMF

Re: Is my set up ok... reef op., chatting  05/06/2008 Hi Andrew <<Hello again>> Thanks for replying to my email. Ok to answer a couple of your questions. Filter I am running - an Italian brand canister filter 600L/hr. <<Ok, no problem there>> Live rock - as of yesterday I probably have about 25kg now <<ok>. Mandarin - have a female that is doing great but lost my male that I had for about 6 weeks, got a new male a week ago and he seems to not be doing very well but as I said my female is doing great (they don't seem to associate with each other). <<Quite common for the lack of association in my opinion>> Powerhead - my 3000L/hr Hydor Koralia should arrive tomorrow (yay) <<Should be a lot better with the extra flow>> How long has tank been running - (don't freak out) started off with a 2ft about 3 months ago and changed over to my 4ft about a month ago but everything except the male mandarins are doing really well even added some Zoanthids straight from the ocean 2 days ago and they are already open. In regard to the mandarins I have added copepods and amphipods to the tank as well as feed live brine once a week. <<Superb>> Heliofungia - not at all worried about it. I love it when it is 'blown up' and as I said it goes down overnight when I turn the lights off. Cheers, Lozza <<Good luck with the Heliofungia, as advised by RMF, not does overly well in captivity. Thanks for the follow-up A Nixon>>

3 year old tank, Old Tank Syndrome 4/24/08 I have a 120G soft coral reef tank with 4 tangs, flame angel, goby, 6 line wrasse, 2 clarkii clowns, a few damsels, and 2 cleaner shrimp. I change 5-10G twice a month, with a large water change every few months. I have a sump and skimmer. Filters are cleaned at least once a month. All parameters are normal, fish and corals are doing very well. I've had this tank for 21/2 years now. I've been a little worried lately because I've always read or heard of tanks crashing after 2-3 years of running smoothly. Do you know what some causes are, and what signs I should be looking for? <Lack of maintenance is almost always the reason, along with fish outgrowing the tank, which then die and overload the filters. "Old tank Syndrome" is almost always self-inflicted.> Also, I read about a year ago the sand should be replaced after a couple of years because it looses the buffering capacity. Is that true? <If enough dissolves it can be topped off, and replacing some of the live rock to give microfauna populations a chance to rebound, otherwise I would not do anything drastic.> I never read that again. When I clean I siphon the sand down to the glass bottom, except in one corner where there's too much rock. One person told me his tank crashed from sulfur build up in the sand. (I can't keep sand shifters and blennies. I have a crab that came with the live rock that I cannot catch. And I saw him grab a small damsel and a blenny last year.) <Almost always due to too much nutrients being allowed to build up, water changes, proper maintenance, and proper setup will prevent this.> Another question. I have 2 small pieces of dead-live rock in my freshwater tank. I bought live plants at the same time. I have the usual freshwater snails, but it looks like I have Cerith snails too. Did those survive in the live rock, or are they a type of freshwater snail? <Fresh water, probably came in on the plants, very common.> I got those rocks from someone who got rid of her seahorses, so those rocks were in a dried out tank for about a month before I got them, so I can't see how they survived. <Did not.> I appreciate any info about why tanks crash. I like my tank now. The fish are mostly grown, corals are growing and splitting. I'm not spending money anymore LOL. I'm not planning on starting over if something happens to my tank. <After 2 or 3 years the newness of the hobby wears off, many people become bored, lazy and allow maintenance to slack, then blame the following crash on some mysterious force, human nature at its best.> <Chris>

