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40 breeder

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    Posted: September 06 2016 at 8:59pm
I'm starting a truely new tank. I haven't done this since I first started in the hobby. Previously I've had many different tanks, but I added older rock to any new setup I created. I'm really starting fresh again, like my very first tank. It's exciting, waiting to see what will come out of the live rock.
40 gallon breeder, drilled on one back corner for a drain. 29 gallon sump, mainly for a refugium, DSB, and water top off. Mag 7 for return. About 100w of LED for the display, 10w LED refugium light. 70 or more pounds of sand, some Utah oolite for the center of the fuge. 65 pounds of live rock. Salt water. A few other odds and ends. And now I'm waiting.
Ammonia came down after a couple days, but nitrite is slow to come down. There has been a lot of die off that I probably should have brushed off. I was silly in thinking that I wanted more to live so I treated the rock more gently and didn't scrub off the junk.





Edited by MadReefer - September 06 2016 at 9:04pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hogie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 08 2016 at 7:59am
I would say be prepared for a big algae bloom from the die off as part of the cycle and don't get discouraged when it happens. It's beatable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 12:42pm
This update is a few days old. I've added caulerpa and chaeto to the fuge. Amphipods can be seen in the fuge. I added 5 hermits and a pocillapora to the display. All are doing well. Ammonia and nitrite at zero. Nitrates between 10 and 20. I've added more time on to the light in the display and I've seen a little color start. Algae in fuge is already growing. I'm trying to be patient.
Edit: I'm also excited about tiny feather dusters and a spaghetti worm in the tank. I keep looking, hoping to see more.

Edited by MadReefer - September 13 2016 at 9:52pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2016 at 12:27pm
It has been a month since adding water and the first small piece of live rock.
I'm really excited to see copepods and amphipods in the fuge. But I'd love to see large numbers in the whole tank, as well as mysids. I also want to add some clowns. How long should I wait to add two ocellaris?
Also, it appears that I have gorgonian growing from the live rock. I'm guessing this is a good thing. Anything I should know? Can I cut it from where it is an move it to the bottom of the tank?

Edited by MadReefer - September 15 2016 at 12:54pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2016 at 10:53am
.

Edited by MadReefer - September 25 2016 at 1:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Deluxe247 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2016 at 8:01pm
Have you stared at it at night? I always like seeing all the odd critters come out when it's dark. use a red light and you won't disturb them.

As for the gorgonian, I've personally never had any but I would assume you could cut it and move it. Any update pics?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2016 at 8:57pm
Thanks, Deluxe247. Great idea. I'll have to dig through my LED box and see if I have a red one. I'm sure I can put something together for night viewing.
The tank is full of gunk right now and not very pretty. But nitrates are 10 and dropping. So hopefully it doesn't get too bad. pH has gone up to almost 8.2 after hanging out at 7.8 since the beginning of testing.
I couldn't wait and my wife picked out two tiny black clowns, so we have our first fish.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2016 at 12:06pm
Originally posted by MadReefer MadReefer wrote:

I also want to add some clowns. How long should I wait to add two ocellaris?...
I couldn't wait and my wife picked out two tiny black clowns, so we have our first fish.
They should be fine. Clownfish are members of the Damsel family, so they are very tough fish that can deal with pollution. To be extra sure they do well during the first month, remember to feed them Garlic Oil as instructed here: 
http://utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=71349

Now that fish are in the tank, it's even more important to get this tank off to a good start. Either Macroalgae or a bunch more living LR needs to be added to the display. (I say "living" LR, because LR from a store is almost devoid of life. Get some LR from another running reef tank and transfer it submerged in water.)

Originally posted by MadReefer MadReefer wrote:

It has been a month since adding water and the first small piece of live rock.
I'm really excited to see copepods and amphipods in the fuge. But I'd love to see large numbers in the whole tank, as well as mysids. 
The instructions regarding the method for starting up a tank that avoids pollution(Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate) as seen in my signature line is linked here http://utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=9244 and the second listed Reefkeeping Tips is the same principle, used by another local hobbyist who has been in the hobby twice as long as me. Called the BobsReef Method, he describes how he started his tank by using a complete array of living LR from another tank.

