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I have a 500 gallon salt water tank with bio balls and live rock.       7/19/16
The live rock is inside the tank and some of it is in the sump. I have constant nitrate problems so I am wanting to change over to all live rock in my tank and sump.
<Mmmm; I wouldn't do this. Instead am a fan of increasing denitrification... via a DSB... best in a plumbed-in sump/refugium... Macro-algal culture, RDP... READ here:

and the linked files at top>
I had to raise the water level in the sump a couple of weeks ago to cover the live rock which I added to the sump. Now the water level in the sump covers the bio balls where it previously dripped on the bio balls. Does the effectiveness of the bio balls change when the bio balls are submerged instead of being dripped on. I'm trying to find out why I have a spike in ammonia.
<Can; yes.... "drowns" nitrifiers initially>
Thank you
<The reading. Bob Fenner>

Cupramine in display tank and ammonia; rdg.        10/21/15
I'm currently fighting marine ich in my mixed reef tank. (400gal).
<No fun; have you read re the use of Quinines?>
I wanted to know if I removed all corals and inverts from DT and treated the DT with Cupramine, will that be fine?
<Fine? Not fine.... trouble when you go to reintroduce these from the copper leaching back out.... You should read, really
Or will the copper kill of all other organisms and cause an ammonia spike?
Most of my fish are tangs
Thank you in advance Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Smartphone.
<Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
Scroll down to Parasites, Protozoans, Cryptocaryon.... Bob Fenner>

No reading, sense in treating a large SW sys.        10/29/13
I have a 500 gallon salt water fish only aquarium with a uv sterilizer and protein skimmer. The tank is about 3 months old and I transferred all my fish from my old 210 gallon into the 500 tank. Of course I went with bigger skimmer and wet dry filter.
<Not a favored mode nowayears; particularly for large/r volumes. Search/read on WWM re... >
I have a combination of bio balls and matrix in sump. I just recently added a tusk and he died after two weeks.
<Search/read on WWM re selection of Choerodon fasciata... many are bunk... from the P.I....>
 I just added a Naso tang and he ate well but now about two weeks later has glossy eyes and frayed fins. I have been dipping him in ParaGuard
<...? For what, reason?>
 but I  need to treat the tank but my problem is I have two bamboo coral cat sharks that are doing real good.

I know I cant use copper
<Actually, Hemiscylliids aren't particularly toxified by copper salts... But, I would treat with quinine compound (QS, CP) if it were me, mine and there was a DEMONSTRATED use here (microscopic confirmation...)... Do you have a Kindle acct.? I've just published an eBk on Sharks, Rays... you can borrow, read for free... otherwise all of this is gone over and over on
WWM... you'd just have to search a bit more>
how about MelaFix
<... you joking? See WWM re... Done. Bob Fenner>
 in the tank with sharks.
Thank you for your assistance.

Protein Skimmer Help (effective AND cheap?...no) – 09/27/13
Hey Folks,
<<Hey Dave>>
I am currently working on a build that will include a 300gal display, a 55 gallon display, 33 gallon frag tank, 40 gal refugium/acclimation tank, and a 75 gallon sump all plumbed into one system.
My current problem is coming up with a cost effective (and by that I mean cheap) method of protein skimming everything.
<<Mmm…a bit of a contradiction (“cheap” and “effective” skimming/skimmers). “Effective” skimmers don’t usually translate to being “cheap.” Quality design and materials come at a premium, especially the imports. My fave skimmer manufacturer is Reef Dynamics (formerly Euro Reef) in California. I have a 375g display with a 75g sump and 55g in-line refugium. The display is a well-stocked SPS dominant Pacific patch-reef biotope. All is skimmed with a Euro Reef CS12-3 I bought ten years ago for around $900. The skimmer works great still… I think what I’m getting at here is…don’t “skimp” on skimmer selection>>
I have a brand new Bubble Magus BM-220A that I purchased for the setup but I'm having my doubts as to if it will be able to handle the load.
<<You might be surprised…though ultimately much will depend on what you are asking it to do…e.g.- your tank husbandry skills/practices, stocking levels, and the use of any ancillary processes (chemical filtration/ozone)>>
I also have a Reef Octopus NWB-150 and an SC Aquariums 302 skimmer.
Would it make sense to run multiple skimmers throughout the setup?
I have been debating running the BM in the 75 sump, the RO in the refugium, and the SC in the frag tank (all with baffles to separate skimmer from anything in the tanks). Maybe that’s overkill and just complicating everything?
<<If it were me, I would keep any skimmer OUT of the refugium (just defeats the purpose) and just use the BM and RO skimmers in the sump and frag tank to start. I think you will find these two will “do the job”>>
Live stock currently will be yellow tang, hippo tang, Naso tang, a blenny, a goby, melanurus wrasse, pair of clowns, royal gramma, and both tanks will be heavily stocked with corals of all types including SPS. I have also been tossing around the idea of incorporating an algae scrubber in the setup rather than running multiple skimmers.
<<Too fiddly for my tastes…”I” would go with the skimmers>>
Let me know what you think I should do.
<<I think I have… Cheers… EricR>>
Re: Protein Skimmer Help (effective AND cheap?...no); lg. sys. sel., maint.  – 09/30/13

