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Reality Check

Jan 3, 2007
Ok...I've just put 105 lbs of live rock(cultured) into my 72 bow last saturday,
my sg is 1.025, my pH is 8.2. I added some liquid calcium and trace elements this evening. Oh ya....I'm using purified water.
Everything seems ok thus far, although it may be too soon to tell.
It looks like I'm on the right track so if somebody can give me a reality check I'm sure theres more I can(should) be doing.
Interesting thing....the live rock i bought came with a stowaway. This little purple goby must have been hiding in one of the many crevices when I chose a specific piece of rock. When I got home and started placing the rock in the tank ,under the last piece in a very shallow puddle of water in the styrofoam box was little Norman (my kids named him lol). Anyways Norman is doing very well having almost the whole tank to himself, I added 3 little damsel fish as well.

My LFS guy tells me since I put cultured rock into my tank I can consider my system cycled. I have to say I'm sceptical. I'm going to continue to be paitent and let the data I'm collecting tell me if I'm truly cycled or not.
I'm sure the use of purified water will supress the growth of algea so when should i start adding a cleanup crew?

Thanks everyone and i look forward to getting some good feedback.

Sounds good so far....
What kind of filter do you have running? Skimmer? What ceph are you looking to add to the tank?

I would DEFINATLY not consider the tank cycled. The bacteria need to attach themselves to the filter media and adjust to the new surroundings.
Keep checking your test kits for 3 weeks -IF you see mini spikes and it does a mini cycle and quickly stabilizes you will be fine. It may still take a full cycle and full stabilizing time (3 months for a ceph). I would keep the skimmer off during this time to see the real bio load.

Good Luck
Sounds like your lfs guy just wants to sell you some animals fast...no way is it cycled. Wait it out, and keep an eye on everything...it's all you can do.
Reality Check

I'm running a home made filter made from food grade buckets and I have a odyssea ps 75 skimmer. I had the back plate drilled out with 2 holes and installed bulkheads.
As far as what ceph I want for this tank....well, something suitable for a 72 gallon tank. I'm still not 100% sure.
General rule of thumb on clean up crew is to add snails when you FIRST see brown algae. Depending upon what you are feeding your fish (live vs prepared) and what kind of snail (meat and plant or just plant eaters) you may also want to add hermit crabs. Hermits will eat most snails over time so I usually vote for omniverous snails to start but have started rethinking about snails vs hermits over the long term.

Once you are cycled there are interesting cleanup critters that are as enjoyable as your fish (urchins, serpent stars, mithrax crabs) but they will not survive in an uncycled tank. They don't add much to the bioload, however and can be added when you reach stability. You may need to add food for them until you are fully established. My urchins don't get enough green stuff in the octo tank so I supplement with plants and they are quite happy with the arrangement.

NO octos for at least 3 months - 6 is MUCH better. Even with pristine water, the tank will NOT support the bioload any earlier. The damsels should be removed (good luck catching them in a 72!) before adding an octopus. The goby may or may not become octo food.

I don't know that purified water will effect your algae growth. Lighting definitely will. One of the things I love about my octo tank is the lack of algae that I have to clean. My other tanks all have lower end reef lighting (PC's but not halide) and more daylight exposure. They are a constant cleanup concern (with the number of tanks I have, it is actually a daily chore). I use LED lights on the octo tank with nonphotosynthetic sponges, feather dusters, etc (I actually have some shaving brushes that are surviving in spite of the lighting) and maintenance is a joy.
I agree. Your tank is definitely not Cycled yet. Watch and be patient. You'll see the Ammonia spike first, then the Nitrites will spike, then the Nitrates. Which is the order the bacteria breaks organics down in. After the spikes are over and your water parameters stabilize you can add in your cleaning crew. It takes patience. One of the hardest things about marine hobbies is learning to slow down. The tank isn't going anywhere. Plus over time you'll see an abundance of new flora and fauna appear all on it's own.
Are you using an RO/DI system to filter the water? That would be a really great investment. I set up a 450 gal reef tank over the summer and it required a great amount of patience. But it's been worth it.
Good luck.
Reality Check

Ya know I thought you needed some cheap fish like damsels to start the cycle. dwhatley your right catching these damsels might prove impossible in a 72g. would it be a really bad thing if they stayed put?As far as the goby he is going to be moved to a 29 gallon I'm setting up as a sick tank, my kids dont want Norman to be octo food.
The Purified Water I'm using was made available to me at my job, I work for a biopharmaceutical manufacturer and we have a world class system. Similar water is sold at my LFS for 49 cents a gallon.

Ya being paitent is going to be tough, but I've made it this far so I'll stay the course.
So....I wont add anything else until I see the system spike on all the major parameters, perform up to 20% water changes every two weeks,
lastly be patient. Anything else??
Thanks for the advice!!

Unfortunately it is the damsels' darting about that can cause stress in shy animals so all my reading on TONMO recommends against them in the tanks (try a search on damsels). I don't put them in with my seahorses either. It took my son over two weeks to catch one of his cycle damsels. I do have some busy fish (not damsels though) in my "sort of normal" reef tank but the brain coral doesn't mind and the dwarf lion just ignores them. I really wish pet stores would not recommend them for cycling without at least telling people the problems with them. They don't die on their own either (often they will kill each other though).

You may not see the ammonia or nitrites "spikes" and you may not see nitites much at all. This is not uncommon with fresh live rock (a lot depends upon how long it was out of the ocean and how it arrived at your home) but the tank is still NOT cycled. These are only indicators of what we don't monitor. It is the growth that elaflam mentioned that will support your reef.

For an octo tank, the primary concern is being able to handle the bioload more than support for corals which is why I suggest building AND feeding an excessive (to some people's thinking) and interesting clean-up crew. The kids will likely enjoy serpent stars and mithrax crabs (my grand kids do and alway look for them in the tank) and they will find and consume crab, shrimp and fish parts quickly. With the lower lighting you will see more of them and they are entertaining enough to make the waiting easier (you do have to wait until there are 0 nitrites). The other thing I have found about adding just a couple of little things each month is that you (and the kids) learn to appreciate each of your critters individually and it is fun to see what comes home next.
Reality Check

Thanks for the reply, I fully expect for the damsels to end up as octo food when conditions are right so I would like to keep them where they are for now although Norman will be moved as soon as my 29 is ready.
Yes we will wait until Nitrites are indeed zero and possibly even take a sample to my LFS for verification.
I'm starting to notice tiny snails and a small crab that were hiding in my live rock. Can't wait till things start growing and showing me whats there!
I traveled 75 miles to buy my Live rock for $3.00/lb which is unheard of in California.It smelled fresh,had good uniform color and I found some good shaped pieces(I added a photo to the tank owners database).
I'm collecting data using an excel spresdsheet which will be a helpful tool to track my progress.Ya know.....I couldnt imagine doing something like this and not collecting data.

Thanks everyone!
If you haven't already added the damsels, you can use Mollies as cycling animals just as well..and they are inoffensive.
Reality Check

Mollies, I never thought of that....I did already put in 3 small damsels.
I found a small brittle star last night still hiding from the recent move.
I can see his little arms sticking out from his hiding place....prety cool stuff!
I'm just going to leave things as they are for now and keep testing my water for all the usual parameters.
It's good to be finally be underway.
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