My very first 1 week old tank. Can ya'll tell me how i'm doing and help out with water parameter problems?

Herides

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
157
Reaction score
69
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison

Hey guys, i'm going to tell you guys about my 1 week old reef tank and some of the concerns that i'm having that I don't know how to solve.

The tank is a 40 gallon breeder with a population of just 2 Onyx (Sea Quest Line) Clownfish. It's filtration is an aquatop Forza canister filter (which i'll admit does suck up some sand at times and I am considering moving its intake up higher in the tank), and the tank is also equipped with a tunze ATO and protein skimmer, an aquatop heater, 2 hydor power heads controlled by a hydor smart controller (set to alternate flows every minute), and a Seneye Reef monitoring system.

About the fish, I got them on August the 22nd, and they have been lovely and healthy the whole time, except for the smaller one (the second one i focus on in the video at around 11 seconds in). I hope you can see it in the video but to me as far as the way it looked on day one, I fear it is losing its color, the black is giving way to a white or orange color. I'm not sure why, it could be water parameters (which are showcased below) or it could be nutrition, so to see if it's a nutrition problem I've added "Vitachem Marine Formula" to their twice daily feedings of "Northfin Marine Formula" fish pellets (of which they don't seem to care much for), and "LRS Reef Frenzy Nano" frozen fish food (which they really like to eat), thawed out for an hour in some of their tank water all mixed in. As for how they behave, I got them from the lfs from the same displaly so I know they are tank friends, both the large one and the small one (the one losing color) seem rather peaceful, though sometimes I see the big one bull rush the other as the other dodges out of the way, but it's not a chase as the small one will sidle next to the big one immediately after, so I think it's just playing or displays of dominance. They appear to me to be breathing and swimming just fine with no visible issues save the small ones color, and they like to dig craters in the sand bed. So my only issue with them is the discoloration on the small one, so now let me talk about my water parameters.

1598821819496.png


This is as of 4:10 PM CST the readings from my seneye system. I drew obvious circles around them but if you bring your attention to my ammonium, ammonia, and pH readings, you will see that they are all very worrisome. I don't know what to do about this. Take a look at this now.

1598821962058.png


These are recording of the results of all the manual tests I do that the seneye doesn't. The color coding makes it obvious but as you can tell, some things are still bad looking, even for the one today. I use red sea test kits for everything except for nitrite which is a salifert test kit. I've done two 10% water changes, one on August 27 because I wanted to see if I could bring things to normalcy, and one August 29 as a more scheduled water change I want to do every Saturday. This leads me to the concern that a water change greater than 10% won't do much as it appears two water changes did nothing for me. I'll also note that through this whole period after fixing a salinity issue on the 21st, my salinity has been absolutely dead on 35 ppm, so I know my salt water mix is OK. As for my pH, I am at a loss. I will also let you guys know that the week before I got the fish, to cycle the tank I added some bacteria starter fluids so I know my tank should have bacteria which is a real wonder as to why my nitrogen cycle parameters are so weird (unless they're not weird, which brings me to my final point).

I'm very new to this, as in, a few weeks new, only got the fish a week ago and I want to ensure the absolute best care for them, and i'm still inexperienced as to whats normal to a reef tank, so if anybody could tell me how i'm doing, maybe offer some advice or words of wisdom/encouragement, and some words of serious help in regard to my water parameters, I would seriously seriously appreciate the communities guidance. Thank you so much. I am also open to any questions to fill in any gaps I missed in my summary/explanation.
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
OP
Herides

Herides

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
157
Reaction score
69
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison
I'm at a loss for words. I think you should feed less but I'm gonna let other folks help out with this one. I don't have a Seneye.
At first I figured it was food too, so I have been cutting back on the feeding them and giving them smaller and smaller portions so that is definitely in the works. Thank you.
 
OP
Herides

Herides

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
157
Reaction score
69
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison
The tank is only a week old though? Is that what I am collecting here? How long has the tank been cycling?

