I think I am ready, but I would like your thoughts...


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Ok so my tank has been running for almost 2 weeks... I have a total of 60 lbs. of CLR and 40 lbs of LS in my 55 gallon... I had an ammonia spike of 1.0 about 4 days ago and tests today show 0 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrites and 20 ppm of Nitrates... I think I am going to wait till the Nitrates drop to about 5 ppm before adding anything... Also, I can't get my PH above 8.0, right now it is sitting at 7.8... Any thoughts, I added my 8.2 buffer but it won't stay above 8.0... Should I add ammonia to get a more toxic level to see if the CLR can handle it before adding any livestock, like maybe get it upto 4.0 ppm and let it drop again... Any thoughts would be appreciated... Thanks...
It sure sounds like the cycle is complete.You can try to add a little fish food and test again in couple of days.If the ammonia and nitrite is still at zero,then the cycle should be complete.

I have no clue on why you aren't able to raise the PH.
How much flow do you have? Do you have glass tops on your tank?
If you have glass tops,remove them.And take a power head and aim it at the surface of the water.Get some pretty good turbulance going on the surface.
Some a low PH is caused by not having enough gas exchange because carbon dioxide will cause it to drop.
What brand salt are you using? I dont that that has anything to do with it,but it wont to mix up enough to check it.
Flow and closed top is not the problems... Here are some pics the way I have it setup... I am taking all of the orange rock and putting in my refugium I am building tomorrow...


Your right.Flow is not the problem.
The only other thing I can think of,is maybe your salt mix.If thats not it,then I have no idea.
Nitrates won't drop on their own... You need to do a water change to get them down.
I know I have to do what roughly a 50 % WC, before adding livestock, but my question is should I cycle my tank again starting with a higher level of ammonia i.e. 3 to 4 ppm and let it cycle again?
I would say no to adding Ammonia - take Reef's advice and add a little food. It will decompose and thus create ammonia. If you have a reasonable population of bateria then this will be easily broken down into Nitrates (and as Biff said, the easiest way to get rid of these is via a water change - they will not go by themselves).

With respect to your pH issue, try reading this: GCAS.ORG - Fincinnati Articles
bear with it until the end... it suggests you should also test Alkalinity as a measure of your tanks ability to hold a stable pH.. There are then Carbonate / bicarbonate additives youu can use to increase KH if you need to...
i've seen a few have problems keeping ph up so they added crushed coral to help out. thats what i did when i had african cichlids added enough crushed coral to keep ph up to 8.0. Good ph buffer.
I raised my PH by using the baking soda info that someone suggested.
It will slow down when I add the fuge tomorrow... It will go from 2 ft to 5ft in height, so it will slow...
a lot of salt mixes (such as instant ocean) naturally have a low ph. when doseing with ph buffers i have found that you sometimes have to dose a little more than the directions sugests to acheive the proper ph. be careful and don't overdose with the buffer or you will precipitate the carbonate from the water and you will have a chalky mess in your'e tank to get ride of.
i use baking soda for ph and alkalinity in my tank. it's cheap, easy to use, and basically the same thing you buy at the pet store, but a lot cheaper. here's the link for the formula. An Improved Do-it-Yourself Two-Part Calcium and Alkalinity Supplement System by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com
Instant Ocean is also low on calcium.Which will make it hard to grow coraline.
Here's an interesting table comparing the different salt mixes on the market:

Link: Comparison Table of Primary Elements in Some Top Brand Name Sea Salt Mixes
Taken from a far more detailed analysis / report (attached)
Here is another independent review of salt mixes: salt impressions

I found all this stuff whilst thinking about changing from Instant Ocean... as with most things any choice is a compromise. I have decided to stick with Instant Ocean andd add evrything else I think I need....

Other thoughts/experience on this subject are always welcome though.
Joe,I used to do the same thing.
Now I use Oceanic salt,and only have to add calcium and buffer.Which my SPS corals eat up pretty quick.But still only have to dose once a week(so far).
Whilst we're on the topic, any recommendations on where to buy salt mix (on-line)?... I can only seem to source a limited range from my LFS's.