If a lot of living LR from another running tank is not available, there is an alternative. Indeed, any new tank will do better, much quicker, if algae is given more opportunity to eat pollution by living and growing throughout the entire system. Even after writing that reefkeeping method over 10 years ago, it seems to me that the benefits of initially growing algae throughout the entire system are still not commonly understood or accepted. I'm not sure why that is, but, once a person sees how extremely well algae works, they may be less inclined to believe the silly rumors about difficulty of removing macroalgae and more inclined to enjoy how it looks in the display. After all, it only needs to stay in the display for the first few months.

Regarding the value of algae, think about this:
In the beginning, microbial and plant life started on this earth and were growing here for a long time before any higher life forms appeared. The Creator knows how to do the job right. In modern terms, "Terra-forming" is a process heavily dependent on plant life to clean the air, the water and the land and produce Oxygen.

Originally posted by MadReefer MadReefer wrote:

Also, it appears that I have gorgonian growing from the live rock. I'm guessing this is a good thing. Anything I should know? Can I cut it from where it is an move it to the bottom of the tank?
It's a very hardy coral. Yes, it can be moved, but there's no need to move it. It loves light. What kind of Gorgonia? Is it branching or encrusting?

Aloha,
Mark  Hug


Edited by Mark Peterson - September 17 2016 at 12:12pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2016 at 12:09pm
Oh and the light does not have to be red. A flashlight with very low batteries works great or just hold your hand over the lens so that only a small sliver of light shines through.

I wouldn't add any more Hermits. They get too hungry in a new tank because it hasn't matured enough to provide them much to eat. Snails are the best algae eaters so start adding a few of them at a time, increasing the number as the algae starts to grow on the glass and rock. Snails are the best way, almost the only way, to avoid a hair algae or other nuisance algae problem as was wisely mentioned by Hogie. Thumbs Up

Have fun. Hug



Edited by Mark Peterson - September 17 2016 at 12:17pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2016 at 12:56pm
Thank you, Mark, for all the great information.
Looks like branching gorgonian. I thought it was just remnants of a dead sponge, but it looks like it is growing. The biggest is about a half an inch spike.

Edited by MadReefer - September 17 2016 at 6:26pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2016 at 9:45pm
I was trying to do this reef without a skimmer, I know it can be done. But this surface scum (at the right angle it is clear, but I'm pretty sure it is not good) in the sump has me thinking I should get a skimmer.

Edit: I fixed the picture. This is a picture looking up at the surface of the water, the heater is a reflection that looks upside-down.
The reason I wanted to avoid a skimmer is because I know it is one of the parts that can't be cheap, and I'm mostly cheap. They can be a lot of work, and more so if they are cheap, and too cheap and it is not worth putting in at all.


Edited by MadReefer - September 17 2016 at 10:21pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 18 2016 at 11:30am
 This is in the Refugium, right? It's algae scum. It's not harmful or toxic, but it does reduce gas exchange just a little. Because this is the Refugium, it doesn't really matter. The Refugium is supposed to grow algae. 
Because of where the scum is collecting/growing between those baffles, a skimmer may not make any difference.
There are two things that can be done to clear the algae scum, but first let me suggest a design modification that would eliminate the scum and make the entire system more efficient. Think about water flow and top-off (assuming top-off is being done manually, right?) Here is a pic of one of my former systems, to get you thinking about what I'm about to propose:



Aloha,
Mark  Hug

P.S.
The two ways I know of to remove algae scum and/or prevent it:
1. Lay a paper towel or a layer of kitchen plastic wrap on top of the water and then quickly remove it. The scum sticks to the plastic wrap/paper towel. 
2. Place a small powerhead on a small flat rock pointing up or stuck to the side pointing up. Aggressive surface water agitation should prevent the scum.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 18 2016 at 12:05pm
Thanks Mark.
I was considering a small skimmer that surface skims, Tunze.
Or a small traditional skimmer for the first chamber, or maybe hob.
But I'm still thinking.
I have auto top off by float valve with ro/di water in the pump chamber.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 18 2016 at 1:44pm