Thanks for the input!
<<Quite welcome, Dave…and my apologies for the delayed response>>
Just curious, what is your general maintenance schedule with your tank? Water changes?
<<50 gallons every 2-3 weeks>>
Blowing off Rock Work?
<<About once a month or so…nothing to “rigid”>>
Any Chemicals run?
<<Carbon (3 cups changed bi-monthly), GFO (1 cup changed bi-monthly), and ozone (via an O3 reactor)>>
<<Calcium (chloride), carbonates (soda ash), bicarbonates (baking soda), and magnesium (Epsom salts). Small amounts added daily with monthly adjustment per testing results>>
Nitrate Reduction?
<<Natural…via rock and sand in both the display and refugium>>
Etc . . .
<<I give the tank a “once over” on a daily basis (mechanics and livestock) to keep an eye out for anything that might need immediate attention>>
I believe I read on the site somewhere that your display is mostly open with only about 60lbs of live rock!?
<<Tis true…if that much…at least in the display. I have another 20lbs-30lbs in the 55g refugium, along with about 6-inches of live sand>>
I was figuring closer to 250 lbs in the 300gal for mine (I like the look of more rock in the tank).
<<To each…>>
My 55 is currently running with approx. 100lbs of rock in it. I was planning on using a combo of the deep sand bed, Chaetomorpha, and mangroves in the fuge with 90w (6 - 15w) of red/blue led grow lights (I love the grow bulbs, I've noticed significant increase in algae/plant growth in my fuge) . Also I like the idea of keeping a skimmer out of the fuge so I will just run the 2.
I also have always run GFO, Carbon and UV on my setups along with 2 part dosing.
I tend to do few water changes on my current systems (usually 10-15% every 2 months or so)
<<Keep with what works for you>>
but have always tested low or 0 for nitrates. I will probably have to do more water changes with the larger setup depending on what my total load ends up being.
<<With ”total load” being key here>>
Let me know what you think and if I'm heading in the right direction or any corrections you may make.
<<You’re using more rock than I would…but that doesn’t make it wrong. You should be fine to proceed as you plan>>
I love your site and I'm always on it looking for ideas.
<<We are pleased to know>>
<<Happy to share!>>

Re: Nitrate Reduction... f' also Lg. sys. maint., Shark sys....     9/15/13
... Are you joking? Re file size? Deleted. READ re our requirements, limitations... re-size and re-send all. B
Re: Nitrate Reduction    9/15/13

Ok,  Still working on the nitrate problem.   I have attached some pics of the sump and tank so you can see what I am working with.
<Have gone over all>
 I am looking at a few possibilities regarding this nitrate issue.   After reviewing the responses you have given me I am noticing I am very limited on what I can do.  Let me know what you think.    I have tried to figure a way to retrofit the bags but I have no way of setting them under the outflow pumps.   The sump was designed with an access tray that I was going to try to remove but could not I may be able to clip them to where the tray slides out by doubt it would be very effective.
<Do see CPR's site re:
  I do not have enough room in the sump for a refugium but I am going to have one built that I can tie into the main sump. 
Regarding that how many gallons does that sump need to be in order to be effective.
<As big as possible... whatever the largest size you can fit>
  In the meantime I have thought about pulling the matrix from the tank and cleaning it then placing it back into the sump.
  Would you recommend this or would this be more detrimental.
<Don't think it would make any difference at all; the washing... I'd just leave in place>
   I have noticed any heavy shifting can cause a nitrate and nitrite spike in my tank in the past.
<Shifting? Of what? How?>
  I have also noticed that since I have gone to changing the pads everyday that it almost seems pre mature since they look brand new when I pull the three floss pads out.  No staining at all.  Will an increase in water amount that I change per water change help to solve this problem. 
<Not much; no; and only temporarily... several hours to a day or so>
Possibly going from 100-150 gallons up to 200 gallons per week or even more or would that damage the stability of the tank.  
 I attached the pics so you can see the tank.  Everything is extremely healthy even the Duncans,  Mushroom Corals, Gorgonians and African Red Seastar.
  Maybe I am  over reacting but I just want to provide the best environment that I can for these guys.  PS.  I am using an API nitrate test kit and I have heard these test really high.
<I'd invest in a better make... API is really rudimentary... see WWM re such>
  I have three different test kits with API and have used all of them and they are all the same.  From your experience are these not accurate.
<Nor precise. Do get going on that 'fuge... add as much (a foot or more) of very fine sand... and alternating light cycle (RDP)... You're going to need all this, these changes, addenda as these fishes grow MUCH larger. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Nitrate Reduction    9/15/13
So to refresh
1.  Eliminate SeaChem matrix all together.
<Mmm, I'd keep it if I'd paid for it>
2.  Build as big a refugium as possible.
3.  Sand in refugium at a depth of one foot.
<Or deeper!>
4.  Increase weekly water changes to 200 gallons weekly.
<If you don't go broke or break your back!>
Is this accurate.
I assume you mean a one foot depth sand bed in the refugium.
<Ah yes. BobF>

Additional Info to the 540 aquarium that I manage. (ATTN SCOTT)  11/14/10
<Hi Christopher,>
Recently I have cleaned all algae and have done a 135 gallon water change.
I also placed about 20 pounds of live rock in the sumps for more bacteria growth to help fight the nitrates.
<Can you link me to where you read live rock reduces nitrates?>
I have made my recommendations on how to re plumb. I have also made a 3.5 ft long feeding stick out of acrylic and graphite rod to feed the snow flake moray eel. This should reduce pollution in tank. I developed a proper feeding routine and have implemented it with the owners permission.
<Sounds like you have things going in the right direction. Thank you for turning the tank around. It is good for the hobby as a whole to have properly maintained tanks in public view.>
<Scott T.>

