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Old 05-29-2007, 11:42 AM   #1
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marine vs reef? Saltwater newbie

Hi everyone!

I recently purchased my first home and as a gift my husband is giving me a saltwater tank for our new dining room (so he claims but he wants it too!).

I have been keeping freshwater tanks below 60G for about 15 years now but have never touched the world of salt so this will be a very long planning process. The only details settled is that we want saltwater life and the tank will be approx 125G with a custom cabinet to make it eye level and a nice showpiece for the rare occasion we eat in there! lol

As this is all still in the infancy of planning my first of many questions is probobly the most asked but I havent found any definitive answers in the guides. I love the reef tanks ive seen around but they have so few fish in them - wich I understand but I would like to have a larger fish display while still enjoying the growth of corals, inverts, anemones and all those wonderful things. Is it possible to have a good environment mixing an amount of reef life (corals, rocks, ect) with a decent number of fish as well? Or is this recomended against because of most marine fish being coral eaters?

Will the reef life thrive as well in a bare-er set up then it would in a traditional reef only tank? The first image that comes to mind is like the verticle rock spire formation with corals and such coming off of it and many fish around it.

If it matters I'm not to concerned about the money involved. Its not that we are rich we just want to do what it takes to get it right and Im certainly patient enough to save up for something better.

Thanks for your time! It would be a huge help.
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:57 AM   #2
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Re: marine vs reef? Saltwater newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannya
Is it possible to have a good environment mixing an amount of reef life (corals, rocks, ect) with a decent number of fish as well? Or is this recomended against because of most marine fish being coral eaters?
Yes... it's totally possible, and in my opinion is better than a "bare" environment. Fish swimming among living corals and natural rock seems to me a more natural environment. The only issue for the health of everyone is to resist the urge to overstock your tank with fish. Water quality is the number one issue when it comes to keeping corals, and if the tank is overstocked with fish it'll make keeping pristine water difficult.

While I don't know the percentages, I would say there are plenty of marine fish out there to keep you interested, that are NOT coral nippers. Many of the larger, more well-known fish (angels, butterflys, etc) do like to snack on SPS corals, but there are tons of reef-friendly fish to choose from. Since you're just in the planning stage, check out websites such as www.liveaquaria.com and you'll get good guides as to how reef-friendly a species is.

There are lots of things to learn, and it sounds like you're doing your reading and researching - that's good. My advice at this stage is research your planned inhabitants - plan what you want in your tank before you even start thinking about the hardware aspect of it. Decide who's going to be in the tank (fish and corals) and this will help guide how you set up your tank.

Welcome, and have fun!
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:00 PM   #3
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Hello Hannya,

I'm new to this as well and just this week ordered all my goodies to set up my 65gal system.
When I was 1st looking into this one of the guys at the LFS recommended "The New Marine Aquarium" book by Michael S. Paletta, this was a great book for me as it answered a lot of questions I had, course it also opened up a bunch more questions thus I found myself at this web page.
Several of the regulars have been a great help to me in answering any questions that I've had come up and I'm sure they'll be more then happy to answer any questions that you may have as well.
Deff check out the book, its worth the money and great to refer back to when needed.
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:34 PM   #4
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WELCOME TO AA!!!

Please do not cycle your tank with live animals.

Welcome, the above book is a great starting point. I read it and like madhatter stated, it brought up a ton of other questions and it also led me to this site. A 125G is a nice sized tank to start with. Liveaquaria is a great place to use as a reference, they have great info on various fish/corals/inverts. As stated above, a reef tank will dictate a small portion of your fish selection. I would look at a few websites, like saltwaterfish.com, vividaquariums.com to get an idea of what's out there. There are tons of other websites as well, but I use those, mostly.
We also have some great Articles .
Ask away, I love questions!
Congrats on the new house!
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Old 05-29-2007, 01:07 PM   #5
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Congrats, and welcome to AA.

I too have read "The New Marine Aquarium" by Paletta and it's a great reference guide when starting up a tank.

Just a few pointers to add to the already wonderful info given:

If you find a wonderful LFS (local fish store) with great prices, match them up against an online store such as www.drsfostersmith.com www.marinedepot.com or www.thatfishplace.com or even Ebay as a last resort. You can save yourself TONS of money that way, and generally have so much more options. One GREAT thing about Drs. Foster and Smith (and their livestock counterpart, www.liveaquaria.com) is that they DO NOT charge freight or weight charges for heavy items or large quantities. Roka64 can attest to this, I think he ordered 270 lbs of sand and paid something like $15 to ship it. They are a great place to order sand, liverock, etc. if you can't find it local.

