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Old 10-12-2013, 04:46 AM   #1
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I probably should have googled

I own 2 tropical tanks. At the moment. Both relatively small in comparison to most. A 5 gal and a 15 gal. I've had no problems setting up these up as I had a 10gal in my teen years. I haven't lost a fish yet and all are healthy.

Now my girlfriend has been asking about "the fish with colour" I explained to her that these were marine fish and we couldn't keep those because I didn't know how.

I'm going to be asking a lot of questions about saltwater tanks in general now just to get a basic idea. Then I will expand on the answers by more thorough research. You can use short sentences or expand if you want to but some of these questions will be very "dummies guide to" style. I appreciate all answers and you can tell me to 'go google' if I'm getting on your nerves. Here goes.

1) what size tank would be a good beginners tank?

2) what extra equipment do I need for a saltwater aquarium?

3) what temp is best to suit most fish?

4) what extra parameters do I need to test for?

5) where do I add salt? Where do I get salt from? Is it a special salt? How often does salt need adding?

6) are the filters the same as tropical?

7) what is meant by 'live rock, sand and coral'?

8) what fish would you recommend for a saltwater beginner?

9) how does maintenance differ?

10) what kind if lighting do I need if I have live rock, sand and coral?

11) do I have to have live rock, sand and coral.

12) what care needs to be given to coral?

I guess that's all I can't think of for now.

Thanks
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:50 AM   #2
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Too many questions to answer here - there are some great articles on how to start up a salt water tank here so have a read. There are so many ways to set up a salt tank so it's best to start with an idea of what you want to keep. As your first tank I would go with the biggest size you can afford as there is less room for error in larger water volumes. I started with a 55g and wanted to upgrade almost immediately! Also small tanks really limit your stock options. If you want corals for sure then be prepared to drop some cash and commit some serious time to maintaining excellent water parameters. I think its a good idea to start fish only (with live rock) then say a year down the track, when you have the hang of it all, start introducing corals. Saltwater filtration is nothing like freshwater, most of your filtration comes from your live rocks (aim for 1-2 pounds per gallon of water) and flow is a must. For a reef you also want to start with ro-di water (no tap here I am afraid) you mix your saltwater usually a day in advance in a bin with a powerhead and a heater so it mixes through. You can also, like I do, buy my saltwater from a fish shop (they sell salt mix too) you will need a refractometer for measuring salinity and remember that as your mater evaporates, the salinity goes up, so regular top offs with ro-di water is a must. Most perform weekly water changes for maintenance and that's it. I think that's answered most of your questions for now! The type of tank you wish to keep will determine the type of filtration you use. If you decide to go with a 40g or larger I recommend running a sump... Any other questions just ask!
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Old 10-12-2013, 06:19 AM   #3
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Thanks bectan. Loads of great information there. Has it put me off setting up a saltwater? No, but it has definitely made me want to walk before I can run.

In the time since posting I have read up on sumps. One of the things that I couldn't get my head around is how the water leaves the aquarium and enters the sump.

I've also read up on live rock and understand that this is the main form of bio filtration. Also base rock doesn't contain the organisms live rock does, is cheaper, and provides a 'base' to work your live rock around. Base rock can also be seeded over time.

I definitely won't be using corals for a while. So by reef you mean corals and if I didn't have corals would I still have to acclimatise the water in a barrel like you said?

What is the difference between a saltwater test kit and a freshwater test kit as I read the salinity tester is bought separately. Is this correct? Also what kind if values are we looking at on salinity?

So would a 55gal with live/base rock require a mechanical filter as well if I l had a pump for water flow? Or is it absolutely necessary to go down the sump route?

I also read about adding lime or something. Is this for calcium? Is love sand important if you have live rock?

I'll keep firing the questions so hopefully you will keep answering

Also I really don't know much about saltwater fish at the moment. What are the easiest to care for. I know clown fish are fairly common so I'm guessing they are one of the easy ones?
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Old 10-12-2013, 06:33 AM   #4
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Yes. I run my 55g with just live rock a couple of powerheads and a protein skimmer. You can buy base or dry rock and it will become live over time, same goes for sand, I wouldn't waste money on live sand. If I had a bigger tank I would use a sump for sure, but this method works fine for me (I have a reef) you would still need to pre mix your saltwater even for fish only. I have heard that you can use a freshwater API kit and can request the different colour cards but not too sure about that. It certainly will take a bit more of your time and cost more than say a freshwater tank - but it will be worth it! It is a very addictive hobby. Clownfish are great first fish and as their name suggests they are quite funny to watch. There are loads of good beginner fish, check out live aquaria for fish info...
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caliban07 View Post
In the time since posting I have read up on sumps. One of the things that I couldn't get my head around is how the water leaves the aquarium and enters the sump.
Two ways the water leaves the aquarium are by drilling the tank or adding some type of HOB siphon.

As the name implies, drilling a tank involves cutting one or more appropriately sized holes either in the sidewall or bottom and fitting bulkhead fittings in the holes (that would then connect to the plumbing).

An HOB style siphon can be purchased as is (pictured below) or DYI using PVC pipes and elbows. A siphon will draw water from a box on the inside of the tank to a box outside the tank where a drain or standpipe will lead the water to the sump.

There are pros and cons for each style. If retrofitting an existing established tank, then the siphon style would work. If starting from scratch, drilling the tank will save you the nightmare of an accidental break in the aforementioned siphon which would result in some type of flooding and/or pump burnout and impact to aquatic life.

Here's the HOB siphon. I think EShopps makes this one:
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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The only con for drilling, is if you are too impatient and crack the tank. Drilling is always the better option IMO.
A drilled tank works by gravity, and cannot fail. A HOB overflow works by siphon, and can fail.
That said, you don't need a sump. It's just helpful. For a fish only tank with live rock (FOWLR) you can simply use a canister filter, just like a fresh water tank. I would clean the canister more often than a fresh water setup however (like weekly), or you'll start seeing a rise in nitrates, which could lead to nuisance algae problems.

If you do intend to get some corals down the road, you can keep the same setup, and the same maintenance routine (cleaning the canister weekly, along with weekly partial water changes to remove waste and replace trace elements).
There's no need to add anything else to the tank, for everything is in your salt mix. Needing extra supplements is something that won't happen until you get to an advanced level, and by that time, you'll have a pretty good understanding how things work.
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:58 AM   #7
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Thanks fresh. Also I think the Hob siphon defeats the object as other than provide better filtration, another benefit if the sump is to maximise aquarium room and conceal equipment. How do you match the volumes being siphoned/drained out to that which is being pumped back in?

Also I don't know if I like the idea of drilling. Do they not make aquariums designed to be used with sumps? I guess it's all about cost cutting right?
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Old 10-12-2013, 11:01 AM   #8
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Oh..you don't have the tank yet? Buy a "reef ready" tank. Already set up for a sump. No drilling required.
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Old 10-12-2013, 11:21 AM   #9
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Excellent. That sounds more like it. I'll google some. Yeah I'm not ready to go saltwater just yet, I'm just getting an idea if the main differences first

Thanks
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