When Can I Add Ocellaris Clownfish And Bta?

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Katie13

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My SW tank is finally up and running! I've had filter media in a small container for 3 weeks now. It is testing 0,0,0 with ammonia dosed. I'm picking up 15-20 pounds of well established live rock from a friend of mine tomorrow. His tank has been running for a few years now and is heavily stocked. My question is, can I add my Clownfish and BTA now (when the live rock is in)?
@ryanr @stella1979 @PoorBigBlue @Jesterrace
 
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ryanr

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Hi,
I would add the rock, and monitor for a few days / weeks to ensure you don't get a cycle. Theoretically, if it's well established, you shouldn't have a problem, but for the sake of a few days to be sure, it's worth the wait.
I certainly wouldn't be adding a BTA to a new tank, I'd wait until it's well established (6 months or more).
What size tank is it? And what are the stocking plans?
You should always aim to stock from least aggressive/territorial to most. This gives the fish a chance to establish themselves, and as more aggressive fish come in, they have to "fit in". Clowns can be territorial, so just consider your other stock.
But on the surface, I'd say yes, if the tank is definitely cycled, you're right to add a clown, but I wouldn't do the BTA yet.
Clowns are fairly hardy too, so if you do get a mini-cycle, they are more able to cope with it (not ideal, but they can cope).

Oh, and also make sure your salinity and temperature are stable before adding stock.
 

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Temp is stable, salinity is 1.024. It's a 20g tank. The stock is simply just going to be 2 Ocellaris Clowns, BTA, and eventually some coral. With the BTA though, it's the bacteria that needs to be established, not the tank. So, in theory, live rock that has been established for years should be good, right?
 

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I'd add the live rock to your display tank and see if you get any ammonia spikes - as soon as rock is out of water, some organisms die-off. It won't be massive as long as the rock is kept wet, but still, better safe than sorry.

If after 48 hours you haven't had any ammonia spikes, I'd say that you'd be good to go ahead and add your CUC (clean-up crew), along with an ornamental shrimp, if you like. I'd also feed the tank a bit every 2-3 days to give the CUC some algae and debris to eat, and to make sure the cycle doesn't die with such a low bioload.

I assume that the filter media is for a quarantine tank. While some can get away without QT'ing (and I admit, I didn't do a full 4 weeks), I'd QT for at least a couple of weeks to make sure the fish doesn't have something like ich or velvet. That could save you some heartache, for sure. You could definitely add the clowns straight to this tank though, as long as your filter media is running.

As for the BTA... I wouldn't add one to a new tank. I don't buy into the idea that a tank needs to be established for a year before an anemone can survive, but an anemone does absolutely need stability. Stability is difficult in a new tank, and it's best to give it a few months to settle in before adding anything as sensitive as an anemone. 3 months would be a minimum, IMO - I wouldn't even have one if it wasn't shipped to me without my consent.

What size tank do you have? Do you plan to keep other fish? I assume this is going to be a reef, correct?

Keep in mind that clownfish are pretty territorial. If you plan to keep a timid fish with them, add the timid fish first, to avoid the clowns ganging up on the new fish.

Oops, Ryan beat me.

But to answer your question, the thing that needs to be established is the TANK. No matter how solid your bacterial colony is, there are going to be nuances in your tank that are going to be difficult to get under control at first. Some tanks will have massive algal blooms, and others will experience bacterial blooms. There's a lot more that goes on to make a tank established other than the Nitrogen cycle. Waiting to get the BTA will ensure that the anemone has the best chance in your tank.

At the very least, I'd get your tank set up, get your fish and inverts in, and get a few hardy pieces of coral. Give it a couple of months after that, and if you haven't had anything to make you wary of an anemone, you should be good. I think people like to make them out to be more sensitive than they are - but they are still very sensitive creatures.
 

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I'd add the live rock to your display tank and see if you get any ammonia spikes - as soon as rock is out of water, some organisms die-off. It won't be massive as long as the rock is kept wet, but still, better safe than sorry.

