Mr. Saltwater Tank

Terrible Advice Tuesdays: What to Watch For When Adding Corals To Your Saltwater Tank

Terrible Advice Tuesdays: When you add corals to your tank, you have to wait for your tank to go through another cycle due to the added bioload.

The rest of the story: Corals very likely add some, repeat, SOME bioload to your tank. Corals are an organism that excrete waste and the amount of waste they excrete is a very, very, very small amount. Certainly not enough to make your tank go through another cycle. When you add corals, don’t won’t worry about another cycle happening.

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Comments for this article (24)

  • JasPR says:

    Know how bacteria work! the stages of bacterial film establishment are many. Not complicated but if you are unaware, you operate in the dark. these cells can reproduce every 5-7 hours. They can adjust to loads. They also are very clever in a bacteria sort of way! They ‘know’ that reproduction costs energy. The energy molecule is derived from converting nitrogenous waste ( lucky for us). But before they spend energy and die back they have a short term response– and that is to expand their surface and process more waste. Put another way, the species have a short term expansion ability.
    In addition to this, think of your bacterial matrix as being a mirror image of the nutrient they are provided. they are in equilibrium with their environment and its nutrient POTENTIAL ( not just ambient levels).
    The final think that is important for every hobbyist to know is this; it is not just a discussion about the matrix film and its cellular numbers. It is also about your particular environment. Is your tank ‘new’ or established when you add new specimens. Odds are it is new. This brings competitive exclusion conversations into things. In early systems, there is an invisible war being waged between species of bacteria ( heterotrophic forms and autotrophic forms). The swimming bacteria can reproduce every 7-20 minutes and can live off of ammonia in the water. But they are poor at completing the entire nitrification cycle. So they ‘mess things up’ in new tanks. Therefore if you know your tank is new, go slow and think about maintenance issues. If you are established don’t sweat adding a new specimen ( quarantine is a good idea first if you are set up for that). JasPR

  • Solid insight JasPR….. And quick response!

  • Glenn says:

    Wow! Interesting info on bacteria. I had no idea they could reproduce that fast.

  • Jestep says:

    I think you need to out the sources on some of these because they just defy logic.

  • JasonandSarah says:

    +1 jasPR bacteria in a nut shell!!!
    The only thing I would add is that most corals and fish are very sensitive and shouldn’t be placed into a new tank before completely cycling your tank. We’re in this hobby to live and enjoy our fish and or corals and should take care of them as if they were still in the wild. Cause if we as hobbyist can’t properly care for our livestock then imho we shouldn’t keep them.

  • Dave Schwartz says:

    I have added many corals to my tanks over the years. I have never had any spikes/change in cycle parameters or any detrimental affect on the tank. I will say that owing Tangs is a good way to keep the corals clean of the crappy red/green algae that haunts tank owners. I will go onto say that having anemones are not a good thing for other corals. They can sting corals and make them very sick or kill them. I will never own another anemone again.
    Best of luck to all!

  • JasonandSarah says:

    I really don’t think we should be making general statement about anemones not being good for reef tanks cause it’s not factual. I have owned 3 different types of anemones and only had problems with one (carpet anemone) and I believe the only reason this happened was because I wasn’t feeling it properly. I was new to reefing and had limited knowledge about anemones especially carpet anemones witch mine was a MONSTER and needed to be fed allot and often. Now I know more about them and have successfully owned a few with great success. The do need to be distanced from corals and even other types of anemones because they can sting. I have a friend that has 6 bubble tip anemones in a fully stocked 75g reef tank without problems.
    These are beautiful creatures that make great additions to any reef tank with enough knowledge and experience! Ask questions and do research before you make any purchase for your tank. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

  • Lyle says:

    I believe the nail was hit on the head! I worked in a pet store as an aquatic specialist and I had been doing saltwater fish since 90’/91! I didn’t realize how much bad advice I was given just with keeping fish. The guy I worked for was very well versed and educated with fish & coral husbandry and that was back in 96/97 when I worked there! Customers would come into the store with some crazy info they had gotten from another local store that didn’t even sell saltwater fish! When asking questions about their system it was obvious too me that anything I sold them was going to die! I would tell them that if they wanted to buy certain fish and corals then they needed to stop getting info from someone who didn’t even sell the fish! I wouldn’t sell fish just too make a sale. I spoke from my heart and told them that I had a moral obligation to the animals and to them! On most occasions people would see I was serious and cared about the animals and their success as well as their pocketbook! Made a lot of great friends and ended up with quite a few service contracts just because I was honest and took time to educate them!! The people giving bad info & trying too make a quick buck on unsuspecting customers should be outed if it can be done legally without a slander suit! You know how people are these days! Everyone is looking for a reason to take you too court! GOD BLESS!

  • Lyle says:

    Also this doesn’t only pertain too the aquatic industry! Last night I read a post on a snake facebook page that a guy bought a snake and was told it only would grow to 7′ in captivity! Ended up being a Reticulated Python one of the longest snakes in the world! The snake ate the guy out of house & home and got real aggressive ( Which these snakes are known for ) and started trying too hunt down his other pets! When he went back too the store where he got the snake it was all closed up! Go figure!

  • JasonandSarah says:

    You’re completely correct there’s bad information everywhere and imo it starts with distributor small or big. There so many company’s out there only concerned with overhead and profit! Hire anyone that Might be able to do the job with little to no experience and throw them to the wolves(consumers) and worst part of it all is most of these people get training so there really should be no excuse!

