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Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell *SUCCESS*

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Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell *SUCCESS*

Postby Aydee » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 5:26 pm

See Page 2 for the final success photo for this project!

OK. It's time to do something about the shamozzle that is my tank. Story and pictures follow

All was going swimmingly. I had a functioning (And still is) ATS. LED lights. 3 fish and all was going well.

Then an aiptasia outbreak. And it all went downhill in about 2 weeks.

Things that went wrong:
Unknown crab took out a fish (Witnessed in the act of striking) Goodbye blennie :furious: Crab and deceased removed.
Aiptasia sucked into powerhead. HELLO population explosion.
Away for work for a bit and ATS didn't get properly serviced in meantime.

Suddenly I have an issue where there is aiptasia everywhere, algae has exploded and I'm kinda feeling grumpy about it.

Things just descended into me doing the bare minimum and 'kinda not caring'. Fish looked healthy and eating. Readings normal. But finally, joined MASAOG and decided IT'S TIME TO FIX THIS MESS!

First the bit which you'll believe when you see the pictures:
Phosphates: 1ppm (LIKELY MUCH HIGHER! Estimate 10x) Using dodgy phosphate checker
Nitrates: Approx 1 - 2ppm (Red sea test kit)
Nitrites/Ammonia = 0
Gravity: 1.025
Temp 25C

Livestock:
2 x B&W Occies
1 x Matted filefish
1 x abalone
1 x urchin

1 x heliofungia
Smegloads of softies (wait til pictures)
2 zillion aiptasia

Anything else in this experiment can probably be ignored.

Pictures: (Prepare to be stunned)
Image
Image

ONTO WHAT IS MY SAFETY NET!
1) For the first day I'm going to be testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate every 12 hrs.
2) I have a second tank setup to get a new cycle going.
3) I have got a tub of premade saltwater (About 60 litres) for emergency water changes, or if necessary a standby tank.
4) I've alerted the MASAOG guys (I hope) and if things really start getting catastrophic, I call them and will do a complete deconstruct rebuild.
5) By tomorrow I'll have some ammolock too.

GOALS:
To rebuild my tank so it's not just a few lumps of rocks in the bottom.
Regain control of my tank from pests
Keep livestock alive

Budget: About $10 (It's all I have available at the moment. Bills bills and more bills)

Method:
I have got a few 5 litre buckets.
One I 3/4 filled with white vinegar, the 2nd with fresh water.
I will remove a few rocks from the tank and put in vinegar for 2 minutes. Then into fresh water and rinse around lots and lots (and scrubbed roughly with a nail brush) for about 2 minutes.
The rock will then be put into the 2nd tank where they will start their cycle. Lots of dead material on there after a vinegar swim.

I will do this in small chunks. I have approx 10 - 13kg of live rock. I will do it in about 500gm - 1kg stages.
It will be done slowly. Over weeks. (Again with my testing regime being followed rigorously)

There will also be a bit of a 2 prong assault. If water in main tank is stable for 2 days, I will then got hunting for aiptasia on any rocks I'd rather try and keep in the tank where possible.

I have given myself 2 months to do this for purposes of GOAL SETTING ALONE! (If it takes longer, it takes longer. But it's nice to have a goal to reach for)

Wish me luck.

I'm going to try and turn this wreck into a TOTM! :P

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby kit » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 6:02 pm

Wow, that's a pretty bad infestation.. Good luck with it!
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 6:13 pm

Thanks.

A new step in the recovery has also been added. An important one. But it is going to blow my budget out of the water. So... Everyone sends "Persuasion Vibes" my way as I try to convince my wife that a RODI filter is now essential. (I've already email PSI and requested a quote and told him the situation. Here's hoping he and my missus come through with the goods)

I've now removed about 3/4 kg of live rock from the tank.

This removed about 80% of the aiptasia population (They were on some light decorative rock). This bodes well.

Watching the rock in the vinegar was AMAZING! The sludge that almost immediately formed. The bubbles (It almost looked like it was boiling!). The slurry. The rinse. And the amount of crud that came off...

WOW! It is probably up there as one of the more amazing things I've seen in reefkeeping. I'll try and video the next rock that comes out. It's worth seeing. (Of course, the other pieces are going to be denser and have less aiptasia so likely less 'vigorous' in the results.

I'll do the next test early however. At approx 10pm I will test again. (Both tanks now.)

