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Unread 04/18/2011, 02:53 PM   #1
starshrike
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I inherited a marine tank, but I am new to the hobby!

WARNING, LONG POST!

I am now the proud owner of a 60 gal marine tank. A friend was temporarily relocating out of the country for his job, and I somehow ended up with the tank + all its inhabitants and equipment, but no real manual ... not sure what I was thinking, it may have been the cold

I have only had freshwater tanks before, and I have been successful with them.

What I know about this tank:
60 gal acrylic tank
40 gal (not full) DSB sump with oversized protein skimmer, heater, carbon
Full spectrum lighting on timer (~8 hrs), LED's 24/7.

Was established for a number of years before the 1 day move last week. We were able to salvage most of the water (I added about 15 new gal to the sump)

Inhabitants:
Inverts - std hermits and snails
(1) Sea Urchin (1.5" diameter)
(1) Coral Banded Shrimp
(2) True Perculas, 1M/1F
(1) Mandarin Goby
(1) Wrasse - I forgot the exact type.. I wrote that down somewhere
(1) Blenny - same as above
(2) Clams... they don't really move much, not sure to classify as coral or not

The corals are where I am lost at.. there are about 15? varieties. I am ordering the "Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History" to hopefully help me with caring for them! I think one of them might be a Dendro, so I realize caring for that particular one may be a challenge.

Currently target feeding fish every other day with Hikari Frozen Mysis dissolved in water, and some to the soft corals that eat it (about 2x a week). I feed the corals PhytoFeast every other day, but not sure if I should increase to daily.

Live rock and sand also in the tank, though I assume that is generally a given with the other items...

Considering getting one of these books, as they are highly recommended. I want to only buy what I can use in the LONG TERM.
The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists
or
The New Marine Aquarium: Step-By-Step Setup & Stocking Guide

Pictures to come when I have a chance, but recommendations welcome in the meantime. Please no "you should haves" as that has never been historically constructive. I realize I won't be able to get much help with IDing until I get pictures.

As the tank has only been in its new home for a week, what should I be doing? (water changes, monitoring certain items, etc?) No noticable coral dying, other than those that were damaged during the move. Protein skimmer build-up is back to the normal level after the 1st day.

Thanks in advance!


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Unread 04/18/2011, 04:24 PM   #2
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Sounds like a pretty nice setup. Right now I'd recommend keeping a close eye on ammonia, nitrate, Alkalinity and Calcium. Manage ammonia and nitrate with water changes and manage Alkalinity and Calcium with a 2 part Cal-Alk supplement. Once things have settled in and you aren't having bizarre issues with fish dying or corals decalcifying, you can usually stop testing for ammonia.

An RO/DI filter would be a good investment right now. Pure source water for topoffs and water changes is an extremely important aspect of maintaining the tank. Weekly 10% water changes are a good habit to get into.

The coral books you mentioned are good and the CMA is a good, simplified overview of system setup and maintenance with some info on the care of some of the more common types of fish, but I would highly recommend the Reef Aquarium Vol. 3 by Delbeek and Sprung as the best reef tank set up and maintenance reference book. It gets a lot more into the science of water chemistry, plumbing, lighting and tank design but is still "readable" by the layman.


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Unread 04/18/2011, 07:57 PM   #3
starshrike
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seapug, thanks for the input. Engineer here so technical books are OK

I ended up taking my friends RO unit as well.... un-installing it from their place was a much easier task than for me to install it in mine. Will be visiting the LFS for water as needed until I get it set up

Test results from today, using test at home kits and assuming they are remotely accurate:
Salinity - 1.029, will add fresh RO H2O
pH - between 8-8.1
Ca - 240 mg/L (low, will be supplementing with Reef Advantage Calcium)
Ammonia - between 0-0.25 ppm
Nitrate - 0 ppm
KH - 143.2 ppm (on the low side, will supplement with the Reef Carbonate + Calcium + Magnesium)


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Unread 04/18/2011, 08:13 PM   #4
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First of all, welcome. I'm sure you realize that your SG is way too high. If you have corals you want it around 1.025 - 1.026. If you used mostly recycled salt water from the move I'm curious whether you're topping off with fresh water or salt water. Always top off with fresh (and sorry if you already know this stuff... one never knows).

The thing to do at this point is read all you can. There are tons of Marine forums out there and most all have sections / stickies that provide the basics of setting up a tank. Here's a site that has exceptionally good write ups for beginners.

http://www.marineaquariumsa.com/showthread.php?t=3


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Unread 04/18/2011, 11:29 PM   #5
starshrike
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Thanks I have been trying to read through the forums to answer most my basic questions as I am sure there have been others in my position.

