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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 5

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Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Mar. Aq. Maint. FAQs 2Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 6Maint. FAQs 7Maint. FAQs 8, Maint. FAQs 9, Maint. FAQs 10, Maint FAQs 11, Maint. FAQs 12, Maint. FAQs 13, Maint. 14, Reef Maintenance 1


Re: Worms I added to my 55 gal tank some lace rock as a base (4 lbs) and Live rock on top. I've noticed behind the lace rock (looking in from the back is this gel looking stuff grey in color and is transparent. It ahs covered some of the small pieces of coralline starting to grow is this good or bad stuff? <Not sure, does not sound appealing, is it possible to get a small siphon tube back there and suck it out?> the tank has been running for 6 wks now. everything is going great so far other then this. <I would not worry too much about this stuff, unless it really starts to take over.  Test your water, make sure everything is in check and perform regular water changes, the stuff will probably go away on its own.> Also there are tubes on the live rock on top of the  one tube is a red feathery cool looking plant I thought but what is strange is this feather will just go inside the tube really fast and then pop back out. <Sounds like a feather duster.> I've tried to find out what these things are but I've been reading your site for 3 days now day and night so interesting and informative and LARGE that I ended getting a headache trying to find out what this is before bothering you again. tks for your help. I found my answers to some questions I've asked you but not these. tks again I'm going for some more aspirin lol Misty. < I have found that beer pairs with wetwebmedia.com far better than aspirin.  Check out the link below to see if these are similar to what you have. http://wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm > Ps do I look in my e-mail or do I have to go to your site for your answer? <Up to you. We reply to the email, then post it on the site. Best Regards, Gage>

Question on buying chemicals etc.. Hi, I have 2 local shops in my area and I pay through the nose for SEACHEM products; SeaGel and Renew.  I inquired about purchasing cases of each but feel my requests have been forgotten about, my guess is so that  I keep buying one or two 500g canisters at a clip as I need them.   <have you tried contacting SeaChem to ask them where the closest distributor if for you to buy the quantity you desire? Oftentimes, these companies make bulk sized packages for commercial customers (wholesalers, public aquariums, etc)> I figure this because I recently purchased Corallife salt through a friend who works for a large distributor; I got a 300 gal box of salt for 43.00, prior to that I had paid more than that for a 150 gal pail of the same salt so I've realized a crazy mark up on these things.   <you've misunderstood, my friend... the markup isn't crazy. It is necessary for your LFS to stay in business to be there 5-7 days a week at your disposal to answer questions and have useful inventory in stock at a whim for if and when you decide to stop. Costs real money to run operate such a business. If a given LFS does not serve your needs, simply find another that does. But do consider that it is the LFS that cultivates new aquarists that keep the industry afloat and in existence so that advanced aquarists can continue to enjoy it (we are a very small segment of the market). So... the problem isn't the markup, just that you no longer need that service and/or are unwilling to pay for it. Not a crime. I understand.> I'm sure there are places that one can buy the supplies and not have to deal with such a high mark up.   <again.. understood and agreed. But new aquarists go to their LFS first... and do not know of easily find the best mail order places first. If mail order companies put their LFS out of business, the hobby dies. My advice... support the LFS when you can, mail order when necessary, and understand the reason for the margins of both merchants> I'd buy from this same friend but their business does not carry what I've been looking for. Can you tell me some places I might be able to buy at better prices.  I live in North East Pennsylvania; thanks in advance. <Have you tried the Hidden Reef down in Philadelphia? They do mail order and local traffic. Best regards, Anthony>

Question on buying chemicals etc.. Thanks Anthony, Don't get me wrong and don't take my response the wrong way... <no worries at all my friend... I just used your query as a convenient tutorial for folks that read the dailies at large. It raised a very good point> I don't mind paying for things I need and will always continue to buy from and support my LFS for all my fish and for odds and ends which by the way still adds up at the end of the year.   <understood and agreed> As far as the whim.....I don't buy on a whim and it's not when and if I decide to stop because like I said I am a regular customer who has a deep pocket if you know what I mean....and many times the product I need isn't available at either place because they don't stock enough or forgot to order the specific item that was requested. <yes... the dilemma with small or unprepared shops> Thanks for the tip on the Hidden Reef in Philly,  I will check that out. <excellent... they are the best in their region> Will also check with Seachem as suggested and will continue to support the LFS. Tim <rock on my brother :) Anthony>

Re: water changes Hi I think your site is awesome and I have learned more here then all the people I have talked with. <Fabulous!> Everyone seems to have different opinions and was getting confused now I think I have my head on a little better. Ok here goes. I have a new 55 gal marine tank. I also have 7 freshwater tanks ( that were supposed to be marine but I chickened out) This time Im going to do it (makes my stomach hurt) I've had my system going for 5 wks. So far so good. its bal out nitrates ammonia ph salinity perfect. yea. in the tank is 4 damsels to start the bio going. 4 turban snails that I just added ( to clean up the brown alga that you were talking about) live sand and 3 large beautiful dead coral for beauty. not white anymore but am sure it will get back to normal like you said in your other help info. just added 4 pds of lace rock for bottom base and put about 4 lbs of live rock on top. ( was not going to go this far but Got brave) WOW cant stop looking at it. here are my questions. when do I start making water changes? <Now would be good> Before I put in my live rock I added 2 Penguin 660 powerheads one on each side. and I have 2 Emperor Bio wheels each have double wheels. which I started with. Do I feed the live rock and if so what do I feed it. <No feed. It needs some light> Not sure about calc or anything else I have to do now. My lighting am having a problem with. the tank came with 2 separate lights but hold just 1 14 in light in each. Can I change over to the 48 in lights with 4 lights in one hood and where can I get the hood? <I don't see why not. Custom Sea Lights (CSL) is one place to begin your search. Check out our links pages at WWM to find many other suppliers> I have the lights already (2) Coralife 10,000K and (2) Actinic 03   40 watt blue. I think if I don't get the lights up and going the cool stuff on my live rock will die. I bought the live rock yesterday with the lights and powerheads. ow do I install the lights? <Get the lights and it should be very easy and self-explanatory> Your site is awesome and you have helped me soooo much thank you. <Thanks! Keep learning! That is the key to success in this hobby. Anticipate problems before they happen. David Dowless> Misty

Bicolor Anthias, low spg I have a Hawaiian bicolor anthias (beautiful fish) I got from FFExpress 3 days ago. I acclimated him to my  20g quarantine tank which I had at a S.G. of 1.012 to reduce the parasite load (FFExpress uses shipping water S.G. 1.014 for the same purpose). <Are you sure about this? Not a good idea> I was excited at first because he was eating (Sweetwater Plankton), active and appeared to be doing well. Today he is not eating and is tipping to one side as he swims. He keeps opening and closing his mouth. I tested the water, and everything seems to be ok. Temp 75 degrees, pH 8.3 no ammonia or nitrates. I cannot see any parasites. I did a 2 gallon water change which raised the S. G. to 1.014. I would appreciate any advice you can give me. <I would raise it a good 0.001 per day till you were back to NSW/1.025, offer live foods. Bob Fenner> Tom Berry

When It's Time To Change... Hi there crew, <Scott F. today!> I have a few questions if you don't mind. I was wondering when I should do my first water change?  I've had my 12g eclipse running for a month with live rock and sand, and now another 2 weeks with a damsel. The LFS told me all my levels were good. <Well, if the ammonia and nitrite are at undetectable levels, it's certainly a good idea to begin water changes on a regular basis. I'd start with 5% twice a week. This will really serve you well!> Also, some type of brown substance builds up on the glass and the sand.  I rub it off with a sponge, do you know what it is, and is it beneficial towards my tank? <Sounds like diatoms, which are very common in new systems. With good maintenance, attention to quality source water, and light bioload, it will go away. You can read up more on nuisance algae on the wetwebmedia.com site. Also, you may want to pick up a copy of "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta- it's a great guide to the basics of marine aquariums if you're just starting out! Have fun, and good luck!> Thanks a lot, Jon <And thank you for stopping by!>

Procedure for transferring to a larger tank Hello Bob: <Scott> Thank you for the website.  It is very, very helpful.  My question is this, I currently have a 20 gallon saltwater setup for my son that has live rock, a green star polyp, a flame angel, a small (not for long, I know) yellow tang, and two clowns.  I also have a crew of hermit crabs, one sally lightfoot and some snails.  Everything is going very well.  I am using a CPR BakPak 2R skimmer and have an additional powerhead in the tank.  The tank has been fully cycled for about a month now and I initially cycled it with the live rock and Fritz Pet Turbo Start 900. I would like to get a larger tank, but am unsure of how to transfer everything and whether the transfer will cause a new cycle process. <It's about the same as "moving" an aquarium. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm and the FAQs beyond>   My substrate is currently crushed coral.  Should I get "live sand" and use it and how else can I proceed. <You can/could... but in time your existing, added to substrate will become "live" on its own from the live rock. I wouldn't spend the money buying LS per se>   Do I need to have both tanks running at the same time for a while? <Not really necessary. The whole can be transferred all at once if you have the time, inclination> I would appreciate whatever information you can provide to me. Thanks again. Scott <With a little planning, preparation, these moves go smoothly. Bob Fenner>

