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new lighting / sand bed clumps / calcium ?

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mattseattle

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my new lighting came today! 2 175w metal halides! installed and working now!

boy they are nice.....definitely lights up the tank well. i can see things on the rocks i didn't know existed. i even think i saw some little star polyps on one of the rocks and tons of tube worms i didn't see before.

it's almost a little too bright for my living room though! :) i guess now my algae bloom may happen because up to this point i haven't had much algae growth. at least nothing substantial that my cleanup crew hasn't taken care of.

so i heard that at the beginning you should only run them a few hours a day then gradually work up. what do you guys recommend for the schedule for the coming weeks?

also as far as timers for these.....do most times work? i have a timer that i had on my old NO tubes but was afraid that the amperage/wattage or whatever of the new metal halides might be a little much for it.

thanks
 

Grouperdog

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Issaquah, WA
I would start with 4-6 hours a day for 1st week. Then add 1 hour per week until you get to 8-10 hours a day. As far as timers go I would get a heavyduty model that accepts a three prong plug, I also would look into the digital models that cost a little more but have many more on and off and timing options.
 

mattseattle

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that is good information. thanks alot. i'll look into a better timer but for now i'll just manually plug them in and try to keep it on a rigid 4-6 hour schedule this week.
 

MtnDewMan

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Mukilteo, WA
Sounds like great advice to me :) Short photoperiod and increase a bit longer each week until you are at full strength. That process could take a couple of months.

And definately a timer that is a 3 pronger, one that is used more for appliances than for household lamps.
 

mattseattle

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no corals yet...it's pretty much just live rock and a small clean up crew right now.

hopefully after this weekend i'll have a couple more inhabitants. :)
 

mattseattle

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but you know it's amazing in the few days they've been running i can already see things growing on the rocks. seems like the pods have even multipled. i have hundreds if not thousands of them on the tank walls now or just maybe before i couldn't see everything :)
 

mattseattle

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really really well......i have amazing growth on the new frags i have. i also have coralline algae growing on my powerheads as well as the back of the tank wall. the live rock has really come to life with new coralline algae in all colors. i am slowly getting an algae bloom but nothing to out of control yet.

i have a question though about the sand bed. i repositioned one of my powerheads the other day to get better flow to the front of the tank. since then the water flow has repositioned some of the sand near the rock. looks like some of the sand is clumping. none of the clumps are that large and i haven't touched them or anything to see how hard they are. looks like most of them were areas under the edges of the live rock. is this normal for sand to clump like that? or is it a concern?

thanks! :)
 

Doug1

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Southern Oregon
When you say clumping are we talking cement like layers or just stuck together sand. Do you add kalk or other calcium additive? What kind of infauna have you got established in the sand bed?
As to the timers get the 15 amp that are designed for AC units and such :)
 

mattseattle

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it's more like just stuck together sand. i think it's just the bacteria in the sand and all. if i try to pick it up it falls apart. i think i was curious because i read a posting on reefcentral a while back about this lady realizing her sand bed had solidified but she said it was cement like hardness. mine is just stuck together but easily broken apart. the clumps are not that large either...most are dime size or quarter size.

yeah i am dosing kalk but have scaled that back after getting some new test kits. i also added turbo calcium to get the calcium up to 420 or so. i was also adding a buffer but have switched that now.

as far as life in the sand bed i picked up some live sand from the frag swap a few weeks back. before that i bought about 5 lbs of live sand from a fish store in bellevue. i've also picked up various live rock from several vendors. the sand looks alive as it has worm holes and all in it. i also have a conch that stirs the sand.

so what would cause a sand bed to solidify or clump up?

i found a 15 amp timer at home depot that i've been using. works well.
 

mattseattle

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i picked up a small rock in my tank today and there was quite a bit of sand stuck to it. this sand was pretty firm but it did break apart. i wouldn't call it cement hard since it broke apart easily but i am curious if this is normal.
 

Doug1

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It's pretty normal for some of it to stick together like that, bacterial film may be partly responsible. Sounds like you are doing OK, what you don't want to see is areas where its really cemented together like the RC example. That I believe is usually from too much improperly dosed Kalk. When it lumps together to that degree I believe it reduces the beds ability to denitify, but yours sounds OK. As the infauna increases it should be less problematic as time goes by. Remember that the infauna will go through population spikes over time so occasionally adding more cultures to maintian the population is not a bad thing :)
 

mattseattle

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great - thanks for the information. after reading horror stories like that i just want to make sure i'm not headed in the same direction.
 

Doug1

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I have had this happen in a past tank, pulled out slabs that wouldn't break when dropped :( That was before I got live sand thing going. IME worse thing is dose kalk on top of a new inert aragonite bed. The carbonate that results from kalk reaction to CO2 in the system seems to go straight to the virgin aragonite and binds it tighter than oatmeal and opiates ;)
 

mattseattle

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well i have been dosing kalk some.....

so how do you recommend keeping your calcium levels and all up?

also speaking of calcium i want to pass something by everyone. i am not sure how much calcium and alk should flucuate in a day. my tank has a small bioload. 2 xenia's, green slimer, couple other hard coral frags i got from the frag swap. my coralline algae in the past week has been really growing. back tank wall, power heads, extreme new growth on rocks. so i am assuming that is a small bio-load. it's all in a 55g.

here are the readings for alk and calcium the past day or so. i've been trying to do 2 tests a day to get a baseline. i am using salifert test kits for both alk and calcium

10/3 - 4:30 p.m. - alk was 9.0 / 3.20 and calcium was 380
10/3 - 7:50 p.m. - alk was 9.3 / 3.31 and calcium was 410 - i added kent's turbo calcium to get it back up to about 420 and also added some reef builder several hours before to get the alk up a little
10/4 - 10:30 a.m. - alk is 8.0 / 2.86 and calcium is 390

should these flucations be normal right now? how can i keep these readings more in line with a 420 for calcium and 3.3 or so for alk?

thanks for the input
 

Doug1

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The trick with Kalk is to get the levels up where they should be using good quality SW and as little of the other as you can get away with. Then drip kalk, it's better at maintaining levels, if you try to raise them with it alone it will throw the balance out of wack. Long term use of Calcium Chloride will effect the ionic balance as well, thats why water changes are cheap insurance.
IF you are getting good coralline growth and the hard corals seem to be OK I wouldn't obsess about the numbers. Quite honestly I wouldn't take them as gospel, even with a decent kit. Its more of a reference and what you want to watch for is a change in the trend. Also keep in mind that most pH test kits are a joke, you might want to invest in a pinpoint pH monitor, since pH, calcium and alkilinity are tied together. It stands to reason that a less than fairly accurate pH reading will skew your other results. I always find this one of the hardest concepts in SW keeping to master because its hard to simplify and answer that doesn't use a lot of chemisty terms to explain
 

mattseattle

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so what is your recommendation? stop adding the turbo calcium and reef builder and just take tests daily till i get a trend? what if the numbers get too low? should i continue to drip kalk even though i have a relatively new sand bed?

for top off water i've been using bottled water till i can get an ro/di unit which should be soon. as far as water changes i've been buying water from the seattle aquarium. i've been doing about a 25% water change ever 2 weeks.

thanks for all the input.
 

mattseattle

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could it be due to my magnesium being low? i don't have a test kit for it but i went out today trying to find one but no luck. i'll have to order one i guess.

i don't see why my alk would go from 3.3 to 2.8 in less than a 12 hour period.
 
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