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Old 06-07-2006, 04:50 AM   #1
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Thinking about starting a salt water tank. Help Please!

Hi, I am currently considering trying to set up a saltwater tank. I have no real experience taking care of fish and have been told by some that a saltwater tank is too difficult for a true newbie.

So far it seems that the most important stage of setting up a tank is the initial design and ensuring that you have the time and money to actually take care of your fish. I would like to eventually be able to have a larger tank 75 gallons or more designed around an eel but thought that I should probably start out small since I really do not have much of an idea of what I am doing.

So a here comes the questions...

1) How much time does a saltwater tank take to maintain properly, and can it be left alone for periods of a few days? I tend to travel every other weekend and I do not really have anyone to fish sit.

2) How expensive is the initial startup? I am not looking to skimp and want to make sure that I can afford this hobby.

3) What kind of maintaince fees am I looking at? Is there a signficant increase in the electric bill?

I am thinking to start with a 30-40 gallon sized tank, and have started a list of fish that I might like to have.
The fish I am currently considering are:
Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse
Spotted Cardinal Fish
Firefish
Multicolor Lubbock's Wrasse
Banded Possum Wrasse
Fridmani Pseudochromis

A few questions about fish:

1) How many fish can you have in a 30 gallonish tank? I read about the 1 inch per gallon rule but I think I might have misunderstood. Does it mean that I can have a total of 30 inches of fish?

2) The Wrasse are of the same species will that be a problem? From what I read their temperaments are passive.

I would also like to have some corals, the ones I am considering are:
Zoanthid Mushrooms
Button Polyp Green
Yellow Fiji Leather

1) The Zoanthid Mushrooms, and Button Polyp Green are listed as semi aggressive will they be ok together in the same tank?

Well this is basically where I am at on tank design and thoughts, I tried to pick fish and coral that were listed for beginners. I really do not know what else I need to add to this tank besides living rock, so please help me out if you can! Any advice would be greatly appreciated, this looks like a great hobby but I want to make sure I know what I am getting into!

On a final note, if some of this information is listed somewhere else on the site and I have missed it I apologize for the redundancy.
Thanks!!
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:55 AM   #2
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First off welcome to AA

my ”Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank” post has all the equipment listed that you will need and maintenance tips to help you enjoy your SW tank. It’s a long read but will help answer all the basic questions since you are new to this hobby.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
1) How much time does a saltwater tank take to maintain properly, and can it be left alone for periods of a few days?
Fish can go about 3 days without any ill affects without eating but personally I’d be nervous about leaving a tank for more then a day without someone to check on it. Whatever you do I would never use an automatic fish feeder.

Equipment can fail and you could loose your stock if not checked on. Considering how expensive stock can be it might not be worth setting up if you do not have a somewhat experienced friend to check on the tank while gone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
2) How expensive is the initial startup?
Tank, lighting, live rock, & skimmer are your 4 biggest investments running around $30-$50 per gal. The stock post has a ton of links to equipment costs but if considering a 55 or 75 gal which is what I would buy personally you are looking at around $200-$500 on average for the tank/stand and depending on if it’s “reef ready” (predrilled). About $200-$400 depending on what type of lighting you want (PC/VHO lighting as a minimum and probably MH/PC combo for the corals you want). LR will run you anywhere from $300-$600+ depending on if you go with all live rock or a combination of base rock/live rock. Skimmer will run $200+

If looking for cheap live rock checkout intmarinefish.com which has lr for as little as $3-$4 per lb shipped.

Couple of more places with quality lr:
www.liverocknreef.com
www.liveaquaria.com
www.tampabaysaltwater.com

For base rock checkout www.hirocks.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
3) What kind of maintenance fees am I looking at? Is there a significant increase in the electric bill?
Supplies will run you around $20-$30 a month and depending on the lights you get an increase in your power bill in the range of $20-$50 a month (of course it depends where you live also)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
The fish I am currently considering are:
Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse
Spotted Cardinal Fish
Firefish
Multicolor Lubbock's Wrasse
Banded Possum Wrasse
Fridmani Pseudochromis
Fish list looks fine for a 55 or 75 gal but you should cut it down if going for a 30-40 gal tank (see below). They are all strictly carnivores and would do well with a mix of frozen foods.

I have the Fridmani Pseudochromis and it can be fairly aggressive/territorial sometime so I’d avoid personally if going with a smaller tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
1) How many fish can you have in a 30 gallon tank? I read about the 1 inch per gallon rule but I think I might have misunderstood.
The general rule of 1” per gal is for FW fish. For SW fish it’s closer to 1” per 5 gal and I’d try to stick to that rule in the beginning and only slightly increase once your tank is 6+ months old and depending on the filtration you have for your tank. The fish you are looking at are small and not really too messy so that is a plus as far as stocking goes. If you got all your fish (adding one a month) they total 17.5” as adults which IMO would be pushing it for a 55 gal but would be fine for a 75 gal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
2) If the Wrasse are of the same species will that be a problem? From what I read their temperaments are passive.
This combination of Wrasse is ok but they would be picked on by the Pseudochromis if put in a smaller tank. Keep in mind that you will need a cover (egg crate, not glass) on the tank for the Wrasse since they are jumpers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
I would also like to have some corals, the ones I am considering are:
Zoanthid Mushrooms
Button Polyp Green
Yellow Fiji Leather
Coral list is ok but you will need room for the leather and moderate to high light (about 5-7 watts per gal)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drent
1) The Zoanthid Mushrooms, and Button Polyp Green are listed as semi aggressive will they be ok together in the same tank?
As long as you give them enough room you should be fine.

