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Old 12-28-2010, 11:09 AM   #1
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New saltwater aquarist, lots of questions :)

I am 16 and a total animal/biology lover. I recently decided to pursue a saltwater tank. I have been doing research daily (thank you Christmas break) for about a week and a half. I have two plans for two diffrent aquariums but only the money to have one of these. of course I would love any and all advice and I am a total newbie. and despite having done mounds of research still feel very clueless to this huge world of saltwater.

plan #1: a 20 gallon tank, lng rather than tall, a mandarin dragonet, a foxface, a midas gobby,cleaner wrasse, no coral, no live rock, no protein skimmer, heater, full spectrm light, powerfilter, and maybe somewhere down the road a bubble tip anemone and a clown fish (not sure what kind yet)

plan#2: (this plan was made when my fiance pointed out that over 300 dollars for plan #1 was a little much sense I cant move a 20 gallon tak to college with me in 2 years) smaller tank (12 gallon?) live rock (havnt decided how much) bubble tip anemone, 2 clowns( not sure what kind) possiable star fish, various corals, and then maybe another fish, like a mandarin dragonet(they are the coolest looking fish ever) or a foxface(m personal favorite)

I have researched water, light, filters, sand/gravel, fish, thouroughly, its the live rock and corals I dont know much about. any advice? or alternative plans?

Also, what is the best substrate for what I am planning? I was just looking at Petco's small sized gravel, Is that good enough?

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:36 AM   #2
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well first off welcome to AA! we are here to help! i joined for the same reasons you are, so don't worry you're not alone!

you are definitely making the smart choice of researching tons before doing anything, its your best bet and you should do plenty more as you go along.

to start, bigger is easier to maintain, but also you make a valid point in moving it, and cost as well. you won't see as much of a swing in water parameters in a larger tank.

plan 1- unfortunately besides the midas blenny (and dragonet, but i'll explain that in a bit), all of those fish aren't good for a tank that size, live rock will be a good friend though, so i'd consider having that no matter which route you go, but thats my opinion. an anemone also wouldnt be a good choice without a strong light and a tank that has been up for over a year, but the clownfish, even a pair would be good.

as for the dragonet, so i dont repeat for plan two. they eat a small organism called copepods, and constantly, they literally CONSTANTLY eat, and a tank that size would wipe out all its food, and starve. the only options are to supplement copepods (expensive, monthly) or train or buy one that eats frozen foods (doesn't always work, not reliable) you should stray away from them. trust me, i want one so bad in my tank but i know i'll kill it if i do unfortunately.

plan 2- an all in one tank (JBJ nanocube, Biocube are some good examples) are a good small tank, though pricey, is a big help for a beginning saltwater aquarist, i have one and its wondeful for me. 1.5-2lbs per gallon of love rock is a good rule of thumb to answer your question on that. again here the anemone is not a good idea, but the clowns would be fine, starfish are usually semi hard to keep, but i have no personal experience with them so i'll leave that to someone else. foxface and mandarin here are a bad idea as well sadly. nano reefs are fun.

live rock is rock that has good bacteria that converts poisonous ammonia into less harmful nitrates, its a good biological filter, and most saltwate aquarists have it, not all though. corals are living, and require different lighting (strong or low, sometimes none) and different flow (living in high powered flow or low flow) it is semi difficult to keep, but not too hard.

also, for saltwater most people use sand, which you can buy at petco, don't buy crushed coral or "live" sand as that is a gimmick and does nothing for your tank

here (Saltwater Fish: Marine Aquarium Fish for Saltwater Aquariums) you can look for fish, look at its tank size requirements, compatibility etc. i suggest looking in the nano fish section for the tank size you're looking at, also read the stickies at the top of the forum for more info.

i know this was a lot to take in, but i hope it helps

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:42 AM   #3
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Ive heard how great LR is but ive also heard its hard to keep up?