Tight Parameters (Fish For Display Tank) Dear WWM Crew, <Scott F. with you today> I have a few questions that I'm sure you can help me with and would like to thank you for the help you've given me in the past.  Much appreciation for your advice. I have a maintenance customer that has a 90 Gal. Saltwater Fish-Only system.  I took over this account from another business in the area that went out of business and I am having some trouble with the design of the filter.  The original installation was a closed loop set up using under-gravel plates and the small 4 canister system from Rainbow Lifeguard.  3 holes are drilled directly in the bottom of the tank.  The 2 holes on the left and the right drew water through the UG plates down to the Quiet one pump, through the canister system, then back to the tank through the hole in the center.  What I've done is capped the center bulkhead, draw from the left bulkhead by way of an 8" tall standpipe with a strainer, through the pump/canister system, then back to the tank through the bulkhead on the right with the UG plate still in place (I removed the one on the left of course) to run as a reverse flow.  I use an AquaClear 802 powerhead for circulation.  The problem is that the customer has already invested so much into the system that they do not want to change it.  I have no way to put a skimmer on it, I mean I could but I'd have to pay for it!   <Sounds like a candidate for a H.O.T. skimmer, although just on the top end of the H.O.T. range, in terms of tank size...> So far we've removed the U.V. sterilizer from canister #4 and placed a nylon bag with a phosphate removing medium to keep phosphates under control and run the remaining canisters as normal for Mech. and Chem filtration.  We've also been doing 1/3 bi-weekly partials to hopefully make up for the lack of a skimmer.  I am a little apprehensive about trying a DSB for obvious reasons with the UG and the direct intake to the pump.  And LR is not an option as the customer prefers the sterile look of bleached corals, although, we've been using synthetic coral skeletons of course. <Hey, there are also people out there that like peach fuzz, beef tripe, and anchovies, so to each his own, I guess! I think that you've done a good job being innovative under the circumstances. Have you tried PolyFilter as well in the Chemical module? They are excellent for organic control, too.> Despite all the hurdles the tank is actually doing quite well but I haven't dared to put any livestock into the tank that's not bullet proof.  A wide variety of Damsels, a few Clowns, and a good sized Lunare Wrasse are the only inhabitants of the tank.  So I guess my main question is to see if you could recommend some good livestock candidates for this tricky neighborhood and that will do well and not just survive on 2 feedings a day with no real option for grazing other than diatoms that I could probably allow to grow on the substrate to a point without the customer being concerned.  Are there any Tangs that could do well scraping diatoms and detritus or would this just not be enough to graze on in between feedings? <Well, the Kole tang, Ctenochaetus strigosus, comes to mind. It's a diatom/detritivorous species that has a nice personality. As long as your damsel population is not full of vicious marauders, this fish can work nicely. Do supplement with plenty of vegetable matter (Spirulina, sushi Nori, or Gracilaria macroalgae). This fish, like all tangs, is herbivorous, so if vegetable matter cannot be supplied (and NO lettuce, please!), this would be a "pass" for me. Tangs need to eat a lot, so unless the algae is already established somewhat, you may not want to use this fish. What about a Pseudochromis species? They can be a bit feisty, but can do well with the damsels. They come in many colorful varieties, stay reasonably small, and don't eat too much...> What other fish might you recommend that would be attractive and interesting for this system and most importantly, suitable.  Any other thoughts or ideas that you may have for this system would be greatly appreciated. <As above>   Thank you again for a wonderful service to the hobby and to the industry! Sincerely, Michael P. Gillespie. <Thanks for the kind words, Michael! Sounds like you're doing a fine job with this rather restrictive circumstance! Keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F>    

A Cool Little World! Hello WWM Crew <Scott F. here today> I am new to Marines, having kept tropicals for a couple of years. My 45 Gallon Tank has been set up for about three months now and I also have a 5 gallon (approx) sump. Please be patient with me as I have several questions.   <Hey- no problem! Hope that you can be patient with my answers!> My sump tank appears to be a bit on the unique side from what I have read as it cannot fit under the main tank. Instead it is in a utility room immediately behind the main tank which is in the lounge. <Nothing wrong with that setup, if it works for you> The water is pumped from the main tank with an Aquapet(?) PH2 powerhead into the sump where the return is pumped by a Fluval 4 canister containing activated carbon. The return is controlled by a home made electric float switch which cuts the power to the Fluval 4 as required then reactivates it as the water level rises again in the sump. I know that this is not ideal but best I could come up with given my situation and budget. <As long as reliability does not become a problem, it sounds like you have a workable solution there. I assume that you've tested the system without power to see what would happen in a power failure...> I have a "LEES" 60 Gallon air driven skimmer in the sump (which I had to "trim down" by about an inch to get the water level right) which seems to be working quite well. I empty it once a day and the liquid is sometimes the colour of weak tea and sometimes more green in colour. <Good! Daily skimmate production is awesome! If you can get it to produce somewhat darker skimmate, all the better for your animals> I also have a "Cleanwater" sachet in the sump, which I have emptied the contents of the sachet onto the shelf in the sump so as to have the water pass through it rather than just over the "teabag". <Very smart- this is the correct way to utilize activated carbon and other chemical filtration media, IMO!> The main tank itself has crushed coral substrate with about 50 pounds of Live Rock. It is lit by 2x 54 watt T5 fluorescent tubes and a Triton Marine Blue Actinic tube. I also have a PH2 powerhead in the tank for circulation purposes.  There are a couple of small Damsels living in there with a small red starfish  (Fromia??) as well as a dozen turbo snails and 4 Mexican red leg hermits. (there was 6 but 2 seem to have been eaten!!  Could this be inter crabular rivalry? :-) ). <Or inter-galactic war- I'm not sure which. :) > All seems well but I have got a prolific growth of red slime algae which is a constant job to keep cleaned out. The snails seem to eat some of it but not quick enough. I have ordered another dozen and some more red legs too. I hoped the "Cleanwater " sachet would take care of phosphates but it so far has had little effect. I also have a fair few (Aiptasia?) anemones and have read on your site that a peppermint shrimp may help? <Well- you are a very observant and creative aquarist. A suggestion on the red Cyanobacteria ("red slime algae"): The root cause of this stuff (and the Aiptasia proliferation, as well) is excessive nutrients. Getting rid of these nuisances is tied largely into nutrient export processes. Consider utilizing small (like 5% of tank volume) water changes twice a week, with high-quality source water. Keep working that skimmer until you get consistently dark daily skimmate. Observe your feeding habits carefully- do you let some of the packing juices from frozen foods get into the tank? They are filled with organics that fuel algae blooms. Also, consider kicking up the circulation within the tank a bit if you can. This will help, too> I thought they were cool until I found your site and realized how fast they are reproducing in my tank!. <I think they are cool- I just don't want them by the dozen!> I have spotted a couple of small (2 inch-ish) pink and brown bristleworms , lots of very small feather duster worms and thousands of tiny white critters crawling in the substrate, and I am guessing that most of these point to fairly good tank conditions. <Thriving "infauna" like this are an integral part of your system!> Ammonia tests at 0 and nitrites also 0.  I do not have a PH test as was told by my LFS that coral substrate will buffer PH as will regular partial water changes. <DO invest in a pH kit when you can- a very useful measure> I use Tropic Marin Salt, SG 1.023 temp 76/77degs F. <The best salt on the market, IMO!> I eventually would like to keep a yellow tang, a couple of clowns maybe a goby and a wrasse  as well as stocking with soft corals and anemones as and when my pocket allows. <Just take it slow, research the ultimate size that these fishes attain, their requirements, and-above all- quarantine all new fishes before you place them in your tank!> I am sorry for this extremely long mail but would appreciate any feedback/suggestions/ideas your team may have. Thanks again Tony Elliott <Tony- I'm impressed by the innovative little world that you've created there! Just keep up the good work! Remember to look for, and correct the causes of things like algae plagues, not just the "symptoms", and you'll continue to experience success. Keep reading the wetwebmedia.com site for information on the animals you want to keep. Good Luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Pest Algae - thank u for the answer before. I have a bloom of green hair algae-even that the phosphate and silicate is minimum. could you advice me? <Yes, you can read up on pest algae control here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > thanks. anat. <Cheers, J -- >

