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Old 01-23-2011, 08:40 PM   #1
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Debating sw

So i have an empty 38 gallon aquarium sitting around and I recently found a fish store by me that sells salt water fish at a decent price. So naturally I thought maybe I could do this? I have tropical freshwater and understand it but as for sw I'm clueless. So any advise would be helpful, ie what things do I need, is cycling the same, like everything basically. The fish are so pretty I want to give it a go)
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:42 PM   #2
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there are stickies above that guide you through the stuff that you need to set up and maintain the aquarium. if your only going to have fish its pretty simple really, regular PWC and water nots, only differnce is freshwater fish tend to be more hardy and accimation might be needed for most saltwater fish, so look into the drip method. i failed at the drip methos and i had two hermit crabs die of shock
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:50 PM   #3
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So ive read it. And am still confused. I'd like a's simple of a tank a's possible, and I don't really understand the live rock & sand concept. Is it better for the fish? And I'm still a little lost on equipment. I understand filters and heaters, but pumps and skimmers what are they for exactly? Any input is appreciated
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:53 PM   #4
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There are a lot of beginner guides on here or just go to your LFS and talk with them. They will be more than happy to get you started. There is a lot to SW. Although just fish and live rock is pretty easy and a good place to start.
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:04 PM   #5
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So I've started looking at all the equipment and was wondering if this could be done over time. For example buying the sand and have it running for a while with my hob filter and heater and add live rock a few weeks later. Or is it better to collect it all and then begin?
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:14 PM   #6
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You really need to have sand & rock when you start. Adding later causes tank to cycle again. The sand & rock is where the beneficial bacteria live (they eat the waste in your water).
A great beginner book i bought was saltwater tanks for dummies.
Fish only tanks are easier....but still not what I would consider easy or cheap compared to fresh water. The expense of a fish only salt tank can still be substancial.... There are several tests that need to be done weekly, weekly water changes, etc. Medication to keep on hand in case they get sick. I consider a $20 fish cheap for saltwater ($20 for freshwater is alot).
If the time & cost doesnt bother you....learn as much as possible before you start. Dont buy cheap equipment, it usually works poorly if at all. Look into buying good quality equipment (buying it used when you can helps save $).
The fish store guy saying it isnt hard... Is so not true. Sadly the workers at major chain petstores dont know much about salt tanks. Check out your area for a predominately saltwater store, see if there is a local saltwater club. You can get lots of info, help, and even good buys on used eqipment.
Lastly, starting a salt tank ia usually a slow process. You cant add saltwater,sand, rock & fish & presto instant tank. You start with sand & rock (generally 1-2 lbs of each per gallon of tank) then allow the nitrogen cycle to run its course (can take generally 2-4 weeks, sometimes longer) before you get to gradually add fish. Cycling the tank is when the good bactetia grows to take care of waste. Each fish added adds to the bioload (waste production). You add them slowly so the bacteria continues to grow and isnt overwhelmed by the waste (which causes another cycle to happen).
Must have tests:
Salinity (refractometers are easy to use & worth the $$)
Ph. (required chemical buffers to adjust it as needex)
Amonia
Nitrate
There are many others....but these are must have before you add the first drop of water kind of tests.
Basic equipment:
Tank
Heater
Powerhead
Filter system (canister filters are ok on sm tanks, but require weekly maintanance too) (sumps are a sm tank that works like a canister filter only it uses biological processes instead of filters)
Protein skimmer (not a must have, but goes a long way in helping water quality).
I hope I didnt scare you. I just want you to have a clear understanding that saltwater tanks take time, money & patience.
Good luck!
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:40 PM   #7
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I'm prepared for the expense, and know all about fishless cycling (at least for fresh, will do more research for salt). And I know I don't want a reef tank, my biggest thing now is FO or FOWLR? I understand that live rock helps cycling, but is it beneficial and better for fish to have? Or are fish only tanks just as good? I don't have a huge preference, just want the best for my fishes. Oh and as for time, this is by no means I want this done by next week kind of thing.
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:54 PM   #8
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Live rock can also provide places for copeopods to live (only thing certain fish eat-mandarin dragonets) and good algae to grow which can be grazed on by herbivores (tangs).
Saltwater aquariums for dummies is about $20 @ Barnes & Noble. Has great info on the different systems and is really easy to read & understand. Info about different equipment & set ups too. I found it to be well worth the $.
I personally only know people with full reef set ups or FOWLR systems. But I can only assume FO systems require the same amounts of testing (maybe more frequently because not as much beneficial bacteria) water changes, etc. The upfront expense is less because you have fake rock. But you can get dead rock pretty reasonably and cure it yourself and add beneficial bacteria to give it a boost.
You plan on using a sump or canister filter?
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