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Old 04-18-2012, 02:40 PM   #1
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Going from freshwater to saltwater?

Is saltwater hard to take care? I I have been keeping fit for 8 years(all freshwater). I'm thinking of damsels, and clowfish and either yellow tang or a dogfaced puffer? The 55 currently has no fish in it. I what would I have to do weekly to maintain it? My tank is in a room with low lighting but I have a t5 aqueon light system that is really bright. Please tell me what would lie ahead of me if I did the switch. I've kept tropical, Goldfish, and cichlids.
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:48 PM   #2
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You already have the general idea of how to keep fish, cycling, maintenance, cost, and general knowledge. ... Now, multiply all of that by 10, and cost by about 20.

You will have to re-research saltwater fish and see what is compatible. Do you want to keep FOWLR (fish only with live rock)? Or do you eventually want a reef tank with corals and clams? There are some fish (especially really colorful ones) that aren't compatible with reef systems because they eat the corals.

Once you answer these questions you can decide what temperment of fish. I kinda would compare damsels to cichlids, and clowfish to guppies. They have completely different attitudes, and can't be together.

For FOWLR, you can get away with standard lighting used in FW tanks, since live rock doesn't need metal halide lighting or 8 T5s. I ran my tank with 2 clowns and a blennie with live rock for a few months under the stock lighting that came with the tank. Of course if you upgrade lighting you will see more life from the LR and be able to keep corals.

There are more parameters to watch out for. It's not just ammonia, pH, nitrates/ites. Salinity and phosphates also play an important role in SW keeping (and even more when adding corals).

As for weekly maintenance, you'll still have to do PWC and testing; but to get pristine water you'll need to get an RO/DI filter and mix that with salt.

Take a look at my thread (link in my signature) and you'll see everything I did to start from scratch. My tank was empty and I went to the LFS for just some ideas and help; but I walked out with $300 of sand, LR, salt, etc. I explain what I did to start off and kept a decent log.

Good luck! If you take anything from this post, please let it be this: "It'll cost ya, but if you love it, and take care of it, it's totally worth it"
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:50 PM   #3
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You will probably need to change your substrate to aragonite sand or pool filter sand regardless. And you should cycle the tank (establish beneficial bacteria) using pure household ammonia or a raw shrimp before adding any livestock. IMO, this is where most people screw up when it comes to setting up any aquarium fresh or salt. If you do not have saltwater compatible test kits for ammonia, nitrite, pH, and nitrate, you also need to invest in those as well as a refractometer to measure salinity. (Hydrometers are not as accurate.) Be sure to test kits that use liquid reagents, not strips.

Unless you want to battle nuisance algae all the time, you will need a source of PURE freshwater. That means buying water from someone who can produce it such as your LFS or a grocery store or investing in an RODI system so you can make it yourself. You'll need to be prepared to do 10% water changes weekly.

What kind of equipment do you have for filtration, etc? Are you wanting to keep corals or anemones? Those guys require high intensity light which raises the cost considereably. Also, a 55 is too small for a dogface puffer or yellow tang in my opinion. Damselfish, while incredibly hardy, are extremely mean. (If you've kept mbuna before, they aren't much different.) I'd recommend looking on liveaquaria.com to get some livestock ideas. They have a spot where you can filter down livestock choices based on tank size.

If you are keeping any inverebrates (corals, shrimp, crabs, anemones, etc.) , I would also strongly advise you to invest in another small aquarium for quarantining new fish. The forums are littered with horror stories where aquarists bought a new fish, put it in the display and had it come down with ich and infect all the other fish. You cannot effectively treat most saltwater diseases with invertebrates. Your quarantine tank could be as simple as a 10 gallon plastic storage container with a heater and filter where you will isolate new fish for 4 to 6 weeks. (However, aquariums are easier to use becasue you can actually see the fish to figure out what, if anything is wrong with them.) Just like most other things with aquariums, bigger is better.
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Old 04-18-2012, 05:45 PM   #4
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Saltwater is more demanding than freshwater, both financially and time-wise, but if you do it right, it can be extremely rewarding. My first SW critters were a goby and a shrimp who lived together, and they were surprisingly entertaining for being seemingly insignificant little things, but I still wanted a fish who would actually swim around more. Then I bought Clark, my first clownfish whom I still have. I didn't get any other SW fish for a long time after I got them because they were enough to look at.

My advice would be to go for something super simple like I did... A couple of hardy little fish. Take care of them for a while, always keeping in mind that they are the goldfish of the SW world, and after a few weeks, decide whether you would be willing (or able) to care for something more demanding, or if it would be worth it to you in the end. That way, you have a chance to back out before you spend serious money, while avoiding any potential tragedies that may occur after buying hundreds of dollars worth of fish and/or corals and suddenly discovering that it is alot to deal with.

It's kind of like driving a car for the first time. Go slowly and it won't hurt if you crash.
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:51 PM   #5
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Allright so I have the tank, and light, and filters, heater, hood, and gravel or sand?? I have gravel.. I'm thinking 1 damsel for about 6 month to a year till I get the hang of it.then maybe some clowfish or yellow tang. Do I need a protein skimmer? I I eventually want to try a coral setup(just coral ith maybe 1or 2 fish.. Please help! Btw thy k you for all of the hel so far! I oh and how do I covert the freshwater to saltwater? And then how long till I can add the damsel?
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:01 AM   #6
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Skip the gravel and get sand. PFS or play sand will work just fine. If you want sandsifting fish, then get aragonite sand.

Protein skimmer isn't really needed on a 30g and under. If your tank is larger, then yes I'd get one. An in-sump skimmer is generally better than a hob, but if you're going without a sump an hob skimmer will be just fine.

I guess i don't understand what you mean by converting from fresh to salt?

Wait to add fish until you're completely cycled.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:58 AM   #7
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I've decided to stick to with the freshwater until I get a job. I I'm young so yeah. Ho but thank you everyone!
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