Have not done a water change in almost 2 months

jy808

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I have a 42g which is about 3 months in. It houses 4 x clownfish, 2 skunk shrimp and 4 x snails.

I do 2 x basic water tests per week as my routine (PH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate). Every test that I have done consistently shows:
PH 8.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
Salinity 1.023

I have not done a water change in almost 2 months! RODI is topped up when required. Would this indicate my system is cycled properly and no water change is required unless some of the parameters change? Say this is maintained throughout 4 months, 5 months and 6 months, should I still NOT do a water change and let the system run itself?

I clean my sock filter and protein skimmer every month. What other measures should I take for any other waste that could affect the water parameters? Any other maintenance advice?

My sand bed is getting slightly dirty, but not overly dirty. Should I leave it and not clean it?

I currently have a copperband butterfly, yellow clown goby and a fire goby in my quarantine tank that will go into my DT very soon.

The direction I will take next is maybe some live coral and anemones when time is right.
 
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DeniseAndy

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Well, congrats on the tank so far. The need for water changes comes into play when we need to replenish nutrients in the salt water that corals and plants remove OR when you need to remove waste products to contain the upsurge in nitrates. So, currently you have no animals taking away the nutrients in the water (unless you have some specific algae - coralline biggest). These will take some of the nutrients, but not noticeable until you begin adding the bigger consumers like hard corals or clams (coralline can take a lot once established though).
You do have animals contributing to waste, the fish and shrimp and snails. Now the snails help by eating some of the waste, but eventually you will need to rid the system of this and do a water change.
Once you add corals, you will need to keep an eye on your alk, cal, mag, phos, nitrate, etc to make sure they are getting what they need.
Now, I am not sure who suggested a copperbanded butterfly for a 42g tank, but that is not enough room for these guys. They can be very tricky and finicky. I have met one to that exception, but most will need more than a 42g can give them in space and food. Just food for thought.
What equipment are you running?
Good luck!
 

deftonead

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The tank is cycled if you are 3 months in with no ammonia and nitrite. You really don’t need to test for those anymore unless you are having a problem. I wouldn’t even worry about ph either. Get yourself an alkalinity test kit and just check it once a week and adjust if necessary... fish only tanks are pretty simple. Just make sure the alk and salinity are where they need to be and everything should be good. As far as water changes go I used to do a 50% every six months or so when I ran a fish only tank and never had issues.
 

NS Mike D

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unless you have cured live rock, it will take time for coraline to cover the rocks. Along with the bacteria film, coraline helps keep algae from taking hold, and provides a good surface for corals to attach/encrust.

As noted, coraline consumes Alk and Ca as it is a calcifying algae laying layer upon layer of calcium carbonate. Given the benefits you may want to encourage it by keeping your Alkalinity and Calcium present. I agree with @deftonead to test once a week and early on water changes should be sufficient to replace. A lot of coraline products are nothing more than ALK solutions. @ARCreef does sell bottled coraline spores to help the process for about 20 bucks. Not necessary, but I just added it to my tank restart.

Sand beds are hotly debatable. I am in the camp that they do become detritus traps (along with clogging of live rock pores) and contribute to algae and other problems later on (I have first hand experience with this as well).

Here is an interesting thread for your reading pleasure. You are a long way off, but it does document the logic in cleaning the sand bed as preventive maintenance and how it's used with high success in treatment of problem tanks. Make up your own mind, but the logic and the actual success is well documented.

Sand Rinse Thread
 
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jy808

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unless you have cured live rock, it will take time for coraline to cover the rocks. Along with the bacteria film, coraline helps keep algae from taking hold, and provides a good surface for corals to attach/encrust.

As noted, coraline consumes Alk and Ca as it is a calcifying algae laying layer upon layer of calcium carbonate. Given the benefits you may want to encourage it by keeping your Alkalinity and Calcium present. I agree with @deftonead to test once a week and early on water changes should be sufficient to replace. A lot of coraline products are nothing more than ALK solutions. @ARCreef does sell bottled coraline spores to help the process for about 20 bucks. Not necessary, but I just added it to my tank restart.

Sand beds are hotly debatable. I am in the camp that they do become detritus traps (along with clogging of live rock pores) and contribute to algae and other problems later on (I have first hand experience with this as well).

Here is an interesting thread for your reading pleasure. You are a long way off, but it does document the logic in cleaning the sand bed as preventive maintenance and how it's used with high success in treatment of problem tanks. Make up your own mind, but the logic and the actual success is well documented.

Sand Rinse Thread
I've just purchased my Red Sea Foundation Pro testing kit, for calcium, alk and mg.
Would this be required for anemones too?
 

NS Mike D

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I've just purchased my Red Sea Foundation Pro testing kit, for calcium, alk and mg.
Would this be required for anemones too?
Nems have low Alk and Ca needs, although if the coraline growth starts dropping ALk too quickly, the Nem may not like it. The weekly testing will give you peace of mind.

