• Recovering after a crash

    My tank was setup but crashed due to a loss in A/C, but I've since moved and have things better planned for such an event. My tank has been sitting for the past 4 months half full of water so some rocks are submerged, others aren't. Should I empty it all out, get rid of sand and dry rocks out, or pull all the water out and leave rocks but just fill back up with water? Thanks so much for your help!
    If the tank was more than six months old when it crashed, you'll want to remove all the sand and rinse it well with a garden hose. This will remove trapped detritus and start fresh. Here's my blog about rinsing sand: http://www.reefaddicts.com/entry.php...-the-new-setup

    All the rock needs to be fully submerged in saltwater with circulation. You can put them in a trashcan with a big pump, or two. I used a big Mag pump. I'd suggest once a week filling up a second trashcan with new saltwater about half way. As you move the rock to the second container, that water line will rise. Shake the submerged rock in the old water really hard, and move it to the clean barrel of water. This will remove trapped organics and in time allow you to add clean healthy rock to your new tank. You'll see the old water get very muddy as you do this with each rock. Dying algae will fall off the rock during this "cooking" period. If you keep a lid on the container, no light and no food equals no algae. Here's a barrel of clean liverock ready to go, and you'll even notice sponge growth. No lights were used; it was simply left idling until I was ready to use it. You can keep liverock going like this for years (like I did), if desired. Remember to top off with RO/DI water for evaporation from time to time.

    After four weeks, test the water. Odds are it will measure perfect (no ammonia, no nitrite, little to no nitrate since you aren't feeding it anything). You can then put the rinsed clean sand in the aquarium, all your rock, and new saltwater. Let the system run for a week or two with no lights, and see how things measure. I would add one bag of livesand to the system for some biological life, which would be the perfect time.

    Then gradually add a few bits of livestock, and that includes all your cleanup crew. Now that lights are being used, you need hungry critters keeping any algae growth under control. Astreas, Trochus, Ceriths are all good snail choices. Nassarius snails keep the sand stirred. One fighting conch per two square feet of sand is best, and maybe add a serpent starfish. Once you can see stable water parameters for a few weeks in a row, you could introduce one or two fish and let the biological filter adjust for the new bioload. You can add some coral fragments as well to see how they do. Take your time, the tank is a start-over and you need to let it settle in and not overload it too quickly.

    Hope that helps!