A summary of a beginnners sharp learning curve

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I was talking to Warr last night and he suggested I write a thread on the enjoyment one can get from cycling ones tank.

I re-read some of the old posts I did a while ago. Just to see where my understandings had got to from when I started, kind of see if I could answer the same questions I asked when I started. The learning curve has been vertical. Not rapid just simply straight up and six weeks in there is no slowing down, just a change in topics. And I would say the I was and am relatively experienced in the management of recalculating systems, be it fresh water tanks, breeding rare tropical fresh water fish or ponds and huge wetland systems.

In very brief summary of the primary things I asked to begin and what I was generally told.

  • New system or old? Answer go new as its then “your build” and you get what you want, you learn on the way and you are not in inheriting other peoples mistakes. I agree 80% there, I think perhaps getting an old system would have got me into the husbandry aspects quicker (the water changes, water quality, cleaning skimmers etc etc) and I would have a show piece in my house already. Also I would not have to cycle for 6 weeks. But that counts for 20% all of which I will catch up soon. In short definitely get a new tank for yourself
  • Bigger is better??? This was a HUGE question for me. Yes I want size, I wanted the forgiveness on my own mistakes which I knew I will make. Note WILL make as they are still coming and always will be, don’t fool yourself that research will save u from these! I subscribe fully to the saying “pollution solution through dilution.” The principles are sound and make sense to me. But bigger costs. And costs LOTS. Everyone says Marines are expensive, everyone tries to save costs. I set a budget and blew it on the tank and skimmer alone! Size counts, go as big as u can to start, go smaller when u know what’s going on. I would hate to start on a Nano and have to be so precise without having the experience.
  • Second hand or new equipment? This has HUGE cost implications and big risk factors. I was very lucky. Very very lucky and I will always be in MASA”S dept for having members like “Likesfish” and in him I found honest good quality second hand equipment, but best of all honesty. I state again I was lucky. I placed myself in his hands and said this is my budget what can we do. Also Likesfish had good quality equipment, and fairly new. If it was not quality equipment or had been over a few years old I would rather have gone new, even at double the cost. Also asking others ‘what do think of the cost of this for that” type questions on a open public display is invaluable. If you are starting and not certain (as in 1000%) know what u want and are getting…..ASK!
  • A Little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing! Ok so I have a tank, I have the basic equipment and I even managed to get the tank level. I knew what I want to achieve with respect to showing the tank etc and was now ready to full it. I read about RO, TDS, NSW and so on. Read about it but didn’t understand it. You never do until you experience it. Then information is converted by experience into knowledge. That step is KEY. I got second had live rock from a guy breaking down. I waited for that. Waited to find a BIG system, heavy stocking density. With lots of people wanting the Live Stock. Why look for a system like that? It showed an experienced reefer. It showed a guy who cared. And I wanted that. Because if his system is good, his LR is BETTER. Good biological filtration is key to good water parameters. And yes I am stressing that there should be thought around these things. I got the LR and dropped it into my tank, sat back and stopped thinking. I knew roughly what should happen and I didn’t pay careful close attention to settling it down. I didn’t even work out which side of the LR should be up or down and so on. A little bit of knowledge lead me to trouble. Its not a little you need its LOTS. Its not information that counts, its your knowledge!
  • I got smacked! I went away leaving an immature system unattended. SO many people say don’t. Tap water was used for top up and by the time I came back I could not see into the tank. Algae bloomed from hell! But it taught me a very good lesson. If you make mistakes nature WILL show you. If you do things right nature WILL show you. Read your tank! Look at the parameters, look at the inhabitants, look at the system. The aesthetics pf how it looks etc is only important from a human vanity aspect. Its what is INSIDE that counts. I was almost depressed at the state of my tank. I really was. A lot of work and effort has gone into it and 4weeks later I am hitting problems people say take YEARS to fix. But onto forums, follow advice and DO IT! So many people know they should do water changes. So many people know they have to acclimatize, yet so often we hear of things murdered due to human impatient! That’s a waist of life, and that is sacrilege.
  • this is voluntary, it should be fun! This is the one aspect I have battled with a little, especially when I hit algae so hard. But then I sat back, looked at my tank and realized that there are some many millions of things of interest in it. Be it from a bristle worm suddenly popping out, or the fact that I try count copepods to see the state of the living community. 4 weeks of having LR in my system and I play a nightly game of finding a new living organism that wasn’t there the day before. Or more to the point WAS there, I just missed it. It keeps my interest, increases the fun and really gives me great satisfaction. Who said cycling was no fun???? I even found a “slug like” fella last night1 And yes that got me excited. If the little guys can hold so much fun, I cant wait to get a school of 9 hippo tangsJ



 
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Sorry to say this but the slug has to be assassinated :whistling:

You have to have the correct attitude and want your tank to work but have fun doing it.

Don't get into marines if you need instant gratification.
 