Revenge of The Fish Nerds! (Take That, Nitrate!) Since I first wrote we're down to zero on the ammonia & nitrite, and also on the nitrate (I'm puzzling over that one). <Stranger things have happened in aquariums, believe me!> The Prizm skimmer manual and Red Sea web site were of little help in solving my skimmer problems. I'm going to dismantle and set the sucker up one more time before giving up on it and buying a different skimmer. Unfortunately I have lost a week now trying to get the thing adjusted (and I have the hairy green algae to show for it!). <Yep- unfortunately, this skimmer seems to have a dubious reputation for being inefficient and difficult to get to skim properly for a lot of people. Give it another shot before you purchase an Aqua C Remora Pro. (Oh- did I just recommend a better HOT skimmer? I think I did!!! LOL> I picked up a calcium test kit. The tank's at 350ppm Ca. <Good to hear. DO monitor alkalinity as well.> I bought some Kent Marine liquid calcium (there weren't very many Ca choices at the local store). I'll come up with a different calcium source once I get through all the reading on calcium and other supplements. I got as far as finding out I shouldn't use calcium chloride long term. < Yep, this stuff can be problematic. Again, keep testing whenever you add anything...it's a great habit to get into! If your "fish addiction" turns into a "reef addiction" (meaning you are a SERIOUS "fish nerd"-like us-than I'll bet you'll be looking for a calcium reactor someday to keep levels where you want them...> This should at least help my live rock (along with getting a working skimmer). <Yep- ahead warp one!> Thanks so much for the advice - "Up & Coming Fish Nerds": Sue & Max <Good luck, guys! Keep up the good work, and feel free to contact us again anytime! Regards, Scott F>

Learning and loving the Hobby Anthony, I hope that all is well. <very well my friend> Holy Crap.  You are speaking at MACNA??  That is crazy.  I guess that I found the right person to talk to. <Awww, shucks. they'll let anybody speak at those things :) Actually our good friend and founder of this site has had several occasions to speak at MACNA. More importantly, he has been a mentor in the trade on more levels and venues than you and I can count in the last few decades. If you do not have Bob's book, Conscientious Marine Aquarist... it really is a must have> Well at any rate, the question thing. That was not a threat.   <heehee... I understood bud. Just kidding you> That was the truth.  There were a few people that I asked questions to, only the ones that truly were not answered in the books that I have read.  And it really really irritated them. <indeed, that is bogus if they had the time and wherewithal to answer> I am not sure why. One of them went around acting like she was God, just because she was one of the few privileged enough to have worked for someone that maintained saltwater aquariums long enough that she did not make the common mistakes. <look on the bright side... perhaps she chafes easily>   She was not a really nice person.  My viewpoint on it was that she was a holder of knowledge, and she was guarding a door that would not be unlocked. <understood... but do see the other side of that perspective too: there is much more pleasure/pride on the road to discovery/enlightenment which is not entirely a road of teachers reciting to us (and we as students merely memorizing). There needs to be a balance> I think perhaps that she was one of those people that would rather only a few elite to have some of the more "difficult" animals.   <hmmm... there is some legitimate concern about letting inexperienced people have any difficult species for random slaughter. To curb that we must have skilled merchants and mentors that guide aquarists voluntarily to species suitable for their present skill set> At any rate it does not matter, she would even lie to try and discourage me. On to other things.  When I asked about the documentation thing.  I did not simply mean how do I write it all down in HTML source, and post it on the net.  I am currently working on that now for a freshwater site.  When I succeed with the Centropyge loricula, and Bispinosa groups, I will post that too.  What I meant was how do I Scientifically Document this without being a scientist.   <I have no idea my friend... I am not a scientist either. For such help, I go to conferences to mix with the scientists. Pitch your data to an empathetic academic who will kindly guide you or co-author your paper.> I thought that there might be a way to definitively prove this other than writing it on the web.   <hmmm.... you lost me on the web emphasis thing. I specifically referred to the written word in my last e-mail... writing a paper or article, taking pictures (include with data) and get it published in a magazine or journal> There is a lot of stuff out there, and a lot of it is false.  How do I prove that I am not making my results up?   <who do you want to prove it to? If it was me, I wouldn't care... simply do good work, be clear and lucid in your reports and photo-documentation... and let any interested party replicate your findings. There's all the proof you need> I am sorry I should have made this more clear to begin with.  I do not always phrase my sentences correctly.   <no worries at all> As far as the skimmer plans, I was going to give then to you with a report, so that you would be able to post them on the website for others. <Okey-dokey> I am sorry if I offended you in the last letter, that was certainly not my intention.   <no offense taken... I was just having fun with you and trying to illuminate some shared lessons in life> You are a really good person for putting up with people like me.   I know you all get tons of E-mail every single day, and it is really wonderful that you take time out of your schedule, to talk to people that you do not even know.  Everyone in the crew of WetWebMedia.com, are really good people.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge, and experience with me. I probably wouldn't have so many questions or write so much if I did not live right smack dab in the center of Guppysville USA. Thanks for all of your help Anthony, By the way, I have seen this a lot, and I am curious.  What does <G> stand for? -b- <Ahhhh... yes, it is part of expressive 'Net lingo. Do look up some sites with data on popular symbols as such. In this case "<G>" simply means "grin"... a diffusive "smile" that you cannot see to portend the real (and usually joking or affable) meaning of a written sentence. <VBG> in turn is a "very big grin". Best regards, Anthony>

- Avoiding Algae - Greetings crew: <And greetings to you, JasonC here.> Hopefully not too stupid a question - but I am in the process of setting up a 120 g FOWLR system (Below tank CPR  sump, Euroreef Skimmer, Gen X).  My question is if one is pre-disposed to the more aggressive fishes (eels, triggers, tangs, angels etc.) how does one control the algae growth on the live rock as I assume the normal clean-up crews (snails, crabs) are not long for this world after one or more of the main denizens of the deep are added. <One the easiest and best ways it to avoid the temptation to overfeed.> Can a tang handle the job? <That combined with the previous option would go a long way.> More than one? <I wouldn't do too many, one should suffice.> Does one need to re-think the FOWLR system when having their eye on a "predator" tank? <I don't think so.> Nothing but water is in the tank right now Appreciate your thoughts and your time very much David Schule <Cheers, J -- >