I just have some questions so I can get clarification to help.
I should clarify that, apologies, the tank has only had fish in it for a week, it was cycled for a week prior to adding the fish using some start up bacteria solution on the recommendation of the lfs, before then still it was sitting there for a while after adding the water while I let the live sand settle.
 

Homebrewer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Messages
342
Reaction score
549
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Maryland
I should clarify that, apologies, the tank has only had fish in it for a week, it was cycled for a week prior to adding the fish using some start up bacteria solution on the recommendation of the lfs, before then still it was sitting there for a while after adding the water while I let the live sand settle.
Clarify further please. What does “cycled for a week” mean? Do you mean you set it up (day 0), added fish on day 7 (about), and now it’s day 14 total?
 
OP
Herides

Herides

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
157
Reaction score
69
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison
Clarify further please. What does “cycled for a week” mean? Do you mean you set it up (day 0), added fish on day 7 (about), and now it’s day 14 total?
What I was advised on in my research and also told by my lfs is that I can put in some form start up bacteria solution that I purchased from them to add it to my tank before adding any fish in it, let it sit for a week, and then add fish, so I did. So a few days after adding the dry rock and live sand let it settle for a few days, and afterwards I believe it was on the 15th I went to my lfs, bought the bacteria, added it to the tank, and waited another week where I got the fish on the 22nd.
 

Homebrewer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Messages
342
Reaction score
549
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Maryland
What I was advised on in my research and also told by my lfs is that I can put in some form start up bacteria solution that I purchased from them to add it to my tank before adding any fish in it, let it sit for a week, and then add fish, so I did. So a few days after adding the dry rock and live sand let it settle for a few days, and afterwards I believe it was on the 15th I went to my lfs, bought the bacteria, added it to the tank, and waited another week where I got the fish on the 22nd.
You are correct that you can put some form of start up bacteria before adding fish. However, what needs to happen is that the tank needs to be fully cycled before adding any living creature (i.e., fish). It is entirely possible that a tank could be "cycled" inside of a week, but I would say that given what I see in the video, it is unlikely in your scenario. Please don't get mad or upset, I'm only trying to help.

When folks talk about a "cycle" what is really meant is the nitrogen cycle. Material, in this case we'll call it uneaten food, breaks down... that shows up as ammonia. Bacteria process that to nitrates, then to nitrates, then to nitrogen, which is then exchanged with oxygen and escapes the tank as a gas. You may have already known all of that as you said, you have done your research, but I feel it is necessary to have said because of my next point...

A "cycle" is not a one-time event, despite what the shorthand name implies. A tank that is mature and been running for a decade is still cycling, it is just that the bacterial population in that tank is way, WAY higher than that of a new tank. This is what we would call a "mature" tank. Make no mistake about it though, even the most mature systems are constantly cycling, meaning, bad stuff (e.g., food, fish poop, etc.) is breaking down, and the system is processing it as described above.

This is all to say that your tank is obviously not mature in the way defined above. The question though is, is it mature enough to sustain the fish you have in it??? This is really at the heart of what you are seeing here. When you added the fish, you increased the bioload. All of the food you are feeding is adding to the "bad" part of the cycle. Because a young system has not matured to the level at which it can handle such a load, you will inevitably see chemistry issues, which is what, in fact, you are experiencing.

Now, what can you do about it? You could try and find someone to house those clowns until your system matures, you could try and return the clowns to your LFS (though I wouldn't trust that place much from now on), you could increase your water changes to decrease the amount of ammonia (I would feed way less too)... note though that water changes will help, but they may actually delay the maturation of the tank. There are other options I'm sure that others will weigh-in on, but I'm trying to get you the best information I can in an expedited way, so I'm sure I'm missing something.

If you are able to re-house the fish, I advocate for the longest "cycle" period possible before adding fish. In my first tank, I admit, I cycled with a yellow tail damsel. Many of us did. My second (and current system) I did a three-month shrimp cycle, and it was the best decision I ever made. The time spent up front letting the system get established pays off tremendously down the road.

