Captain Jimmy's first ever build - RSR 425XL

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captain_jimmy

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Day 3 of the cycle, measurements are:

Ammonia: 1.5 approx
Nitrite: 0.2
Nitrate: 25 approx

According to Dr Tim I should NOT add more ammonia since I have elevated levels of Ammonia already. I am going to wait until tomorrow and hopefully the levels reduce a bit.

I stuck my second powerhead in my DT yesterday and have been playing with placement. The original placement of my first powerhead was leaving a couple of bare patches on the bottom of the tank so will need to noodle around with it I think.

I have my second heater in now so temp is staying fairly stable between 78 and 79 or so.

I haven't put any filter socks in yet, might do that this evening.
 
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OK day 4 of my cycle. I tested levels again just now and they read:

Ammonia: 1.5 approx
Nitrite: 0.3 approx
Nitrate: 40 approx

Things are changing a bit which I think is good but since the ammonia doesn't seem to be going down at all I am going to leave it for today and not add any more ammonium chloride from the Dr Tim's kit.

I've been researching shrimp, crabs, snails etc in anticipation of adding some to the tank once the cycle is done. I really like shrimp so want a bunch, is there any sort of suggested rule about how many of each type of invert are appropriate based on tank size? My DT is 88g, any suggestions on limits for inverts is appreciated.
 
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Day 5 of cycle.
I missed measuring on day 4 as life was a bit crazy yesterday.

Measured just now and levels are:

Ammonia: 1
Nitrite: 1
Nitrate: 50

So my ammonia is slowly coming down and my nitrite and nitrate levels are increasing. This seems good.

I might dose a bit more ammonium chloride from my Dr Tim's kit later on today. I'll do some research first before I do so, if anyone that has info stops by and see this please reply and let me know if this is the right thing to do.

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Day 6 of cycle

Ammonia: 0.3 approx
Nitrate: 75 approx
Nitrite: 1.3 approx

Well my ammonia continues to creep down but my nitrate and nitrite are off the charts.

I initially thought I should dose some more ammonia since the ammonia levels are down to 0.3ish but Dr Tim says not to add additional ammonia if your nitrite or ammonia levels are elevated and the nitrite is quite high at 1.3 (this is a guess since the chart doesn't go above 1, but the colour of the solution was definitely more intense than the highest reading).

So again, my inclination is to leave it be until the nitrite levels come down and then add some more ammonia and see how long it takes to convert.

Again, anyone with more chemistry/biology knowledge than me (which is everyone), if you have any advice I would appreciate it.

In the meantime I have been keeping an eye on the rocks themselves, they seem to be developing a slightly furry look which I hope is some bacteria developing? It almost looks like a velvet covering.

PXL_20210315_011924733.MP.jpg

The rock center of frame shows the kind of velvety covering I am talking about. In the photo it looks like soft white specks.

Whole tank currently looks like this... my son pulled the outside part of one of the powerheads off so the inside fell down, will fix tonight:

PXL_20210315_012210815.MP.jpg


I also did some calculations and realised there is only 55 pounds or so of live rock in my aquascape and my DT is 88 gallons, I am thinking I should add some to my sump as it seems that in general it's recommended to have 1lb per gallon.
 
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Day 7 of cycle.

Well I tested again today and my Ammonia has dropped slightly but Nitrites and Nitrates remain very high.

I am using a Red Sea Nitrite test kit which only goes up to 1ppm. The colour of the solution seems more intense so I think I may need to go buy myself a salifert one tomorrow which I believe goes up to 5ppm.

I am fairly concerned that the nitrites spiked so high and have been increasing and the ammonia is not all gone. I have been doing a LOT of research and i have read that overdosing ammonia early on can cause a nitrite spike that will stall the cycle and also that nitrite levels above 5ppm will kill the nitrifying bacteria.

I am sure I just need to be patient and that everyone goes through this worrying during their very first cycle but I am leaning towards going to go buy a salifert test first thing tomorrow and if the Nitrites are still more than say 2 or 3 ppm i might do a water change to bring them down. Say 30% or so.

I'd really like to avoid a water change but I also don't want to have to start the cycle from scratch. My son is asking me multiple times a day when he can get a blue tang or a crab. ;Nailbiting

As usual, if anyone stops by that knows about this stuff please LMK what the best course of action is.
 
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Day 8 of cycle.

Ammonia: 0.5 / 0.3
Nitrate:100
Nitrite: 1

Last night I dosed 100 drops of ammonia. The Nitrites were still high but the ammonia had dropped right down to 0.1ppm so I figured I'd give the little bacteria fellahs a spot of food.

I tested immediately and it had gone up to 0.5ppm but I didn't want to dose more until i saw it going down.

This morning I tested again and it was down to 0.3ppm so it looks like there is some bacteria in there working away which is good.

Nitrites are still insanely high. I'm waiting for now but might do a water change soon if it doesn't go down.


