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Hennessy

All rounder Marine tank settings

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Hi Guys,

I know everything is very specific in the marine world, but say I have a few bits of live rock, a common anenome and some common marine fish in a 3-4ft tank. What ppm levels of Nitrate, Phosphate, Calcium, Magnesium and Alkalinity (dKH) should I be aiming for? Please don't ask for more detail, I'm after as generic answers as possible.

I'm guessing Nitrate and Phosphate need to be as close to Zero as possible, but what are there maximum safe readings? And what are the minimum amounts of Ca, Mg and dKH I need to maintain?

Thanx Guys

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ok this spun me out

Here's the reading's I got off my mates tank using the latest Red Sea test kits.....:

Temp: 28.4

PH: 8.0

Salinity: >1.028

dKH: >15

Ca: >500ppm

Mg: >1600ppm

Po: cant recall but also way too high

No3: >4ppm

How is anything still alive in this tank? He lost his anenome - due to any one of the above readings, but a clown fish and 2 humbugs are still kicking. He also has one of those cool little worms that live in coral and poke out with tentacles etc. I found out that they had always used ocean water to fill the tank for changes AND top ups - Im guessing this is what has led to the intense concentration of salts etc? He has a Eheim canister but its way too small, hence the nitrates - told him he needs more water changes and/or a way bigger filter. He cant sump due to the shape of the tank/stand.

For the PH, I'm scared to tell him to add marine buffer because doesn't it contain more trace elements? Also he has no protein skimmer? Anyone recommend a good skimmer that hangs off the side for a 200l tank?

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Your always a great help.....

I've turned the heater down, it should be sitting near 25 degrees now, but Ive told him he will need a chiller come the end of winter. There was some serious Algae which I cleaned off the glass, good to know that may have been due to the high PO2.

I need to raise PH to about 8.3 I think.... I'll use some Marine PH Buffer, but should I wait until enough water changes (with freshwater) have been done to bring all the salt and metal readings down to their ideal levels before doing this?

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(Phosphates)- literally poison beneficial algae’s; especially the symbiotic algae clades with in the corals cells, the toxic and unwanted ones love it though, so a level of near 0 on that if you can, a well designed algae scrubber or phytoplankton reactor will do this nicely, converting to many wanted substances including amino acids and harmless carbons.

(Nitrates )-poison the digestive system of your fish causing an organ melt down over time of the ones such as the blood filtering types and the fish will die as if drug caught, this will also sicken the algae clades with the corals cells and kill feather stars out right,keep it at 0 to 10 if you can.

(Nitrites)-will destabilize the Ph,the electromotive forces between the base and the acid,stressing your fish causing immune system failure and parasitic attacks on your fish, causing death, so 0 should be your aim, that’s an easy one to achieve.

(KH)-carbonate hardness is far more important than Ph-power of hydrogen, a low PH is fine as long as the KH is constant or high, the simplest way is achieved via extensive calcium skeletal remains(live rock, dead coral, shell grit) through out the tank,(never as a substrate) but is essential in Pre filtered external filtration as well.

Try to keep it at the ocean level of 7 or if you like take it a little higher, it will at high levels precipitate calcium out of your water lowering PH to some degree, normally those stalactite looking spiky bits on the non light side of your live rock, are a result of this.

In the popular boutique style systems these days, constant monitoring is a must, unlike the old style filtrations, that were never used properly anyway, they kicked butt in positive out comes without the need for testing.

Good luck with the hobby.

Edited by liquidg
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the simplest way is achieved via extensive calcium skeletal remains(live rock, dead coral, shell grit) through out the tank,(never as a substrate)

why dont you reccomend using it as a substrate?

All my marine tanks... ever.... have used either a marine based sand, shellgrit or coral crush base.... except for a few sumps that used mud.

I'll use some Marine PH Buffer, but should I wait until enough water changes (with freshwater) have been done to bring all the salt and metal readings down to their ideal levels before doing this?

