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Testing Regime

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Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 10:58 am

I have had a good look but haven't found a definitive answer, I guess because it depends on your goals.

I was wondering what a good testing regime looks like? I know some people don't test at all etc etc but I'm new to this, and I want to build from my current FOWLR to a mixed reef so while I'm putting together all the equipment I wanted to try to get a handle on the stability of all the levels.

What are people's regime's and what would they recommend for a noob in my situation?
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby chromus » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 12:17 pm

As you mention many people dont test for a range of reasons. Some because they are lazy, some because they have matrix like vision and can tell the reading just from looking at their corals.

Based on you objectives a good place to start would be Alk/Ca/Mg and PO4/NO3 at least weekly. This will allow you to accurately ensure you are dosing the right chemicals and removing enough nutrients to make the tank suited for corals.

I won't go into the how's and whys of nutrient control as you haven't asked, but chances are you have a few months of getting things in order before you are really coral ready.

The aim of the game is to make sure your Alk/Ca/Mg are all within the accepted ranges and stable, while bringing your nutrients down to suited levels which is what will be your major work point based on your statements above.

My recommendation would be to spreadsheet your test results and get into the habit of testing and recording the results weekly for a while, monitor trends and go from there, if you are adept at excel you can graph things to make them easier to monitor. If you really aren't into excel there is a site called aquatic log that you can enter your details into and record your parameters, they have some handy graphs that are generated from this you can use.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 2:13 pm

chromus wrote:As you mention many people dont test for a range of reasons. Some because they are lazy, some because they have matrix like vision and can tell the reading just from looking at their corals.

Based on you objectives a good place to start would be Alk/Ca/Mg and PO4/NO3 at least weekly. This will allow you to accurately ensure you are dosing the right chemicals and removing enough nutrients to make the tank suited for corals.

I won't go into the how's and whys of nutrient control as you haven't asked, but chances are you have a few months of getting things in order before you are really coral ready.

The aim of the game is to make sure your Alk/Ca/Mg are all within the accepted ranges and stable, while bringing your nutrients down to suited levels which is what will be your major work point based on your statements above.

My recommendation would be to spreadsheet your test results and get into the habit of testing and recording the results weekly for a while, monitor trends and go from there, if you are adept at excel you can graph things to make them easier to monitor. If you really aren't into excel there is a site called aquatic log that you can enter your details into and record your parameters, they have some handy graphs that are generated from this you can use.


Excellent Chromus, exactly what I was after. I'm not shy about doing research but I'm finding with this hobby there's a lot of conflicting advice and differing opinion so I'm trying to focus where I get it from to this forum and a couple of other sources.

Feel free to go into nutrient control if you have the time, or point me at an article, very interested.

I have kits for everything you mentioned bar Mg so won't be much of a stretch to get that happening.

It will be at least a few months before I'm in a position to buy my lights, and whatever else I decide I need in the meantime, so I have some time to try to get an understanding and a regime in place.

I am pretty good in Excel so that won' t be a problem.

Thanks again mate.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby chromus » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 3:58 pm

Well in this case post up some numbers so we can see where you need to focus, different nutrient balances will need different regimes to lower them. :book:
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 4:08 pm

chromus wrote:Well in this case post up some numbers so we can see where you need to focus, different nutrient balances will need different regimes to lower them. :book:


OK will do, give me till the weekend to get the mag kit and my Hanna checkers and I'll post back. Cheers :)

What I tested on the weekend:

Salt - 1.023
Temp - 26.5
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
NItrate - 10 but may get lower as my skimmer has only been running for a few weeks
Phosphate - a little lower than 0.05 I think but have a Hanna on the way for this
Calc - Hanna checker on the way
Alk - I haven't done yet but have in a Red Sea kit
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby chromus » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 4:20 pm

Salinity may be a little low but those numbers look promising.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby fsamir » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 4:33 pm

I would say it depends on tank volume, livestock sensitivity to parameter changes, maintenance routine & automation and your clinical eye experience.
Experienced reefers can maintain softies and LPS without ever doing a test, for example.

Large tanks will change parameters slower than small ones, thus less prone to swings and less frequent tests required. LPS and softies can also handle more fluctuation than SPSs, also less frequent tests required.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Tue 12 Jan, 2016 5:41 pm

chromus wrote:Salinity may be a little low but those numbers look promising.


