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Old 01/23/2006, 11:08 AM   #1
Vince
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Resurrecting a 600 gallon Tank

I have been in this hobby about 10 years. I got out of it when a 12 day power loss wiped out all my corals during hurricane Isabel in 2003. My backup generator was only big enough to run my pump and skimmers. I gave all the fish away and shut down the tank. I am now in the process of trying to resurrect the tank. I did not drain the tank so most of the 1200 pounds of Fiji rock was still submerged when I started the tank before Christmas. The rocks had turned white during the the dormant stage. My setup is as follows.

Tank is acrylic 120X48X28
Pump is 1.5 HP swimming pool pump with salt water seal.
Lighting is 10 250 watt metal halides with 1200k Sunburst SE Bulbs and 8 48" VHOs
Skimmers are Lifereef VS48 and VS60
Chiller is 1 HP
Sump is 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank
Refugium is a 100 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank with 14 inches of Southdown sand as a DSB and lit with 250 watt metal halide
Calcium Reactor is a Lifereef(the big one)
RO/DI automatic top off.
1200 lbs of Fiji Dead Rock and 3 inch sandbed in the main tank
10fit 12 inch diameter bio tower filled with bio balls.( I had a lot of big fish)

I let the tank run for 2 weeks and tested the water. Params were Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates off the scale Calcium 460 PH 8.2 DKH 10. To bring down the nitrates I did 2 150 gallon water changes and 2 weeks ago I placed a big batch of Chaeto in the refugium which is doing very well. I bought a few fish 4 clowns 2 tangs and 2 pygmy angels and they are doing great. I also purchased 400 blue leg hermit crabs and 500 snails as a cleanup crew to control the inevitable algae bloom.

The rocks are now brown and green but the snails and crabs and tangs are cleaning it up. I tested the water today and everything is OK except for nitrates which is still off the scale. My tank before the crash was running great for 4 years with no problems. Even with the bio tower my nitrates were negligible and everything was thriving.

Can anyone enlighten me on how the nitrates got so high when it was minimal before I shut the tank down.. At this point I am thinking of replacing all the live rock and do a 100% water change and start all over. Should I just let it run and be patient and let the sandbed and Chaeto take care of the nitrates? The bio tower is shut off at this time. A picture of my tank before the crash is on www.webshots.com do a search under Tankmasters.


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Old 01/23/2006, 03:14 PM   #2
RichConley
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Everything in the tank died, correct? Even with waterchanges, you're still going to have a ton of dead biomatter in your sand, rocks, biotower, etc. Skim heavy, and give it time. The chaeto should help.


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Old 01/23/2006, 04:00 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Rich. The Skimmers are working overtime and the water is starting to smell fresh. I will give it more time. All these water changes is getting expensive. I also ordered a Korralin Denitrator. For the price I paid for it I hope it works.


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Old 01/23/2006, 04:47 PM   #4
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Nice tank. I looked at your old pics and man was that a beauty. Sorry about the crash. That chaeto I think will bring it down soon enough as well as the water changes. Might want to pull out some of the dead rocks and add some new fresh live rock just to reseed and get some bacteria going again.


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Old 01/23/2006, 08:11 PM   #5
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I added about 50 pounds of cured live rock.and 60 pounds of Live sand. I think it will take some time before I can add corals. In the meantime I will practice what I preached in the past. PATIENCE


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Old 01/23/2006, 08:22 PM   #6
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It sounds like you've got a real mess on your hands. I would rip out most of the sand bed and replace it. Its got to be filled with all sorts of bad things. You didn't say what your phosphate level is...???


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Old 01/23/2006, 09:34 PM   #7
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Wow, great "bones" there. Sorry about your losses, but think how much fun you can have redesigning.

It is was me, I would do the following.

Set up the rubbermaids, and fill w/ tank water.

Take out each rock and rinse in one tank, store in other, and put extra wherever you can (even just cover with damp towels if necessary.

Take out all sand. Drain completely..

Replace rock, and toss the water you rinsed and stored in. Fill with new ro/di salt water. If you like sand, add a light sand bed, maybe 1"

Trying to eliminate the nitrates starting with the amount you no doubt have will take forever. The de-nitrators are a joke. I mean they work, but so does skimming and chaeto, so why add another gadget ? (unless you love gadgets)

Have fun with it, Thats an amazing tank/setup.


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Old 01/24/2006, 06:30 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies. I agree that the best course of action is to tear down the tank and start all over. If the system was a little smaller I would probably have done it. Doing it on a tank this size would be a massive undertaking. Next course of action will be a 90% water change. If the nitrates stay up there, then I will tear it down, start all over or sell it. I will update this post as changes occur.


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Old 01/24/2006, 06:42 AM   #9
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I think you just need to sit back, wait it out, and let the chaeto do its job. The fish probably aren't helping matters, but it should come around.

How long do you run the lights?


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Old 01/24/2006, 07:00 AM   #10
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Bob,
The light in the refugium was running on a reverse cycle with the main tank. I have changed it to run 24 hours. I put some fish in to give me something to look at besides a tank full of dead rocks. I find it less depressing.


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Old 01/24/2006, 07:09 AM   #11
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Are you lighting the main tank? Since there's nothing in there that needs the light, I would cut way back on it, just to keep the algae at bay until the nitrates drop.


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Old 01/24/2006, 07:22 AM   #12
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I don't turn on the metal halides. Only the VHOs for a few hours. The algae is starting to go away and I can actually see some coraline starting to grow again on some rocks. Maybe all is not lost. I will wait it out.


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Old 01/24/2006, 08:03 AM   #13
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Maybe I read it wrong but are you saying you didn't drain the entire tank and anally clean the rock, sand and equipment?


