Monthly Archives: February 2007

The Cycle Starts

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Okay, yesterday I swapped out the failed light ballast at Denny’s Pet World so now both lights are working. Also, the tank water has cleared up nicely.

So now we wait. I’ll be taking water samples for the next two weeks to track the nitrogen cycle. Once the tank has cycled completely it will be time to add some animals. I may try mail order on some of them this time around. It’s cheaper and the store fish get shipped to the store anyway.

Educational TidBit…(The nitrogen cycle)

When you first put the tank together and fill it, add salt, then add live rock/sand and/or animals the water goes through a nitrogen cycle. The waste created by the livestock creates ammonia which is toxic. As the ammonia levels rise, bacteria in the live rock/live sand start to grow and consume the ammonia. They turn the ammonia into nitrite which is also toxic. More bacteria grow and convert the nitrite into a more liveable nitrate. The level of ammonia starts to fall as the nitrites rise, then the nitrites fall as the nitrates rise. Eventually the toxic chemicals are extremely low and nitrate remains fairly constant. A healthy ecosystem in your tank will maintain the balance. This process takes a few weeks on average. Once complete you can add livestock. Each time you add any livestock to the tank the cycle happens again but the amount of rise and the time it takes to cycle will be dependent on how much you add at one time. Completely clean sand and rock will not create the ammonia and the only way to start this cycle for the first time is to add a fish. Unfortunately it is highly likely that that fish won’t live through the cycle. This is where live sand and uncured live rock help. They have live bacteria already because they actually came from either an established fish tank (sand), or the ocean (ie: the Fiji Live Rock). Adding uncured live rock/live sand to a tank that already has animals can kill everything in the tank though so you only really do this at the beginning. Later on, you want to add “cured” live rock, which has been filtered for a while to kill/remove most of the bacteria.

Category: aquarium


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Okay, so it’s been a while since I posted last. I’ve been crazy busy with work and other things lately so I haven’t had a chance to deal much with the tank.

Well today was the day.. After futzing with the Internet up on Cougar mountain I headed to the store. Devon was nice enough to clean the tank out while I was at the store. We tossed the live rock I had and all the sand. She cleaned the glass and it looks spotless now.

At the store I picked up 10 pounds of uncured Fiji live rock, 20 pounds of live sand and some activated charcoal.

At home we washed off all the pumps, thermometers, filters, etc and put them back in their spot. I poured in the new sand and then filled the tank most of the way. After adding some salt and mixing that around we dropped in the live rock, then filled the water the rest of the way. I adjusted the salt again and let it roll.

So here it is, still cloudy. One of the two lights is off because the ballast failed. I’ll have to get that replaced. The bulbs are both new. The tank originally came with a 24W 10K bulb and a 24W Actinic. I replaced the 10K with another one, and the Actinic with a 24W 50/50. The 50/50 is half a 10K bulb, and the other half is Actinic. That puts the 10K at 36W total in the tank with just a little blue tint.

Oh yeah, I kept the Nassarius snails that lived through the power outage. There were 6 of the little buggers still alive after draining the tank and letting it sit for like a week. And that’s after 8 days of no power, 40 degree water temps, and no food. I couldn’t kill these dudes if I tried. You can see one of them among the empty shells here. He’s the smallest one in the picture.

Category: aquarium
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