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Old 06-05-2008, 07:14 PM   #1
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A Couple of Questions

Hi, just wanted to run a few things by you guys. Im running a 20g long fish and live rock tank. So far Im just running an undergravel filter with carbon heads through an airpump and I have crushed coral gravel and basic lighting.
Right now its got 3 small damsels, turbo snails and some hermit crabs.

It should also be said im on a tight budget. I can maybe invest another $120 including fish for now. I want to add a clown and dwarf lionfish once the tank is done cycling.

What else should I add to improve water quality ? I was looking at protein skimmers. It seems those are pretty important. Ive seen a few that are under $50 but they seem to get mixed reviews. I was also looking at power heads but I wasnt sure if those where a good idea considering its a small tank.

If you where in my situation what would you do ? Thanks in advance
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:15 PM   #2
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Ohhhh... that's kind of a tough question. Undergravel filter... crushed coral substrate, cycling with live fish... those methods have all kind of fell out of favor. You might start off by checking out the "Articles" section (found in the upper menu bar) of the forum and reading up on "fishless cycling" and the use of live rock for filtration.

The crushed coral and UG filter are probably not going to help you keep your water parameters pristine. Replacing both of those with 20-30 lbs of live rock and a sand substrate would probably be the best thing you could do for the long term success of the tank. A skimmer wouldn't hurt either. But only having $120 (including fish) to play with really limits you.

Do you intend to go reef? Or just stick with FOWLR (fish only with live rock)? Is starting over an option?
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:58 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response !
Ya.. all my knowledge is stone age by now I guess..seems the guy at the local shops is also im going into my third week and the damsels are doing real well thankfully. Im aiming at FOWLR btw... but am not opposed to adding corals..but I am opposed to those expensive lights...lol. Now that ive read around this forum a bit Im considering dumping the crushed coral and going live sand but... does that mean starting over ? or can I leave the water (that I got tested today and looks like about ready to recieve fish.) and just scoop out the old crushed coral and add the sand ? come to think of it...I only have about an inch of the crushed coral..maybe I can just add about 2 inches of sand on top ? or is that not a good idea. Also... I currently have about 4 pounds of live rock. I imagine that even adding 16lbs would take up considerable space. Now, I want more fish than anything else. The more fish I can stick in there the better so I imagine adding a bunch rocks would mean less fish correct ? I dont mind investing more money over time and just sticking with the damsels for now but my income is very limited and as much as I would love to I cant go nuts with this stuff. Thanks again for the response !
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:37 PM   #4
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Ok, here goes. not trying to be downer but.....

1) The substrate should go, replace with sand. You don't need to buy 'live sand', it will turn live after some time.
2) When you do that, rip that UGF out and be done with it.
3) Decide on what you are going to use for filtration. If it's LR then you need in the 25 pound range (read up carefully on cured rock/curing rock and how it needs to be handled) and some other type of filter to go w/ it (be that a HOB or canister) and/or a skimmer minimum
4) Come to grips with the fact that you have a 20G tank and you'll never have alot of fish. Choose wisely, refer to the compatability guides and the minimum tank requirements or you'll just be throwing your money and the lives of the fish away.
5) If you don't want to invest in the right lighting you'll never have (or do well) with coral or a large variety of inverts.
6) No airstones in the tank, use powerheads. Bubbles are a no-no
7) Invest in your own test kits. Esp w/ a smaller tank. You'll be testing ALL the time.
8) Remove lionfish from your list, period, for a variety of reasons.
9) Please, as a personal preference, don't cycle with fish. Many other options out there without torturing fish to get your cycle done.

Finally... find another LFS if what you have now was based on their recommendation.

Better to hear this now than to pour more of your hard earned money down the drain.