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welcome warr

TO THE BLOODY KILLERS BRIGADE! :)

and if the slug (once i id the guy properly) is symbiotic with something in the reef, he might even get a stya of execution, but i hear what u say.


i'll show u my slug wanna see him:)
 
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This is excellent especially for new beginners,if i have to tell you my story we would probably laugh allot,but im six weeks down and so far so good,I also fell for the story bigger is better,i currently have a 2m tank standing outside on my stoep reddy to go but started researching from last year october when i was introduced to this site by a LFS and decided to go smaller due to cost,Marines are expensive there is no doubt and people must be told upfront what the cost etc was.
 

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You right Reidwan - for some funny reason people like to hide the cost. This is what I found when I started off too. People not telling you what you in for. I mean - I even had people tell me that this is a "rich man's game" and that if I don't have the money to spend, that I should not go into the hobby.... BTW: WELCOME BACK REIDWAN. It's been quite a while since you logged on! :)
 
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You right Reidwan - for some funny reason people like to hide the cost. This is what I found when I started off too. People not telling you what you in for. I mean - I even had people tell me that this is a "rich man's game" and that if I don't have the money to spend, that I should not go into the hobby.... BTW: WELCOME BACK REIDWAN. It's been quite a while since you logged on! :)
But in saying that, you don't have to spend huge money to get into Marines. LFS's understand they normally only have one shot at a sale and can go over the top with their hardware suggestions.

Some of the deals that have been on our forum shows you can start up at a relative low cost.

Everyone wants the "guru's" gear and generally this kind of gear is hectic because it is commercial-type quality and pricing.

I have found that there are many ways to "skin-a-cat"
EG: I run PC fans (R100) on my sump rather than running a R3K chiller.
 
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thats very true warr, but i got as pricey equipment as i could, good quality and second hand. that means I KNOW my skimmer is good. When i need the chiller i KNOW my temp will be right. etc. You can get by with good equip IF you research and buy smart:)
 
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Thanks Jaquesb it took we a while and i still have to provide my 6 weeks tank that has been running, together with pictures that they always request.I actually had a very good deal on saturday from a lfs where they done themselves in I bought a copperband angel about 4cm big and paid R100 as was marked on the display tank less 10% .When i asked the manager of the store if the price was right he looked at the display and sarcastically told be here it is and pointed to the price on the tank of R100.00 so I grabbed it.
 

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jacquesb

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Hi Reidwan - sorry that they are so sarcastic at the LFS', hey! ;-)

BUT, you right - you did get a good deal on the Copperband Butterfly! I just hope that you get it to eat. That's always the problem with the CB's - getting them to eat..
 

Mike

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welcome warr

TO THE BLOODY KILLERS BRIGADE! :)

and if the slug (once i id the guy properly) is symbiotic with something in the reef, he might even get a stya of execution, but i hear what u say.


i'll show u my slug wanna see him:)
You posted this three houre ago.......no slug yet?:nono:


Nice write up:)
 
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Nicely done, you summed that up well. Yeh, LikesFish gave me a great deal on his LR. I would have bought alot more if I had the cash. The one thing I've learnt is check the for sale sections first before running to the LFS. I could have got a cheaper tank 3 times the size than the one I bought!
 
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Very good write up, crispin, and interesting to a beginner.
Read about it but didn’t understand it. You never do until you experience it. Then information is converted by experience into knowledge. That step is KEY.
Very very true! Thats why i feel so lost about marines compared to FW!
 
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I got smacked again!!:(

i might have been on a sharp learning curve, but I have the memory and intelligence of a dead frog at times!

I had hair algae and after slow and gentle husbandry I had it under controll and on the back step.

I ran low on salt.

i did water changes with RO, stupidly not thinking that I was just slowly turning my marine tank into a FW gently over time.

I checked my SG. 5 times.

Had ok readings from my refractometer. Leather coral was looking crap. Zoa's had retracted. Fan worms loosing tubes. Something wasnt right.

i checked all parameters, checked temp again. Went on holiday.

9 days later, three days of power failures and the tank was in a bad state.

I got the zoa's out and fan worms and hosted with a friend and in a stable system and i went back to the drawing board. All parameters were within acceptable limits, amonia was zero, nitrates and nitrites not reading, yet I could see the tank was in trouble.

I tested the SG of my RO water......I did what??? Tested salt in RO water!!

Basically i hadnt cleaned the refractometer glass properly and i had residudes in the dropper. That threw the readings out and by the time I figured the problem out i was 11 days of a MARINE tank with an sg of 1.01. That did lead to the death of the leather:( but all the snails are turbowing around, hermits are looking fine and zoas are comming out again.

I have slowly raised the sg to 1.020 at the mo and the rest will go up gently via the auto top up as that has an SG of 1.030 at the mo.


so so so stupid, RO dipping a tank for 11 days!
 

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Sheesh... Crispin. Stupid mistake but at least you learnt from it and it turned out better than what it could have. Watch the Ammonia though. You're bound to have more die off.
 
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yes stupid indeed. and I am watching the amonia closely, so far seems ok. Atleast I have very very low LS stocking at the mo, and I have a while before i will introduce anything anyway, so have time on my hands to sort it all out first.
 
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