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Old 12-15-2005, 02:41 PM   #1
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oky doky... here we go

Ok, now this is a very distant future planning.... not something i want to do right away... BUT my husband really wants a saltwater tank. Once we get our new tank (my graduation present is going to be a 72 gallon or LARGER bowfront tank for african cichlids and my pleco-BOB) And im thinking would a 55 gallon be a good size to start dabbling in a saltwater tank or would smaller be better?

Now... keep in mind this is a good 6 months away... and i know NOTHING about saltwater... like, whats the purpose of a protein skimmer? And how exactly do you go about mixing the salt and water to the correct concentration. Im guessing you use a hydrometer? Maybe there is a good saltwater/reef getting started article someone could point me towards.

Is a sump really necessary for saltwater? Or can you use a canister type filter, something you can buy commercial and not Make... i hear to many problems with sump overflow... etc... its not really something it hink id want to do.

THanks!!!
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Old 12-15-2005, 02:50 PM   #2
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http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showfaq.php?fldAuto=2

read through these posts. They will help you start to understand the marine system.

a 55gallon is a decent sized tank to start with for saltwater. But just know you're not going to be able to keep large angels, most tangs and many other types of fish that require larger tanks. There are still lots of really cool fish that can be had for a 55gallon though.

I would also read a few books. The first being The Contientious Marine Aquarist. You can also read The New Marine Aquarium by Paletta. Both books will help you learn what you need to know to create a healthy enviornment for marine fishes.

A protien skimmer is used to take fish waste out of the water. There are several methods used by skimmers to do this. You can read about them in the link i provided. But a skimmer is highly recommeneded.

About the sump. It's not necessary but I find a tank that is drilled in the bottom with internal overflows to work the best for saltwater tanks. It's not going to cost that much more for a glass aquarium that is pre-drilled. You'll be much happier if you get this kind of tank and use a sump.

There's so much you need to learn as it is very easy to make constly mistakes if you don't know what you're doing. I highly recommend reading and researching more before you buy anything.
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Old 12-15-2005, 02:54 PM   #3
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yeah i was just reading those articles... i mean, they are helpful but they still use a lot of lingo that i have no clue.. because ive always kept freshwater. I need like "saltwater for dummies" LOL!!!

About the protein skimmer... isn't that what a filter does? Take waste out of the water? Or does a protein skimmer work more like activated carbon in that it does more chemical filtration than mechanical.


Do you premix the saltwater.. and do you have to do as many water changes as in freshwater? I currently do about a 30% weekly water change.. sometimes more.. with my python, but im guessing you can't use something like a python with SW.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:02 PM   #4
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a weekly water change of at least 10-20% is a good thing. Some peoeple will get away with only doing a 20% change every two weeks.

A protein skimmer is a type of filter. But it removed dissolved compounds better than most other methods and is virtually maintenance free. The only thing you have to do with a protein skimmer is empty it regularly which usually takes no more than a couple miunutes. Skimmers are excellent at reducing fish waste.

Mixing the water is usually accomplished in a separate container. I do mine water mixing in an 18 gallon rubber maid bin i got from wal-mart. I use Reef Crystals and mix according to the directions. Generally speaking, it's good to let the salt mix for at least 24 hours before using it. I let mine sit for longer than that. There's also a powerhead in my rubber maid bin to make sure the water's constantly moving and not stagnant.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:05 PM   #5
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So do you use a hydrometer when you premix the water? And then how do you get the water out of teh rubber maid bin and into the tank? A pump of some sort im guessing? Do you still syphone when you do the water changes?

Also, do you mostly use sand as a substrate? I love using pool filter sand in my FW tanks, is that ok to use in SW?
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:15 PM   #6
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I do use a hydrometer when mixing water. Before i even start adding salt, i already know about how many cups of salt i need to add to get the SG i want. It's not that big of a deal if i'm off a little bit either. The main thing is to get it at or above 1.0125 which is what my main tank sits at. I will, however, be purchasing a refractometer soon...which is a more accurate way to test SG. They go for about 40-50 bucks.

