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Old 02-21-2006, 05:16 PM   #1
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Overwhelmed trying to learn about saltwater tanks...

I currently have a freshwater tank, but I'd like to move up to a 40-60 gallon saltwater tank within the next 6 months or so. I've found the best way to research something is slowly, over a long period of time, as to get many different points of view, and let the information settle.

I've been trying to find out as much as I can about saltwater tanks online, but find that many sites include knowledge that is already over my head. I'd just like to learn about what type of tanks I can choose from, equipment I'll need, maintenance required, etc. Live rock? Live sand? Coral? I don't know much about any of these. Filtration?
Specific fish are irrelevant at this point, as I need to learn about creating a saltwater environment in the first place before I start thinking about fish.

Anyone have any good recommendations on where I should start reading? I checked out the "recommended reading" threads, but several links were down, and I feel like I've learned so much about freshwater tanks through online research rather than buying books, that the same kind of info must be available for saltwater as well.
Any help is appreciated,

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Old 02-21-2006, 05:21 PM   #2
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Old 02-21-2006, 05:38 PM   #3
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Are you wanting a fish/ live rock only tank or do you plan to eventually keep corals?
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Old 02-21-2006, 05:50 PM   #4
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Get Michale Paletta's book. Link is below.


This book is awesome. I wish I got this book sooner.

I thought the same way as you are thinking now. Why invest in a book since there are tons of information online. I was totally WRONG. I am into this hobby only for four weeks, and every mistake I have made so far, could have been avoided if I read this book before. This book costs just $13 in amazon which is a small fraction of the money that you are going to spend on this hobby.

If you are still interested in some websites, here are some of the sites that I have used:

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Old 02-21-2006, 06:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by aravindk
Get Michale Paletta's book. Link is below.


This book is awesome. I wish I got this book sooner.
I'm just starting a SW for my 1st tank of any kind, and I picked up this book also... It a GREAT book, BUT I think some combo of the books and online (especailly this forum) have provided the best mix of information. There is a lot to be said for getting potentially dozens of opinions and first hand accounts for different situations vs the single opinion in a book.

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Old 02-21-2006, 07:04 PM   #6
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How's your budget for this project?

I find that's the biggest factor in what kind of setup people should plan for. On a tight budget, a FOWLR setup will be easy on the pocketbook but if done right, can be set-up so that later on down the road you can add corals when money becomes available.

If budget isn't a problem and you're going for a full blown reef, just find a tank, skimmer and lighting that you like and go for it. I found that this forum had solutions to just about every question i had when setting up my FOWLR tank. If i coulnd't find it by searching the forum, i'd post a question. You need to figure out what fish you want to keep, and then set that as a goal and start planning your tank around those fish...keeping in mind optimum health for the species.

The other thing that i do is find a few people that don't mind answering questions on a forum. I find people that are knowledgeable and have a good reputation for offering solid and trustworthy advice. Then i ask them if i can PM them when i have a question. Usually they will say "no problem". So then i pm them with a specific question with tailored wording so i know they'll understand what i'm asking about. THey usually get back to me within a few days and have really been a source of strong support and advice for me. I do it this way because i learned the hard way from following the advice of the LFS. Most people that are on here often enjoy offering advice...hence the name.
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Old 02-21-2006, 08:10 PM   #7
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You will do fine. It is refreshing to see someone who cares and wants to learn. It`s the ones that just go ahead and dont care to read up and just do what they want with no regard for life. You will do fine.


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Old 02-21-2006, 08:13 PM   #8
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This is not a cheap hobby and you will need to save up some $$$ before making the leap. Buying a little at a time is also a good idea, figure out what you want and buy things over time until you have it all then set the tank up.
I say that you want a drilled or reef ready tank with a sump as your main tank. Live rick is a must have IMO, best filtration you can have. And it looks great.
Live sand is not as important, you can save some money and used reef safe play sand.
Read , read and read some more on the site there is tons of posts on mew set ups.
Keep asking questions and don't buu anthing until your sure you know what you want. And beware of the LFS, they will soon part you and your money if your not careful. Not all of them are bad , gust be careful..
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Old 02-21-2006, 08:18 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the replies everyone - you guys sure are nicer than the people on many of the car forums I visit

My situation is that I am a college student with a job, and I make a decent amount of spending cash. This means that I would like to keep it reasonably inexpensive, and don't have tons of room for a huge tank (living in a house with 5 other guys next year). But, I do not want to cheap out on anything, and absolutely want to give the fish the best possible environment to live in. I would say a max of ~$500 (w/out fish) would fit my budget (though the less money spent, the better). Could a 40-50 gallon setup be feasible for that amountt? Note: I was planning on trying over the next several months to obtain a used, suitable 40-50 gallon tank/stand, in order to save some money and begin cycling/setup.

Although I don't really know what I'm talking about yet (LOL), I was planning on a FOWLR setup, as I feel I have nowhere near the expertise to take on corals, anenomes etc, and to be honest find fish more interesting, and would rather put my money there. However, a FOWLR setup that could later support reef inhabitants down the road sounds very appealing. If it would fit my budget I think that'd be the way to go.

Also, I am curious about the stresses of moving the fish. Since I am in college, unfortunately the tank would have to come home with me in the summer and back to school in the fall, which is another reason I need to keep it on the smaller side. Is this an unreasonable task for a SW tank setup? (I have access to large cars and will probably rent a moving van, so getting the tank home and back wouldn't be a problem, it'd just be physically easier to cart around a 45 gallon tank/stand rather than a huge one). There's only about an hour travel time between my school and folks's home. I am hoping if done properly, the fish wouldn't have to be terribly stressed. I took my FW tank home for X-mas break and back w/no casualties.

I suppose that's about it. I really hope that my SW dreams are feasible, as I spend at least an hour each time at the LFS gawking at all the gorgeous saltwater setups/fish. They must hate me in there, LOL. I am in love with one of the little blue tangs. So cute
Any help is most appreciated,
Thanks again!

P.S. What kind of filtration would I need with a 40-50 gallon FOWLR setup?
P.P.S. What's a sump?
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:57 PM   #10
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It's normal to be overwhelmed in this hobby. There is a lot to cover from the tank size to specimens.
I personally would recommend "The Conscientious Aquarist" by Bob Fenner. Even though I have been in this hobby for quite some time, a lot has changed over the years thanks to new technology, so the learning never stops.

First off, don't look at the tank size as being the factor. See what fish, inverts, etc. you would like to keep. From there, you can determine the tank size you will need to house them in. Some people choose to buy a tank first, then decide on what they want to keep. They shortly realize the specimens they want are too large for their tank and end up wanting a bigger tank. Just my opinion.

Secondly, as most would recommend, try to get a tank that is pre-drilled (reef ready). This is, in my opinion, important if you can swing it.

Lastly, keep stopping in and ask all the questions you can. Everyone here is friendly and pretty seasoned, so you should get the information you are looking for. HTH


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