Up-And-Coming Fish Nerds! We're in the process of setting up our first saltwater tank. Your website has been helpful in answering a lot of our questions, but I have a few that I would like to run past you to make sure we're on the right track. <Sure- that's why we're here!> First, here are our tank specs: 55 gal with Marineland Emperor BioWheel filter, Prizm skimmer (added 12/27), 35 lbs live rock and two Damselfish (Yellow-tail & Velvet Neon) & crushed coral substrate. We set up the water (25 gal DI, 7 RO & 6 dechlorinated tap) on 12/22 and added the live rock. The rock had been held for a week at the supplier for us and was fairly "cured". We added the damsels on 12/23. We have been testing for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate daily. <Good procedure> In addition to the live rock & damsels we added Cycle to get the bacteria started. I have also added a little buffer twice to bring up the pH. Question 1: Is it possible that the tank has cycled already? Here's how the test readings have went over the past 11 days: pH ( 7.6, 7.8, 7.8, 8.0, 7.9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8.1, 8.1); Ammonia (0, 0, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.1, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.1); Nitrite ( 0, 0, 0, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.1); and Nitrate ( 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 10, 10, 10, 10, 0, 0). <Well-it's definitely underway...still not completely cycled if you are getting any detectible nitrite or ammonia readings...Keep checking...shouldn't be too long now, if it's on the downward trend. Be patient and diligent...> The rock is sprouting new growth (red algae - nice, green hair algae - not so nice), the fish are active, eating and seem fine and we're seeing a variety of life from the rocks that seem to be doing fine (a few of feather-duster worms, two snails, a "mystery mollusk" - little black hairy shell that opens if he's startled <Isn't live rock cool!!??> and a bunch of copepods that dramatically reduced when I installed the skimmer). Question 2: Is it possible that the water is clean enough that the skimmer doesn't foam or collect anything? <Probably not. Even in the most seemingly pristine tanks, a skimmer should be able to collect some product. Sounds like you may need to adjust the skimmer to find the "sweet spot".> The filter had been running a week before the skimmer was installed. The skimmer appears to be working, but I'm not collecting any foam (5 days so far). The filter is pretty clean and the water is clear. <Definitely needs adjustment. In a new tank, you have a fair amount of nutrients that a well-adjusted, well designed skimmer should be able to pull out...you should get a thick dry foam and a yucky dark product, at least a few times a week. Do read the manual that came with your skimmer regarding adjustments> Question 3: Am I killing my red algae with my lights? <Not likely, algae need light to grow. You will see the blooming and dying of various algae species, particularly in a new setup...> I use the white lights that came with the tank most of the day. I got a second set (blue) that we set on a timer to come on 15 minutes before the white ones come on (at 6:30AM) & come on a few minutes before the white ones go off (9:30PM). The tank is in a basement rec room and doesn't get much, if any, natural light. I'm seeing a lot more white on the purple/red algae on the rock and more green hair and other green algae. <Really due to the abundant nutrients in the new tank. Keep working that skimmer, and employ activated carbon, or PolyFilter pads for supplemental filtration. Once the tank is cycled, execute regular small water changes> Should I go to blue all the time for a few weeks and add some calcium to encourage the red growth over the green? <If you are trying to encourage coralline algae, calcium, among other things, will certainly help. DO read up on calcium supplementation and testing on the wetwebmedia.com site. If you're gonna add something, like calcium, you really need to test for it> Will a few hermit crabs help? If so, is there a variety that will eat the green but leave the red alone? <These herbivorous hermits can help. Do check with some of the online vendors for varieties> Question 4: The tank is for my 7 year old son Max (with lots of help from Mom, Dad and two big brothers: 13 & 15). Max and I have been making a long-term plan for what we want to add to the tank. <What a great educational experience for your children (and you!). have fun with this together!> After checking out a bunch of sources on compatibility, ease of care for beginners and tank size requirements this is what we came up with: Yellow-tail damsel (have already), Velvet Neon damsel (have already), Fridmani  Pseudochromis, Scott's Velvet Wrasse, Ocellaris Clownfish, Watchman Yellow Goby, Brittlestar, and some hermit crabs. <Sounds like a nice group, but those damsels can get pretty nasty...> If the Neon damsel gets too big and nasty (I bought him before knowing much about that species - live & learn) I am setting up a 20 gal quarantine tank that he can call home. <Great to have a quarantine tank-but there should be no permanent resident there-otherwise, it's not a quarantine tank! Sounds like another, smaller tank is in order, huh? :) > Will the goby be happy in crushed coral instead of sand? <He should be okay- sand is preferable, but he can adapt> We're debating if there is one or two more fish  we can safely add without overcrowding - what would you recommend? <I'd stick with one or two small fish, like gobies or blennies- I love 'em- and there are tons of them to choose from...> This has been a great learning experience for the boys and I want them (and their fish!) to be successful. I have been stressing keeping a clean tank, no overcrowding and fish/invertebrate compatibility - I even had to talk Max into the clownfish - he was concerned that it would be happier with an anemone & we shouldn't get one if we couldn't give it an anemone. <No anemone needed!> I will appreciate any advice you can provide. <I think that you're doing great! Just be patient, keep reading and learning together! This seems like a great way to introduce the kids to the wonders of nature, and a lifelong hobby! Looks like we'll have more "fish nerds" to add to our ranks in the future! Best of luck to you! Feel free to write us any time. Regards, Scott F.>

A Growing Community Crew, <Scott F. here tonight> Hi there crew! It looks like the Bi-Color is finally leaving the Coral Beauty alone... great news! The Coral Beauty is now foraging around the tank for algae, undisturbed... picks off the live rock. This tough little fish has shown much patience and perseverance that he can be accepted as a new tank member. < The Coral Beauty is a remarkably durable and adaptable Centropyge species, in my experience, too!> The Purple tang still chases him a bit but that should go away in time. <Hopefully- these guys tend to be tough customers...> I also have a bright yellow lined Sweetlips, (purchased with the Coral Beauty) ... how do I get this new fish to eat? Live black worms? He hides while I feed. <Do try "target feeding" this fish with pieces of seafood, such as clams, shrimp, etc. This should pique his interest...> Below I have listed all my current tank Inhabitants... 6" Purple Tang (The King of tank) 4 Months 8" Blue Throat Trigger (Just swims back and forth) 2 Months 4" Bi-Color Angel (The Terminator! Ounce per once toughest in the tank) 9 3" Coral Beauty (New kid on the block) 3 Days 4" Kole Tang (Just eats a lot of algae) 2 Months 2" Percula Clown (Just wags his tail , a ferocious eater!) 8 Months 3" Fire Clown (Just recently added, gets along with other clown nicely) 1 4" Christmas Wrasse (Had since day 1) 9 Months 3 1/2" Velvet Damsel (Still has great fluorescent colors!) 8 Months 2" Blue Damsel (Moved in with Fire clown) 1 Month 2" Orange Tail Damsel (This guy is a true terror, kills all new damsels) 3 4" Yellow Lined Sweetlips (Truly magnificent in color) 3 Days 7" Green Serpent Starfish (I know but he is a good detritus eater) 2 5" African Horned Starfish (I feed him 3 times a week, Silver Side Fish heads and Clams soaked in vitamin) 2 Months, 3" Coral Banded Shrimp (Lost 1 large claw in battle. doing fine now) 2 Months, 3" Checkered Goby (Eats everything) 8 Months 3 med. Blue legged Hermits (cleanup crew) 2 Months <Wow! That's a lot of animals...How big is that tank? Sounds like you're doing well with the current bioload, but you have some fish that get quite large, and require lots of room and consistent high water quality to thrive in the long-term> I wanted to try a more natural approach in keeping fish healthy and env. stable so each  week for the past 8 weeks I have I added live rock, so far about 65 pounds so far in the main and about 30 pounds in the third sump,5" DSB 12" lighted box refugium where water pumps  through at a very slow rate for denitrification. I also have 12 large Mangroves which I have had for over 3 months now in the sump.,  (Nitrates have come down to only @ 10 PPM from about 80 PPM which was constant about 3 months ago and prior. Even with all these fish and heavy feeding nitrates are at their lowest! <Those deep sand beds really work! Especially when utilized in conjunction with good husbandry techniques> Live Rock and Deep sand truly are the ticket!! <Yep!> My fish are all very healthy, bright in color now and the water appears to be is crystal clear. I perform small frequent water changes every week of about 10 Gallons of RO water and top off the tank each day or 2 with a gallon of buffered RO water. I use a little Phosphate Sponge and Carbon a few days each month. Since reading through all of the WWM articles about maintaining good water quality,  I have learned so much and strongly agree to Bob Fenner's point ... 'The solution to pollution is dilution'... and lots of premium live rock helps of course! <Good practice, particularly in a tank with a very heavy bioload, such as yours!> Also, frequent replenishing of minerals and trace elements very helpful in maintaining good PH and alkalinity. Lots of water movement... I have a large 2100 gph powerhead in the main tank for strong water movement inside (in which the fish appear to like a lot) and now there less algae growth. There is also a small power head with oxygen tube on other side for heavy oxygen flow. Have I mastered Salt Water Fish in Reef Keeping yet? What is my grade after 2 years? <I like your husbandry techniques, as far as water changes and maintenance are concerned. You seem to have a good idea as to what is going on in the tank-you watch your fishes carefully. I like that you're utilizing a natural approach. I am really concerned about the long term here. I love your enthusiasm and careful study and observation of your fishes, and certainly don't want to be overly critical of your techniques, but you need to think about the "end game" with some of those fishes. You have a few that obtain very large sizes, and can mess up even a huge aquarium in short order. Think about the possibility of needing an even larger aquarium in the future to accommodate these fishes for anything close to their natural life spans> Returned Fish... 9 " Auriga Butterfly (Very aggressive eater, bullied others from eating) Returned 2 Months ago, 8" Blue Hippo Tang (Huge Defecator , ate too much, occasional prone to ich) Returned 2 Months ago. Deceased List before I used live rock, refugium  and high water flow pumps...8" Imperator (Rest in Peace. Was doing fine for 2 months. Main Pump failed during a 4 day vacation. Water went foul for 3 days. Developed Major Bacterial infection. All others survived) 2" Heniochus Butterflies (Bacterial Infection) 3" Flame Angel (Not sure, just keeled over after 2 weeks was eating too, suspect beating from Bi-Color), Powder Brown Tang Powder Blue Tang (would thrive in my current environment strong water flow and higher salinity) Later! <Once again, Chris- I think that you are doing really well. I'm glad to see some of your study and effort paying off. Just think about the long-term once again- keep learning from your mistakes, stay with your conscientious maintenance routines. Hang in there! Good luck in the future!>