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby lexbomb » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 7:08 pm

I would have just filled the tank up with peppermint shrimp and watched them go crazy eating aiptasia! 3 months later no aiptasia and then just move the shrimp off :) but probably not that simple
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby kit » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 9:42 pm

Aydee wrote:Thanks.

A new step in the recovery has also been added. An important one. But it is going to blow my budget out of the water. So... Everyone sends "Persuasion Vibes" my way as I try to convince my wife that a RODI filter is now essential. (I've already email PSI and requested a quote and told him the situation. Here's hoping he and my missus come through with the goods)



Are you using NSW for water changes?
If you are, to be honest, I don't think you need a RODI filter (but of course you can get one if you want to :) )
With the RSM having a hood and only 130L capacity, evaporation should be minimal.

My 160L Aqua One has a hood too and I hardly get any evaporation. I buy RO water from the LFS for $5/25L, and one drum lasts me ages!

But if you are making your own ASW, then by all means, you should get an RODI filter.
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 10:13 pm

phone post. so goodbye grammar.

no easily available nsw. so asw. have an ats, so evaporation quite high. about 20l a week.

however. .........
I've received funding approval from wife to buy the rodi from psi. woohoo.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Sat 11 Aug, 2012 4:17 pm

And a quick update..

Wow.. This is entertaining.

Main tank:
24hrs a *possible* appearance of ammonia. (No nitrites. Nitrates at 2.5 or so). Did 10% water change. Possible that because I was reading value under a really shocking yellowy fluoro light that my reading for ammonia was wrong.
48 hrs and this time taking the sample out under WHITE light. Ammonia/Nitrite 0. Nitrate less than 2.5. (But higher than 1).

2ndary tank (I'm now calling it the fermentation tank): This is where the rocks which have been vinegared go.
Ammonia about 2 - 3
Nitrite off the scale
Nitrate 10

You know you have a LOT of Nitrite when the test is changing colour towards red before you even put the second (Developer) reagent in.. Woooo--eeeeeeeee.

Otherwise.

Fish happy. Feeding. Not gasping.

Fermentation tank is cloudy as all get-out.

All ok though..

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Mon 13 Aug, 2012 11:08 am

WOO!!! My RODI filter arrived from PSI today. YAY!!!

Instructions read, and when I have more than 2 minutes to spare, it'll be mounted and good to go. (My boy is currently running laps of the house. This will stop shortly so have to go now)

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Sun 19 Aug, 2012 4:59 pm

And a quick update.

The aiptasia are losing the battle. :pirate:

I've got it down to a small section of tank, not much more remaining.

I'm beating down a few attempts at 'regrowth', but easy when that tiny. Fish is doing it's job for the most.

The second tank which I'm cycling the rocks in is doing well. Ammonia has dropped from 2.5 to 0.25.. So hopefully not too much longer before I can start to move rocks back to main tank (I'm guessing another few weeks). I'm going to be pretty aggressive with scrubbing the rocks. Ensure I have got all the dead material off, and that nothing 'dislodges' when moving.

Will be 'building the rocks to a solid base with acrylic rods and aqua-kneed-it first. Then give it a few days to set rock hard.

So, things are looking WAY up now. This I feel has been the best thing I've done to my tank since starting it (And that RODI? Fantastic. A few more weeks of water changes, and I'll be willing to test my water with a hanna egg without too much fear of a heartattack at the results)

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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Mon 20 Aug, 2012 4:56 pm

Important lesson learnt today....

Don't trust anyone else to setup your tank unless you have checked everything yourself.... The tank was supplied 'setup' by the LFS, and I just needed to whack it into position and go.. Apparently.


Soooo.. I honestly thought that the bag of cermic brick things were never in my tank.. Turns out they were... And the bag looked disgusting. Because I didn't know about them, I never checked for them.
:wall: :wall: :wall:

Now removed and vacuumed out the little area back there. Will keep an eye on things.

No wonder I was having troubles with water flow.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Tue 21 Aug, 2012 10:48 am

So.. Big evening last night. First.. MAJOR MAJOR thank you to ACT-Diver. Your generosity is unparallelled. :bow:

Last night, the following happened:
* The last visible aiptasia was annihalated.
* The file fish proved itself as an aiptasia eater.
* some rock was moved into a better position
* some mushrooms were removed. (Tip: Blacksmith hammer and a heavy cold chisel will remove a suitable chunk of rock with mushroom attached). Will visit LFS today. Got about 15 morphs to give.

