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Old 04-19-2006, 07:15 PM   #1
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SW noob on a budget....

I am a completely noob to saltwater. I've never had a SW tank, and frankly I don't even know where to start. I've had FW for a couple years now, but I just aquired a new tank and want to do something a little more challenging.

I have a 20 gallon tank and a new aquaclear 30 (rated for 10-30 gallons), but the filter can be returned/exchanged.

I'd planned on discus because I was supposed to get a 46 gal tank from a friend who was moving, but the tank was broken in the move so now I just have the 20 gal from my boyfriend whose fish I returned to the LFS because he didn't take care of them... and then I took his tank. haha.

Since I'd had a discus budget of about $250 and can no longer have discus in this small of a tank, I thought I'd try SW if at all possible.

Enough rambling... what do I need?

I'd like seahorses, but I understand they're extremely difficult to keep... so what kinds of fish can I have in that size tank? Is it possible to get any kind of starfish?

What substrates are best? Is live rock absolutely necessary? Can I use FW decorations? What kinds of decorations can I use?

(Sorry if these are common-sense questions, I just want to be sure and not mess anything up)

I also know there's a lot of talk about buying saltwater. Is it really that hard to make your own? If I do decide to make my own saltwater, can I use tap water (well water) or should I buy distilled at the grocery store?

Anything else I should know? Any good places to start my information search?
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Old 04-19-2006, 08:01 PM   #2
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Read the articles that are located up top of this page. Education is the key. The smarter the better for you and your tank. Seahorses are not as hard as you think. Y ou just wont be able to put fish in with them as they will eat up their food and cause them to starve. Ask questions we are here to help.
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Old 04-19-2006, 08:43 PM   #3
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Just be sure this is something you want to get into because it can be very addicting and it can cost money. I started with a 29 gal on a budget of about what you're on, but that alone was only enough for a skimmer and couple powerheads. Melosu58 is right though, look under the section that says articles at the top of the page. Just read through them and whatever you dont understand or if you aren't finding what you need then these guys are great for answering questions! Live rock is not a necessity but it does help out A LOT! Yes, you can use FW decorations in your tank. No, its not that hard to make your own saltwater. All you need is a 5 gal bucket, a powerhead and a heater. (and of course salt and water) I would recommend getting a RO/DI unit to save yourself a lot of headache down the line. This hobby takes a lot of patience, so just pace yourself and read, read read! Good luck and welcome to the addiction! HTH
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Old 04-19-2006, 08:47 PM   #4
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IMO 250 is not going to get you very far with a SW tank. Cutting corners in the hobby only cost you more money in the long run. And Seahorses are not for beginners.. I know experienced reefers that have them and they can be tricky to keep.
Right now I suggest you read, read and read some more and save some more money.
Most tap water is no good and will cause nieusance algaes, distilled water is fine.. No spring water.
LR IMO is a must for any tank, its the best natural filtration you can get. Decorations are not normally used in SW tank.

read up and keep asking questions..
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:44 PM   #5
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I'm trying to read, but that's the problem... I don't know where to start. I've read all the articles that are posted in the article thread, but I haven't yet found a comprehensive list of what I'd need to start.

I've done FW, so I know about cycling... but other than that, I'm fairly lost. I can't go out and buy books because, like I said, I'm on a budget.

The cycling will take a couple weeks... so I can save up some more money during that time for fish and other necessities... but what should I get to start? (I want minimum cost... but not stuff that I'll have to go replace.)

What substrate is best? Sand? Crushed coral? Gravel?

How much living rock should I get? Would it be better to get some LR and some... uhh... non-living rock?

I'd like to get started and get cycling within the next couple weeks, during which time i can read some more... I'm in college and my semester is over in 2 weeks so I have the whole summer to learn about SW before I have to go back to learning about other things (haha) so I'd like to be able to start the cycling sometime relatively soon.

Is there any ONE book that you'd consider the best for a starter? I don't want to spend too much money on books that'll give me information i could find for free online, but I like to have one all-inclusive book around.

I'll be back with more questions... trust me.
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willowthepoet
I haven't yet found a comprehensive list of what I'd need to start.
You must have missed the sticky:

”Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank”

That post should answer all the basic questions. If only buying one book I’d get The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert M. Fenner
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Old 04-20-2006, 02:23 PM   #7
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Let me try to help give some insight. Here is a basic list of what you will need and soem round about costs.

Optional (But reccomended)
Live Rock - 1.5lbs per gallon (This will help with filtration and you will definitly benifit from this) Cost is $4 per pound and up - but remember shipping is a big expense if you can't get it locally.

Needed:

You will need normal filtration like a HOB (needed more if you don't use live rock) - $25-$75

With fish you need a Protine Skimmer - $100 and up. Get a good one and pay the extra money it will be worth it. Proabbly wil lcost you $150 or more.

Sand - Live sand is best but normal playsand works too and is a lot cheaper.

Lighting- normal lightning is fine if you do fish only but if you ever want to do corals you would need good lights that would cost you 100-300 dollars. Keep that in mind.

Livestock - most SW fish are not cheap.

Test kits for Nitrate/nitrite/Ammonia/phospjhate/PH - $100 or more

A RO or RO/DI system if you don't want to use store purchased water every other week to do PWC. Units cost $100 and up.

Salt mix - Costs varies on size and brand but it is anotehr expense.



Ok enough rambeling. Basically what I am telling you is that with even a 20 gallon tank you are looking at a grand total start up cost of:

$450-700 for hardware (Live rock/filters/sand/RO system/Test kits)
$?? for live stock

Could end up being $1000 easy. Funny thing is that from doign a 10 gallon reef tank I have figured out that it costs me a lot of money to set it up and keep it running. But if I had gone with a much larger tank say 70 to 90 gallons it would have only cost me about 3K to 4K instead of almost 1K after all was said and done.
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Old 04-20-2006, 03:17 PM   #8
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I hate to scare you but I just starting everything back up. I told myself, "How bad can it be?", I have most of the stuff so I leaped in head first. I think I have dropped $1000 in the last 2 weeks and haven't added one living thing yet. With that being said, I have decided on a reef setup so lighting ran almost half of that.

In my limited experience, if you are considering a larger tank in the near distant future, either buy equipment that may border on slight overkill for your 20gal or upgrade the tank now. Over the long run, buying everything twice will make things get really expensive.

Let me say this, an understanding spouse (if you have one) is critical. There have been more than a few stern looks.
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Old 04-20-2006, 03:45 PM   #9
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The lr, lighting, & skimmer are going to be the biggest upfront costs. I have a budget setup for my aquarium of $200 a month which my wife is fine with
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Old 04-20-2006, 03:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I have a budget setup for my aquarium of $200 a month which my wife is fine with
I have a similar one for that and my reptile collection. Unfortunately, with the costs of the initial setup, I blew the budget out of the water!
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