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Old 09-14-2012, 06:56 PM   #1
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Lots of newbie questions!

Ok so I've been keeping freshwater fish for around 12 years at this point. I've had every thing from goldfish, to bettas, to cichilds, etc. but ever since I can remember, I've always truly wanted a saltwater tank. The problem is I've never felt adequately educated to set one up.
Fast forward to today. I'm currently running a 20g african cichlid setup. My fish are all very small right now, but knowing that they are growing steadily and that 20g is far too small for them, I began scouring craigslist looking for a large tank to move them to. Something at least 40g to set up beautifully in my living room.
Tomorrow I will be picking up my new (well, new to me) 60g tank. I managed to get a hell of a deal on it and it comes with the stand, light fixture, heater, python, and an aquaclear HOB filter (not sure if its the 70 or 110). All for $75!!! Anyways, while imagining all the beautiful fish I can now to my big tank, and thinking about aquascaping, my brain cant help but ponder finally attempting saltwater instead. I've been reading as much as I can online but still have tons of questions as I want to do this right. I plan on doing a FOWLR setup.

1) I like to use pool filter sand as a substrate in my tanks. Is this okay for salt water? I realize that aragonite is better but if I can safely save money, then I'd like to. Plus i love the way PFS looks.

2) Assuming I have enough surface agitation, is a hang on back filter sufficient? I could even use 2 if need be, but a sump/wet dry is not possible for me right now.

3) The fish that I am mostly interested in are all fairly common. I really like clownfish, and tangs. How many of each could I safely house in a 60g?

4) I recall seeing this adorable little fish in a store. It's neon pink and yellow. About the size of a common freshwater platy. What is it called? Can it be housed with the fish mentioned above?

5) I've read that tap water is bad for reef tanks but is it sufficient for FOWLR? Distilled/RO is not in the budget.

6) Can someone please give me info on live rock. I'm very confused by the whole thing, having experience with river rock only, which is clearly very different. Live rock is the skeleton from dead coral, right? And if I understand correctly, it helps to buffer the pH and acts as a biological filter? But does it leach ammonia until its cured? Approx how much would I need for a 60g and what should I expect to pay for it?

7) How much salt would I have to add to 60g of water to get the right salinity/actual gravity reading? would the box give an approx measurement? how long should a box of salt last?

8) I will most likely transfer my cichlids into the new tank for now and slowly accumulate the info and supplies I'll need for saltwater, and then eventually trade in my africans. I am knowledgeable about freshwater cycling but my question is if I do it this way, can I simply remove the cichlids, add the salt, and add the marine fish? or would I have to empty the tank, premix the salt, and re-cycle it?

any info is greatly appreciated. thanks.
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleIsStoked
Ok so I've been keeping freshwater fish for around 12 years at this point. I've had every thing from goldfish, to bettas, to cichilds, etc. but ever since I can remember, I've always truly wanted a saltwater tank. The problem is I've never felt adequately educated to set one up.
Fast forward to today. I'm currently running a 20g african cichlid setup. My fish are all very small right now, but knowing that they are growing steadily and that 20g is far too small for them, I began scouring craigslist looking for a large tank to move them to. Something at least 40g to set up beautifully in my living room.
Tomorrow I will be picking up my new (well, new to me) 60g tank. I managed to get a hell of a deal on it and it comes with the stand, light fixture, heater, python, and an aquaclear HOB filter (not sure if its the 70 or 110). All for $75!!! Anyways, while imagining all the beautiful fish I can now to my big tank, and thinking about aquascaping, my brain cant help but ponder finally attempting saltwater instead. I've been reading as much as I can online but still have tons of questions as I want to do this right. I plan on doing a FOWLR setup.

1) I like to use pool filter sand as a substrate in my tanks. Is this okay for salt water? I realize that aragonite is better but if I can safely save money, then I'd like to. Plus i love the way PFS looks.

2) Assuming I have enough surface agitation, is a hang on back filter sufficient? I could even use 2 if need be, but a sump/wet dry is not possible for me right now.

3) The fish that I am mostly interested in are all fairly common. I really like clownfish, and tangs. How many of each could I safely house in a 60g?

4) I recall seeing this adorable little fish in a store. It's neon pink and yellow. About the size of a common freshwater platy. What is it called? Can it be housed with the fish mentioned above?

5) I've read that tap water is bad for reef tanks but is it sufficient for FOWLR? Distilled/RO is not in the budget.

6) Can someone please give me info on live rock. I'm very confused by the whole thing, having experience with river rock only, which is clearly very different. Live rock is the skeleton from dead coral, right? And if I understand correctly, it helps to buffer the pH and acts as a biological filter? But does it leach ammonia until its cured? Approx how much would I need for a 60g and what should I expect to pay for it?

