Self Inflicted Nano Troubles


New member
I’m sure my impatience is the reason for my woes…so feel free to roast me after reading my post…
Set Up
12g JBJ Nano Cube
Oceanic Salt and RO water
14 lbs cured Fiji/Tonga rock
1 ½ - 2 inches Agra-Alive Sand bed
At one week parameters were reading for several days at
pH 8.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 10-20
S.G. 1.025
Temp 73-75
Performed 10% water change. Was told it was okay to get a cleaner crew.
Added 2 Nassaurius snails, 4 turban snails and was talked into by LFS person to get a Green Chromis and a Yellow Tail Chromis. I also added 1 cup of grape caulerpa.
Parameters were the same for another week.
Went to get another Chromis since I read they are schooling fish, but didn’t, instead got a feather duster, a frag of combo zoo’s, a frag of blue mushrooms, and a small stalk of Xenia. I drip acclimated them and all looked great. Next morning Green Chromis is dead. Xenia all balled up. Everything else still looked great. Tested parameters:
pH 8.2
Ammonia 0.25
Nitrites 0.25
Nitrates 20
Temp 73-75
S.G. 1.025
Since the levels were creeping up I did a 10% water change. This morning the Yellow Tailed Chromis was dying and the parameters were still the same. Xenia was still wadded up.
Have I royally screwed up and the tank wasn’t really cycled? I have not had the diatom bloom. Is this possibly why my parameters are off? Or could it have been from adding so many things at once that it threw the bio load off? I would have thought that the levels would have went down at least a little with the water change.
I am second guessing everything I have done now. I feel terrible. I welcome constructive criticism.
Let the torching begin…..


New member
welcome Penny (i would give you the welcome sign but i'm not sure where it is. anyways, IMO you might need to do a 20% h2o change and the temp looks a little low. Does the temp flux a lot? I had 2 damsels, and a chromis in my 10g and all died before my dumb tail noticed the temp was 78 during the day and about 73 at night. since i have gotten that takin care of i really haven't had to much of a problem. Thats just my personal experence though. i hope this helps you.


New member
well you did add too many things at once imo, but that might not be the cause for sure.

The temp could have had something to do with the fish dieing... That seems a bit cool to me, altho i'm not positive if it would kill a fish or not. But normally you want it at least 76, i personally go for 80, as do many others.

And if the temp killed the one fish, it could have started decaying and could have caused the amonia...which in turn harmed everything else.

OR like you may not have been completely cycled yet and adding 2 fish at once just pushed it over the edge.

What i would do is take everything back if you can. Then when theres no fish or anyting, feed the tank something meety like mysis shrimp (not a lot, just a bit) and see if it creates amonia. If it does, then the rock was not cycled.

Was the rock shipped? even if its sold as cured/cycled rock, if it is shipped it will have die off which basically makes it not completely cycled.

hope this helps a bit.


New member
Yes, there has been a flux in the temp. I will get it up to a higher temp when I get home. I had one heater break the other day and I had just replaced it with a new one the same day I added all the other stuff.
So you think that another 20% water change is in order? That would mean 40% will have been changed in 3 days, is that okay?
Thanks for everyones help, I sincerely appreciate it!


Premium Member
No need to roast you, it should be that LFS that gets roasted.

Ammonia could have gone up due to the dead fish, any clue how long it was dead before you got it out?

So your down to 1 chromis that's at death door and the corals?

Keep an eye on the chromis and if it dies get him out quick and do another water change if he does actually die.

You should be fine with the corals, just keep doing some water changes to get those levels down.

What media is in the back chambers?


Premium Member

Sounds like too much too fast to me + the low temp. If you cant take the corals back just watch them. Most of the corals you have are fairly tough and could survive a small cycle. Watch your snails, if any die you need to get the remains out. Hopefully everything will come back down to 0 quickly. Personally now I try to wait until the Nitrates hit 0 before adding live stock but I rushed things when I first started too. The school of Chromis sounds cool but prob arent the best choice for a 12gal. Think small #s of small fish until you get some experience with salt water aquariums.


New member
Welcome to Reef Central. I would also get some ammonia absorbant material, I believe its called zeolite and throw that in with a sock to soak up some of the ammonia. It takes 7-10 days for each phase of the cycle to go through. With smaller tanks, you have less margin for error so you have to stay on top of the tank. Hope it all works out for you.