I am topping off with fresh, but the initial make-up water that was lost during transportation was saltwater. Water changes water would depend on SG, and I have a refractometer as well as the floating gauges. I am lucky I have two LFS within 10 miles of me, but buying water still is a pain. If only the RO system could install itself


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Unread 04/19/2011, 07:24 AM   #6
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Sounds like you are doing pretty good all things considered. Bring that SG down slowly. Don't take it right down to 1.025-6 all at once. The ammonia is something you need to keep a close eye on and you should be prepared to do water changes by having mixed water ready to go. Sounds like the tank was established which is good as it should overcome the cycle fairly quick but the spikes can do some damage.

I would not be feeding corals at this point. Unless you have non-photosysnthetic corals, they do not require frequent feedings and feeding something like phyto to a tank that was just moved is only going to make ammonia control harder to accomplish.

If you can snap a pic or two of the tank and corals we can help you ID what you have and hopefully put your mind at ease a bit.

Again, I would be focusing on ammonia, nitrite and nitrate right now and being prepared to combat them via water changes. I would also be running a good carbon and skimming wet.

The only other thing you mentioned that concerns me is the deep sand bed. If that sump was moved in a way that the DSB got disturbed or stirred up I might consider removing it all together. I have never run a DSB myself so hopefully others will chime in but I do know stirring one up can cause some pretty significant issues with water quality.


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Current Tank Info: Tank: 40 breeder; 20H sump w/SWC 120; Sicce 3.0 return; Vortech MP-10; Sundial T5, DIY Actinic LED (3W Cree). Livestock: Pair of Black & Whites; Midas Blenny; Firefish; Yasha/pistol; Black Leopard Wrasse; LPS and SPS
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Unread 04/19/2011, 07:37 AM   #7
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The RO unit you have will probably hook up to a garden hose, or your sink with a $3 adapter at the big box hardware store... might save you a little time from carrying buckets back and forth to do other things... until you do a more permanent hook up (If you do, i still run mine in the bathroom sink, with the container in the shower...)


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Unread 04/19/2011, 10:43 AM   #8
starshrike
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Source of RO isn't a high concern, at the moment. I am willing to pay for water now, just rather have a good feel for the tank first. I am adding freshwater daily, and during the partial water changes (~10%) will incorporate an addition of freshwater/less mixed saltwater.

I have been checking salinity daily, and it is closer to 1.028 now. The 1.029 reading was before adding freshwater. Carbon is in the sump and skimmer is on 24/7.

The non-photosynthetic coral that I am aware of is what I believe to be a dendro, which I target fed 1x so far (frozen mysis). Otherwise it'll get fish leftovers (and the fish are pigs, so not sure how much of that will exist). Will hold off on the PhytoFeast and concentrate on re-establishing calcium levels, and monitoring ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite for the remainder of the week.

There was an algae issue before the tank was moved, likely because not enough water changes were done. Mostly GHA I believe, which the blenny has been feasting on. Is there anything else that I can do to minimize/remove the algae that is not very invasive at this point? I am already planning more frequent small water changes.

The DSB was significantly disturbed (ie. we scooped them into buckets). They were lightly risnsed before it was re-set up... My friend set it up as well, so I assumed it was OK - but as I mentioned, all of this is completely new to me.

As mentioned in http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2008601 I am mostly concerned about a clam at the moment. Not sure if the DSB issue has to do with it, or that it can be a natural behavior of the clams (mostly closing for a day).


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Unread 04/19/2011, 11:10 AM   #9
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I would be concerned with the significant distrubance of the DSB if the DSB was established for any length of time prior to the move. Again, I have never maintained a DSB myself but knowing that they house anerobic bacteria you likely had a significant die off when the sand bed was churned. If you cleaned the sand thoroughly then it might not be as big of a concern but a light rinse likely just killed more bacteria.

Clams need good water so I would suspect this might be part of the problem aside from the effects of a typical tank move.

Do some research specific to DSBs (lots of threads on here) and make the call. From what I know I would be inclined to remove it completely at this point.

I would not really be trying to tweak calcium or anything in your tank at this point. Its only been a week and it needs to settle down. Water changes and ensuring nutrient levels don;t get out of control should be your main concern.

Hopefully someone else will chime in with more experience with DSBs.

I assume the sand in the display was also scooped and moved?


