Re:am I ready for a clean up crew

Pete Giwojna

Dear hobby:

Your ammonia level is perfect and it appears that your TruVu Aquasystem is cycling nicely, but the nitrite level of 1.00 is still too high to consider installing your cleanup crew at this time. Many invertebrates, including shrimp and some snails, would not tolerate that much nitrite in the water. Here is some more information explaining the acceptable range and optimum level for ammonia and nitrites in a marine aquarium.

Ammonia (NH3/NH4+):
Natural Seawater Value = 0.010 mg/L
Acceptable Range = 0.000 to 0.050 mg/L
Optimum Level = 0 at all times

Ammonia is highly toxic to both fish and invertebrates in even small amounts (> 0.05 mg/L or ppm). Causes of ammonia toxicity include: immature biofilter (new tank syndrome), impairment of the biological filtration due to antibiotics and other medications, overfeeding, overstocking and dead specimens that go undetected (Webber, 2004). Ammonia levels can also rise after the addition of new animals, after a water change, or following a heavy feeding. Any ammonia level above 0.05 mg/L is a cause for concern, and the source must be found and corrected immediately. Be sure to maintain a good schedule of water changes.

Nitrite (N02):
Natural Seawater Value = 0.010 mg/L
Acceptable Range = 0.000 to 0.100 mg/L
Optimum Level = 0 at all times

Nitrite is slightly less poisonous to fishes than ammonia, but deadly to many invertebrates at very small concentrations. Residual levels of nitrite are common in marine aquariums. Levels of 0.05 or less are of little concern in a fish-only aquarium. If the levels are higher than this, the source should be found and corrected immediately. Even trace amounts of nitrite can wreak havoc among the live corals and delicate invertebrates in a reef tank. High levels of nitrite result from the same causes as unacceptable levels of ammonia.

In short, hobby, with a nitrate level of 1.00, you will need to hold off on your cleanup crew for a while longer and deal with the algae growth without the help of herbivorous snails for the time being. Under the circumstances, you can best control the algae growth by reducing the photoperiod in the aquarium and depriving the algae of the light it needs for photosynthesis and growth. Just leave the aquarium light off while your tank finishes cycling and you should be fine.

If the algae growth you are concerned about is a green film on the glass and substrate where the light level is the brightest, then you need not be concerned at this time. Likewise, if the algae growth is brown or yellow-brown, indicating it is probably due to a diatom bloom, that is a fairly normal development for a newly setup marine aquarium and the brown algae normally disappears on its own as the tank matures and the diatoms consume the available silicates in the aquarium and die off. So if the algae is brown, it is again very probably nothing you need to be concerned about at this point.

However, if the algae growth appears as reddish sheets of slime or black slimy sheets, it is most likely due to cyanobacteria and should be eradicated. Likewise, if you are observing hair algae, distinguished by its fuzzy very dark green to black appearance, you will want to take additional measures to eliminate the undesirable nuisance algae.

Best of luck completing the nitrogen cycle and finishing the final preparations of your new seahorse tank, hobby!

Pete Giwojna

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