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  1. #11
    Senior Member Jody's Avatar
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    Gl M8 I really cant help you but I am interested so please keep posting

    I an still new to all of this myself and I have read tons of stuff and well still confused sometimes

    Have fun
    Well Well Well three holes in the ground and still no water





  2. #12
    Fishlover Extraordinaire Fishfriend1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MasterOfReason View Post
    I am extremely grateful for your input... This is exactly the kind of help I have been hoping for. Most of what you said confirms what I have been reading.

    I want to readdress a few questions. For instance, I thought invertebrates were added before fish. Also I am researching to find a hardy strain of mushroom to add in between 1 and 3 weeks depending on my cycle progress. I was told they were also introduced before fish. Though I haven't had time to research this yet.

    While technically inverts can go in your tank first, it is not recommended, mostly because your tank is not safe enuff for them. There may be factors you don't know about that could kill them off. Mind you, thats not including those blue leg hermits, they can go in before fish, and you will have inverts that come in with live rock, they can live though the cycle, but those are the exceptions to the rule. Start with fish, then inverts, then anemones then corals. Thats just the way of things. As for the Mushroom, don't even think about it until week 4. Take your time, doing so will save you money and effort, in the long run. I tried to rush corals and failed miserably. It would suck if that happened to you. Besides, mushrooms are filter feeders, they need you to add supplements into the water to survive. If you want corals that don't nee a lot of supplements, go photosynthetic corals. Don't ask me which ones, i've never successfully kept corals like that.

    Also I am hoping to avoid direct feeding by establishing a stable food chain which I think will be possible if I never have more than one or two fish. I am doing research on this but between the amount of algae and plant growth with the introduction of live blood worms and a few other feeder type proteins I am hoping to avoid the changes in water quality caused by feeding. (it will hopefully be more subtle and due to population growth and retractions)

    Well, I've never attempted to make a self sustaining food chain/ecosystem. From what I've heard, its not possible. For starters, you will have to fill the tank back up when the water evaporates (use freshwater!) and that will change the water chemistry. Then, it will most likely not be possible to get enuff plants and base of the food-chain life forms to feed your tank. The reason its possible in the ocean is because of the sheer size of the oceans. They have the surface area to support that kind of life, a 20 gal doesn't. And while it is possible to remove almost all need to interfere with your tank by not getting a lot of fish, that only works on very large tanks with good filtration, natural filtration, stable water, natural food sources, and a number of other things i can't remember right now (fail). As hard as this is to say, you are very likely to be unsuccessful. At smallest, i would go with a 75 gal if your going to try for self sustaining, more around 150+(and im probably being optimistic on size...). Sucks, but thats life for ya.

    Finally I am happy to report I am getting coraline algae (the pink stuff) and The white conical calcium looking formations and long haired green algae so far on my live rock.

    The white cones are sponges, pineapple sponges to be specific. The are filter feeders and will help clean your tank of excess food and nutrients. They are beneficial, and their only threat is to your view. Same with Coraline Algae, but you know that.

    I also bought a water test kit and though I know levels may vary greatly over the next few weeks the initial values look like this.


    pH 8.2
    Temp 76
    Nitrites 0.5
    Nitrate 10
    Ammonia 0.5
    Salinity 1.022 (1.023 - 1.025 is ideal for my live rock)

    I know these tests don't mean much as they will in a couple of weeks but I thought it might be good to know what I'm starting with.
    It looks like your cycle is under way, or has yet to start. When Nitrites, Nitrate, and Ammonia are zero, or have remained really low for about a week (low as in less then 1) your tank should be ready for hermits, and then fish a little later.

    I know you probably don't want to hear this, but creating a self sustaining food chain and ecosystem is almost impossible. Not even most aquariums do this, thats how hard it is. You need a large base for food, and that base is plankton. In a 20 gal you just can't create such a system, it will only leave you without money or fish. You should really, really just try for a normal tank with its WCs and feeding times. It would make your life much easier, whether you believe that or not. Once you have the normal tank down pat, you can try for self sustaining again, but a rookie should not be trying this, most experienced fishkeepers would not try it.

    Ok, lecture over. Good Luck, hope it helped a little more.