New member
I didn't want fish in the first place actually, but the guy at the store kind of talked me into it. I had this tank and a 10 gallon up and running for 2+ years until last February, I was moving and sold off my livestock. I didn't have luck with fish in the past so I was just going to stick with corals again.
I asked that guy at the LFS if it was too much to be adding and he said no but that I should wait before adding another chromis.
When the chromis died, he was in the water approx. 6 hours before he was discovered and removed. I am not getting any more fish.
I am sticking with soft corals as I had success with them before.
Hey thanks for everyones' input!
You are a great bunch of people on this forum!


New member
Hi Penny. I don't post here a lot but read/lurk regularly. I agree, you don't deserve to be roasted, your LFS does. I can think of just a few things not yet suggested (I think) that might help now.

Anything still alive, other than CUC, should come out and return to unscrupulous seller.

I would add GAC/Chemi pure, purigen and a poly filter to help clean things up.

25% water changes every other day for a week will go a long way towards cleaning the situation up.

Bring your minimum temp up slowly, over one or two days.
I prefer titanium heaters to avoid the risk of breakage. Right now I'm using a Finnex heater. In addition to not breaking, it's short, so it's less likely to end up exposed to air when changing water. Watch your maximum temps as well, low 80's with your full light cycle is really OK, I would just try and avoid anything over 83 or so, with a floor of 78 at night (opinions on exact temp values will vary, but I think these are pretty close to acceptable).

Don't give up on fish! They're terrific in a reef tank. Just pick wisely, allowing for your tank size, and go slow with adding them. Just because someone gave you bum advice shouldn't make you give up on them. If you can successfully keep corals, even "easy"ones, you can keep an acceptable bio load of fish.

Good luck.


New member
One other thing Penny, the chromis thing really angers me. The LFS's all tell people to start with the green chromis because they are cheap and supposedly hardy. I don't agree with that assertion.

I find clownfish to be 5x hardier than chromis. But more expensive. When i first started this hobby i had 5 chromis in a 55, and all of them eventually died. I then put in two clowns and they were with me for years, i sold them with the tank.

I would go with some ORA tank raised clowns, they will live, eat everything, and are very hardy.


New member
Thanks for all the good advice. Yeah, the guy told me that the chromis was hardy even though I told him I didn't really want fish. I would LOVE to have clowns, but were afraid of them. I will rethink getting fish in due time.
The temp flux is my fault but I will rectify that ASAP.
I currently have 3 sponges in the back filter chamber, should I ditch them and just use filter floss?

Once again, many thanks to all! I will heed your advice :)


New member
Though neither the clowns or the chromis are perfectly suited to your size tank, chromis get huge! Clowns are better.


New member
Toss the sponges. They're almost impossible to keep clean and will accumulate detritus, which will break down and add an addition load to your bio-filter, which will raise your nitrates. Use filter floss. Change it twice a week so there's no buildup of crud to break down. It's cheap, and a handful to two a week is a cheap mechanical filtration solution.


New member
Sorry that happened. Your tank and peace of mind will recover.

I agree about ditching the sponges. They are nothing but nitrate factories. You can replace it with a bag of Renew and some Phosgard. I use half a cup of Renew to 2 Tbs of Phosgard and change it every three weeks. A pouch of Purigen is a good choice.
You can top these with a layer of Poly Filter if you rinse it once or twice a week,

I'd also get that grape caulerpa out of there sooner rather than later. It will likely die and in the process add a lot of phosphates and nitrates to your water that might fuel a hair algae explosion. Or it will thrive, take over your tank and constantly clog your filters and pump with those little grapes it keeps dropping. If you want some macro algae in there, you can stick a small ball of chaeto behind a rock in an area of good flow and light. You will need to rinse it every few weeks in the bucket of water from a water change. It's actually a pretty good filter and collects a good bit of debris.

I do weekly 30% water changes in my 8 gallon. I'm very careful to match salinity, pH and especially temp. Changing that much that often keeps the water in your tank much closer to the new water, so matching it isn't as hard as it sounds.

I run my tank at 80. I like the Stealth heaters. Indestructable.

I'm sure you'll be back on track in no time. :)