New Tank - Questions about Caribsea Life Rock and Cycling

lickyricky

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Hey Everyone!

After a five year hiatus I am back with my new Red Sea Max E-170 and I am super excited! Over the weekend I assembled all the parts. Today my final shipments are coming in (chiller, heater, live sand, etc.) and I am super stoked to finally get some water in my beautiful tank. Being out of the hobby for a while I decided to read up and cycle my tank correctly this time (last time I didn't wait long enough).

I see a lot of people mentioning that they cycle their tank by "ghost feeding". This is the first time I've heard of this. Last time I just let the real live rock cycle my tank. Well this time I decided to purchase Caribsea life rock instead of the weird looking live rock from my LFS to prevent hitchhikers etc. So I have a few questions...

1) Will this rock cycle my tank or do I need to resort to this so called ghost feeding. I am worried that my large protein skimmer might keep the water too clean with this "life" rock to actually cycle my tank.
2) Is it better to cycle with a fish? Last time I put some Chromis in the tank and they survived but I was stuck with them for the rest of the time I had the tank running and since I wanted to run mostly coral I had no bio-load left for any nicer fish.
3) What would everyone suggest for a clean up crew and how long should I wait to add them? I saw a few websites that offer mail order packages. Has anyone ever tried this? This is what they recommend for a 37 gallon cube.
39 Dwarf Ceriths
12 Nassarius
12 Florida Ceriths
10 Nerites -
9 Assorted Hermits
To me that seems like A LOT, but maybe I'm wrong. I always try to feed my fish a minimal amount of food to prevent debris and then I worry about the clean up crew not having enough food to survive. What is the best way to balance the two?

Sorry for all the questions!

I plan on adding the life rock, live sand, and water today and tomorrow so please let me know if anyone has any idea on this subject. I've read lots of posts but I cant seem to find a straight answer.

Thanks guys! I am happy to be back!

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becks

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When I cycled my tank I used a bottle of bacteria and then used ammonia to cycle the tank, once the cycle was complete I added my first two fish in a 150g and some inverts.

I would slowly add a CUC once food comes available to them, i downgraded from a 150g to a reefer 250 and my cuc consists of two large Mexican turbo snails, an emerald crab and around 10 red hermit crabs
 
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lickyricky

lickyricky

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When I cycled my tank I used a bottle of bacteria and then used ammonia to cycle the tank, once the cycle was complete I added my first two fish in a 150g and some inverts.

I would slowly add a CUC once food comes available to them, i downgraded from a 150g to a reefer 250 and my cuc consists of two large Mexican turbo snails, an emerald crab and around 10 red hermit crabs

Thanks! Do you find your CUC to be effective with such a small amount?
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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agreed. part of the selling point of liferock is that the painted coralline is sealed in filtration bacteria, which reanimate upon hydration.

its not a stretch to claim that either, most of us have filtration bacteria on our eyelashes because we just rubbed eyes a little while ago and they're everywhere via contamination and association. to paint some onto rock is no particular stretch.

if your setup was mine id cycle it in the normal way, and whatever that painting yields is extra.

fill tank, use liquid ammonia addition to bring tank water to 1 ppm

add half a bottle of someone's cycling bacteria doesn't matter which cycling bacteria brand.

wait two weeks

bring tank back to 1 ppm ammonia

add other half of bottle wait two weeks

do massive water change at 4 weeks, refill, done, and that's even if you didn't test for a single parameter it always works and it will never not work. the only reason for testing and concerning is to beat the 30 day time frame if needed. its not that we can or cant use a fish, its that liquid ammonia is the simplest and nobody browbeats you for fish meanness.

if you do that 2 weeks/2 weeks sequence above it doesn't matter what you have regarding filtration or skimming it will still complete on time. what the skimmer removes is excess and will not change course. the aeration from the skimmer helps cycling as these are aerobes
 
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lickyricky

lickyricky

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agreed. part of the selling point of liferock is that the painted coralline is sealed in filtration bacteria, which reanimate upon hydration.

its not a stretch to claim that either, most of us have filtration bacteria on our eyelashes because we just rubbed eyes a little while ago and they're everywhere via contamination and association. to paint some onto rock is no particular stretch.

if your setup was mine id cycle it in the normal way, and whatever that painting yields is extra.

fill tank, use liquid ammonia addition to bring tank water to 1 ppm

add half a bottle of someone's cycling bacteria doesn't matter which cycling bacteria brand.

wait two weeks

bring tank back to 1 ppm ammonia

add other half of bottle wait two weeks

do massive water change at 4 weeks, refill, done, and that's even if you didn't test for a single parameter it always works and it will never not work. the only reason for testing and concerning is to beat the 30 day time frame if needed.

if you do that 2 weeks/2 weeks sequence above it doesn't matter what you have regarding filtration or skimming it will still complete on time.