If you are unable to re-house the fish, I'll defer to others here that have more experience working through the issues that you are having.

Good luck.
 
OP
Herides

Herides

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
157
Reaction score
69
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Madison
You are correct that you can put some form of start up bacteria before adding fish. However, what needs to happen is that the tank needs to be fully cycled before adding any living creature (i.e., fish). It is entirely possible that a tank could be "cycled" inside of a week, but I would say that given what I see in the video, it is unlikely in your scenario. Please don't get mad or upset, I'm only trying to help.

When folks talk about a "cycle" what is really meant is the nitrogen cycle. Material, in this case we'll call it uneaten food, breaks down... that shows up as ammonia. Bacteria process that to nitrates, then to nitrates, then to nitrogen, which is then exchanged with oxygen and escapes the tank as a gas. You may have already known all of that as you said, you have done your research, but I feel it is necessary to have said because of my next point...

A "cycle" is not a one-time event, despite what the shorthand name implies. A tank that is mature and been running for a decade is still cycling, it is just that the bacterial population in that tank is way, WAY higher than that of a new tank. This is what we would call a "mature" tank. Make no mistake about it though, even the most mature systems are constantly cycling, meaning, bad stuff (e.g., food, fish poop, etc.) is breaking down, and the system is processing it as described above.

This is all to say that your tank is obviously not mature in the way defined above. The question though is, is it mature enough to sustain the fish you have in it??? This is really at the heart of what you are seeing here. When you added the fish, you increased the bioload. All of the food you are feeding is adding to the "bad" part of the cycle. Because a young system has not matured to the level at which it can handle such a load, you will inevitably see chemistry issues, which is what, in fact, you are experiencing.

Now, what can you do about it? You could try and find someone to house those clowns until your system matures, you could try and return the clowns to your LFS (though I wouldn't trust that place much from now on), you could increase your water changes to decrease the amount of ammonia (I would feed way less too)... note though that water changes will help, but they may actually delay the maturation of the tank. There are other options I'm sure that others will weigh-in on, but I'm trying to get you the best information I can in an expedited way, so I'm sure I'm missing something.

If you are able to re-house the fish, I advocate for the longest "cycle" period possible before adding fish. In my first tank, I admit, I cycled with a yellow tail damsel. Many of us did. My second (and current system) I did a three-month shrimp cycle, and it was the best decision I ever made. The time spent up front letting the system get established pays off tremendously down the road.

If you are unable to re-house the fish, I'll defer to others here that have more experience working through the issues that you are having.

Good luck.
Your advice is very sound and I will heed it. I debated doing a more normal shrimp or ghost feeding cycle but I decided against it in favor of following what I read from others experiences where they did exactly what I did and were just fine. I see that might have been a mistake. Unfortunately, I am the only person I know in my area that has a fish tank, so I cant rehouse the clowns, my lfs only takes "surrenders", I can't just "return" them, I would have to give them away and then buy them back which is unfavorable but something i'm definitely considering if conditions get bad enough, I would feel miserable if they died under my supervision. Also I wish I could go to another lfs but there is literally only one dedicated lfs in my immediate and reasonable area besides petsmart/co. I'll take yours and KrisReef's advice and feed way way less (I thought before I was already feeding way less but i'll be more stingy with it now i guess). I'm going to try to resist the urge/impulse to do an emergency big and greater than 10% water change unless the situation becomes super dire so I can get this current cycle to get through faster. Thank you so much for your advice. And also like you said, I hope more folks who have as much or even more experience as you help out too. Again, thank you.
 

When is the last time you purchased cleanup crew critters?

  • Past few days

    Votes: 43 11.6%
  • Past few weeks

    Votes: 107 28.8%
  • Past few months

    Votes: 121 32.6%
  • Over a half a year

    Votes: 50 13.5%
  • Over a year ago

    Votes: 46 12.4%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 4 1.1%
Reef Breeders
Top