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Old 01-02-2004, 07:37 AM   #1
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Getting started with saltwater.

Did a quick search on some of my topics but I still have some questions so I thought I would drop a line. ( No pun intended. )

Is live rock a must in a new tank? Can we use base rock at first in order to build a small foundation? Where are some good places to buy live rock ect.? I did some searches and found quite a few places, but I would like to see some that people have used in order to perhaps not get ripped off or get bad rock.

Can we use dead rock then later add live rock?

Should lighting be on all day? The guy at the local shop sold us some 50/50 lights. Are these what we need?

Tank setup right now includes: 55 gallon tank, 2 60 gal over the back filters, protein skimmer, tank heater ( will probably add another ), mixture of sand and one bag of live sand.

What kind of fish should we start with? I have been reading that some fish will only live with live rock.

We perhaps jumped too quick, but it is something we both wanted to do. So we bought the starting stuff and now want to do the right thing. We have been running a freshwater tank for several years now although it is only 20 gallons. We have had no problems with it, with salt we understand there will be more problems. With your help maybe we can keep this to a minimum,

I think that is all of my questions. I am going to go by a Barnes & Noble tonight and see if I can pick up some books on saltwater. With the wealth of knowledge on the internet there tends to be more information on here than I could ever find in a book.

Edit to reading some more posts: What is best way to take readings from the tank? Like these-

PH 8.3
Alk 4 mg/l
CA 500 mg/l
NO3 10 mg/l
NO2 .1 mg/l
NH3 .1 mg/l
Salinity 1.026
Temp 81.2

The shop sold a hydrometer and tol us that is all we needed.
Thank you for any help.

Rusty & Amanda
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Old 01-02-2004, 09:27 AM   #2
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Re: Getting started with saltwater.

First of all,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonguy95
Is live rock a must in a new tank? Can we use base rock at first in order to build a small foundation? Where are some good places to buy live rock ect.? Can we use dead rock then later add live rock?
After doing my research into starting my tank, I found that LR in combination with a DSB is the best way to provide filtration in a system. Along with a skimmer, it's called the Berlin method. After getting my LR from Liverocks I can tell you it was the best decision. I have had it in my tank 16 days now, and find new creatures literally every day. It's just the most amazing stuff. FYI, the garbage they sell in my LFS didn't thrill me, but once I got mine from Zack and Mike at Liverocks I understood what the fuss was about. Not to mention, it was about $2-3 cheaper to have it sent to me (I picked it up at the airport about 10 hours after he packaged it) then to buy it at my LFS for $6.99/lb.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonguy95
Should lighting be on all day? The guy at the local shop sold us some 50/50 lights. Are these what we need?
First of all, remember that the "guy" at your LFS has one agenda, that is sales. I personally do not work in the industry, just like most of the people on this board. What kind of lights did he sell you, MH, PC, Flourescent? There is a lot more to lights then colors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonguy95
Tank setup right now includes: 55 gallon tank, 2 60 gal over the back filters, protein skimmer, tank heater ( will probably add another ), mixture of sand and one bag of live sand.
Well, the 2 60 gal hob filters are more of a freshwater thing, and most people will discourage those because they do become a nitrate trap after a while. If this is what your LFS recommended, it's because that's what they stock. This is where LR is better.

What kind of skimmer?

Two tank heaters are better, incase one goes out on you.

The bag of live sand isn't worth the plastic they keep it in. I am assuimg you are talking about is that bagged dirty sand that you see on the shelf. Do a search on this site, it's been discussed several times. Basically, how do you keep organisms alive in an air tight bag without the proper light or food? You don't. But they will sell it to you at $30/bag, because your LFS is in it for money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonguy95
What kind of fish should we start with? I have been reading that some fish will only live with live rock.
Don't start with any fish yet, not until you are sure your tank has fully completed it's cycle. Otherwise, you are subjecting that fish to live in a virtual sewer. Do a search on this site about a tank cycle and fishless cycling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonguy95
I am going to go by a Barnes & Noble tonight and see if I can pick up some books on saltwater. With the wealth of knowledge on the internet there tends to be more information on here than I could ever find in a book.
Pick up The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists by Robert M. Fenner. I highly recommend it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonguy95
Edit to reading some more posts: What is best way to take readings from the tank? Like these-

PH 8.3
Alk 4 mg/l
CA 500 mg/l
NO3 10 mg/l
NO2 .1 mg/l
NH3 .1 mg/l
Salinity 1.026
Temp 81.2

The shop sold a hydrometer and tol us that is all we needed.
These look familiar

One of your first purchases should be a test kit. I use Hagen, but Salifert is far better according to the guys who have been in this longer.

Once again,
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Old 01-02-2004, 12:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Can we use base rock at first in order to build a small foundation?
Yes. That's what I did. I got Reef Rock 50lb (Carib Sea) from That Fish Place,
look here

It's very porous. The rock I got was white. Any part that's above the sand is now covered with coralline.

Quote:
Can we use dead rock then later add live rock?
I would add the base rock, then the sand, partially fill the tank, then add then LR. Finish filling the tank and then let it cycle.