Titanium heaters   5/2/10
Hi crew!
I need your help. I've got a 240 gallon aquarium with three heaters
<Mmm, I don't generally "trust" small "aquarium heaters" to their own controllers... I strongly suggest you look into an external controller to plug two heaters into, give up on the third, or use it in the intermediate
sump suggested below>
in my sump. These heaters are capable of maintaining its temperature, except while I'm doing a water change. I have my 1/4" tap water filtration plumbed into the discharge side of my sump, and a 1 1/2"
drain plumbed into the intake side of the same sump.
So my dilemma is that during the water change my temperature goes down.
<I'd pre-heat, heat the new water before introducing it... and have some sort of "fail safe" mechanism/s built/engineered into this water refill system. That is, I would, do not trust the one quarter inch delivery to
"stop"... I suspect it is actuated/controlled by a single "float switch" mechanism... I would use an "intermediate sump" for your make-up water... Heat, do whatever treatment you want there... and have this finite volume of water available to do your changes... re-fill it periodically>
If I do a trickle, the temp. could take 8 hours to go down, If I do full force (rapid WC), the temp. goes down in about 2 hours. We're not talking about a huge temp. drop, about 3 to 4 degrees.
<Depending on the livestock, this drop may not be a big deal>
It then takes another 12 to 16 hours to regain the original temp. So I'm restricted as to the duration of my water changes.
So my thought was to get a 800 watt Titanium heater to cure the problem. I'd be happy if I was restricted to doing a trickle change for 24 hours if the temp. stayed the same. I've heard these types of heaters heat faster
than the conventional glass tube types. Does anyone have experience with these. What brands are better? Anyone been using one for years? Best prices?
Thanks for your help.
<See Aquatic Eco-Systems site for their offerings if you go the Ti heater route. T'were it me, I'd do what I outline above instead. Far safer, less energy consuming. Bob Fenner>

Does Kalk dosing bleach coralline algae? Can 01/13/10
I recently started dosing Kalk wasser with the objective of raising pH, alkalinity and calcium levels as all have been low for several months. My coralline algae is now turning white.
In case you are going to post this, I will refrain from the entire equipment list, as I realize those posts can be very chewy. I'll just give the basics:
*1.5 year old system with approx 375 gallons of system water (280G MDT, 55G 7inch DSB (sugar fine) fuge and 90G sump that has approx 40G during run time).
*FOWLR with 1-2 inch medium substrate, approx 200lb live rock.
*Good turn over via 2 return pumps and power heads in MDT - turn over 15+ times an hour.
*I run carbon and D-D Rowa Phosban in TLF reactors
*Gigundo recirc skimmer which is a Warner Marine knock-off (18 inch diameter, 3 foot tall, 3 Sedra 9000 pumps).
*Fuge has Chaeto macro and a few rocks in addition to the 7 inch DSB.
*400W PC (half actinic and half 10K)
*No mechanical filtration used in the way of socks, pre-filters on pumps, etc.
*Only 10 fish totaling approx 30 inches. I haven't added any new fish in 6 months, because I wanted to get my green hair algae problem under control which has not yet happened - but that GHA issue is not the objective of this request.
parameters before Kalk dosing started approximately 2 weeks ago:
temp 79.0
Salinity 1.025
phosphate and nitrate give me 0 readings but I know false - locked up in the piles of GHA I have been battling for months now
pH 7.85
Mag 1300
Alk anywhere from 4.0 to 7.0 KH (depending on how long after last water change and how much buffer I added)
calc anywhere from 390 to 350 (goes with the Alk - I think I understand the marble analogy)
I started dosing Kalk because my pH was chronically low <Ok, but, generally, you don't use Kalk to increase pH (though it can help). Do you have a lid on this tank? It might be that you have high CO2 in your water... not enough aeration.>
and I have always used Alk buffers (Kent) to raise Alk / pH following my weekly 65-100 gallon RODI based water changes, but not only was that getting very expensive, it was not keeping my alkalinity in check and therefore pH constantly wavering and always ending up toward low acceptable end. For the first year or so the tank was established, I only use to do 35G weekly water changes (always RODI which is tested with TDS meter) but once the GHA kicked in, I stepped it up to 70G (2 Rubbermaid), and at one point used 3 (105 gallon). I think it was around the time I increased the water changes to 100G per week that my Alk (and pH) took a nose dive? I aerate the RODI fresh water for a couple days before adding salt mix (Oceanic) and then aerate salt water another few days before water change.
I do not buffer the water change water before using.
<You should. A buffer *maintains* pH.>
Every time I have tried to buffer the water change water (either before adding salt mix or after adding salt mix) the entire contents turn milk white, so I don't do that anymore.
<Ok, there's no real need to aerate the change water before adding the salt. If it were me, I'd add the salt and buffer to the RODI, then aerate for a few days. By then, the water should clear up and everything should be nice and buffered and aerated.>
BTW - the massive weekly water changes had no impact on GHA whatsoever (maybe I have a super strand), so I now do more like 40-50G water changes per week.
<Have you checked to make sure your RODI filter is working properly? Do you have a TDS meter?><<See above. RMF>>
So back to the objective of this dissertation: I wanted to find a cheaper solution to my low Alk / low pH problem, so I scoured WWM for dozens and dozens of hours to try and educate myself. I settled on dosing Kalk, because I thought I had a good handle on how / why / what it would do for me. I believe if I can ever get my pH to stabilize above 8.0, then the 7 inch DSB of aragonite sugar fine sand SHOULD help maintain decent Alk levels right?
<Unfortunately, imo, this is a bit of bad info that has managed to linger on WWM... sugar fine aragonite will not help maintain your Alk levels to any appreciable degree.>
That's why I am going down this path anyway. So now for approximately 2 weeks, I have been mixing up 2 teaspoons of the Kent Kalk mix in RODI water in a 1 gallon milk jug, shaken vigorously, and capped for at least 7 hours before slow dripping to high flow area of sump. I use 2 of these 1G mixes per day
<For 375g system, you might need more than this starting out.>
and only at night time when MDT lights off and only drip the super saturated portion. Since I have started my new parameters are:
pH 8.05 to 8.10
Alk 8.0 KH
<These parameters are probably ok.>
calcium 340-360 - going down marginally??!
Mag 1400 (I have dosed some Mag a couple times since starting the Kalk dosing with hopes calcium would increase)
I can live with these numbers although I assumed they would be higher and I don't understand why calcium levels are actually dropping a little?
<There could be lots of reasons for this... it might be settling out or being taken up by invertebrates...>
I have 2 different calcium test kits and they are both giving identical readings. I even brought water to LFS and they have confirmed.
But regardless of the new parameters, now all of my coralline is bleaching out!
<Hmm... maybe it's being out bid for nutrients by the green hair algae?>
That's the coralline on the live rocks, on the back and sides of MDT, in fuge and skimmer, etc. I have also noticed clumping of the sand in the DSB of fuge. I should note that the DSB in fuge has only been in place for 4 or 5 weeks. Previously, the fuge only had a 2-3 inch medium grade aragonite substrate.
Is this bleaching normal? Should I stop dosing the Kalk?
<I don't think you should stop dosing Kalk. It's possible the coralline didn't appreciate the "sudden" change in parameters (but if that's the case, it should come back after the system has been stable for awhile).
Regardless, something seems a bit "wrong" about your system in general.
Where are all these nutrients coming from in a 375g tank with only 10 fish?
Seems odd. What are you feeding the tank?>
Thank you very much for your invaluable resources / service you guys offer here by the way!
<Our pleasure.>
Not to mention, thank you for spending half your night reading this lengthy post, and I really hope you can further educate me as to what might be going on here.
<I'd test your RODI water with a TDS meter... and try to figure out why you have this algae problem. What are you feeding the tank? What other supplements are you using? Are you sure you have enough aeration in the system? Do you have the "right" invertebrates for clean up, etc.?
Because, despite your respectable efforts, your system is "off balance."
Something isn't quite right somewhere...>
Sara M.>

