New User/New Tank!

DWhatley

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Actually, if your salt is still dissolving, you can expect the salinity to rise, not fall. I find the simple hydrometers to be pretty consistent but do keep two and ALWAYS rinse them well with fresh water. If you have let it dry without fully rinsing it, your readings will be way off (you can test is somewhat for this problem by filling it with fresh water, the needle should stay all the way at the bottom and not rise even a little). I keep a second one (different style and brand) handy in case I get a questionable reading but they have both pretty much told me I needed to add salt :oops:.

I know it will be difficult in an apartment but you will want to find a place to make up a full water change and keep it areating for 24 hours. Tank mixing, although often recommended when starting up a tank, takes much longer to properly dissolve. It is not an acceptable method once you have live stock.

I can think of two explanations for the high salt content but it will not be the salt mixing instructions as I find the recommended mixture tends to be a little low (many people keep their reefs and FOWLER tanks at a minimum salt content to help control parasites and the mixing directions produce water closer to .021 than the full ocean salinity of .026 ish). Did you measure the amount of water you added and only use the amount of salt needed for the new water? More likely, the old water may not have been topped off for quite some time and evaporation would have made that water much saltier than it should have been. The floating, undesolved salt may be a sign of satuartion and you will need to do more water changes with fresh water to resolve the problem.

If you are lucky enough not to have scratches :biggrin2: don't add them by using a paper towel. Use a micro fiber cloth instead. Home Depot sells a very nice acrylic polishing cloth in a pack of four or so that is inexpensive (look for the sheet acrylic - they will be close by and are white with a red trim at my store) and will actually help polish the tank. You seem aware that ammonia is a no-no around any aquarium but plain water is really the best to ensure nothing enters the water in mist form. Getting off the "salt grease" as I call it is never easy. I usually use one cloth wet and then go back with a dry one, folding it several times as it picks up the salt residue. As an aside, most of my many scratches are on the inside so your tank was a real find.
 

Amygdalan

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I got the salinity down, it's actually a little low at 1.019ish now, but that swing arm is all over the damn place to be honest.

I dumped in four damsels, five snails, and two fire crabs. Three of the snails were dead by morning. I'm not sure what caused this, but I will do some tests this evening when I get home. The fish and crabs seem fine and are eating and pretty active.

Thanks for the tip on the micro fiber, I didn't know paper towels would scratch it!

I don't know that I can mix for a full water change in my place, we'll see, but it's doubtful. I probably need to purchase water pre mixed for future changes.
 

Amygdalan

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Well, the salinity is now TOO low. I took the hydrometer out and rinsed it, and of course now it's too low... so, is there a formula that I can use to determine how much salt water to add back in? Also, all of the snails are dead. The crabs are all right. The snails were all feeding on some green hair like algae on my live rock though. Not sure if that's what caused it or the salinity being off.
 

DWhatley

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Neither the algae nor the salinity should have killed the snails but if you did not acclimate them (most people don't with snails but I have found they are actually pretty sensitive) there is a possiblity a drastic change in salinity could have effected them.

I would not alter your tank directly but simply do saltwater top offs until you reach the salinity desired. The damsels can survive in the lowered salt if they acclimated OK and by topping off with saltwater, you will not be inducing major swings in the enviornment. You will wish you had not chosen to use the damsels I fear. As AM mentioned, they are a major problem to remove and are not octo friendly.

It sounds like you are using one of the newer in-tank hydormeters. Forget leaving it the tank. They are not better or worse than the others for accuracy but they do not work well just left in the tank (hopefully you have kept the little black stopper that needs to be removed for in-tank use but needs to be in-place otherwise). When you next test your water, do your top off and then test it the next day starting with a well rinsed hydrometer, draw from the middle of the tank about mid-way down the then set the hydrometer on a flat surface then count to 60 :biggrin2:. You should be able to do this repeatedly and get exactly the same reading. Don't forget to rinse it (I use warm water) immediately after you dump out the water (and don't leave the salt water in it overnight). If you are anal about rinsing it both before and after use and it will last for years.
 

Amygdalan

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Thanks for the tips on the hydrometer. I don't think it came with a black stopper, to be honest. I will check, but I know I threw nothing away.

Lol, the damsels really don't seem like they will be so hard to remove... maybe I'm being naive. You guys have been correct so far. Oh well.

What would you recommend as a process to acclimate the octopus when it arrives? You are correct in assuming that I didn't acclimate the snails or the crabs. The crabs are fine though. Three of the five snails died.
 

Amygdalan

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I found the black stopper, and success! My salinity measured 1.018 four times in a row, so that's much better than it was. I still see white granules floating around in the tank that I didn't before I added the salt and it's been a week and a half.

It looks like only two snails may have died as some have miraculously moved... unless the bigger crab drug them off somewhere.

You guys are awesome, thanks for all the pointers thus far.
 

Amygdalan

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Well, better news... I just tested all of my chems and they are all golden, nitrites are about .05 though.

And even better news... I flipped the snails over as they were on their shells and they are moving around now. I just assumed they were dead... I mean, they were hanging out of their shells partially, but now they're back on the rocks moving around. Shows what a newb I am.
 

DWhatley

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If you wonder about a snail's viability, pick it up and take a good whiff. If you are still standing, put it back in the tank :yuck:. When you order more, put them in the center of a plastic container (the microwave meal kind with a flat bottom work well) and put in a small amount of tank water in with them. As they move to the edge, you can put them in your tank. It there are any left in the center after a couple of hours, see above.

While you are playing with the tank (and after you get your mat), you can net out the white floaty stuff. If you don't have one, I would recommend that you buy a brine shrimp net (Tom's also makes a very fine (as in hole size) net that is entirely plastic, is very inexpensive and is my personal favorite). I find that the brine net and/or the soft one by Tom's do well for removing ink if (as is usually the case) you are in front of the aquarium when it happens. A second item you should have on hand is a decent turkey baster. This will be helpful for disrupting your bottom substrate, blowing off your live rock during clean-up and is also useful for collecting ink that is mucusy (thin ink will be difficult to catch but will be handled by your filtration).

There are several threads on acclimating an octopus and several things you should read about acclimation in general before you are ready for a sensitive creature. I tend to acclimate my octos a little differently than the best recommendations on the site and the site methods may be best for a novice.
However, if you don't find enough in the care section, PM me and I will give you the link to my write up for the website I webmaster for some general considerations (not octo specific).

A good source specific to octopus acclimation (with special octo specific tips) is the book written by TONMO's Nancy and Colin.
 

Amygdalan

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Thanks again for even more tips, I will pick up the items you've suggested to keep in my tank bucket. I'll also be reading a lot on acclimating the octopus before I get it.

I'm really happy that the water is so healthy so far, being the newb that I am. Also very happy that the snails weren't actually dead. What's the deal with those guys? Do they fall off the higher rocks and end up on their backs and need to be flipped, or will they right themselves?

I'm also thinking about changing my substrate. Currently it is crushed coral/shells and I'm not sure it will be good for the octopus. I know the crabs probably hate it.
 

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