I set up my ATO today finally. I have a 5 gallon bucket I grabbed from HD last weekend. It's ugly as sin so will definitely need to be a temp solution.
The ATO is the Tunze Osmolator 3155. Setup was fairly straightforward and it's functioning properly but When i ran it first off the pump was running but no water was coming through. A quick search suggested it might be air in the pump so i tipped it upside down and banged it on the side of the bucket and sure enough a bunch of bubbles came out. It worked perfectly after that. ;)

Something I noticed was that after it switched off there was still water coming through. I though it might have been a syphon as the ATO tank was above the sump so moved it to the floor and the dribble stopped. So try this if you find it continually running.

Tomorrow I will try and take a look at electrics in the cabinet as they are a disgraceful rat's nest at the moment.

I knew this hobby was going to be a lot of work but my god. I have a whiteboard in my kitchen filled with a massive list of things I need to do. It's all good fun though :)
 
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Day 12 of cycle

Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrate: 50ppm
Nitrite: 1ppm

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You can see here my nitrite levels don't want to budge :confused:

Last Tuesday I dosed ammonia and it was all gone by Friday.
Friday night I re-dosed 200 drops of Dr Tim's ammonium chloride. I didn't get a chance to measure it immediately but tested the next morning (Saturday) before I went away for the weekend and it was at 0.9ppm.

I went upstate this weekend and have just returned, eager to test my parameters again and hopefully have no Ammonia...
SUCCESS!

The 200 drops i put in on friday night have all been converted.
My Nitrates are coming down slowly still, they have dropped down to 50ppm.

The Nitrites are still really high though. I have stopped trying to estimate a number above 1, there is no real scale to guess it on as the test only goes up to 1. i could get a new test that goes higher I guess.

I have read a ton of threads on here about people saying their ammonia is being converted but their nitrites remain very high and it SEEMS the general consensus is that the tank is cycled and a large water change should take care of the nitrites.

So here is my plan, would appreciate input...
Dose another bunch of ammonia tonight, probably 200+ drops. test immediately. Kick off a batch of salt water to mix up overnight.
If the ammonia has all been converted tomorrow I will do a 50% water change and retest all parameters. If the nitrite level seems better (theoretically it will halve) I will dose ammonia again and see if it disappears in another 24 hours and check if the nitrites stay stable. If so I will assume the tank is cycled and start shopping for my first fish and a CUC.

Would really appreciate feedback as I am flying slightly blind.

Short version of the question:

MY AMMONIA CYCLES WITHIN 24 HOURS BUT MY NITRITES AND NITRATES ARE STAYING HIGH.
SHOULD I DO A 50% WATER CHANGE, REDOSE AND IF THE AMMONIA DISAPPEARS ASSUME I AM CYCLED?
 
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I am doing a water change on my tank and giving it a clean. The rocks seem to be coated in a type of dust. I'm hoping it's fine sand particles from when I added the substrate, would appreciate an opinion.

The bright areas at the front are where I gave it a light clean with a scrubbing brush. The dull areas have the dust coating

PXL_20210326_202909913.MP.jpg
 
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Well life has gotten in the way again, I have been out of town on work so haven't been doing too much tank stuff.

But I will be back end of the week and in preparation have ordered my first inhabitants!!!

So exciting!

I got an 88 gallon cleaner crew from reef cleaners. It contains snails, emerald crabs and hermit crabs. It has a LOT of snails so I'll be interested to see how it goes.

I also ordered a pistol shrimp and a scarlet cleaner shrimp. I've always loved scarlet cleaner shrimp so am very excited to see the little fellah.
I am planning to get a Goby that will hopefully pair up with the pistol shrimp.

I will order QT stuff this week and go pick it up in Friday and go grab a couple clownfish from a LFS. These will be our first fish. I am planning a 2 week QT before adding them, not sure now if I will treat them yet, would be interested in opinions.

Anyways, exciting stuff! I'll update once I'm back home.
 
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Also i gave up on Qt. I’ve made to many mistakes! Now i buy all fish from Dr Reef or Tsm. It’s way less stress
 
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My reefcleaners CUC order arrived! My tank has its first inhabitants!

It's all very exciting, my son and I spent half an hour watching snails crawl around this morning. :D

I ordered an 80 gallon rimless clean up crew, a pistol shrimp and a scarlet cleaner shrimp. The 80 gallon cuc contains a few emerald crabs, a red legged hermit, a bunch of little hermits and a variety of snails.

John at reefcleaners was very responsive to my questions which was nice. The only problem I had was that the scarlet cleaner shrimp was missing from the order and when I got in touch with John the same day they had sold out. :(
I was really looking forward to seeing that little guy so I'm gonna look elsewhere to try and pick one up.

I followed the reefcleaners acclimation guide which says to NOT drip acclimate, just float to match temperatures and then put into the tank without transferring any water.

All the animals seemed ok when they went in. Since last night the emerald crabs and the pistol shrimp have disappeared, I assume they are hiding in the rockwork somewhere.


