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Old 03-15-2006, 11:49 PM   #1
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Help for setting up small starter tank

I'm considering setting up a saltwater fish and live rock tank. I have limited space, so it will be a small tank. I have some freshwater practice, but I'm completely new to saltwater. The only background I have is the book "The New Marine Aquarium" as well as some reading around on various forums.

The two options I have in mind are:

Small 55 liter (60 cm) tank with about 5-6 small fish, a couple of cleaner shrimp and a hermit crab. For fish I was thinking a pair of damsels, and a school of 3-4 grammas (can they be kept in a school?) and perhaps one more fish.

Really small 35-40 liter tank with a pair of damsels, a cleaner shrimp and a hermit crab. Perhaps one more small fish (Gramma?).

I don't have the budget for a protein skimmer right now. I understand that I can get away with using active carbon instead. Any tips on this?

Also, the room I'm going to have the tank in can get quite hot in summer.
(normally around 28-35 degrees, but it will drop quite a lot in short periods when I'm using the airconditioner). Coolers seem to be very expensive, so I hope to get away with using just a fan. Can you get special canopies that have room for putting a fan in? Should I keep both the fan and the heater running to minimize temperature swings?

Can I get away with doing only weekly water changes, plus refilling freshwater on a quasi-daily basis? The book I mentioned recommends 10-15 % changes, any thoughts on this?

As for filter, will a normal simple HOB filter be sufficient, or should I go for canister? I saw a really nice and cheap 60 cm tank set the other day with a canopy that had room for two light tubes, the filter was built in to the canopy though, so I don't know if this will be sufficient for a saltwater setup? I've also heard that most filters of these types are not meant for saltwater and that the pump can be damaged if used with saltwater.

Will there be a significant difference in difficulty and upkeep between the two tank setups I explain? I'm leaning toward the really small tank...
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:19 AM   #2
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I don't think u should start a really small tank if u think it'd be easier to take care of. Smaller tanks tend to be harder to maintain. Plus if it's too small, it's not worth it to spend money on skimmer, filter, light and other equipments ur gonna buy (trust me, u don't want to buy them now but u will later). And ur selections of fishes for those small tank are way over their capacity. I made that mistake as well. Ur lucky u asked before u buy anything.

Mayb start on a little bigger tank. I'll do u good

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Old 03-16-2006, 01:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
Small 55 liter (60 cm) tank with about 5-6 small fish,
That is too many fish in a 15 gal tank (saltwater that is). The rule of one inch of fish(not including the tail) per five gallons is a good rule of thumb. 2 damsels would be a max for that tank.
Quote:
a couple of cleaner shrimp and a hermit crab
I would go with one cleaner shrimp and more hermits(10) and snails(10). I have a cleaner, 17 hermits and 15 snails in my 20gal and they do a good job.
Quote:
Can I get away with doing only weekly water changes, plus refilling freshwater on a quasi-daily basis?
One 10-15% h2o change/week would be great for that size tank. Top ups with freshwater are great. If you can use ro or ro/di water as a lot of tap waters have unwanted elements.
Quote:
As for filter, will a normal simple HOB filter be sufficient, or should I go for canister?
Hob is fine just make sure you have a min of 1lb of LR/gal as this will do a lot if not most of the filtration. A good target is 1.5-2 lbs of LR/gal.

As mentioned above the bigger you go with your starter tank the easier it will be to get on top of any problems before they become overwhelming as compared with a smaller tank. If i can offer one piece of advice it is to do a lot of research before you commit to anything. Saltwater is different than fresh. Patience is needed with this hobby, especially at the beginning. If you do it right the first time the less chance of failure. I hope some of this advice helps. GL and welcome to the salty side.
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Old 03-16-2006, 06:41 AM   #4
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Since it sounds like you're going towards a fish-only setup, the lighting part is easy. Basically whatever makes you happy in terms of being able to see your fish. Normal output fluorescent are perfectly fine. If you get the invertebrate/coral urge as everybody eventually does, then your lights can quickly become your most expensive piece of equipment.

If going with a HOB filter, you might consider using the one called a "Skilter". That incorporates a filter with a protein skimmer. You hear a lot about them not being all that good, but might be fine for a small tank. You can at least look into it.

Oh, and unfortunately a school of grammas is out. More than one would probably result in a war, especially in a small tank.
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Old 03-16-2006, 11:54 AM   #5
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I agree wit hteh others. Too many fish in small tank. Small tanks are harder. Lighinging not important if coral is nto included.

I cna help you out more if oyu want to talk via PM. Let me know,
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Old 03-16-2006, 11:49 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice. I've revised my plan a little:

Small 55 liter tank with a pair of damsels, and one gramma (may skip gramma depending on advice). One cleaner shrimp, some hermit crabs.

-or-

Really small 35-40 liter tank with a pair of damsels, a cleaner shrimp and a couple of hermit crabs.

I know that I'm putting myself at a disadvantage, and its not that I don't want to get a bigger tank, I just don't have the space right now.

JBJ Nanocubes seem interesting (http://www.marinedepot.com/aquarium_...be.asp?CartId=). I'm considering the 12 gallon cube if I can get it shipped outside the US at a reasonable price. Does anyone have experience with this system?

The skilter filter seems interesting also, thanks for the tip.
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Old 03-17-2006, 03:25 AM   #7
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Nooooo!

Don't skip the gramma. Great Fish! Now skipping those rotten damsels has real possibility
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:57 PM   #8
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Get rid of the damsels and trade them for a small goby and a purple firefish to go along with your royal gramma.
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Old 03-19-2006, 01:28 PM   #9
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A royal Gramma (they rock!!!) and a green chromis (Love them too) would be nice in the 15g. With a shrimp and a clean up crew Welcome to AA! Great place to start out.
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