7) How much salt would I have to add to 60g of water to get the right salinity/actual gravity reading? would the box give an approx measurement? how long should a box of salt last?

8) I will most likely transfer my cichlids into the new tank for now and slowly accumulate the info and supplies I'll need for saltwater, and then eventually trade in my africans. I am knowledgeable about freshwater cycling but my question is if I do it this way, can I simply remove the cichlids, add the salt, and add the marine fish? or would I have to empty the tank, premix the salt, and re-cycle it?

any info is greatly appreciated. thanks.
That's a great deal on the tank! I've read that some people use pool sand, but I never have. Tangs need a bigger tank, but you could definitely have a pair of clowns. Go to liveaquaria.com and check out their SW fish section. That site will tell you the tank requirement for each fish, the name and temperament. I think the fish you're talking about is an anthias, look those up. Tap water will end up causing a lot of algae issues for you. RO water can be bought from most LFS, I buy mine at Petco for 0.25/gal. You gotta ask them about it, its not advertised. The biggest cost for water was initial fill, not expensive for the 10g/week PWC. Should have about 1 lb live rock per gallon for FOWLR, more for reef tank. You can buy mostly dry base rock and just buy a couple pieces of live rock, it will all become live over time. Base rock is about $2/lb while LR is $6-10/lb. Yes, the LR is a biological filter. Porous rock is better, more holes for bacteria to live. A hob filter will work, want one rate for about double the size of the tank. I buy the big bucket of salt cuz its gonna get used at some point, and buying bulk is cheaper. You add 1/2 cup salt per gallon water, but the bucket/box/bag should tell you how much too. The tank would have to be cleaned out and recycled when you change to SW. The bacteria that live in SW are different from the bacteria that live FW.
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Old 09-14-2012, 09:10 PM   #3
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Read directions on salt bucket and get a hydrometer for measuring specific gravity (measuring salt) and it's 1lb to 1.5lbs for FOWLR. LESS for a reef (corals don't make nearly as much waste as fish do).
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:24 PM   #4
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What is the difference between live rock and base rock? Aside from more algae, is there any other issues with using tap water? meaning- if i stay on top of tank maintenance, it shouldn't be a huge issue? i recall reading somewhere that water changes happen once a month and feeding once every two weeks. compared to freshwater that sounds absurd. is that correct?
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:10 PM   #5
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Weekly PWC. Feeding is anywhere from every day to every 2 days, it's up to the person doing the feeding.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beengirl

That's a great deal on the tank! I've read that some people use pool sand, but I never have. Tangs need a bigger tank, but you could definitely have a pair of clowns. Go to liveaquaria.com and check out their SW fish section. That site will tell you the tank requirement for each fish, the name and temperament. I think the fish you're talking about is an anthias, look those up. Tap water will end up causing a lot of algae issues for you. RO water can be bought from most LFS, I buy mine at Petco for 0.25/gal. You gotta ask them about it, its not advertised. The biggest cost for water was initial fill, not expensive for the 10g/week PWC. Should have about 1 lb live rock per gallon for FOWLR, more for reef tank. You can buy mostly dry base rock and just buy a couple pieces of live rock, it will all become live over time. Base rock is about $2/lb while LR is $6-10/lb. Yes, the LR is a biological filter. Porous rock is better, more holes for bacteria to live. A hob filter will work, want one rate for about double the size of the tank. I buy the big bucket of salt cuz its gonna get used at some point, and buying bulk is cheaper. You add 1/2 cup salt per gallon water, but the bucket/box/bag should tell you how much too. The tank would have to be cleaned out and recycled when you change to SW. The bacteria that live in SW are different from the bacteria that live FW.
GREAT ANSWERS!!! The only one I disagree with is the Tang answer. I run a 55 gallon with a Blue Regal Tang, no problems. However, as with all fish a varied diet is very important.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:35 PM   #7
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GREAT ANSWERS!!! The only one I disagree with is the Tang answer. I run a 55 gallon with a Blue Regal Tang, no problems. However, as with all fish a varied diet is very important.
I agree with the previous tang answer. I think 75 is the MINIMUM for most tangs... A 55 With a blue regal is a bad idea. It works, sure, but not for long.
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:28 AM   #8
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thanks for all the answers so far guys! bare with me if you can because i'm just learning and have many more questions. so if i understand correctly, the salt has to be mixed in a bucket outside of the tank? does that mean that a python siphon is essentially useless for saltwater?
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:57 AM   #9
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You can probably do water changes every couple weeks, just do larger. Keep an eye on your parameters. FOWLRs will be more forgiving than reef, but don't let nitrates get up there. I've got a 75 and actually do changes about every 3 weeks. My nitrates seem to stay low, so I'll go this way until more fish are added and will probably need to adjust then.
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Old 09-15-2012, 01:11 AM   #10
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adding live rock and then waiting will cycle the tank? am i understanding that right?
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