Beginner help. Fish, corals, anemones and plants

Hi everyone! I’m new. We have an empty 20 gallon tank we are getting ready for coral and fragging. A 40 gallon that’s a month old. We have 8 crabs, 10 snails, bi colored angel, valentini puffer, 3 stripped damsel, lawnmower blenny, a Darwin clown and a regular clown. Some of them will be going to the other tanks soon. All are babies except the puffer and angel and will be spread out very soon. My question is how to best care for each of my tanks. The fish tank with some corals, the plant tank with fish and plants and the frag tank. My lights are 2 aqueon Optibright plus 32’s and a dual led strip light as a secondary that puts out very low whites and blues only. One size up on the pump filter with good media in it. I will post pics of the tank and the chemicals I use. I am having trouble with fluctuations in ammonia and nitrite but still not nitrate. It’s been the right amount of time and I’ve used plenty of live bacteria supplements. What’s the trick to getting a good self stabilizing tank? Tips and tricks to get the most out of my setup. I’ve got diatoms starting to cover everything and green algae in some areas, had to do a massive water swap due to a bubble tip anemone hopping into a water pump. I think I lost a lot of my good bacteria in the process so how do I curb this. What live bacteria additive works best.


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Vinny Kreyling

Premium Member
Sounds like the tank has not cycled yet.
Probably because of the fish you put in.
The cycle should finish BEFORE any live stock, even snails & crabs enter the system.
As far as the chemicals, forget the buffer, PH does what it wants & without system changes it's a lost cause.
Ammonia neutralizer is not needed during or after your nitrogen cycle.
Few bacteria in a bottle do anything.
Parts A & B are for dosing, not needed until you get your chemistry badge.
The last 2 I'm not that familiar with but personally would not use them.


Cloning Around
Staff member
RC Mod
Premium Member
What you need, is time. Otherwise, you are going to waste a lot of money on dead livestock. A month-old tank really isn't ready for all you've put into it. I didn't put ANY livestock (other than live rock) into my first saltwater tank for the first six weeks while it cycled! Stop adding any new livestock until you aren't getting any detectable ammonia or nitrite. A reef tank is a long-term proposition, not an overnight sensation. ;)

As mentioned above - read! A month old tank is waaaay too young for an anemone. You already found that bubble-tip anemones wander and seem to look for powerheads and pumps; that's something that's well-known by the experienced hobbyists on this site.

I'm not sure what type of plants you wish to keep, but as far as corals, I'd wait a couple months before trying even some hardier softies. Stony corals should come after you've managed to keep your tank's chemistry stable for an extended period. I'm not familiar with those lights, but I'm sure others here will be able to tell you what types of corals they'll support (eventually!).

Good luck,


Who Am I Here?
Premium Member
Too add to the above (regarding cycling and letting things stabilize), it appears you may have some quartz crystals (and maybe other non natural live rock (looks like river stone and maybe granite?)) in the tank. Quartz is silica based and silica can contribute to algae. The others may be leaching other items that are contributing to algae growth.

I’d remove any rock that isn’t something you’d find on the beach (I.e the quartz, the red and blue rocks, the fossils, and any other crystal looking rock) but that’s just me.


Well-known member
I couldn't agree more with what has already been posted. As much as I understand the desire to have everything beautiful NOW, that just does not, cannot happen in a marine system.

Please SLOW DOWN, read everything, everywhere, you can about the how's and more importantly, the why's of doing things to get a successful system set up and running.

If you remember nothing else, remember that NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS FAST!

This can be a very rewarding hobby (obsession) and will lead to a lifetime of learning things you never even thought were related to the hobby. This is year 34 or so for me and I'm still seeing, learning new things about it all the time.

Please keep us updated, and ask LOTS of questions!!! We are all happy to help in any way we can!
The ammonia neutralizer doubles as a freshwater conditioner. I only have ocean fossils and quartz in there asides the colored rock pieces which were labeled as natural stone for saltwater tanks. From what I’ve read the quartz is fine if boiled and soaked first and test the water. It was fine. So I put them in. If it’s truly going to pose an issue I will remove. We were kinda forced into hurrying the tank at first because the kids brought home a new pet before we had a tank. So I did a lot of research and worked with my local LFS to get it ready quickly. I maintain my water daily and carefully to keep everything going well. I get that it’s rushed and will do everything I can to make it work. So thank you all for the advice. The coral all seem to be doing fine, a few things were finicky when the bubble tip did it’s thing, but other than the Xenia I didn’t lose anything else, my porites are good as well as everything else. I’m setting up a sump system to even better address stabilizing the rushed tank. If it wasn’t cycled though I wouldn’t be getting all the different types of algae growth right? I’ve got multiple types growing that the fish and CUC are happily eating. I think the diatoms are because I do not have an rodi yet and even cleaning my water in a new tank it contributes to the growth of the diatoms. Are the diatoms harmful to my livestock? Thanks again for all the help.
Also, I have a smaller tank that’s a little bit older and cycling live sand and such for the 40 gal planted tank but could move it over to the 40 gallon bow face being discussed instead when it’s ready very soon if you all think it would assist with the quick progression of the tank being discussed. I used smart starts quick start products and the LFS uses it to set up tanks in 24 hours from what they told me. Truly it seems to have worked so far. Just need to get the diatoms under control and the water chemistry smoothed all out.