New 29 Gallon Tank- Screwed it Up and Need Help!

RMP

New member
So I really screwed this up. I had a saltwater fish tank about 8 years ago and obviously learned nothing. I wanted another, and I'm afraid I'm lost. I have a 29 gallon tank with an AcquaticLife 30' T5 HO, and an AquaClear 110 filter, and a heater. No protein skimmer, and they may be my first huge problem.

I would like to have a reef tank. I set it up last Saturday (8 days ago) and had 12 pounds of live rock and 2 bags of live sand. I was told that I could add fish immediately if I added this Bio Spira "bacteria in a bottle" stuff. This seemed too good to be true. I tested my water the next day, and I had some ammonia and nitrite, probably from the rock and sand. So I buy the Bio Spira and add it in. The next day my nitrates are up to 20, and no more ammonia or nitrites. This stays the same all the way through Thursday.

I did a small (3 gallon) water change on Thursday, based on something I read about having smaller water changes even in the beginning. I test later on, still no ammonia or nitrates. So I'm ready for fish. I was eyeing up this really cool Angler (frogfish). I buy him Friday and put him in the tank. He seems fine. I fed him 3 ghost shrimp Saturday, and fine.

This morning I wake up to see him breathing extremely heavy. I tested my water and my ammonia is .50 and my nitrites are high as well. I tried a 5 gallon water change. Too late. I lost the frogfish. I'm so ****ed at myself for thinking that a quick fix could work and I could have fish so soon. I feel worse that this unbelievably cool fish is dead because I wasn't patient.

My question is, where do I go now? I want a reef tank, complete with shrimp, crabs, fish, etc. Do I need to add more rock? Basically, did I screw this whole thing up permanently now? HELP!! Thanks.
 

Derbird

New member
I'm very sorry for your loss, frog fish are definatly cool critters.

First off I would personaly never go back to the store that told you that it any product would make a new tank fish ready on day one. They seem to only want to sell you livestock and not care about your system :(

The live rock is up to you. The old rule of thumb is one to one and a half pounds of rock per gallon but many people do tanks with a lot more or less. The thing about the rock is it will become part of your biofilter so IMO the more the better. You can also add cured rock to a live tank later on if you choose, I just wouldn't recomend adding dry rock to a live tank.

From what you posted your tank will be fine. You will just need to let it cycle and then slowly add critters and hardy corals until your tank stablizes. The bio spira is just nirtafying bacteria. It wont hurt anything, some say it helps others say no but no harm.

Good luck with your build, Just remember patience is the key to this hobby

Oh and I would highly recomend a protien skimmer ;)
 

nynick

New member
Your tank will be fine, just let it cycle properly. A 29 gallon tank, cycled or not, is probably not a good place for a messy eater. I have no experience with a frog fish but they sure look like they would be messy eaters. Start with 1 small fish when ready.

Skimmer or no skimmer depends on how much fish you intend to put in. 29g without a skimmer will mean 1 or 2 small fish.
 

markandamber11

In Memoriam
Your tank will be fine, just let it cycle properly. A 29 gallon tank, cycled or not, is probably not a good place for a messy eater. I have no experience with a frog fish but they sure look like they would be messy eaters. Start with 1 small fish when ready.

Skimmer or no skimmer depends on how much fish you intend to put in. 29g without a skimmer will mean 1 or 2 small fish.

i concure this tank will turn into a algae place in no time
 

examiner

New member
More live rock? Some more probably wouldn't hurt, but not going to say it's absolutely necessary. But without a skimmer, I probably would add some more. Do it now, while you are still in the cycle phase. Otherwise it has the possiblility of slowing you down/setting you back in the future.

What are you running in the Aquaclear filter? The standard filter pads? If so, do some research there. It's not going to bring much to the table in regards to biological filtration (rock and sand for that) so you may as well use it for carbon, GFO, etc.

You can run a reef tank of this size without a skimmer. It's going to take a large amount of patience to slowly stock it up (allowing the biofilter to grow each time you add something) and it's going to require a strong dedication to maintenance, detritus removal and regular water changes. A skimmer will give you a margin for error that you won't have otherwise.

You want a small reef? Don't buy fish like an Angler. Research before you buy. As stated, your current setup is going to allow for 2-3 small *reef safe* fish. SMALL fish. Bigger/more fish means more food means more poop and that is gonna require more maintenance on your part. You want this to be fun and not a chore, right/

You will need to add flow to the tank also, so budget for that.

Start over, be patient. After 3-4 weeks, test your water and if OK add a small clean up crew first (you budgeted for that also, right?). If that goes OK wait a few more weeks before you add anything else. You are already going to battling algae for the first several months, so don't exacerbate the problem by adding livestock to the mix.

Good luck, sorry for your loss....
 

coralsnaked

New member
My question is, where do I go now? I want a reef tank, complete with shrimp, crabs, fish, etc. Do I need to add more rock? Basically, did I screw this whole thing up permanently now? HELP!! Thanks.


1. Sand – Do not use sand from hardware store. This playground type sand if full of silicates and can cause a very large algae outbreak during and after the cycle. You can get dry sand but be sure you use reef grade sand.

