Coming back to Saltwater

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Well, after taking a hiatus and doing discus for a while, I sold off the discus and we are returning back to saltwater!

I have a 75 gallon tank with 30 gallon sump that I typically keep about 15 gallons of water in. Currently filling the tank back up with saltwater. Dry rock and sand and cycling with Dr. Tim's One and Only! Pretty excited to be getting back into this side of the hobby!

Here is an image of the tank as of a day ago:

I should add that before we did not use a protein skimmer but will be adding one this time around!


Staff member
Great you are back in. How long has it been? Also, I'd really encourage you to add some quality live rock. It is the best thing you can possibly do for your system.

Type tank you planning to set up?
Thanks for the replies both of you! I do plan on adding a refugium and and a protein skimmer to this set up in the sump. I am including some updated photos for you of the tank so you can see where we are now. The tank is filled and have started cycling with one and only nitrifying bacteria as well as the ammonia drops that go along with that. Here are a couple photos to share:

The sump is way lower than normal. I am just working to get the salinity from 1.030 to 1.025 and I've had to do a couple water changes to bring that down. I have more nitrifying bacteria that I will use after this adjustment to keep the tank cycling.

As far has how long it has been... its been 9 months to a year since I had my saltwater tank. The discus were cool for a while, but I just regret ever getting out of the saltwater hobby. The fish, inverts, and corals are just way more fun to watch and interact with.
Sorry for the double post but I need some advice. I am using the Dr. Tim's Aquatics fishless cycle, the one and only, followed by the drops of ammonia. Today when I tested the ammonia, it was at like 2.0 ppm. That seems awfully high. Is this the spike in ammonia I should be looking for? Or did I mistakenly dose too much ammonia? Should I add more one and only?

Thanks for your help!
Thank you. I watched a couple of Dr. Tim's videos after I posted and the amount of ammonia that you dose should equal out to 2ppm, but when you actually test the water 24hours later, the ammonia should be nearly undetectable. In my case, after 24 hours, the ammonia was 2ppm. Im going to hold off on dosing ammonia again until its back down to 0ppm I think.


Well-Known Member
While not cheap adding some fully cured live rock will help. The bacteria your trying to add is already established on it. That will help consume the ammonia and break it down. Dry is fine but takes much longer then dry seeded with a few lbs of live rock.

mr. limpid

Active Member
Yes you are correct stop adding ammonia. Keeping test, also test for nitrites. When both go down to 0 you can add a fish. good luck. I have also noticed. it looks like your rock is sitting on your gravel. You want it to sit on the bottom of the glass. So if a creature digs under the rock the wont get trapped.
Thank you both. I’m testing ammonia and nitrites daily.
My concern with live rock is introducing something unwanted into the system. I don’t mind it taking longer if it means no chance of something entering my tank


Well-Known Member
IMHO It's the algae on the live rock that makes it work. $5 worth of macro algae will work just a well as live rock in establishing the cycle.

my .02


Well-Known Member
So could I set up a refugium in my sump to try to help the cycle? As of today still at 2 ppm ammonia and 0 nitrite
yes and absolutely.

But algae and other plant life have different "cycles" than the aerobic bacteria cycle. Algae actually prefers to consume ammonia first then nitrates second. So you get low to no ammonia spikes with a possible nitrate spike at first. Then as bacteria build up less and less ammonia is available for the algae so it reluctantly starts consuming nitrates.


Staff member
I am not a fan of adding macro algae prior to fully cycling the tank. Because, as Bob stated, it consumes ammonia preferentially it significantly slows the colonization of the bacteria that get rid of it. I am a big fan of macro algae but I wouldn’t add it until the bacteria population is large enough to break down ammonia and nitrite on their own.
Iive rock is in my opinion the best way to get diversity in the bacterial populations.

While you are getting the display cycled I’d suggest you start getting your QT up and running. That will need a bit of cycling as well.


Well-Known Member
That is perfect! I actually ordered egg crate just for this purpose! Glad I was on the right track!
it was the best thing I did for my ole 55g.
That is perfect! I actually ordered egg crate just for this purpose! Glad I was on the right track!
greats minds HUH?
In my old 55g tank I crammed in some egg crate 3" in front of the back glass and moved everything forward. Then added 2 2 tube shop lights behind the tank pointing forward. So the area between the glass and eggcrate formed an in tank refugium. Nitrates dropped to unmeasurable in 3 weeks and phosphates followed a few months later. Meanwhile like stated above my 2 tangs were constantly grazing on the macros that poked through the eggcrate and small fish would go through the eggcrate to get to the pods.

So basically the macros were consuming ammonia, nitrate, phosphates, and co2 while returning fish food and oxygen.

my .02