Unfortunately Phos is 0.5 rather than 0.05 so not so great :) I really have trouble reading the colours on this one (and most), so I'm looking forward to seeing the Hanna checker.

fsamir wrote:I would say it depends on tank volume, livestock sensitivity to parameter changes, maintenance routine & automation and your clinical eye experience.
Experienced reefers can maintain softies and LPS without ever doing a test, for example.

Large tanks will change parameters slower than small ones, thus less prone to swings and less frequent tests required. LPS and softies can also handle more fluctuation than SPSs, also less frequent tests required.


:cheers:

It's a 200L tank so not huge but not tiny either, I think it will just be LPS and softies to begin with but who knows what the future might hold SPS wise? :)
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Wed 13 Jan, 2016 10:51 am

I thought I would tell you my testing regime since later on when you get corals and dose it might help you. Ill do a water change in the morning then about 6-7pm at night I will do a water test as this allows the new water to mix with the tank water and balance everything out. Once I have tested all my parameters I will do a boost dose (lately it has only been abit of alk everything else is at good levels) then I write down what my parameters were when tested, which ones I dosed and how much of a dose and roughly what the new level should be (Aka Alk = 7.7dkh, Dosed 50ml to bring to roughly 8.1Dkh......That kind of thing) then usually I will do a mid week test of Calc,Alk and Mag just to see if my dosing pump has been keeping up or if any corals have had growth spurts and are using up one supplement more.

My dosing pump was set up perfectly for a couple weeks but then I think due to the much more consistent dosing the corals and Coraline took to this and started dropping alk so the last few weeks the usage has been going up little by little.

I have found doing it this way helps me keep everything stable as I can and tell me if corals.

As chromus said eventually you will probably be able to see change in your tank without testing, Like currently I am fighting some GHA so in turn have been running low nutrient levels and last few days the algae has all started to die off and a few of my corals have faded back colour wise so now I know not to do anymore in the way of nutrient reduction otherwise risk losing corals.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Wed 13 Jan, 2016 11:21 am

Boggers89 wrote:I thought I would tell you my testing regime since later on when you get corals and dose it might help you. Ill do a water change in the morning then about 6-7pm at night I will do a water test as this allows the new water to mix with the tank water and balance everything out. Once I have tested all my parameters I will do a boost dose (lately it has only been abit of alk everything else is at good levels) then I write down what my parameters were when tested, which ones I dosed and how much of a dose and roughly what the new level should be (Aka Alk = 7.7dkh, Dosed 50ml to bring to roughly 8.1Dkh......That kind of thing) then usually I will do a mid week test of Calc,Alk and Mag just to see if my dosing pump has been keeping up or if any corals have had growth spurts and are using up one supplement more.

My dosing pump was set up perfectly for a couple weeks but then I think due to the much more consistent dosing the corals and Coraline took to this and started dropping alk so the last few weeks the usage has been going up little by little.

I have found doing it this way helps me keep everything stable as I can and tell me if corals.

As chromus said eventually you will probably be able to see change in your tank without testing, Like currently I am fighting some GHA so in turn have been running low nutrient levels and last few days the algae has all started to die off and a few of my corals have faded back colour wise so now I know not to do anymore in the way of nutrient reduction otherwise risk losing corals.


Awesome, thanks for this Boggers. Did you ever dose without a dosing pump or is it too much of a pain?
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Wed 13 Jan, 2016 1:11 pm

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:I thought I would tell you my testing regime since later on when you get corals and dose it might help you. Ill do a water change in the morning then about 6-7pm at night I will do a water test as this allows the new water to mix with the tank water and balance everything out. Once I have tested all my parameters I will do a boost dose (lately it has only been abit of alk everything else is at good levels) then I write down what my parameters were when tested, which ones I dosed and how much of a dose and roughly what the new level should be (Aka Alk = 7.7dkh, Dosed 50ml to bring to roughly 8.1Dkh......That kind of thing) then usually I will do a mid week test of Calc,Alk and Mag just to see if my dosing pump has been keeping up or if any corals have had growth spurts and are using up one supplement more.

My dosing pump was set up perfectly for a couple weeks but then I think due to the much more consistent dosing the corals and Coraline took to this and started dropping alk so the last few weeks the usage has been going up little by little.

I have found doing it this way helps me keep everything stable as I can and tell me if corals.

