How Do I Starting Marine Tank

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stella1979 said:
Were you ever able to source some live rock for the tank? I'm not sure how much you've learned in the time since this thread started but I like to help so I'll approach this like you're a total newb... 'kay?

Live rock is just what it sounds like... rocks which hold life such as feather dusters, copepods, microfauna, etc. What's important here is that live rock, just like biomedia in a filter, hosts beneficial bacteria. So, a nice chunk of live rock could give you an instant cycle. The key when getting live rock for an instant cycle, (as well as beneficial microfauna and possibly some not so great pests), is keeping it wet... because if it begins to dry at all, life will begin to die. It is crucial that this doesn't happen because the death of BB will not only ruin plans for an instant cycle, but the death of any life on or within the rock will then cause an ammonia spike once the rock is put in a tank. Dead organics, any way you slice it, equals breaking down organics, which equals ammonia.

So, I see you're doing your best to make things work and agree that this is a tough way to cut your teeth on the marine side... but cycling isn't all that different from freshwater. You need beneficial bacteria, and the only way to get it is via cycling (like you're doing), or from an established source... meaning mature live rock or seeded filter media.

Hope this helps!
No I had no luck from sources in my region
It's already halfway through the cycle, I just need to get the nitrites down to complete it.

Fisker said:
Definitely get those nitrites down. I'd be expecting problems pretty soon from high nitrites - more so than ammonia.
After the water change it's down to 0.2 I'll change again in the morning to get it further down.
 

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Oooh, sorry to hear. How about Seachem Prime? This water conditioner is fairly available I believe and the reason it's so popular is that it binds ammonia and nitrite, making low levels safe for animals for 24 - 48 hours... at which point, you may dose it again to get through the next 24 - 48.

Ponies, (seahorses), are a whole 'nother ball game and I cannot be sure what is safest for these sensitive creatures, but with your standard fish-in cycle, Prime is a key component in safely moving things along. Because you can't/don't want to have zero ammonia and nitrite, (because these are the foods the bacteria need to eat, reproduce, colonize, and cycle your tank), using a binder like Prime will leave ammonia and nitrite available in your tank, yet make low levels safe for life within.

So, I think you're best bet is to continue changing water as often as necessary to keep ammonia plus nitrites (that is, the ammonia number added to the nitrite number) below 1ppm and dose Prime daily to keep these low-level toxins safe for your ponies. For example, if ammonia is 0ppm and nitrites are 0.5ppm, dose Prime then test again the following day. If numbers are something like, ammonia 0.5ppm and nitrite 1ppm, then your total is 1.5ppm and you are much further into the danger zone, so you must do a water change to bring levels down... and still dose Prime and test again the following day.

This is a pretty standard way of handling a fish-in cycle. What I don't know is how easily ponies will handle it, or if Prime, (which is safe for so very many other aquatic life forms, and certainly every fish, invert, and coral I've ever kept), is also safe for ponies. When doing your research, always look for answers that pertain to seahorses in particular, because as has been said over and over (not trying to scare you or treat you like you're dumb or uncaring) ponies are super sensitive and a whole 'nother ballgame.

Hope things go well for all of you and we get to see your ponies soon!
 
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stella1979 said:
Oooh, sorry to hear. How about Seachem Prime? This water conditioner is fairly available I believe and the reason it's so popular is that it binds ammonia and nitrite, making low levels safe for animals for 24 - 48 hours... at which point, you may dose it again to get through the next 24 - 48.

Ponies, (seahorses), are a whole 'nother ball game and I cannot be sure what is safest for these sensitive creatures, but with your standard fish-in cycle, Prime is a key component in safely moving things along. Because you can't/don't want to have zero ammonia and nitrite, (because these are the foods the bacteria need to eat, reproduce, colonize, and cycle your tank), using a binder like Prime will leave ammonia and nitrite available in your tank, yet make low levels safe for life within.

So, I think you're best bet is to continue changing water as often as necessary to keep ammonia plus nitrites (that is, the ammonia number added to the nitrite number) below 1ppm and dose Prime daily to keep these low-level toxins safe for your ponies. For example, if ammonia is 0ppm and nitrites are 0.5ppm, dose Prime then test again the following day. If numbers are something like, ammonia 0.5ppm and nitrite 1ppm, then your total is 1.5ppm and you are much further into the danger zone, so you must do a water change to bring levels down... and still dose Prime and test again the following day.