Heavy Bioload and Algae Control in XL Marine System  3/30/08 Hi folks, <<Mike.>> I was wondering if you could offer some advice? <<I will attempt to.>> I have two 750 gal fish-only marine aquariums that share a common filtration system (sump, refugium, PS - i.e. same water). <<Okay.>> Tank One has around 10 tangs <<What species/genus?>> (plus 13 other tank mates - butterflies, angels, percula clowns and Chromis) that do an awesome job keeping the tank clean of hair and other algae. Tank Two contains a 9" Lion, 8" Cowfish, 5" Picasso and 5" Clown triggers, 9" French angel, 8" queen angel, 8" Dogfaced puffer, 8" spiny box puffer, 9" Lunar Wrasse and finally a 10" Sohal tang. <<Heavy bioload on both tanks.>> This tank has an unsightly hair algae problem. Is there ANY creature that I can add that won't get pummeled by the Sohal or eaten by the triggers that might graze on the algae? <<In such a rough and tumble tank I honestly would not recommend any invertebrate and I too would be concerned about adding any more fish, not only because of aggression but I would not want to add any more to the bioload. Even if we were able to find an animal that would consume the hair algae/Cyano it would only mask the real issue which is an overabundance of dissolved organics.>> Would Nudibranch work? <<Certainly not.>> I don't think I can catch the Sohal to introduce other tangs and then reintroduce him - barring a harpoon. <<I wouldn't introduce more animals anyway, see above.>> As you can tell there is a heavy bioload on the system. <<Oh yes.>> I do monthly water changes of about 125gal. About every two weeks I pull out 20lbs of macro algae from the refugium and I am experimenting with coil denitrators (but haven't get them working yet). <<Sounds like you are on the right track to dealing with your nutrient issues, if feasible a larger refugium and or more water changes would help. Nutrients are accumulating somewhere, likely from the heavy bioload. See here for more details; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm .>> Thanks, Mike <<Welcome, Adam J.>>