I hear a lot of people mentioning liquid ammonia. Is there a specific brand or place I can find the appropriate one? And should I add enough to being to 1 ppm right from the get go?
 
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Greybeard

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I have zero experience with 'Liferock'... Supposed to be coated in something that encourages (releases??) bacteria, even saw a claim that it 'gives off ammonia'... I have no idea if this is true or not. I guess you could toss in the rock and monitor ammonia... wouldn't be too tough to find out if it's true or not.

For many years, I started establishing my bio-filter by tossing a salad shrimp into the tank and letting it rot. Worked... not perhaps the most efficient method, but it's better than the real old school method, throwing in a few cheap, hardy fish with the intention of burning their gills out with ammonia poisoning.

With my latest tank, I used the Red Sea 'Reef Mature' kit(s) to establish the bio filter. The kit consists of cultured bacteria, bacteria 'food', Alkalinity supplement, and NoPox (a carbon source). A bit pricey... the kits are like $25, and with my 150g system, I needed 3 of them. Still, I must say, I am very happy with the results. I'm a month or so past completing their program, and have only trace amounts of nitrate and phosphate, zero ammonia and nitrite... tank is happy and healthy, and everything I've put in it so far is doing well. I'd recommend the kit... highly for smaller tanks, less so for larger ones, simply due to cost. If you don't mind spending the money, even then.
 

Greybeard

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I have zero experience with 'Liferock'... Supposed to be coated in something that encourages (releases??) bacteria, even saw a claim that it 'gives off ammonia'... I have no idea if this is true or not. I guess you could toss in the rock and monitor ammonia... wouldn't be too tough to find out if it's true or not.

For many years, I started establishing my bio-filter by tossing a salad shrimp into the tank and letting it rot. Worked... not perhaps the most efficient method, but it's better than the real old school method, throwing in a few cheap, hardy fish with the intention of burning their gills out with ammonia poisoning.

With my latest tank, I used the Red Sea 'Reef Mature' kit(s) to establish the bio filter. The kit consists of cultured bacteria, bacteria 'food', Alkalinity supplement, and NoPox (a carbon source). A bit pricey... the kits are like $25, and with my 150g system, I needed 3 of them. Still, I must say, I am very happy with the results. I'm a month or so past completing their program, and have only trace amounts of nitrate and phosphate, zero ammonia and nitrite... tank is happy and healthy, and everything I've put in it so far is doing well. I'd recommend the kit... highly for smaller tanks, less so for larger ones, simply due to cost. If you don't mind spending the money, even then.
 

Jason mack

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agreed. part of the selling point of liferock is that the painted coralline is sealed in filtration bacteria, which reanimate upon hydration.

its not a stretch to claim that either, most of us have filtration bacteria on our eyelashes because we just rubbed eyes a little while ago and they're everywhere via contamination and association. to paint some onto rock is no particular stretch.

if your setup was mine id cycle it in the normal way, and whatever that painting yields is extra.

fill tank, use liquid ammonia addition to bring tank water to 1 ppm

add half a bottle of someone's cycling bacteria doesn't matter which cycling bacteria brand.

wait two weeks

bring tank back to 1 ppm ammonia

add other half of bottle wait two weeks

do massive water change at 4 weeks, refill, done, and that's even if you didn't test for a single parameter it always works and it will never not work. the only reason for testing and concerning is to beat the 30 day time frame if needed.

if you do that 2 weeks/2 weeks sequence above it doesn't matter what you have regarding filtration or skimming it will still complete on time. what the skimmer removes is excess and will not change course. the aeration from the skimmer helps cycling as these are aerobes
+1
 

HeulittSalmi

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For my last tank, I ghost fed and added NitroMaxx, its a two part solution. I was able to add in fish and other livestock around 14-16 days after starting, if not earlier. I know a few locals have used it and are able to start in 12-14 days but in my opinion, even if the tests say theres no ammonia or nitrites, I still would wait at least 3 weeks. Now to answer your questions, I have never ran a skimmer so I have no idea. I have heard people put in some stronger fish that are less prone to issues with cycling, but just because they are alive in the tank doesnt mean they are thriving or happy, I personally wait until I know the cycle is over. I have hard some people use other bacteria boosters like BioSpira and add one or two fish right away but I dont like doing that. And I just got a clean up crew for my 30 gallon that consisted of 6 red hermits, 6 blue, a sand conch, 5 astraea snails, 5 ceriths, 5 margarita snails and a peppermint shrimp. It was a basic package for $45 or something like that, and in my opinion it was a little overboard. Personally I didnt want a shrimp and it was supposed to have nassarius but they were out of stock. But from the tanks i have hard I would always recommend getting one or two more of each member of the CUC just incase of death as you put them into the tank. I have always acclimated my CUC and within a week or so a few of each type I add always pass on, especially the hermits.
 
