Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Saltwater and Reef > Saltwater & Reef - Getting Started

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
Old 06-13-2004, 01:29 AM   #1
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Toano, Virginia!
Posts: 716
Stop me before I kill somethin'

I've been raising freshwater fish for a little while now and things have finally settled down to where I'm not obsessively monitoring water parameters on an hourly basis

I want to set up a saltwater tank so bad I cant stand it...the saltwater fish and life available are just so beatiful. My wife and I dont have the luxurly of being able to spend a lot of money on fish, so we have to work with what we have, or find a way to do it slow and easy. So, my question is, can I do this without having to spend 1000 dollars? I know that bigger tanks are easier to maintain and most fish will do better in the bigger tanks, but I dont know how exactly big of tank I can afford just yet. As far as stocking it goes, I know for a fact that I'll be labeled a "bad dad" if I dont get an Anemone and a "Nemo" Clown fish. Hopefully Nemo can survive without Dory, or Ill have to find a way to incorporate her into the mix too. With that, I have no clue what to fill a tank with to even get started, and what kind of other fish will work with the Percular clown.

At the local Saltwater place, they have a 7 Gal. tank with some rock, an anemone and a pair of Clowns in it. There is no filter on the tank that I can see and no other animals, other than what lives on the rock. They have a small fan blowing on the water, some fancy light and some pumps that provide water current. Thats it. Makes it look easy, but the store keeper said it takes someone who knows saltwater tanks very well to keep one that small. Can I get into something with Anemone and a clown or two in a twenty gallon tank? 30?

youronlysin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 06:18 AM   #2
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Cochranville PA
Posts: 698
The clowns would be ok. Regal tangs need space,at least 75 gal. Unfortunately the anemone is another matter. The tank should be running for a year before one is added. And they have a high mortality rate.

A lot of ripples make a wave
darb2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 07:05 AM   #3
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Omicron Persia 8
Posts: 693
Welcome to the hobby. And sorry for what I feel will be another long post from me. Most of this is my opinion based on my experience and research. Others will have their opinions, get them all and make an educated decision.

I'll give you what answers I can and others will chime in shortly. Do lots of research before you start, get some good books and read the forums. This will save you a lot of hastle, money, and time.

Firstly, despite some of the numbers you'll find here, you can start a SW setup pretty inexpensively as long as you have some patience and are a bit of a diy'er. I'll get to that in a minute. For a ready to go in a relatively short time tank, you'll be dropping some serious cash. For a 55g FOWLR with DSB you can get started for less than $500.

Secondly, nothing good happens fast in the SW world. That's why everyone recommends starting with the largest tank you can afford. The larger water volume will make bad things happen slower, allowing you to catch and correct them. A 7g tank for a newbie is more than likely going to be a money pit of dead fish and frustration. The one at the lfs is likely running a penguin style bio-wheel hood setup that hides the filtration above the water line.

Thirdly, nemo will be fine in a smaller tank. Anemones will not, and Dory needs at least a 70g. Dory is also a disease magnet, specifically ich. An anemone also should not be tried unless you have a very established system, most recommend at least a year of success in the tank before you even attempt one. It requires "pristine" water conditions.

And now welcome to Indy's world of budget reefing! tm. (Indy's world of budget reefing is not affiliated with the discount marijuana growers union or the Indy 500. No warrenty expressed or implied, mileage may vary.)

Some things you absolutely must have, others are options. Once you have the must-haves, you can start your system. The options can be added as money and need arise. Being a diy'er and an ebay surfer I have saved a ton of money. My current system has been built in stages over the last year. The first 8 months don't count as I didn't do anything besides make it fish ready. The last 4 months have had more construction. No losses to date w/the excetption of 2 jumpers I found dried on the carpet. Or they were thrown out for bad behavior...

Must have's:

TANK: (duh!) start with at least a 29. If you like the SW world you'll want to upgrade soon so you might as well get the 55. SW has to keep a smaller stocking load than fresh, so smaller tanks are limited. If all you want to do is keep fish and live rock, you can buy a used tank and setup pretty cheaply, just watch the classifieds. But if you think you might want to try corals someday, buy new. If the used tank has ever been treated with copper based meds (like for ich), it will probably be toxic to corals. Tanks are cheaper than corals, so go with the new tank.