Now to the major event:
ACT-Diver posted that he was giving away some Acro to those that were willing to collect. I expressed interest once I was comfortable in my main tank. I've been pretty comfortable for the last few days. No ammonia or nitrite and the nitrates have never risen above 2.5. The acro the missus got me was happy and not bleaching, but doing excellent pollyp expansion and on close inspection has some growth (Not much. But visible).

So, load myself and son into car and off we trot. My phone which is also my GPS was running low on battery. By the time I got to his street, the phone died. Fortunately, I remembered the street number.

Then I saw his tank and his "Wife's support" of the tank. :nod: (<- green with envy smile)

I was expecting an acro frag. What I got was a fragging lesson (Which I've never had before), and a bucket of coral. I got acros and duncans and lace and all sorts in my tank from this. :bow: :bow:

There was some mucus warfare going on (Lots of corals all sharing the same bags and jostled for the 40minute drive home?)

After doing the coral equivalent of giving a sudafed (Siphoned excess mucus-y water and doing a 10% water change), things settled down.

At present, corals are "in the tank". Not in final position. I still have quite a lot of LR to put back in. Also have a few more morphs to 'behead'.

So.. I'll post pics tonight. (Promised last night but after all that happened. Well.. It was too much for me...)

Have I thanked ACT-Diver yet? Here it is again.

And to anyone that reads this and is umming and ahhing about joining MASA(x)? Do it. I feel this is the best money I have ever spent on any hobby. (And I have a lot of hobbies).

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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Sun 07 Apr, 2013 11:23 am

Where has time gone. This got forgotten during one of my depression phases. (Oh yay....)

But I'm getting on with it.

I finally got a semi-decent phopshate test kit (Red Sea Phosphate Pro). Once I worked out the kinks, I was able to get reliable readings. And my readings for the tank were at about 4ppm when I tested. (A little lighter than the 5.xxppm reading, but much darker than the next reading down. So I call it 4ppm+)

WOW! Then Advanced Topics came to my rescue. The Lanth Chloride discussion. I read up in the thread. I asked Meller for some advice about it. Then went ahead. Started dosing. Started at 1ml into 1L of water dripped into tank every night (ATO as it were).

In time, I started ramping things up. I found that at about 3ml I started getting clouding (I'm guessing my high phosphates was having a field day with the lanth). So dialed back a bit.

In time, I realized that although the ATS worked, I did not have the dedication necessary to run it. I was too inconsistent with cleaning it. Decided that if I can't do it properly I shouldn't do it at all. Replaced the ATS with the skimmer.

Then I discovered that if I got the lanth straight into the skimmer, I could bump it up to 5ml. ONWARD HO!

Things went swimmingly (HA!) for a while. Then the skimmer blew up. This was nicely timed. Because my wife had just been made redundant. So absolutely $0 to spare. Meller came to my rescue with a spare Prizm skimmer. (Thanks mate!)

And it turns out that made a HUGE difference. The other skimmer had not been producing much skimmate, as in hindsight, it was obviously on its way out. The HOB skimmer. I had to empty the cup twice a day for a while.

I gave up on phosphate testing for a while because of depression again, HOWEVER, I forced myself to do water changes and Lanth.

Now where I'm at:
I decided it was time to do the test, but I wanted a real reading. Approx 8 months of Lanth should have made a dent in the phosphates by now. But how much had leached into my rocks.

Decided to stop lanth and water changes for 7 days (no living coral. Mushrooms don't count. Right? :P). Did nitrate tests to ensure fish wouldn't be 'poisoned'. All check ok. Sub 10 the entire time.

Finally, I did the phosphate test. 1 week without 'removal methods'.

0.08ppm

WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111oneoneoneoneone

I'll post pics in a bit. Thought I should get this up there first.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby priscacara » Sun 07 Apr, 2013 9:37 pm

Good update, the highs and lows of the hobby with a good result in the end!
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 11:59 am

Still no pics. No good excuses beyond 'too busy doing stuff'.

So, productive day yesterday. I built the big bommies. Got a few bits ready for 'ground level caves'. Decided I'm reducing the amount of LR in my tank as I it's just a mess of rock. Want more 'space'.

Will have 1 big bommie, 1 cave (Half clay pipe on top of another rock) and 1 small bommie. (Bommie is just 1 rock that has a pretty shape).