Gonio and Live rock Hey Anthony, Sorry for all the questions <no worries... Merry Christmas> but 1)What do you define as good water quality? <relative to the topic and species/selection in the tank. But here in reference to your stony Goniopora coral and general reefkeeping, I would define it fundamentally as having very stable parameters (temp +/- 2F, Ca 350-425, Alk 8-12dKH, Mg 1200ppm, pH never lower than 8.2/8.3) and all these aspects are more important to be consistent rather than high occasionally or spiked. Also, your skimmer should be tuned to produce daily dark skimmate... no weekly crap here. Weekly water changes would be ideal. Small weekly changes of carbon instead of large monthly. And in a perfect world, the tank would have an upstream refugium (any planted matter besides Caulerpa... Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha are quite friendly) and this refugium is to be kept fishless for plankton production> 2)I live in Philly as a response to your question: " What big city are you near? Perhaps there is a local club you can trade samples from" <yep... you have several choices. In Philly there is PARC (Philly area reef club). Also, BAS in Brooklyn is impressive. And Boston has a new and exciting reef club. Bob and I will be at the latter two in the spring for presentations (150-200 people event likely). Check out the links at the bottom of the FAQ daily page for more information> 3)Can you identify the purple stuff that's growing on my live rock <Hmm... from the pictures I can only see corallines. The pictures of the Goniopora didn't some through by the way. Best regards, Anthony>

- Fish Questions - Hi guys, <Hello, JasonC here...> If I may, I have 3 completely different questions for you: 1) I am going on vacation for 1 week and I don't want to ask too much of the person who will be feeding my fish.  I have a 25 gal. with a damsel and a cleaner shrimp, powerhead, heater, AquaClear 200 power filter and CPR Bak Pak II skimmer.  Should I leave the skimmer on or turn it off? <Can the skimmate container fill up in one week? If not, I'd leave it on.> Maybe I could just override the skimmer part by shutting the air intake valve that way water will  continue to circulate through the biological filter (BioBale) section? <A good second option.> 2) Is it necessary to QT newly bought cured Live Rock? <Well... there is the notion that all live rock should be re-cured at your premises, just to be safe.> For how long? <A week or two.> I suppose a FW dip defeats the purpose? <That would kill off most everything desirable on the rock. Allowing it to cure for some additional time before adding it to your tank.> 3) After a specimen has gone through its 4 weeks of QT, can it just be directly transferred to the main tank or should it be acclimatized like a new arrival? <Given four weeks, you should be able to match the parameters of the quarantine tank to the display tank. What you might want to do is give a pH-adjusted, freshwater dip before moving it to the display, just as a safety measure.> I use MT water for the water changes on the QT. Thanks again for your help.  You guys really take out the guessing work out of the hobby!! Happy holidays to the whole crew! Steve <Cheers, J -- >

High humidity in room with tank Hi Guys, <Hello Chuck!> Another day, another disaster! I found that my tank is causing extremely humidity warm in my home and that it is causing moisture problems in my attic including the dreaded mold problem. I had a dehumidifier on my 1st level where my tank is, but I guess it was not enough so I temporarily put a window fan in my bathroom that is directly behind my tank. However, I would like to make this more permanent by venting the warm moist air directly from inside my canopy/built in cabinet to the outside. My tank is 300 gallons and it loses around 3-5 gallons of water per day via evaporation. Can you recommend a ventilation system design that I can use vent the air? <Perhaps one of those ones used for bathrooms.> What type of fans?  How many fans?  Any articles/FAQs/personal experiences/websites from people with large tanks? <I have never experienced or heard of a problem such as yours. Even with the tanks that I have, my furnace (just got it last year, one of those 90+% efficiency jobs) strips out enough humidity that I have to run a humidifier upstairs (the tanks are downstairs). Maybe you should contact a HVAC person and have someone double check that the source of the moisture in the basement is from the tanks.> Thanks Again and Happy Holidays! Chuck Spyropulos <And you too! -Steven Pro>

Plunging Back In! Hi, I'm starting up my tank(180 gallons) again and would like to know if I could replace my gravel with white silica sand (the type used in pool filters). <Personally, I'd avoid the silica sand in a marine tank- this sand has been implicated in nuisance algae growth. I'm not a big fan of it in freshwater, either, although people use it fairly regularly> Also I found some coconut base charcoal that I would like to use along with my mechanical and bio filtration. < You mean carbon, right? For aquarium use? If that's the case, and if it's phosphate-free, it should be okay> I also replaced the interior silicone with some fresh new stuff my tank is eight years old, I'm waiting four days before I add water, would like to know if you have any tips for me. Thanks, Rick    <Rick, I'd follow the instructions for curing that came with the silicone sealant product that you used. Do test the tank outside if possible to verify that the seals are okay. Good Luck! Scott F>

- Algae Problems - Hi, I was hoping you could help me out with a problem with the green algae. <Hi, JasonC here... I can certainly try.> My tank is only 4 months old and I am experiencing a lot of green algae and brown algae.  I use Seachem's products such as Reef Builder, Reef Calcium, Reef Plus, and Kalkwasser -- could this be contributing to the problem? <I doubt it.> Is there any way around it or is it because it is such a new tank? <Well, it's not at all uncommon for a new tank, and yes, there are ways around it.> I just about kill my arm every week trying to clean the tank -- any suggestions? <Use the other arm?> My tank is acrylic so I can't use much else other than a soft rag. <Not so... there are cleaning pads specifically for cleaning acrylic tanks in addition to magnet sets which are likewise made for acrylic tanks.>   Would appreciate any advice you can give. <Do look to correct the root causes of the algae - overfeeding is the most common. There's more information here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm > Thanks and have you done all of your holiday shopping? <Or perhaps none of it... goodness.> I haven't even started mine!!! <Fair enough.> Happy Holidays!  :)  <And you as well.> Elizabeth K. Birdwell <Cheers, J -- >

Housing An Unruly Crowd! Hello again crew!, I have read a few times in replies from Anthony that raw water needs be fed to the skimmer, I can't build one of these boxes he suggests for it. I have also read that Mech. filtration is not needed if there are plenty of live rock in the system and a good skimmer is working, so I want to know if I can toss the floss and the last of the bio balls (removed most already, and have seen a nitrate reduction, was at 40ppm,now at 10ppm with most of the balls gone). <I agree- by removing the bioballs, and removing, regularly cleaning/changing filter pads, you will be letting the rock and sand do the organic removal for you, and you'll see nitrite fall even lower with careful attention to maintenance (like water changes, etc> I will give a rundown of my tank once again and would love a reply from anyone here, but please forward this to Anthony if possible as well. <Will do!> 130g tank with 35g W/D filter (guess I'm looking at it being a sump).200-220 pounds live rock (mainly Fiji and Florida with some Indo). A good size skimmer (don't know the name, looks like old Kent side injection type I've been told), pulls out a good amount of skimmate daily but not black, dark tea color, suspecting due to floss in main tray? <Well, probably needs adjustment for air/water flow. I don't think that the floss is hurting production of dark skimmate> Stuff sure stinks though. <That's a good sign...stinky is good!> Just switched to R/O water use due to hair algae. 2.5 inch Picasso Trigger,4 inch Naso and Blue tang,4 inch Queen Angel, 4 inch Red Coris Wrasse,4 inch Volitans and a 2 inch Tomato clown. I know I have to weed out a couple of these guys down the road as they get big (first to go would likely be the Lionfish), they are fed a couple times a day. <Well, the Queen Angel and Naso may be next! These fishes get huge! You need to think of the "end game" when selecting fishes with large adult sizes. To successfully accommodate all, or even most of these guys at their adult sizes, you'll need a really large tank (hundreds of gallons). Lots of life in that tank!> I have an Aquaclear500 filter running with carbon (changed weekly) and the AC802 powerheads in the tank. Tank is almost 1 year old. With such a setup can I run with just my rock and skimmer right now or do I need that floss (grabs lots, I toss every few days)?, and how much of a water change schedule would you do if running this tank?. <With careful attention to husbandry (water changes, protein skimmer production/maintenance, and feeding, it will be possible, but you need to really keep an eye on things. You need to do this gradually.> I have been changing around 15g every 4 days or so to try to get rid of this hair algae (0 phos.), but have just started with R/O (hope it helps) Thanks as always!... <I'd stay with that schedule all the time, especially in a crowded system like this. Just study your fishes and their needs-set realistic goals and a plan to achieve them, and you'll be fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