  • Frank Rauche says:

    Then there is “Prodibio” now available to speed up your cycle where as you can add you first hearty fish after only 14 hours after starting up a new tank. I know several people including myself who have used it successfully. Mark, perhaps this can be a future topic for discussion!

  • Jerry says:

    Never thought people could give such bad advice…until I started following a few sites on Facebook. It’s amazing, the terrible suggestions made by people who will argue their unimpeachable knowledge. Very bad there but keeps these Tuesday sessions alive and well!

  • JasonandSarah says:

    Mark using Tim’s one and only for “instant cycling. But I would still caution people to know that these products can only handle a low bio load so your only supposed to put 1 fish in your tank maybe 2 depending on the gallons in your tank until it’s done cycling? These are not miracle products that really instantly cycle your tank. They kick start it.

  • JasonandSarah…you are correct which is why I encourage people to start with 1-2 fish when using the bacteria. A little caution never hurts

  • Lyle says:

    I forgot too mention that I watched a video o U-Tube last night about Nano tanks and the corals too add. I didn’t realize that the video was an older one from this very young sounding guy! He might have been 15-16 years old MAX! He was saying that he wasn’t in the hobby long 30-45 days but he was giving advice about corals fish and adding essential elements etc. I continued watching after that statement because I knew what he was in for! The tank was only 10 gallons and he had 3 fish and about 8 corals! after giving advice about corals for Nano tanks he continued with what he was adding too the tank! In that 10 gallon tank he was adding 5ml of Kent Essential Elements every day! I said to myself buddy you are going to kill everything and crash the tank! He even said his stuff was growing at fast rates. Needless too say it happened the tank crashed and he killed the animals he should have been protecting and taking care of! people had sympathy for him and I was just thinking about how many new Nano Reefers or people getting started with bigger tanks took his advice and had the same results! He was running a small skimmer and a small bio-wheel with a power head! He also had plenty of sand and rock and gave advice on that which was good! He just jumped the gun started way too fast which some of us have done but too be giving advice when he was just a Baby Reefer ( pardon the name ) really pissed me off because you know as well as I that the watch dogs and animal cruelty nuts ( Peta= Perfectly edible tasty Animals LMAO!! )( On a roll here) are out there gathering info like this too stop our hobby and also put a lot of GOOD HONEST KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE out of business. All because of people who shouldn’t be giving advice AT ALL in the first place!! Enough said I hope! If we don’t change this I know everything attitude now we are all going too lose out and the hobby will be no more!

  • James says:

    Nowadays, there really isn’t any excuse for not knowing how, when and what to put in your tank. There is so much correct information on the net but you have to do your research. Just type in your animal, question etc. and you will literally get a million results. It doesn’t take long to see the “truth”. If you look at 20 sites, blogs, forums etc. about a Carpet Anemone and all but 2 say they require a lot of work, equipment, special needs and such to thrive then why in the world would you get one if you can’t fulfill those needs? Wanting it all and wanting it right now is the problem. The information is out there to succeed but you have to look for it and you have to go through the proper steps. Not knowing what those steps are is irresponsible. Just sit down at your computer and start researching. Start with Mr. Saltwater.

  • JasonandSarah says:

    there’s always gonna be newbies it’s getting newbies to take advice and not give advice.

  • Don Bragg says:

    I agree. I’ve been in the hobby for 10 years. Had big fish tanks. Lost a lot of animals because when we start reefing we know it all. We care not for water conditions. Now years later we know our tanks. I read everything. But there are 2000 people speaking differently about the same thing.
    30 gallon sps tank (almost 7 years running)
    15 gallon refugium
    Phosphate reactor
    uv sterilizer
    And of corse a 5 stage RODI system
    Auto top off
    And in my years I’ve noticed without water we have nothing.

  • Barbara says:

    As a conscientious newbie of a little over a year I can say the 1st place I looked for help was the LFS, It wasn’t until after I got set up and going that I realized how much I needed to learn. The more I read the more I needed to know. There was a lot of conflicting information out there and forums that I joined that helped (but even they fought with each other about who was right) I wish I had found Mark’s site when I first started. I had a 42 gal reef and I lost one yellow tang and a diamond goby (found a way out) and upgraded pretty quickly to a 110 gal FOWLR (I wanted a Picasso trigger). I currently have a sailfin tang from my original tank, piccaso, niger, clown triggers, I know eventually I will have to move them. I also have a clown and an LTA. rounded out with a lawnmower blenny and a hawk and some leathers.

  • JasonandSarah says:

    Mark can we get a replay for the live q&a from New year’s? Little late this week on it?

  • JasonandSarah…that replay was posted the day after the Q&A. It’s on my site here

  • JasonandSarah says:

    Awesome mark’s not showing up on livestream for some reason? Either way ty for the link.

  • the livestream was getting unreliable for playback so I moved it to my site

  • Jason Parent says:

    It’s kinda funny I had just read this and I had posted something on my forum about Dr fosters and Smith’s new supplements calcium, sodium bicarbonate and carbonate and magnesium sulfate and chloride and someone on my forum suggested that it was stupid to buy these things when you can get them all at the shore like instead of using sodium carbonate (soda ash) he suggested using baking soda and baking powder and a list of other things that just shouldn’t be in a fish tank like quick melt for calcium and magnesium witch it is made of those 2 things but who wants quick melt or baking powder in there tank?

    I think he had read some things and misread something’s and tried to offer more advice then he should have! If a newbie read that and never came back to read again and started dosing there tank with quick melt, baking powder and Epsom salt I’m just guessing but I think that spells trouble!

    I’ve heard of picking lime instead of kalk but this was a little much.

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