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Old 11-23-2009, 03:32 AM   #1
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Help me in my 125gallon saltwater quest... (newbie)...

I'm a newbie to the salt water... I know tropical fish... I currently have a 36gallon bow tank with african cichlids... I'm not extreme in that I don't do the water jets or any live plants with the lighting and all, but I'm not an idiot either and am more than willing to learn, but you guys have to take it easy on me, lol.

I am a bar owner, I bought a 125 gallon tank to put up at my bar. I think saltwater would be the way to go in that it is going to look the 'sweetest' and get people talking. I've spoke to people and I've heard I want to get a type of eel, a small shark, and a 'dogfish'... sound compatible?

Aside from that, my first real step is going to be the tank setup... currently it's sitting empty, no gravel, filters, anything really. As I said, I've never done salt, so please take it easy on me if I ask something that might sound stupid.

For getting a tank setup that size, would it be more economical for me to buy online or from local (chain) pestore? We also have a few 'home grown' fish places around but I haven't visited yet as I don't want them to think I've blown them off (no homo) if I don't go through a purchase being that I'm a business owner. I guess I've always been a little shy going places at first until I've made up my mind because I don't like the salesman hassle basically.

So, that being said, will I get a better deal ordering or going to the local store? I don't mind overpaying a few dollars if I'm going to get much better service hands on etc etc at a local fishstore, but I also don't want to overpay several hundred dollars no matter how good the service. I don't mind doing the research myself and figuring things out. HELP! lol

So I want living sand (right?) That's what the lady at the pet store told me... I also need some type of understand filter, correct? And a couple overtop filters? Then comes the coral... do all salt water have coral? Is it just for looks?

Is there any articles that you guys could suggest? When I check out stuff online like '10 easy steps' etc, etc it just seems to take me on a runaround.

Ok, so first question, order online or through local fish store? Any other advice is appreciated and I will read everything. Thanks guys!

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Old 11-23-2009, 08:18 AM   #2
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First answer. Do not rely on the retail shops for a lot of advice. Check out our aticles section on establishing a salt water (SW) tank.

On you most urgent question, read up on SW tanks first before you decide what you even want to buy.

The tank you sound like you're leaning towards (eels, sharks, dogfish) require a different set up and would not allow for reef (corals). Need real aggresive walter filtration too. I'd also be wary of a tank that folks can "accidentally/on purpose try to feed the fish for you since the fun in those fish seems to watching them eat live fish of other foods. If you wanna go coral, you'll have more interesting creatures in my opinion. Shrimp, crabs, sand burrowing fish, coral waving to and from etc, etc.

Read first. Good luck!


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Old 11-23-2009, 08:33 AM   #3
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I supposed the location would make Vodka dosing more convienient ^.^

One thing I'm unsure about would be your location; I've read quite a few articles that suggest that ther are severe long term negative impacts on the health of your fish and system due to smoking, and I could only assuming that your bar is a smoking bar. Might be something to think about. The air quality in bars tends to be.... moderate at best.

Good luck to you!
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:12 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback so far (hope to get lots more)... The tank has a custom built 'frame' if you will around it. There is a wooden angled top that I plan on padlocking down. Feeding the fish by customers should not be an issue as they should not be able to get anywhere near the water without seriously damaging things, and if that happens I'll have plenty other to worry about, lol. Aside from that... Yes, we allow smoking, but the bar has 14ft high ceilings, fans, and although the air might not be crystal clear, I don't believe it is nearly as bad as many of you are imagining. A cloud of smoke will not be looming around the fishtank is what I'm getting at.

Soooo... now back to my original question (since local fishstore advice seems to be out) is it more economical for me to buy all my setup stuff via the net or locally? (I'm sure the net probably would give better 'deals' but I guess I'm getting at is it worth it w/shipping and what not or should I go down the street?) after that is answered, assuming I should shop online, any sites that anyone would recommend? Also would you have a checklist of everything I'll need? Thanks again!
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:37 AM   #5
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While I understand the "cool" aspect of having sharks in a tank in a bar, no matter how "small" the sharks, they should really be kept in much larger tanks. If you're going for the "wow" effect, then yeah... that'd probably do it. But if you're looking out for the well being of the fish, then leave the sharks to the big aquariums and the ocean. Obviously... just, my, opinion.

With that said... on to your original question! You will always get a more economical deal ordering online. Always. Even including shipping. However... I wouldn't buy a tank online. Dealing with LTL freight companies to get your tank delivered is a hassle most times, and if there's damage (high probability) it's up to you to deal with it. Better to spend a little extra $$ and buy the tank from a local fish store. There's also the aspect of supporting your local suppliers, so you have to figure how much that's worth. But cutting out the middleman will always get you a better deal. Me personally... I bought my tank and stand locally - everything else online. Even my rock and sand. Fish have all been local, about 1/2 my coral local and 1/2 online.

Here are some of the online shops I've dealt with that I'd personally buy from. (I'm leaving out the ones I wouldn't...)

petsolutions.com (my favorite right now)
hellolights.com (for lighting... obviously)
drfostersmith.com (used to be my favorite, but seems to be having shipping quality issues lately - but haven't used in a while)

I have a feeling I'm missing some, but this will at least get you a starting point.

Regarding a checklist of what you'll need, it's probably better you do some research on what type of tank you want to keep (reef? predator?), make up a list of what you think you need, and let us knit-pick it! But seriously... I've always found that you learn more if you make yourself do the research than have someone spoonfeed you the answers. And it sounds like you're not adverse to researching! For example... I lurked on this site, pouring over threads for three months before I bought a single piece of equipment when starting my tank!

Also... while saltwater really isn't difficult, it can be time consuming to keep up a clean reef tank. I think many of us lose track of how much time in a week we spend in our tank... a little here, a little there... it all adds up. As a business owner, when you're at work you have other issues that definitely take priority over the tank. Having a tank at home for a hobby is one thing. Having it at work, and part of the daily grind is another thing. You might think seriously about having someone locally service, maintain, and stock your tank. Not sure if anyone near you does that type of thing, but it seems like there's always at least one saltwater tank servicing/maintenance place in each big town. While it might not give you the "hands on" you want, it may give you the same effect you're looking for, and end up costing you less when you factor in what your time is worth.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:37 PM   #6
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you might want to check craigslist for the tank... ive got all mine from there, you can usually get them for about half what you would pay for a new one

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Old 11-24-2009, 01:56 PM   #7
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If you buy a used tank there are a couple of things to look out for (or ask).

1) Scratches.. Almost all used tanks have them.. Where they are and how clearly visible are of interest. Big ones can cause some disappointment. Take a close look when you go look at it.. and ask first.. That way they know u know

2) Was it ever treated with copper meds. Could cause problems down the line if heavily treated with copper. There are ways to detect it and get rid of it but it's a hassle, takes time and costs $.

3) Seals... Check the seals.. They shouldn't be globbed on ("I fixed er muhsef") or severely frayed.

On the online ordering front.


I'm sure I'm missing some. I'll spare you the list of (IMO) deadbeat rotten scumbag companies out there..

O yea, your local reef club, good ole CL and of course the buy/sell section of AA.

Join a reef club. The $20 or so dollars is more than worth it. People in this hobby have more 'crap' laying around collecting dust than you can shake a stick at. Deals abound.

Lastly.... Where's the bar... Ya never know when a road trip may be in order.
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:46 PM   #8
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I already have my tank... it's 125gallon... I bought it on craigslist, $400 delivered. I've done the research on the cracking/scratches, etc... I have a 125gallon tank currently sitting and waiting for my arrival to get this up and running.

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5 gallon, salt, saltwater

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