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Build in progress

5457 Views 57 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  truepercs
Hi all. I'm currently in the process of putting together a 40 gallon breeder reef. I've been building the stand and amassing equipment. I'm going totally old school on this tank. Under gravel filter with a 250gph power head on the uplift tube. I'm also adding a 528 jvp wave maker power head for circulation. I have a 200w heater and I'll be adding an inkbird heater controller at some point. I'm going to use 40lbs of dry crushed coral and 40lbs of dry rock.I plan to seed the tank with 10lbs of live sand from Tropicorium and a nice chunk of Coraline covered live rock. Some pics of my stand and doors thus far. (excuse the messy garage, it's winter).


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Also, you can stop testing for a week or so...its going to be a long time and test kits aren't cheap!
Just got home from work and peaked at the tank. I have baby diatoms forming on the rocks! Not going to test just going to let it ride.


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Diatoms are not a good thing and usually indicate a flow issue. Nothing to worry about now since the tank is so new...but if it starts spreading you might want to investigate before it gets out of hand.
Good to know. I've been trying to find a good location for my wave pump. It's on the back left corner of the tank. Seems like most of the alge is on the top of the rock where the flow lower. Trying to get water flowing around the aquascape. I might have to re-configure the rock. The left side kind of blocks the pump.


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I moved the power head again. This time to the left side wall. This should move water across the front and top of the rock work. The alge spread a little since yesterday but not too bad. We'll see.
Did a full water test this morning for. Ammonia dropped from 3ppm to around 0.25ppm, Nitrite still high at 5ppm and my pH went up from 8 to 8.2. I dont regularly test for pH as it's been steady at 8 so I was happy to see a rise. I'm guessing that because the Ammonia level went down my pH went up? My Nitrates are sky high 160ppm which is the max on the API kit. Not sure that's a good thing as my Nitrates are still high. I suspect as the anerobic bacteria are forming those will drop?
pH will vary throughout the day...as I said before, its going to be a few weeks so there's no reason to test or worry about the levels at this point. Its a waiting game!
Start of day 13 and the diatoms are retreating. Looks like middle of day 12 their color faded from a dark rusty brown to very light brown and have gone away entirely from some areas. I removed the 528 gph wave pump and replaced it with a 660 on Friday. That may have had something to do the alge retreating. Because I'm still in the cycle process it's hard to know for sure. I had a pretty good weekend as far as scoring some new equipment. I picked up an 4 stage RODI unit for $30! Ordered new filters for it just to be safe, but I am super happy about that. I also got a refractometer for $15 and it's been such a great tool, the hydrometer was off enough to have potentially caused big problems down the road. I also bought an Inkbird thermostat for the heater, nice to have some simple automation/monitoring. That's the news for now.
Additionally, on Friday I added a dose of ammonia because I read that the bb may start to die off without a food source. Brought the level to 2ppm and it was gone (0 ppm) that same night. I didn't test for Nitrite as I know it's still super high. Thoughts on when I should test again?
You actually shouldn't have added the additional dose of ammonia...you're actually going to make your cycle take longer.

The fact that there was ammonia and now there isn't is evidence that your bacteria are doing their job. They convert ammonia to nitrites...and then from nitrites to the less harmful nitrates. So by adding ammonia you actually made your nitrites higher.

Patience is key! Don't add anything without checking first lol.
Yeah I was pretty sure that was the risk. Too many conflicting ideas out there about the proper way to do a fishless cycle. Oh well nothing but time.
There's ammonia in there from decaying things on your live rock...its just measuring at zero since the bacteria is doing its job. If you're concerned, you can add a pinch of fish food in there and that will add ammonia as it decays and not a bunch at once.
Not a bad idea. For now I think I'll just let it ride. I was going over my notes and noticed that before I added more ammonia I had a small, very small, decrease in Nitrite on day 9. Since it's only been 3 days since I added more ammonia I would hope to see the Nitrite begin to drop about week from today. I won't test again until then and I won't add anything else. I was thinking once the cycle is complete I would do a 5 gallon water change which is a bit over 10%. Should I do a larger change? Say 25% ?
Its up to you. The main part of a water change is to remove excess nutrients...since you don't have any livestock yet there won't be a huge amount of excess.
The main part of a water change is to remove excess nutrients...since you don't have any livestock yet there won't be a huge amount of excess.
I'd be concerned about those high nitrate levels - assuming the tests are accurate. @ 160ppm a 10% change will drop those to 144 ppm, so not as effective as one would hope.

I'm in the "use ammonia" group. In a typical setup you would never get a positive ammonia test - it's the low hanging fruit in the energy chain we call the cycle. While not likely to get a positive nitrite either, it's more likely shortly after feeding just because of an abundance of "stuff".
when there is nothing in the tank but hope and plans dosing ammonia is the end result of feeding. it's quite harmless. it's best practice to stay south of 2ppm though. to much of a good thing can slow down and even reverse your good work. like disinfecting your laundry.

Since you added to 2ppm and it was consumed in hours you can be sure that things are working as they should. I'd likely continue but with this caution - use ¼ of what you did for 2ppm.

But definitely be sure of your nitrate level before bringing things home.
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Okay so ready for this? My rock was releasing a ton of bubbles last night. I tested for Nitrates and they were down to 40ppm! What!? They were 160ppm now they just dropped. I did the test three times and got the same result. My Nitrites are still high. My only guess as to why is that maybe the bit of alge on the rocks is processing the nitrate faster than the nitrobacter bacteria are. Any thoughts?
I did drop in a small pinch of fish flakes this morning just to be on the safe side with the ammonia consuming bacteria. I feel like I've got to be getting close to the end. Im certainly learning a lot about this process and myself.
Okay so I'm thinking by the morning this tank will be cycled. Nitrates are down to 10ppm and Nitrite is at 0.50ppm. This morning Nitrite was 5ppm. WOW! Tomorrow will be exactly 14 days. I'm still ghost feeding and will continue for a few days until I do a small water change, may not need to but why not. Thanks for all the advice so far it's proven to be spot on. Any thoughts?
Its not cycled until both of those readings are at zero...so don't add any livestock until nitrites especially are at zero. You can have some nitrates but its best to shoot for zero. Its also best to wait until they are at zero for several days. If it dropped that much in a day I'd suspect an error testing.
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