Big bommie is now 'drying'. (Got the rod through the entire length and lots of aquakneedit to get everything secured)

When I get home, hopefully be able to find the camera and take some pictures.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby TheJordans » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 1:21 pm

Yeah, the highs and lows we go through in this hobby, hey?
Sounds like your tank is going well, Dave! Good work on keeping up the dosing and water maintenance - can be a big hurdle when your head's in the wrong space.
Did any of the acro make it? I was looking forward to those pics ;)
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 1:48 pm

The acro failed in the end. I got close, but then in the space of 2 days just kicked the bucket. I couldn't get the algae off it all fast enough, and it just smothered and died. :(

Made the very VERY simple decision of "No more SPS until I get my tank stable for a minimum of 3 months, preferably 6 months"

So, I'm thinking that on my b'day (January next year) I'll get an SPS. It's a goal, and I think achievable.
-----------------------------------

Otherwise, now at lunch, so I'll give some more details, rather than the quick post I bashed out whilst waiting for a program to install on a clients PC.

The rockwork I had available had been sitting in a bucket outside (but under cover) for about 5 months or so. It was well and truly 'dead'. I then chose the pieces I wanted. I built a few bommies until I found the ones I liked. Then I put the bits of rock to the side.

I filled a bucket with white vinegar (5L bucket) and then started dropping the pieces in. And man was it GROSS! Foam. Scum. Bubbles. More scum. More feral looking foam. Gross smell. Left each rock in the vinegar for 10 minutes, came back, scrubbed with brush, put back in for 10 minutes, scrub again, final 10 minutes, last scrub, then into a bucket of RODI.

When finished, the rock although not pristine white, it was definitely much improved. Then after they rocks had been in RODI for about an hour, removed, air dried and then built the bommie (Length of PVC. Food grade), 1 x 8mm masonry bit that was about 250mm long and off I went. Drilling through rocks. Put rod down length, "threaded" the rocks on if needed, and then used lots of aqua-knead-it to secure.

If it goes anywhere, it'll be impressive.

That is now 'dry' (At least it better be! It is only meant to take about 20 minutes, and it's had nearly 24hrs!), and tonight goes into my 2nd tank (The one I repaired recently). It'll be then cycled with the other pieces I want. I expect this to take a LONG time. So, we'll see what happens.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby TheJordans » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 5:24 pm

Well, good luck, mate! I hope it's a great success for you :thumbsup:
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 9:14 pm

Images as promised.
FT shot
Image

The coralline madness (one side of my tank)
Image

The rocks I'm prepping for my main tank (Still producing RODI water for the tank, so long way to go)
Image

Couldn't find my DSLR. It's around somewhere, so you only get phone pics. But it's progress.

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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby neilsonw » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 9:31 pm

Dave,

great journal... balls and all.

Hope the resurrection goes well. let me know if you need a hand, always happy to help.

I've got some fungia corals you can have once your RSM is up and running and your happy its stable... Ive got 4-5 new buds growing from my LR.

Keep it going...

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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby AJD » Mon 08 Apr, 2013 9:39 pm

Some real progress being made. The infestation in the 1st pic in the thread is a monster. Well done for persevering! I look forwards to seeing this tank up and running in all it's glory.
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Wed 10 Apr, 2013 8:25 pm

Not a big update, but I'll update because I'm trying to keep on top of my brain/depression.

The 2nd tank which I'm cycling rock in is now filled with RODI and I'm not bringing it up to 1.025 (Last measured at 1.010). Took it careful, because I wanted it at temperature first before I went nuts adding salt. So threw in what I thought would be about 2/3 of the amount required and then left over night.

Little under 50% for SG. Not bad a guess. Added a few more scoops of salt and will check again in an hour. I plan to have it at 1.025 by bedtime tonight.

Ammonia is definitely happening. The tank is cloudy and has the delightful aroma to it. :P

The main tank still looks great. Algae growth over 3 days is next to nothing. 2 snails (which I thought had kicked the bucket) emerged from the rockwork the other night. So that's interesting. The hermit crab turned up too. So 2 x B&W occies, 1 filefish, 2 snails and 1 hermit crab are stock. More than I thought. Not complaining. They will come in handy.

I don't have the energy/motivation tonight to do chemistry, so I'll do that tomorrow. I've told my wife to harass me until I do tomorrow night. (Kinda like a phone reminder but more annoying)

I'll put my measurements up tomorrow. (SG, PO4, Mag, Cal, Alk, Nitrate etc)

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby TheJordans » Wed 10 Apr, 2013 10:45 pm

Aydee wrote:I've told my wife to harass me until I do tomorrow night. (Kinda like a phone reminder but more annoying)


*chuckle*
Cheeky :)

Good to see that you're making some good progress! And what awesome news re: the hermit and snails :thumbsup:
Hope it continues looking up!
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Fri 12 Apr, 2013 10:37 am

Yes I did tests last night. Can't remember exact results. But wife had PC and I couldn't post. I wrote them down. I'm at the office. Will report the values tonight!