This is a pretty standard way of handling a fish-in cycle. What I don't know is how easily ponies will handle it, or if Prime, (which is safe for so very many other aquatic life forms, and certainly every fish, invert, and coral I've ever kept), is also safe for ponies. When doing your research, always look for answers that pertain to seahorses in particular, because as has been said over and over (not trying to scare you or treat you like you're dumb or uncaring) ponies are super sensitive and a whole 'nother ballgame.

Hope things go well for all of you and we get to see your ponies soon!
Thanks so much. I am doing regular changes and adding a dose of prime, they still haven't acted any differently apart from my girl eating less - little bit concerned but I'll see how she goes in the morning. After 2 water changes the reading is still as attached.
20190704_202651.jpg
 

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Test results look great! I think I see a low nitrate level, so this means you're very close to a cycled tank indeed. However, do keep watch.

I've heard that feeding ponies is tricky indeed... because a LOT of food needs to enter the tank for them to catch what they need, AND the foods are so small so it is nearly impossible to clean up/take out extras. An abundance of food in the water column can, of course, make keeping the water clean and toxins down quite difficult... particularly in an uncycled, newly cycled, or weakly cycled tank. I fear that, even with good test results, your newly cycled and weakly cycled tank, (weak because ammo needs to be kept very low for tank inhabitants), you may see ammo spikes continue, both because the cycle is not long established AND because of the feeding requirements of ponies.

So, keep a close eye on test results, (as you've been doing), and if possible, take a firm hand with any mechanical filtration you've got running. Meaning, if you have a sponge in your filter... rinse it every day in removed tank water while you're doing these extra wc's. If you have a disposable filter pad or filter floss (this is what I recommend) then follow a method known as floss and toss. This method requires that we purchase filter padding or floss in bulk, preferably cheaply (get stuff meant for sewing instead of aquariums, just make sure it's 100% polyfil without any flame retardant properties.) I get big rolls of floss padding (meant for quilts) on eBay or large bags of fluffy floss (meant for stuffing pillows) at WalMart. So, with a bulk buy of this form of mechanical filtration, we use a little at a time for a short time, then change it out for new. Personally, for the reef tank, I floss and toss every 3 days to keep nutrients low and algae at bay. The reason I mention this method to you is... the crud that gets caught up in mechanical filtration breaks down into ammonia AND ponies must be fed well... so, if you can clean or replace mechanical filtration every day, there will be less of a load on your cycle, fewer toxins entering the water column, so a safer place for the ponies, and less work for you.

Hope that all makes sense. When my tank was new, the cycle was fresh and a little weak, and diatoms were growing like crazy, I too did daily floss and toss. Then, the tank and cycle got a little more mature, so mechanical filtration was only addressed at regular weekly water changes. More time went by, more fish entered the tank, more corals needed feeding, and so on... and I had been lucky to go a whole year without green hair algae issues that plague other reefers... but finally, gha reared it's ugly head for me too. A multi-faceted attack was needed to take care of things, but a key component was... I needed to go back to more frequent floss and toss because changing once a week gave time for the detritus that was caught to break down. Shoot, more than a day is likely enough for organic breakdown to occur from a filter pad. However, in my case, with a strongly cycled, mature, 2-year-old tank, I no longer fear an ammonia spike, and I don't really need nitrates to be zero, (neither do you), so, every three days is enough to address my algae issues. In your case, since the desire is the prevention of ammonia spikes in a new tank, which is likely fed heavily due to pretty ponies, for now, and until the cycle is strong and you perhaps have other forms of nutrient export running, (we need to talk about macroalgae and refugiums), I would recommend daily floss and toss. Oh! The reason I recommend disposable mechanical filtration (eek! waste!ops rather than a sponge is... to rinse the sponge daily, you'll need daily removal of tank water to rinse it in, while with disposable pads and/or fluff, you just remove the old and replace it with new.

Lastly, indeed, beneficial bacteria will colonize on filter sponges, pads, and fluff, but because there are other forms of biological filtration in a system (like the rock in a tank or the biomedia in a filter), we do not depend on the BB in mechanical filtration for the cycle.

