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Things many people don't realize...

Posted 12/29/2014 at 03:39 PM by Sk8r

A few things many people don't realize...
1. bacterial colonization (cycling) goes on for some time after your initial 'ammonia' reaction, in the sense that life goes on colonizing your rock all the way to the core of it. This is why old live rock is tougher than nails---and why just-cycled rock is very fragile. This process (depending on how holey and porous your rock is) can continue for many months. This is one reason why we say go slow at first. Your rock won't be finished colonizing for some time. This is why, on the other hand, your rock is the last fortress of life after a tank disaster.

2. in the same way, it can serve as a reservoir of heat and cold, in a temperature change. Should you chill down---your fish and corals will snuggle down against the still-warm rock and wait. Should you overheat the water---rock will be resistent to heating, at least in its core, and give you some time to notice it and fix it.

3. most fish are caught wild on the reef. If you find your fish confused and shy at first, there's a reason. The hobby is breeding some types in tanks, but others, like tangs, have a mating behavior that is not easy to accommodate.

4. you can operate with or without a sandbed. If you like fish like blennies, gobies, dragonets, jawfish, wrasses and others that live in close connection with a sandbed, you should definitely have one. If you have a deep sandbed, which can be very efficient at disposing of waste, best maintain a cleanup crew including nassarius (1 per 10 gallons) or fighting conch (1 per 50 gallons) or a goby like the yellow watchman, which is not as disruptive as the diamond or the engineer goby. BUT---do not get these UNTIL you have maintained that sandbed for a few months. The YWG will eat small to medium sinking pellet. The others are reliant on the detritus in the sandbed, so they will starve if bought too early.

5. Never buy a fish or invert 'to eat the algae'. There are other means (GFO, for instance). Solve it by water management. Your cleanup crew is there only to poo into the sandbed. It's NOT capable of restoring your tank to a non-algaed condition. In a tank, for that matter, white is the color of death. Brown is normal.

6. There is more to check than nitrate and ammonia: track alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, and keep those 3 in balance. If you are a fish-only, your salt mix will be a little short in some and that's ok: you may also be using a filter system and that's also ok.
If you're a reef, filters cause problems---high and low of nitrate, which corals don't like.

7. A phosphate test in a tank green with algae will typically read zero. Why? The algae has all the phosphate it can get. You kill off the algae with GFO, and your skimmer can suck up the dieoff, and life will be better.

8. acclimation is a process that can kill fish if not properly done. Deaths can result from organ failure as long as 3 days after a bad acclimation. To avoid acclimation entirely, just find out the salinity of the shipper (use the phone) and have your quarantine tank set to that salinity. THen do things in this order: float the bag UNOPENED in the qt water for 15 minutes to equalize the temperature. Then open the bag and test the bag water to be sure you got the right answer. Then with your gloved (exam gloves, cheap,from your pharmacy) hand pick up the fish and put into your qt with no more ado. Exception: with venomous fish like rabbits, lions, etc, use a plastic spaghetti strainer. Discard all bag water.

9. quarantine is a process that protects your tank from a sand-dwelling parasite (ich) and several others, plus gives you a chance to handle infected injuries. Do not let even your first fish into your tank without going through 4 weeks of quarantine. This gives the ich parasite time to manifest---where it can be killed off.

10. Corals are not particularly hard, but they are light-dependent, and come in two types, stony and soft. Stony needs intense light. Soft doesn't. There are some borderline types, but in general, if you want stony coral, get lights that will accommodate them. Stony requires calcium supplement procedures; softie doesn't.

11. Reef-safe does not mean it won't eat its neighbors.

12. There is no real meaningful designation of 'aggressive' or 'community' fish in the marine hobby. SIZE matters. DIET matters. TERRITORIAL DEMAND matters. I keep a peaceful damsel tank---with fish that novice rumor and vending sources call 'highly aggressive'. Not given enough room, and not if you don't 'set up' a fight by putting two of the same type together. They're perfectly good citizens in 100 gallons, though they're fairly small fish. A Queen or Titan Trigger may chase divers from their territory in the wild. Territoriality is quite important. And if you don't know the species, don't buy it until you've asked its habits, its diet, and PARTICULARLY its territory requirements. The new-to-hobby forum will not always produce experienced answers about territoriality, which is why we have a check-it-out thread stickied up at the top. Ask a mod, ask a RC Team member: and consult the tank-size recommendations of vendors like Live Aquaria.

13. how long should a fish live? Some of the smaller speciies live a few years. The larger ones live for decades. So think about that when you're buying. FIsh stores are generally good about taking in a no-longer-wanted fish up to 3" in length---but these stores move about, go out of business, and you may be left with a problem. And fish keep growing---tank size is NOT a limit. Since some species like tangs get a foot long, you see the problem. You've had Fido for years. And he's now the only fish in your tank. And he's too heavy and strong for one person to net. You've got to move to another city. What are you going to do about Fido? It's not a pretty situation.
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  1. New Comment
    Awesome! Thanks!
    Posted 08/26/2015 at 02:36 AM by Harrhugh Harrhugh is offline

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