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Old 03-21-2013, 10:19 PM   #1
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First time saltwater only 5 gallons IDEAS, TIPS

So I just bought this 5 gal tank and I want to scape it just right. I've done freshwater and I think it's time for me to finally jump into Saltwater. Why I've never done salt is because I know there's a lot more steps such as ph levels and carbon levels and just things to that effect that I'm worried will get by me. Is there any tips on how to scape this just right i.e sedements, corals... Any input would sure help a lot.

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Old 03-21-2013, 10:34 PM   #2
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5g is a tricky size to start with, not saying it can't be done but it is certainly more difficult! How you scape the tank is completely up to your own taste. On a tank that size I would def use all love rock to start and at least 1-2 pound per gallon. Will it be reef? Best advise I can give is do plenty of research! What are your plans for the tank? How much do you know and what equipment do you currently have? Ask plenty of questions here, we love to help
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:00 PM   #3
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I dont know much about salts. And i also don't have the equipment, all i have is the water testing set. Yes I want to make this a reef tank and then add fish later when I know that fish will be able to sustain. Right now I want to put some sand and then add the corals but what in particular do I need? can I use purified water then just add the water?
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:18 PM   #4
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As already stated 5 gallons can be a bit challenging especially for someone new to saltwater. Fluctuations are needed to be kept to a minimum for a long term successful reef so you will need to stay on top of your parameters more then if you would start with say a 29 or 40. First things first though is cycling, same with freshwater you will need to cycle your tank before adding any livestock especially corals unless you decide to do a fish in cycle with like a damsel or something but I'm against that mainly since its more work and you risk losing the fish. With that said you really don't have many options when it comes to fish other then the smallest of nano fish like the clown goby but personally if it were mine I'd just do inverts and corals no fish. The most obvious difference between saltwater and fresh water is the salt/salinity. For this you will need to invest in a refractometer to measure the salinity of your water. You'll have two main options for water too. First would be store bought premixed saltwater or you can mix your own with Ro/Di water and a good salt brand. That touches on another subject which is you will want to start with pure water or Ro/Di which you can make at home with an Ro/Di filter or buy it from a grocery store or pet store. Once you have all that figured out you will need to start looking into your lighting. A tank this size for corals would be best suited with LEDs at 3w per diode (anything less isn't fully reef capable really). I feel like I'm kinda rambling though so ill leave you with this to take in and any questions afterwards feel free to ask. There is a lot you can learn in sw so baby steps to start
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:24 PM   #5
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Also I would like to point out that with a tank this size aquascaping is everything so personally what I would do is just browse around the local shops and pick up a few really nice dry rock pieces and build your rockscape first with epoxy putty, acrylic rods, or even lots of glue. To give you an example of what I mean ill link my latest build pic in a second of what I made with four nice pieces but then you can seed it with a small piece of live rock which you could remove at a later time if it throws off the look of the tank



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Old 03-22-2013, 07:10 PM   #6
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This is amazing information thank you so much! I do have a refractometer. I love the idea with just coral and invertebrates and so i think for this build that will be my plan. My tank just came in today so my pan as of this moment is to first start with the substrate. I want to go with white sand. Is there suppose to be like a dirt layer beneath the top layer of white sand? And also with he filtration, I heard that you don't want to use the carbon bag filters because it takes away much of the bacteria(something like that.) So do i just put in a sponge filter and that's it? It's just a small 5 gallon whisper filter.
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:24 PM   #7
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You don't wanna use any bubblers in a sw tank. You wanna avoid all the bubbles that you can because when they pop on the surface they spray small amounts of water and over time it creates what is called salt creep and is very corrosive. Your rock is your main means of biological filtration which is why it is possible to run filterless reefs. All there needs to be is proper flow which is 30-50x tank volume per hour (for example your 5g should have between 150-250gph flow total). If you do want some mechanical filtration however there all nano options on the market like surface skimmers, regular HOB filters, and reactors. It will really come down to your budget and how many "bells and whistles" you'd like since you could keep a beautiful reef with just circulation pumps, good lighting, and strict water change schedules.
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:27 PM   #8
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And for the sand this is optional, you can go bare bottom, regular sand bed, or deep sand bed (5-6 inches). The dsb will help in nitrate removal but in a small system it would be nearly unnoticeable. Also when choosing substrate its good to consider what livestock you'll want since some do need a sand bed of certain depths and with corals it'll kinda dictate the size of granules you'll wanna use (soft coral tanks have lower flow so a smaller granular size will work better then in say a sps tank with real high flow which would cause a sandstorm)
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:49 PM   #9
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This is really really great! I'm gonna start cleaning the sand and getting my water ready to start the cycle. I probably end up going to my fish store and picking up some rocks. I'm not sure about the rock situation quite yet but your pictures have given me a much more wider view on what I can do. what happens if salt levels are too high or to low? does these mean a water change and less salt for to high and more salt for to low?
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:56 PM   #10
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Once your tank has inhabitants you do not wanna add salt directly to the tank so for the best way to adjust minor salinity swings is either topping off with salt water as it evaporates to raise salinity or take small amounts of salt water out of the tank and replace it with Ro/Di water to lower salinity.
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