I would start adding the buffer in small amounts now. You dont want to suddenly change it, but you do want to start getting the KH back up. Usually buffer is pretty cheap, especially the large containers of aquasonic stuff, so eventually water changing it out is no great tradgedy lol

The difference between being a beginer and being a pro as far as KH is concerned with marine, is mainly how well you understand the relationship between carbonate/calcium/magnesium. If ya dont nail the proportions well it makes it very hard to get good coral and coraline algae growth. But for just fish KH is the important part.

Edited by DeadFishFloating
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the Kh is already pretty high (15dKh)... Recommended level is about 10-11dKh yeah? That's why I was a bit concerned about adding more buffer. Some of the books I've read hinted about the dependence that carbonate/calcium/magnesium have on each other - but none have elaborated. I should look more into that.

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I love all this talk about saltwater fish, as if they were really hard to keep. I started a 2 footer with water from Cabbage Tree Creek, it was that dirty you couldnt see through it . Put in a couple of power heads the first day. Next day I went out got some live rock threw it in checked Ammonia it was sky high, The next day checked Ammonia, nil, water was crystal clear. Next day went out bought 5 fish put them in. No problems. Went to 3 footer then a six footer, always put in heaps of live rock. Only ever checked Ph, Ammonia and Salinity. My Tomato Clowns and Humbugs were forever breeding, also had Angels damsels, and Anenomes and others. But hey, just keep spending money on them, I'm sure the shops will love you for it.

This is not advice on keeping Saltwater fish, just my experience. You do still have to have a fair amount of knowledge before keeping salties. But it can be done a lot cheaper than most people think.

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To some degree Deagontheo is on the money, the levels i put in are for those that test their water, I haven’t needed to do that for three of my own systems, and many others for friends as such over twenty years now.

Most of the other clubbies do this and my systems with their tests always read right or better.

It is very easy to create a system that needs no water changes, ever, you just need space and money and of course the correct design!

About substrates, give it ten or twenty years of old style biological filter experimentation with the incoming boutique styles tost in and you will hate in tank substrates as I do.

They house and conceal the silicon borer worms that come in your live rock, it is the ultimate dirty dead spot and that’s at their best.

From 6 months to 2 years, if not cleaned well and very regularly to the glass, they continually destabilize your PH,mainly at night and encourage the wrong algae’s.

Externally some kind of substrate, with pre filtering before the water gets to it, now they are fantastic in marine aquarium use, with conditions conducive for nitrate oxidising, they work great,denitrification,it works great, if the rubbish can not permeate it, they work great!

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LiquidG - so you mean like a DSB filter in the sump, along with (but seperate from) some live rock and prefiltering media? I have no experience but a lot of what I have read agrees with this.

I do believe that a lot of it CAN be done without the use of most of the expenses involved in Salt water Theo, however I have seen people be as laxed as you and suffer the consequences. No one was making it sound hard, but just because I may never need to know/test some of these things, doesn't make it not worth learning. I for one am glad these guys are willing to divulge their knowledge, there's only so far books can take me. I am glad you spoke up too though because having heard both sides it helps me develop a middle ground of what I think is needed to achieve what. I mean, your fish may have bred, but perhaps your corals would have grown faster, or looked better if you had taken some more of the precautions.

Anyway Thanx all for your input. I'm getting more and more into the salt side of things and dare say I'll have more questions soon.....

Edited by Hennessy
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To some degree Deagontheo is on the money, the levels i put in are for those that test their water, I haven’t needed to do that for three of my own systems, and many others for friends as such over twenty years now.

Most of the other clubbies do this and my systems with their tests always read right or better.

It is very easy to create a system that needs no water changes, ever, you just need space and money and of course the correct design!

About substrates, give it ten or twenty years of old style biological filter experimentation with the incoming boutique styles tost in and you will hate in tank substrates as I do.

