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Old 03-13-2009, 08:15 PM   #1
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I Could Use Some Help Here - Saltwater Newbie

Hello All,

I'll try to make this short. I do have experience with freshwater tanks, I raised discus for a few years, but I have never done saltwater. I was on Freecycle today and someone had a 40 gal sw tank for free with stand. Expecting to get there to a dry aquarium, much to my surprise I get there and it's full and even has a couple of live corals in it. Let's just say I wasn't prepared for a live tank. I haven't done ANY research yet and don't know a thing about saltwater.

The guy was very nice, said he didn't want to empty it so whoever got it wouldn't have to cycle the water. He had a 20 gal container with salt mixed in at the right proportions so when I got home I could refill it. We drained about half the water, I got it home and running.

So now what? LOL I am completely not prepared for this. Can anyone give me some advice on where to go for some emergency preparedness info? This guy gave me EVERYTHING I could imagine to need. The Marine Lab test kit, enough salt for 200 gals, medicines, fish food, cleaning equipment, sand, etc etc, stuff I don't even know what it is.

It is an acrylic 40 gal. There seems to be three different types of lights in the hood ( he even gave me extra bulbs, two differen types of halides).

Any info would be appreciated! Thanks much!

Kim Llewellyn

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Old 03-13-2009, 08:43 PM   #2
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IMO first find a source for RO DI water for top offs and for mixing more SW. Using tap water will promote algae. To mix fresh SW you will need a container, power head, heater and a hydrometer (or Refractometer ). I always keep at least a 10% premixed on hand for emergency's. I'm sure others on this site will have more advice. Good luck.

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Old 03-13-2009, 10:07 PM   #3
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I think you should take a water reading, or two and get used to testing your aquarium. If something were to go bad we would need this information first.

ammonia, nitrites and nitrates

test your water and post the results please.
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:33 AM   #4
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My first suggestion is to browse this site as fast as you can and do as much research and reading as you can! Freshwater and saltwater are different beasts, with saltwater being less tolerant to poor maintenance than freshwater. Oh... and welcome to AquariumAdvice!

The only thing that jumped out at me on your post was your comment about 'cycling the water'. Just remember... the water isn't the source of the bacteria for your nitrogen cycle. The bacteria lives on the live rock and in the sand, primarily. Any disturbance of the sand from say... moving the tank... can cause a mini-cycle. So assuming the tank won't cycle again just because it has old water in it isn't a safe bet. As buddha_red noted, keep on the ammonia/nitrite testing for the next week or so and be prepared to do some water changes (per ezy33's post) if you start measuring any ammonia or nitrites.

Any fish in the tank? Or just coral? If you post some pictures in the ID section of the site, we can help you figure out what you have livestock wise. And feel free to post pictures of the equipment and we can help you figure out what you ended up with!

Welcome to the saltie side of things, and don't be afraid to ask questions as you start trying to figure stuff out.
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:52 AM   #5
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first off great find and welcome to AA.. research on your corals and water quality are going to be your friend. you have 3 different lights for the best possible coral growth possible im sure.. each light is recommended to be changed yearly to keep the spectrum consistent, and strong. other than adding iodine (for the coral) and salt to the water, its not much more different from our fresh water.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:21 AM   #6
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I cant offer much in the way of advice but Welcome to AA! If I had any advice today it would be - take your time and ask lots of questions. this forum has helped me a ton!
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:38 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your advice. I took water readings today, the nitrates and ammonia are still at zero (so far) and the ph at 8.2.

There were no fish in the tank. From what I've been able to research so far, what I have are three "leathers", which from what I understand can be more tolerant than some? They're pinkish, look almost like broccoli with a stalk and little feathery fingers on the tips of their "branches".

I guess my plan for now is to test the water daily for a couple of weeks and see how things go before I do anything else. The tank has a sump type filtration system, nothing external. One side of it is filled with tons of those little bio balls, which I have no experience at all with. Someone at one of the stores told me I should slowly replace them with live rock.

I'm a little overwhelmed, but I have to admit it has been fun too!

I'll keep you updated and probably come screaming when something goes wrong, lol!

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Old 03-15-2009, 02:56 AM   #8
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Think about setting up your lights. Lights are very important for a saltwater tank, espeically ones with corals in it. So you have MH (metal Halides) and what other lights?

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