New reefer here! hello.


Reefing newb
Hi ive been checking out forums all over and from the few i saw responses I decided to share my reefing exp here with you guys. So background is ive had a few tanks never salt though so I got myself a 90g that was established for about 18 months.

It has a hang on overflow into a wet/dry system below. I brought everything home except the water (well i saved about 5 gallons to cover (100lb ) LR and (60lb) SAND until i got the tank cleaned and setup. Next day i went out and got enough Ocean Water from my local fish store and got it all in and started up oh and then i added 20lb of new live sand. About a week later i got the water tested twice (3 days apart) and everything checked perfect, salt levels, ph, amm, nitr... Maybe i got it rushed the live stock but that was the reason i got established sand and lr. Yes and im running 6 T5 bulbs over head, 4 blue, 2 white.

I got a bunch of cleaning crew going... snails and hermits a sally light foot, emerald crab, starfish and everything was nice and healthy. So then i went and got myself 4 fire fish... then a few frags (xenia, green polyps, yellow button polyps) and 5 damsels. Ive also added about a generous handful of macroalgae in the reservoir tank below (between bioballs and pump areas) Ive also tossed the emarald crab down there after catching him on my baby xenias. almost forgot my chocolate chip starfish which after learning about his appetite for coral i think he will be going in the "JAIL" until i figure out what im going to do.

Okay so now that ive pretty much explained everything i have a couple questions that i hope i can get some help on without bashing me for rushing the tank or some other mistake that a n00b like myself always makes. In total since the first LR was moved till i got it running its been about 2 weeks.

1) Im noticing some possible red slime on my LR... easily scrapped off and i have gotten rid of most of it, besides water change and scrubbing- is there a species of fish that will love to eat it or should i just not worry about it for awhile?

2) is it wise to even have macroalgae in the sump since its not a refugium? ( i did put a strip of LED to run when the main tank if lights out. it was a mess when i first put it in, lost of tiny spaghetti threads floated around till i netted them)

3. do i need to get a skimmer? im seeing particles float through the tank like tiny tiny snow flakes... its going through the overflow through one sponge filter... then once down below it goes through a top filter then a gang of bioballs and 2 bags of charcoal, more bioballs then the mid tank area with the macroalgae & small liverock (gotta get some more specifically for in there, maybe some coraline covered lr...going to the pump back to the main tank. Is it still cycling hence the 93% clarity?

Here are a couple of snaps, even though i know it wont do any justice, and before you tease me - my step daughter loves sponge bob sooooo thats why the pineapple is in there (oddly my star fish and a snail is always hanging out there - true story)



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Well it sounds like you did a lot of buying before you researched. Which is not good. You cannot add 9 fish all at one time to a newly set up tank (even though it was established before) -- or any tank, for that matter. You probably do not have a sufficient bacterial population to handle the sudden input of all that fish waste. Even using established sand and rock doesn't eliminate the need to stock slowly -- add no more than one or two fish every 3 to 4 weeks. You have to wait a few weeks in between additions to let the bacteria catch up.

Damsels are highly aggressive fish and tend to fight with each other -- often to the death. They are not peaceful, community tank fish.

In a 90 gallon tank, you are limited to 9 or 10 fish total (1 fish per 10 gallons is the rule of thumb in saltwater). So unless these are all the fish you planned on having, you should have researched the fish before you bought them -- because now if you want to add more, you will have to somehow catch them and remove them (and you'll probably have to do this if the damsels start being aggressive to each other and the firefish).

The sally lightfoot is not reef safe; it is a fish predator and they will hunt, catch and eat fish. As you've found out, the chocolate chip star is not reef safe. And if you don't have enough microfauna and flora growing in your tank, your clean up crew will starve. Clean up crew should be added in small amounts, over time, as needed. Not all at once.

Red slime algae is a symptom of poor water quality. Not surprising in a rushed tank. There isn't anything you can add that will eat it, but you can work to eliminate the causes -- how many powerheads do you have and how much flow? Increasing flow will help (you should have at least 3 powerheads in a 90, IMO). Overstocking is one of the biggest causes of red slime algae. You stocked your tank too quickly with too many fish. Overfeeding is another one -- what are you feeding, how often and how much? Flake foods and pellet foods in general should be avoided as they tend to lead to high phosphates, which fuel algae. Stick to frozen foods only, and don't overfeed. You are using bioballs and that's another common cause of algae problems. Wet/dry systems and bioballs are not ideal for saltwater systems and tend to cause water quality issues. I would remove the bioballs over time and either leave that section empty or replace them with live rock rubble. Also, any sponges or filter socks need to be cleaned well weekly, or that leads to poor water quality and algae problems as well.

You definitely need more live rock. 1 to 2 lbs per gallon is ideal -- so 90 to 180 lbs. Live rock will serve as your main source of filtration, and without enough live rock, there isn't anywhere for the beneficial bacteria to live and colonize, which will lead to further degradation of water quality.

The macroalgae will help with the tank's algae problems. You say it's not a refugium, but by adding the macroalgae and the lights, you have turned it into one. ;) Refugiums are extremely useful. What kind of macroalgae did you get? You do not want caulerpa; chaetomorpha is much better.