Now that you are testing: With Alk, stability is more important than the actual reading. You will read that anything in the 8-12 dkh range will grow corals. For me, maintaining above 10dkh is hard, so I am fine in the holding steady in anywhere in the 8-9dkh range. Plus I find it hard to tell exactly when the test turns from blue to green but not yet yellow. Did my alk rise from 8.5 to 9.0 or was that just me adding a few more drops before I decided to stop? Over time a pattern will develop and that let me know how much ALK and Ca my corals are consuming between water changes and thus how much to dose to keep things stable.

Next test kits to get are NO3 and PO4. Not API. the are notorious for not being sufficiently sensitive for reef tanks. Red Sea, Siefert, Hanna etc are good.

Among the generally accepted thoughts is that new tanks should hold NO3 and PO4 lower than mature tanks to help fend off nuisance algae while the good bacteria film, coraline and micro fauna develops. This takes time. Too low NO3 and/or PO4 can results in problems as well, so there are published target ranges from reliable sources that are based on polling successful reefers forming a consensus.

For example, for mature mixed reef tanks (softies, lps & sps corals), Red Sea recommends target ranges of 1-2 ppm NO3 and 0.08 - 0.12 ppm for PO4.

For new tanks, 1 -2 years old, BRS recommends slightly lower ranges of 0.5 - 3ppm for NO3 and 0.03 - 0.07ppm for PO4.

Don't worry about NH3 and NO2. Your tank is cycled and most NO2 test kits are worthless for reef tank purposes (interesting threads on this subject).

In my first years I kept a log of my test results and listed my target numbers at top for reference. There are apps these days to do this.
 

Reefs and Geeks

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I went over a year before without water changes and didn't "have issues". Coral all grew and had color, fish acted as expected and were active. I was bored one weekend and did a 30% water change just because, and I noticed the next day most of my coral had better PE, zoa polyps looked bigger, and over the next few weeks growth increased substantially in just about every coral in the tank. Since then, I've gone back to doing water changes at least once a month with the goal of every 2-3 weeks. So from my experience, It's hard to tell what you're giving up by not doing water changes untill you do one later and see how your tank is affected. There's alot of stuff that builds up, or gets depleted in the tank that isn't tested for or monitored that can only realistically be adjusted with a water change. If your system isn't too large, water changes are a fairly easy way to keep this stuff in check. With large tanks, dosing and ICP testing start to make more sense. I'm in the between area with a 300 gallon system, but prefer to just do water changes instead of having to dose and worry about a bunch of trace elements. Has been working well for me.
 

gotmesalty77

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Well, congrats on the tank so far. The need for water changes comes into play when we need to replenish nutrients in the salt water that corals and plants remove OR when you need to remove waste products to contain the upsurge in nitrates. So, currently you have no animals taking away the nutrients in the water (unless you have some specific algae - coralline biggest). These will take some of the nutrients, but not noticeable until you begin adding the bigger consumers like hard corals or clams (coralline can take a lot once established though).
You do have animals contributing to waste, the fish and shrimp and snails. Now the snails help by eating some of the waste, but eventually you will need to rid the system of this and do a water change.
Once you add corals, you will need to keep an eye on your alk, cal, mag, phos, nitrate, etc to make sure they are getting what they need.
Now, I am not sure who suggested a copperbanded butterfly for a 42g tank, but that is not enough room for these guys. They can be very tricky and finicky. I have met one to that exception, but most will need more than a 42g can give them in space and food. Just food for thought.
What equipment are you running?
Good luck!
Man id like to meet the person who suggested the copperband, super easy fish for everyone to keep alive.....(heavy breathing)
 
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jy808

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Thanks guys!

So I have just done my first Red Sea Foundation Pro water test for Ca, Alk and Mg. Here are the results:
Ca = 330 ppm
KH = 7.6dKH
Mg = 960 ppm

I understand calcium should be achieved at about 500ppm, KH about 8-9dKH and Mg??

I guess I have the option of purchasing the dosing kits and dosing my tank to the required level or I can do a small water change and re-test to see what impact the water change has to the Ca, KH and Mg? What would be a better option? Like I said in original post my Ph, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate were all very good and don't want to affect them that much.


I was also tempted to purchase a very small Rhodactis Mushroom Coral from my LFS for $15 as a tester to get the ball rolling in coral. I do understand these are great corals to start off with. Given my parameters, would it be suitable to give it a shot (after dosing or water change)

Plus I find it hard to tell exactly when the test turns from blue to green but not yet yellow
You were right, it was so hard to tell when it turned to green. I had to redo the test. The green was very faint,

an id like to meet the person who suggested the copperband, super easy fish for everyone to keep alive.....(heavy breathing)
Yes, I understood it is a very difficult fish to keep. I purchased it about 2 weeks ago and has been in my QT since. It came with flukes, and an eating disorder (as expected). After 5 days I really thought it was the end of the copperband and was ready to give up and never purchase it again, but it finally nibbled on some mysis. Since day 5 in QT, it has consistently been eating every day. I really can't wait to get it into my DT. It's a beautiful fish! I initially purchased these fish to help with the aiptasia.