HEATER: Full submersible rather than the HOB style. I use a 300w for my 55 w/10g fuge and it works just dandy.

Water flow: powerheads or pumps, shoot for around 10xtank volume for turnover.

Lighting: for fowlr the fluo. strip that comes with the tank is ok, but more light is better. For corals you'll need a lot more light. Lights are THE most expensive part.

Salt: self explanitory.

Rock: and lots of it, at least 1-2 lbs per gal. Live rock is very expensive. Base rock is very cheap. If you put in a lot of base and a little live, the life on the live will slowly spread to the base. Takes more patience, but a lot less money.

Good test kit:

Optional (kind of):
Filtration: not really an option, but the type is. LFS will tell you a wet/dry is a must have, and they only cost $300 and up. I can show you how to build one for less than $50 and I'll throw in the bio-balls sitting in my closet. You'll save a lot of money and end up with the exact same water problems you'd have with the $300 one. All mechanical filtration falls into this category. If you aren't willing to do filter maintenance every day or every other, don't go this route.

Undergravel: don't even try this one for SW.

The route I recomend to everyone is Deep Sand Bed (DSB) filtration. Entirely natural, and much much cheaper than w/d. All you need is 4-6 inches of sandbed (aragonite or playsand) and good water flow. Lots of rock add to the filtration and make the fish happier. A good collection of sand sifting/burrowing worms, snails, etc. are also needed. But those little guys are needed for just about any filtration style.

Optional (really)
refugium (a darn fine idea for FO and reef both), can diy cheap
protein skimmer (another darn fine idea for all)
high intensity lighting (required for reef), can diy relatively cheap
moon lighting, can diy cheap
wave maker
probably lots of others.

Anyway, decide what you want, FO or reef. If you start FO, you'll probably want corals eventually. That just the way the disease progresses, no point in fighting it. For fish, decide what 1 fish you absolutely MUST have. The rest of your stocking will revolve around this 1 fish. And when you do get setup, remember to go fishless for your cycling.
indy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 07:12 AM   #4
Moderator Emeritus
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Franklin, TN
Posts: 3,968
Re: Stop me before I kill somethin'

Originally Posted by youronlysin
Makes it look easy, but the store keeper said it takes someone who knows saltwater tanks very well to keep one that small. Can I get into something with Anemone and a clown or two in a twenty gallon tank? 30?
8O 8O WOW 8O 8O

An honest LFS owner not looking to make the sale at any cost. He is correct, I know sure as shoot that with my limited experience in SW (6 mos), I would surely be unable to handle a nano cube.
Bearfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 10:45 AM   #5
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 23
I wouldn't recommend it, but my first tank was a 5 gallon. I've been a nano-reefer ever since. The difference is the chemistry. If you have a background in chemistry and the persistance to keep it in check I think you could do it. If you have the funds and want two clowns, go with the 20 or 30.

Down the road if you want to go nano, go to nano-reef.com
hydrohoki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 01:33 PM   #6
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Toano, Virginia!
Posts: 716
Wow. Lots of ideas. First, I have a few Questions and statements. Lets see if I can top indy.

My wife and I will be moving from Idaho to Virginia Next summer. If its best, I should probably start getting everything together now, and wait to set it all up after we move; sounds like its going to take some time to get the necessary components. I dont imagine I will want to tear down a 55 gallon tank to move it 3000 miles. A little off subject, when we do move, I was thinking about taking my FW fish to the lfs and either trading them in on hardware or cash and just buying new fish when we get to virginia. I dont know how hard it will be to keep fish alive during a 2500 mile roadtrip.

I really better search the forums a tad before I start asking, but it seems most of the questions people ask are already assuming they know what they're dealing with to some point. So.....first off you mention FOWLR, and then Coral. Im assuming that LR is merely the fancy rock formations that have micro-organisms or barnacles and stuff on them? That sounds like something every tank would have a little of. Coral is nice, I dont know what it takes to have both.

The fish arent important, I dont have to have Dory in there too, I just know the kids would love it. I'll look around and see if we cant find something the clowns can live with.

