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Old 08-26-2007, 10:32 PM   #1
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Seeking advice on a small tank setup please

Hi All, glad to have found this forum

Ok, here is the deal.. My little girl's 5th birthday is coming up and she has her heart set on a small tank with possibly 2 clownfish. I would say a 30gallon setup. I'm not the kind of person that does things halfway and about 10yrs ago had a 60gallon marine tank that ran very well. I just want to make sure it is feasible and cost effective to setup a small tank, the technology has jumped quite a bit. I was wondering if I can get away with one of these as my filter solution:

http://www.petstore.com/ps_ViewItem-...or--tab-1.html

So if that works for filtering/skimming what else do I need to consider, it's been a long time since I was involved in the hobby. Should I have live rock in the tank or does this require special lighting that opens another whole can of worms. Would it be possible to have an anemone that the small clowns can play in and is that a requirement.. if so what do I need to worry about with anemone health and maintenance. My vision is to have a small 30gal setup with a few happy clowns and maybe the odd misc tiny marine life small shrimps, tiny crab that sometimes hide in live rock. Maybe a couple of tiny damsels since they are tough.

I would appreciate any advice, thanks!
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:17 AM   #2
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The CPR bakpak is what I've used, though on another tank I use an Ecosystem 40 refugium and found it has much better results. The outflow of the filtered water is diffeent considering with a refugium the cycle of proteins isn't cut short by mechanically removing proteins (as with skimmers), but rather utilizing the proteins and naturally breaking them down.

In a 30 gallon tank anemones would need at the very least 90 watts of lighting, but 120 to 150 watts is more preferred for optimal health. Best acheived with power compacts rather than regular flourescents. Live rock will grow things according to the lighting provided. Remnants of corals and algae will sprout eventually. Low lighting, you'll get low lighting growth...high lights will give you high light growths.

Clownfish do not need an anemone and there are many cases where clowns have actually ignored anemones in their tanks. On the flip side, I witnessed a clown fish take to a fake plant as if it were an anemone...wiggling in and out of it and even so much as trying to shove food into whatever mouth the fish thought it had...LOL.

Just to note...damsels are all but tiny...except for when they are juvenile...and make great pests to the tank inhabitants to some degree or another. If you want other fish with the clown besides damsels, then introduce the damsels after everyone else is well established. The chromis family of damsels are less aggresive than the other types. Do look into their adult sizes. Some can get an impressive size to go along with their impressive attitudes.

Since you've been out of the hobby for quite some time, I'd advise to read before diving in again. Much has changed and lots more is known about keeping them not just healthy, but happy too. There are lots of really good marine books out there. Julian Sprung is a good author. Gretak (spell???) is another. Axlrod too. Ask questions even if you think they may be dumb questions...no such thing as a dumb question here.

Typical reef set up would be best rather than fish only. The live rock makes a big difference. You could go without extending too much of an expense on live rock by using base rock then get a few pieces of live rock to seed the base rock...all that great bacteria and microflora and fauna will spread. Water quality is the key to fish keeping rather than caring for the individual fish. Make sure to have a reliable test kit that will test for at least ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. If you plan on having any coral or anemones, I'd advise having calcium and alkalinity test kits as well.

The tank can be cycled with live sand and live rock. Generally takes about two weeks to a month for the set up to be ready for livestock. If partial base rock is used...add about another two weeks to the cycle establishment time. Once ready (ammonia and nitrite levels will read zero with nitrates reading less than 25 ppm...prefered levels 10 to 15 ppm, start with getting a maintenance crew of hermit crabs, snails and shrimp. Wait a week or so, then start placing in the ornamental fish...the ones you want. One at a time and lesser aggressives in first will allow bio to adjust and lessen risk of unwanted attacks on newbie fish.

A QT is highly advised. A simple small 5 to 10 gallon tank...bare bottom with a sponge filter, a heater and non porous ornaments to serve as hide outs. Bare bottom and non porous ornaments, because if there's a parasite problem that comes up, there won't be all those little crannies the bugs can hide in...makes for more effective treatment if that happens). Newly purchased fish should stay in the QT for at least a week...two weeks preferred prior to going into the main tank. If the fish becomes sick, it can be treated right in the QT. This prevents from having the entire tank come down with problems and protects your investment.

Again...READ READ READ!! Your best defense is a great offense filled with knowledge...

Welcome back to the hobby
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:24 AM   #3
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Thanks so much for the advice, I am in research mode now

One off the wall question.. I live in New Zealand and am across the street from a very rocky beach. When the tide goes out there are large tide pools full of what appears to be 'live rock' but I am not sure if this is the same thing? Would this rock be compatible with my tank? I am thinking that it wouldn't and might also cause disease issues etc..
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Old 08-27-2007, 02:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sross
Thanks so much for the advice, I am in research mode now

One off the wall question.. I live in New Zealand and am across the street from a very rocky beach. When the tide goes out there are large tide pools full of what appears to be 'live rock' but I am not sure if this is the same thing? Would this rock be compatible with my tank? I am thinking that it wouldn't and might also cause disease issues etc..
In some sense, it really depends on where you live and how the shore waters are. Here in the states, I'd never take anything out of our shore water into a captive tank east coast or west coast. Too much shore water pollution. Many pollutants will concentrate along the shore, so even sand from the beach is questionable. On the flip side, I've come across someone who's front yard is a Caribbean reef. He's looking into culturing clams right in his front yard...lol. More power to him. My goodness what a yard!!