    Now, can someone like Greech show up and help me?
    Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
    Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Budda
    Quote Originally Posted by Grendesh
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  3. #13
    Building a fishroom... fsn77's Avatar
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    A completely self-sufficient, self-contained 20g marine ecosystem is something that anyone could put a ton of time and money into, with minimal returns. At some point, there has to be user input to the system.

    Simply stated, there is nutrional loss at each stage of the food chain, as no organism can digest / assimillate food with 100% efficiency. That nutrional loss will have to be made up frequently, starting near the bottom of the food chain with the needs of phytoplankton and dosing some form of nutrients to maintain a phytoplankton population large enough to then maintain larger plankton population and so forth up to the food an average fish would consume. Even so, to have a large enough phytoplankton population in a 20g tank would likely mean your tank water would be some shade of green at all times, and you may not even be able to see what's actually in the tank.

    As far as water changes are concerned, they would be required. And, I don't mean occasionally... they'd be needed frequently. In a 20g tank, there's simply not going to be enough surface area to create an area of low to no oxygen for the specific bacteria that convert nitrate into nitrogen gas. Without it, nitrate concentrations will quickly elevate to levels that will inhibit or even eliminate the population of invertebrates that the average fish in your tank would be eating. No more invertebrates means no more food for the fish. Yes, the phytoplankton and algae will consume nitrates, but there would be a need to tightly control the types of algae growing in the system, otherwise there will be algae such as hair algae that begins to grow that invertebrates important to the survival of your fish will not consume. Furthermore, the plant-like micro- and macro-algae will begin to compete with your phytoplankton population, causing a decline in it.

    Beyond that, trace elements will become depleted / converted to forms that are no longer bioavailable, requiring water changes or dosing to be replenished.

    There's certainly far more issues to run into... I couldn't possibly know all of them, but those are some that quickly come to mind. While there are ways to get around some of what I said, it still requires time input from someone. Creating a self-contained, self-sufficient 20g aquarium that actually has fish in it is, at least in my mind, similar to attempting to create true perpetual motion.
    Columbia Marine Aquarium Club (Columbia, SC)
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  4. #14
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    I know that a a completely closed system is impossible even in a much larger tank. However, I have now actually seen something close to what I want to accomplish in a 30 gallon tank.... it requires nutritional supplements and fertilizers to be added for the plant life... fresh water regularly for the top offs... and occasional reintroduction of live feeder species as the populations are sometimes decimated by the fish over eating or other factors also the owner admitted to rarely having to supplement the food chain in other ways that tank is much more ambitious than anything I had thought of with several fish (5 or 6) and as many soft corals and live rocks as could be stacked in the space. That aquarium is over 6 years old (she was unsure exactly) and she admitted it took several years to slowly introduce the softies and other stuff and that she had to replace a few of the fish over the years (some prematurely) anyway I would never hope to match it... but I at least know now that a reasonably low maintenance tank is possible... I am refining my goals and learning what is and isn't and I appreciate your input. One thing she does not do however is water changes... she even went so far as to say a 25% water change would drastically change the chemical make up of her water and probably be as harmful to her tank species as any problem she has encountered and suggested that while solving problems naturally took longer the changes were slower and easier for the fish and other stuff to acclimate to.

    In any case I thank you again for adding your input to this thread... it seems I have several weeks to read and little else before I can add any thing at all to my tank
    the lady with the 30 gallon said to wait 4 to 6 weeks (as most of you have told me) for the cycle to complete the first time... then to add no more than one specimen a week skipping every 5th week. So once again it seems the rule is patience.



  5. #15
    Building a fishroom... fsn77's Avatar
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    In this functioning 30g tank, the dosing of all the nutrional supplements and fertilizers has likely taken the place of what water changes would likely be replenishing (or I'm at least willing to assume so without knowing exactly what's being dosed). If dosing regularly, then yes, a 25% water change could definitely alter the water chemistry in the tank, unless the new water was amended to match the dosing regimen of the tank itself.

    All in all, I wouldn't call what's been described low maintenance. If anything, it's just an infrequent or no water change approach. Dosing nutrional supplements and fertilizers routinely and monitoring those levels in the tank (at least the ones that can be monitored) to properly maintain the food chain sounds anything but low maintenance to me. But, perhaps my idea of low maintenance is skewed... I know a few people that do a 50%+ water change once a week, top off as needed, and toss in some food for the fish daily -- no skimmer, no sump, no dosing, no fancy equipment (perhaps the light is an exception) -- and have wonderful tanks stocked with corals and an average amount of fish. To me, that is low maintenance -- nothing to fiddle with or potentially misdose.

