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View Full Version : Purchased 120g established tank. Questions about Coral/Live Rock/other


zomb
09/14/2017, 11:47 PM
Purchased an established tank from someone who was moving and getting away from the hobby. It is a 120g 48inx24inx24in.

The questions I have are:

1) I would like to get into having corals at some point, no rush, but wanted advice on how to get into that to do it right with the current tank setup.

2) I have live rock that I used from a tank I had years ago, it had sent sat in storage for years. I'm in the process of curing it. I have it in a 30g trash can it sits in with a powerhead moving water around. Changing the water twice a week. Is this correct? I'm currently using salt water for it to sit in, does it need to salt water? To my understanding I'm just removing any dead life off the rock and check the nitrate levels until it is good, takes roughly 2-4 weeks.

3) I have a 40g tank that was my last setup I had years ago. I want to make this a quarantine tank, but didn't know how most people set these up. I do have an extra skimmer that's rated for 70g I think, as well as extra power heads and heaters. I also want to get a sail fin tang within a few months ( There was one originally but he died during the move, wanted to replace him)

4) Using API tests, I'm getting very high nitrate levels and semi-high ammonia levels. The tank is very clear, no visible signs of problems. All life inside seems to be happy. Should I be worried? From reading I see some people say false positives or to do water changes, but I did a 50% water change during the move.

5) Moving forward I may start using RO water, any recommendations on good RO.

I realize these questions are open to getting many different opinions as nothing about salt water tanks is exact in everyone's minds.

It currently has yellow tang, blonde naso tang, diamond goby, several peppermint shrimp, 2-long spine urchin blue spot/black, a damsel, mushrooms, and leather toadstool.

I kept roughly 50% of the original water and did 50% change with conditioned water. The previous owner did not use RO water so this was nothing new.

it has a 40g sump, not sure brand of skimmer but its doing the job, 2 - hydor koralia 1150. Salt is 1.025. I recently had John from Reef Cleaners send me a new batch of tank cleaners. Not sure of the live rock pounds, but there's a decent amount in the sump/tank. I have some rock from a tank I had years ago, currently in the process of curing it.

The light burned out, and since I saved a decent amount of money not buying everything new and from scratch I went ahead and spent the money for new LED, Kessil AP700, fish seem to be much happier with the light, they're a lot more active now.

For safety reasons I put a GFI in where everything is plugged in, I have a ground probe only to be used when I'm going to reach my hand in the tank(To prevent the GFI from killing the power when I'm not aware ), and because I'm paranoid an anti arc breaker.

Thank you in advance for any advice, if I left out a detail let me know.

slay
09/15/2017, 03:09 AM
Purchased an established tank from someone who was moving and getting away from the hobby. It is a 120g 48inx24inx24in.

The questions I have are:

1) I would like to get into having corals at some point, no rush, but wanted advice on how to get into that to do it right with the current tank setup.

Probably best to ask and have these questions answered down the road. Let's deal with where you are first.

2) I have live rock that I used from a tank I had years ago, it had sent sat in storage for years. I'm in the process of curing it. I have it in a 30g trash can it sits in with a powerhead moving water around. Changing the water twice a week. Is this correct? I'm currently using salt water for it to sit in, does it need to salt water? To my understanding I'm just removing any dead life off the rock and check the nitrate levels until it is good, takes roughly 2-4 weeks.

Freshwater is fine. Saltwater is a waste of money. You want to check for nitrate and phosphate. You want your numbers to stop rising, IE if you have them in water that contains zero nitrates/phosphates it should remain that way. It takes however long it takes really, old rock can leech off phosphate for quite a while.

