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Old 08-20-2003, 10:42 AM   #1
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Getting Started

I'm looking to start my first salt water aquarium. I have enjoyed both a cold water and tropical fresh water tank.

I would like to build a tank that contains coral, anemones, clownfish, and a few tangs. Obviously, I would like to slowly work up to that.

I'm looking for a complete description of what I need to start (pump, filters, lights, tank size, protien skimmer, live rock?). I'd like a list of makes and models that I could take to the LFS and use as a shopping list. Anybody have any combinations that they swear by? Does anybody have any advice on how to start this project (other than first you need a tank and some water).

Thanks
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Old 08-20-2003, 11:18 AM   #2
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Hello,

I just started in the hobby as well. The best advice I can give you is decide what you want to aim for before you start. If you have a goal to shoot, as it seems you do, then things kinda fall into place easier. Also, as I think everyone on here will say, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience........................

It took my tank almost 6 weeks to cycle, so just be confident in whatever you are doing is working, no matter what the test kit says
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Old 08-20-2003, 11:47 AM   #3
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Welcome to Aquarium Advice pm64971 (gosh I sound like a machine!)

well that's a hefty request indeed. THe good thing is you do have a specific goal in mind. As far as what exact equipment you'll need, each person is likely to give you a different answer as much of it is opinion based in the way of brands etc (so be prepared)

much of this is still going to be up to you, we'll point you in the right direction but I don't think you'll get a straight forward shopping list. Plus, I think it will greatly help you to understand how to properly care for your tank once you know WHY you need the items we suggest.

obviously, you will need a tank... the options here are glass vs acrylic and, the biggy, what size to get. Here are the factors to consider: What's the tanks purpose, and special needs fish? Well if your going for a reef set up, water movement and pristine water quality will be high on your list so you will likely want to go with acrylic so it can be drilled for plumbing. Now, what size? you stated you would like to put "a few tangs" in there. Tangs are energetic swimmers and need a good amount of horizontal tank space to really feel comfortable. Most will suggest at least 4 feet wide at a minimum, others suggest this also may be too small. Also consider how many fish (of any type) you'll want to have in the tank ultimately. For SW tanks, most give a RoT of 1" of full grown fish to every 3-5 gallons of water. So basically... the bigger the tank the better.. but the bigger the tank, the more of everything you'll need. literally.

once you have your tank, and a stand that will support over 10 times it's capacity in weight (eg a 55 gallon tank is over 450 pounds of just water, then you'll add 100 pounds of live rock and 150 pounds of sand giving you total weight of 700 pounds), you'll need those two things I just mentioned, live rock, as you want this to be a reef system. and a DSB.

The LR and DSB will handle the majority of your filtration. You'll want to consider the use of a sump or refugium. Consider a skimmer. You'll need enough powerheads to move about 10x your water volume per hour. and if you want corals and anenomes you'll need strong lighting. Depending on the type of corals and anenomes you'll need to decide if you want MH lights or if VHO or PC lights will be sufficient. You'll need test kits to test for everything under the sun. You'll need a good quality salt mix, such as Instant Ocean, Crystal Reef or Kent, i believe are the most common used here.

And.. you'll need a book or two, and, plenty of time to read these boards! There is a wealth of information here and a wealth of knowledgable and friendly users more than happy to help introduce you to this hobby!

Hopefully I've given you plenty to think on for a while. Please visit our articles section for additional information to help you research what exactly you need.
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Old 08-20-2003, 01:51 PM   #4
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with respect to the issue of plumbing the tank. How would you suggest I do that? I assume the holes are for lines from the sump to the powerheads (although I'm not sure how that works either). Could you please explain.

In terms of the tank, I'm thinking a 55 gallon tank with about 3 inches of sand in the bottom. I have read some stuff about live rock, but don't really understand. Is live rock coral? or are they two separate things? Where do you buy live rock?

What about filtration? Do I need to add any chemicals to the water or just the salt mixture?

Thanks
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Old 08-20-2003, 02:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
I assume the holes are for lines from the sump to the powerheads (although I'm not sure how that works either).
The holes would be for plumbing your sump or refugium. The holes remove the need for hang-on overflow boxes and keep you from having to drape tubing and pipes over the top of your tank. The powerheads are seperate, stand-alone pumps that simply move water around in the tank (an important component)

Quote:
I'm thinking a 55 gallon tank with about 3 inches of sand in the bottom
Most would suggest a minimum of 4 inches. Look for southdown/yard right/oldcastle play sand or any sterilized argonite sand with a fine grain size. a 55 gallon tank will likely mean 1 tang at the most and be sure to aquascape (arange) your rocks so there is plenty of room in the front of the tank for him to swim freely.