450 Gallon 'Office' Reef Tank, maint./op.  -- 02/14/08 Hello. <<Greetings>> I know you've heard it before but this is a great site. <<Ah but we never tire of it [grin]'¦many thanks>> About a year ago I took over the maintenance of a 450 gallon reef tank where I work. <<Mmm 'I think I know where this is going'¦>> It was installed about a year before I got here and from the beginning it has been a constant mess of algae (red slime and green hair). <<Not atypical with these 'office' tanks. I don't know just how many such queries we receive/have received 'but the handful I have dealt with over the past three years have all been pretty much the same as this one 'long ongoing issues with dead/dying fish and 'big' nuisance algae problems. Don't misunderstand, I'm not grousing at you. I'm sure you have been placed in charge of this tank with little to no background for it and are simply trying to 'get a handle' on things, so to speak. My beef is with the companies that set up such systems but aren't willing to pay for a professional service to maintain it 'even if only part-time to get things back on track and to help keep them there. Now, it's possible you/this tank are located in an area where a professional aquarium service is not available, in which case this should have been taken under consideration. Bottom line 'Unless there happens to already be an experienced hobbyist available on staff with the time/inclination to care for such a tank 'such end results as mentioned are inevitable. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now'¦>> We will have a month or 2 periodically when it cleans up but it always goes downhill. <<Do you have a regular maintenance routine (for water changes, filter cleaning, feeding, et al)? Are feedings of this tank 'restricted' to keep just anyone passing the tank from tossing in food to the 'ever hungry' fishes?>> Here is the setup, 2 Little Giant pumps rated for 700gph, <<Is this all the flow/water movement available to this tank? If so 'not nearly enough>> a 40 gallon sump with bio-balls, <<A reef system requires lower Nitrate levels than these bio-balls will likely let you attain. Best to replace these with live rock or better yet 'chemical media (Poly-Filter and Carbon)>> A ProClear Aquatic 150 Aquarium Protein Skimmer, <<Mmm, this skimmer is rated by the manufacturer for a 150g system'¦ Looking at it/its size, I doubt it is efficient enough for even half that. I VERY MUCH suggest a larger and better skimmer for your tank. A 'quality' unit sized for your system won't be cheap'¦ My first choice would be a skimmer from Euro-Reef, but do also have a look at the offerings from AquaC, H&S, Tunze, and ASM>> 2 Blue Line Electronic Metal Halide Ballast with 400 watt lights, <<What are the dimensions of this 450 gallon display? My guess is this reef tank needs at least three, and likely four (maybe more) such lighting fixtures>> and about 150-200 lbs. of live rock. Now it has 3 three striped damsels, <<Even in a large tank as this, these fish can make future additions difficult 'can be real terrors>> a lawnmower blenny, flame hawk, 2 maroon clowns, 3 orange tailed damsels, about 15 blue legged/scarlet hermit crabs, 10-15 turbo snails, and a large coral banded shrimp. <<I doesn't appear that overcrowding is an issue here 'at least not now>> Any tangs or other fish we introduce don't last more than a couple months. <<Any clues as to why? Disease? Starvation? Aggression?>> It has a plate, brain and mushroom coral and some polyps. Sorry I don't know the scientific names, but I have no prior aquarium experience and had to learn everything as I went (much from this site). <<Ah, much as I suspected then 'please do keep reading researching. If you haven't come across it yet, let me point you toward this article on maintenance (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm). Be sure to follow/read among the links in blue at the top of the page, as well as doing some keywords searches re 'livestock selection,' 'marine feeding,' etc.>> The parameters are Ammonia =0, Alk=2.5, <<What about Calcium?>> pH=8.4, NO2=0, NO3=10, Salinity 1.021, <<The Salinity is much too low 'please adjust to NSW levels (1.025/1.026)>> PO4= .4 <<Likely the source of your nuisance alga 'should be 0.02 or less. You need to locate the source of the Phosphate and eliminate it. Two major areas for investigation are your source water (used for evaporation top-up and saltwater make-up), and over feeding>> From my research I understand that this is not a very good setup for this size tank. <<Addition of a large vegetable refugium and a properly sized quality skimmer jump to mind 'as well as some purposeful chemical filtration gear>> Our goal is to have a clean tank that will support some bigger fish that live more than 2 months, and a lot less maintenance. <<Mmm'¦>> My question is would you recommend us converting to a FO or FOWLR tank? <<Yes'¦ Though hardly 'maintenance free' themselves, I think a FOWLR system is a better choice here. Such a switch will allow you to keep with the existing lighting (no need for the additional fixtures), thus allowing you to put that money toward that new skimmer and chemical filtration media>> From your site I understand they are much easier to keep. <<A matter of opinion/perspective 'not necessarily 'easier' (though careful species selection will play a large role), but possibly less 'involved/complex.' Don't get the impression that not going reef will let you 'ignore' the tank. It will still require some daily attention/observation 'and routine maintenance (partial water changes, timely attention to filter media, etc.) is still paramount>> If so, what pumps and skimmer would you recommend? <<The return pumps you have are fine for now, but regardless if you stay REEF or go FOWLR you need more water movement. You can buy/add simple powerheads for this, but in a tank of this size the Tunze Stream pump will yield much better results and require fewer individual units. A pair of 6101s with controller would suffice if you have the money for it, else maybe 3-4 of the 6060s. If money is really tight (would hope the company would 'put out' for good of this tank), or if it comes down to the Tunze Streams vs. a good skimmer, you can turn to the Koralia line of circulation powerheads for the 'extra' flow needed here>> Is the sump big enough and do you have any other recommendations? <<Bigger would be better. What are your limitations here (money 'space)? Do feel free to write me back with more detail/info on the possibilities for/companies' stance on this system and we can chat further>> Thanks, Steve <<Happy to help Steve 'please let me know if I can assist further. Eric Russell>>  
Re: 450 Gallon Office Reef Tank- 02/15/08
Hello, thanks again for all the advice. <<Hey Steve 'hope it was of some value>> Here is some more information. <<Excellent>> We did have a professional aquarium service come out for the first year and a half (the one that installed it) but it was very expensive and the tank was still filled with algae and fish didn't last very long so we decided to cancel it. <<Mmm, okay'¦ We could go in to 'looking before you leap,' 'referrals,' and 'ultimate responsibility''¦but let's not belabor the point now>> Here is what I do to maintain the tank. A 10%-15% water change every 2 weeks, chemical testing every week, replace R/O filters every 3 months (prefilter, carbon filter, deionization filter), feed 4-5 times a week 1 cube emerald entree (no one else feeds fish) <<Yikes! Not near enough, mate! Please don't starve your livestock 'a couple small feedings per day, please!>> Clean skimmer as needed (every 2 or 3 days). <<Very good 'but I am 'certain' you need a bigger/better skimmer>> The tank dimensions are 4 ft deep, 44" wide, and 5 ft. long, and it has a bowed front. <<Sounds like a very striking display 'and I would suggest a third 400w light fixture if you stay with the reef>> I don't know why the fish die, except a powder blue tang had ich. <<Very common with this fish, and goes back to researching/selecting proper livestock 'and proper quarantine/hospital procedures>> We will usually introduce some new fish over time and they look good for awhile (2-3 months) but then one would die and pretty soon all but the hardiest are gone. <<Something terribly wrong here 'and not evident re your previous water chemistry values. Barring protozoan and/or viral infection, I suspect that trio of Dascyllus aruanus>> We have been communicating with another aquarium service company and my company is more than willing to do what is necessary, I just think we had some bad advice before and are a little hesitant. <<Indeed 'and I 'do' understand how this can happen'¦>> We have a quote to upgrade our tank from this new company that is around $6000.00 and we are willing to do it, but the debate is whether to keep it reef or go FO. <<Is up to you 'though my vote is for FOWLR. Is much more natural/beneficial, in my opinion>> We are actually having a different company come out today that is giving us an estimate for converting it to FO. Once it is upgraded we will have it maintained at least once a month by a professional, and I will do the rest. <<Very good>> What are the benefits for having a FOWLR over a FO? <<The FOWLR system provides a 'real' and natural environment for the fishes. The live rock provides sanctuary (hiding/sleeping places), along with needed browsing/food sources for many fish species>> Again thanks a lot and hopefully we can save some fish lives. Steve <<I am pleased you/your company are taking proper steps to reconcile this tank. I wish you luck with choosing a new service, and please do let me know if I can be of further assistance. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Re: Newly Established 400G Aquarium... maint. mostly  1/9/08 Thanks for the feedback as always. <Welcome Bryan> I have been doing some reading on your FAQs regarding Calc Reactors. My concern/misunderstanding has always been and continues to be relating to system pH. First, I am guessing effluent pH is the measure of pH inside the calc reactor, is this accurate? <Yes... the induced reaction twixt the solubilized CO2 into carbonic acid and the carbonate of the feeder media/stock...> As I understand it the calc reactor will boost Alk and calcium. <Yes> Further, I understand Alk provides pH stability and I also understand you can turn off CO2 via a controller to stop pH from getting any lower. <Correct> However, I do not see a method of increasing or boosting pH if it remains low w/ the CO2 off. <There are a few ways... many folks utilize another "outside" source of buffer/pH booster... some... Kalk> Is the design such that given a finely tuned calc reactor, there is no need to boost pH as it will be stable? <Mmm, depending on what else is going on in the system... and the rest of its make-up... Imagine this system as being semi-closed... with acidifying influences (food, time going by) being added... I STRONGLY encourage you (semi-related) to look into, add an ozonizer (BIG hint)> Given the use of a calc reactor, does it completely eliminate the need for outside supplementation except in rare cases? <Yes... can... along with water changes, foods, ALL essential nutrients, materials for stasis can be easily supplied> Given a need to increase pH in this design w/o the use of Kalk, what supplementation would you recommend? <Would depend on the livestock... there could be instances where boosted metabolism (intense lighting mostly) might call for such... But not likely. Cheers, BobF> Bryan Heitman

