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Old 06-25-2003, 01:30 PM   #1
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Help starting a new tank

Hello,

I have a new fish tank with:

New Tank (no fish yet):
55 gal. acrylic saltwater tank with:
Magnum 350 - canister filter and BIO-wheel
Skilter 250 protein skimmer
200W Visi-therm heater
Light and cover
40 lbs. medium gravel

I purchased the tank, stand, light, and cover used, and then went to a good fish store that was strongly recommended to get everything else. The guys at the fish store had lots of good ideas for me to help start up my new tank, but they also said to check with others for a wide range of ideas. They also sold me a tap water filter (from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) to clean the water before putting it in the tank. I will start reading a few books on new saltwater tanks. I would appreciate any advice on starting up my new tank. Here is the startup process that I am planning on using:

1. Clean a new 5 gallon plastic bucket with tap water. Should I rinse it again with filtered water (from the tap water filter)?
2. Put the new gravel in the bucket with tap water (should I use filtered water here too?), and stir it around for 15 minutes. Then dump out the water and repeat several times, until the water is clear.
3. Arrange the "clean" gravel in the bottom of the tank.
4. Clean the 5 gallon bucket with tap water, and then rinse with filtered water.
5. Fill the bucket with 5 gallons of filtered water (the filter produces 5 gallons of water in 30 minutes). Then add the 1/2 cup of the salt, and stir for 15 minutes. Can I use warm water (the tap filter says it can filter water up to 90 degrees)?
6. Add the 5 gallons of salt water to the tank, and repeat step 5 eleven times to fill tank with 55 gallons of water.
7. Install the heater on one side of tank, and place the thermometer on the other side.
8. Install the filter and BIO-wheel system. Should the outflow of the filter push the water past the heater?
9. Install the protein skimmer.
10. Adjust the tank temperature to 78 degrees.
11. Check salt levels with hydrometer and adjust to 1.020, and check other chemical levels like PH) with testing kit.
12. If everything is OK after 48 hours, then add a few "cycle" fish (is that the correct term?) to get the eco-system and tank stabilized before adding "nice" fish. Let the fish float in the bag for 15 minutes, then add a cup of tank water to the bag, then add another cup after 30 minutes, and finally release the fish into the tank after 45 minutes.
13. If everything is OK after 3-4 weeks, then add a few more fish.


I have a few questions before I get started:

1. Is my equipment, supplies, and accessories appropriate for a beginner?
2. Do you think my "startup process" looks OK?
3. Any other advice would that would be helpful.

Tony
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Old 06-25-2003, 01:48 PM   #2
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First, Welcome!

Second, I have one question for you before you get detailed answers... what type of salt water tank do want to have in the end? Fish Only? Reef? or both. what you want in the end makes a bit of a difference in how you should set things up and what you need equipment wise.

Third be VERY happy you found these fine people here before you started setting things up. I, on the other hand, got everything set up THEN found the folks here! I have learned a lot, they're a great bunch!
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Old 06-25-2003, 02:08 PM   #3
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Hi BillyZ,

Thanks for the warm welcome.

Good question! We want to start with a fish only tank. Then we would like to add a few live plants, and maybe live coral at some point a few years down the road. But for now, we just want to have a nice fish only tank. My son really wants a Nemo fish and Dory fish (and a fish that looks like a shark) for our tank for his 3 year birthday next month, so would that make a difference too?

Tony
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Old 06-25-2003, 03:35 PM   #4
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you do not need to cycle your tank with LIVE fish. You can use a
raw shrimp from your local deli with the same results and some
poor fish wont have to live in a toxic waste dump.
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Old 06-25-2003, 04:22 PM   #5
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Re: Help starting a new tank

as I've never set up a fish only tank I'll have little i can offer other than I think what you have so far is a good start. I'll suggest, that even if you want a fish only tank (FO), a Fish Only with Live Rock (FOWLR) may make maintenance easier on you. The Live Rock (LR) and Deep Sand Bed (DSB) handle a lot of the filtration and water quality control for you. These do require a higher investement but besides making maintenance easier also add a beautiful amount of depth to a tank. That decision is up to you however. Hopefully a few other FO folks will give you some more advice on what to do and how to start.

Oh, and I second Hara's comment about not needing fish to cycle. go to the local grocery and buy yourself 1 cocktail shrimp and toss it in. the meat from the shrimp will supply more than enough ammonia and bacteria to start the cycle. You can remove the shrimp after 2-3 days (is that right?)


all the acronyms are an attempt to introduce you to the many you'll see here frequently!
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Old 06-25-2003, 04:30 PM   #6
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One other suggestion would be to lose the gravel altogether. Either go with sand or crushed coral. I have not been able to convince myself that the gravel is good for the tank, I think possibly, after time in the saltwater, the paint off the rocks starts to deteriorate. Keep in mind, I have nothing scientific to base that on, just an experience with one of my own tanks.
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Old 06-25-2003, 04:52 PM   #7
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see, I had the same "concern" with the gravel too, but I've had no experience with gravel in SW tanks so I didn't say anything.. but I would be inclined to agree.
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Old 06-25-2003, 05:07 PM   #8
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well here is my personal experience. I turned the 46 tall into a saltwater tank after I put the discus in the 150. The only thing in the tank is white gravel, a corner full of hirocks and a powerhead. We had a beautiful textbook cycle. Now, no matter what I put in it whether it be invert, plant or fish...it dies almost immediately.

The tank remains in the corner with water and such in it, just because I have been more concerned with the big tank for now. But as soon as I can get to it, the gravel is coming out and sand going in. Everything that I can test for has been normal. The only thing I can think of is some kind of toxicity in the gravel. Total time up now is over 2 months.
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:37 AM   #9
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Thanks Hara for the "shrimp" advice. I was very concerned about adding the first fish to the aquarium. This technique sounds much better and will not hurt any fish.
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:47 AM   #10
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Hara... thanks for the advice on the gravel too. I actually purchase medium sided crushed coral (that said it was extremely well rinsed). I thought gravel and crushed coral were the same thing -- so I have already learned two very important things (the shrimp was the first). So, I am very happy that I have the coral. The fish store guy said that the sand (and "living" sand) would not work too good with my filtration system, so I decided on the medium sized crushed coral.

I started cleaning the coral this evening. Wow, nothing is as simple/easy as I thought it would be. I guy at the fish store said to rinse it a few times until the water was more-or-less clear. First, 40 pounds is quite a bit of coral to rinse, and second it took me 2 hours of rinsing to get the water to be almost clear. I also found a small piece of plexi-glass in the coral and several small whole shells (approx 1/8 inch) and some crushed shells. I started to sort out the shell, but I decided that the shells actually look very nice with the tan/white coral.

Is it OK to have these pieces of shell in the coral? I assumed that it would be OK.

Now I plan on setting up the stand and empty tank in its final location in my home, and start arranging the coral and adding the salt water to the tank.
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