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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Fri 12 Apr, 2013 9:49 pm

Numbers...

Temp: 27c
SG: 1.022
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
PO4: 0.04
Calcium: 460
Mag: 1160
Alk: 6dkh (Note: About 90% sure I messed up this test. CBF'd doing it again at present)

At the end of the day, the above imbalances I'm pretty sure can be fixed with 1 good water change which will be coming up this weekend.

Although not ideal parameters, I'm not too embarrassed by them at all. All things being equal, I think this can be fixed to great parameters in 1 - 2 weeks worth of water changes.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Kozzi » Fri 12 Apr, 2013 11:52 pm

Really appreciating reading your TJ Dave.

It is really cool to see how a plan and tenacity can develop into a great reef.

Look forward to see how it develops.
I now have a bacteria collection! Stu's RSM 130D
My Aquatic Log can be found here
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Thu 18 Apr, 2013 7:08 pm

And even more numbers. 2 water changes done since last post.

Temp: 27c
SG: 1.025
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
PO4: 0.04
Calcium: 460
Mag: 1400
Alk: 7dkh

No supplements done to change these figures. Just good ol fashioned water changes.

It's also worth noting that I'm using Aqua One salt mix at the moment. I've decided that it's got good enough parameters for the meantime, but I've got Red Sea Coral Pro salt on standby once the Aqua One mix runs out. (Not much longer. About 3 more water changes worth in the bucket.) Bought when young and niave in reefkeeping. Know better now. Ultimately, not a bad Fish Only salt. But pretty lousy for keeping corals.

As I'm currently running 'coral free', it doesn't concern me. I estimate that once I run out of this, the nitrogen cycle will be well on it's way in my 2nd tank. Then, I'll change over to the Red Sea salt. I'll expect a significant bump in my alkalinity then.

Visually, the tank is getting better every day. The rocks look rubbish, but that doesn't bother me as they'll be coming out in the future. The glass is getting there with 2 sides now completely scraped of coraline algae, and the 3rd side about 80% done. (Leaving back wall covered).

The water is clearer than it has been in ages. It just about looks like the fish are floating in air.

Need to find the darn DSLR camera. The wife had it last. Have no idea where she put it.

Got a few guesses though. I'll check her car later as it's likely she forgot to bring it inside.

When I find it, I'll take a proper picture. (Sick of phone pictures). I want to give an 'in progress FTS' with a decent camera.

*Edit*
Camera found. Now I just need to find the tripod and I'm good to go. Also need to charge battery, because as expected, it had been left turned on.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby TheJordans » Tue 23 Apr, 2013 9:50 am

Sounding great, Dave! Keep up the good work!! :thumbsup:
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Wed 24 Apr, 2013 2:44 pm

Brief update. (Still no pics. I know I know.. Battery is charged and camera is good to go. Just keep getting distracted. Feel it's more important to do a water change than take a picture).

The main tank continues well. Coralline algae on 2 sides is now gone and the last side is about 80% gone. (Leaving back alone).

Suspect that my filefish is finally doing what he was bought for. Aiptasia numbers have reduced slightly. (Noted a few 'little ones are no longer present')

2nd tank is clearing up nicely. Water is about 90% clear now. Before it was so cloudy you couldn't even see half the rocks in the tank. Can now clearly see wall behind the tank. Tiny bit cloudy.

All progressing according to plan.

Getting there. Hopefully ammonia levels will be getting into 'testable' levels soon, rather than off the charts. Then I'll really feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby Aydee » Fri 26 Apr, 2013 8:58 pm

Another brief update. Measured ammonia in the 'cycling rock tank' for the first time. 2ppm.

Much lower than I thought. But I'm thinking I've got a very very vigorous bacteria colony going on now. Considering it went from cloudy to clear in about 3 days flat.

Slime on surface of water is now resolved. Another month and I might be able to go to next stage. Move the rocks to main tank.

Main tank is being nice and stable. Parameters barely changed. About to start water changes with a higher alkalinty ASW mix.

I do need to scrub the algae on the tank walls, but I've kept the coralline under control.

Dave
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Re: Rebuilding and recovering a live tank from hell (RSM130)

Postby priscacara » Sat 04 May, 2013 4:04 pm

Does sound like a very hungry lot of bacteria, won't be too long before you can add them in although will still feel like ages :-)
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