Re: Stocking 300 gallon tank New Aquarium and Cloudy Water 11/28/07 Dear Scott, <Hi there!> Thanks on the advice about schooling fishes, I'll definitely check out the Fairy or Flasher wrasses. I plan to transfer my Lunare wrasse to this tank and I plan to buy a Harlequin Tusk too so will they be ok with the wrasses you mentioned? <I'm a bit leery about both of them, really. I mean- if you start with small specimens of these two, you'll probably be okay...but it could be a problem over time if these fishes develop aggressive tendencies.> One more thing, about a week about I filled my 300 gallon circular tank with RO water, added crushed coral for substrate. My refugium (100 gallons) is also filled with RO water and it has a 4" sand bed. I'm also using a close loop Jacuzzi filtration system with a 1/3 hp Sequence pump on the tank. The tank has that faux coral in the middle (like Living color) and that is why I have such a huge refugium. I want to put as many lbs of live rock as I can to make up for the lack of it in the tank. <Understandable.> It took a day or so to clear up after adding the substrate but it did, it looked super clear but the very next day it was cloudy. The tank have some micro bubbles but not a lot and it's definitely not the dust from the substrate. It just looks hazy.... foggy like. Why did that happened? What caused it? Bacteria? If it is bacteria, then where did it come from since I have not added any livestock. <Hard to say. Could be bacteria from the sand itself, could be simple fine silt from the substrate, or just about anything else that is suspended in the water.> Yesterday, I added a bag full of carbon and some 10 lbs of live sand and today I'm going to add about 100 lbs or more of live rock. Will the cloudiness go away? Thanks again, Bill <Well, Bill- in time, the cloudiness should go away. If it is suspended particles, they will ultimately settle or be removed by the filter system. If it is bacterial, the bloom will probably subside over time when conditions correct themselves. Small water changes, regular use and replacement of chemical and mechanical filter media, and the passage of time will help. Keep doing what you're doing, and all should work out in time. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Nice! But maint.?!