As chromus said eventually you will probably be able to see change in your tank without testing, Like currently I am fighting some GHA so in turn have been running low nutrient levels and last few days the algae has all started to die off and a few of my corals have faded back colour wise so now I know not to do anymore in the way of nutrient reduction otherwise risk losing corals.


Awesome, thanks for this Boggers. Did you ever dose without a dosing pump or is it too much of a pain?


I did almost 3years of no dosing pump and then when I got it I was abit lost as It was less things I had to remember to do lol. All I have to say is on a bigger tank it is so much easier to not manual dose mainly because I was inconsistent and being a single guy out and about all the time you forget half the time to do it so one day you dose correct next day you get home late and forget.

Corals have picked up growth since the pump was installed.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Wed 13 Jan, 2016 1:19 pm

Boggers89 wrote:
Vilante wrote:Corals have picked up growth since the pump was installed.


Sweet. Another thing to consider but glad it's possible to do manually in the mean time.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Wed 13 Jan, 2016 1:42 pm

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:
Vilante wrote:Corals have picked up growth since the pump was installed.


Sweet. Another thing to consider but glad it's possible to do manually in the mean time.


On thing I did notice that after going from manual to pump my skimmer was doing a better job pulling crap out of the water instead of skimming my supplements out.

At one stage I was dosing 180ml of Calcium in one hit into the tank everyday and then a few hours later my skimmer would be almost full which was more then likely majority of supplements. Smaller even doses across the day seem to have stopped this happening now.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Thu 14 Jan, 2016 8:34 am

Boggers89 wrote:At one stage I was dosing 180ml of Calcium in one hit into the tank everyday and then a few hours later my skimmer would be almost full which was more then likely majority of supplements. Smaller even doses across the day seem to have stopped this happening now.


That's a really good point, hadn't thought of that! How many channels do you use?
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Thu 14 Jan, 2016 10:51 am

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:At one stage I was dosing 180ml of Calcium in one hit into the tank everyday and then a few hours later my skimmer would be almost full which was more then likely majority of supplements. Smaller even doses across the day seem to have stopped this happening now.


That's a really good point, hadn't thought of that! How many channels do you use?


I have a kamoer 3channel which can be added onto if needed.

I do weekly 20% water changes so I cant imagine ever needing to dose anything other then Alk,Calc & Mag anyway.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Thu 14 Jan, 2016 11:21 am

Boggers89 wrote:I have a kamoer 3channel which can be added onto if needed.

I do weekly 20% water changes so I cant imagine ever needing to dose anything other then Alk,Calc & Mag anyway.


That is a lot. I'm currently doing fortnightly 10% changes but there is very little in my tank and it has an over sized skimmer.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby chromus » Thu 14 Jan, 2016 12:16 pm

I have Sr / KCl / Lanth (manual) / Spare on my Kamoer Slave
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Sun 17 Jan, 2016 8:56 pm

These are my readings tonight. I have a small amount of ammonia (I think, the colours are hard to decipher sometimes) but I did a water change only a few hours ago and I stirred up quite a bit of rubbish vacuuming the substrate so I will re-test tomorrow night.

Image

This is a dodgy video of the tank tonight. I can't get a good picture or video of it, need to work on that. Having micro bubble issues with the skimmer which I'm having trouble working out.

https://youtu.be/EQ10Kx5FuAs
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Mon 18 Jan, 2016 10:49 am

Vilante wrote:These are my readings tonight. I have a small amount of ammonia (I think, the colours are hard to decipher sometimes) but I did a water change only a few hours ago and I stirred up quite a bit of rubbish vacuuming the substrate so I will re-test tomorrow night.

Image

This is a dodgy video of the tank tonight. I can't get a good picture or video of it, need to work on that. Having micro bubble issues with the skimmer which I'm having trouble working out.

https://youtu.be/EQ10Kx5FuAs


Looking at those you should have no ammonia but since you stirred things up and I do know how hard those things are to read it might be 0 anyway but yes double check it. Magnesium is very low, should be more like 1350ppm. Phosphate is high also want to get it down under 0.1 same with nitrate want to get that down under 5 for a start.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Mon 18 Jan, 2016 9:34 pm

Boggers89 wrote:
Vilante wrote:These are my readings tonight. I have a small amount of ammonia (I think, the colours are hard to decipher sometimes) but I did a water change only a few hours ago and I stirred up quite a bit of rubbish vacuuming the substrate so I will re-test tomorrow night.

