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Old 01-30-2004, 12:11 AM   #1
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brand new to sw tanks, looking for advice

I have a couple FW tanks but am starting my 1st SW tank. I have a 75 gal tank, started with tap water and used a dechlorinator. I have a mix of 30lbs of crushed coral and 30lbs of gravel on the bottom, a red sea protein skimmer and a biowheel emperor. I added an air pump and a big bubble bar, and my salt. Then I got 4 damsels and Turbostart, and they have been in there for 2 days. Am I on the right track here? I have read so many things lately that contradict the LFS advice, and have really determined that there are so many varying opinions on what to do.

Oh yeah, I added a decoration just so the fish could hide cause one of them was laying in the gravel behind the bubble bar and looked as if he was trying to hide out. It's just one of those sunken pots with the holes in it so the fish can swim in and out.

I want to do a fish only tank, but what else can I add to it? I have a bunch of painted and resin coral on the way, is that ok to add for decoration? And then what are some good choices for beginner fish? I want colorful fun fish as I am more into "eye candy" than the hobby of fishkeeping.

Thanks!
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Old 01-30-2004, 01:45 PM   #2
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Well FWIW, I sense you are trying to set up the SW tank modeling after the FW. There are a few different schools of thought here in terms of what exactly you need and the few things I will mention here are meant as a guide and an example of what most SW hobbyists do to successfully set up and maintain their tank.

WATER: It is recommended that you use RO/DI water for your tank, normal tap water, even when dechlorinated, still contains undesirables like phosphates and other dissolved metals. However, there are some who successfully maintain a tank using dechlorinated (chlorine and chloramnine) tap water

SUBSTRATE: Recommended substrate is a sand bed. Quantity should be about 2Lbs. per Gallon of tank capacity. The Crushed coral and gravel makes for potential bacterial issues and marine fish naturally live in a sand bed environment for the most part.
AIR PUMP: Lose the air pump. Not used in a marine tank. What is recommended is one or more powerheads to keep the tank water properly aerated. That combined with the regular circulation pump and skimmer will keep an acceptable oxygen level in the the water. Based on you size tank, at least 2 Maxijet 1200s will do nicely in the tank.

STOCKING: I get the sense here that you set up your tank, then dropped the fish in and turned everything on. Couple of things here. You mentioned that one of the damsels is laying on its side. that is a sign of severe stress. First off, your tank needs to be cycled properly before you add any livestock to it. Forget the turbo. If possible, I would return the fish to the store, and start the cycle of this tank. This will take about 4 weeks to complete. What is happening in that period is that you are allowing successive colonies of nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria to grow and flourish to handle the successive spikes of ammonia and nitrites in the tank (both of which are toxic to the fish). Your damsels are probably suffering through an ammonia spike right now. There are many references here on how to cycle a tank but the most humane and preferred method is to use cocktail shrimp to kick start the process. Also on that note, I seriously urge you to take the time to acquire a couple of books on setting up a marine tank (see reference section here for recommendations) and successfully stocking and maintaining it. I understand that you want eye candy, but if you really do not want to take the time to properly set up and maintain a SW tank (which takes a lot more time, effort and expense that FW), then I suggest you use plastic fish

AQUASCAPING: The fake coral is fine is all you want is a FO tank. This is a purely subjective choice of how the tank looks.

LIGHTING: For a FO tank, lighting needs are minimal. a standard fluorescent hood with 4 tubes should be fine for your tank. Keep in mind if you ever want to consider adding inverts or corals, you will have to do some serious upgrades to lighting and add LR to the tank.

FISH CHOICES: Damsels are a good beginner choice. Again, I would recommend that you research the fish types available and this will include which ones are hardy and also you get a chance to see what type of fishes appeal to you. Remember this is your tank. Stock appropriately being aware of issue of compatibility, need for hiding spaces and feeding requirements.

TESTING: You will need a good marine test kit. Tests for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates during the cycling period. Then nitrates, pH and specific gravity. Also a good thermometer for the tank and a heater to keep warm if that is a problem. Again, all of this would be covered in your research.

This is quick and dirty and I hope it helps put your efforts in perspective. A SW tank is dramatically different that a FW tank. I have had both. Please take everything I have said here in the light of trying to help you get your tank started the right way, so that both you and your fishes will be happy. HTH 8)
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Old 02-01-2004, 11:01 AM   #3
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I think you misunderstood me, the fish wasn't laying on it's side, it was just hiding out behind the bubble bar. So far all 4 fish seem to be just fine, they swim around and feed just fine, no signs of stress or anything. Just because I was asking for suggestions on "eye candy" fish, doesn't mean that I'm not interested in doing things the right way. Everything we have done thus far (with the exception of adding the Airpump) was at the recommendation of our LFS. And I'm not talking Petsmart or Petco, I go to www.dallasnorthaquarium.com

We originally planned on putting cichlids in this tank, and the LFS recommended the gravel and crushed coral. Then a few days later, we decided to do SW and took the gravel and coral back to the store, and the sales guy told us that we could use the same substrate for a SW tank and there was no need to return it. So I guess he just didn't want to be bothered? So now what should I do? Start over?
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Old 02-02-2004, 10:08 AM   #4
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I think your local LFS did not want to deal with the return of the substrate. I am sorry if you took offense to my comments. I am not trying to criticize your actions, just point out areas where I think you need to pay particular attention to. Believe me, all we do here is try to help fellow members start and maintain a successful tank. So again, I apologize if my humor was not appreciated. As far as starting over, again I stress, please do some research and determine what kind of tank you want to maintain. FO, FOWLR, FOWLR and hardy invertebrates, fish with LR and some corals and inverts, reef? You see, depending on where you want to go with the tank, the advice and requirements will vary quite a bit.

However, I stand behind my recommendation that unless you want a FO tank, you should replace the CC and gravel with a sand bed.

What are your readings on the tank?
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Old 02-02-2004, 04:44 PM   #5
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The most important thing i've learned in my years in the SW hobby, is to READ,READ,READ (<---not shouting, just stressing the most important step in this hobby) and test your LFS by asking them questions you know the answers to, to make sure they're not full of doggy doo doo. Research and learn as much as you can and you'll be hooked(no pun intended) on saltwater fishies like the rest of us.
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Nameless fish include, Neon Blenny, Singapore Shrimp Goby, Yellow Tail Damsel, 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimps, purple pseudochromis.
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Old 02-03-2004, 02:31 PM   #6
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I dont reply to most posts as I am still in the learning phase too. However, I will have to chime in and say that I too though since I have had a FW tank for 3 years, doing SW was a snap. Was I ever wrong.
First I would have to say that if I had one thing to do over again, dont cycle your tank with fish. Get a peice of LR and throw in there and let it go. it will do the same thing. Not as fun but nonetheless, as or more effective. I bought 3 damsels as the advice of the LFS that told me this would be plenty to cycle a 125 gallon. However, they said it would take at least 6-8 weeks which was fine. Well needless to say, during the past 6 weeks I lost 2 of the 3 damsels due to stress.
After losing the first one I found this website and found you can cycle with LR which will only add to your tank anyway. Plus you dont have to worry about feeding the fish or wondering if they will survive.
I know everyone has their own opinion and way of doing things, but I do disagree slightly with the substrate issue. Overall, yes the sand is better. However I have CC and as long as you watch your feeding and have good circluation you can have just as good of results. Just my take on it....
But, best advice ever, read read read!! I have learned a lot on this board alone!!
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