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Old 11-12-2005, 05:31 PM   #1
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Converting my 10g freshwater to 10g Saltwater

I have never kept a SW tank before and though I would use my empty 10g for one. I'm wondering what I will need to make this work. I have a HOB filter, a heater, gravel, and flourescent light canopy. I would use a sand substrate. Would live rock be ok in there or does it need special lighting? Now for fish would a pair of tank-bred percula clowns be ok in there? That is what I would really like but I will go with whatever. And then for a clean-up crew some turbo snails. Oh and one more thing how does the marine salt work I mean that i nthe way how much I need to add and stuff. Sorry for so many questions and the long post but I would really like to get into SW.
Thanks a tonne

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Old 11-12-2005, 06:18 PM   #2
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1st, be aware that smaller saltwater aquariums are difficult to balance the chemistry in. Freshwater fish can just be acclimated to your tap water, but saltwater fish depend on you getting the salt concentration right.

You need to buy a hydrometer or refractometer. Follow the directions on the side of the salt container, but check it carefully with the refractometer to be sure it's right. Remember to replace evaporated amounts with pure fresh water. (Best done daily, so the salt does not become too concentrated.)

Live rock itself does not need special lighting, but it does need some moderate light in order to grow coraline algae that people tend to like. You may also get some hitchhikers on your rock that will grow better with special lighting.

A pair of percula could be crammed into a 10 gallon when young, but they will quickly outgrow it. 20 gallons would be more comfortable for them. You could consider a goby, or make it an invert tank with some interesting shrimp and crabs.

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Old 11-12-2005, 06:40 PM   #3
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Don't be sorry for asking a lot of questions. It's the right thing to do, so ask away

I have an 18 gallon mini reef that's been up and running for four years successsfully. The following is what the tank has (you can read it also in my profile as well as see pictures of this tank in my gallery). Though I'll type it out here also...

Ecosystem 40 refegium, at least 3" of aragonite/live sand substrate, lots of live rock, a heater and a double power compact light...one daylight; one actinic. Very simple set up.

It is not recommended to use any kind of freshwater gravel because of the excess silicates which can contribute to a serious algae outbreak. Aragonite topped with live sand is best. When putting the system together, you want to put in the bottom pieces of rock before the substrate so the substrate can help provide a sturdy foundation for the rock work. I live in California so this is always in mind cause the ground is always moving here.

The Ecosystem 40 refugium takes up the entire back portion of the tank so there's no room at all for any additional filtration, but it's not needed. The refugium alone has done great and the live rock is the natural bio filtering 'unit'. I find refugiums have advantages over protein skimmers. You would need one or the other. Some people use both, but in a ten gallon, needless to get into that kind of expense. My tank has done so well to even support an infant Imperator angel till she got too big. Not an easy critter to keep alive so fat and happy. She had all kinds of sponges and natural growth in there to graze on.

I have found that refugiums help promote some nice microfauna that isn't gotten by the protein skimmer. The difference between them is that protein skimmers mechanically remove proteins from the water by the use of tiny bubbles for the proteins to ride up into the collection cup. A refugium however, this protein is biologically utilized and broken down, so the return water has a different chemistry than the return water from a protein skimmer. It provides a fully functioning biological system.

Having a deep sandbed and critters that live and crawl in the sand will help keep nitrates down by providing an oxygen free area in the environment for nitrate eating bacteria to cultivate. The animals in the sandbed are needed to release any trapped hydrogen gases from this process. The deeper the substrate, the heavier th layers of sand on top of the bottom layers to choke it of oxygen.

You won't really be able to vaccuum the substrate for waste so you need to build the system to where it can help itself for the most part.

My little 18 gets a basic routine maintenance of 15% water change once every two weeks. Calcium and alkalinity are added when needed. The tank gets fed every few days with a mix of flake, veggie matter, cyclopse and phytoplankton. It pretty much provides most of the nutrition the critters need naturally in between feeds with algae, copepods, and fish poop. Corals eat fish poop.

Temperature of a marine tank should be stable at 76 degrees. Set the tank up where it will not recieve any light from your windows and far away from drafts. Perferrably up against a wall that doesn't have the outside on the other side of the wall (to help keep temps from fluctuating). Temperature stability is perhaps the most important element to provide in a marine tank. Unlike freshwater fish who are adapted to changes, marine fish are not due to the sheer vastness of the oceans they come from. The oceans experience very little change in the waters condition. Lakes, streams, rivers and such are always experiencing changes and therefore freshwater fish are naturally adapted to withstand changes in their environments. This is the very reason why marine animals are harder to keep alive in captivity. This also includes the basic water parameters of pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. A reef tank with coral would not survive well with nitrates over 10ppm. They start to wilt or slime up. Building a stable environment from the very beginning will help avoid many of the common problems people face with their marine tanks.