3) I have a 40g tank that was my last setup I had years ago. I want to make this a quarantine tank, but didn't know how most people set these up. I do have an extra skimmer that's rated for 70g I think, as well as extra power heads and heaters. I also want to get a sail fin tang within a few months ( There was one originally but he died during the move, wanted to replace him)

Simple is the key. If you are only going to have a single quarantine tank (many use two smaller tanks for the "tank transfer method" of dealing with Ich), you need a tank, a basic light, heater, powerheads for enough flow and some basic structures for your fish to hide in (i use PVP pipe sections). You really don't need a skimmer. We'll talk about the sailfin tang in a second.

4) Using API tests, I'm getting very high nitrate levels and semi-high ammonia levels. The tank is very clear, no visible signs of problems. All life inside seems to be happy. Should I be worried? From reading I see some people say false positives or to do water changes, but I did a 50% water change during the move.

How old are the tests? Have they been stored properly? What exactly does very high and semi-high mean in numbers? The ammonia reading is worrying. I would've immediately bought another test kit just to check for that. When you moved the tank, did you ditch the sand ? If you moved a tank and kept the sandbed, the sandbed was disturbed, and that's an easy way to release a ton of trapped organics, kill off any sandbed fauna, resulting in die off. That's one maybe why you are seeing the Nitrate/Ammonia reading you are seeing. If you ditched the sand bed and put a new one in the sandbed, with it's massive surface area, is an important part of the bio filter of the tank that the tank may have to adjust to with a (hopefully small) cycle.

5) Moving forward I may start using RO water, any recommendations on good RO.

Start using it now in my opinion. Consider it the first step towards keeping corals. BulkReefSupply.com has a large range of their own RO/DI systems, and they should have a great video about choosing one on YouTube (they have great videos about almost everything equipment wise and other).


I realize these questions are open to getting many different opinions as nothing about salt water tanks is exact in everyone's minds.

It currently has yellow tang, blonde naso tang, diamond goby, several peppermint shrimp, 2-long spine urchin blue spot/black, a damsel, mushrooms, and leather toadstool.

Let's just talk Tangs for a minute. I'm not the tang police, but they may pull you over later. A 120g tank is both a large tank, and a... not so large tank. Nasos grow to be quite big and really like to swim - a four foot length is far from ideal for them. Sailfins get quite big as well, and it's the same story. There are lots of incredible fish that do incredibly well in a tank your size, so I'd take a look around. Don't buy a Sailfin, you already have the Naso that isn't going to work on in the long run. These big tangs belong in tanks with 6+ feet of linear room to swim, in fact I don't like seeing Naso tangs even in 6 foot tanks.

.

zomb
09/15/2017, 08:54 AM
Thank you very much for the in depth reply. Sounds like live rock might take longer than expected, but that's okay.

Is a 10g too small for a QT? I also have one of those as well, I'll look into the 2 tank method further, thank you for bringing that to my attention.

The ammonia tests are 4 months expired, I have more on the way. Sounds like it might be worth going to LFS and buying some to be sure. By semi-high I mean on an API test there is a level between 2.0 and 4.0, the color was in between the two. As for Nitrates it was somewhere around the 80+ range. The sand bed was kept, I kept 3'' of water in it, but of course it was still disturbed in the move. Is there anything I can do or is it just going to take time to cycle it out. I know there are different things you can buy to put in the water to help eliminate ammonia, but from what I'm reading if you aren't careful they can cause adverse effects.

Looks like I'll be getting a RO soon then, I was expecting that would likely be the response.

As for the sail fin, I'll take your advice and decide against him. I was in no rush to any additions, wanted to make sure the tank had plenty of time to recover from the move. As for the Naso, I suppose there will come a time when I will need to find him a new home.


Again I really appreciate the advice. I knew jumping into getting an established tank could have issues, but I didn't pay much for everything he had in it. I think he really just wanted them to have a home.

slay
09/16/2017, 12:07 AM
Thank you very much for the in depth reply. Sounds like live rock might take longer than expected, but that's okay.

Is a 10g too small for a QT? I also have one of those as well, I'll look into the 2 tank method further, thank you for bringing that to my attention.

