when to test


Should I test my water before I put the live sand and live rock in or put the live sand/rock in and then test it to make sure it's safe to start adding the cleanup crew and some fish?


You will want to put your LR and LS in the tank, then one or two raw shrimp to kick off the cycle (personal taste). Don't plan on putting any cleaner crews or fish in until the cycle is complete (anywhere from 4-6 weeks).


Search the forums for "cycle" and you will learn a lot about it. Basically your tank needs to go through a cycle that starts with ammonia. Dead matter (cocktail shrimp from grocery store, fish food...etc) will start the cycle. When this dead matter decomposes it creates ammonia. Ammonia will increase over a couple of days and then it is converted into Nitrite. Nitrites will increase over a few days and then will be converted into Nitrates. When your nitrates start to come down to a steady level then your tank is cycled. You will need to do a 10-20% water change and let it sit for a few days to ensure stability before adding a cleanup crew. This whole process can take a few days to several weeks. One last bit of info...never ever trust your LFS. They will tell you what you want to hear.