Read the articles on this forum and keep asking questions.
GO SLOW!

What kind of sand did the LFS sell you and how much?
Read up on DSB and decide if that's what you want. My LFS set up my tank for me with 100# of CC. I then decided to go with a DSB and removed the CC. This was before I had any livestock but in mid-cycle

Learn from the mistakes of others. It's much cheaper in the long run.
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Old 01-02-2004, 10:46 PM   #4
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Ok little update some things changed after a trip to speciality shop. The only sell tropical fish and were very helpful.

What we have now the some stuff has been removed and added.

55 gallon tank, Whiper 60 power filter, 1 bag of Crushed coral, 1 bag of araginite sand, 1bag Bio-active live reef sand. 25 lbs of dry reef rock, 2 200 watt heaters, 50/50 Coralife 50% natural 50% actinic.

The dry rock was added tonight along with one heater. The Lee protein skimmer was removed and Sea Clone is on the way. The Lee just worked off of air. From what I have read the Sea clone will be a much better skimmer.

We thought very seriously about the live rock vs dry rock. In the end we decided that it would be better for us to cycle with some damsels than with live rock. Due to a couple of factors.

1) If I screw something up I dont kill a tank full of live rock.
2) Money is tight after christmas this method is a little less harsh on the wallet. ( I know this isn't a good reason but it factors in on it's own)


Thanks for the help. I am off to read somemore. As far as prices the tank kit with hood, filter, 1 heater, lights 150. Sand, extra heater, rocks, 50/50 lights brings total to like 450 right now. The tank was a pretty good deal I thought.

Thanks again,
Rusty & Amanda
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Old 01-02-2004, 11:20 PM   #5
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What would be easier on the wallet, and much nicer for your fish, is one uncooked, unmarinated, (basically untouched, only caught) raw cocktail shrimp from the grocery store. Plop it in, and as it rots, it will begin your cycle, and the cycle will finish on its own, in about a month.
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Old 01-02-2004, 11:22 PM   #6
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While I disagree with your logic on cycling with damsels, you could always use a few raw shrimp from the grocery store, I fully understand the budget restrictions.

Its almost impossible to kill live rock. If you think about whats its experenced to get to your local store that itself is amazing that there is life still on it.

Is the light a NO florecent? If so then going with dry rock was probably a good choice as a 40W NO florecent bulb is not going to be able to provide enough light to grow the nice corline that covers the live rock.

I wish you the best of luck and your already doing what needs to be done by reading and research.
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Old 01-02-2004, 11:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishfreek
While I disagree with your logic on cycling with damsels, you could always use a few raw shrimp from the grocery store, I fully understand the budget restrictions.
What is the problem with cycling with damsels? Some places I read about cycling with fish, so I read say only cycle with live rock, I had even read about the shrimp method. With so many different ideas how do you know what is the right one?

I spoke with several people at the shop and they all used fish to cycle. Is the problem just with the damsels being aggressive when kept with other fish?

I welcome your opinions, there are just so many different ones it is hard to pick which is right or which is wrong...

Thank you again,
Rusty
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Old 01-02-2004, 11:55 PM   #8
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With the damsels, they are aggressive and can limit your selection later on (I've read they're a PAIN to catch!). The main reason being, most people feel it's unethical. Why waste the life of a fish, when you can toss in a shrimp that someone has already killed? That way, you can start your tank with one death, not two. It's really preference, and as mentioned, one shrimp is cheaper than a damsel. Technically speaking, of the 3 you listed, they all cycle the same...they all acheive the same end. Just, with the shrimp, you're not killing anything on the LR, or any fish.
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Old 01-03-2004, 12:17 AM   #9
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Not to mention that Ammonia, which is what start the cycle, will burn the gills of the fish. Damsels are used to start the nitrogen cycle because they are hardy and cheap. Hardly a reason to put them through such abuse when using an already dead cocktail shrimp can produce the same result. Then the damsels that survive can be such a pain that you wish you never got them in the first place.
Most people start the cycle with fish because thats what the LFS told them to do.

Keep reading, keep asking questions. I know how hard it is with so many conflicting opinions. That's why this is the primary board I use. You can find good advice here from the advisors in a friendly atmosphere.

Good luck
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Old 01-03-2004, 11:08 PM   #10
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i cycled my tank with a damsel, it was a true pain to catch, as far as the dead shrimp....guess you learn something new everyday im glad i read this when i started my 55 gal i was so novice.....hob emporor with bio wheels, no skimmer, 2 bags live sand and @ 20 lbs LR i put a damsel in went good for me but thought it was kinda cruel to make the fish suffer if tank wasnt ready ...now i moved up to a 90 gal 304 fuval, skimmer, 75 lbs LR and i have keeped live sand because i like the fine grain quality for my goby<he seems to do better with it> the LR is a must it prvides housing ,even food supply not to mention the biological filtration and of course the look of the sea im not an expert but wanted to put my two cents in about the damsel and if you ask plenty of questions here you will save alot more on your wallet i have gotten nothing but good advice here and GOODLUCK
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