When i do a PWC, i syphone out the old water. Then to get the new water in, i basically start dumping the new water into my sump and turn the main return pump on as i'm doing this so that the new water is pumped up into the main display tank. This is another benefit of having the sump. You can just dump the water in there cause the sump sits just off the floor. Some folks use a pump to get the water into their display tank. Others just bucket it in there. You can do it however you want.

You can use pool sand, but make sure it's not silica based. Silica based sand can release unwanted particles into your system that can harm your fish. It's recommened to get a aragonite based sand for SW tanks. Usually, a finer sand is good as well. CC can trap unwanted nitrates and then release them back into the system with the substrate is disturbed. So if you do go with CC, you then have to vaccum the CC regularly to pick clean it out.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:18 PM   #7
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If you use sand do you have to stir it up? I use MTS in my tank to keep the sand stirred up...
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:19 PM   #8
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i've only gotten serious about this hobby in the last year or so. So i'm kind of new to it as well. Here's a post i made about the build process i did a few months ago for my current set-up. Maybe if you look through it, it'll help you visualize some of these things i'm talking about a bit better.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...459&highlight=
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by AshleyNicole
If you use sand do you have to stir it up? I use MTS in my tank to keep the sand stirred up...
It depends on which substrate you decide to go with. If you go with a DSB, you really don't want anything stirring up your sand. The DSB acts as a natural denutrifying filter and if disturbed can destroy that filtering process. IF you don't do a DSB, you can have as many sand stirring critters you want down there and it's not goign to hurt anything. I do have some burrowing snails that will forage the top of my DSB to keep it clean but i don't want soemthing stirring the crap out of it like a sand sifting star or goby.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:29 PM   #10
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I think if you do stir it you have to do it frequently. What happens is the sand at the very bottom of a DSB has little to no oxygen. When you stir that up it all of a sudden gets oxygen and kills alot of the good bacteria. At least that is what my fish guy tells me. Im a noobie still too 8)
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:40 PM   #11
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The biggest problem i've encountered thus far in the SW hobby is being patient. I constantly want to do things sooner and faster than i should because i'm too excited about adding a new fish, or getting some cool invert without researching possible problems with them and etc. Nothing good comes from doing things fast in this hobby. YOu really have to learn to be patient. And so far, that's been my biggest challenge. I've already made some dumb decisions and had to learn the hard way from it. So if there's anything i can tell you it's just that.....be patient (even more so than you were with your FW tanks).
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:22 PM   #12
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I thought anaerobic bacteria was bad? That is why we always suggest in Freshwater to stir up the sand or get something that will stir it up... to prevent anaerobic pockets from forming.
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by AshleyNicole
I thought anaerobic bacteria was bad? That is why we always suggest in Freshwater to stir up the sand or get something that will stir it up... to prevent anaerobic pockets from forming.
there's a fine line with the DSB. You don't want to make it too deep or too shallow. 4-6 inches is the range you want to be in. A DSB will break down nitrates into harmless nitrogen gas which will then harmlessly escape out of the tank. This is the point of a DSB. You want the pockets to form so it breaks down the nitrates. It's disturbing those pockets that will release toxins into your system. Hence why sand sifting organisms are bad.