Water Changes...Natural Or Artificial Seawater   7/18/06 Hello, <Hello James> I am building a new tank with a volume of 1017 gallons <Yikes!  I'm jealous.> not including displacement.  I only have 12 fish totaling about 60 inches.  This is a very under stocked tank.  I will  have aqua medic skimmers running   as well.  I was doing a 10% a week water change on my previous 300 gallon tank.  Is 10% a week still necessary for the new tank with   it being so under stocked?  If not, what would you recommend? <With your present condition, 10% monthly would be fine.> My fish being happy is the number one thing for me.  I like to check each fish and look after them, rather than having loads of fish that   you don't get attached to as  much.  I want them to have loads of space. <That they will.> Also, most of the people here in Cape Town are using real sea water but I am still using salt/ro water mix.  Does real sea water harm the   system or is it safe enough to  use?. <Not a good idea, read here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm> Kind Regards, <And to you.  James (Salty Dog)> James.

Moving BIG Tanks    5/3/07 Ok, now you can start a whole new section on your website for me.... "Moving Fish tanks 101". <Okay> So I've moved my 90 gallon tank several times, no problem there.  How does one go about moving a 200gallon tank that is likely around 300# of glass? <More planning, friends...> I'm not sure if the movers will take it or will be equipped to take it.  Ultimately, if the thing was dropped or damaged, I'd have a lot of critters homeless and would take about 8 weeks to get one built. <If you would rather... and have the money, there are likely aquarium service companies about that will move it all for you...> That aside... my real question is, if I clean out my ShopVac, get a new filtre... is there anything wrong with ShopVac'ing out my 200lbs of sand? <Nope... we/ our service co., used to use these... the "top" of the vac actually fits quite well on a regular "pickle bucket"...> I'm just thinking it's gonna be a real pain to get that tank sand free if I don't vacuum it out.  Just rinse it really good when I go to put it back in? <Yes... Bob Fenner> David Brynlund

Large Scale Aquarium Systems - 06/27/07 Hello Bob, <Brian> I am always anticipating what seems to be the next level or natural progression of where my business is going (so I think). <You are wise here, twice, perhaps thrice> It seems that it is only a matter of time before I am given the opportunity to either design, install or maintain (preferably) a "Large Scale" aquarium system. To me a "Large Scale System" would be defined as 1,000 gallons or greater, salt or freshwater and usually for public display (restaurants, zoos, science centers etc.) With my experience up to this point being aquarium systems (primarily saltwater, and specifically saltwater reef) up to 800 gallons or less, how does one transition into the business of these systems. <Accept the task at hand, think/cogitate (maybe furiously), and get on with it... Akin to food recipes, a good deal of what is done is scalable> I would think that the most ideal method is to apprentice with a company or organization already dealing with these systems? <Could be> I do not want to lessen the magnitude of these systems by thinking that they are very similar to smaller, < 1,000 gallon systems, with the only difference being a matter of scale in filter sizes, plumbing sizes, lighting etc., but I wonder if that is indeed a lot of the difference? <In all actuality, not really> I am also in the water garden arena and I have built and managed systems of up to 40,000 gallons. However, I know that these are open systems, and treated very differently from closed/aquarium systems. Your expert input would be greatly appreciated! Sincerely, Brian Dahle www.fishmanservices.com <Mmm, is there a given aspect you'd like to discuss? I do agree that lake mgmt. is different than small volumes... harder, longer-term, less-expensive means of "turning" (like navigating a large ship with a small rudder)... but in practical consideration, there is not much difference between a hundred gallon fish tank and a thousand gallons... or ten times this amount. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Change, Big Reef System Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Due to the constrain on my aquarium frame (350 gal tank), my local aquarium shop recommends to build a sump within the aquarium itself with a tied-in refugium. <I'm not sure what the aquarium size/frame has to do with an external sump but I will trust your decision on this. I am assuming the tank cannot be drilled because it is made of tempered glass. I cannot think of another common exception.> Will the lighting effects the bio filter performance on the in-tank sump?  <yes... light does inhibit nitrifying bacteria. A darkened glass or acrylic will at least be necessary for an in-tank sump> Will it be covered by algae population and have adverse effect? <severely adverse if algae or any debris is allowed to accumulate or culture on the bio-media> Does 340W of fluorescent light enough for a 350gl tank if I want to keep hardy invertebrate and some soft coral? <that would be rather low lighting only suitable for the lowest light demanding coral. Even then they will need to be kept in the top 12" of water> How can I avoid bringing parasites such as marine ich from live rock? <the best way is to quarantine all new fish, plants and live rock for 4 weeks in a separate quarantine tank.> Can I sterile the parasite infected base rock by completely drying them up? <that will not sterilize it, my friend. Many parasites can encyst and weather extended periods of drying out. Keep wet and quarantined to run fallow without a host for more than 4 weeks instead> Is refugium very effective therefore almost necessary for a successful reef system? <I must admit that it is VERY helpful in many ways and many forms (RDP, seagrass, rubble, plants, plankton, etc)> Best regards! Liao I Ching <do consider that with enough live rock and two good skimmers a wet dry filter will not even be necessary (nor the internal sump). I suspect that the internal tank sump will be more aggravation than it is worth and that the bio-media will contribute more nitrate than its inclusion as bio-media is worth. Anthony Calfo>

