We have been in the house about 7 weeks and up until today I have only fed the fish maybe 4 times a week (Brian wants nothing to do with them). I have been thinking about getting a sucker fish or a snail to help with removing the algae as I don't really want to fully clean this thing.
Walked into Essential Pet, a specialty pet store on my way home and talked to a very talkative guy who grows his own coral in salt water tanks. He was super nice, helpful and convinced me that I should bring some water in to get it tested/fixed before introducing any fish and killing them with shock. The sucker fish that I was interested in was really cool looking and would cost $12. He said the fish can handle a nitrates level of 150... went home and brought back a sample of the fish water... I would have killed any new fish. Apparently, I need to do a 20% water change out every three days until I get the nitrates down to 100. The scale ended at 400, so it may be higher than that and he said that I have some super hardy fish!
Before: boring background, only one working bulb
I am really glad the previous owners installed a fitting to make the siphon into the drain easy and installed a fresh water hook-up only inches away. It made the water change out process go super smooth. They only installed a cold water hook-up so the 20% change out dropped the temperature from 78F to 68F. The fish were huddled by the heater. I added a pH buffer to help create a neutral environment. I will bring a sample into Essential Pet after I do three 20% changes (400-> 320-> 256-> 205). Maybe I should wait until the 4th 20% change out 205->164...
The water is murky after adding water stirred up the bottom stuff.
After: pretty background, replaced burned out right bulb
pH: buffered to 7.8
Looks much cooler in the dark