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Old 12-31-2003, 03:35 PM   #1
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Help with setup, Santa was VERY good to me!

Hi,

Santa was very good to me this year and hooked me up with a saltwater setup.

I'm a veteran freshwater guy who is about to dive into the saltwater realm, and I'd just like some comments/suggestions on my setup.

46 gallon bowfront tank with stand
Glass top
Standard lighting unit on top of glass top
Fluval 304 Canister filter
Cyclone BAK-PAK¬*2R Bio-Filter (Protein Skimmer)
Tetra 200 watt heater
Hydrometer
Test kit (all in one kit suggested by LFS)
1 unlabled bag of salt (should I use the whole thing?)
Substrate (not sand I forget what it is exactly, shells?)

That's it. I'll be putting all this together in the coming week or so (X-mas tree is in the way) The tank will be fish only to start. Anything I should know?

Should I use live rock?
Is the quarantine tank absolutely necessary, especially at this time?
Should I use Live sand?
Should I use sand at all instead of the shell substrate?
If I cycle with shrimp will I stink up the house?
Any chemicals that I can use to cycle with instead?
I know the Bak Pak 2R is meant for a reef setup, but I was told that's ok because I have the fluval 304, does that sound right?
Anything I'm not thinking of?

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 12-31-2003, 03:38 PM   #2
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Congrats on the tank and welcome to AA. You need a salinity tester, that's the only way to make sure your salt level is correct. Bio Spira marine will allow you to skip most of the "cycle".
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Old 12-31-2003, 03:48 PM   #3
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Forgive my ignorance...

A salinity tester? Isn't that what the hydrometer is for?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-31-2003, 03:49 PM   #4
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yes use live rock to help speed up the cycle and you will need a hydrometer. It might be a good idea to find out what kind of salt you have too. Instant Ocean is crap, I would go with red sea I think it's called which is the better version of Instant Ocean. Also go REALLY REALLY slow with the saltwater tank, I have had freshwater tanks for years (angels only)and when I started my salt tank 6 months ago I went way to fast and killed a lot of fish. Also don't get discouraged saltwater is really hard to do (atleast for me) compared to freshwater.



Goodluck,

Chris
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Old 12-31-2003, 03:49 PM   #5
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yes use live rock to help speed up the cycle and you will need a hydrometer. It might be a good idea to find out what kind of salt you have too. Instant Ocean is crap, I would go with red sea I think it's called which is the better version of Instant Ocean. Also go REALLY REALLY slow with the saltwater tank, I have had freshwater tanks for years (angels only)and when I started my salt tank 6 months ago I went way to fast and killed a lot of fish. Also don't get discouraged saltwater is really hard to do (atleast for me) compared to freshwater.



Goodluck,

Chris
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Old 12-31-2003, 03:51 PM   #6
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Yea, I missed it. sorry.
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Old 12-31-2003, 03:55 PM   #7
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I use Instant Ocean with no problems.
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Old 12-31-2003, 04:05 PM   #8
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Hi,
Congrats on the tank! I'm researching SW right now too, but I'll try to help:

Standard lighting will probably be ok for fish only. Later on you may want to upgrade when you find some corals that you like. Corals have very specific lighting requirements.

Cannister filters are generally not used in SW the way they are in FW. The media in there may create high nitrate levels. In FW, nitrate levels may be up to 40 ppm with no harm, but in a SW tank they should be 0. You could remove the media and use it as a water circulator. SW tanks generally need more water movement than FW tanks.

Your hydrometer will be fine to measure salt levels. Some people upgrade to a refractometer later on, because they are more expensive.

The test kit should test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH. There are some other saltwater tests that you may need, like calcium and alkalinity, and some trace minerals you may need to test for if you get corals someday. Maybe someone else can fill you in on those tests.

If the salt is unlabeled, I would be hesitant about using it! Can you verify that it is a saltwater salt mix??

Some people use sand as a substrate, and some use crushed coral. I would tend to go with sand. It doesn't have to be live sand, just an aragonite-based sand. If you use crushed coral, be sure to monitor your pH often. The bacteria on the LR will end up in your sand, so you don't need to start out with live sand. But if you know someone with a disease-free tank, you could see if you can get a cupful of sand from that tank to help yours along.

I would definitely use live rock. Use 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of LR per gallon of water. This is your primary filtration method. There is an article on curing live rock in the articles section.

You can cycle with a shrimp from the grocery store, or you can cycle the tank as the live rocks cure. I have read that curing live rock does smell -- I plan to cure mine in the garage! Bio-Spira just came out in a marine version. I don't think it takes the place of curing live rock, though. One of the site sponsers has it: www.fishstoretn.com But no one has written about using it yet, I don't think.

When you do get your fish, you should set up a quarantine tank for them. This way you can make sure they are disease and parasite free before putting them in the main tank. If they need treatment, it's easier to do it in the QT tank, rather than in the main tank.

What kind of water are you going to use? For SW, RO or RO/DI water is recommended. You can get a home unit, or get the water at a grocery store or pet store. The units will take all the contamination out of the tap water, and then your salt mix will add everything back in that the fish and inverts need. There are a lot of posts on this site that talk about what brand of salt to use, and how to mix it up.

Good luck! Post some pictures of your new setup when you can!
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Old 12-31-2003, 04:22 PM   #9
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Does that mean the 304 is unneccesary? That is the one piece of equipment I felt really confident about! So much information to digest...
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Old 12-31-2003, 04:34 PM   #10
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Not necessarily so. I used 2 fluval 404s on my saltwater tank as I was building my load of LR. As I was adding LR and LR and building it up I would remove some of the media from the Fluvs over time. I still use them but have all the media out and just use them to create water flow. As you read thru the forum you'll find out that current is more important in marine tanks than it was in freshwater.
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