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Old 03-18-2006, 08:31 PM   #1
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I need help starting an aquarium

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!!

thanks!
Marty
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Old 03-18-2006, 09:42 PM   #2
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Hey Marty....

First off, welcome to AA.

I know you think you asked a pretty simple question(s), but the matter is much more complex.

It is always recommended that a beginner SW aquarist should buy the BIGGEST tank they can afford. The ocean is a huge body of water that sees virtually little fluctuation and therefore the creatures within it have adapted to a minimal changing environment. When we recreate a slice of the ocean in an aquarium, we are only dealing with a small volume of water with MANY variables that will cause the quality of the water to change. So.... The larger the volume of water you start with, the better chance of success you'll have because these fluctuations won't go as noticed by your livestock when compared to a Nano tank you suggest.

Here's another thing.... You mentioned you want to keep cleaning to a minimum and that the reason you want a nano/small tank. The fact is that smaller tanks such as nano's WILL be more work. No way around that.... for a successful nano, you'll need constant supervision and testing to maintain the needed water parameters to sustain life.

If you go with something like a 46G or a 55G you'll greatly increase your chance for success and reduce your amount of tank supervision.

With a 55G tank, you could put a couple of clowns and 3 other fish of your choice plus several invertebrates that really make SW different than fresh. Not to mention corals and anemones as you mentioned. Anemones are invertebrates just to let you know and only advised for mature tanks at least 6 months to a year old.

I would worry about salt measurements yet, just read EVERYTHING you can get your hands on to research this if you are serious about it. A hydrometer is generally used or refractometer and about 1/2 cup per gallon seems to work but it is synthetic sea salt that is used.

Skimmers are HIGHLY recommended and a sump is an option.

Cheers,
ryan
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Old 03-18-2006, 09:57 PM   #3
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I have really poor water quality, because we live out of the city and have our own well( i drink bottled water) So what should i do for the fish? i have found a 44 gallon tank(pentagon) that looks like it would be good, but where would i get that much water if my fish cant take my tap water?

thanks for your help
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Old 03-18-2006, 11:15 PM   #4
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Hey,

I wasn't really refering to your tap water when I mentioned water quality but it brings up another good point. You'll need to invest in an RO/DI unit for purifying your water and removing all the stuff that is BAD for your tank. Tap water has lots of things that you don't want in your tank, things like phosphates and silicates that will allow algae to get out of hand in your tank and cause an uphill battle trying to keep your tank looking pretty. Again, if you want minimal hassle with cleaning, RO/DI unit is a must!!

When I first mentioned water quality, I was refering to your specific gravity, nitrogen levels, pH, temperature and DOC levels in the tank. I was assuming that the fresh water added to the salt mix is already purified. These are the values you need to constantly monitor with a nano tank.

As water evaporates, it will quickly cause a swing in your SG because salt doesn't evaporate and the amount of salt is increased in lessened volume of water.

Pentagon and hexagon tanks aren't recommended either for SW tanks. They are tall and have limited surface area for gas exchange per volume of water. Same with tall and skinny tanks, they have limited surface area too. The best are standard tanks that aren't too deep with respect to their other 2 dimensions.

I would do a search on the following subjects and read as much as you can before buying anything and starting up. The only thing that happens fast in this hobby is disasters. I strongly recommend arming yourself with as much info as possible before jumping in. It's an awesome hobby, but knowledge is key.

topics:
- nitrogen cycle
- protein skimmers
- RO/DI
- Live Rock
- DSB
- recommended lighting
- GFCI
- Quarantine tank

That should get you started!

I hope you don't get discouraged by anything I said, but I feel its important to pass on this type of info BEFORE you spend your money and end up frustrated trying to keep things alive and possibly feeling like you bought the wrong equipment.

Cheers, and feel free to keep asking questions....that's what everyone is here for.

ryan
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Old 03-18-2006, 11:23 PM   #5
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Great post Ryguy. Really good advice.
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Old 03-18-2006, 11:36 PM   #6
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Wow!, this sounds like ALOT of work, but I'm still up for it. I've always wanted to be a marine biologist so i guess thats what got me into this...if i purchased the gallon bottle water would that work for a fish tank? and if i had a lot of cleaners would'nt they be able to keep algae levels low? I've used my water wish freshwater fish and crabs and i havent had to much trouble, but that would change with saltwater? The biggest aquarium ive seen in here is a 30 long. would that be big enough for a reef and saltwater fish? could i use basically the same equipment of a freshwater tank and convert it to saltwater?

thanks again
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:06 AM   #7
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Well all the advice was great I agree, with one exception.. An RO/DI unit is not a must and should not be recommended as so.. I have never used RO/DI and have no issues with water conditions or algae.. Nor has the lack of one increased any form of hassle.

I say test the tap water coming from the faucet first.. If it contains undesirable contents. Then consider RO/DI... But if all test fine then why even bother adding the extra expense..

Also for the record, I currently live on a farm with well water... The water I won't drink.. It has Iron issues.. Which tends to stain showers and sinks..I drink bottled. However, using a tap water conditioner which detoxifies metals, works nicely.. I've had my reef tank for years and have had no issues.
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:24 AM   #8
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Just assuming since Marty said they have poor water quality...
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:28 AM   #9
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Our water is the same as yours we have iron problems.... what kind and where do i get the test kits? what kind of water conditioner do i use on the water??
thanks!
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:56 AM   #10
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I use Tap Water Conditioner by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Here's a link of what it looks like... http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...1&N=2004&Nty=1

It can be found at most LFS and online.

As for test kits, I like Salifert the best, with Seachem a close second... These also can be found at LFS and online.. You'll need kits for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Clacium and Alkalinity and pH.. Those are IMO a main stay.. If you plan on dosing with additives, then you'll need a test kit for those as well.. If you do regular water changes, you shouldn't need to worry about dosing any additives..
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