Image

This is a dodgy video of the tank tonight. I can't get a good picture or video of it, need to work on that. Having micro bubble issues with the skimmer which I'm having trouble working out.

https://youtu.be/EQ10Kx5FuAs


Looking at those you should have no ammonia but since you stirred things up and I do know how hard those things are to read it might be 0 anyway but yes double check it. Magnesium is very low, should be more like 1350ppm. Phosphate is high also want to get it down under 0.1 same with nitrate want to get that down under 5 for a start.


Thanks Boggers. I have a big skimmer on the tank so I'm surprised Nitrate hasn't come down. I'm only doing 10% water changes every fortnight so maybe that's not enough?

Time to start reading up on mag and nitrate and phosphate methinks.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Tue 19 Jan, 2016 10:51 am

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:
Vilante wrote:These are my readings tonight. I have a small amount of ammonia (I think, the colours are hard to decipher sometimes) but I did a water change only a few hours ago and I stirred up quite a bit of rubbish vacuuming the substrate so I will re-test tomorrow night.

Image

This is a dodgy video of the tank tonight. I can't get a good picture or video of it, need to work on that. Having micro bubble issues with the skimmer which I'm having trouble working out.

https://youtu.be/EQ10Kx5FuAs


Looking at those you should have no ammonia but since you stirred things up and I do know how hard those things are to read it might be 0 anyway but yes double check it. Magnesium is very low, should be more like 1350ppm. Phosphate is high also want to get it down under 0.1 same with nitrate want to get that down under 5 for a start.


Thanks Boggers. I have a big skimmer on the tank so I'm surprised Nitrate hasn't come down. I'm only doing 10% water changes every fortnight so maybe that's not enough?

Time to start reading up on mag and nitrate and phosphate methinks.


Depending on stocking 10% water changes fortnightly probably wont do much to get the nitrate down, this also explains why your magnesium is low since I presume you haven't started dosing for it yet?

I personally like weekly water changes and have gone from 10% weekly to 20% mainly to combat GHA but it also helps keep my levels in check so I don't have a big drop then have to dose a heap to get it back up to levels I am chasing.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Tue 19 Jan, 2016 4:11 pm

Boggers89 wrote:Depending on stocking 10% water changes fortnightly probably wont do much to get the nitrate down, this also explains why your magnesium is low since I presume you haven't started dosing for it yet?

I personally like weekly water changes and have gone from 10% weekly to 20% mainly to combat GHA but it also helps keep my levels in check so I don't have a big drop then have to dose a heap to get it back up to levels I am chasing.


No, I'm not dosing anything as yet. I'll start by doing 10% weekly and see what effect that has. I'm starting to get some GHA.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Tue 19 Jan, 2016 6:19 pm

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:Depending on stocking 10% water changes fortnightly probably wont do much to get the nitrate down, this also explains why your magnesium is low since I presume you haven't started dosing for it yet?

I personally like weekly water changes and have gone from 10% weekly to 20% mainly to combat GHA but it also helps keep my levels in check so I don't have a big drop then have to dose a heap to get it back up to levels I am chasing.


No, I'm not dosing anything as yet. I'll start by doing 10% weekly and see what effect that has. I'm starting to get some GHA.


I had mine start when I was away so for 2 weeks of my dad's heavy feeding hand I believe had this crap take off, so my advice get onto it fast and do more then a 10% water change until its gone lol.

Taken me months but I am now getting ontop of my outbreak.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Wed 20 Jan, 2016 8:54 am

Boggers89 wrote:I had mine start when I was away so for 2 weeks of my dad's heavy feeding hand I believe had this crap take off, so my advice get onto it fast and do more then a 10% water change until its gone lol.

Taken me months but I am now getting ontop of my outbreak.


I think mine is from over feeding. I will have a read about how much I should be feeding and do weekly changes and see how that effects things.

I currently have:

2 x Osc clowns
3 x Blue/green chromis
1 x Fairy wrasse (Cyan)

1 x Turbo snail
2 x Tiny hermits
1 x Tiny pep shrimp

I could probably use more CUC too.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Wed 20 Jan, 2016 10:08 am

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:I had mine start when I was away so for 2 weeks of my dad's heavy feeding hand I believe had this crap take off, so my advice get onto it fast and do more then a 10% water change until its gone lol.

Taken me months but I am now getting ontop of my outbreak.


I think mine is from over feeding. I will have a read about how much I should be feeding and do weekly changes and see how that effects things.

