Looking for opinions on next step for catastrophic beginning

Discussion in 'Just starting out (SW Beginners)' started by sadship13, Oct 31, 2019.

  1. sadship13

    sadship13 New Member

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    I am brand new to the aquarium hobby and using forums for assistance, so I apologize if I have any clear etiquette errors. I have done weeks of research and acquired all of my equipment relatively slowly. I recently set up two separate tanks. A 60 gallon with penguin 350 HOB biowheel filter, 50lbs live rock, 60lbs of caribsea special grade live sand, a heater, two powerheads, and instant ocean reef crystal salt mixed with tap water and prime conditioner. I plan to eventually start a reef tank once it is fully established and I have demonstrated some degree of success.

    In addition, I set up a 20 gallon bare bottom quarantine tank with a sponge, HOB filter, heater, several pieces of PVC pipe. Also used instant ocean reef salt mixed with tap water and treated with prime conditioner.

    Three weeks ago, I added a bottle of bio-spira nitrifying bacteria to each tank. I have measured water parameters sever times/week all showing S.G. 1.025, pH 8.0, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates, and 0 ammonia using API master kit. Temperature was consistently 78 degrees in both tanks.

    Yesterday, i went to my LFS and purchased two very small (less than 1in) clownfish. I acclimated them slowly over the course of about 3 hours. I used the float method adding one cup to the bag every 20 mins. I did this continually. Coloring and activity looked good on both fish. Acclimation appeared to go well and when I went to bed, the fish appeared happy and swimming around.

    When i woke up this morning, one of the fish was dead. The other is still swimming around with good coloration and appears to have good strength.

    I have multiple suspicious as to what may have happened:
    1) I obviously didn't do a fishless cycle, so i suppose tha could be the issue, but having a fish die within 12 hours would be surprising if this were the cause as when I checked water parameters this AM and they were S.G. 1.025, pH 8.0, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates, and 0 ammonia, and temp 78 degrees.
    2) Using tap water was my major error and somehow I poisoned the fish
    3) I got unlucky and one of the fish was ill already
    4) I somehow messed up the acclimation

    Do you guys have any specific thoughts on what likely happened? What should I do next? I'm considering taking the surviving fish back to the store and tearing down the QT Tank to start over with a fishless cycle. Since my large tank is currently cycling, should I tear that down as well? It will be super expensive to do this, as I imagine I will have to buy live rock again. I have not put anything other than live rock and live sand and saltwater in the large tank. Any help would be greatly appreciated
     
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    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
  2. DaveK

    DaveK Well-Known Member

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    You have two immediate issues here, and several longer term ones.

    The first one is that you didn't cycle the tank correctly. The best way is to use one small raw shrimp you got from the grocery store seafood section. Add it to the tank and let it decay. Over the next several weeks your see a spike in ammonia, then a spike in nitrite, and a rise in nitrates. Once the ammonia and nitrite drop back to 0 your initial cycle is complete.

    The second one was choosing clowns as the first thing to add. Under 1 inch clowns are going to be very delicate, no matter what. Something that small could easily be damaged in transport. Another thing you need to watch out for is that many clowns being sold today are in very poor shape. Generally choosing another species of fish would have been better. I'd say keep what you have and go with it, but don't replace the one that died.

    It would also be a good idea to add a clean up crew of some snails and hermit crabs once the cycle is complete. You don't need to add a lot of them at first, just enough to have something in the tank and see that it's doing ok. I'd go with about 5 to 10 snails and 5 to 10 hermit crabs initially.

    Even if you tear down the tank, there is no need to replace live rock or live sand, unless it's really been contaminated by something. This almost never happens. Leave things alone for now. Only do drastic action like this when there is no other option.

    Long term here are some other issues you'll want to deal with.

    You'll likely want to add a skimmer to your system. It will do a lot more for filtration than the HOB filter will.

    Use a better source of water. Best thing to do is get your own RO/DI unit and use water from that for mixing your SW. You'll also want to use RO/DI water for your top off water. While we are on the subject of water, if you don't already have one, get a refractometer for measuring SG. It's a lot more accurate.

    Above all don't panic. Don't start doing a lot of things "just because". It's very easy to do more harm than good.
     
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  3. sadship13

    sadship13 New Member

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    Thank you so much for the response. I have ordered an RO/DI system. I will correctly cycle my main tank as described. I do in fact use a refractometer. My plan is to set up a sump system for the main tank moving forwards as well to address the filtration issues.
     
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  4. r2d2

    r2d2 Member

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    Your RO/DI system will worth every penny. Even with out DI phase, RO water is much better than any other source, even bottled water (Yes, I've done it in past).
    Sump will be a nice upgrade and better filtration than HOB filter. Bio wheels and SW not a very nice combination.
    Patience on your cycling and happy reefing!
     
    #4
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