Sorry I really only intended to congratulate you on the good test results... then started thinking about forms of nutrient removal/export to aid in your effort to keep toxins low. Didn't mean to write a book, but I hope it helps.

Edit: Oh! If you can install a prefilter sponge on an intake, well, it'll catch a lot of 'stuff' so may mean less frequency is needed in the maintenance of mechanical filtration inside a filter.

Errm... Since I'm here, let's talk about refugiums and macroalgae. A 'fuge' is simply a place to grow marine plants under the conditions they need. It can be as simple as an area in a sump or HOB where light is provided and chaeto (chaetomorpha, a type of macroalgae) is grown. In its growth, the chaeto uptakes nutrients, so when it grows quickly (and chaeto does), or simply fills the space allotted, some is removed, given or thrown away, making space for new growth and more nutrient removal. Each time chaeto is removed, the aquarist is tossing out nitrates and phosphates (and ammonia if it was present in a tank.) Now, some people take the fuge game quite seriously, using different forms of macroalgae to create a gorgeous display fuge, sometimes in a sump... but sometimes, this display refugium is THE tank. Yep, just like with freshwater, we can make beautifully planted marine tanks, and this is actually quite common for seahorse tanks.

As always, do your research. Some forms of macroalgae are as difficult to grow as the most sensitive coral, but, plenty are easy too. There are just things to know like... Pink Galaxy (Galaxaura rugosa) may need calcium supplementation for growth, Dragon's Tongue may need iron for growth and coloration, and there's a slight chance that Grape Caulerpa will 'go sexual.' This means that under certain conditions, the plant may just decide to release a bunch of its tissue into the water column, causing a HUGE nutrient spike... which has been known to nuke tanks. Still, if I had ponies, I'd definitely house them in a planted tank/display refugium. Honestly, idk that much about their natural habitat, but plants for ponies seems right, and I've seen evidence of adorable seahorses seeming to really enjoy their beautifully planted tanks.:joyful:
 

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Just me but I would ditch the API kit in favor of Red Sea, Salifert, Hannah, Nyos. API is well known for it's false positives for ammonia and nitrate readings that are way too subject to interpretation (ie can't tell the difference between 10-20, 40-80).
 
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stella1979 said:
Test results look great! I think I see a low nitrate level, so this means you're very close to a cycled tank indeed. However, do keep watch.

I've heard that feeding ponies is tricky indeed... because a LOT of food needs to enter the tank for them to catch what they need, AND the foods are so small so it is nearly impossible to clean up/take out extras. An abundance of food in the water column can, of course, make keeping the water clean and toxins down quite difficult... particularly in an uncycled, newly cycled, or weakly cycled tank. I fear that, even with good test results, your newly cycled and weakly cycled tank, (weak because ammo needs to be kept very low for tank inhabitants), you may see ammo spikes continue, both because the cycle is not long established AND because of the feeding requirements of ponies.

So, keep a close eye on test results, (as you've been doing), and if possible, take a firm hand with any mechanical filtration you've got running. Meaning, if you have a sponge in your filter... rinse it every day in removed tank water while you're doing these extra wc's. If you have a disposable filter pad or filter floss (this is what I recommend) then follow a method known as floss and toss. This method requires that we purchase filter padding or floss in bulk, preferably cheaply (get stuff meant for sewing instead of aquariums, just make sure it's 100% polyfil without any flame retardant properties.) I get big rolls of floss padding (meant for quilts) on eBay or large bags of fluffy floss (meant for stuffing pillows) at WalMart. So, with a bulk buy of this form of mechanical filtration, we use a little at a time for a short time, then change it out for new. Personally, for the reef tank, I floss and toss every 3 days to keep nutrients low and algae at bay. The reason I mention this method to you is... the crud that gets caught up in mechanical filtration breaks down into ammonia AND ponies must be fed well... so, if you can clean or replace mechanical filtration every day, there will be less of a load on your cycle, fewer toxins entering the water column, so a safer place for the ponies, and less work for you.