here's an article i found on dsb's: http://www.rshimek.com/reef/sediment.htm
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:48 PM   #14
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so... with the protein skimmer removing Organic compounds, and with a DSB converting the nitrates... im guessing that you would do less PWC in a SW than FW... since in FW you don't have anything to convert the nitrates ... unless you have live plants (as in my 10 gallon) They continue to build up. For example in my 10 gallon planted my nitrates are never over 10, but in my 55 gallon they sometimes get up around 20-40 if i don't keep up with regular water changes.
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Old 12-15-2005, 05:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AshleyNicole
so... with the protein skimmer removing Organic compounds, and with a DSB converting the nitrates... im guessing that you would do less PWC in a SW than FW... since in FW you don't have anything to convert the nitrates ... unless you have live plants (as in my 10 gallon) They continue to build up. For example in my 10 gallon planted my nitrates are never over 10, but in my 55 gallon they sometimes get up around 20-40 if i don't keep up with regular water changes.
right. In many ways, a fowlr setup can be easy to care for once you've done your research and have some experience with doing it. I always have a nitrate and nitrite reading of 0. My ammonia hardly ever reads above zero. And alls i do is a 10-15% PWC a week. and empty my skimmer. I have lots of inverts to help clean up the dendrites and excess food. My LR is the main filter of my tank. All the millions of live organisms on the rock filter the water naturally so i don't have to. SW tanks aren't harder to care for IMO. They're just much more involved and complicated to understand and maintain. Once you figure it out it's not that hard to care for. It sort of takes care of itself as long as you do the PWC's.
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Old 12-15-2005, 05:12 PM   #16
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If I were you. I would first sit down and figure out which fish/corals you'd like to have. What you decide you want to keep is going to guide you through the process. If you want corals, things are going to get a little bit more complicated. I would suggest doing a fowlr set-up to begin with unless you're feeling up to it.

Once you know which fish you're going to have, you need to plan your set up.
1. where is the tank going to sit in your house? Is the floor going to support it?
2. get lighting. If you ever plan on getting corals....just get the MH's to begin with so you don't waste your money on PC lighting.
3. DSB or CC or etc...
4. sump or no sump
5. 1-2 lbs of LR per gallon. Where are you going to get it and are you going to use a mix of base rock and LR?
6. skimmer, a Remora would work nice for a 55g
7. salt mixes. Just get the 160g mix that comes in the 5 gallon buckets. It's cheaper that way.
8. clean up crew.
9. heaters
10. chillers
11. fuge or no fuge
12. nitrate export (cheato)
13. which return pump if you use a sump.

The list goes on.
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Old 12-15-2005, 06:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AshleyNicole
so... with the protein skimmer removing Organic compounds, and with a DSB converting the nitrates... im guessing that you would do less PWC in a SW than FW... since in FW you don't have anything to convert the nitrates ... unless you have live plants (as in my 10 gallon) They continue to build up. For example in my 10 gallon planted my nitrates are never over 10, but in my 55 gallon they sometimes get up around 20-40 if i don't keep up with regular water changes.
Yup. If you're keeping corals, you're shooting for very very low nitrates, anything over 5ppm is bad news, hence the various methods of nitrate reducing. A skimmer removes waste before the waste can decompose fully into nitrates, which helps. A DSB looks ugly in a main tank, I'd recommend it in a sump or the "DSB in bucket" approach. A refugium growing macro algae such as chaeto is also an excellent route.

If you want to run sumpless, I'd recommend a good chunk of live rock and several (2+) MaxiJet 1200 powerheads to get a nice flow going in the tank. A Remora Pro HOB skimmer is a decent choice here as well.

And if you're buying lighting, don't go halfway, go all the way (T5 with induvidual reflectors, or metal halide). I've had to rebuy lighting, which is expensive
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xenia, mushrooms, wels. open brain, fungia radiata (orange), green eyed zoos

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Old 12-16-2005, 12:28 AM   #18
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why would a deep sand bed look ugly? I have a good 3-4 inch layer of gravel in my big tank and 3-4 inches of sand in my 10 gallon.
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:33 AM   #19
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Just personal opinion. You get less fish & coral view, and instead this dark thick rim on the bottom. At 5" its really apparent. I use about 2" in my tank
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xenia, mushrooms, wels. open brain, fungia radiata (orange), green eyed zoos

flame angel, mated pair of false perc, 6-line, firefish

20gH electric yellow cichlid
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