New Tank I set up a new 75 gal. tank about 3 weeks ago...I have been battling ick, ever since because of the new live sand or the stress from moving. I lost two fish. <Really? Only two?> My hippo tang <AKA ich magnet> Seems to be doing ok now but still goes to the shrimp. I changed water today and now (8 hrs. later) my tang is darting around more than normal. I just checked the ph and it is high...8.8 or so. <This is too high but it's the least of your worries> Should I try to lower it.. I don't want to stress the tang out so he is more likely to get ick again. I use c-balance....should I add more of the A or more of the B ? How long should I wait to introduce new fish? When I add new fish, is three or more be too many to add at once? Would that affect the cycle? <Cheryl, my friend, you have made a myriad of beginner mistakes. Unfortunately I can't solve all of your errors in this one email. However, I will elucidate a few problems. Three weeks probably wasn't enough time for cycling. Were you testing the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels during this process? You also added too many fish too soon. One should never add more than one fish at a time. Even then I give at least two weeks between additions. I can't hardly believe all of the fish haven't died. Do yourself and your fish a favor. Spend lots of time reading articles and facts at Wetwebmedia.com. I would start reading at "tank setup." I wish I could be of more immediate help but it appears that you are missing a lot of basic knowledge about tank setup/husbandry. One last thing...It is important to remember: The people that have success in this hobby are the ones that take the time to learn the proper way to do things. Please do not add anything else living to this tank until you have a basic knowledge of general aquarium husbandry. Sorry to be so blunt...David Dowless> Thanks for all your info...                 <You're welcome and good luck!> Cheryl

Making Good Choices Hello, my name is Justin, I got your website from a fellow saltwater friend. <Glad you stopped by, Justin. Scott F. here with you today> I have a 58 gal oceanic show tank, I have a Penguin 330 and a Emperor 280 in the middle of the aquarium, with an undergravel filter with two Power heads on both ends making the water going towards the filters. Do you think this enough?  I plan on having Anemones and clowns, Damsels and a Yellow Tang. Which are the best clownfish in your opinion? <Lots of good choices among the clownfish. I really like percula clowns (Amphiprion percula) myself, as they are generally colorful, hardy, and adaptable. Please note that they don't need to have an anemone to live long, healthy lives. Anemone husbandry is very demanding, and should not be entered into lightly. They need excellent water conditions and intense light to thrive. Almost all anemones are wild-collected at this time, and when you purchase one you are affecting wild populations directly. Please research the requirements of anemones thoroughly before purchasing one. If you do decide to obtain one, consider trying one of the more abundant, less expensive, less demanding Condylactis anemones from the Atlantic. They will not host clowns, but they will provide you with years of enjoyment and color if well cared for.> Another question is, in my 58gal with the back wall made out of live rock, is it possible to house more then one tang in the tank? < I'm glad that you asked- that's good thinking! I'd only purchase one tang in for this tank. They need a lot of room and can be very territorial towards other tangs in a smaller tank> If I get a tang, should I wait until the tanks has algae on the back wall? <Not a bad idea, IMO.!> I work in a pet shop, during the past few months, I've been taking over the saltwater aquariums. They are kinda a mess, what is the best way to get rid of red and brown algae? <Best way is to export nutrients via water changes and protein skimming. Don't overfeed, monitor water parameters carefully...Use good quality source water, too. Check out the algae control FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site. I'll bet with a little study and some good experience, you'll be able to turn the salt water section around!> Justin, thanks for the time... <And thanks for stopping by, Justin. Good luck!>

Maintaining, sustaining high dKH and alkalinity...? Hello to you, I'm a new service guy of reef aquariums. Please tell me, how to accomplish a situation where alkalinity and KH will stay on high figures and not drop very quick after using buffer? <Please see the following: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm> Thank you, Anat <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Starting Fresh With Salt Greetings! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I love your website and have learned a lot from it. I'm still quite confused, having read several books (including the outstanding The Conscientious Marine Aquarist), and consulted several employees of a couple of LFS. I get conflicting advice. <Unfortunately, a common occurrence> I've been doing freshwater aquaria on and off for 30 years. I've wanted to do marine for years, and have finally gotten up the courage to give it a go. Here's my plan: I have an 80G tank that I recently cleared of freshwater. I also have a 10G quarantine tank cycled and ready to go. I am planning fish-only. I am leery of live rock out of fear of pesky critters that may be lurking in it. <Well- don't be too concerned about potential inclusion of "bad" animals among the rock. Well-cured, carefully inspected rock should be quite safe...> I plan to ultimately stock with 1 clownfish, 1 yellow tang, 1 royal Gramma, 1 flame angel, 1 or 2 yellow-headed Jawfish, and perhaps a Pakistani Butterflyfish. <Sounds like a nice mix of fish. The particular Butterflyfish that you are considering can do well, but it does require very consistent tank conditions and proper feeding. A better choice might be a Longnose Butterfly or an Auriga Butterfly. Both are hardy, eat well, and make nice community fishes.> I have the following equipment on hand: 1 Fluval 404, 1 Fluval 304 and an Emperor 400 (two BioWheels). "Brown" will be delivering a Remora Pro skimmer in a couple of days. I also have a PowerSweep 228 powerhead (270 GPH). Questions: 1. Can I supply sufficient filtration/oxygenation with the above equipment? <Should be fine for the species that you have mentioned. When relying on mechanical filtration, be sure to clean and change the filter media regularly. Neglected mechanical filtration media can be implicated in nutrient accumulations, which lead to problem algae and declining water quality> 2. How many Jawfish can I have in the tank? <Well-really depends upon the particular species that you are maintaining. Many can be kept in groups or pairs, if provided enough space> 3. Should I add all of the Jawfish first? <Would be nice for them to be settled in and feeding before the other fishes are placed into the tank> 4. Should I give prophylactic freshwater baths before quarantine and/or copper treatments in the quarantine tank? <I highly recommend the freshwater/Methylene blue bath for virtually all new arrivals prior to quarantine. I am not a big fan of using copper prophylactically. It can cause problems for some fishes (i.e.; tangs) if maintained in systems with copper for extended periods. I prefer that copper be used only as a treatment for specific diseases, such as ich> 5. How harmful is the freshwater bath to a fish just home from the LFS (<10 minutes from my house)? <As long as the temperature, pH and alkalinity are close to the parameters in your tank, the dip should not be a problem. Do read up on the FAQs regarding the dip process> 6. Do I really need to use R/O water? We're in a drought here in SLC and water rationing is a possibility come spring. <I do recommend a purified water source. R/O is, of course, a wasteful process, and you may want to consider a more efficient process, such as deionization, which wastes no water> I am grateful in advance for your advice. Steve Allen. <Steve, I'm really glad that we can be of service to you! Your plans sound good-implement them and enjoy! Best Wishes,  Scott F>

MACO course and new tank Respected Bob: Sir, why don't you and Anthony  start the course in wetwebmedia.com. I think this site is the best site for fishkeeping, Specially you and Anthony are really best. <thank you kindly for saying so, Monty. Alas, with all of our other duties and pursuits, we might not find the time in the near future to conduct our own courses. MACO has a fine reputation and we are grateful for their efforts to coordinate these courses for the hobby we all love so much> I heard that you and Anthony are coming to  Asia glad to here. <Yes... Singapore in the Spring... then maybe Hong Kong and or Vietnam. Many possibilities> Well I had completed my cycle and now I want to add livestock. I am really  excited here is my list:- pair of percula clown, one yellow tail damsel ,one humbug one dwarf lion fish and a cleaner shrimp. My tank is 30 gallon. <please know that this is enough fish for the tank in total (to allow for growth and comfort as these fishes mature). In fact, you may have added them a little too fast. Keep a close eye on the ammonia levels> Well also want to know if I add live rock protein skimmer is compulsory. MONTY <you can add live rock at any time, but make sure that the rock is cured. It must be held for 2-4 weeks in a separate vessel with strong aeration and protein skimming to cure it before it can go into your aquarium. I would also recommend that a protein skimmer is compulsory or necessary for most every marine aquarium. Otherwise you will need to do many more water changes. Best regards, Anthony>

