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Old 07-18-2006, 08:54 PM   #1
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finally making the switch!

Hi this is my very first post here, ive been doing a lot of research online and this site seems to have the most complete information ive found so far. Ive read the articles and they seem sound.

Ive had freshwater tanks since i was like 8 so i think im finally ready to take the plunge into saltwater aquaria. well i WAS going to buy a whole new setup for saltwater but got to shopping and then i realized... i don't have room for another tank anyway so why not convert my 55 gallon for my beginner saltwater tank? No its not predrilled which i realize is not optimal but its a cheaper way to start.

Anyway i plan on doing Liver rock and fish only and am going to use a canister filter to start. I was told that i couldn't use pool filter sand (like i used for my freshwater tanks) that i had to buy LIVE sand for the ph??? So right now i just have cleaned out the tank and put the water and salt in it and i have the filter and heater running and thats it. NO SUBSTRATE. So is livesand the best substrate to keep the ph buffered? and does the ph have to be 8.3? Also how deep should the substrate be????

im going to start with just a little bit of live rock and maybe ONE fish once i get the tank cycled.

What other advice can you give for a newbie? good beginner fish and tips?
thanks a lot
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:20 PM   #2
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Live sand will not buffer the ph at all. You can get livesand for the bacteria boost it will have, but inert sand will be fine and become live over time. As far as depth, that all depends what you want. If you want it to act as filtration, then you need about 4 inches. If you just want substrate on the bottom, an inch or two is fine. You should use ro/di water. Not tap. The salt mix should do your buffering for you. If not, cross that bridge when you get to it.
The more liverock you can get to start with, the better off you will be.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:24 PM   #3
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wow thanks!!! thaat means i don't have to spend $90 on live sand!!!! man those fish store guys will talk me into almost anything. Would it be beneficial for me to put about 4" of my sand and then maybe a layer of the live sand on the top?

Also how many lbs of liverock should i start with? I was kind of planning on buying a couple pounds every week to slowly help build up my biological filter. (also its kind of expensive and would be more affordable that way... lol)

Now... if i want live rock i need better lighting than i had for freshwater (been reading a bit). What type of lights should i buy? i think im gonna need a new lighting fixture as well. And do i have to get that right away or can it come later?

Thanks again for all your help and such a fast answer!


oh one more thing i forgot... i need to get some powerheads but the ones i see are made to work with an undergravel filter and im using a canister filter. what kind should i buy?

sorry to ask so many questions but the more i get into it the more there seems to be... this is definitely going to be a slow process...
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:25 PM   #4
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Live rock and skimmer are a good combo for natural filtration for your tank. I just have 1 to 2 inches of sand in my tank. Not much of a deep sand bed fan even though it does have it`s advantages. By the way Welcome to AA
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:37 PM   #5
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Liverock does not require any special lighting either...aren't we just full of good news! The "live" part of the rock refers to the bacteria that lives on it.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:31 PM   #6
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ok that sounds awesome! that means i can do live rock and fish without having to spend "tons" of extra money on lighting. Of course i DO want corals eventually ... but i need to learn the basics first!

Ok well i just put the sand in my tank.. whooohooo i have a substrate now! I still need to buy a protein skimmer but everything else is flowing pretty good!


still a few questions though:
1. how many lbs of liverock is optimal for a 55 gallon tank?
2. do i need powerheads? and which ones would be good?
3. What are some good starter fish and cleaners to get me started once the water is stabilized
4. Optimal ph is 8.2? whats the lowest and highest safe range?
5. and optimal specific gravity 1.020 to 1.022?
6. Is a protein skimmer absolutely necessary? I won't be able to buy one for 2 weeks

Thanks again so much for the fast answers... and thanks for the warm welcome!
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:42 PM   #7
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You wont need the skimmer for the first month or two but I think the skimmer is absolutely needed. It will remove DOC out of the water that will cause high nitrates down the road. At the begining you will not have much to remove. You are on your way.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:48 PM   #8
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ok well im ordering online when i get paid next week, im ordering the protein skimmer and some other little junk. I would still like to know if i need powerheads though? I don't have anything to hook them to which is why its a bit confusing. Or is my fluval producing enough current?
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:54 PM   #9
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You dont need anything to hook them to just let them hang down on the corners or back of the tank. A good tank needs some current. I dont need power heads in mine because my return pumps have plenty of kick in them. You`ll have to be the judge if you have enough.
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Old 07-19-2006, 12:55 AM   #10
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I would highly recomend picking up a couple of good books The Conciencious marine aquariust is an excellent read, it's written by Fenner, can't remember his first name, it's a good book, and it's realatively inexpensive. Also, get a good skimmer, spend a few extra dollars here and it will pay dividends.
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