Re: 600,000L display tank in Australia <Now that's a tank! And worthwhile visiting... even if you might slip into the water yourself... Bob F> Cheers, Pete! > All is well over here in Australia. Excellent to hear :) Our new tank is > still going up slowly. > Thanks very much for your previous thoughts on our project. A pleasure, my friend. > Having not been on the net long I've been familiarizing myself with some marine-based sites and have been most impressed with coral realm and WetWebMedia. Are there any other sites you consider essential viewing? Wow... so many great places to visit. Photography, ID, etc I like fishbase.org for fundamental taxonomy/ID... and even some of the big message boards like reefcentral.com can offer a nice pulse on the cutting edge techniques by aquarists in the hobby (a lot of amateurs there as well... but some really good stuff too). The e-zine Advanced Aquarist (http://www.advancedaquarist.com/) at reefs.org is pretty good. And if anyone in your company can read German, Daniel Knop's articles and work have been quite good (fascinating recent article on Entacmaea quadricolor imposed propagation in captivity). > For a very large tank such as ours, what would be the best quarantine procedure for fish we have just caught? Do follow zoological protocol: 4 weeks bare-bottomed, dim lit display. Sponge filtration (easily maintained/sterilized), non-porous artifacts (PVC pipe fittings) for hiding security and sterility (non-absorptive to meds if necessary). Medication is optional but recommended. I'd suggest freshwater dips coming in and/or going out. Formalin for all for first several days to one week. Malachite green in concert with Formalin for those that can/will tolerate it (large scaled fishes yes... but never scaleless, Elasmobranchs or small scaled species). things that it is truly effective against. More often it is inconvenient and ineffective. Anything if can kill... formalin can kill as well or better (especially with malachite). Still... it is an industry standard for controlling "Ich". If you choose to use it... please dose and test for concentrations twice daily... critical to maintain therapeutic levels. My best advice for controlling parasites in QT is a daily water changes siphoned from the bottom every day for the first 8 consecutive days. It has been proven to "cure" Ich without any meds by breaking the larval (Tomite) cycle. I learned this from Blasiola and Gratzek (fish pathology at U. Georgia/Athens) Do individuals need to be held in separate tanks, or could we put through say 20 green > Chromis in one tank? For most fishes it would be best to keep one per tank. However in this case (with so many tiny fishes of the same species) I could live with the group QT if you are strict with the 4 week QT. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how critical the full 4 week QT is. While most diseases will be expressed within the first 2 weeks... some can be dormant for nearly one month. Be strict my friend. > Is a freshwater dip followed by four weeks observation and bottom-siphoning the best treatment? Right on, my brother! Would you recommend combining Methylene blue with the dip for newly captured fish? It is a good idea for most fishes... but some small scaled (Chromis) and scaleless species are quite sensitive to it. Yes... a little M. blue is good. > Similarly with corals and other invertebrates, can we hold more than one specimen per quarantine tank? Definitely in this case... with inverts infectious diseases are expressed quickly as a rule. Qt with inverts is really for screening pests and predators (bait for hitchhikers in the tank by suspending corals on racks or tiers and leave meaty foods on the glass bottom to lure predatory crabs, mantis, etc from the rocks. Many great tips and tricks here for screening corals of problem worms, crabs, shrimp, etc. We have some 4600L fiberglass aquaculture tanks with the floor sloping to a centre drain that we could use for this purpose. Excellent... just try to do small batches to reduce the impact if an infectious disease should manifest. > I'm happy to ask these questions via a site such as WetWebMedia if you prefer, so that others may also benefit from your wisdom. Actually... that would be great, my friend! Many aquarists around the world would love to hear of your facility and learn from our exchanges. Always feel welcome to e-mail me privately just the same... but please to submit husbandry queries to WetWebMedia.com And I thank you for your consideration :) I will forward this to Bob just the same so that he can post it. > Regards, Pete McKenzie Best regards, Anthony

Big Tank-Big Plans! I have a custom 275 gal (=empty) tank. It is in a wall, made of plywood and coated with epoxy, the front is glass. It has a sink, drain, place for a sump, etc.. It is set up pretty well. I want fish only. I have spent a large sum of $ on imitation coral that has also been epoxied to the rear wall of this tank. I must tell you that it looks great. <Sounds terrific!> Imitation corals made today are, in my opinion, very realistic. My question to you is this. Can I simply add live sand to the tank floor (and if so how much) along with a very large protein skimmer ( I like Aqua C - what size would you recommend) <I'd look into an EV-400> and have enough filtration? <I'd go for at least a 3-4 inch sand bed, right on the tank floor> I purchased a wet dry trickle filter with bio-balls but now am afraid of using this wet dry filter because I belief that the resulting nitrate will ultimately lead to excess algae growth. I do not want any algae to grow on these beautiful corals. <Well, you're probably better off removing the bioballs from the filter and just using it as a sump- the "nexus" of your water processing system.  Throw in some live rock to provide additional "filtration". You will probably always have some algae growth on the corals. Regular, careful maintenance and some snails and other herbivores will help a bit> I of course will treat all water using something like a Kent max60HiS four stage Ro/Di or even Spectra Plus five stage Ro/Di ( Do you recommend any thing better here?), and perform regular maintenance. Can someone please help! Chris <Well, Chris- sounds like the basis of a good setup. Either of the RO/DI units you describe are fine for producing quality source water, as long as you change the membranes and prefilters regularly. I've used both. Currently, I use a Kent Maxxima "Hi S" model, and it does just fine. Keep researching a bit more on sumps, and I think you'll find that your tank will be better off for having one. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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