It seems that most stores will tell you anything in order to make a sale, and it happens to much that someone goes to the LFS and comes back with something that just won't fit in their tank. So like mentioned earlier, research your livestock well. It'll save you money and a lot of hassle!

And finally, we at AA need pictures, and lots of them. So if you don't have a digital camera, that's a must as well.

(just kidding, of course)
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Old 05-29-2007, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devilishturtles
Roka64 can attest to this, I think he ordered 270 lbs of sand and paid something like $15 to ship it.
Yep, 270Lbs of sand and a 6' lighting fixture, the shipping was $15.99.
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:47 PM   #7
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Keep in mind that freshwater can hold more oxygen (at the same temperature) than saltwater can. Therefore you can keep less fish in the same volume of water. You can always increase that tank size to 300 or 500 gallons

I have a 125 and consider my tank to be fully stocked with 10 fish. I have a Sailfin Tang, a Foxface Lo, a pair of clown fish (Amphiprion percula), a coral beauty angel, a royal gramma, a bicolor blenny a pair of pajama cardinals and a seldom seen mandarin dragonet. I'm working on my coral selection slowly.

Are you planning on a sump? What's behind the dining room or under it? Can you do your plumbing to another area that can hold a large sump and refugium?

Read Paletta's book and the articles on this site then come back ask your questions. If you don't get an answer you completely understand, ask again. There are many fine people here who do their best to help based on their experience. Because of that you may receive conflicting advice on occasion as there many ways to to a successful outcome.

With a large tank this hobby is easier as the larger water volume give you time to correct small mistakes. From my experience I strongly urge you to get and use a QT tank for every fish. I had to tear my tank apart (remove 180 pounds of LR) to get all the fish out due to an Ich outbreak.

As in FW, the best thing you can do for your livestock is a regular PWC.

I need to get back to work, but WELCOME! and good luck!!
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:59 PM   #8
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Welcome to AA. Reef tank is very doable. I would suggest you check out the galleries of our members to see and get ideas. Take it slow and research this thing out. Here is a good article that will help on what you`ll need.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewtopic.php?t=76139
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Old 05-29-2007, 04:45 PM   #9
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Wow! So much great resources so quickly!
Thanks for the tip on the book and liveaquaria.com. Grabbed it off of amazon. Ill make up a spreadsheet (coz I'm that anal) on what I want vs what they need and stop back to see what ever one thinks about it


As for the room:
on the other side of the 'tank' wall is the kitchen. Below is the basement (washer/dryer, sink, furnace and freezer are directly below that area) but there is space in the basement to put equipment if needed.
After the reading I've done thus far- it sounded like a sump was the way to go to make things easier at the very least! I hate causing stress to my fish with water changes and jamming my hands in there to fuss with everything. As I understand it a good sump will let me put filters and heaters and whatnot in the sump and just change the water from it rather then the tank itself?

What I had been thinking was to put the sump (depending on size of course) under the cabinet but maybe its a better idea to put it in the basement below especially with a sink right there? But then I guess you need some sort of pump to move the water back up all that way.

Also I've read something somewhere I think about pre-drilled tanks? I don't think I understand what that is for and why I need that done before hand. I also haen't seen any at the local shops. Special order?

Got a great digital camera! Im a semi professional photographer lol Ill have to get up some pictures of my freshwater tanks. They arent anything amazing but I like them.
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannya
As I understand it a good sump will let me put filters and heaters and whatnot in the sump and just change the water from it rather then the tank itself?
Right, you might find it easier to siphon the water out of your main tank, so you can suck up what didn't end up in your sump.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannya
But then I guess you need some sort of pump to move the water back up all that way.
True, you will need a pump to get the water back up to the main. You could probably put a post in the general hardware/equipment section for help on that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannya
Also I've read something somewhere I think about pre-drilled tanks? I don't think I understand what that is for and why I need that done before hand. I also haen't seen any at the local shops. Special order?
Pre drilled means they are already drilled for a sump/fuge. I have seen them at a few of the larger LFS, most might let you special order one for you.
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