reef rebuild issues

ewauk

New member
I bought a 180g (running) reef off of Craigslist a little over a month ago. We were very careful and saved everything during the move. I recently discovered that keeping the sand was the wrong thing to do, considering it was all stirred up. I did over 200 gallons of water changes during this month but could not bring the nitrates down below 20ppm. Frustrated, I removed all the livestock and rock. I drained the tank and proceeded to rinse the sand with straight rodi, which was completely stupid. I stopped that process after about 50 gallons, added new water with a high salinity to try to save any bacteria that could possibly still be live. After refilling, I added the rock. Should I expect a cycle? After testing, all the parameters are acceptable except the ammonia .25, nitrite 0, nitrate about 10 (API)
Before I added the rock, I also added a 40lbs bag of live sand and a bottle of bio-spira to help re-seed. What I've read is that it's normal for the ammonia to be a lot higher and nitrates to be zero until it's been converted from nitrite, which is zero right now. It seems like I've completely confused the tank and myself. Am I on the right track here or is there something else I need to do? All of the water is new so I figure the nitrates are a residual from the sand. I tested the rodi before and after adding salt.
 

Art13

New member
If you have a place for the livestock, i'd keep them there for a few weeks. I would have replaced all the sand but a good cleaning may have worked, might still release some phosphate into the tank though. A reactor with some type of gfo will help that. And if your ammonia is at .25 then yes, you are going through a cycle. If i were you i would through some more food in to keep the cycle going, if you would like to add more bacteria it may help, you will here it both ways, but it worked well for me in the past. once ammonia and nitrites are steady at 0 after you add some source of ammonia (i just used some frozen thawed food and flakes) and your nitrates are under control you should be good to start adding the livestock. If there is a lot of livestock i would suggest slowly adding them.
 

thegrun

Team RC
Slow down and ask questions before you do anything. You would have been better off using dry sand (washed to remove the fine particles) rather than the live sand and the bio-spira , but we are where we are, so let's move forward. I assume the live rock and fish are still in a separate container with a heater and powerheads for water movement since the 180 is going through a cycle due to sand organism die off. You don't want any livestock in a tank with ammonia or nitrites present. You have two options: one would be to let the 180 tank with the sand cycle and then add the rock and livestock after the cycle is complete. It is very difficult to say how long this cycle is going to last. I tend to think it will be short, but if the RO/DI water flush killed off everything on in the sand it could be a full 4-6 weeks. Option two would be to siphon out all the sand, get new dry sand, wash it to remove the dust, place your live rock in the tank, add the sand, water and your livestock. Since there is no life in the new sand it will not cause a cycle and the bacteria on your live rock will handle all the fish waste. You will likely get some minor diatom blooms with the new sand, but that is a better option to me than waiting through a cycle.
 

ewauk

New member
Thanks for the advice...the live rock has already been put back in the tank. I was advised by my lfs yesterday, to get it back in there and the bacteria on the rock would help the cycle. Now my main concern is waiting out the cycle with about 25 fish in a 55g QT. 5 of them being tangs getting impatient with each other.
 
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