2. Be sure to keep your foundation elements up to params (IE) Ca = 450, Alk = 9.0, Mg = 1400, but not needed until after cycle, as it is better to cycle w/ lights off to prevent algae growth.

3. If this is a cube style tank forget the protein skimmer and do 10% per week water changes and run a reactor. If this is a long w/ a sump then a skimmer would be beneficial and you could reduce water changes to 5% weekly. But water changes are beneficial to reef tanks.

4. Utilize only pure RODI to mix w/ your salt.

5. Add in additional rock (total 45 lbs.) in display,

6. Recycle your tank. No need to run any filtration at this point. Throw in some Ammonia source. Raw shrimp you need 10 grams per 25 gallons. Run your cycle and monitor thru testing to assure you reach an initial Ammonia spike of > 5ppm and then monitor thru completion of cycle by noting a large spike in Nitrates and 0.0 Ammonia and Nitrites. Do a thirty % water change and introduce ½ of CUC and continue testing ect… This will take up to 8 weeks with dry rock and ½ w/ live rock from LFS.
Your tank will only hold only 3-4 small fish, your CUC and 2 cleaner shrimp. You need 100 watts of T-5 lighting to grow LPS corals and more for SPS. You should have around 500 GPH power head in tank and around 240 GPH for filtration return. I would not put more than 1 – 2” of sand in tank and would utilize around 45 lbs of rock in the display.

Good luck !
 

Reeferz412

Coral Hoarder
You could also turn that Aquaclear into a small diy refugium.

+1 I have one right now. I built my own, (I hated gluing baffles so I made mine out of eggcrate) and it works awesome. You will have to reduce its flow as well. Im not sure how you are running it without the water crashing onto your rockwork. I have live rock in mine and chemipure elite. I could stick chaeto but I really dont feel I have to but I made the eggcrate baffles to do so.

29 gallon tank with 12lbs of LR seems a little low. You may want to add a little more. If you are set on not keeping a skimmer, that is fine. You just need to keep up with the weekly water changes. Protein skimmers do not remove 100% of the waste products in your water column anyways, but they do help reduce the bio load.

Be patient, and don't be in a hurry to add fish. If you reef fast you will crash. Do some more research and don't take your LFS owner or clerks advice with full confidence. Most of the time (not always) they are wrong and you will be back here with a bunch of questions because they filled your head with the wrong advice. Take it slow, let your tank cycle and retain as much info and build a stocking list of corals and fish (you want a reef tank so you need both lists) and ask ask ask ask.
 

Reeferz412

Coral Hoarder
1. Sand "“ Do not use sand from hardware store. This playground type sand if full of silicates and can cause a very large algae outbreak during and after the cycle. You can get dry sand but be sure you use reef grade sand.

If only it was about 5 or 6 years ago.. when Southdown still existed. Their sand was aragonite and home depot and lowes sold it. Coralsnaked is right, do not use the Sacrete sand from home depot. It can be done but its dangerous to use because their can be various other things in their sand. Plus not to mention the massive diatom bloom you will have because of all the silicates in the sand. Also, the sand grains are sharp and can really harm sand sifters gills.
 

RMP

New member
Thanks for all of this feedback! I plan on taking this slow now. I will add more live rock, and I'm buying a protein skimmer. A few questions though, and they may seem dumb:

1) What is pure RO/DI water? I have been using tap water treated with Prime, as this is what my LFS told me to do;

2) What do you mean by a clean-up crew? I'm guessing that would be crabs or shrimp? I really like the green emerald crabs. Would that suffice?

3) What do you mean when you say to add "flow" to the tank?

4) What do you mean when you say "recycle" my tank? Should I shut the filter down when I throw the shrimp in there? How often should I be doing water changes at this point?

Thanks again for all of your help!
 

Stolireef

Active member
Go read all the stickies in the "New to the Hobby" forum. Everything you need to know is there.

No question and no offense to anyone who has responded to you thus far but this is the best advice you have received. Reef keeping requires a solid understanding of the biology and chemistry of the tank as well as the needs of the inhabitants. Reading the stickies will provide you with an excellent basic education and will also answer virtually every question you have posted (as well as a bunch more that you would likely post in the near future).

And, as many of said, patience is the most important tool you have.
 

squishifishi

Hopelesly Addicted Member
CLEAN UP CREW:I love emeralds too! they are a great algae eater and you could probably put 5 in there if you want. for detritus and glass cleaning, I like cerith and margarita snails, turbos, nassarius snails, and fighting conchs. be sure to have some hermit crabs too!
once it's cyclled, add the hermis and emeralds, wait a week, test again, then you can start adding other, more sensitive critters!
RO/DI: you need to use reverse osmosis or distilled water. tap water contains certain minerals and toxins that conditioners do not remove. You could either buy an RO/DI system or just get water from the pet store or grocery store. it is usually about 20cents a gallon IME.
FLOW: good flow makes happy fish and clean sand so it is best of there is some current in all areas of the tank. the output of your filter should be sufficient, but if not, you anbuy a powerhead.position your rock so that the current can move througout it, preventing stagnant and dirty zones.
good luck!
 
Last edited:
Top