Hope that all makes sense. When my tank was new, the cycle was fresh and a little weak, and diatoms were growing like crazy, I too did daily floss and toss. Then, the tank and cycle got a little more mature, so mechanical filtration was only addressed at regular weekly water changes. More time went by, more fish entered the tank, more corals needed feeding, and so on... and I had been lucky to go a whole year without green hair algae issues that plague other reefers... but finally, gha reared it's ugly head for me too. A multi-faceted attack was needed to take care of things, but a key component was... I needed to go back to more frequent floss and toss because changing once a week gave time for the detritus that was caught to break down. Shoot, more than a day is likely enough for organic breakdown to occur from a filter pad. However, in my case, with a strongly cycled, mature, 2-year-old tank, I no longer fear an ammonia spike, and I don't really need nitrates to be zero, (neither do you), so, every three days is enough to address my algae issues. In your case, since the desire is the prevention of ammonia spikes in a new tank, which is likely fed heavily due to pretty ponies, for now, and until the cycle is strong and you perhaps have other forms of nutrient export running, (we need to talk about macroalgae and refugiums), I would recommend daily floss and toss. Oh! The reason I recommend disposable mechanical filtration (eek! waste!ops rather than a sponge is... to rinse the sponge daily, you'll need daily removal of tank water to rinse it in, while with disposable pads and/or fluff, you just remove the old and replace it with new.

Lastly, indeed, beneficial bacteria will colonize on filter sponges, pads, and fluff, but because there are other forms of biological filtration in a system (like the rock in a tank or the biomedia in a filter), we do not depend on the BB in mechanical filtration for the cycle.

Sorry I really only intended to congratulate you on the good test results... then started thinking about forms of nutrient removal/export to aid in your effort to keep toxins low. Didn't mean to write a book, but I hope it helps.

Edit: Oh! If you can install a prefilter sponge on an intake, well, it'll catch a lot of 'stuff' so may mean less frequency is needed in the maintenance of mechanical filtration inside a filter.

Errm... Since I'm here, let's talk about refugiums and macroalgae. A 'fuge' is simply a place to grow marine plants under the conditions they need. It can be as simple as an area in a sump or HOB where light is provided and chaeto (chaetomorpha, a type of macroalgae) is grown. In its growth, the chaeto uptakes nutrients, so when it grows quickly (and chaeto does), or simply fills the space allotted, some is removed, given or thrown away, making space for new growth and more nutrient removal. Each time chaeto is removed, the aquarist is tossing out nitrates and phosphates (and ammonia if it was present in a tank.) Now, some people take the fuge game quite seriously, using different forms of macroalgae to create a gorgeous display fuge, sometimes in a sump... but sometimes, this display refugium is THE tank. Yep, just like with freshwater, we can make beautifully planted marine tanks, and this is actually quite common for seahorse tanks.

As always, do your research. Some forms of macroalgae are as difficult to grow as the most sensitive coral, but, plenty are easy too. There are just things to know like... Pink Galaxy (Galaxaura rugosa) may need calcium supplementation for growth, Dragon's Tongue may need iron for growth and coloration, and there's a slight chance that Grape Caulerpa will 'go sexual.' This means that under certain conditions, the plant may just decide to release a bunch of its tissue into the water column, causing a HUGE nutrient spike... which has been known to nuke tanks. Still, if I had ponies, I'd definitely house them in a planted tank/display refugium. Honestly, idk that much about their natural habitat, but plants for ponies seems right, and I've seen evidence of adorable seahorses seeming to really enjoy their beautifully planted tanks.:joyful:
Haha this is so useful thankyou! I've thought about the waste issue. There us a lot of food flying around so I looked into how to make feeding easier to clean up after and I got one of these feeding trays (attached) they've picked it up easy and when they're done stuffing themselves it's so easy to clean up the remains so they don't got and cause ammonia.
VideoCapture_20190705-051957.jpg
 

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Nice! Never heard of the feeding trays but look at those cute, adorable, BEAUTIFUL & SMART horsies using it. I love it!
 

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AlliFish21 said:
Haha this is so useful thankyou! I've thought about the waste issue. There us a lot of food flying around so I looked into how to make feeding easier to clean up after and I got one of these feeding trays (attached) they've picked it up easy and when they're done stuffing themselves it's so easy to clean up the remains so they don't got and cause ammonia.
VideoCapture_20190705-051957.jpg
That one looks pregnant/or male holding babies!
 