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Current Tank Info: Tank: 40 breeder; 20H sump w/SWC 120; Sicce 3.0 return; Vortech MP-10; Sundial T5, DIY Actinic LED (3W Cree). Livestock: Pair of Black & Whites; Midas Blenny; Firefish; Yasha/pistol; Black Leopard Wrasse; LPS and SPS
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Unread 04/19/2011, 08:16 PM   #10
starshrike
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Sand in the display was also scooped and moved.

Today: 10% water change (substituted additional RO for 1 gal of saltwater) to bring salinity down slowly - refractometer is still at 1.028

Removed the clam, likely dead (see other thread for pictures and more info...)

Pictures attached:
1) Entire tank, 2 days ago (you can see both clams were happy) R clam was the issue yesterday. R side of the tank has the impeller as well - but you can't see it in the picture.
2) Frag rack, possibly a dendro? Please help ID.
3) Please help ID me, I eat Mysis
4) The left is an anenome? The perculas host it. The Right item I need an ID please
5) A live rock that I think has Zoas on it (glows with night LEDs on) and obviously has a major algae issue... the lawnmower blenny can't keep up

Just trying to figure out how to appropriately place and care for everything.. I hope not to lose as much as possible


Attached Images
File Type: jpg 041711EntireTank.jpg (41.3 KB, 58 views)
File Type: jpg 041711UnkDendroPossibly.JPG (61.7 KB, 53 views)
File Type: jpg 041711UnkLside.JPG (49.9 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg 041911UnknownsRside.JPG (61.5 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg 041911LawnmowerBlennyandAlgaewithZoas.JPG (53.3 KB, 48 views)
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Unread 04/19/2011, 08:38 PM   #11
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I have to agree with greech with regard to removing the DSB. Also you have a LOT of sand in the DT, which could by itself be almost a DSB.

Your unknown on the right side jpeg attachment shows a frog spawn and what looks to be a brain coral. unkLside.jpeg looks like an Acan and looks to be pretty happy. You will most likely experience a cycle in this tank because everything was disturbed. It might not be too bad since LR is cycled so, depending on how it was transported and how long it took to set up, you shouldn't have significant die off on that.

If it were me, I'd remove most of the sand on the bottom of the DT (nearly bare bottom except leave a deep area for the wrasse) and I'd ditch the DSB. You probably will have more die off from those sources than anything. Do regular WCs and watch your parameters and wait 4-8 weeks for things to stabilize. If you see algae increasing, drop the lights back a half hour and see if that doesn't help.

What do you have in terms of a Clean Up Crew (CUC)? Sally Lightfoot crabs will eat algae, hermits will too. For a 60 g I'd put two Sallys in.

Other than that looks like you got some sweet corals. They may suffer a little until you get through the cycle but be patient and things should stabilize before long. I saw you mentioned you're working on the Calcium and Alk... that's good. You might consider getting a iodine test and dose to 0.06. Be careful not to overdose ... don't add anything that you don't test for.


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Unread 04/19/2011, 08:42 PM   #12
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Wow you tank is packed with sps corals! those corals ARE FOR ADVANCED AQUARIEST OLNY be very careful they will die from just about any slight change in water. You really need to get reading fast you just bought a tank that take years of learning to maintain. those sps coral die from just looking at wrong...lol


not to scare you but that is some serious stuff.


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Unread 04/19/2011, 09:49 PM   #13
starshrike
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karsseboom: the original owner of the tank (my friend) has had marine tanks for years, and this is what was left before his abrupt move. He had no time to sell/part, and I was willing to take the whole thing (and frag corals back when he returns). Looking back, not the smartest move I've made. I ordered the Corals book by Borneman, and am reading up at RC to hopefully keep the rest of the corals and critters alive. Trying to ensure that I do no sudden changes though either, as that probably would shock them as well.

sjwitt: The whole tank picture is somewhat misleading to the amount of sand in the DT. Most of it ended up drifting to the front. The back has very little. I greatly appreciate the help with IDing - hopefully it will make me a better parent to them! Not sure if the unk coral on the R is brain coral. I looked it up and it doesn't look like it. The one in the tank also has some short tentacles/arms along the inside ring.

Live rock was transported in buckets with water still. The entire take down and setting up process was about 10 hours. 20 minute drive away that took 3 SUV trips.

CuC: Hermit crabs ~ 20, maybe half a dozen turbo? snail

I will see how I can remove the DSB and most of the DT sand safely in one go.... that will be a major challenge. Not sure on best techniques - can anybody point to link(s)? A major operation like that will take me hours by myself, which I cannot afford to do until at least the weekend. Other than this recently acquired tank, I have a number of other critters that require daily care as well (dog, chinchillas, quail). I rather delay a few days and get the process right than try to remove part by part, potentially exposing worse layers of the sand bed.