Edited by MadReefer - September 18 2016 at 1:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 19 2016 at 12:46pm
Never mind what I was going to suggest. Auto top-off changed my mind. Thanks for the pic. Being able to actually see what we're talking about makes all the difference. My opinion is that this system is progressing along nicely. It takes time for the system to mature. The brownish colored algae growing on the sand is evidence that the tank is maturing. Certainly, some Macroalgae in the display would speed up the maturation. I've seen brown algae(Diatoms and Cyanobacteria) last only 2 days when I've used a ball of Chaeto in the display, but it's not for everyone. Wink

Again, algae is supposed to grow in the Refugium. Sometimes a Refugium can look pretty ugly because of algae growth. The surface algae scum is just a side effect of the new tank growing opportunistic algae where light is good and strong. It's perfectly normal. I'd swish it around to make it break up and float away, but not worry about it too much. As the tank biofiltration matures there will be less and less of the algae scum and less brown algae. It's all a process with intermediate steps that, unfortunately, don't always look so attractive. 

Diatoms and Cyanobacteria are said to be some of the oldest algae on earth. I believe there was a whole lot more of it growing all over, when the earth was very young. Smile

BTW, introducing Pocillipora, an SPS coral, as the first (actually second) coral in the system is a bit risky. Keep your fingers crossed that it makes it. I would suggest adding some hardier coral but no more fish for now. 

Oh, and keeping the Refugium light ON 24/7 for a month or so will help speed up the maturation. Thumbs Up

Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 19 2016 at 8:03pm
Thanks, Mark. The numbers I'm reading from tests look good, so I'm not really worried. Maybe just a little because the macro in the fuge is not growing very fast. So I added 15w of red and blue to the fuge light, although this is not as focused light, it still mostly hits the 29gallon tank. We'll see if that helps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2016 at 12:47pm
pH has dropped a little and the brown algae disappeared. It worries me a little that I'm not seeing any coralline algae yet. Macro algae is not growing much. The water is a little cloudy. I'm seeing a ton copepods all over the system.
pH 7.8-8.0
Nitrate 10-15
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Salinity 1.024

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2016 at 1:35pm
If you have a microscope, check to see what's growing in the water.

What are the Alk and Ca levels?

Unless something is kicking up dust from the sand, this could be one of two things. Either a single cell algae bloom due to the pollution level from feeding and over-lighting OR it could be a bacterial bloom. The pH drop would typically indicate a bacterial bloom since the bacteria in the water use O2 and give off CO2. 

I would do the following:
1. discontinue feeding for 5 days and feed half as much thereafter.
2. leave the Refugium light on 24/7 until this clears.
3. be sure the AC is fresh and a double amount is used. 
4. make sure the surface water is being aggressively agitated/moved as it should

The cloudiness should clear within a few days. If it doesn't, let us know. Adding bacteria in a bottle helps and temporary use of a UV Sterilizer can clear it up in a day or so.

Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2016 at 2:28pm
It takes me about 5 days to feed one cube of mysis, well drained, and in that time I feed a few pinches of flake food. It seems like a small amount of food.
I'm working on getting more test kits. I'll let you know the values you asked for when I get them.
I wish I had a microscope.
The pocillopora seems to have polyp extension still, but not as much as a week ago.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MadReefer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2016 at 7:20pm
I'm not worried about the cloudy water. And I'm guessing the macro isn't growing because phosphate is low. The lack of coralline color bugs me. Maybe I shouldn't have bought discounted live rock. Or I really need to test cal and alk and dose more.
Edit: Maybe I just need patience. I checked my logs and this system was setup one and a half months ago with sand and a few tiny pieces of live rock. Then I had to wait two weeks for live rock (hind sight, I should have added a larger ammonia source at this point). After adding live rock, ammonia went to zero within a couple days but nitrites took longer. The system has only been semistable for two weeks and I know it will take six months to a year to fully stabilize.

Edited by MadReefer - September 26 2016 at 9:02am
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