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  1. #1
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    Bacteria bloom and toxic ammonia levels in new 38G saltwater tank

    I know we have some fish people here, so rather than joining a fish forum I thought I would try this first. So, I know this was wrong of us, but after our Florida trip, my fiance and I ended up back at home with marine hermit crabs (we really wanted the shells, then felt bad for the crabs and decided to keep them alive). I had a 38 gallon aquarium, but it had never been used before. We brought home some sand from the ocean with us, but did not have enough so we also bought live sand at Petco. We have a power filter (hang on side style), a heater, and a light. We set up the tank, made the saltwater mix at a salinity of 35, and got the temp to 78 degrees before adding them in (they were in critter carriers for the trip and were starting to get lethargic so we moved them in as soon as we could). It has been a a few weeks, and now this past week we have discovered that they are lethargic again, and I learned that the white dust that I thought was that super-fine sand floating around is actually a bacterial bloom. We have done a couple partial water changes (10G at a time) and they seem to help, but only for a day. I have test strips, and nitrates and nitrites has never gone about 0ppm (we test every day). I took my water to my local fish store and they tested the ammonia which was off he charts. I added some beneficial bacteria as they suggested, and did not change the water again as they told me that it would make the problem worse. I now have an ammonia monitor on the tank and the ammonia is still high but not too bad. The crabs seem a little better, except for one. I just wanted to know if anybody has any ideas as to getting rid of the bacteria bloom while helping keep the ammonia down?

  2. #2
    Wow. I dont know a thing about SW tanks.. uhm.. I would suggest , unless some salwater guru shows up (cant remember his name on here) join Monster Fish Keepers and ask what to do, those people are genius

  3. #3
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    Ok thanks Pookie. I think one crab just died :(

  4. #4
    yea, get on there asap so you can possibly save your crabs

  5. I don't know much about SW tanks...but I DO know that the regular filters for freshwater are NOT suitable for salt water tanks. That's probably your biggest issue. Secondarily...just like fresh water tanks, salt water tanks need to "cure" before you add live animals. Basically they need to be totally set up, and allowed to run for a couple of weeks so that the organisms and beneficial bacteria that break down waste have a chance to build up a big enough population to do their jobs.

    Most folsk don't realize that the filters they use depend on living organisms to effeciently filter the water. It's why when cleaning your filters, you're not supposed to use any cleaners or chemicals...just supposed to rinse them.

    ---------- Post added at 06:05 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:50 PM ----------

    I don't know much about SW tanks...but I DO know that the regular filters for freshwater are NOT suitable for salt water tanks.
    This isn't entirely accurate. However, some filtration systems are designed for fresh water use, and won't be powerful enough to handle a salt water aquarium. The key is knowing about the specific product you have, and whether or not it is suitable for the task.

    ---------- Post added at 07:20 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:05 PM ----------

    Also, noting that you have had the aquarium set up for a couple of weeks...it is normal for a "cycling" tank to "cycle" multiple times before settling fully.

    here are some pages with info about filtration systems suitable for salt water tanks, as well as cycling:

    Filtration:

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/sta...ourse101_2.htm

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/fil...a/aa082597.htm

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/fil...filtration.htm


    set up and cycling:

    http://www.thetipsbank.com/marine.htm

  6. #6
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    Yea the filter is good for both saltwater and freshwater, I made sure first. And I know all about letting the tank cycle for at least a month before adding any creatures to it, which is why I mentioned that it was not planned to be keeping marine hermit crabs. I have been careful not to change the bio bag in the filter, so as to keep the beneficial bacteria in. I will be adding beneficial bacteria to the tank every day for a week (using Seachem Stability). When I clean the filter, or anything in the tank for that matter, I never use chemicals. Not only do I want to keep the bacteria, I also do not want to potentially harm the animals.

  7. #7
    What's your PH? I really don't about aquariums but I do know about pools and if your PH is off it will cause everything else to get out of whack,such as high ammonia levels

  8. #8
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    Yea the pH is a little low (7.2) but the guy at the fish store said that when the ammonia gets corrected, it will correct the pH. When I get paid Wednesday I am going out and getting a master test kit (dont completely trust the strips and the ammonia "color disk" thing that is in the tank) and some live rock. I will also try to save up for a protein skimmer but I can not afford that right now.

  9. #9
    That's kind of weird usually it's a high Ph that will cause ammonia levels to rise.And it is kind of a catch 22 with the Ph,it has to be right to keep other things in order but those other things can affect the Ph if they are out of whack.:rolleyes:
    How old is your test kit? One time when I was having a lot of problems with my pool I bought a new test kit and the results from it and the one from the year before where completely different and that's what was messing my water up because I was treating according to the results of the old test kit.

  10. #10
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    My test strips were a little old but I just got new ones today. And the pH and ammonia were tested by the fish store. I just wish I would have been able to do this the right way and spend the time to cycle the tank before having something to add. :rolleyes: That was our stupidity though. We were not going to keep the crabs, but then we ended up both feeling bad for them (they sounded like rice krispies as they were drying out in the shells).

  11. #11
    Well,hell that's about all the help I have to offer. Let me know if you need to know how to set up a pool.:p

  12. #12
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    lol when I get a back yard I would love to hit you up on that ;) But thank you for trying to help me!

    Pookie I joined MFK's forum. I gave you credit for referring me. Thanks!

  13. #13
    Those people on that site are crazy smart lol I come here for dog questions and there for fish stuff lol

  14. Do you have a protein skimmer? Everything I've read says that in addition to whatever filtration system you use, a protein skimmer is a must have for saltwater aquariums.

    Also here is a bit about the nitrogen cycle that you may find informative. It's normal to have a couple of nitrite spikes in the first month or so of cycling. It's apparently just part of the process.

    http://www.saltwater-aquarium-online...gen-cycle.html

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