Bob and Anthony teaching MACO Marine classes Respected Sir <cheers, Monty> Sir Bob, today I know in your daily faq that you and sir Anthony are starting marine course for beginners online. Sir, it's simply great when I see in those daily faq's section. I also want to do that course. <very good to hear, my friend. There are so many wonderful things to learn about our hobby> So, can you tell me the details. <I'm not sure if they have posted the details yet or the registration information and fees. It is MACO and reefs.org that are hosting a variety of instructors including Bob and I. They should have more information on their web site soon here: http://reefs.org/maco/ It looks to me like they are not taking registration for these classes until next year> Also there is one question for you as I had already learn your marine stock question. But I want to know which fish should I choose, damsel or clown. <Both are good hardy fishes. The damsels might be a hardier choice though. If Chromis species are available, they are more peaceful too> Also there is a problem of power failure in my area. power goes in morning from 6:30 to 8:30. Will it affect on my water chemistry. <indeed... the daily power outage will present some unusual challenges. You will want to keep your tank very low stocked with fishes... and be sure not to overfeed. These things consume oxygen terribly. See if you can order a battery operated air pump to use in the mornings for extra aeration. As long as the temperature does not drop much (less than 3 degrees F), all will likely be quite fine> Your advice will be greatly appreciated. MONTY <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Live Rock Taking Over Thanks Dave <You're most welcome!> You hit the nail on the head.  My lack of patience stems from the fact that my brother is not too happy with what he calls the 'water works.'   <My wife calls my tank "The Money Pit." It's not a term of endearment. HA!> My curing set up has taken over our apartment.   <We have a house. My water changes take over most of the kitchen, the bathroom, and part of the garage. Not to mention the 5' main display tank that's always in the living room...> 2 30 gal Rubbermaid's, tubes, buckets, pumps etc.  I guess he (& I) will just have to deal. <Look for a closet that you can call "the fish closet" and keep all of this stuff in there including the Rubbermaid containers. That's what I did and it sure helped> Lucky for me, there is no detectable odor in the room. If there was, my brother would probably throw the rock out the window.  It's hard for people to understand how important 'rock' can be.   <You think your brother is difficult? You should try to convince a wife that you need her to help pay for the rock...> I'm embarrassed to tell people that I paid over $300 for rock.   <Dude...you're killing me...I have a skimmer that I paid MORE than $300 for and I can't get it to collect 1 cup of skimmate a week! I sure ain't telling nobody!! Pssssssst...Wanna buy a new skimmer?> Anyway, thanks for your help and your speedy response. <You're welcome. I hope I've helped...at least it's been fun! David Dowless> Adam

Making A Few Corrections... Thanks to all of the "Crew" for helping us poor inexperienced marketing victims.  I am extremely grateful for your help and without it would probably have little chance of being successful in this challenging and rewarding hobby. <Hey- we all are constantly learning-sharing experiences helps everyone! Scott F. here with you this evening> I apologize for the lengthy e-mail, but would rather give you all the data at once rather than ask you to invest your time over and over again.   <No problem...> When I initially set up my 29G tank I succumbed to much misleading information from a LFS and the evil marketing geniuses - (I have since found a much better LFS).  I have received several suggestions from the "Crew" but unfortunately am somewhat confused about how I should prioritize the implementation. Husbandry history (slightly embarrassing):  filled tank with substrate and water (Crystal Sea synthetic) then aerated and filtered for one week with no livestock.  Took advice of LFS and added 6 damsels. <oops!> Measured Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Ph every two days.  Changed 10% of water weekly and vacuumed substrate.  Never detected the ammonia spike (lost 4 damsels).  The complete Nitrogen cycle was very long (about 8 weeks for Nitrites to fall to >zero).  Diatom bloom lasted about one week.  After much aggravation over ammonia readings that did not make sense I discovered the test kit was outdated and have purchased new reagents. <Hence the 4 damsel deaths from ammonia!> Currently feeding flake food once or twice daily and frozen brine shrimp once or twice weekly.  All inhabitants appear to be healthy; however, the damsels are "twitching and dashing" at different times of the day. <Well- "twitching" and "dashing" are fairly common damsel behaviors. If you are seeing "itching", scratching, and rapid respiration-that's a  sign of potential problems> Current inhabitants:  two 1.5 in three-stripe damsels, one 1.5 in percula clown, one cleaner shrimp, five turbo snails.  Current tank issues (after thirteen weeks): ammonia still detectable (0.016 ppm), consistent diatom growth (how much is too much?), Phosphate at .02ppm (Phosphate in make up water is .01ppm). <Wooahh...detectable ammonia levels are never good. I get the feeling that this tank never fully completed cycling. Your idea of cleaning the substrate and implementing regular water changes was good, but I think that the tank needs to finish cycling first. Possibly, your aggressive cleaning of the not-fully-established sandbed disrupted the nitrification processes that were occurring there, resulting in the constant ammonia readings...> Current tank set-up:  29G, tank is aerated, 150watt heater, Penguin 170 power filter with bio-wheel, 22watt fluorescent hood, 2 inches of substrate that is 50/50 crushed coral/gravel, miscellaneous decorations for cover, one piece of Tufa (spelling?) rock approximately 14in X 6in X 6in with three large cavities resulting in lots of surface area (will this rock "magically" become live?). <Over time, it will accumulate growths of many different encrusting organisms and algae. But it can also become a detritus trap, and should be siphoned occasionally to prevent buildup> Make-up water is from tap (Phosphate 0.01ppm) that is aerated and heated to 76 deg F 24/7. <Definitely one of the contributors to your algae problem. A good long-term investment would be an RO or DI unit to produce high quality source water. Or, you could purchase RO water from a vendor, but this can become pricey if you need large quantities> Any advice on prioritizing the following changes or making better selections would be greatly appreciated:  Add an Eheim ECCO 2233 (rated for a 55g tank), add a CPR protein skimmer (should this be a BakPak 2 or BakPak 2R?), <I'd go for the BakPak 2R, or even an Aqua C Remora Pro> change substrate to 1 inch deep aragonite (CaribSea product? size?), <I'd either go for 1/2 inch or less, or 3 inches or more. Less than 3 inches, but more than 1/2 inch can result in a biological "no-man's land", which can result in potential long-term nitrate accumulation and other problems.> reduce lighting cycle to 8 hours (no direct sunlight on tank), add a hermit crab (no Sea Cuke?) to stir substrate and scavenge, will changing the bulb in the light fixture have any effect on diatoms? <Personally, I feel that a balance between nutrient and lighting is important. Light in and of itself is not bad-but light in conjunction with excessive nutrients is a recipe for algae problems> add power head (or recirculating pump with one pickup and multiple discharges, is live rock an absolute requirement to achieve good water quality? <Live rock is a central component of a healthy reef system- a natural filtration accessory!> Is "Crystal Sea" synthetic salt a good product or simply marketed very well?. <Not familiar with this brand- do check with fellow hobbyists on the WWM message boards to get opinions> Again I apologize for the lengthy e-mail, but thought this would be preferable and more accurate and concise than sending three or four different emails. <No problems...it can be confusing- but lots of answers to your questions are available on the wetwebmedia.com site>   This seems to be a lot like owning a boat - its never large enough, there are more gadgets than useful tools, and experience comes only after wasting large sums of money. <Yikes- an unfortunately accurate analogy at times! Ok- here's my advice: Utilize better quality source water (RO/DI). Obey good husbandry techniques (careful water changes, feeding, and observation), employ aggressive protein skimming (removing at least a couple of cups weekly of dark skimmate), install a deep sand bed (4 inches plus) utilizing "sugar sized" oolithic aragonite or other fine sand. Regularly clean all mechanical filters- detritus and organic buildup is a huge contributor to algae blooms. Keep things simple, and be patient...Keep reading and learning- you'll be fine! Good luck!  Scott F>

Starting Out Again! Hello to all the fine experts and novices like myself in internet-land, Thank you all for being here to help us with our daily marine dilemmas. <And thank you for turning to us with your daily dilemmas! Scott F. here tonight> This is my second attempt at marine. This first ended in disaster after a short 2 years run, ending three years ago. This time I'm determined to do it right and NOT spend a fortune doing it. <You can get it right! The "fortune" part...well....LOL> The details for later questions: My 55 gallon is into week three of cycling. I did it the old fashioned way (Just discovered this site 1 1/2 weeks ago), 2 damsels, coral gravel, 1 powerhead(402), 1 Millennium filter, heater, 1 bio-wheel 30 attached to a small stand alone pump, Medium Lee Protein Skimmer, 4 NO florescent lights, 3 of the Normal Phillips Alto series and 1 Coralife 3-actinic blue (All 45W), 30 lbs of formerly live rock (from tank 3 years ago), 3 lbs of new live rock (added today). Set-up to the question: I have yet to discover the correct fine tuning for the Lee protein skimmer, so I'm worried that the water quality is not up to tip top condition. <Adjusting protein skimmers is definitely a task! Keep tweaking it until you get a nice, dry foam and dark skimmate. Make very small adjustments and observe carefully> Q: Should I run the aeration feature on my 402 powerhead? why? <All the time. Or, Never. How's that for an answer? Seriously, it really depends on what you are using the powerhead for. If you're looking for extra circulation, then I'd just run it without the aeration feature. If you feel that your tank needs more dissolved oxygen (i.e.; well below saturation), go for the aeration feature full time. Really depends on your goals...> Q: How often should a do water changes during cycling? How much? (I am currently doing 8-10% every week) <That's a great water change regimen! I'd hold off on water changes until cycling is complete. Once it's done, I'd use two, 5% changes weekly. This will really help reduce organics before they have a chance to build up.> Q: Any tips on fine tuning the skimmer? I plan on a DIY skimmer in the VERY VERY near future as I now understand from reading your FAQ's how important this is. <The best thing I can tell you is to adjust until the entire skimmer column is filled with bubbles, milky white.> Q: How much/often should a vacuum the gravel (again planning a DIY DSB within the next 3 weeks, wanted to wait out the cycle before changing the out (is this wise?)) <If you're using crushed coral gravel, I'd siphon a couple of times a month, or as needed if detritus seems to be building up. Once you get the deep sand bed going, you really don't want to disturb it. If you must, you can vacuum the top 1/2 inch or so, but many hobbyists who run DSBs (myself included) never vacuum them. You can utilize "purposeful" animals, such as brittle stars, cucumbers, etc, to help do the job> Again a million thanks for all the help and those WONDERFUL FAQ's, I spend every night reading them for at least an hour.. absorbing as much as I can stand :-) <Keep reading, learning, and watching your system. You're gonna have a great time! Be sure to use the Google search feature on the wetwebmedia.com site to find more about the topics that interest you.  I wish you every success! Good luck! Scott F>