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Thedudeiam94 said:
That one looks pregnant/or male holding babies!
Haha you would think! But no he inflates his pouch from time to time, I believe he's signalling to the girl that he's ready for her eggs. She isn't remotely interested in him at the moment though hahah. Poor guy. Only stays inflated maybe 5-10 min then he's back to his regular size.
 
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stella1979 said:
Test results look great! I think I see a low nitrate level, so this means you're very close to a cycled tank indeed. However, do keep watch.

I've heard that feeding ponies is tricky indeed... because a LOT of food needs to enter the tank for them to catch what they need, AND the foods are so small so it is nearly impossible to clean up/take out extras. An abundance of food in the water column can, of course, make keeping the water clean and toxins down quite difficult... particularly in an uncycled, newly cycled, or weakly cycled tank. I fear that, even with good test results, your newly cycled and weakly cycled tank, (weak because ammo needs to be kept very low for tank inhabitants), you may see ammo spikes continue, both because the cycle is not long established AND because of the feeding requirements of ponies.

So, keep a close eye on test results, (as you've been doing), and if possible, take a firm hand with any mechanical filtration you've got running. Meaning, if you have a sponge in your filter... rinse it every day in removed tank water while you're doing these extra wc's. If you have a disposable filter pad or filter floss (this is what I recommend) then follow a method known as floss and toss. This method requires that we purchase filter padding or floss in bulk, preferably cheaply (get stuff meant for sewing instead of aquariums, just make sure it's 100% polyfil without any flame retardant properties.) I get big rolls of floss padding (meant for quilts) on eBay or large bags of fluffy floss (meant for stuffing pillows) at WalMart. So, with a bulk buy of this form of mechanical filtration, we use a little at a time for a short time, then change it out for new. Personally, for the reef tank, I floss and toss every 3 days to keep nutrients low and algae at bay. The reason I mention this method to you is... the crud that gets caught up in mechanical filtration breaks down into ammonia AND ponies must be fed well... so, if you can clean or replace mechanical filtration every day, there will be less of a load on your cycle, fewer toxins entering the water column, so a safer place for the ponies, and less work for you.

Hope that all makes sense. When my tank was new, the cycle was fresh and a little weak, and diatoms were growing like crazy, I too did daily floss and toss. Then, the tank and cycle got a little more mature, so mechanical filtration was only addressed at regular weekly water changes. More time went by, more fish entered the tank, more corals needed feeding, and so on... and I had been lucky to go a whole year without green hair algae issues that plague other reefers... but finally, gha reared it's ugly head for me too. A multi-faceted attack was needed to take care of things, but a key component was... I needed to go back to more frequent floss and toss because changing once a week gave time for the detritus that was caught to break down. Shoot, more than a day is likely enough for organic breakdown to occur from a filter pad. However, in my case, with a strongly cycled, mature, 2-year-old tank, I no longer fear an ammonia spike, and I don't really need nitrates to be zero, (neither do you), so, every three days is enough to address my algae issues. In your case, since the desire is the prevention of ammonia spikes in a new tank, which is likely fed heavily due to pretty ponies, for now, and until the cycle is strong and you perhaps have other forms of nutrient export running, (we need to talk about macroalgae and refugiums), I would recommend daily floss and toss. Oh! The reason I recommend disposable mechanical filtration (eek! waste!ops rather than a sponge is... to rinse the sponge daily, you'll need daily removal of tank water to rinse it in, while with disposable pads and/or fluff, you just remove the old and replace it with new.

Lastly, indeed, beneficial bacteria will colonize on filter sponges, pads, and fluff, but because there are other forms of biological filtration in a system (like the rock in a tank or the biomedia in a filter), we do not depend on the BB in mechanical filtration for the cycle.

Sorry I really only intended to congratulate you on the good test results... then started thinking about forms of nutrient removal/export to aid in your effort to keep toxins low. Didn't mean to write a book, but I hope it helps.

Edit: Oh! If you can install a prefilter sponge on an intake, well, it'll catch a lot of 'stuff' so may mean less frequency is needed in the maintenance of mechanical filtration inside a filter.