Quote:
Is live rock coral? or are they two separate things? Where do you buy live rock?
live rock is many things, some of which is old dead corals. If you want "corals" in your tank, you want live corals, which are purchased seperate from live rock. (and much MUCH later in the life cycle of your tank) You can buy live rock from many online suppliers, you can also look for LFS that carry cured live rock so you won't have to cure it yourself. You'll want about 1.5-2x your water volume in rock. For a 55 gallon tank you will want around 75-100 pounds of live rock.

Quote:
What about filtration? Do I need to add any chemicals to the water or just the salt mixture?
The LR and the sand (DSB) will do nearly all the filtration you'll need. Suplimented with a skimmer/refugium and you should be all set. If you'll want a lot of corals in the tank you may need to "dose" with calcium or iodine. another RoT is to NEVER add anything to your tank that you are not regularly testing for. A quality salt mixture will have all the nutrients and trace elements for the majority of your needs. The calcium and iodine are only needed if you have a high coral load in your tank (someone confirm that for me? I don't dose those things myself as I don't have many corals)
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Old 08-20-2003, 02:46 PM   #6
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Thanks for your help. Sorry if I ask silly questions, but what is a refugium? I read a bit about setting up a sump, but didn't really understand it. How should this work?
Thanks
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Old 08-20-2003, 03:06 PM   #7
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a sump is simply another tank that is kept out of sight. The plumbing we talked a little about before is used to cycle water to and from this sump on a continual basis. The sump is used for a few things. It adds additional water volume to the tank to decrease the amount of water parameter fluctuations. It houses "unsightly" equipment such as heaters and skimmers, leaving more room in your display tank for fish and rocks.

A refugiums, is basically a sump that has a sizeable portion set up with additional sand and LR and often macro-algaes to increase the filtering capacity of your system. The macroalgaes help with nutrient export to reduce the amount of unwanted micro algae in your display tank.

HTH
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Old 08-20-2003, 03:15 PM   #8
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OK, any other pointers before I start to buy a system? Any suggestions on inhabitants that I should start with? Should I be looking at starting with a crab or something like that? Should I start with an anemone or two and build from there?
I have heard that tangs are not the easiest marine fish. What should I start with, and how should I build up to a tang?

On the subject of anemones, how do you feed an anemone? Or I guess, the better question is, how do you care for an anemone? Is it realistic to think that I could have one of these as an inhabitant in my tank?

On the same note, aren't tangs supposed to be kept in groups or 1 or 5 or more?
How big of a tank would I need to hold more than 5 tangs plus a few other fish (clowns most likely)?

Has anybody had any trouble with the weight of a tank in their home? Any rocommendations as to where the tank should be located. I would like to put it in my livingroom, but I don't want to wake up one night to a loud crash and find the tank has relocated itself to my basement.

Thanks
Phil
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Old 08-20-2003, 03:19 PM   #9
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You would need a very very big tank to keep 5 tangs plus a few other fish. I would wait for the anemone...they are very hard to take care of and most would not even suggest getting one at all. If you are set on getting one, wait untill the tank has been well established. i think i read in here that it should be up and running for almost a year before adding one.
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Old 08-20-2003, 04:40 PM   #10
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I agree with chris. To have that many tangs you would need at least 180+ tank. Even then I would suggest getting the long shallow 180, not the tall cubish 180. remember, tangs love to swim.

Anenome are difficult to keep succesfuly. They require pristien water and high amounts of light. (many watts of MH lighting) Not only should the tank be well established, but you should also feel very comfortable that you yourself have sustained a balanced system in your tank that hasn't fluctuated. Once you have a routine and a tank whose parameters don't fluctuate from month to month you might be ready for an anenome. They are difficult to keep alive and many lose them after a few months. That's not to say they are impossible, just difficult.


I have heard anecdotes of people noticing sagging in the floors when setting up large aquariums in old homes. The best advice when picking a spot is to look from underneath. Go into the basement under where you want to put the tank and inspect your flooring. As long as there is nothing rotting/cracked and there are at least two or three floor joists running through the area the tank will inhabbit, you should be fine (with a 55). Placing it near an outter wall or close to any center beams in the floor can provide additional support. If you're getting into larger tanks you will, of course, need to be a little more careful of where you place your tank. remember 1 gallon of water weighs just over 8 pounds.
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