    Regardless, I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're trying to do. I just don't personally see it as being low maintenance or less work. I hope you'll post updates of its progress, hopefully with pix and a log of the dosing regimen, as that would be helpful for anyone else that would like to attempt what you're doing.
    Columbia Marine Aquarium Club (Columbia, SC)
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  6. #16
    Fishlover Extraordinaire Fishfriend1's Avatar
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    Patience is key to saltwater. I wish you luck, and hope that you keep us updated on your progress.
    Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
    Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Budda
    Quote Originally Posted by Grendesh
    Welcome to Ikebukuro, watch out for flying vending machines.



  7. #17
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    I will post pictures soon my girlfriend borrowed my digital camera then left it at her parents a couple hundred miles away.... but the next time we are that direction we will retrieve it... and as cheap as they are I may replace it sooner than that... also I intend to post every change I make to the tank...



  8. #18
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    Patience is the key indeed. So for the last few weeks I have semi patiently waited for my tank to cycle. During this time I performed as few water tests as my patience would allow. Which was 3, and I bought a couple of new toys to increase my confidence in my test results.

    I bought a refractometer to test salinity and I bought an electronic PH probe.

    In any case those test results are available under my blog on this site and I wont bore the uninterested. Assuming I'm right and the tank has cycled. And now we return to my hitherto premature question of species selection. What is the first species I should add to the tank.

    I re-read the previous posts and Fish Friend suggested I place a dwarf blue leg hermit crab in the tank first. They are from the Caribbean not aggressive stay small and seemed the perfect candidate. I could have ordered from the internet but It would have meant waiting another week. So I called around to the three pet stores I was willing to drive to and found one sold out of all crustaceans and one closed. I finally went to a chain pet store (which I have been advised against). They were also out of dwarf blue hermits. I ended up buying a small crab (little bigger than a nickle) from a tank simply labeled assorted hermit crabs with a little help from a friend on the phone trying to identify species by my description using the internet. Before you lecture me too much I did make the super chain show me a PH, Ammonia, and Salinity test and found that the tank the crab was coming from was very similar to mine.

    Now after a good hour on the internet looking at photos and reading descriptions I thought it the crab was identified as a Percnon gibbesi or Sally Lightfoot Crab. This seemed like a good second choice it is from the Caribbean it's supposed to be reef safe and have good disposition and be very hardy. While I have read several then I found out that sally light foots aren't a type of hermit crab.

    In any case he is brown and has a little yellow at his leg joints and has white almost transparent eye stalks.
    If you can help me identify the crab that also would be great.

    Well anyway I meant to post then buy something.. but I got in a hurry... I know bad me... but... tell me if I have screwed up... how long you think I should wait before getting something else and anything else you can think of that I might need to know....
    Last edited by MasterOfReason; 10-31-2010 at 9:03 PM. Reason: Fixing ignorance



  9. #19
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    What you are attempting would be quite an undertaking for even the most experienced SW hobbyist. And this is your first tank? I'll definitely be watching your progress. Here's some helpful advice. Forget about not doing water changes. You have a much higher likelihood of success performing them regularly. Your crab does indeed sound like a Sally Lightfoot. By definition a Hermit Crab does not build its own shell (except on its legs) and needs to use a shell from another animal. Rather than purchasing something you are unfamiliar with and then asking if you made a mistake, try researching livestock before you introduce it. You seem to have the common lack of patience that many new aquarists suffer from. The faster you get over it the sooner you'll be successful in the hobby. Here's an analogy I give to customers; consider your tank to be a seesaw. On one end is your time and patience. On the other end is your money. As your patience level goes down, the amount of money the tank will end up costing rises. It works the other way too. You can spend money on things such as ATOs, Ca reactors, etc that can reduce the amount of time you spend maintaining. But lunch is never free.



  10. #20
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    Well the crab lives.... and has changed shells for a prettier one I had a few in the tank (a small handful of these came with the tank) In any case... All seems well.... Everyone keeps advising patience in a tone near lecturing... I've had the tank a month it has one little molly and one crab in it... that hardly seems like unchecked haste..



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