Originally Posted by marty_wolff
I would REALLY like to start a saltwater (fish and reef) aquarium. I only want 1 or 2 clownfish and a few anonymes ( or if there is other plants that clownfish prefer). Where I live there is no place to buy saltwater fish or corals so im stuck with ordering of the internet
But i want to have the smallest possible tank (possibly nano?) to keep cleaning to a minimum. i no these questions will sound stupid but i need to know. How much salt do you put in for every gallon and what do i need to measure salinity. can you make it with a regular freshwater pump or do i have to get a skimmer and a sump? I just need to learn the basics so all your input would be greatly appreciated!!
Hello. Sorry I'm a little late but to freshin things up, I've copied some helpful information from another site to help you get a better understanding.
What equipment do I need to get started?
Probably the biggest hurdle facing someone starting out in the marine aquarium hobby is exactly what equipment do require to get going? Of course, everyone has their differing opinions on that subject and it isn't quite a simple as it might sound. What it is required all depends on what is the goal are of the system. Therefore, if you haven't pinned that down as much as possible, it is recommended that you work that out as specifically as possible before making any equipment purchases. The reason for that is that the goal of the tank dictates the type of equipment that would be suitable.
These are pieces of equipment that is definitely required to maintain an "average" marine aquarium with both fish and photosynthetic corals.
*Tank, to hold the water. Most typical used is glass or acrylic.
*Heater, to maintain the water within the correct temperature range.
*Thermometer, to monitor the water temperature.
*Hydrometer, to monitor the water specific gravity / salinity.
*Pump(s), to move water around within the tank.
*Liverock, to provide biological filtration and a structure to place sensile organisms on (see: How much liverock is enough? ).
*Lighting, to provide sufficient light for the photosynthetic organisms to live and grow.
Handy to Have
This group of equipment is handy to have, makes life easier for you and will / may improve the environment for the organisms being kept, but isn't vital.
*Sump, to have a location to hide / place equipment out of sight (see: What is a sump?).
*Test Kits, to monitor (see: What test kits are required for a reef tank (or what parameters should I be monitoring)?)
*Calcium Reactor, to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels (see: What does a calcium carbonate reactor do? )
*Nilsen Reactor, to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels (see: What does a calcium hydroxide reactor do?).
*Protein Skimmer, to remove nutrients and waste from the water before it is processed by bacteria and improve water quality (see: What is a protein skimmer? )
*Fans, to maintain the water temperater in the correct range using evaporative cooling and improve gas exchange.
*Chiller, to maintain the water temperature in the correct range when fans are insufficient.
*Timer, to turn equipment on and off as required, most commonly lighting.
For the Gadget Freek
Generally these aren't needed for a successful reef aquarium. However, there may be some circumstances where they will help out with things or will bring pleasure to those that love to have some toys to play with.
*Ozoniser, to produce ozone for injection into a protein skimmer, which helps with polishing water.
*Multicontroller, to automate the operation of the various parts of equipment.
*Fluidised Sand Bed Filter, to provide a large amount of biological filtration within a small area, good for heavily loaded systems and those without much liverock or substrate.
What test kits are required for a reef tank (or what parameters should I be monitoring)?
There are a wide variety of test kits and testing equipment that you can purchase and use on a reef aquarium for monitoring a number of water parameters. Some are vital to know, important, good and others can be pretty much a waste of time and money unless you have a specific reason to know their value. Here are the various testable parameters grouped together in these four classes.
Important: do not use an additive if you cannot measure it's concentration in your system. Otherwise you have no idea what the level is in the system and can easily overdose. And that can cause some problems.
These are the water parameters that should be monitored on a regular basis. Over time you will come to notice with the system if something is amiss, but until then an eye should be kept on all of these. If they are too far from their optimum values then the livestock will start to suffer.