Use your best judgement. Another thing to consider is the temperatures of New Zealand waters (can you sustain the correct temperature in captivity?) and most important...especially in New Zealand...are conservation laws about picking things from the wild, even if it is just a rock. See what's ok to pick verses what's to be left alone.

For the most part, we generally advise not to take things straight from the ocean, mostly due to pollution and disease that could run amuck in a captive tank. However, if you do it right and have a QT, anything that is going to show up would while in the QT.

New Zealand, huh? Very nice I'm very familar with the tuatara...the gem of New Zealand. They are working so hard to keep this species of reptile in existance. They are a marker of our past prior to the dinosaurs (fossil records date back 250 million years ago) with a very intriguing feature...a visible third eye on the top of their head that has remnants of a retina, making this thrid eye to be a real eye. Many lizards sport this third eye as well, but without the retina features. The tuatara seals the hypothesis of this eye being a visual organ into theory.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:24 AM   #5
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Hey, well I took the plunge and bought a setup today. Money was tight and I'm going to 'try' doing this somewhat on the cheap. I got an Aqua One AR-620 tank with integrated wet/dry filter system (water goes into a compartment that takes up the top back area, goes over some white filter media into charcoal chamber, then through a charcoal looking hard pad and then into ceramic noodles, they call it). This tank is about 25gal. http://www.aquaone.co.uk/AquaStyle_aquarium.php
Normally my gut would tell me such a system is not enough but the shop had 2 display tanks in this config, fish only setup and they looked to be running very well. I only want two tiny clown fish, maybe a small damsel and a small mandarin and a few creepy crawleys like a cleaner shrimp (so i am thinking the system will handle it). So at this stage I have the tank, about 12kg of dead coral in there, some gravel (can't remember the name of it). It all looks pretty good. I have my salt level correct and a 200W Jaeger heater has the tank at 26c, I also added a small power head to aid in circulation. I have put in "nitro bac" to supposedly speed up the cycle. I guess all I do now is wait 3-4 weeks. I have a big test kit but not sure when it's useful to start the tests. I plan to do a 20% water change every 2 weeks (but they said initially wait 6weeks before the first water change). Do you think I'll make it? Does a fish only tank greatly simplify things? Do I need a small quarantine tank? Excited but nervous.. Do you think I might need to buy a skimmer at some stage? Should I just see how things go for now or am I heading for guaranteed disaster without a big dollar filter system? Thanks

update:

ok, just did a ph test and my ph is at 7.2 -is that normal for the 2nd day of operation? Should I add any products to get this up to 8.2? Being in new zealand we get our water from the roof rainwater collected into a tank, the water is then pumped through a 25 to 1 micron filter and into the house. I have been using this water for the tank which probably quite low ph. would i be better to use water from our city water connection and treat it to remove chlorine etc? Thanks
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:39 AM   #6
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Ok...some info. for you to keep in mind...

The only 'tiny' clownfish are going to be the occelaris clowns (aka false percula). Mandarin gobies (as well as psychodelic gobies) belong in well established reef tanks only. They will die otherwise. Their main menu are cope pods and need a nice sized reef set with a refugium to keep these fish happy and alive.

If you have regular fresh water gravel in there...even mixed with crushed coral, it will increase algae growth due to the extra silicate. Be prepared to do a lot of algae scraping.

An aquarist should ALWAYS have a QT.

A skimmer or refugium is recommended, even in fish only tanks...it'll really help keep water quality good, but not imperative ina fish only set up. If you plan on having any anemones or coral then you must have one or the other.

Water changes, I generally recommend doing the basic schedule right away. 10% once a week would be much better, especially in a small tank (20 gallon is considered mini for a reef) than 20% every two weeks. Less time in betwen for nitrates to build.

As of for adjusting the pH...unless you have anything alive in there...wait until the tank's cycle is established, but prior to adding livestock. Check ammonia levels along with the pH. This is good to know for when you do have livestock in the tank and something is off between pH and ammonia...

When ammonia levels rise in an environment, it is natural for pH to go down. This keeps the ammonia less toxic...but if pH levels are up while ammonia levels are up, the water is very toxic. So as a general rule of thumb...ALWAYS make sure ammonia levels are zero prior to increasing pH.

Water source: roof rain water, other than the pH being low (though can always be adjusted), you're dealing with possible contaminates from the roof and the rain. Possible pesticidal residues, tar, and acid rain are some I can come up with off the top of my head. Unless you can get RO water (reverse osmosis), then the tap water may be your best bet and just use the water conditioners to neutralize the chlorine, chlorimines, ammonia and any phosphates.

Also...Nitro bac doesn't speed the establishment of a cycle, but rather it serves as a suppliment until the tanks natural bio is established. Good to use when you do water changes and add new fish.
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We, as a people, know so much more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. This lack of knowledge can very well spell the dangers that lay in wait for us.

The oceans surely would swallow us before a rock comes down to smite the planet of it's life.
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:05 AM   #7
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I wouldn't worry about pH during the cycle. It will swing until your tank is stable. Once it is stable, make sure you measure it at the same time every day. Your pH will be lower right after lights on and higher right before lights out.
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