I'd say 10-20 gallon is fine for the tank transfer method. I've used Rubbermaid tubs (about the size that hold 15 gallons comfortably), 10g and 20g (long) tanks myself. Any bigger than that and the cost becomes prohibitive - a TTM quarantine with 20 gallons can use a bucket of salt. That said, I'm a fan of buying a smaller specimen and watching it grow and pretty much everything 5" or smaller has been fine the size tanks I've described. TBH I have taken risks quarantining 'by ear', but that's based on 30 years experience (most of this time the TTM method was little known). Some fish I may just use a single tank on, a little Prazipro and observation, but tangs are pretty much top of the list for TTM - with tangs, Ich is the assumed and I go from there.

The ammonia tests are 4 months expired, I have more on the way. Sounds like it might be worth going to LFS and buying some to be sure. By semi-high I mean on an API test there is a level between 2.0 and 4.0, the color was in between the two. As for Nitrates it was somewhere around the 80+ range. The sand bed was kept, I kept 3'' of water in it, but of course it was still disturbed in the move. Is there anything I can do or is it just going to take time to cycle it out. I know there are different things you can buy to put in the water to help eliminate ammonia, but from what I'm reading if you aren't careful they can cause adverse effects.

Nitrates that high are on the rough side for inverts (to be a little mild) and that ammonia reading is worse - I wrote a bit here but started getting too technical and off track, basically just that while ammonia is bad, the tests test for total ammonia, while salt water at natural PH is approximately 7% free ammonia and 93% ammonium (which is NH4+, an ion of Ammonia NH3). If your PH dropped your free ammonia would spike, and that'd be much worse, but really now isn't the time to worry about PH. I deleted most of what I wrote because it doesn't help with your problem and probably will just make you worry. Basically, if the animals don't look too stressed and the bacteria colonies of the tank can get back in order, don't worry too much over the short term about this....


BUT, I'd keep the water changes coming. The bacteria needed for the nitrification cycle in a tank that's already established should grow exponentially to meet the interim demand shortly, especially as the sand bed recovers. The sad bed has had a rough time - it was probably full of both life and organics in varying states of decay, and now you've caused die off and a release of trapped organics. Established systems *can* handle events like this - it happens all the time with say a fish death behind the rocks that goes unnoticed etc. Don't interfere with bacterial growth and change water, maybe 20% every couple days until things settle - water changes remove so little bacterial growth, it's surface growth we are concerned about, so don't worry about free floating bacteria.

Looks like I'll be getting a RO soon then, I was expecting that would likely be the response.

Yep, I'd one that could do at least 75 gallons per day, 4 stages if you have ideal city water, 5 if you have less than ideal city water, 6 if you have something like well water - if you live in a populated area, ideally your local water provider has details regarding this online. Personally I'd buy a 50 gallon water container to hold enough clean RO/DI (or two, one for clean one for mixed saltwater) for emergencies.

As for the sail fin, I'll take your advice and decide against him. I was in no rush to any additions, wanted to make sure the tank had plenty of time to recover from the move. As for the Naso, I suppose there will come a time when I will need to find him a new home.

Glad to hear it. There are so many magnificent fish you could have that are reef safe for down the road - check out the more colorful wrasses for example - flasher, fairy etc. wrasses are amazing. As for the Naso, it's probably still a small guy, but I had a small guy turn into a well over a foot long big guy in my 480 gallon back in the early 2000s pretty quick. My 480 is 8 foot long and even then it looked like he wanted more room - it may sound strange, but my 30" long benthic (bottom dwelling, as opposed to free swimming) sharks are ten times more comfortable in those confines than that Naso was. Honestly, don't trade the Naso back to a LFS when the time comes, they'll just sell it as a display specimen to someone else with a tank that doesn't suit such a magnificent fish - I'd put up a online add some place like here, offering it at a fair price to great home.

Again I really appreciate the advice. I knew jumping into getting an established tank could have issues, but I didn't pay much for everything he had in it. I think he really just wanted them to have a home.