Research is key to a successful SW tank and I’d highly recommend reading all the saltwater articles on this site, the articles on liveaquaria.com, & picking up a good book. All are excellent ways to get acquainted with all that’s required for this expensive hobby.
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Old 06-07-2006, 10:39 AM   #3
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Welcome Drent!!

The amount of reading you do will dictate whether you're a succesful newbie or a newbie that's over his head and messes up stuff. You got some good advice above and the additional reading you'll do will make it all just fine. Take your time most of all.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 06-07-2006, 11:32 AM   #4
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I agree with everything listed above, but I'd like to add a few thoughts:

Invest in a 20g quarantine tank.
invest in a refractometer. hydrometers suck
get the right substrate. aragonite sand
get a reef ready (drilled) tank and sump.
get a really good skimmer
get a RODI (ebay is good) filter
take your time

I think at least 10 minutes per day is enough to take care of a tank, with maybe another hour every week or two for more detailed cleaning and such. It's really not that demanding, but you do have to pay attention to it every day. I wouldn't worry too much about going away for 3 days. If you feed before you leave, and top off with extra rodi, you'll be OK. Bob fenner says to throw away all your food before you go on vacation, or at least hide it from your friend who checks in on your house. Most vacation deaths are due to "helpful" friends dumping in tons of food.

read, read, read! this site is great. reefcentral.com has a good forum too. Not everyone will agree, so get a range of opinions and decide for yourself. In the end it is YOUR tank, so everything is up to you. But it's best not to make the same mistakes others have.

good luck
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Old 06-07-2006, 11:39 AM   #5
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Welcome to AA!!

I was kind of worried when I first decided to do SW. I also heard it was difficult. I found a lot of reading and advice on AA has helped me. I haven't had any real difficulties in setting up or maintaing my tank. A few incidents here and there, but mostly the advice from the folks around have saved me a lot of grief.
I have one suggestion, please do not cycle your new tank with fish or inverts. It tends to be VERY stressful on the poor guys and they might not make it through.
Hope this helps!
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:11 PM   #6
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Welcome!

The only comments I'll add that I didn't see mentioned already are these:

Upgrading a tank can be a laborious task. If you think you want a 75 with corals and such in the end, start with a 75 gallon tank, but stick with the equipment to be FO or FOWLR and upgrade the external equipment as you move towards being ready for corals. It is much easier to add more LR and upgrade your lighting, pumps etc than to move all your substrate, LR, fish etc to a new tank completely. JMO


IMO, you've already taken the first step to being successful. You're reading, researching and asking questions before jumping in. Keep doing that as you move on and you'll continue to have success. IMO, the most important elements to being successful are Research and patience. Always know what you're buying and how it will associate with everything else in your tank before you buy it. Give your tank time to adjust to any changes you make. Some things can take a few days before you can observe a change, either good or bad.

(I'll also second the comment about the fishless cycle. We have an article here in our articles section that details how to cycle your tank without the use of fish. IMO, its a more complete cycle than using a fish anyway.)
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Always know what you're buying and how it will associate with everything else in your tank before you buy it.
I agree on this 100%. I added a royal gramma in my tank. I just assumes it would be ok, but my damsels stressed the poor guy to death! I should have asked for advice.
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:34 PM   #8
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I agree with starting on the 75g. More forgiving for newbie mistakes. BillyZ gave you some good stuff to work with also.

Hmmmm.... by the way, where are you located. I've got a COMPLETE 72g setup for sale. May even consider selling components - lights, fuge, pumps, UV etc, etc.

Now, hopefully I didn't violate anything mentioning that part, but PM if interested and not too far away.

Mostly everyone I've talked with wish they started with a bigger tank in the beginnning. You'll be much happier that way I believe.

Quote:
If you think you want a 75 with corals and such in the end, start with a 75 gallon tank, but stick with the equipment to be FO or FOWLR and upgrade the external equipment as you move towards being ready for corals. It is much easier to add more LR and upgrade your lighting, pumps etc than to move all your substrate, LR, fish etc to a new tank completely. JMO
Good advice here!
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Old 06-07-2006, 01:20 PM   #9
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As with the bigger tank getting the higher priced lighting to start with should be considered since you want corals. No sense paying $100-$150 for regular florescent lighting and then turn around and replace them with more expensive lighting. I’m in that predicament now since I bought PC lighting and now want MH lighting

The other advantage to the larger tank is that it is a lot more forgiving to “newbie” mistakes since you’re dealing with more water volume (smaller chemical level changes).

I’m sure our advice probably left you with more questions then answers but as long as you take your time and ask before doing you should be fine.
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