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Old 09-22-2008, 11:09 PM   #1
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I'm being lazy...

..and I assume some of you wouldn't mind answering this question which has probably been asked about 48,000 times. What are the main differences in starting and maintaining a saltwater tank as compared to a freshwater tank?

Can someone describe the standard beginner saltwater tank. I'm thinking something analogous to the standard peaceful community freshwater tank. I'm talking in terms of simplicity, but still interesting and semi-challenging. I assume the easiest saltwater tank would be some little species only tank, but I want something more complex. On the other hand I'm probably not going to do well if I start with a reef tank. So give me some opinions. Thanks salt people.
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:46 PM   #2
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whats the difference? almost everything(not really). mainly the need for pristine water quality. how big of a tank r u shooting for? for a reef tank you'll want a great filter, a skimmer, i good light, powerheads, live rock, sand, preferably a reverse osmosis water purifier, and other equipment. im prbly leavin a bunch of the essentials out.but u get the jist.
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Old 09-23-2008, 05:25 PM   #3
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Most of us started out with FW and transitioned to SW. The biggest difference I found is the amount of flow that a SW tank has compared to a FW tank. Obviously the water chemistry is different but that goes without saying.

You will find that a properly set up SW tank is IMO easier to maintain then a FW tank. If you go the "natural" route for filtration and don't add a lot of things to your water you will have a much easier time maintaining it.

Same basic setup as FW, you have to cycle the tank (ammonia source) and allow that to run it's course. Live rock is the primary form of filtration in a SW tank. General rule is 1.5-2lbs per gallon for good filtration. I like to take mine a step further and have closer to 4lbs per gallon. Not all of that is in the display. I also employ a sump with a very large refugium (sperate tank with macro algae "sea weed") to aid in filtration. I have a large skimmer on my system that removed DOCs from the water column and I do 20-30% PWCs every other week.

Go to the article section of the site and look through setting up a SW tank.
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:03 PM   #4
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Some of the things you`ll need.

Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank.
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:05 PM   #5
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The biggest difference? Money!!
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Old 09-23-2008, 07:55 PM   #6
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Money/ Time / Research If you are not willing to invest in all of these things than Saltwater is not for you.
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:34 PM   #7
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I think the biggest difference is the misunderstanding that saltwater is more difficult than freshwater, when quite the opposite is true in freshwater livestock being more sensitive to their surrounding environment. Both rely upon biological filtration whether in the form of liverock, fw/sw substrate, plants, etc., mechanical filtration to some degree, and of course lighting and water flow. Depending on your desired outcome determines what you would need and the more effort you put into your research the more likely your desired results will be achieved.

What size tank are you considering at this point? Even though, as a beginner, you do not forsee yourself indulging in the reefing aspect, is it something you would like to eventually delve into?
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Old 09-23-2008, 11:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fijiwigi View Post
Money/ Time / Research If you are not willing to invest in all of these things than Saltwater is not for you.
Simply starting this post is the beginning of my research...

anyway, I didn't know that the live rock was the main means of filtration. That's pretty awesome.
I do want to do a reef in my saltwater tank when I actually do this tank (who knows when that will be). I just assumed the reef is difficult because I don't know anything about it. It seems like so much can go wrong, but I don't really know what I'm talking about. What do people usually do for their first saltwater tank? I think my tank would be under 55 gallons.
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Old 09-25-2008, 12:39 PM   #9
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The larger you can start out with the better. The one catch to SW is that smaller is not easier. If you can't go 55 then get as large a tank as you can. They are easier to maintain. More water volume means changes in water chemistry happen slower then in smaller tanks.
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Old 09-30-2008, 09:49 PM   #10
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I guess I should chime in, since I've had a planted / FW aquarium for many years, and am currently still buying everything for my SW setup. I just finally sold my prized $700 giant red finned gourami (FW), and cleaned the aquarium out.

The primary thing is, a lot of your FW setup you will not longer be able to use, pretty much everything inside the aquarium, even the media inside your filter shoud be changed. I picked up a Reverse Osmosis water filter this time around, and a new sump/filter/skimmer (which is NOT a necessity, but will make life a little easier, primarily in the form of less partial water changes required.).

I think the best way to start is with a FOWLR setup, and in a year or so you can begin to introduce corals to make your reef aquarium. The other thing to keep in mind is the length of the aquarium is key, SW fish like a lot more swimming room... so if you're going to take down your 55g, maybe check the local classifieds and invest in a used 100+ gallon, you can always use your 55g as a sump, fuge, or sell it.

Keep in mind, the cost adds up quickly... yes live rock is key, but consider the price of live rock... at around $4-$7 a lb, and considering you'll need around 100lb with your current setup, that's $400-$700 in rock alone. Live rock is called live rock because of the benefical bacteria growing all over (and in) it, so you can cheap-out and buy half "dead rock" (once live, but kept out of water usualy.. nothing left living on it), and half live.. and in time, the organisms will populate your dead rock and make it "live rock" as well.

Other things to consider are lighting for a reef tank, power heads required, and argonite substrate.

My top recommendation (what I did) is check your local classifieds, there are ALWAYS people in the area who are tearing down their SW setup, and you can purchase everything you need second hand and save around 50-80% easily. A lot of things they'll even give away. Even live rock sells for around $2-$3 from the hobbyist who's closing up shop.

So this may be an option for you as well. Other than that, the fish are obviously more expensive, and you can't have as many 'fish' in the tank as with SW at one time, however you can make up for that with other little critters roaming around... (starfish, urchins, snails, crabs, shrimp, etc.)

Hope this helps..
Justin
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