With all that rock and sand, doesnt it seem a bit dangerous to have all that weight on the bottom of the tank? The bottom glass doesnt even sit on the stand; does anyone use some kind of rubber feet or anything to help disperse the weight or should the tank be strong enough on its own? I want to build my own stand/cabinet so do I only need to worry about supporting the tank from the edges that touch the ground? (nothing in the middle)

The Saltwater Emporium down the street sells imported ocean water for your tank. Is that a preferred method of filling, or is it simple to just add the right salt to tap water? If I wait to fill the tank until after I move to Virginia, can I just scoop up some water from the Atlantic (We're moving to Williamsburg) and pour it in my tank?? BTW, regarding the 7 gallon tank the LFS has, there is no filtration other than the roughly 4 inches of sand, rock and the life in the tank. The hood is modified so that they could put some kind of bright lights in it...no room for filtration. It is neat looking, but seems a bit dirty. Are all Saltwater tanks with live rock and critters always dirty? I dont mean un-kept, I jsut mean most of the ones I saw overthere had brown gunk in all of the corners and edges of the glass and all over every piece of hardware. They use those magnetic scrapers to clean the glass, but would that brown algae or whatever it grow that way on every saltwater tank? Maybe they need some more ofthe right creatures to eat it up?
I almost dated a psychic.....

She left me before we met.
youronlysin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 04:02 PM   #7
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 23
As far as I've tried, (and the reason I have small tanks) moving can be done. That far will be really tough. I'd wait.

(Where in Virginia are you moving to? I'm from Blacksburg area)

From my understanding and I hope people will correct me if I'm wrong. A glass tank should be able to handle the weight. If you are getting Acrylic you'll need a stand to support the whole underside since it is deformable.

I wouldn't use tap water. Either use DI or RO/DI (you can get this at your LFS) and mix it or use the imported (I always mix my own). Other's may have an opinion, I don't know what the difference in cost would be either. You might look into that.

Good luck.
hydrohoki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 04:16 PM   #8
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Toano, Virginia!
Posts: 716

Originally Posted by hydrohoki
(Where in Virginia are you moving to? I'm from Blacksburg area)
youronlysin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 04:36 PM   #9
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Crete Illinois
Posts: 656
And now welcome to Indy's world of budget reefing! tm. (Indy's world of budget reefing is not affiliated with the discount marijuana growers union or the Indy 500. No warrenty expressed or implied, mileage may vary.)

That is a very good post Indy. I wish that was here when I started. I like the DIY stuff better anyway. I can pretty much buy what I want but, it is so much more fun to "build" it from scratch. It costs less too. There is such a high mark-up on aquarium stuff.

125 Gal-35 Gal Wet/Dry-Tetra-Tec PF500 HOB Filter
(3) AuquaClear 301 Powerheads-600 GPH Circulating Pump
Automatic Tempature Controller
5-6 Inch Sand Bed-200+ lbs of LR
Sparky is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2004, 07:04 PM   #10
Aquarium Advice Addict
lando's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Savage, MN
Posts: 7,889
Welcome to the site and welcome to saltwater! Keeping saltwater fish is a perfect hobby for someone in your position. You do not need to get the best of everything right away. It is very hard for anyone to drop $2000 on a tank before they even know they will be able to keep anything alive. This is truly a hobby of patience. indy's post is great so I do not need to address anything there. here is some advice that I can give...When you decide to buy equipment like filters, skimmers and such, get ones that are rated for a bigger tank then you currently have. They generally are not that much more expensive and when you decide to get a larger tank you will already have most of the things to go with it. you do not need to buy a skimmer right off the bat. you can get going without it and add it later. Buy equipment and livestock on-line, it is way cheaper and you will save a bundle. Develope a good relationship with a LFS and has a good reputation and is willing to help educate. Lastly...keeping asking questions and doing research on this site. you can learn a lot from the mistakes of others. Good luck! Lando

lando is offline   Reply With Quote

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
my gf asked me somethin about a potatoe divedeep1689 Saltwater Reef Aquaria 3 02-04-2010 12:53 AM
somethin' dont jive Thever General Hardware/Equipment Discussion 1 01-15-2009 12:00 PM
feather duster? or maybe somethin else hackteck Saltwater & Reef - Identification 4 04-05-2006 09:36 AM
This is just a little somethin that i would like to share. Kohan Bros. Saltwater Reef Aquaria 10 05-11-2005 01:27 AM
Stop me before I Kill! – Empty tank syndrome cmor1701d Saltwater & Reef - Getting Started 14 03-13-2003 12:01 PM

» Photo Contest Winners

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:18 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.