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my tank


Aug 10, 2006
ok my tank is now set up, it is 24g, has 6 kg of live rock, the sg is 1.024, the rocks been in for a week tomorrow and as of yesterday
alkalinity- 1.3
temp-24degrees celcius
i am doing 10%water changes every 7 days (so the first will be tomorrow).
anyway according to the literature i have this is all acceptable and expected in the first week. on my live rock and some of the gravel there is a brown matter build up, it comes off easily when prodded and the tank smells fine, so my questions are
1)is this all normal
2)when should i be thinking of investing in a clean up crew and what do you all recomend? i was thinking of some kind of crustacean, or gastropod or maybe a bit of both.

oh and the filter media includes activated carbon, 3 filter sponges, a wad of filter wool and ceramic bio rings, plus those plastic thingies that sit in the ack of the tank and are spheres. my pump turns the water 12-14 times per hour. the light is generally on 8 hours a day.
thanks for your help

The "brown matter build up" sounds like what people call brown algae (I often wonder if it is actually dead algae but brown algae is what they call it). It does seem a little early to see it at only a week but it is totally expected during your cycle and the rule of thumb is to start adding your clean up crew as soon as you start seeing it.

There are lots of opinions on clean-up crews and hopefully others will add to my suggestions but I will offer my method of maintenance madness ;>).

I like to keep a very wide variety of interesting clean-up critters but for a new tank, I would recommend putting in a bunch of snails ASAP. You can also add some grass shrimp that will eventually become food for your primary critters but will help clean and are very tollerant of poor water quality. The more interesting and delicate ones can come after your water parameters (especially ammonia and nitrite) stay at zero. At that point you can add small hermits (blue and or red leg) if you prefer them to snails (it doesn't seem possible to keep both but if you prefer hermits, they will eventually elminate the snails without negative effect on the tank). I recommend the snails first because they are much more tollerant of initial water conditions and can be left in the tank if you do not opt for hermits.

After your water parameters are stable, mithrax crabs are helpful with short hair algae (I have found nothing that will eat it if it gets to the chia pet stage). Mithrax may become food later but so far mine have remained alive (I am very new to the ceph world but not saltwater tank keeping and have a sever case of MTS). If you notice ANY aptasia, I would recommend getting at least one peppermint shrimp. Serpant stars are wonderful after you are feeding meaty foods but avoid the green ones (as cool as they are, they are known to get large and aggressive, all others seem to eat only dead/dying things). I usually introduce my serpants before my main critters and feed them a little mysis or black worm until there are left overs available (this also helps gently build a bio-load after your initial cycle). I also recommend an urchin. Only the pencils are recommended for a ceph tank, however.

Also, you may want to remove your sponges and wool until after you tank has been in operation for about a month.
no fear of a ceph appearing in this saddly, its far too small unless a dwarf species of octo suddenly appears in the uk in my area. the only other potential for my tank is the outside chance of some Sepiola atlantica as my university sccidentally dredges thm up while researching from time to time and have agreed to call me should they find any once my tanks ready.

just as an update, todays stats are:
temp-23 degrees celcius
just an update on the tank, the water conditions are all ok, the brown algaes mostly gone thanks to the 3 turbo snails i introduced, and i acquired a small fish, hooray for progress. but despite this the waters still not lear, its cloudyish, any thoughts as to why?
Try shutting off your circulation for about 1 hour (including any air pumps).

It it remains cloudy, then look at your water newly mixed water. One possibility is that you are not areating your new salt water long enough to get full solution or your buffer is not dissolving. If your water is particularly cold (I mix mine in the garage and it does tend to precipitate salt/buffer on occassion) all the salt will not go into solution. If this is the case, you should see the haze when you pour a little in a clear glass.

More likely, you are seeing tiny air bubbles. If cutting everything off clears up your water, turn on your main filtration for an hour (without air or skimmer).

If the water turns cloudy with no air (stone or skimmer), then try adjusting/diverting your intake and out flows so that they are not blowing/sucking on your substrate.

If the water is still clear, relocate your air stone so that the bubbles are not being sucked into your filteration. If you are running a skimmer, try adding a sponge at the outflow. The sponge will not only eliminate microbubbles but will also help with minimizing salt creep.