*Specific Gravity / Salinity
These two need to be kept low in a reef tank, as they effect the calcification and health of corals, even at relatively low levels. Should be monitored, but they aren't as vital as the first group above since slight elevated levels will tend to slow things down a bit in terms of growth and health, rather than cause some real problems.
Good to Know:
The first two in this class should always be undetectable in a mature aquarium. However, during the intial cycling process it helps with understanding of what is going on if you monitor these.
Generally these don't need to be known for a successful reef aquarium. However, there may be some circumstances where they should be monitored, such as ORP when using ozone and copper when using copper treatments in a separate hospital tank.
*Oxidation Reduction Potential
Note: when you start out, it is a good idea to test all the parameters you can (in the first three classes above). Then you can work out where things sit with your own tank, how things respond as the levels change, how the levels change with changes in methodology and so on. Then over time, you will get a feel for what the levels are doing in the tank just by the look and health of the organisms in there.
What additives are required for a reef tank?
As noted in What test kits are required for a reef tank (or what parameters should I be monitoring)?, the important parameters that you need to be monitoring are pH, alkalinity, calcium, specific gravity / salinity and temperature. To maintain those parameters at the correct value or range, it is only required to add three things.
pH and Alkalinity
These two parameters are related, with the pH of the system being dependent on the alkalinity (and gas exchange between the water and surrounding air). Note, never try to adjust the system pH if the alkalinity is at a suitable level. Alkalinity can be maintained at sufficient levels in three ways: water changes, buffers or combined method with calcium. The former is an inefficient way to do it and requires substantial water changes on a very regular basis. So unless there is access to a large amount of water, this is typically not a viable method. The second is using a buffer, which adds the alkalinity components into the water. There are commercial products available, plus sodium hydrogen carbonate can be used as a cheaper alternative (since that is predominantly what the commercial products contain). The third method will be discussed below with calcium.
Calcium has the same similar techniques for maintaining it, and hence similar additives. Same comments for water changes applies here as it does above for alkalinity. The second technique, the use of a specific additive, uses calcium chloride to add calcium to the system. This is a white powder and again there are various commercial products available. Additionally, can also use calcium chloride from chemical supply companies or products such as Damp Rid (used to remove moisture from the air and can be found in most hardware stores), which is just calcium chloride. The third technique, or additive, that can be used for both calcium and alkalinity is either calcium hydroxide dosing or a calcium carbonate reactor (see What does a calcium carbonate reactor do?). Calcium hydroxide is mixed into pure water, allowed to settle, then dripped into the system to replace evaporation water. This adds both calcium and alkalinity.
Specific Gravity / Salinity
Specific gravity needs to be maintained on a daily basis due to the fact that pure water evaporates from the system, concentrating the salt dissolved in the water. Therefore, if pure water (which is the "additive") is not added back, over time the specific gravity will increase. Also see What is the difference between salinity and specific gravity?.
There are other additives available, such as iodine/iodide, strontium, magnesium etc. However, they are not vital for a system unless something is amiss and others seem to have no use what so ever. If you cover the three listed above (pure water, calcium and alkalinity), coupled with regular water changes, then all the important parameters will be taken care of.
Hoped that helped out a bit. Like you, I'm also a bargain shopper. You can find LR
's at an fairly reasonable price. For LR
, I bought mines here: http://cgi.ebay.com/100-lbs-of-uncur...QQcmdZViewItem
. For Equipments/Lights, I bought mines here: www.CatalinaAquarium.com
. Catalina Aquarium is a local aquarium warehouse, so I save lots on shipping. You can also find CA
on ebay under Aquarium Lights. For salt mix I go here: http://cgi.ebay.com/OceanPure-Synthe...QQcmdZViewItem
. For fish/inverts/corals. I go here: www.craigslist.org
, though I try to avoid buying "used" stuff. Availibility varies depending on location and such. I live in Sacramento so opstions are endless. As far as test kit, additives, food, suppliments, epoxy, drygoods, etc. I go to my LFS
. Well, good luck in the hobby. Hope all goes well.