How do I start the cycle in my new saltwater aquarium?
At Salty Blues, we have always used Dr. Tim's One & Only Nitrifying Bacteria along with Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride. Level the tank, build your rockscape, add saltwater, turn on pumps and heater. It's best to hold off on filter media like carbon or Chemipure at this point. Once the water is 75-80 degrees shake the One & Only and pour in the entire bottle anywhere in the tank. In about 30 minutes add 4 drops of Ammonium Chloride per gallon. Get a good test kit for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate, such as Salifert or Red Sea, and test everyday to track the cycle. Once you see Nitrite spike, and then both Ammonia and Nitrite zero out and Nitrate becomes detectable, you are ready to add fish. If Nitrate is over 50ppm, do a small water change and add filter media before adding fish.
What are target water parameters for my reef aquarium?
This can vary widely, but below are some basic parameter ranges. The key is to be extemely consistent with whatever numbers you aim for and use accurate test kits like Red Sea and Salifert.
Specific Gravity: 1.024-1.026 (VERY IMPORTANT - the "salt" part of saltwater)
Temperature: 75-80 degrees (Fahrenheit)
Ammonia: 0 ppm (Toxic to fish at any level - if detected do water change immediately)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 5-10 ppm (High levels will cause excessive algae growth)
Phosphate: 0.03-0.1 ppm (High levels will cause excessive algae growth - important to use low range test kit, like Red Sea Phosphate Pro)
Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH (Hanna Alkalinity Checker is by far the easiest and fastest way to test alkalinity)
Calcium: 410-450 ppm
Magnesium: 1300-1600 ppm
pH: 7.8-8.5 (But don't chase it too hard!!! Keep all your other parameters in check and have good gas exchange [i.e. surface agitation and good airflow near the tank] and pH should remain within range naturally.)
What is this brownish-clear weird tentacle thing in my aquarium?
Most likely an Aiptasia anemone. These are considered pests and will reproduce quickly and kill coral if not killed immediately. Red Sea Aiptasia-X is our go to for safely and quickly killing Aiptasia on the spot. Biological solutions include Peppermint Shrimp, Aiptasia Eating Filefish, and Berghia Nudibranchs, but they may or may not be completely effective or may eat coral.
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