Also a must is a quarantine tank to put your newly purchased fish into for a week or two to make sure it doesn't come down with anything that can upset or destroy the system. A simple small five gallon tank with a sponge filter, heater, and something for the animal to hide in. No substrate and can use basic lighting.

Salinity or SG for a marine tank is between 1.020 and 1.025. I keep any tanks with coral at 1.024 to 1.025, but not any higher. Corals like the higher salinity, but too high can harm the fish. An important thing to have on hand at all times is freshwater to top off the tank when the tank water evaporates. The salt doesn't evaporate with the water so salinity goes up. Adding freshwater will bring the salinity back down.

Any other questions you'd like to throw at us??? Fire away!!
We, as a people, know so much more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. This lack of knowledge can very well spell the dangers that lay in wait for us.

The oceans surely would swallow us before a rock comes down to smite the planet of it's life.
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Old 11-13-2005, 06:07 PM   #4
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Thank You both very much that was veryhelpful I guess I will not be able to get a pair of clowns Do u think if i had 1 percula clown and an anenome for him would that be ok?
Thanks Again
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Old 11-13-2005, 07:02 PM   #5
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You could have a single perc but to maintain an anemone in a 10 gallon is difficult. Clowns don't have to have an anemone. It's cool to have them together but it's not a necessity for the clown.

In a small tank you are limited, but there is a wide variety of things out there you can have in a ten gallon. Reef hermits, small snails, Lots of different shrimps and crabs. Watchman gobies, neon blue gobies, basslets, filamnet gobies, cutie blennies like bi color blenny, rock blenny. Pseudochromis species (related to basslets...cannot be housed together nor with their own kind...one per tank only). Other types of inverts can be housed ok in a small tank like feather dusters and starfish. If you have the right lighting, you can house mushroom and polyp corals (these are fairly easy coral to keep). Lighting for these coral in a ten gallon is easy to achieve. You want at least three watts per gallon. Preferrably between 4 and 5 watts per gallon.

You will need to test for salinity every day. Small tanks lose more of their water volume quicker than larger tanks.
We, as a people, know so much more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. This lack of knowledge can very well spell the dangers that lay in wait for us.

The oceans surely would swallow us before a rock comes down to smite the planet of it's life.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:05 AM   #6
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For a 10g I think a stock list could be something like this.

5 nassarius snails
5 margurita
5 blueleg hermits

1 shrimp goby
1 pistol shrimp

3 sexy shrimp
37 gal all glass
50lb LR
3' fine sand bed 1x Orange Stripe Prawn shrimp goby, 1x sixline wrassemated pair of true percula clowns, 1x CBS shrimp, 2x peppermint shrimp, 1x pistol shrimp, 1x tiger tale cuke, ~20+ snails, ~10+ hermits, 1xserpent star.
green Bubble coral, hammer coral (8 heads!) ,various Zoos,green finger leather, green star polpys ,shrooms
175w 10k MH
28w actinic 03
2x maxi jett 1200
Prizm skimmer (modded)
Hagen powerfilter(for running carbon 24/7)
nano arctica chiller
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Old 11-14-2005, 05:10 PM   #7
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Personally I would not recomend anyone start with a 10g tank for SW. It can be done, but because of the small water volume they can be more diffiult than a larger tank. If space and $ are an issue and you want a smaller tank (nano) I would look into getting a 12 or 24 gallon Nano cube. They basically come with all the equipment you will need to get going including the filtration and lighting which can be costly. Assuming you just have the 10g tank you are only out like $10. The 10g could be used for a QT.

A local LFS is currently running a sale on the 12g nano cube delux for $129 which comes with hydrometer and salt. By the time you get your 10g set up you will spend close to that on equipment if not more. The Nano cube has the appropriate lighting to for lr and corals down the road.

Here is a thread that is closely related to yours.


Check out the links I posted on the thread.


Tank: 90 Gal SW Reef in the making

See my info for setup and inhabitant details:
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Old 11-18-2005, 12:31 AM   #8
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Good luck on a small setup. With that said, a 29G starter kit is pretty cheap. You can use the 10 as a refugium or something

We live and we learn
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