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Old 08-15-2006, 02:50 PM   #1
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Taking the dive, Want to start a FOWLR

Okay so I went to the LFS the other day to check out a companion for my water frog a friend got me for a graduation present last year. While I was there I saw the saltwater fish and instantly fell in love. I have been reading this forum as well as many others and I think it is time for me to get some input on things to grab. I am thinking of starting a 20 or 30g tank with some live rock and a few fish. I am not looking for anything extreme or any "hard"core coral. I am thinking of probably live sand? Is there something I should know about live rock and sand as well? I am also looking for some equipment lists to start looking at. I was offered a "kit" at the store but I figure a kit is just like a pre-built computer. You can do it cheaper if you build things yourself. My house has culligan water filtering since we live in the country and have very hard water. Would this be okay to use or would I need to make a large purchase of water from a store?

Sorry for all of the questions but I would really like to get all of my information correct before I start the slow process of filling and cycling the tank.
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Old 08-15-2006, 04:41 PM   #2
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Please do not cycle your tank with live animals.

In SW, it is generally to go bigger, on the tank. If you are just starting out, I would go with the biggest your budget/space can handle. The reason behind this is, smaller tanks have less room for error. In other words, if the water goes out of whack and you don't detect it fast enough, you could loose your tank.

Quote:
I am thinking of probably live sand?
IME, I started with CC and decided to convert to LS, that was quite a task. You will want to decide early what kind of substrate you will use. People like the look of CC, but it becomes dirty and limits your substrate stirrers and other critters.

Quote:
Is there something I should know about live rock and sand as well?
LR, there is cured/uncured/base. Cured is what your LFS has (hopefully) in the display tanks, with life and beneficial bacteria growing on it. (this tends to be a little more expensive). Uncured is "freshly shipped" rock that will have die-off due to exposure to air/shipping (great stuff to help start and possibly reduce the period of your cycle). Base rock is "dead" rock that can become LR. Generally, this is the cheapest.
LS, IMO just buy the dry stuff, not the kind that already has water in it. I tend to think a lot of the beneficial bacteria is still alive after setting on the shelf at room temp, with no O2.

Quote:
I was offered a "kit" at the store but I figure a kit is just like a pre-built computer.
Exactly, sometimes you can get a great deal, but most times, not at the LFS. I use the LFS to see what they have and then buy it online.

Quote:
My house has culligan water filtering since we live in the country and have very hard water. Would this be okay to use or would I need to make a large purchase of water from a store?
Not sure about that filter, but I am on well water and don't have any problems. You can probably have your LFS test the water for you.
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Old 08-15-2006, 04:57 PM   #3
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Robert Fenner the author. "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", the book.

Check it out IMO. All except for the part about cycling with fish.
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Old 08-15-2006, 05:40 PM   #4
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Any SW aquarium, of any size, will require the commitment of time and money. I bought a second hand tank & stand and thought I would get into SW cheaply. Take it from me, there is no such thing. In one month I dropped over $1500 into the related filters, skimmer, misc. equiptment, chemicals, testing equiptment, LR and live sand. Its hard, if not impossible, to set things up correctly without spending some $$$$$.

As for time and effort. I spend about 2 hours/day doing related research on the web where there is tons of great info if you know where to look for it. We'll help with that. I have also bought a few of the suggested books and have read them through and through. Initial set-up is a bit slow and tedious. It will be a while before your tank is "established".

Don't get discouraged by this post - the effort and expense will be worth it when you get everything you dreamed of, set up just the way you want. However, it's a good thing to go into this hobby with both eyes open.

OK - start reading
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Old 08-15-2006, 06:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
I dropped over $1500 into the related filters, skimmer, misc. equiptment
I definitely agree, the start up can be a bit expensive. I have found the monthly expense is relatively low. Once you get past the "hump" it shouldn't cost as much, especially if you buy in bulk....like a 160LBs of salt.....
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Old 08-15-2006, 10:05 PM   #6
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Hi there, I just started up this hobby against recently after a long break from my first saltwater tank. From the people on these forums I have learned quite a bit and they should be able to answer any questions you have.

But here is a starting equipment list

- Tank
- Stand
- Lighting (CF, or T5 for any corals or just better lighting otherwise a standard flourscent one will do)
- Heater
-Thermometer
- Filter
- Protein Skimmer (can wait a month or more on this if you need to)
- RO/DI filter (not necessary but after reading up on it...it seems like a really great investment and will ensure the quality of the water you are putting into the tank to start with)
- Sand bed
- Live rock
- Water test kit

As for getting your tank started I suggest getting the tank and stand from your LFS, then shopping around online for the best prices.

I regret not checking online because I spent $115 for a standard flourescent light and hood at my LFS. They wanted $400 for a 48" 4 x 65 watt CF light and I really wanted to be able to have the better lighting for some corals but at $400 I was not willing to do so. Now I see that if I ordered online for $85 more I would have had the better lighting from the start...now I will be dishing out another $200 for the better lighting.

Aside from the lighting I found I would have saved about $100 bucks if I went online for the other parts besides the tank and stand.

Lastly, for live rock and cycling I recommed looking into buying a box from www.liveaquaria.com and placing that in your tank once it is set up to get it cycling. I just ordered 52 lbs of live rock from that site and am very happy with the quality I received. Also with shipping for me it came to $5 a pound...which beats my LFS's price of $9 a pound.

Hope that helps and best of luck, its a really fun hobby and when you tank is crystal clear and you got some cool fish to just sit back and watch it is so worth it.
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Old 08-16-2006, 10:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
I regret not checking online because I spent $115
Tell me about it! I bought my filter from the LFS at around $160, and saw it online, for about half of that!
I also spent $28 for my test kit and it's online for $16.99.
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