A skimmer is not a must, but it absolutely helps. I wouldn't recommend running a tank the size of a 90 gallon without one.

Keep testing your water regularly. I suspect that with the addition of so many fish at once, you will be seeing a spike in your parameters. This can kill your inhabitants pretty much overnight (that's what people refer to as a tank crash) -- and this is why it's so important to stock slowly and not add so many fish and inverts all at once.

Again, the most important thing I can advise is to research before you buy. You bought a lot of animals that are inappropriate for your tank due to their diets or compatibility issues, or just too many at once. This is not good for your wallet, and it's not good for the animals, which are living creatures, not throwaway toys. There are a lot of discussions regarding ethics in this hobby -- 99% of these animals are not captive bred, and are taken from the wild. It is especially imperative that we run our tanks responsibly because of this. Running out and stocking the way you did (sorry to say) is not responsible or ethical at all.

Sorry, I know you didn't want to be bashed, but you seem to know that what you did wasn't the correct process to follow (you admit that maybe you rushed into getting all that livestock), but you did it anyways. So you will have to be extra diligent about how you take care of your tank from here on out if you want to avoid all those animals dying. Your algae problems will also only continue to get worse unless you work on addressing the causes. Algae problems have caused many hobbyists to give up and get out of the hobby. Algae can be stubborn and frustrating. Your set up and stocking doesn't help.

I hope you don't get discouraged, and that you take a step back and re-evaluate how you have your tank set up and what you want to get out of it.
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Yup... Not enough rock, tank isn't ready for tht kind of bioload and some really poor livestock choices there, unfortunately.

It might be easiest for you to return those fish if you can catch them and then try to set the tank up properly.

Saltwater is very very different than freshwater. Different terminology, different equipment, different water parameters, and much different water quality standards. It really isn't something you just pick up as you go like freshwater where you can jam 20 fish in a 10 gallon tank. This is really something you need to research and learn as much a you can.

As biff said, don't get discouraged....just do a lot more research and ask Pete here what you should/shouldn't be doing.
Yeah people lol

I am on the iPad at my work. Not used to this apple tech. I think it's ravage but the laptops are monitored so I use the iPad to browse all day haha it's just really hard to type
Welcome to the addiction! Folks here give some great advice, so listen to them and seriously take what they say under advisement.
Honestly, i wrote a very lengthy response to you (as to why, who and how) and then it dawned on me, it doesn't really matter. Your egotistical attitude for being an aquatic guru is quite unattractive but i think it was your condescending tone that made me realize something.

You are right, it is very irresponsible of me , how dare i. So in light of that i've decided to just get a pair of fire coral eels and make it a reef only tank. If the damsels and the fire fish survive, it will be awesome, but at $5 a damsel i think i might be treating my fire corals every few days. My uncle used to feed his Rottweiler T-bone steak every other day and he was so happy. So since i can't put more than 9 fish without upsetting you i'll just keep 2 eels and my beautiful coral.

Thanks for the welcome from the rest of the posters but i think i will find another place that will truly welcome me instead of ridiculing me for doing what you wouldn't, or not doing enough research or taking the wrong advice (different from yours which i did on the cleaning crew etc) lol this is absurd.

44,500 posts, impressive, you must spend a lot of time virtually talking about fish, is that why your cat had popcorn... to watch you scold people for their total lack of knowledge and improper fish care?? While you continue posting and telling people off, ill be in Key West on this weekend catching some legal critters, what will i find? i dont know but 4 days in the keys armed with an awesome slurp gun and various nets which all meet regulations.

Cheers. :bounce:

ps- im sorry it took so long to reply but ive been busy trying to plan my dive spots.
Perhaps you should, Biff was just trying to help you. I take her very seriously and you should too. She probably knows more about fish then you ever will, and i believe she has a degree to back it.

Were sorry were not like the lfs and tell you everything you want to hear. You came here for advice and you got it. We dont sugarcoat things. Were just trying to save 9 fishies from meeting a horrible death. Perhaps when you dive you should leave things where they are if your not up to the responsibility required.

Were just being real.
Sorry, it just really irks me when people say, "I know I shouldn't have done this, but I did it anyways," and it's living creatures you are talking about. Good luck with your tank.
welcome to the site Manfx I don't mean to flame but Sarah (Biff) is right you really cant just go from start to 9 fish right like that especially when the tank is still cycling. I have to agree with her 100% sure she get's on me at times just like many other folks but taking that advice. Thats another story most folks dont and lose loads of fish. tanks take time and the slower the start the better the tank will be. In my opinion folks that rush in and stock cycling tanks don't care about these animals. to me that's sad so yeah hope you make out ok and dont murder your fish especially those fire fish and corals.
I think you should do a little more research and wait until you have a little more respect for these wonderful creatures who have sacrificed a happy life in the ocean to be a part of your home.
Am I meant to be in awe because you mentioned diving and Key West? Oh wait I forgot, people who dive can just fill their tank to the brim, because they dive so much, they know more about fish than anyone else here...
Clearly you think you're better than all of us here by mentioning you dive an unnecessary amount of times.

PS - Nobody cares about what you will find on your diving trip.
Please don't put two eels into a 90gallon tank.

You're being an incredibly irresponsible person. That is a travesty.