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Old 12-16-2004, 12:14 PM   #1
Fisharegood
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Help. Converting freshwater tank to saltwater

Ok, so i'll probably sound stupid but oh well. I can get a 55 gallon aquarium with everything but the rocks and fish for $150. But I want to convert it to saltwater. Is this possible or do you have to buy a specific tank? If so, what does it require to get to convert it and is that expensive. It's a gift for my wife so I can't screw it up. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 12-16-2004, 12:45 PM   #2
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What is included with the 55 gallon tank for $150?

Depending on whats included, it might be better to start from scratch.

There are three routes you can take:

1. Reef tank - most complicated and most expensive.

2. Fish Only With Live Rock - Not as complicated but still expensive.

You can find alot of info here about live rock, the most common is Fiji Live rock. The cheapest I have seen at local stores is $4/lb, in a 55 gallon, anywhere from 60-90 lbs would be sufficient. Buying from a local store decreases your cycle time due to less die off because of decreased transit time. You tank will cycle pretty quickly and will have alot of beneficial life with the introduction of live rock.

3. Fish Only With Dry Rock - Same as 2 but cheaper. Does not have any nice looking coraline aglae. Takes longer to cycle, i.e. will take atleast 6 weeks before you can add your first fish or two. Dry rock could be any calcerous limestone rock. This is commonly called baserock and sells for about $1-2/lb. Mixing this with live rock can spread the pretty algae and decrease cycle time.

Equipment Needed

Substrate:
With any of these 3 routes you will want aragonite substrate on the bottom. 1-2mm if a good grain size. Its small enough to not trap fish waste and food but large enough not to cloud your tank and can also be vacuumed. Aragonite will help maintain the pH and water chemistry along with the rocks.

Filtration:
With route 2 and 3, you wont need as much water flow as a reef tank. Get two powerheads rated around 250 gallons per hour or two aquaclear 500's and you should be fine.

Lighting:
Live rock will need a bit more lighting so look in to power compact lighting with a glass hood. Dry rock wont need as much lighting, so a stock hood would work fine. If you want to do a mix of live rock and dry rock get power compact with the glass hood.

Heating:
Get two reliable heaters, Visitherm is good. Make sure the temperature never fluctuates more than 2 degrees. Temp should remain around 78-80.

Water:
Fill the tank up with RO filtered water. The stuff you get at Target or Walmart in the gallon jugs. I wouldnt use tap water.

Test kits:

You will need a test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. You can only add fish after the tank is cycled and ammonia and nitrate are zero, pH should be around 8 - 8.3. Your salt mix should take care of that.

Cycling:
I cycled my tank with hermit crabs and shrimp and snails and decaying food. Once Ammonia and nitrite hit zero I bought a fish, and added one or two every few weeks after that.

Did I miss anything?
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Old 12-16-2004, 12:57 PM   #3
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wow, thanks for the info...
Well it the aquarium i saw didn't specify freshwater or saltwater but since it was at WalMart I'm assuming it's freshwater. It said it was a kit so I'm assuming it came with everything needed for a basic freshwater system.
I have a couple of heaters for my 35 gallon freshwater tank, is there a specific heater for saltwater or do i need just a bigger/better one because it's a bigger tank?
As far as money wise (if I'm going with the dry rock or live rock, not reef) to get those things, about what are am I looking in for a starter? I know you can't tell me exactly of course but a ballpark would be great..

I appreciate the help too. I need to know what I'm getting into financially before I get into so I can see if I have the fundage to do so (I'm also getting her a ring). If I can pull it off, I can get both which would be awesome. I need to pay her back for the big screen she bought me last year.
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Old 12-16-2004, 01:04 PM   #4
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That tank will be fine for a FOWLR. There is no "converting" needed.

That kit comes with a heater, it should be fine but I woudl get a second and set it a couple degrees lower than the first. Strictly as a backup.

Get 50 to 60 lbs of "base rock" the best place I have found is hirocks.com I would get 2 boxes of 30 since their box of 60 is LARGE rocks. After you have the tank setup and temp, sg, Etc stable then order 20 to 30 lbs of liverocks from liverocks.com and let the rock cycle your tank and it will seed your base rock making it live.

HTH & BTW Welcome to AA, the best fish help place on the net.
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Old 12-16-2004, 01:38 PM   #5
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Since you havent bought the tank yet and are starting fresh, let me tell you what I would do. I would not buy the kit because you will end up upgrading everything aside from the actual glass tank.

Fish Tank:

http://www.all-glass.com/products/aq...standard.shtml

A standard 55 gallon is OK, but more depth always helps with aquascaping rocks and adds depth when viewing the aquarium. A standard 55 is around 12" deep, a 40 gallon breeder tank is 18" deep. This helps alot when placing rocks and looks better. The all-glass aquarium 50 gallon would be nice also, it has extra depth.

Do you need to get this tank ASAP? If so, call around the local stores and see if they can get either of those tanks. The tank should be about $90 or less. See if they have the matching glass hood.

http://www.all-glass.com/products/hoods/versatop.shtml


Post back what you find out....
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Old 12-16-2004, 01:45 PM   #6
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THANKS! will do guys.
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Old 12-16-2004, 01:49 PM   #7
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Lighting :

http://www.aquatraders.com/



dry rocks:

www.reeferrocks.com
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Old 12-16-2004, 03:21 PM   #8
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I would avoid Wal Mart at all costs...even for the tank. The kit, as already mentioned, is going to contain super cheap/junky equipment. The heater may be a 'fixed' unit where you can't adjust the temp it heats to, and the filter will likely be a Whisper HOB...utter junk.

There are ways you can cut corners to save costs, and still have good equipment. For example, buy 50lbs of 'dead' base rock...and just 10lbs of live rock. This way you get some coralline algae to seed all the dead rock, yet you cut the cost of your rock purchase by at least 50% (live rock tends to run $4-$7 per pound, base rock is usually $2/pound)
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Old 12-16-2004, 05:34 PM   #9
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ok guys i've done some extensive research and calling around and trying different things and i've come to a conclusion.....i'm going to start off with the big freshwater tank..

no matter which route i go, it's a litte more than i wanted to spend..not to mention the time and care which is needed in this and i wouldn't want to screw it up...so i figure i'd get a big freshwater tank like 50 or more gallons from somewhere(not walmart, thanks for the info on that) and try to get some good colorful fish or variety of inhabitants for it....then i'd let her decide on her own when she wants to convert and she's ready to be able to maintain it...her bday is in march, maybe i'll save up for that with her willing....

i appreciate all the info guys...since you guys seem pretty smart, i'll ask this: i'd like to have a variety of animals in the tank or lots of colorful fish...anything i should know about that, for example say frogs don't go with turtles or anything like that?
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Old 12-16-2004, 05:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
The heater may be a 'fixed' unit where you can't adjust the temp it heats to

Actually it's (at least in my 55) an aqua therm 150.

Quote:
and the filter will likely be a Whisper HOB...utter junk.
Actually mine had a penguin 330 equal. minus the bio wheels.

Quote:
dry rocks:

www.reeferrocks.com

That's a pretty good looking rock
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