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JaaxReef

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+1 for Red Sea Reef Mature pro kit. I have the same exact tank as you and was able to do it with no issues using one kit. Kept the lights off the whole time, since I too started with dry rock and live sand. This kept the diatom bloom to a minimum over the first few months as it faded so I didn't hate looking at my tank.

I think I added my first fish at 3 or 4 weeks once I tested zero ammonia and nitrite, and my nitrates were down to 10ppm. Nitrates kept dropping over the next couple weeks and then I was able to add some corals. I love the E170 tank and the setup! The skimmer was, and still is, surprisingly good once dialed in. The other equipment and Hydra 26HD are great too!
 
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lickyricky

lickyricky

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I have zero experience with 'Liferock'... Supposed to be coated in something that encourages (releases??) bacteria, even saw a claim that it 'gives off ammonia'... I have no idea if this is true or not. I guess you could toss in the rock and monitor ammonia... wouldn't be too tough to find out if it's true or not.

For many years, I started establishing my bio-filter by tossing a salad shrimp into the tank and letting it rot. Worked... not perhaps the most efficient method, but it's better than the real old school method, throwing in a few cheap, hardy fish with the intention of burning their gills out with ammonia poisoning.

With my latest tank, I used the Red Sea 'Reef Mature' kit(s) to establish the bio filter. The kit consists of cultured bacteria, bacteria 'food', Alkalinity supplement, and NoPox (a carbon source). A bit pricey... the kits are like $25, and with my 150g system, I needed 3 of them. Still, I must say, I am very happy with the results. I'm a month or so past completing their program, and have only trace amounts of nitrate and phosphate, zero ammonia and nitrite... tank is happy and healthy, and everything I've put in it so far is doing well. I'd recommend the kit... highly for smaller tanks, less so for larger ones, simply due to cost. If you don't mind spending the money, even then.

Thanks so much! I didn't even know about this kit from Red Sea but I just ordered it on Amazon! Hoping for the best
 
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lickyricky

lickyricky

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+1 for Red Sea Reef Mature pro kit. I have the same exact tank as you and was able to do it with no issues using one kit. Kept the lights off the whole time, since I too started with dry rock and live sand. This kept the diatom bloom to a minimum over the first few months as it faded so I didn't hate looking at my tank.

I think I added my first fish at 3 or 4 weeks once I tested zero ammonia and nitrite, and my nitrates were down to 10ppm. Nitrates kept dropping over the next couple weeks and then I was able to add some corals. I love the E170 tank and the setup! The skimmer was, and still is, surprisingly good once dialed in. The other equipment and Hydra 26HD are great too!

What type of CUC do you have in your Max E?
 

JaaxReef

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I don't like hermits because they kill my snails and walked all over my euphyllia corals and ticked them off. So I'm a big fan of other clean up crew options. I currently just have 6 astrea snails (who do a great job cleaning my rocks) a cleaner shrimp (just to get any leftover food), and one tiger conch for the sand bed. I don't have an issue with nutrients or algae at the moment so if I added any more they might starve. Trochus and Nassarius snails are also fantastic. I'd stay away from the Mexican Turbos since from my experience the get pretty big, poop a lot, and knock things like corals and frags around.

For that same reason, I'd recommend starting with a small amount and add them as needed. Or, like many people who buy those large cleanup crew packs, you'll have a continuing die off of starving critters bringing up your nutrients and creating more algae and problems in the long haul anyway.

If you want one, I wouldn't add a tiger conch until the tank matures, but it is definitely my favorite cleanup crew member for its goofy look and personality.
 
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lickyricky

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I don't like hermits because they kill my snails and walked all over my euphyllia corals and ****** them off. So I'm a big fan of other clean up crew options. I currently just have 6 astrea snails (who do a great job cleaning my rocks) a cleaner shrimp (just to get any leftover food), and one tiger conch for the sand bed. I don't have an issue with nutrients or algae at the moment so if I added any more they might starve. Trochus and Nassarius snails are also fantastic. I'd stay away from the Mexican Turbos since from my experience the get pretty big, poop a lot, and knock things like corals and frags around.

For that same reason, I'd recommend starting with a small amount and add them as needed. Or, like many people who buy those large cleanup crew packs, you'll have a continuing die off of starving critters bringing up your nutrients and creating more algae and problems in the long haul anyway.