Good Luck
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:45 PM   #5
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thanks for the response. Yea, I got the stuff I had from my LFS. Ill be looking for another

So, based on what u guys think... I should ditch the what I got and go for sand, a powerhead, and a some sort of other filter ? What do u guys think about something like this for filtration/skimming Hang-On Skimmers Rated Under 60 Gallons - Rio Nano Skimmer hang on filter D&T Aquarium Supplies Aquarium supplies for reef, saltwater, freshwater and ponds at discounted prices.

It seems to good to be true for the price... but any chance I can get away with it ? at least for like 6 months or so while I save up for something more serious ?

If I need to spend a bit more I guess I can just stick with the 3 damsels for a while and spend all the money on new supplies if I need to...and again...can I keep my water ? or do I have to start that over. According to the water testing its progressing nicely.
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Old 06-06-2008, 01:10 AM   #6
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CaptainAhab gives some pretty darn good advice! Can't argue with a single bit of it. Welcome aboard, to both of you!

The lionfish, as the good captain notes, isn't a good choice for a 20g because (1) it's a messy eater and will pollute a 20g pretty quick, (2) wants a bigger tank to start with, and (3) probably wouldn't play well with a clown fish or crabs/snails. Just wanted to elaborate there a bit.

I don't have any experience with that skimmer, but skimmers seem to be one of those things that you get what you pay for.

Water can be reused, but the bacteria don't live in the water... so don't think you're losing anything by not using it.
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:23 AM   #7
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Before you start spending money on more equipment (you don't have to have a skimmer) I'd ask you this question (which your LFS should have asked you as well).

Now that you've looked around, done some reading and started getting some advice... Is 20G really where you want to be? I understand the cost and investment so far, I don't know your financial situation but if you already have visions of a larger (say 50G) tank alot of the equipment you may buy now won't be large enough for a larger tank. Think about that now before you spend that money twice. The thing about SW is that it's expensive. The last thing you want to do on a small budget is buy it twice either because you want to upgrade and what you have isn't big enough or you cheap out and buy the cheap crap that doesn't work or breaks.

It would be much cheaper in the long run (and easier to take care of) to get a bigger tank now. You could even use that smaller one as a sump (opps, more money.. see what happens).

You can run a FOWLR with rock and a HOB, not optimum but you can. Or you can go on the opposite end and drill the tanks, have a sump, skimmer, UV, blah blah blah.

You can even run a tank with plastic decorations and a HOB if that floats your boat.

It's just better to have a plan.

You'll get lots of advice on equipment thru searching the threads and responses here. I would suggest you stay away from the no-name knock offs for sure.

You in Miami? Lucky you, you have access to some of the best prices on some of this stuff (LR, live stock, etc) since your soooo close to the source. Somewhere down there is my retirement home, well was before my net worth became the value of my tanks and a few scheckles
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:33 AM   #8
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I agree with the above advice. Going to sand and LR will be a good move. Not going with LR and going with a base rock will be cheaper and will become live in the long run.
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:55 AM   #9
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Just wanted to add that even though a 20gal tank can become a successfull saltwater tank but from what I understand they are more for an advanced aquarist. With that small amount of water the specific gravity will increase dramatically if you do not top-off your tank with RO/DI water at least every other day at a minimum. Also things happen fast in a smaller tank. So if you have a problem with your water paramaters it can become more harmfull to your livestock a lot faster and could lead to a negative result. I have never had a small saltwater tank I am just going off of what I have read on this site over the past year.
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:09 AM   #10
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unfortunately 20gallons is a stretch for me now...not so much because of the price...but because of the space...my 20 barely fits where it is and is even by a window..I had to put a piece of wood to block the light :\ so 20 is as big as I can get. I am aware of the additional risk of keeping a smaller tank but im willing to put in the extra work. with such a tank, how often would you guys reccomend changing the water and testing the water ? I was going to buy a test kit so I can check my water daily....but man those things are expensive. So I figures I can just take a sample to a LFS every other day... should that suffice ? And thanks so much for the advice. You all have been very helpfull.
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