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Old 02-27-2015, 09:22 PM   #1
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Advice for small saltwater tank

I've been keeping a watchful eye on the saltwater section to try and get an idea. I would like to try a *small* saltwater tank. Maybe FO or FOWLR but not reef till I get some more experience and knowledge in the saltwater field. First thing is I want to keep this tank simple as possible. Not a huge budget and not a sump if possible. I was shooting for 30 gallons as I've heard its a good size but doesn't require a sump.

1. Preferred no sump. Recommended HOB or Canister?

2. There is an RO system in my house but its usually only for drinking not massive water changes. Only puts out a gallon or two every 30 mins.

3. Do I need a skimmer for a small tank like this?

4. Power heads? Do I need to drill or can I mount them?

5. I know its simple but could I put a clown in here? They are one of my favorites.

6. Would it be better to go ahead and do aragonite sand if I later decided to make it a reef?

7. Sorry for all the questions but you guys are so awesome and helpful I thought it would be better to get opinions from actual saltwater tank owners not just articles on the web.

Any more input is greatly appreciated. This is a future project that will not even begin to happen till this summer at least.
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:43 PM   #2
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1. Hob or canister would be your choice. Keep in mind that they will become nitrate sinks if not cleaned weekly.
2. You want to use ro/di water to minimize the nitrate and phosphate levels going into your system. If you can get it from your LFS, this might lower the pressure on your home system. I currently have been running my 55 reef on distilled water from Walmart since my ro/di went down...there is algae but being hyper vigilant I'm able to maintain it with skimming, refugium, and canister run media.
3. You can get away with no skimmer on smaller systems as you can easily do larger water changes to manage parameter issues.
4. Powerheads bring water movement into the system. It brings oxygen in and co2 out. You don't need to drill for powerheads, that is for bulkheads for a sump setup.
5. Clowns need 20 gallons min, a 30 would be just fine for a pair.
6. The only other sand bed that I'm familiar with in SW would be people using pool filter sand in their tanks. You won't see much of any buffering from sand or crushed coral in SW as the ph literally isn't able to drop low enough to do such a thing.
7. Thanks for reminding me how awesome I am.
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sniperhank View Post
1. Hob or canister would be your choice. Keep in mind that they will become nitrate sinks if not cleaned weekly.
2. You want to use ro/di water to minimize the nitrate and phosphate levels going into your system. If you can get it from your LFS, this might lower the pressure on your home system. I currently have been running my 55 reef on distilled water from Walmart since my ro/di went down...there is algae but being hyper vigilant I'm able to maintain it with skimming, refugium, and canister run media.
3. You can get away with no skimmer on smaller systems as you can easily do larger water changes to manage parameter issues.
4. Powerheads bring water movement into the system. It brings oxygen in and co2 out. You don't need to drill for powerheads, that is for bulkheads for a sump setup.
5. Clowns need 20 gallons min, a 30 would be just fine for a pair.
6. The only other sand bed that I'm familiar with in SW would be people using pool filter sand in their tanks. You won't see much of any buffering from sand or crushed coral in SW as the ph literally isn't able to drop low enough to do such a thing.
7. Thanks for reminding me how awesome I am.

Thanks sniper for all the info. Yes you are awesome :P so would it make my life easier to have say a small hanging skimmer? If it's saves me extra work I'll fork out a little bit.


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Old 02-27-2015, 11:00 PM   #4
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I'm not aware of any HOB skimmers rated for such a small tank that are worth the money.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:06 PM   #5
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I'm not aware of any HOB skimmers rated for such a small tank that are worth the money.

That's fine. You make is sound like algae is a common problem in saltwater? Is this an ongoing cleaning process to keep the algae down?


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Old 02-27-2015, 11:10 PM   #6
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There aren't any moss balls for saltwater to just throw in a tank to absorb nutrients. We do all kinds of stuff to manage it. The first and best line of defense is by 10% weekly water changes, but if nitrates are coming in through the water changes then it doesn't go down very much...there are filter media to reduce nitrate and phosphates, protein skimmers to skim it out before it ends up being turned into nitrates and phosphates...then there are the refugiums and algae turf scrubbers that actually use algae to your advantage, simply growing it in a different area than the display tank.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:17 PM   #7
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There aren't any moss balls for saltwater to just throw in a tank to absorb nutrients. We do all kinds of stuff to manage it. The first and best line of defense is by 10% weekly water changes, but if nitrates are coming in through the water changes then it doesn't go down very much...there are filter media to reduce nitrate and phosphates, protein skimmers to skim it out before it ends up being turned into nitrates and phosphates...then there are the refugiums and algae turf scrubbers that actually use algae to your advantage, simply growing it in a different area than the display tank.

Ahh okay. I'm aware of sump set ups I'm just not ready nor have the funds to delve into DIY tanks with sumps.

Even my tap water is free of nitrates. We have pretty clean water. I do know that I have "hard" water. I got a KH/GH test kit coming in the mail very soon to prove my theory but after a while my filters will get white stuff on them and it wipes right off. From my understanding that's minerals in the water indicating the hard water.


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Old 02-27-2015, 11:40 PM   #8
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In the grand scheme, you end up addressing more than simply the nitrate/phosphates. Some of what you are talking about is there as well. There are some things that are great for us that municipalities throw into the water that simply aren't good for our closed systems that you can't even test for...like who knows about the build up of fluoride levels in the aquarium? Just about no one and could easily build up and nuke a tank after years of being set up.
Can a reef tank be run off of tap? I'm aware of one currently that is doing just fine...I consider that the oddity as it will normally lead to disaster.
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:25 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sniperhank View Post
In the grand scheme, you end up addressing more than simply the nitrate/phosphates. Some of what you are talking about is there as well. There are some things that are great for us that municipalities throw into the water that simply aren't good for our closed systems that you can't even test for...like who knows about the build up of fluoride levels in the aquarium? Just about no one and could easily build up and nuke a tank after years of being set up.
Can a reef tank be run off of tap? I'm aware of one currently that is doing just fine...I consider that the oddity as it will normally lead to disaster.

Interesting well maybe I can slowly with buckets store up some RO with mine so I don't have that problem.


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Old 02-28-2015, 08:57 AM   #10
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Most of us store the water we make up in either 5 gallon buckets or even brute trash cans for the larger tanks. I know right now I have 10 gallons sitting, not to include the current batch of saltwater that I mix up every week.
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