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Old 01/24/2006, 08:16 AM   #14
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Thats right. I just added water to make up what evaporated in 2 years time and started the pump. Have done a total of 450 gallons in water changes and the nitrates are still off the scale.


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Old 01/24/2006, 08:22 AM   #15
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So there was no circulation or anything in there for 2 years? If you manage to get the thing running without tearing out all that sand and starting over I'll be amazed. Good luck!


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Old 01/24/2006, 08:38 AM   #16
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Thanks, I need all the luck I can get. I have 300 gallons of salt water ready. After this water change and the nitrates don't go down I will quit and tear down the tank.


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Old 01/24/2006, 08:44 AM   #17
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Ok, fwiw I would remove all the rock and hose it down and start cooking it. I would remove as much of that sand as humanly possible and fill the tank about a foot high and get whatever is left stirred up as much as possible and filter it out several times(probably directly pump it out the first time). I'm not sure if anyone has actually cooked sand but you may be a good candidate if the cost of sand is prohibitive. Clean all the equipment and start adding back.

The reason I would not wait it out is I'm not sure just how much nitrate can be effectively removed from your system the way you are doing it. Seriously, I would pose this question in the chemistry forum and see if Randy thinks it can be done.

Also, and believe me I'm no expert and I hate to even bring it up but in these insane BB vs. DSB threads studies were cited regarding the binding of phosphates in oxygen depleted environments(hope that is correct) which is what you had. I would be concerned that if any issues regarding phosphate releases from sandbeds were relative that your case would be a prime candidate for it to happen. In fact, if the theories of some people are correct, you would be a crash poster-child at some point.

I will watch this thread because I think the answers to the large issues of how to effectively remove nitrates and guard against possible phosphate release is of great interest due to the scale of your setback.

Sorry for the rambling, but I would hate to see you struggle along with this huge tank after such a horrible loss and never get it back to its former glory.


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Old 01/24/2006, 12:54 PM   #18
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Personally, I think you're wasting your time wiht all the water changes.

You've got 2 effective options here:
1. Wait. and Wait. The skimmer/chaeto/etc. will clean the water/etc out. Its going to take a long time though.

2. Empty the tank. Get rid of the sand. Put the rock back in the tank, fill tank back up, start skimming like mad. Give it about 2 months. Keep the fuge running, it'll help. After the rock is good and cured/cooked(they are the same), you can put new sand in.

This would take one full water change. You've already done atleast that much. Smaller water changes arent going to help here. Either buckle down and wait it out while the system purifies itself, or purify it yourself.

Zuickura, from what i've read, phosphate will bind to aragonite/CaCO3,etc in low PH situations, but when you bring it back to high PH, it does not release, or leach, or anything like that. It is a strong chemical bond.


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Old 01/24/2006, 02:03 PM   #19
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Vince,

Your first post in this thread was the 23rd. One day later, you posted that if the water change does not bring down the nitrates, you'll tear down the tank.

To me, that sounds like you are not very passionate about resurrecting this tank. You may be really passionate about it, but it just doesn't sound like it.

If you really want to get it going, you've received some very good advice already in this thread.

Personally, I would not do any of the extreme suggestions that involve tearing everything out and starting over. All that I would do is exactly what you are doing:
1. Time, lots of time with the skimmer and fuge running.
2. Massive water changes over.....you guessed it: Time.

If you are ambivalent about the tank in general, just let it run as you are now (with minimal lighting on the display tank and fuge/sklimmer on 24/7) and take a look at the parameters in 2 months. I think you will start to see results in that time frame, and your frustration level, as well as your financial stress will be much lower.

Cheers!


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Old 01/31/2006, 06:37 PM   #20
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An update to what is happening in my tank. Nitrates are down to 160. Green algae is gone and coraline is starting to grow on the rocks and tank. Fish are doing great. Chaeto is growing like crazy.I think the deep sandbed in the refugium finally kicked in.


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Old 01/31/2006, 08:28 PM   #21
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I was going to say if the alternative is to tear it down and sell it, why not just wait it out? How long can it be, two months? If you redo the tank from scratch it will take that long anyway.

But sounded to me you don't need to wait that long after all. For two years your tank was dormant, no waste removed nor added. Your cheato will remove whatever bad things in the tank slowly, but you have waited for two years, what's the hurry now?


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Old 02/07/2006, 06:07 PM   #22
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Just an update. Nitrates are down to 80 and phosphates is now at 0.5. Coralline algae is growing very fast and the fish are healthy. With nitrates and phosphates this high I expected a big algae problem but I don't which is surprising. I am going to hold off on corals for a while and just do fish for now. I guess the combination of a deep sandbed and chaeto in the refugium as well as the sulfur denitrator and 6 buckets worth of water changes is causing this turnaround. The tank actually is starting to look good with all the coralline growing.


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Old 02/07/2006, 06:16 PM   #23
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pics??

what a great size!


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Old 02/07/2006, 06:21 PM   #24
Vince
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Just an update. Nitrates are down to 80 and phosphates is now at 0.5. Coralline algae is growing very fast and the fish are healthy. With nitrates and phosphates this high I expected a big algae problem but I don't which is surprising. I am going to hold off on corals for a while and just do fish for now. I guess the combination of a deep sandbed and chaeto in the refugium as well as the sulfur denitrator and 6 buckets worth of water changes is causing this turnaround. The tank actually is starting to look good with all the coralline growing.


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Old 02/08/2006, 05:23 AM   #25
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Just goes to show you how much these people that suggested tearing the tank down need to learn yet. If you don't have patience in this hobby, you're not going to get very far.


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