If after 48 hours you haven't had any ammonia spikes, I'd say that you'd be good to go ahead and add your CUC (clean-up crew), along with an ornamental shrimp, if you like. I'd also feed the tank a bit every 2-3 days to give the CUC some algae and debris to eat, and to make sure the cycle doesn't die with such a low bioload.

I assume that the filter media is for a quarantine tank. While some can get away without QT'ing (and I admit, I didn't do a full 4 weeks), I'd QT for at least a couple of weeks to make sure the fish doesn't have something like ich or velvet. That could save you some heartache, for sure. You could definitely add the clowns straight to this tank though, as long as your filter media is running.

As for the BTA... I wouldn't add one to a new tank. I don't buy into the idea that a tank needs to be established for a year before an anemone can survive, but an anemone does absolutely need stability. Stability is difficult in a new tank, and it's best to give it a few months to settle in before adding anything as sensitive as an anemone. 3 months would be a minimum, IMO - I wouldn't even have one if it wasn't shipped to me without my consent.

What size tank do you have? Do you plan to keep other fish? I assume this is going to be a reef, correct?

Keep in mind that clownfish are pretty territorial. If you plan to keep a timid fish with them, add the timid fish first, to avoid the clowns ganging up on the new fish.
The rock will be submerged in water the entire time. When I add it in the tank, I'm going to treat it similar to drip acclimation adding new water to the bag then remove some and add more for a while then completely submerge the bag it's in and place it. As for the tank, it's a 20g, 1.024 salinity. The only stock will be a pair of Ocellaris Clowns, a BTA, and coral. With the BTA though, it's the live rock that needs to be well established for stability, so in theory, wouldn't it be okay for BTA considering this live rock has been established for years with an anemone in the tank?
 

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With the BTA though, it's the bacteria that needs to be established, not the tank. So, in theory, live rock that has been established for years should be good, right?
Bacteria is just one part of establishing a tank. You want to establish the whole eco-system. Salinity and evaporation rates. Nutrient control (particularly nitrate and phosphates), macro elements, Calcium, Magnesium and Alkalinity.
When I setup my tank, and it was about 65G, not 20, my levels were all over the place, not so much salinity, but alkalinity would fluctuate as the sand released more, and it took about 6 months for it stabilise, or in other words to find its equilibrium.
It also took me months to figure out how best to control nitrate and phosphate, and keep them at <2ppm and <0.05ppm respectively.

My opinion, new tanks take time to stabilise completely, and anemones are more sensitive to the swings, so until I was comfortable, I waited, but others will differ with their opinion. I also believe it's far easier to let a tank stabilise, than it is to be constantly chasing parameters. By waiting, I was able to determine exactly what the tank needed as far as supplements.

EDIT: You've also got all the other parts of the eco-system to establish, micro-organisms, getting through the diatom phase, micro-fauna like copepods etc.

EDIT 2: Remember the golden rule of SW - "Nothing good ever happens fast; but it can go dramatically wrong very quickly"
 
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There's far more to a tank becoming established than just the Nitrogen Cycle, as Ryan mentioned. To add to the things he listed, think about all the microfauna that need to get established. Pods, worms, starfish, algae, bacteria... all these things will keep your tank healthy. Snails do a lot of the cleaning that we see, but all of these tiny organisms take care of the real work in your tank. It'll take time for all of these things to reproduce in your aquarium (even with very established live rock), and your parameters will be swinging every which way until your tank finds a balance. There'll be things dying from the move (you will have minimal die-off, but still), the established bacteria in your rock will be growing or dying off to meet the needs of your tank, and you'll be figuring out first-hand how to keep a saltwater tank. There's gonna be some stability issues at first - it's really, truly best to wait until your tank is completely stable.

Some will disagree with this, but the vast majority of people will agree that anemones do need an established tank. Believe it or not, we're being pretty liberal with the 3-6 months. Some people say a year or more. Anemones have been kept in new tanks, but it's usually by very experienced people who've kept quite a few anemones before.
 

