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Old 12-05-2004, 12:57 PM   #1
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FW guy looking for SW advice and help

Ok, I have an extra 10 gallon FW setup, and I have no use for it as a FW tank. I thought I would at least get a general idea from you guys what it would take to convert it to a Fish Only SW setup. So here is my line of qustions, btw I've raised cichlids, puffers, loaches, and just about any fw fish you regularly see at a lfs if that helps in any way

1-The small SW fish I like is a six line Wrasse. Can I keep one of them in a 10 g Fish only setup? Can there be perhaps one other tank mate and if so what? How Hardy are they? What is the general feeding cost for them per month?

2-What equipment can be reused from my FW setup? I have a HOB filter w/o a biowheel, 50 W heater-I believe, I would have to get it out and check, and flourescent lighting in the typical plastic casing.

3- What other equipment would I need?

4-What is the cost of all the extra stuff I'll need to get completely set up? (just a ballpark estimate) Also how much does upkeep cost?

I'm just in the initial phase of weighing whether or not I want to consider this. I'm a FW guy through and through, but the better half has an itch for the SW. She really wants a manderin goby, but I'm not giving up my loach tank and we certainly aren't buying another tank, so I thought since I had an extra 10 g I would at least investigate the possibility of SW.
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Old 12-05-2004, 04:22 PM   #2
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I would think a six line would be a little too active of a swimmer for a 10. Maybe a percula? You're somewhat limited to 1-2 small fish in a 10 gallon.
Food would be cheap. Even if you go frozen for like Formula 1, its $7 every 2-3 months or so for a small fish load (although clowns always seem starving). How is your tap water (pH, Nitrate levels, PO4 levels)

Your filter and heater and lighting will be fine for a FO.

Maybe a small skimmer like a CPR BakPak would help.

Manadrins looks awesome, but you need an established tank with lots of LR and a big sustainable pod population.
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Old 12-05-2004, 04:48 PM   #3
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1. - Yeah think the 6line might be too much. Even a false perc (imo) might be a bit much.

2. I'd ditch the hob (my 2c) the heater should be fine depending on what type of lighting you use. The NO flourescent would be fine for FO, or FOWLR but you will probably want to upgrade it soon after setup.

3. Look for some LR, or base rock to seed, - this and regular waterchanges will probably be all the filtration you need. Sandbed might be nice - but that's personal preference. (Could start a whole new thread on DSB...) PH for circulation.. (aim for 100gph total at least, 200 would be better.) Few extra test kits beyond what you have now (nh3/nh4, n02, n03, p04, ph just to start). "The Conscientous Marine Aquarist" is a great book to read before you spend much $ to give you an idea of what you really want to get out of it... And RO or RO/DI filter is a must-have unless you want to buy clean water locally.

I could probably think of a few more, but this is a good start

4. $50 per gallon is a good rule of thumb. Maybe 30$/gal if you watch for used gear, diy projects etc. Its worth it tho'!

Nano's are cheaper to setup, but much more difficult to keep stable once they are established. - Not trying to talk you out of it, just keep that in mind. For good nano info / suggestions - check out www.nano-reef.com
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

So a six line wrasse is out, that's not good news.

My ph is around 7.3-7.4 in my water, nitrates aren't a problem, my water is a little hard and alkaline-perfect for african cichlids, but that's beside the point. I've never tested for phosphates, what exactly is the significance of phosphate levels in SW aquariums?

OK, so you're going to have to go slow with me on this one, Im pretty sure I'm about to ask a really stupid and basic question. Live Rock and Sand can work as a filtration device?

Please forgive me for asking basic questions, I feel like I'm asking the FW equivalent of why can't cichlids and goldfish be kept together. I'll have to read that book over Christmas Break, Right now I'm in the midst of my last year of law school (please forgive me for being a lawyer) and it's exam time, which means about 300 pages of reading every day so reading is about the last thing I want to do but I will check it out over vacation, thanks for the recomendation

I know the fish selection will be very limited and I'm not going to try and overstock. I'm also sure at some point in my life I will have a huge SW tank with all the upgrades, but I really just want a FO or FOWLR setup at this moment since I have enough on my hands with the FW setups I have.