Re: Good intentions, but now I'm stuck... reef maint...? 4/24/08 Scott, I wanted to sincerely thank you for your response - I've at least calmed down to the point that I don't feel like dumping all my gear on Craigslist! <Great! Thank you.> I was hoping I could get a bit of clarification regarding the response you sent me. Should I replace all or some of my water? <All eventually in time with smaller, perhaps 4-5 gallon water changes every few days for the time being. Not urgent with no livestock, but will be necessary before adding anything.> I realize things are pretty bad in my tank right now, but from my readings on WWM, a 100% water change has rarely been advised by your knowledgeable crew. With regards to cleaning the sand, are we talking a 'sift through a siphon' rinse, or a 'bring it all out and put it through coffee filters and the works' rinse? <Again, with no livestock to worry about saving, just stirring the sand to get all the dead crud out just before your water change will put you in decent shape after a few go rounds.> LFS guy figured $100 for new RO/DI saltwater, all new sand (indicated that mine was beyond hope - infested with phosphates, and that I could never be problem-free with this batch), <Not true in my opinion.> and live rock for cycling. <Live rock is a beneficial addition to consider, check out this link: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm > Besides the dubious value of merchandise at this LFS (we're talking $65 for a Yellow Tang), I'm also leery of the aiptasia I noticed that was growing in several tanks/sumps. Problem is, he's the only game in town, unless I turn to PetSmart - while they do have live rock, it's a bit pricey and looks like it cured in a septic tank. <Often the case, resulting in a fairly devoid rock. Consider some of the online vendors. Even with shipping you can do ok.> Since it looks a lot like I'm going to have to redo my cycling process, I had one question that I couldn't quite extrapolate the answer to when reading your FAQ (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm), specifically, what type of water conditions I should aim to have when I plunk my first piece of live rock in a tank. <Ideally zero on your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. Fact of it is the live rock will facilitate the lowering of the first two (and to a fairly negligible extent the third). Do a water change and go for it. The conditions in the 'curing' vats at many the LFS are far worse. The rock will only benefit your system.> Bob kind of makes it sound like all I have to do is drop it in there and everything will be fine, <Within reason, this is the procedure.> but I feel like there might be a few caveats that an experienced marine aquarist might be able to share -- <Experience says to me: Don't get a tank, they are too expensive!!> I've already been burned once by my live sand experiment, and would like to avoid another smelly dead tank! <You will be fine, realize you will have this type of smell as the rock cures. The absence of the smell is one sign the curing is done.> Additionally, you had asked what type of filter I'm using, and currently, I've got one of those standard over-the-side filters - I believe it's an AquaClear 20 or something along those lines. Claims to be a mechanical and biological all in one, and it has a little reservoir with a carbon filter, and then another one with a bunch of little protrusions that 'beneficial gunk' is apparently supposed to grow on, but I've not seen any yet. <These can work, just be careful not to rinse or clean the biofilter section in anything but tank water. This will be a moot point if you get live rock.> Thanks again for your assistance so far! -DS <Welcome, best of luck, Scott V.>
Re: Good intentions, but now I'm stuck... reef op.  4/24/08
Scott, <Hello again!> My ammonia/nitrites have already decreased significantly in the last two days, and a 40% water change this morning should help out my very high nitrates to the point that I can put some LR in it this weekend! <Oh yes.> Thanks so much again, couldn't have done it without your advice! DS <Welcome and thank you, Scott V.>

Montipora with Algae... Uhh, huge gaps in ones pertinent education, practices, but plenty of spending. Reef, poor maint. f'    4/17/08 Hi Crew! <Heather> I have a 120 Gallon reef with softies. I recently purchased a Montipora and added him to the opposite side of the tank away from the Leather, Colt, Xenia, Mushrooms, Anemone, <Mmm... these can all "reach out and touch someone" chemically... to varying degrees/effects> but he is above a couple of polyps of zoos. About 6 inches above. I have been reading up on these for a long time, and I have the same lighting that the store I bought it from uses (I bought it from them) t5's x 6 in the same spectrum of light they suggested. They told me this fellow is adapted to the strong lighting, so i went ahead and put him at the very top of my tank, maybe 2 inches below water surface. He was doing wonderfully for a few weeks, but now I notice that the vibrant purple has faded to a duller shade, not bleached really, just not as vibrant and I have an algae type covering growing over the coral. <Very bad> I get the same substance on my glass daily, and I brush it away with my magnetized glass cleaner. I directed a power head at the coral more but it doesn't remove the brown/orange coloured algae that seems to be stuck on. I am wondering if there is anything I can do to get rid of that stuff. <Mmm, lots...> The only other thing I can think of, is I was told by a friend that Kalkwasser was needed, <...? What do your alkalinity and biomineral tests show?> so I followed the directions on the jar and have used it twice now. I do not have a way to measure my ca/Alk levels, <!?> so I just hoped that the instructions would be right. <No my young friend> I do have a lot of evaporation in my tank, I need to top up with about a 1/4 depth of my sump daily, and I run a dehumidifier in the room as my walls were soaked, curtains soaked, and black mold formed behind them! <Yuck!> So, I wondered if it is potentially the continued added water. <"It" being the algal proliferation?> I use ro/di but I have always ALWAYS had difficulties with nitrates, off the scale nitrates, <... trouble> but my softies seemed unaffected, and "healthier" actually than when they were in the store, more vibrant in colouration, and growing rapidly. I have a refugium with Chaetomorpha, mangrove, and Caulerpa (my Foxface loves the stuff) and a DSB. I do weekly vacuuming and water changes. I was told that it is possible that the silicone my husband used to construct the sump could be the nitrate culprit, <No> and we originally had used play sand before we got the oolite sand (live and learn) but we have never been able to get every last speck of it out, and get more of it each time we vacuum. We've had the play sand out for about a year now. I am wondering which of these "mistakes" is the biggest one, and how can I fix it? <Reading> I am concerned about this algae. It is see through, and it is not like Cyanobacteria (of which I became quite accustomed to/of until I stopped feeding so very much). My protein skimmer is a problem for me, because of the very much top off needed, the protein skimmer only functions a portion of the day, because while I am at work, and the water level moves itself, the effectiveness of the skimmer fluctuates. When I used to have it in the display tank (which isn't possible anymore) it worked fantastic. Sorry for the length of this, but I see the fish store has no trouble keeping a Monti with the rest being softies, I just wanted one too! It's the plating variety. Help? Heather Allan <... you have a few issues to address. Less spending of money on livestock, more using the equivalent time studying, learning the basics of water chemistry (and test kit use), system maintenance and the husbandry and compatibility of the disparate life you list. Please look up these issues... the indices, search tool, on WWM... and begin educating yourself. Bob Fenner>

