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Cycling does not mean turning your tank into a toxic zone...

Posted 09/12/2014 at 12:22 PM by Sk8r

I've read an increasing fervor for dumping various things into a new tank to cycle it, many with the implication it does it faster---and some involving a lot of extra expense.

Cycling is a simple natural process of letting bacteria multiply and penetrate more than just the outer skin of your rock and sand. And bacteria multiply quite nicely without your doing more than setting up with one live rock amid conditioned (saltwater soaked) plain rock. I've even done it with no more than...
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Choosing and maintaining sand

Posted 05/20/2014 at 10:50 PM by Sk8r

Sand: buying it, keeping it.
Avoid silicate sand. Go for aragonite, which is basically calcium carbonate and safe.
Fine or medium? I can only tell you personally, with an sps reef, in a re-set-up, I tried fine, and spent the next 2 years removing it, after it killed corals. I'm definitely on the medium side. The fine sand, though amply bacteria'ed, would not settle, blew like mad, irritated corals, and was a mess. The medium sand has enough 'shape' to it to enable jawfish to build...
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Do I need a filter...FYI.

Posted 05/15/2014 at 12:52 AM by Sk8r

Yes and no. Depends.
A fish-only may benefit from a filter in the system, but!
Here's a list of useful facts to consider.
1. ONLY live rock and sand can break somewhat-harmful nitrate all the way down to harmless nitrogen gas. Bioballs can't and a filter can't. They take waste down as far as nitrate and stall there. Nitrate builds up and up until there's a cleaning-out of same.
2. Fish can tolerate higher nitrate than corals can. They'd probably rather not tolerate it,...
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Alk: the most important test you run...

Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:35 PM by Sk8r

Run it. Now. To see where you are.
If ever things are going squirrel-ey---test your alk.

...Then test it weekly, during your first half year. Bi-weekly thereafter. This is for fish-onlies AND for reefs both softie and stony. For all tanks. Alkalinity is THE most important test for a reef, once you pass your cycling hurdle. And for a fish-only, alk controls so very much regarding fish health, just consider it an absolute essential. If it's right, you've got a major part of fish-care...
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Coming from the freshwater world to a marine tank: the differences

Posted 03/15/2014 at 01:12 PM by Sk8r

Freshwater hobby to Saltwater hobby: the differences.
1. salt, obviously. The salinity level of a tank should not bounce around. Use of an ATO (autotopoff) is recommended.

2. ph becomes a fairly useless reading: track alkalinity instead. PH rises and falls during any single day. Alk is tightly locked to the calcium and magnesium in your tank. If one depletes, readings will start to fall. Keep the mg around 1200-1300, keep the calcium about 420, and the alk around 8.3-9.3 and...
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