View Full Version : Is it time to add fish?

09/14/2017, 02:49 PM
Hello Reef Central people, this is my first post.

I have been in the saltwater aquarium hobby for about 7 years, but I have been just leaving my tank alone and not messing with it for the past couple of years (have still been maintaining it, just not upgrading it). Well I have recently picked up a 72gallon bowfront with a 13 gallon dump. I set the tank up with live rock from a 5 year established system and live sand too. I used new saltwater on everything and then added a dead fire fish in order to begin the cycling. I've also added a few cubes of PE mysis to help the cycle along. The tank has been up for almost 2 weeks and I've seen the ammonia spike, then go to 0. Then I watched the nitrite spike, and then go back to 0. The nitrates have recently spiked to about 25 and I'm now having diatoms beginning to grow. The phosphate in the tank was measured at 2.00 2 days ago, which I'm unsure why it's so high. I have a carbon and GFO reactor that will be put in the system tomorrow as well as a new Skimz skimmer as I ripped the old when off because it was awefully undersized.

Should I go ahead and leave it alone, do a large, or go ahead and add a couple of chromis? Is there anything that you all would recommend for me to do about the diatoms as well or should I just leave them alone? I could also go ahead and add some clean up crew members if you all think that is a smart idea to do, and if so what would you recommend?

09/14/2017, 03:32 PM
Welcome to a new tank..

By "live rock" did you mean its been in an established system and is still wet and you took it right out of that water and put it into yours? Or did you mean it was once live rock and it was all dried up when you put it into the new tank( aka not live rock).

"Live" only refers to the fact that the rock is populated/colonized by bacteria..

When starting with (true) Live rock/live sand you should have little to no cycle and there is no reason to put anything in to "start" the cycle as the cycle already occurred when that rock was initially cycled to start with..

So having said that and seeing your phosphate results you should really do a nice large water change to help with those phosphates and drop the nitrates some..
With phosphates that high (and slightly elevated nitrates) you WILL have an excessive algae issue..

Even though diatoms and green film/hair algae is very common in a new tank yours could be worse and won't get better until you fix those elevated nutrients as they are just fueling the bad algae..
The GFO reactor will certainly be a good idea for you too so get that going now too..
Its likely that the phosphate is all bound up in your live rock from neglect (overfeeding,etc..) there and can take a while to leach out/get pulled out..
After that GFO has been running for a few days I'd check phosphates again and see how thats going..
I personally would want to get them down lower before stocking the tank as you will likely overfeed there again and just make it worse :p

Keep the lights off too..

You can certainly get your "Clean up crew" now too to get them working on the diatoms (which usually just pass on their own as any remaining silicates are consumed by them) and any algae that pops up..

Your tank is cycled though and you can start to slowly stock whenever you want at this point..
Just get those phosphates taken care of as that will be a problem being that high..

09/16/2017, 07:31 AM

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I let my tank "go" for a long time also, and then spent the last 2 years reviving it. Accumulated phosphates have been difficult to deal with... for a while the phosphates would rebound to 6ppm every time the GFO was exhausted (which didn't take long). As I removed the phosphate from the water, more would leach from the sand and rocks. I think that's a common problem when using rocks from old tanks.

Long story short, it is possible to get control, but it's not a quick process. A combination of GFO and growing/harvesting mass quantities of Chaetomorpha has finally done the trick for me, but I still have quite a bit of hair algae growing on the old rocks. It took about two years to get the phosphate consistently down to 0.1ppm in the water.

If you are looking for a shortcut, the easy answer is to replace the old rocks.

As for adding fish... the nutrient levels you report are not toxic to fish. My fish survived much higher levels of phosphate and nitrate for several years, as did my flower anemones and a variety of other critters. However, having fish (or anything you feed) in the tank will slow down the process of removing the accumulated phosphates.

09/17/2017, 07:12 PM
I bought the rocks from a person whose friend used them in their tank for about 5 years. He then had then sitting in saltwater with a pump for about 5 months. There are still a couple of sponges on a few of the rocks so they were at least kept in somewhat good condition during that time. I then also added 40 pounds of BRS Reef Saver after using phosphate remover and tested to stay at 0.00 phosphate.

The day after I posted the original thread I checked the phosphate and they had risen to 2.50+ (the limit for the low range Hanna Checker). After adding GFO they went to .52 and after a water change .42. I replaced the GFO even though it was only a few days old suspecting that the reduction of 2+ ppm phosphate caused the media to have exhausted the media.

I installed a Skimz SK181 skimmer to this setup which will be overkill for the setup as it's rated for 55-198 gallons and the tank is 85 if you include the sump.

I went ahead and added a pair of Black and White clownfish today and everything seems to be going good with them so far.

I have also added a 2 bulb t5 fixture in addition to the previous Current Orbit Marine Pro LED fixture. Hopefully this will provide sufficient light for some LPS and maybe a couple of SPS near the top of the tank as that is my goal.

I have attached a photo of what the tank looked like today without the clownfish in it.

09/18/2017, 06:43 AM
Looks like a nice setup!

Sounds like the GFO is working. If you keep refreshing it when you see the levels rise you should eventually leach out the accumulated phosphates. Beware that these rocks will be particularly attractive to algae.

09/18/2017, 07:01 AM
Keep running (and changing) that GFO until you get that phosphate out of that old rock or you will be cursed with real bad algae issues..
In fact I'd keep those lights off too (or just run the LED on very low) until you do to avoid fueling the algae with light too..