I currently have:

2 x Osc clowns
3 x Blue/green chromis
1 x Fairy wrasse (Cyan)

1 x Turbo snail
2 x Tiny hermits
1 x Tiny pep shrimp

I could probably use more CUC too.


Yep that is pretty small, I beefed mine up when the GHA started and since my tank isn't much bigger then yours Ill tell you what I have currently which may give you some idea.

1xSea Cucumber
1xBlue Linkia Starfish (Not sure how much cleaning this guy does lol)
1xPeppermint Shrimp
1xCoral Banded Shrimp
10xTrogus Snails (could be more but hard to count)
1xSand Sifter Goby
1xFoxface

I am still on the hunt for turbo snails but everytime I go to the fish shops they never have any so its why I end up with the Trogus snails, Best thing so far for GHA I believe is the Foxface its reduced a fair bit since I added him. My tang will eat some also but never did much til the foxface came along.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Wed 20 Jan, 2016 10:25 am

Boggers89 wrote:Yep that is pretty small, I beefed mine up when the GHA started and since my tank isn't much bigger then yours Ill tell you what I have currently which may give you some idea.

1xSea Cucumber
1xBlue Linkia Starfish (Not sure how much cleaning this guy does lol)
1xPeppermint Shrimp
1xCoral Banded Shrimp
10xTrogus Snails (could be more but hard to count)
1xSand Sifter Goby
1xFoxface

I am still on the hunt for turbo snails but everytime I go to the fish shops they never have any so its why I end up with the Trogus snails, Best thing so far for GHA I believe is the Foxface its reduced a fair bit since I added him. My tang will eat some also but never did much til the foxface came along.


A foxface or a tang would be awesome but I fear the Tang police ha. Tank is only 200L, 4ft long and 12 inches front to back so just not big enough.

I have been thinking about a lawnmower blenny. The sand sifters are awesome but I have a shell substrate on top of my DSB.

Maybe a Blenny and a few more snails would be the way to go.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Boggers89 » Wed 20 Jan, 2016 10:29 am

Vilante wrote:
Boggers89 wrote:Yep that is pretty small, I beefed mine up when the GHA started and since my tank isn't much bigger then yours Ill tell you what I have currently which may give you some idea.

1xSea Cucumber
1xBlue Linkia Starfish (Not sure how much cleaning this guy does lol)
1xPeppermint Shrimp
1xCoral Banded Shrimp
10xTrogus Snails (could be more but hard to count)
1xSand Sifter Goby
1xFoxface

I am still on the hunt for turbo snails but everytime I go to the fish shops they never have any so its why I end up with the Trogus snails, Best thing so far for GHA I believe is the Foxface its reduced a fair bit since I added him. My tang will eat some also but never did much til the foxface came along.


A foxface or a tang would be awesome but I fear the Tang police ha. Tank is only 200L, 4ft long and 12 inches front to back so just not big enough.

I have been thinking about a lawnmower blenny. The sand sifters are awesome but I have a shell substrate on top of my DSB.

Maybe a Blenny and a few more snails would be the way to go.


Someone told me 1 snail for every 10ltrs is the ideal amount but I dunno seems crazy. My last Lawnmower was cool he was like the little bulldog of the tank attacking my toothbrush everytime I was in there scrubbing some GHA away but he actually never did anything in regards to eating it haha.
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby searlesy » Wed 20 Jan, 2016 10:36 am

I have never (deliberately) had any snails other than turbo snails, and they tend to build themselves up to the point that they can handle and then continue to breed beyond that. I was often harvesting and passing on lots of snails to other reefers. Maybe someone in your local aquarium society may be able to help you out with some? They also handle posting quite well!
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Wed 20 Jan, 2016 10:36 am

searlesy wrote:I have never (deliberately) had any snails other than turbo snails, and they tend to build themselves up to the point that they can handle and then continue to breed beyond that. I was often harvesting and passing on lots of snails to other reefers. Maybe someone in your local aquarium society may be able to help you out with some? They also handle posting quite well!


Will check that out, cheers!
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Re: Testing Regime

Postby Vilante » Sun 31 Jan, 2016 8:08 pm

OK, so I'm 3 weeks into doing weekly 10% changes instead of fortnightly. It doesn't seem to have changed things too much. I have also got all my checkers so have more results this week:

Image

As far as I can tell Magnesium is way too low, phosphate is way too high and nitrate is still too high.

Now to figure out how to fix those :)
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