Tank Questions, reef maint./op.  04/11/2008 Hey Crew, <<G'Morning, Andrew today>> I had a few questions about my 50 gallon reef tank. It has been up and running for 5 weeks, and everything is fine. I just wondered about how much I should be feeding my flame angel, my ocellaris clown, my pink skunk clown, my royal Gramma, my 3 skunk cleaner shrimp, and my 5 inch snowflake eel. <<All fish, once per day, or even one every other day is fine, provide all they can eat within a 3 - 4 minute timescale. >> I have been feeding my fish every other day, except my eel is eating on Tuesday and Friday. I feed my fish a mixture of vitamin-enriched frozen brine and mysis shrimp, and I feed my eel just plain frozen squid. Is this a good diet for all of them? Should I be feeding my shrimp anything else? <<Sounds a good diet. maybe rotate the eel diet so it does not get bored of the same food. Rotate with chunks of fish>> Also, I have a problem with red slime algae. It is covering a small rock and most of my 1 inch deep sand bed. How should I fix this problem? Would a sand-sifter starfish help control the red slime algae on my sand? <<Cyano can be caused by a few issues really, mainly lack of flow, bad lighting, over feeding or high nutrient levels in the tank. Please do read more here, including linked articles and FAQ's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >> What should I feed a sand-sifter starfish? <<Depends on the SP. Do search our site / net tools for sand sifting Seastar, match your SP. and check their diet>> Last Question, I got an electric blue hermit crab from a friend who said it has stayed small for about a year. After putting it in my tank it has started molting. It is now about 2 inches long (including shell). Should I remove this? <<Some people have reported them to be aggressive, personally, i have never experienced ANY aggression from either blue or red leg hermit. I would leave it in there if its not causing a problem>> My LFS said it might get aggressive. Thanks for all your help and I hope you have a great April! -Pryce <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