Looking to the future after a month or two, would it be beneficial to re-build a sand bed? and with new or rinsed sand?



Last edited by starshrike; 04/19/2011 at 09:59 PM. Reason: coral ID question
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Unread 04/19/2011, 11:04 PM   #14
karsseboom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starshrike View Post
karsseboom: the original owner of the tank (my friend) has had marine tanks for years, and this is what was left before his abrupt move. He had no time to sell/part, and I was willing to take the whole thing (and frag corals back when he returns). Looking back, not the smartest move I've made. I ordered the Corals book by Borneman, and am reading up at RC to hopefully keep the rest of the corals and critters alive. Trying to ensure that I do no sudden changes though either, as that probably would shock them as well.

sjwitt: The whole tank picture is somewhat misleading to the amount of sand in the DT. Most of it ended up drifting to the front. The back has very little. I greatly appreciate the help with IDing - hopefully it will make me a better parent to them! Not sure if the unk coral on the R is brain coral. I looked it up and it doesn't look like it. The one in the tank also has some short tentacles/arms along the inside ring.

Live rock was transported in buckets with water still. The entire take down and setting up process was about 10 hours. 20 minute drive away that took 3 SUV trips.

CuC: Hermit crabs ~ 20, maybe half a dozen turbo? snail

I will see how I can remove the DSB and most of the DT sand safely in one go.... that will be a major challenge. Not sure on best techniques - can anybody point to link(s)? A major operation like that will take me hours by myself, which I cannot afford to do until at least the weekend. Other than this recently acquired tank, I have a number of other critters that require daily care as well (dog, chinchillas, quail). I rather delay a few days and get the process right than try to remove part by part, potentially exposing worse layers of the sand bed.

Looking to the future after a month or two, would it be beneficial to re-build a sand bed? and with new or rinsed sand?
ok, first the alk needs to be 8-11 kh the cal needs to be around 420 and the sg needs to be at 1.026. Now if any of the sg or alk swings just one tiny bit through out the week they could/will die. When you change your sg your gonna want to bring it downover the course of a week not a few days. If your alk changes everyday your sps will die. dont over feed keep a very close eye on alk and sg until you figure out what it looses through out the week. I have sps in my tank and if i get caught slippin just a few days and somtimes one, the sps will turn brown or bleach. There is a massive amount of info to learn about keeping sps corals and it hard to read a book in a week and be okay.


what are you dosing? dont put anything in the tank if you dont have a test kit for it please!

Your gonna need to figure out a way to keep thing very very stable like kalkwasser or 2 part.

i dont mean to sound like a dick but this is one crazy job you have on your hands...lol good luck and if you have any questions pm and ill walk you through stuff.


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Unread 04/20/2011, 08:20 AM   #15
starshrike
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karsseboom: I can take some heat, I realize this was a crazy endeavor that I am jumping headfirst in.

Will be doing partial water changes daily until SG and other parameters are acceptable.

Primarily feeding fish at the moment every other day (frozen mysis), holding off on PhytoFeast for now. The acro? and dendro? also eat mysis, but I told to target feed 1-2x week only and the rest of the time they'll go for fish leftovers.

I did remove the clam that looked questionable, but not 100% if it was dead or not... currently in a bucket of water from tank...

Some of the SPS were already browning/bleaching before the tank was moved. My friend indicated he had been slipping on maintenance for the past few months due to constant work travel before the sudden move.

Dosing is put in the ATO tank dissolved in freshwater and pumped into the tank, so the rate is slow so hopefully will not shock.

Test results from last night, using test at home kits:
Salinity - 1.028, will add fresh RO H2O
Ammonia - between 0-0.25 ppm (not good)
Nitrate - 0-5 ppm (not good)
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Phosphate - 0.03 mg/L

From Monday:
pH - between 8-8.1
Ca - 240 mg/L (low, will be supplementing with Reef Advantage Calcium)
KH - 143.2 ppm or 8 (on the low side, will supplement with the Reef Carbonate + Calcium + Magnesium)


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Unread 04/20/2011, 09:33 AM   #16
greech
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Glad you got some pics up. Very nice looking tank!

1st thing I want to add now (or reiterate), is your tank is going to have some ups or downs simply because of the move. The sandbeds and their removal is still debateable IMO but since (again) I have never maintained a DSB I just don't want to tell you to make any rash decisions. Please keep in mind that these beds ARE/HAVE BEEN part of the filtration of this system for a while and if you all the sudden remove them it COULD do more harm then leaving them in place even in their disturbed state. From what I know, I think I would remove the DSB in the sump completely by scooping/siphoning (turn of return pump when you do this ). The bed in the tank I would shoot for about 2" across the tank so I would siphon out the top layer until I achieved that depth. Both removals can be done in conjunction with a water change as you will remove water in the process.