They house and conceal the silicon borer worms that come in your live rock, it is the ultimate dirty dead spot and that’s at their best.

From 6 months to 2 years, if not cleaned well and very regularly to the glass, they continually destabilize your PH,mainly at night and encourage the wrong algae’s.

Externally some kind of substrate, with pre filtering before the water gets to it, now they are fantastic in marine aquarium use, with conditions conducive for nitrate oxidising, they work great,denitrification,it works great, if the rubbish can not permeate it, they work great!

I love all this talk about saltwater fish, as if they were really hard to keep. I started a 2 footer with water from Cabbage Tree Creek, it was that dirty you couldnt see through it . Put in a couple of power heads the first day. Next day I went out got some live rock threw it in checked Ammonia it was sky high, The next day checked Ammonia, nil, water was crystal clear. Next day went out bought 5 fish put them in. No problems. Went to 3 footer then a six footer, always put in heaps of live rock. Only ever checked Ph, Ammonia and Salinity. My Tomato Clowns and Humbugs were forever breeding, also had Angels damsels, and Anenomes and others. But hey, just keep spending money on them, I'm sure the shops will love you for it.

This is not advice on keeping Saltwater fish, just my experience. You do still have to have a fair amount of knowledge before keeping salties. But it can be done a lot cheaper than most people think.

Uh ok.

Look I have been doing the salt thing for a while now.

And I am not talking just damsel tanks.

I have taken a heck of a lot of people on the journey from a fighter fish bowl, all the way through to a full blown reef crest bio-type.

But I have also seen a heck of a lot of people fail, both online and in rl.

And most the people who fail belong in the 'I dont water change' camp or the not willing to get correct equipment one.

Reminds me of when I started in freshwater and people talked about 'ballancing water' and never doing water changes.

Hennessy, if you ever wanted to hit me up at work on a week day, I can give you a walk through on a few systems that are running with many thousands worth of stock in them. The thing is that there is many different methods THAT WORK. It makes it confusing as theres no absolute right way. You can do the redsea disneyland NPK, the miracle mud, the berlin, the brissy dont w/c lol. And often you will do alright.

The best reefers (let alone the best fish keepers) have more data in their skull than goochie equipment in their fish room.

Keep asking questions, and try to understand why an answer would work BEFORE you accept it.

Edited by DeadFishFloating
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Most days that I don't work I have my son, so whilst it may take me a while to find time, I would be stoked to take you up on that offer. Might be the final catalyst I need to go do an Aquaculture course.

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Have you ever seen a woman walk into Harvey Norman and ask for a computer for her 4 year old child, and walk out with $5000 worth of equipment you need to put in the back of a ute. Thats what fish keeping is like, especially saltwater. Like I said, you need to gain some experience, but you dont have to be a rocket scientist. I'll put a link to my saltwater setups, so you'll get some idea. If you look at the first picture you'll see the eggs on the coral.

https://picasaweb.google.com/theobar41/MarineTank?feat=directlink

Edited by DeagonTheo
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I usually try to setup beginners with tanks like yours Deagon, only minus the anemone/duncan/lobo/tubastria. If they can keep a nice community of fish like damsels/clowns/blenny/wrasse/dwarf angel all alive and happy for a few months, THEN I start to encourage them to think about trying to advance the system to be capable of supporting corals longterm. And thats when you need to look seriously at lighting, chillers and phosphate removal. Not everyone is going to be bothered to feed a tubastria coral daily. Or be willing to replace light tubes every 6 months to keep anemone happily photosynthesizing.

Its a nice tank though, a good display. The left corner is what interests me the most. That red macroalgae is going off! Very well done. Any sign of the anemone getting any colour back?

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As good as that tank looks (stoked to hear you could achieve that on a "budget" system), if your anemone had no colour, then doesn't that mean your water lacked the required elements to support the Zooxanthellae symbiosis? Having said that, everything else looks pretty wrapped to be in there.