If you want one, I wouldn't add a tiger conch until the tank matures, but it is definitely my favorite cleanup crew member for its goofy look and personality.

Very helpful! Thanks so much
 

IslandLifeReef

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I have the same exact tank as you. I started the end of March. I cycled using Dr Timms ammonia and a bottle of Kent bacteria and followed the instructions on Dr Timms website. It took about 2.5 weeks. I also used life rock. As far as CUC goes, I have 3 blue legged hermits, and 4 snails. They are doing a great job at keeping the tank clean. I have two clowns, a yellow watchman, frogspawn, green mushroom coral, orange acan, 3 headed duncan rapidly becoming 9 heads, and a jedi montipora. No issues with algae and I am dosing red sea reef energy.
 

Greybeard

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+1 for Red Sea Reef Mature pro kit. I have the same exact tank as you and was able to do it with no issues using one kit. Kept the lights off the whole time, since I too started with dry rock and live sand. This kept the diatom bloom to a minimum over the first few months as it faded so I didn't hate looking at my tank.

Yeah, I didn't mention the blooms... kinda part of the process. I went through diatoms, then got a thin, fine layer of green hair algae all over. Neither one lasted very long. I don't know that this is really a failing of the red sea kit... algae, diatom, and/or cyano blooms during break in are pretty common, no matter what method you're using. Ride it out, that's about all you can do, really.
 

becks

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Thanks! Do you find your CUC to be effective with such a small amount?

Yes generally, I have two cleaner shrimp too. I want to get two porcelain crabs too.

Hermits get alotnof bad press but the scarlet hermit crabs are pretty safe and none of them killed each other
 
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JaaxReef

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Yes generally, I have two cleaner shrimp too. I want to get two porcelain crabs too.

Hermits get alotnof bad press but the scarlet hermit crabs are pretty safe and none of them killed each other

Agreed! Scarlet hermits were the only ones that didn't eat my snails. Not once. That being said they still walked all over my fleshy polyp corals without a care in the world. It didn't permanently damage any of them, but I like to enjoy my corals without their polyps retracted.

Just don't confuse the scarlet hermits with the red Cortez hermits that are pretty much the opposite in disposition.
 

Reefishness

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My .02 cents and IME:
Small systems (less than 50 gallons) are really easy to cycle quickly IF you want. I've setup my last three systems this way and cycled my tanks in 8 days with no distress to my fish. I just setup my 34g RSM Nano on July 31.

Here's how:
Setup your tank. Add two clowns (or your desired starter fish) and at same time add Dr Tim's Live Nitrifying Bacteria. Don't run your skimmer for 48 hrs, monitor your NH4 levels, about every 2 days you'll perform a 50% water change when NH4 approaches .50, you want to keep it at or below .25, in approx 8 days your tank should cycle.

For larger system (> 100g), DON'T add fish, instead, use liquid ammonia to feed seeded bacteria. As mentioned don't run skimmer for two days. Continue monitoring NH4 levels for the drop off.

Your tank will cycle quickly give or take a few days. It does work! :)

John from ReefCleaners will mail you a CUC just right for your system. See his website. You can add these guys about 2 weeks after your setup or a week after your cycle if you have the substrate for them to munch on. After 11 days I have just the right amount algae for them to graze on. I just added mine Friday, so 11 days after my setup.

On Thursday I added my TLF's CPR nano reactor with 30mls of bio-pellets for my system (I started with 1/3 my final desired bio-pellet dose).

I already have two Black Ice Clowns, a rainbow nem, torch, and a hammer that I added when I setup my tank. I wouldn't advise you add other animals until you're familiar with the accelerated cycle process.

Yesterday, I went ahead and added one Banggai Cardinalfish, one Yellow Coris Wrasse, and one Scarlet Skink Cleaner Shrimp. My tank water is too clean and I want to tend to a mix reef setup. I'll post a pic of my 34.

Today I'll be getting a BRS 5" reactor with carbon on board and that should do it.

On a side note, if you order online I personally wouldn't order live bacteria off Amazon. I myself would order straight from the provider.

Every tank is different. I'd be interested to hear others .02 too as there's so many ways to setup and break in the water column and substrate :)

Take care-
 

Saltyanimals

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There are different schools of thoughts on running a skimmer when cycling a tank. I've never ran it during any of my new cycle as I didn't see the need personally especially when plenty of folks have successfully run a tank without ever running skimmer. So I personally leave it off until all things slowly settle in when I have the proper bioload and reintroducing it. my $0.02.

And great work on the rock scape.
 

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