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My SW tank is finally up and running! I've had filter media in a small container for 3 weeks now. It is testing 0,0,0 with ammonia dosed. I'm picking up 15-20 pounds of well established live rock from a friend of mine tomorrow. His tank has been running for a few years now and is heavily stocked. My question is, can I add my Clownfish and BTA now (when the live rock is in)?
@ryanr @stella1979 @PoorBigBlue @Jesterrace
Katie, the filter media does nothing in a saltwater tank other than small QT tanks with low bioloads (unfortunately it's a bad habit that doesn't transfer over from freshwater). The cycle is all maintained in the live rock, so until that is in and has been stable (I would give it 1-2 weeks at least even if it's been in another tank just to ensure that there isn't any die off/cycle triggered) you really don't gain anything from it. Keep the fish out of the tank until then and the BTA should not go into the tank until it's been running for several months. It's not just the live rock that needs to be well established but the tank parameters itself, so you can't simply circumvent that by adding rock from a well established tank. You will see a brown diatom bloom and progressive algae growth and development in stages even with well established live rock going in. The only shortcut you get from the established live rock is generally skipping the initial die off that is toxic to life in your tank. I hate to say it but you are trying to rush things with saltwater and it's a recipe for disaster. Also are you using tapwater or RODI? If you want a BTA you definitely should have RODI.
 

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To add to the things he listed, think about all the microfauna that need to get established. Pods, worms, starfish, algae, bacteria... all these things will keep your tank healthy.
LOL - you must have been typing whilst I was editing my post , check the edit
 

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I'm using tap as I have it tested every couple years and it measures up to that of RODI with the minerals.
 

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There is a reason I was asking these questions. I was planning to wait a few months before I got the BTA, but I have been reading some today and read some posts about people "establishing" their aquarium using live rock then adding BTA a few days later. So is it safe to add Clowns?
 

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I'm using tap as I have it tested every couple years and it measures up to that of RODI with the minerals.
I don't think you understand how RODI water works. RODI filtration strips literally all minerals and solids out of the tap water (0 TDS or Total Dissolved Solids) in the source water. So it is literally impossible for tap water to be comparable to RODI as RODI has no minerals or solids in it. When you add the aquarium specific salt (ie instant ocean) it adds minerals back to the water that are specifically beneficial to marine aquariums, but doesn't have any of the potential nasties that are in tap water. With tap water it's not just about the content of what is in the water, but the levels of what is in the water. Have you gotten a TDS meter to test and see what the level of solids are in your tap water? I would highly recommend doing so. If you were doing fish only, then you would have a better chance of success, but with a BTA going in there at some point I would be very wary of using tap water.
 

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I don't think you understand how RODI water works. RODI filtration strips literally all minerals and solids out of the tap water (0 TDS or Total Dissolved Solids) in the source water. So it is literally impossible for tap water to be comparable to RODI as RODI has no minerals or solids in it. When you add the aquarium specific salt (ie instant ocean) it adds minerals back to the water that are specifically beneficial to marine aquariums, but doesn't have any of the potential nasties that are in tap water. With tap water it's not just about the content of what is in the water, but the levels of what is in the water. Have you gotten a TDS meter to test and see what the level of solids are in your tap water? I would highly recommend doing so. If you were doing fish only, then you would have a better chance of success, but with a BTA going in there at some point I would be very wary of using tap water.
What should the TDS be? I checked all the levels in my tap against the levels found in marine salt is what I'm trying to say. They are all well under. I also know my TDS.
 

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There is a reason I was asking these questions. I was planning to wait a few months before I got the BTA, but I have been reading some today and read some posts about people "establishing" their aquarium using live rock then adding BTA a few days later. So is it safe to add Clowns?
Yeah, I would not be following the advice of folks who claim to be establishing their aquariums by simply putting in live rock. The individual tank still needs months to establish itself properly (as mentioned above). I would recommend adding the clowns after a week or two of stable conditions of the live rock with tests every other day to ensure that no die off is triggered.
 

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What should the TDS be? I checked all the levels in my tap against the levels found in marine salt is what I'm trying to say. They are all well under. I also know my TDS.
The TDS is supposed to be Zero from any decent quality RODI system and you don't compare it against the marine salt, you compare it against the zero TDS of the source water that comes straight out of the RODI system BEFORE YOU ADD THE SALT.
 