Basically what I'm taking away from all this, is that a tank CAN (with some luck involved) look and grow to maybe 80% of its potential without a lot of the expensive extra's. I too will probably see how far I can take this, but in the meantime its damn good to know what causes most problems and how to fix one, should it occur.

Really appreciate your time guys.

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if your anemone had no colour, then doesn't that mean your water lacked the required elements to support the Zooxanthellae symbiosis?

If that was the case, all the corals would be bleached as well. He did mention he bought it bleached, and they are not easy to get the zooxanthellae back into!

One of the most common causes of anemone bleaching I see in Brisbane is a temperature spike on a hot day when chillers struggle. This is true of corals too.

Your other big problem with getting corals to hold their colours is insufficient lighting and excess phosphate.

The same problem can have many different causes AND many different solutions.

Keeping a bleached anemone and a tubastrea coral alive requires an understanding of coral nutrition. Its not all about lighting (carbs) and carbonate/calcium/magnesium suppliments (bones). You also need actual food (protein), this need is lessened a bit with the amount of 'marine snow' (fish poo & bacteria biofilms) floating around lol. But ya, if a coral cant photosynthesize you can increase its other food alternatives to keep it going, hopefully long enough for it to regain its internal algaes.

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Like deadfish said, it was bleached when I bought it. It was pretty lively though as you can see in the photos. Yep, what you can take from this is that you dont need to spend mega bucks. I just used all my fresh water gear and a couple of extras. Just like freshwater, just start of with the basics and hardy fish, keep learning as you go along. Then add as you gain confidence and knowledge. People have started with many thousands of dollars of equipment and had huge failures, and sold the remains for a fraction of the original cost.

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If your dkH is at 15, dont add buffer. A pH of 8.0 (with a dkH of 15) isn't really something i would worry about. Some people may disagree but honestly, as long as you are doing regular water changes, all your other levels are WNL (within normal limits) and everything in the tank is happy, its not worth the headache.

I don't even test pH regularly anymore, only when I am doing a full test of everything.

Talking about budget, here a story of how I got into it all...

Checking eBay I found a 220L 4ft full marine setup for sale (650 chiller, protein skimmer, 4x T5 lights, hood, stand, canister filter, uv sterilizer) for $250 starting bid. Problem being, she was trying to sell livestock with the setup as well. I arranged an inspection and a day later she rang me stating that I could have it as eBay pulled her listing due to livestock. So in total i ended up paying $350 for everything listed above plus 60kg LR, 2x black occys, 2x damsels, 1x scat, 1x wrasse (didnt survive the transport, 2x blenny, 1 x RBT anenome (bleached azz :P).

Now obviously the canister filter didnt do me any favours and I started looking at sumps. Now due to the dimensions of my stand I couldnt just buy any old sump, I needed one custom made... $230 was the cheapest quote I got. Decided I'd upgrade to a setup with the sump.

Back onto eBay I jumped... After a few days searching I found my current setup (480L DT drilled, bulkheads, sump, stand and 4ft MH/T5 lights). Purchased for $270- BARGAIN :D After transferring everything over I sold my old tank,stand,hood and T5's for $170 and the canister for $80. Also sold my uv sterilizer for $30.

So in total my current setup only cost me:

$350 (original setup)

+ $270 (new setup)

=$620

- $170 (tank, stand, hood, lights)

- $80 (canister filter)

- $30 (uv sterilizer)

Total=$340 for my current setup :)

Obviously more $$$ has been put into it (livestock etc), but point being that marine can be done cheaply if you are patient, check websites often and are willing to jump on a bargain when you see one (after an inspection of course).

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Yep, and even the live stock isnt so bad, IF you research between purchases AND limit yourself to one or two suitable buys per week.

Nothing good happens fast with a reef.

Its all about patience and research.

Altho I must admit I would never have been able to create the magic I have without the help of many other people.

So let me make that, patience/research/and advice from people who know what they are talking about AND want to see you succeed!

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