So, if I only need a skimmer and Live Rock and Sand then I'm still looking at $300-$500 for the setup?
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:34 PM   #5
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Phosphate has a similar effect in SW: hair algae (and other forms) and lots of it. If you haven't had a problem in any medium-high light tank, you're probably ok.

Live rock makes a perfect filtration device. If you have enough (1.5-2lbs/gal), its all the bio filtration you need (with the help of a skimmer to remove disolved wastes).

You don't need live sand. Lots of people think its a waste of money. Good quality rock will seed regular sand and make it 'live' (worms and pods and bacteria).

If this is only a 10g, and FOWLR or FO (no high lighting costs), I could see this for $200-300 (live rock is expensive though )
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flame angel, mated pair of false perc, 6-line, firefish

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Old 12-06-2004, 03:39 PM   #6
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Ph - you'll want to shoot for around 8, 8.2 in SW. This isn't as hard as it may see, since the salt mixes sold usually get you up close to that range.

Impact of high Phosphate in a SW aquarium is mainly unwanted algae growth. Also in high doses can be problematic for some inverts, although others can feed on it.

LR and LS are a great filter device - sounds crazy I know. Do a google search sometime when you have a few hours to kill on "Berlin System" - the concept is a little long to go into here, but basically what the gist is that bacteria and only bacteria are needed to process waste materials. Bacteria don't live suspended in the water, rather they attach to the surface area of whatever you put into your tank. LR has a tremendous amount of surface area, LS has even more. Some of these bacteria thrive in O2 rich areas, while others need to be starved of 02. Depths of sandbed have varying levels of 02 and pockets deep within the rock also have lower levels of 02. (google also "Anerobic Marine Bacteria" and "Aerobic Marine Bacteria" and "Nitrogen Cycle".

The other (whew this is already a long post) cliff notes version of the Nitrogen cycle is - Waste/food/Matter first turns to Ammonia (nh3/nh4) which you are probably already testing for in your FW tank. The 2nd stage is when the Ammonia is converted to Nitites (n02) and lastly to nitrates (n03).

On some systems nitrates are exported via water changes. On others you can experience NNR, where the nitrates are actually converted to nitrogen oxide and evaporate from the top of tank.

High Nh3/nh4 bad. High n02 still bad. High n03 less bad, but still bad over time. If you can have a large enough system with a light enough bioload then you can get very close to something that is self-sustaining. This is what alot of us strive for and is fascinating to see it come into play.

Protein skimmers basically remove wastes before they enter into the nitrogen cycle and are invaluable imo - but that is another topic....

hth and good job doing some research before you jump into this -

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Old 12-06-2004, 03:40 PM   #7
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Let me say that you would be better off using your "Extra" 10g as a QT and buying a 29g or larger for your SW tank. 10g is really just too small for SW. sure some people have done it, but most of them are experts.
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:40 PM   #8
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Also the 300-500 estimate would include a lighting upgrade of some kind, because 99% of the folks who get started eventually go that route
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Old 12-06-2004, 04:07 PM   #9
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If you stick with the 10g, go for a blenny or goby, they are cool and have a lot of personality for a small fish.

But with the 10g, i hope ou like doing you maintenence.
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Old 12-08-2004, 11:38 AM   #10
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10 gal can work

I have a 10 gal hex that is set up SW. We have about 8 pounds of LR, two fish and a crab that hitchhiked on the rock. We cycled our tank with LR for about 6 weeks before purchasing fish. Our first was a clown and about 5 months later a blue tang. We have two bio wheel filters a only have to do water changes about once a month. We haven't had any trouble with out 10 gal although we were told when we started that it would never work. Just remember to take it slow. Your tank needs lots of time to get the good bacteria flowing and your fish need plenty of time to adjust before you add another.

We also don't have any special lighting, just the regular bulb that came with the tank, and our fish don't seem to mind.
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90 gal SW, 2 blue chromis, 1 three stripe damsel, 60 lbs LR, Christmas Tree worm, long spine urchins, 2 brittle stars, 8 hermit crabs, 3 bumble bee snails, 2 margarita snails, 2 Ocellaris clowns, Regal Blue Tang, Chocolate Chip star, pygmy angel, bangaii cardinal, yellow tang, LTA, carpet anemone, 3 peppermint shrimp, and still growing!
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