Marine Maintenance <Good morning!> I have a fairly mature (coming up on 2 years) 72g tank with a lion, clown, 75#LR, half dozen Turbo's, and a serpent star. My serpent was slow and displaying signs <What signs?> that I would attribute to poor water quality, but all tests I have done indicate the water is fine. Ammonia and Nitrites are 0, Nitrates are 40, Temp 78,  morning ph of 8.6 <I wouldn't want the ph to go any higher than this. Test the ph at different times when the lights are on and when they have been off for several hours. If this is your low ph reading, I would try to find out why it gets so high and correct the problem> Last night and again this morning, I found and removed a dead snail, but the test readings have not changed. The kits are all fairly new, and have appeared reliable so far. <Cheap kits are rarely reliable IMO. Snails do have a tendency to die off from time to time for reasons beyond our control> I have been a little lax on my water changes, I must admit. It's been 3-4 weeks since my last 10g change. I've been averaging 1-2x per month over the last 4 months or so, but haven't concerned myself because of the test results. <This really makes me wonder about the high ph. Normally, ph tends to fall over time. Are you adding some kind of supplement?> I plan to perform a water change this weekend, but would like to know what I would like your input on what else I can do. I don't have any reason to believe that the tank was polluted with any type of household chemicals or anything else like that. <As I stated, snails do have a tendency to die off or get eaten by fish...That's why etailers sell "recharge" kits. I would do a little detective work to find the source for the high ph, do a water change, and continue to watch all critters closely. You might consider testing your source water as well. A steady ph of 8.6 is too high. You may research this and lots of other information at Wetwebmedia.com> Thanks for your input. <My pleasure! David Dowless>

Maintenance/Stability/Ich Help Please. Last weekend I vacuumed my reef sand for the first time.  It seemed that the  stuff on the bottom is heavier then the sand and I was pulling up more sand  that stuff.  I used the Magnum Power Kleen.  Am I doing this correctly?  Should I try the Siphon Kleen? <Well, I'm a seriously "low tech" guy- I just use a piece of flexible tubing, about 1/2 inch diameter, to do my siphoning. Depending on the kind of sand bed that you have, you really only need to siphon the very top layer, or you'll disrupt some of the processes that a life sand bed can provide. Do try to get as much detritus off of the rockwork as you can, as well.> How large of a temperature swing can I have during the day/night?  It seems that my tank is fluctuating about 2 degrees (78.5 to 80.5) during the day/night. <In my conservative opinion, I'd be more comfortable with a fluctuation of 1 degree or less. Greater temperature fluctuations occur, but can lead to possible problems. Stability is important> Last night I lost my first fish to ick.  What should I do?  Can I add anything to my reef tank with an mud filter to medicate? Thanks, Steve <Steve, don't add any medications directly to your tank- even the so-called "reef safe" ones! The best way to combat ich in the main tank, IMO, is to remove the fishes from your system, and leave the tank "fallow" for about a month or so, which will result in a highly diminished population of parasites. One ich is in your tank, it's IN your tank! You need to take these steps to eradicate it, or you will have ongoing problems. Observe your fishes while they are "on vacation", and be prepared to treat them, should they show signs of illness. Read the disease FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site if you have more questions on combating ich. Good luck! Scott F.>

25 Gallons of Fun Good morning, <Good morning to you! Scott F. here today> First I would like to thank you for your great website, it is definitely the number one source of information for marine aquarists. <We're very proud to be able to offer content that's helpful and useful to you!> I presently have the following setup: 25 gal. marine tank with 17 lbs of live rock (I plan to add about another 10 lbs),15 lbs of Aragonite crushed coral for substrate is sand better than gravel type crushed coral?) <I like the finer substrates, like oolithic aragonite> Aquaclear 200 power filter (with 25 lbs of live rock for biological filtration and a decent protein skimmer is it necessary to have a bigger filter?) <While it's always nice to have as large a filter as possible, in a system like yours, with a nice quantity of live rock and sand, and good skimming the mechanical filter is really secondary to the natural biological filtration that these materials provide. Keep a good eye on water quality and execute regular water changes. Be sure to clean the skimmer weekly or more frequently for better results.> Aquaclear 301 power head (should the powerhead be positioned at the surface of the water or aimed at the live rock?  Is there another more suitable position?) <I'd probably keep it near the top, but not quite at the surface> Tronic 150w heater (is it better positioned vertical or horizontal? Or is doesn't make a difference?) <I have always favored a horizontal position for the heater, but I don't think that it really makes that much difference, in most cases> My main tank is presently being left fallow (only a cleaner shrimp left inside) after an outbreak of ick (maybe velvet) killed my Lemonpeel angel and royal Gramma. I am presently treating with copper my four stripe damsel in a QT tank (is 5.5 gal too small?).  I learned my lesson and after consulting your website decided to quarantine everything that enters my main tank for 4 weeks. <Terrific procedure! It's no fun taking all of the fish out of the main tank, but you did the right thing, and will reap the rewards of proper treatment down the line!> About copper treatment concentration:  There doesn't seem to be a consensus.  Is it 0.15 or 0.30? <Usually the top end is 0.25ppm. Always check manufacturer's recommendations and test for concentration when using copper. Which product do you recommend? I have used Mardel CopperSafe and Seachem Cupramine. Both are great products, IMO> How is Paracure by Red Sea? <I have no experience with this product, but do check with fellow hobbyists> In terms of livestock I plan to have the following: 1 dwarf angel (flame or Lemonpeel) 1 four stripe damsel 1 royal Gramma 1 clown (false percula or maroon) <I'd go with the smaller percula, or even an ocellaris> 1 cleaner shrimp 1 Red Starfish (should it be quarantined as well?) 5 Turbo snails 5 Red legged hermits Do you think it's too much? <I'd reconsider the angelfish. Lemonpeel's can grow up to 5 inches, and can be a bit feisty, particularly in smaller tanks. There could also be similar problems with the Flame Angel. Perhaps you should try the smaller Cherub Angel (C. argi). Keep in mind that even the smallest of the small can get Chippy in tight quarters!> Do inverts add to the bioload or help since they are scavengers? <Yep- they certainly are part of the bioload, but they are helpful animals> And finally for my main question (sorry about all the side questions!):  I went through all the skimmer articles and FAQ on your website more than once, but I still can't make up my mind on which one to get. It is not clear what I should do for a smaller tank.  I know the Red Sea Prizm is not your favorite, but what do you think of it for 25 gal.?  If it's out of the question, what about the CPR Bak Pak 2 (would the 2R be better?). Which do you prefer between the Bak Pak and the Excalibur (considering the price difference)?  Also, I know you strongly recommend the Remora, but is it worth the price for a 25 gal.? <Any skimmer that can pull dark, yucky skimmate from the tank a couple of times a week is a good skimmer, IMO. A proven, high quality skimmer, like the Aqua C or Bak Pak2R, is really a good "long-term" investment for your system, as it can be used on slightly larger tanks, should the need arise> Upgrading is not really an issue because when I decide to upgrade it will be more than 100 gal. and none of these will be suitable. <Ok- you were a step ahead of me there! I still favor the higher quality and proven performance that these models afford> Last question:  How important are the surface skimming accessories (for the Bak Pak and the Remora, the Excalibur already comes with it)? What about the bubble trap accessories? <I like all of these accessories. Surface extraction is optimal for skimmer performance, as most of the dissolved organics can be found near the surface. And keeping bubbles out of the tank is important, from both an aesthetic and health standpoint.> Thank you very much for all your help and patience.  I apologize for the lengthy/multiple questions. <Please don't apologize! That's why we're here!> You have no idea how much help you guys are. Thanks again. Have a nice day. Steve

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