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I'm using tap as I have it tested every couple years and it measures up to that of RODI with the minerals.
Respectfully, I doubt that any tap water can match RODI with minerals. I live in an area that has arguably the best tap water quality in the world, but it's still no match for RODI. The composition of tap water is just too varied. Copper pipes taint the water, plastics leach etc etc. It's fine for human consumption and other FW applications, but it's not comparable to sea water.
Can you use tap water? Yes you can, and some in my area do, but the risks are too great and out of my control. I have no way of knowing what, and when the tap water will change, nor what the water company chooses to put in.
For those interested in the composition of SW: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-11/rhf/index.php#4

There is a reason I was asking these questions. I was planning to wait a few months before I got the BTA, but I have been reading some today and read some posts about people "establishing" their aquarium using live rock then adding BTA a few days later. So is it safe to add Clowns?
I can't speak for the research you've done, nor do I know the experience level and circumstances behind the stories. If you really want to add a BTA to a new tank, that's up to you, but conventional wisdom and experience suggests that it's better to wait.
Is it safe to add clowns? Like we've suggested, add the live rock, give it a few days to make sure it's still cycled, and if so, yes it's fine to add fish and inverts.

What should the TDS be? I checked all the levels in my tap against the levels found in marine salt is what I'm trying to say. They are all well under. I also know my TDS.
My tap water had a TDS of about 35ppm (yes, thirty-five), I used RODI which brought it to zero, and once the salt was added, I have absolutely no idea what the TDS was. Some quick googling suggests a lot of tap water is upto 500ppm, salt water 30000-40000ppm
 

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The TDS is supposed to be Zero from any decent quality RODI system and you don't compare it against the marine salt, you compare it against the zero TDS of the source water that comes straight out of the RODI system BEFORE YOU ADD THE SALT.
You obviously don't understand what I'm trying to get across and are acting as if I'm stupid which I really don't appreciate. I checked the heavy metals, etc in my tap against the levels of them found in marine salt to get an idea. I'm saying that the hardness of my tap compares to that of RODI and the levels in my tap are perfectly safe and well under the levels found in salt. With salt in RODI and salt in my tap, it's pretty close to identical. The only real difference is that my TDS is 30.
 

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Let's remember that we're all here to help each other - no one here is stupid, and I don't think anyone here is trying to be malicious.

The only flaw I have with using tap water is that you don't know exactly what's in it by the time it gets to you. You can get reports from your local water company, but that doesn't count all the stuff it picks up on the way to your house. Around here, we have pretty amazing tap water - TDS usually measures around 50. I could probably get by with using tap in my tank. But, what if something changes in the water, and I'm not aware of it? What if a pipe starts leaching copper into the water? Even a small amount of copper in a reef can quickly begin to wipe out invertebrates and coral, and all that death can quickly lead to an ammonia spike, which tends to kill anything left alive in the tank. That's just one example of the dangers that tap water can present.

Plus, what about nitrate and phosphate levels? Even though my tap water has a low TDS, phosphate still measures around 0.1 PPM out of the tap. That means that every time you do a water change, you're adding phosphate - which is going to cause algae issues, and probably unhappy coral in the long run.

My RO/DI system was bought used a few months ago for $50. It was quick and easy to install, and other than maintenance costs, there's literally 0 hassle with the thing anymore. Considering that you're likely to have several hundred dollars worth of livestock in the tank (if not a couple thousand), it's really worth it to spend more up front.
 

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I'm sorry, it was not my intent to come across that way. The point I am trying to get across is that you don't compare the tapwater to the marine salt, nor the hardness of the water. You compare the TDS of your tapwater to the water that has come straight through an RODI system. As mentioned above it's not just about the levels or the hardness but specifically what chemicals, minerals are used in your municipal tapwater system and what the water runs through. I will admit that the TDS is relatively low in your area but once again we don't know exactly what chemicals are used. There are plenty of things in municipal tapwater that are totally safe for freshwater fish, humans, etc. but that can be harmful to marine life. Once again, I wasn't trying to insult you or anything, I was just trying to explain how you compare the two.
 
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