I wouldn't stress about the sand bed too much now because you will go through and "ugly" phase. I do love my conch for keeping the sand bed clean though!
I haven't. been able to find a diamondback goby, so have decided today that I will purchase 2 or 3 Nassarius Snail to help with the sand bed! It's a shame because some of my LFS just thinks all snails are the same! Little do they know Nassarius Snail helps better with the sand bed (hope I am correct).
 

NS Mike D

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here is red seas mixed reef formula for mature tanks

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 5.56.49 PM.png




I wouldn't worry about your numbers. close but not troubling. I think the alk is high as this is trying to support sps. On you next water change, test your mix before adding to you tank to get an idea of what your are adding.

I'd bet weekly water changes will bring your tank to nice parameters in an orderly manner.


The Nitrate and Phosphate numbers are also a bit high for a new tank (1-2 years). Go with the BRS target new tank numbers for those for now.

The mushroom should be OK with the move
 

DeniseAndy

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Fun is beginning. Yes, a water change will help bring those numbers up (provided your mix has higher numbers). Mushroom should be a good starter. Some can be finicky, as they will like a little "dirtier" water. More nutrients.

Nassarius snails are good in the sandbed, but eat only dead animals. Now, some like onyx will also eat algae. Love those guys. They do move around the sandbed and help keep it clean. Cerith are also really good as sandbed and film algae on glass/acrylic. I have like 500 dwarf cerith in my 210g and when lights go out, it is like tiny little aliens appear and cover the sand and glass.
 
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jy808

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Fun is beginning. Yes, a water change will help bring those numbers up (provided your mix has higher numbers). Mushroom should be a good starter. Some can be finicky, as they will like a little "dirtier" water. More nutrients.

Nassarius snails are good in the sandbed, but eat only dead animals. Now, some like onyx will also eat algae. Love those guys. They do move around the sandbed and help keep it clean. Cerith are also really good as sandbed and film algae on glass/acrylic. I have like 500 dwarf cerith in my 210g and when lights go out, it is like tiny little aliens appear and cover the sand and glass.
Going to have to go look for some Cerith tomorrow then!
 

JustAnt

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Going to have to go look for some Cerith tomorrow then!
Try this pack. It comes with ton of Cerith
 
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jy808

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Try this pack. It comes with ton of Cerith
Thanks but I'm from Australia. Some of my LFS have it in their head that all snails do the same thing and cannot tell the difference in types of snails. So I'm going to have to scavenge through various LFS today.
 
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jy808

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I have been doing weekly water changes in hopes to bring my calcium and alkalinity back to a desirable level. Have already done 2 weeks in a row.

My salt water is purchased from my LFS, and I bought a little too much.

How long can I store purchased marine water from the LFS for, and how do I maintain it at a satisfactory level for later use (without it going off)?
 

DeniseAndy

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If it is in a water tight/air tight container you can do it a long time without losing anything.
 
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jy808

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here is red seas mixed reef formula for mature tanks

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 5.56.49 PM.png




I wouldn't worry about your numbers. close but not troubling. I think the alk is high as this is trying to support sps. On you next water change, test your mix before adding to you tank to get an idea of what your are adding.

I'd bet weekly water changes will bring your tank to nice parameters in an orderly manner.


The Nitrate and Phosphate numbers are also a bit high for a new tank (1-2 years). Go with the BRS target new tank numbers for those for now.

The mushroom should be OK with the move
Water changes continue and have started to learn dosage of Ca and KH.

I also purchased the Red Sea phosphate test kit, and conducted my first phosphate test.
Followed the instructions and appears my phosphate is in the 1 category, comparing the colour.

According to Redsea's recommended parameters I should be getting 0.08 - 1.12, so with me being at 1, it is way over?
 

NS Mike D

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Water changes continue and have started to learn dosage of Ca and KH.

I also purchased the Red Sea phosphate test kit, and conducted my first phosphate test.
Followed the instructions and appears my phosphate is in the 1 category, comparing the colour.

According to Redsea's recommended parameters I should be getting 0.08 - 1.12, so with me being at 1, it is way over?


PO4 is probably the most unforgiving parameter. 1 is about 8x the upper limit of 0.12ppm.

we missed a key number. NO3 Nitrate

I know you posted 0. but my guess with the other numbers you posted you are using the API test kit. It can give you a false zero for NO3. That is why we recommend better test kits for NO3 and PO4.


So no panic yet, since you may not be at 0 N03.


zeros can lead to cyano and worse dino outbreaks. So we need to get a reliable NO3 reading fast,

We can assume that NO3 is at best low and PO4 high. You many need to run some GFO to get the PO4 number down. But we'll need to thread the needle here. Bringing up Nitrates while bringing down phosphates without triggering a cyano or dino outbreak.

You don't have coral or macro alage to help here, so yes, start using gfo but go slow and don't go below 0.12 yet. We dont want to over shoot nor drop too fast so test daily.


You should have nitrate if you are feeding your fish, so I suspect that the dirt in the sand bed is using it up but not enough to use up the PO4.
 
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