A few questions for the real experts! Reef maint. 04/05/2008 Just wanted to again, thank you guys for always being there to answer questions. I wish everything in life had an advice network like yours. <<Andrew today>> Anyway, My 40gl reef has been running for about 4 months now, it was a well established FO before converting to reef. Here's a rundown of the system: 4-65 watt mixed blue white power compacts, 15 gal. sump w/ live rock Fluval bio media (bagged), refugium and ASM skimmer. I only run Carbon after water changes for a max of one day to help polish the water (still up in the air on the carbon, some say yes others say no, some say minimal usage)? <<I personally don't use it at all>> Anyway, everything else is going good, I use DI water and do water changes once a week 10-15% so far it's been needing it or my algae gets a little crazy. Don't feed to much, small amounts 1-2 times a day<<Once per day is more than enough>>. Fish and polyps are doing well, coralline algae growth is good, no luck w/ anemones had one die but for the most part if I keep up on water changes the inhabitants thrive. One of the first corals I got was a Kenya tree coral (mainly because of the hardiness). <<Sounds good>> At first he was doing great and opening up really big, frags were breaking off faster than I could keep up with them. This went on for a month, then all the sudden the main coral stopped growing and shrunk quite a bit, so did all the frags. Now all of them are not growing and just not doing well at all, they never open fully and look like they are basically surviving and that's it. The only thing I can tie it to is Kalkwasser, I wonder if they don't like high calcium and alkalinity levels (mine are that of natural seawater). When I started dosing Kalk is around the time he stopped doing well. <<Simple solution is to stop dosing, monitor the reaction>> Other than that, I am at a loss to explain it. Temp hovers around 80, and I dose Iodine and Strontium & Molybdenum a few times weekly. <<I would stop using these additives, there should not be a need with your current stock. These trace elements will be provided by your salt when you do water changes>> The tank is overall fairly clean and I always thought that tree corals could thrive in a dirty tank anyway so I don't think that is the prob. Water quality is good too......Every so often my Bi-color angel likes to take a nip, but it's not very regular, so I kinda wrote that off. <<Would not say its the Angel at fault>> Any suggestions would be great...sorry for the long explanation but I wanted you to know the details. <<Stop dripping the Kalk, stop all additives and monitor for changes>> Thanks....Nick <<Thanks for the questions Nick, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Falling pH and Alkalinity in an Older Reef System -- 03/26/08 Hello Crew, <<Greetings, Steve>> I've spent many an hour on your site getting information and use it often. <<Hey'¦me too!>> I have a 180 gal reef, 5 yrs old, 4 fish all been around 2+ years everything very healthy. <<Good to know>> My tank is heavily stocked with corals, LPS, SPS and softies, I do major pruning each month. <<Cool>> I have a euro <<Euro-Reef?>> skimmer and I run a calcium reactor, I recently purchased a controller and the software to monitor my tank. <<Though not a 'necessity,' electronic controllers/testing devices sure do simplify monitoring of our systems'¦and usually with greater accuracy over the more common (conventional?) methods>> I was running my calcium reactor around 20 hrs a day keeping 8-10 dKH; adjusting the time as needed to maintain. I tested my pH with a color test kit and thought all was well. The first surprise I got with the new controller was the pH in my tank was running 8.05 in the evening and 7.6 by early am. <<Mmm'¦quite a wide swing>> With the software you can see it follow the lighting cycle almost to the minute and continue to drop during the night and start back up at 10am when the first lights come on. <<Hee-hee! Aren't 'toys' great!>> I checked the probes and calibration (even bought a second one) and it appears to be right. <<Ah, good'¦always best to 'test the tester' before making any drastic changes>> I haven't done anything yet other than tried the Kalk slurry and buffer my top off water. The Kalk didn't do much, it just settled back down to the same reading. <<Mmm, yes'¦is a temporary/short-lived/daily solution. It 'will' help'¦perhaps a larger dose for your 'heavily stocked' system? Though best not to make increases of more than 2-tenths on the pH scale at a time>> I have a fully automated top-off and RO/DI system and really don't want to start having to add daily or weekly supplements. <<Understood'¦ I'm not a fan of this and try to automate all I can, myself> I took a sample this AM outside and ran an air pump in the water it went from 7.65 to 7.85 in about 2 hrs. <<Hmm'¦>> I understand about excess Co2 from your site. I have a second chamber on order for my calcium reactor as a first step. <<Very good>> My question is about aeration, if it works with the sample can I not do it to the tank to solve this, I've read not to aerate the sump, could you explain why? <<Salt creep, mate'¦ The spray from the bubbles as they burst at the water's surface make a horrible mess of things>> My tank is next to a window so I could pump in fresh air, could I run it in the tank at night after the lights go off and if so how would you suggest, air stone down towards the bottom? <<Just pumping some fresh air in to the cabinet where the sump resides may help a bit'¦but rather than using an airstone, I would add a powerhead to move the water about (maybe even agitate the surface slightly) to facilitate better gas exchange. You can do this in both the display and the sump. Also, if you have covers on the tank, removing them will also improve gas exchange>> My only concern in addressing this at all is my ORP and Ozone. I had bought an Ozone generator but did not hook it up after reading about being able to monitor it. My controller came with an ORP probe so I added the ozone. At first the reading was 290-300. I slowly adjusted it up with the ozone over a 2 week period and the controller is set to maintain 350-385. After another week the ORP started to follow the pH swing. <<Yes>> As the pH falls the ORP rises, now it stays at 400 at the pH low point and only falls to 380 at the pH high point so now the ozone does not come on at all. <<But these ORP readings are quite good'¦why worry that the Ozone generator is not running? It will be there when/if needed>> When I tried the Kalk and raised the pH in the evening to 8.2 the ORP immediately fell back to 350. The only adjustment I've made was the time on the calcium reactor, I thought that might help, it did not, my Alk just fell and I have to add a buffer to get it back up to 8 dKH. <<Mmm, best to keep the Calcium reactor running to maintain bio-mineral content. The second chamber you have coming will probably help some as it will allow an increase of the affluent pH. Adding a small vegetable refugium to receive this affluent, rather than having it run directly to the sump, may also help some. You also stated the system is 5yrs old'¦likely the buffering capacity of the live rock is exhausted. Exchanging some rock and/or Aragonite sand may also help. Look also to your salt mix'¦perhaps a change is needed. And do start/continue to buffer makeup water. I find on 'automated' systems that this is often easily and effectively achieved with the use of a Kalkwasser reactor plumbed in-line to the sump. You can also simply place a portion/bag of calcareous material (crushed coral/live rock/Aragonite sand) in the holding tank. You didn't mention water changes'¦perhaps these need to be increased to keep up with the demands on the tank. I doubt any 'one' solution is the answer here'¦likely it will take a combination of these to achieve your desired result>> Thanks, Steve <<Hope this helps. EricR>>

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