The money for a semi larger tank isnt to much of a problem. I really like the 20 gallon long tank. I plan on having full spectrum lighting and not adding the anemone until later on. Which, brings me to another question. can I have a pait of cowns, and then give them an anemone laer? or will they ignore it?
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:47 AM   #4
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its not at all hard to kep up, theres no maintenance to it at all, just put it in and wait for the cycle to finish, then you're good to go.

what's full spectrum? T5? MH? is there a fixture you're looking at right now?

clowns don't need an anemone to live, but its hit or miss whether they host, if you really want them to host you could get a frogspawn or a hammer coral for them to host, they often do that
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:56 AM   #5
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Im not entirely sure what full spectrum means, honestly, its what the LFS called the light I would need for an anemone. I know they need lts of light, but ive also heard that bubble tips dont need as much as some.

so wouldit be best to untroduce the anemone fist? for best possable results?
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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FORGET the Anemone and the mandarin. The mandarin needs at least a 30 gallon tank IF you can find one that is eating prepared food. Otherwise, that fish requires a 100 gallon or larger with 1-1/2 - 3 pounds of live rock per gallon of tank capacity.

LR requires no care. It is 'live' because it is colonized by the beneficial bacteria that break down fish waste and uneaten food to rather harmless substances.

Clownfish DO NOT NEED an anemone. As stated, a frogspawn or similar coral will be great for hosting a clownfish. However, clown fish don't need anything. They will pick an area of the tank and stay mostly in that area.

Let's get some more reading done...
Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank

How to cycle your tank with out the use of fish

Quarantine article

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: A Quarantine Tank for Everything by Steven Pro

Use a site like LiveAquaria.com to research fish. Pay attention to the minimum recommended tank size. Look at the fish they have listed in the Nano section, as that's the type of tank you are thinking of getting.

Here's my 10 rules for a successful aquarium:
Rule # 1. Nothing Good ever happens Fast in a salt water aquarium
Rule # 2. Don't add anything (supplements/chemicals/minerals) that you don't test for first.
Rule # 3. PWC (Partial Water Changes) are your friend, and cure many ills.
Rule # 4. QT EVERYTHING before adding it to your tank (mandarins excepted, corals should be dipped)
Rule # 5. Use only RO or RODI water (either buy it or make it)
Rule # 6. All animal species live longer on a 30% reduced caloric intake. Only feed every other day at most (fish species dependent)
Rule # 7. Hyposalinity is the best, safest, and most effective treatment for marine Ich (IMHO)
Rule # 8. A Refractometer is a MUST HAVE, not a luxury.
Rule # 9. Anemones will never live anywhere near their normal (approx 30 years) lifespan in a home aquarium. Leave them in the ocean.
Rule # 10. The tank size recommendations for fish are there for a reason - HEED THEM!
I have been asked to add
RULE 0 - Don't believe the LFS!

And while I'm at it...

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Old 12-28-2010, 12:30 PM   #7
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ok, what is RO? and why not an anemone?
I have been doing tons of online and book research. I subscribed to About.com's saltwater aquariums 101 email.
Also, how hard are corals? If I got one or two to go in my tank, for the clowns or not, what kind of care do they need? and when should they go into the tank?
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:20 PM   #8
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Even if you did do an anenome they need a mature tank of at least a year old. They need the stability of a mature tank.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:30 PM   #9
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Wait, your 16 and have a fiance?

Anyway, none of it is hard. It just takes patients and water changes. RO water is filtered water, reverse osmosis. Usually with DI (deionized). That filters everything out of water. If your local fish store (lfs) doesnt have then you can usually get it from grocery store or walmart.
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Old 12-28-2010, 04:24 PM   #10
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we have fantastic natural tap water, I dont think that will be problem, of course I will see how it goes once i actually get the tank set up.

Yes, I do, were not officially engaged, bu the plans are made, were currently suffering through a long distance relationship, but in my opinion, we make a fantastic team lol

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