Secondly, I want to address the calcium, alk, mg levels. Yes, they are obvioulsy important but if your calcium number of 280 for example is correct, it has likely been that way for a while and doubtful that will be the undoing of your corals on an immediate basis. Adding to that you are going to be doing water changes frequently and likely in larger quantity than you will need to once the tank is stable and by doing so it will be difficult to gauge what dosing the tank needs as your salt mix is going to add those elements back to the tank too. I know I sound like a broken record but I would really be focusing on nurtient control at this point and lots of testing of both nutrients and elements the later of which you can use to gauge your dosing needs. Overdosing, while not as bad as letting levels slip to critical levels, can still do some damage. If anything you should be verifying your Mg levels as calcium and alkalinity aren't going to move much if Mg is below 1280ppm.

The coral circle as "dendro?" looks like a sun coral and does require feedings as they are NPS. Unknown to the right is a frogspawn and does not require feeding (LPS) and the one on the left is an acan which is also an LPS and does not require feeding. Not to say corals don't like to be fed but they don't need it. You will want to eventually mount some of those acros you have on the sand up higher on the rocks so they get better flow and light.

One thing you will read a lot is that nothing good happens fast in this hobby. While that statement is mostly meant for people just starting out and wanting to load their tanks full of life before the tank (or they) are ready, it also applies to the knee jerk reactions we all tend to make which most of the time we end up kicking ouselves for because we didn't think things through.


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Current Tank Info: Tank: 40 breeder; 20H sump w/SWC 120; Sicce 3.0 return; Vortech MP-10; Sundial T5, DIY Actinic LED (3W Cree). Livestock: Pair of Black & Whites; Midas Blenny; Firefish; Yasha/pistol; Black Leopard Wrasse; LPS and SPS
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Unread 04/20/2011, 09:35 AM   #17
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Nice tank..enjoy


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Unread 04/20/2011, 10:04 AM   #18
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Good luck with the new tank. I have recently acquired a 75 gallon with a really nice setup after a friends mom had passed away. Her dad was crashing the tank so I had/have a lot of work in front of me. This forum is a great place to learn a lot and you will find a lot of people that are eager to share what they have learned. Don't let it overwhelm you or think it will be like this forever. After the initial work and learning salt water aquariums get to be fairly easy to maintain. I do about 45 minutes of work a week and do a 15% water change on my system. Everything is growing and happy in my tank. So remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be careful not to do too many water changes or it will cycle your tank. A lot of times under reacting to a problem is better than over reacting. Being consistent is key. Another great way to get help is go to a nice reef shop and take a water sample. Just talk to the employees. Most all reef shops I have been into are extremely helpful. The little mom and pop kinda places have really been a big help to me.


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Unread 04/20/2011, 10:08 AM   #19
starshrike
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greech: thanks for the ID. I figured it was a NPS as it tended to retract when the lights were on so I researched dendros/duncans/sun corals a bit. Last night I moved it onto the rock where there is less light. I am trying not to move things much, but I do not think it was too happy on the frag rack.

Will be researching a lot on DSB pro/cons of removal, moving etc before I take any action.

Will all LFS or Petco/Petsmart/Pet Club carry the Mg test? I have all the other tests except for that one currently... API (pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia, KH), Salifert (Phosphate), Nutrafin (Calcium), and a refactometer. These were provided already, so I have not bought any.

Dosing was following the guidelines on the bottle for "beginner" of the Reef Advantage line. Once I have things stablized I should be able to adjust as needed.

Only things that are wrong happen fast, and when they do they are bad


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Unread 04/20/2011, 11:15 AM   #20
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Don't have pet clubs around here but petsmart and petco likely will not have Mg tests. Would look to more small local fish stores or online. Have a Red Sea Pro kit which I like a lot. About $27.50.


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Current Tank Info: Tank: 40 breeder; 20H sump w/SWC 120; Sicce 3.0 return; Vortech MP-10; Sundial T5, DIY Actinic LED (3W Cree). Livestock: Pair of Black & Whites; Midas Blenny; Firefish; Yasha/pistol; Black Leopard Wrasse; LPS and SPS
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Unread 04/20/2011, 12:17 PM   #21
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i dont know if anyone mentioned the mandrin but they are really picky and usually only eat live coepopods...


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