Errm... Since I'm here, let's talk about refugiums and macroalgae. A 'fuge' is simply a place to grow marine plants under the conditions they need. It can be as simple as an area in a sump or HOB where light is provided and chaeto (chaetomorpha, a type of macroalgae) is grown. In its growth, the chaeto uptakes nutrients, so when it grows quickly (and chaeto does), or simply fills the space allotted, some is removed, given or thrown away, making space for new growth and more nutrient removal. Each time chaeto is removed, the aquarist is tossing out nitrates and phosphates (and ammonia if it was present in a tank.) Now, some people take the fuge game quite seriously, using different forms of macroalgae to create a gorgeous display fuge, sometimes in a sump... but sometimes, this display refugium is THE tank. Yep, just like with freshwater, we can make beautifully planted marine tanks, and this is actually quite common for seahorse tanks.

As always, do your research. Some forms of macroalgae are as difficult to grow as the most sensitive coral, but, plenty are easy too. There are just things to know like... Pink Galaxy (Galaxaura rugosa) may need calcium supplementation for growth, Dragon's Tongue may need iron for growth and coloration, and there's a slight chance that Grape Caulerpa will 'go sexual.' This means that under certain conditions, the plant may just decide to release a bunch of its tissue into the water column, causing a HUGE nutrient spike... which has been known to nuke tanks. Still, if I had ponies, I'd definitely house them in a planted tank/display refugium. Honestly, idk that much about their natural habitat, but plants for ponies seems right, and I've seen evidence of adorable seahorses seeming to really enjoy their beautifully planted tanks.:joyful:
I'm changing water daily and it's getting the levels down but they shoot straight back up by the next day. Is there anything I can do to move it along? Or just keep going daily?
20190712_080641.jpg
 

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That test doesn't look too bad, though we know it's not great. The only thing making levels rise is ammonia produced by fish and organic breakdown. So... yes, because nitrite is still apparent, I would definitely keep up the daily water changes, and also consider if I could change a higher volume without causing too much stress, as well as if feeding could safely be cut back a bit.

If these methods are put in place, realize that your cycle will adjust to that nutrient load, so when it is finally time to slow down on those water changes, and perhaps feed heavier, well... make these changes slowly. In other words, when wc's aren't every day, keep them up twice a week for a little while, testing as often as before every water change. The pre wc tests will tell you all you need to know as far as how you can space out wc's and if you can offer more food. I do think you'll be fully cycled soon and I'm not sure at what level nitrates are too high for ponies, but would imagine not too high just like for corals. I'd try to keep nitrates under 20ppm between water changes and would also like to point out... live plants will help keep those nutrients down. If you want to watch out for algae outbreaks and such... well, reefers generally also test for phosphates when keeping an eye on the nutrient load in a tank.
 
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stella1979 said:
That test doesn't look too bad, though we know it's not great. The only thing making levels rise is ammonia produced by fish and organic breakdown. So... yes, because nitrite is still apparent, I would definitely keep up the daily water changes, and also consider if I could change a higher volume without causing too much stress, as well as if feeding could safely be cut back a bit.

If these methods are put in place, realize that your cycle will adjust to that nutrient load, so when it is finally time to slow down on those water changes, and perhaps feed heavier, well... make these changes slowly. In other words, when wc's aren't every day, keep them up twice a week for a little while, testing as often as before every water change. The pre wc tests will tell you all you need to know as far as how you can space out wc's and if you can offer more food. I do think you'll be fully cycled soon and I'm not sure at what level nitrates are too high for ponies, but would imagine not too high just like for corals. I'd try to keep nitrates under 20ppm between water changes and would also like to point out... live plants will help keep those nutrients down. If you want to watch out for algae outbreaks and such... well, reefers generally also test for phosphates when keeping an eye on the nutrient load in a tank.
Ugh seriously loving how full of knowledge you are! Thank you! Do you have insta? I'd love to follow you. I've started an insta account for the seahorses if you want to watch their journey! @seasoned.seahorses
 

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AlliFish21 said:
Ugh seriously loving how full of knowledge you are! Thank you! Do you have insta? I'd love to follow you. I've started an insta account for the seahorses if you want to watch their journey! @seasoned.seahorses
Thank you so much!!! You flatter me too much, lol... I only have this knowledge due to others sharing and research over the couple of years I've had my current reef tank. I'll tell you what, if you want to find answers to salty questions you haven't even thought of yet... follow BRStv on YouTube.

I do have an Insta and would love to watch the ponies, so you shall see me there soon!
 

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Any updates on them? I'm curious to how this played out.
 

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