I have named our pistol shrimp McCree. Points if anyone gets the reference.

I added some nori and pellets and also hand fed some nori to an emerald crab. That was fun :)
I tested parameters before adding and again just now.

Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20ppm
Ammonia: 0
Phosphate: 0.025 (was 0 yesterday)
pH: 8.4 (was 8.2 yesterday)
Alk: 6.9 (was 6.7 yesterday)

I'll do some reading today about these parameter changes. I was thinking I should raise the all anyways so perhaps this is all good. It seems to be moving in tandem with the pH.

I am going to set up a QT this weekend and possibly put in an order through TSM for a bubble tip anemone, a clownfish and maybe a couple little zoa frags.

It's been ten years since I wanted a reef tank and four months since I started getting this one going so it's really satisfying to finally have our first inhabitants. :D:D:D:D:D
 
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double post. editing to include photos.

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temperature matching the bags. my new coral tongs are on the right there, they were pretty helpful in righting overturned top snails.

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I hand fed this guy some nori after this photo. He went mental for it, snipping bits off and stuffing them into his face :)

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Little hermit showing off.

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My son is loving it.

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Cheeky snail catching a free ride.

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McCree, our pistol shrimp. Just hanging out.
 
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Next up is to sort this out.

PXL_20210410_223244695.NIGHT.jpg


It's an absolute disgrace.

I have a spare cabinet door as the one that shipped from red sea was damaged in transited and I got a replacement sent out.
I'll do some measuring and planning tonight, it I could use this to create a mounting setup for my electronics it would have a consistent finish with the rest of the stand.
 
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When I first started out last year I went to a local plumbing shop to get an adaptor to plumb my COR-20 to some flex tubing for my return. They told me I needed to use hose clamps and gave me a couple which were metal.

I was thinking back to this the other day and realized they might rust so went to have a look and sure enough they are both rusty.

I ordered some plastic hose clamps and replaced them.

Anyone have any suggestions about whether I need to do anything to my tank? Maybe a water change?

this is what they looked like when I removed them:

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replaced them with these (they were a PITA to get on, nowhere near as tight as the metal ones):

PXL_20210411_022953361.MP.jpg
 
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Just put in an order at TSM for my first fish and corals!

Ordered:
Blue Streak Watchman Goby
Black Photon Clownfish
Fire Shrimp
Hard Tube Coco Worm
Bubble Coral
3x Zoa frags

I like the fan worms, they're pretty cool, but it was kinda expensive. But then I needed to spend a little more to get free shipping so it was pretty cheap in the end. My research shows they can be hard to keep so I am doing more research on what they will need to remain healthy.

I have ordered some liquid phytoplankton and zooplankton.
I also got calcuim tests and some kalkwasser.

I have been debating about whether to quarantine my fish even though I am ordering from TSM. After going back and forth I am planning to temp and salinity acllimmate and then add them straight to the DT. Reading reviews of TSM on here seems like they are pretty trustworthy and have great QT protocols in place. Also the inverts live in fish free systems.

Speaking of inverts I haven't seen the pistol shrimp since adding him. Everything else seems to be doing ok. I fed some nori and frozen mysis shrimp. The crabs went mental for the nori.

Yesterday I saw one of my hermits harassing a snail so I separated them. I stuck the snail out on a patch of sand but the hermit went and found it again. He ripped the snail out of the shell, killed it and stole its shell! o_Oo_Oo_O

The food chain is brutal.
 
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On Saturday night one of my mp-40's decoupled and the wet and dry side both fell off.
I put it back together and switched it on and it made an awful noise and immediately decoupled and fell again.

So I pulled the wet side apart and found that the ceramic tube that surrounds the metal shaft has become detached and was stuck inside the propeller.

This means it won't work properly and also that the metal shaft has been rusting and presumably leeching metals into my tank.

Hopefully the dry side is ok after the two falls due to the decoupling.

This is pretty disappointing for an expensive product that I've only had running a couple of months.
I reached out to Ecotech yesterday so hopefully I hear back and they send a replacement wet side at the very least.
 
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On Saturday night one of my mp-40's decoupled and the wet and dry side both fell off.
I put it back together and switched it on and it made an awful noise and immediately decoupled and fell again.

So I pulled the wet side apart and found that the ceramic tube that surrounds the metal shaft has become detached and was stuck inside the propeller.

This means it won't work properly and also that the metal shaft has been rusting and presumably leeching metals into my tank.

Hopefully the dry side is ok after the two falls due to the decoupling.

This is pretty disappointing for an expensive product that I've only had running a couple of months.
I reached out to Ecotech yesterday so hopefully I hear back and they send a replacement wet side at the very least.
Well I just got off the phone from Chris at Ecotech. He got in touch yesterday via email and we would have sorted it out yesterday if I hadn't been busy.

They're sending me out some replacement wet sides under warranty and I will have to return my broken wet sides.

I have to say, EXCELLENT customer service from Chris and Ecotech, thanks for being easy to deal with.
 
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