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WTB live rock and cheap conditioning fish ie damsels


mpalleyn217
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This is my first time using this forum so not sure if I'm doing the post right, but here it goes. So I am a new saltwater fish aquarist and I have had some bad luck so far, made pretty much every rookie mistake possible, so in other words, I'm on my last end and I wanna make sure I don't burn anymore money. I have a tank that has been cycling for almost 2 months now, kinda, I put 5 expensive fish in after 1 month and they all died within 5 days, so nothing alive in the tank right now (watched an episode of 'Tanked' and saw those guys dump a hundred fish in all at once.... lesson learned). I was told to do a few things; get snails and damsels (or other cheap hardy fish that will condition the tank), a bunch more live rock (only have 16 pounds in a 72 gal bowfront), and put plants in my refugium/sump. If anyone has any further advice or comments on the advice I've gotten already, PLEASE enlighten me! Because something doesnt add up to me; my levels are all good, I check my PH, nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, salinity, temperature and I also perform monthly 20-40% water changes, all within normal limits, but for some reason my fish don't survive. I have a smaller tank I've been running for about 5 months which has had most the same issues, and I really dont want to give up the hobby, but I've already burned over $300 in dead fish. Anyway, I've heard that lots of people will get a lot of cheap fish for their tank to condition it and will typically sell for cheap or give away for free, I'm looking for that guy. Also, I want to get at least 50 lbs more live rock in my larger tank but I'm not trying to spend any more than $100, anyone have any they can sell me for cheap or have advice on where I can get some for about $2/lb.?

 

Thanks! (scary)

Michael

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I'd get dry rock from somewhere like marcorocks or reefcleaners.org for your rock since you're on a budget. the live rock you have will 'seed' the dry stuff over the course of a month or two. I wouldn't add more than 3-4" of fish at a time until everything's super stable. so you could get a couple damsels or a clown or something.

If you want to make sure, just go to the grocery store and buy a clam or shrimp or something and toss it in there with just rock and water, the bacteria will get kick started with the new food to chew on. you should see ammonia spike, then nitrite and finally nitrate. I wouldn't add a single fish or coral until you see algae start to take over (or diatoms). When you see that, get dozens of hermits and dozens of snails, maybe a shrimp or two (this time the shrimp should be a nice one...not the grocery store). once the algae is under control and the water changes are keeping nitrates/phosphates to low values and there's no ammonia or nitrite, add that first fish or two.

 

Personally, unless you want a bunch of aggressive fish, I'd do a goby or chromis, not damsels.

 

if you buy a box (say 50lbs) of dry rock, you might get someone to trade you pound-for-pound with their live stuff if you let them pick their favorite piece. getting a piece from someone (or two someones) else would help the system. I would jump at that deal...but that's just me

 

best of luck!

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So I usually go to Woody at Seahorse and he had me mix some ammonia with some of his live sand and put it in the tank at the beginning when I first started to cycle the tank, and I had the algae build-up and after 1 1/2 months I put those 5 fish in there that all died. I was told they probably died because the tank wasnt' mature enough for them yet and because putting 5 fish all in at once (even though aclimated) probably caused the ammonia to spike, which was the likely cause for their demise. I was also told that I shouldnt buy fish at Petco, which is where I got them. So my tank has been sitting for maybe even 2 1/2 months now, should I move onto getting some hermit crabs and snails right now? Also, do you know the cheapest best place to get those cheap fish that will condition the tank? I was told some places have them for $2 a piece. Also, Woody had me pt a Plentum in both of my tanks and someone told me that I should take them out, any input there?

 

Thanks,

Michael

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sounds like the tank may well be cycled but if they didn't die because they showed up with diseases (common with petco), they probably succumbed due the sudden bioload. everytime you add something new that 'poops' you're going to have a mini-cycle till the bacteria catch up, adding 5 big fish at once was probably too much of a 'mini' cycle and the ammonia spike killed them. I'd bet if you'd checked the ammonia and nitrite when they died you would see it pretty noticeably.

 

I don't use a plenum. if it's not set up just right, it can harbor some nasty stuff.

 

I know Garret has really good deals on the hermits/snails, but he's in salem. $1 a piece is pretty good in general, I'd say (for the clean up crew types).

 

$2 is as low as you'll find them probably, maybe 3-4. I'd say that if you've got some algae or diatoms going to add a couple cheap fish and a bunch of hermits/snails. common wisdom is about 1.5xthe number of gallons for the CUC (that can be a blend of hermits and snails). you don't HAVE to have them right away,but they make it so you don't have to be fighting the algae by hand.

 

I'd take out the plenum, let the sand settle and if you're still 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite and there's a little algae/diatoms, I'd get 1-2 fish and about 20-30 CUC members and see how it goes. If more than about 5-10% of the CUC doesn't live, you either have a tank problem or a terrible source.

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