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Setting up a 20g nano for my kids...


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Hi Everyone,


(warning: long and verbose...)


I'm new to this site and also new to keeping a saltwater aquarium. My wife con (uh, I mean convinced) me to setup a saltwater aquarium for my two young kids. So, I've been reading as much as I can on this forum and other forum Google brings up. There is so much info it's making my head spin...


Anyways, Yesterday, I setup a new 29g Biocube HQI with Live Rock (40-50 lbs, 6 year-old) from a gal on Craigslist. It has tons of Coraline algae, purple/green mushrooms, and other stuff (I don't know what they are) growing on it. She told me the system is ready to go when the water parameters are inline.


So, I've been monitoring the water quality (temp, sg, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) and they are all inline. Except tonight, I measured a pH of 8.0 (it was 8.2 last night). So, I went to PetCo to see if I can get something to help with the pH, but the salesperson sent me home with two damsel fishes (to help seed the ammonia) and 3 hermit crabs and two snails (to help with my pending algae breakout).


So, am I doing this right?


- I was expecting my tank to build up Ammonia, but it didn't, or at least not yet. Do I need to wait some more, or is my talk already "cycled" due to the use of well established live rock?


- Am I too early in introducing the Damsel fishes? I did read that you can use them as "sacrificial" ammonia producing engines. Do I just throw in some raw shrimp to help "kick-start" the cycle?


- Do I need to "fix" my pH problem? How should I do this? baking soda? chemicals? Or just add more argonite gravel?


Sorry for the this extremely long thread, just hoping maybe someone can give me a clue...


Photos of my setup

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Just as an FYI, but a saltwater tank can take up to 6 months to cycle, and never, ever listen to the people at PETCO, they are an evil evil store who's only mission is to make money off of us. Check out RoseCity Aquarium, Nick is the owner and he is extremely helpful, and don't be afraid to ask any and all questions of us here on the board. In this hobby, there really is no such thing as a dumb or stupid question. Also, I would recommend taking the fish back to PETCO and demanding your money back, it is way to early to try and add any fish to the system.

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Never liked my damsel - too aggressive and [language filter] hard to catch. Your pH is fine right now for what's in the tank. What you are waiting for is the bacteria in the water and sand, to a lesser extent, take hold and find a balance. Clean up crew is good to have in there right now. You will probably watch your sand turn brown or red soon (don't panic). Sounds like you have a test kit so keep monitoring the parameters and get a lab book and start keeping a journal of test results, maintenance and any changes you make to the setup. Here's the most important suggestion - 'go slow'. Use this time to read, read and read. Fenner and Paletta both have good books. Our forum here has a huge amount of solid advice and will connect you to the local hobbyist community. Nano-reef.com, reefcentral.com, and reef2reef.com are some other good sites. I will also add that our sponsors list is a great place to start if you want the best knowledge and experience in a retail setting. Each store has it's own personality and specialty so check them all out and take what you need from each one.

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My advice regarding PH is not tot get to wrapped up in it. Don’t get me wrong PH is important, but too many people in my opinion chase PH, dosing this and doing that trying to get the perfect "8.3"-I USED to do this for the 1st year myself


My ph will drop at night to lows of 7.85 with daily highs of 8.30-8.35, and these swings happen every single day. Once we hit winter and my house is not as "open" as it is in the summer, my daily PH may not exceed 8.2.-Its easy for me to see my PH at a glance as I have an APEX controller running everything so it easy to look and plus it graphs up to 7 days what the levels are-and they are up’down al the time. You will always have those swings unless you run a refugium on a reverse photo period to your tank lights


Your corals/fish will be a great indicator when the water is "not right"


Good luck and welcome to the site-


Ask away anytime

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  • 4 weeks later...

I cant believe i am first to ask this but post some pics....please.. I am starting a 29 hqi after having a large reeftank for 6+years....love nanos never had one but i do now...I just got get it on the ground and cycling... corals and fish are a good parameter for water quality issues.. for the first few years i was the water cahnge and testing maniac.. after a while i realized i dont need to be over the top about it and once i did my tank really took off.. water changes are good but dooing it just to say you did, isnt... and welcome.

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