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Old 12-18-2005, 10:51 PM   #1
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Thinking about starting a small marine tank...

Hello. I used to keep a very successful 50 gallon marine tank about 15 years ago. Unfortunately, I was in college back then and moving all of the time, which made keeping a great tank too difficult, so I gave it up.

Now, I am older with a family... and I have considered a large, SERIOUS reef tank on many occasions. However, I'm not there yet financially. My 3 year old son recieved a small fish tank as a gift about 6 months ago. He loves it, but I hate it... I find freshwater fish boring, plus it is SO small (4 gallons) that it is difficult to keep clean and stuff can go bad literally overnight.

So I started thinking that maybe I should buy a bigger tank. Something, say - 25 to 30 gallons. Then I thought, why not do a small marine tank? I looked around this weekend in my local (small town) area for a nice tank with stand and hood, and did not find anything I liked. I did see some of these "Eclipse" systems, which looked like an easy and inexpensive way to start, but I was underwhelmed by the filtration system, and even less impressed with the lighting. While I don't indend on keeping ANY FORM of coral in such a small tank, I would like to have a small anemone or two, possibly a bivalve, and need to give them the appropriate amount of light.

So, I haven't bought anything but a few books - to catch me up on everything that I have missed in the past decade. Which I am sure is a lot. So, I also sought out this forum for advice.

So, here's what I am thinking thus far. 25-30 gallon square glass aquarium. Fluval cannister filter. Some kind of hood light source, with 2-3 bright bulbs, possibly a blue actinic (these still exist?) and ballast. Live rock, possibly some live sand.

Am I even on a good start yet?

I would like to get a nice stand and hood as well, seems like most of the All-Glass stuff my local dealers carry looks like total crap. I was really disappointed in what I found. I was hoping to start setting this up today, but instead I am posting here, then going to have a drink, then go clean that dirty little freshwater aquarium again...

I am going to read the recommended articles.

Also, I *know* that 25-30 gallons is not a big marine tank. But, it's something my young son will enjoy, it's a way I can get back into keeping a marine tank, and most importantly - it's what I can afford.

I would love a lot of input!

Thanks...
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Old 12-18-2005, 10:55 PM   #2
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ur best bet would be between 20-30 gallon i have a 29 reef and its very stable, as for filtration i have a prism delux i got pretty cheap and a 130 watt power compact light that was 70 dollars.....
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Old 12-18-2005, 11:40 PM   #3
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If you're looking at photosynthetic clams (I'd recommend a crocea for their small size), or anemones, you're looking at something more than normal fluorescent lighting (they are more light demanding).

Actinic bulbs still exist, and have probably even improved Current fluorescent technologies include: VHO, CF/PC, and HO T5. T5 is the newest, greatest, and best of them. You only want to buy setups which contain a reflector per bulb, as this is what makes T5 much more efficient. I'd go more white than actinic, but up to 50/50 on the actinic is good.

I'd ditch the canister and go for a live rock setup, which would suit a clam or anemone much more than a FO setup. You can provide the water movement you need with 2 powerheads, as well as a good skimmer (look for an AquaC Remora).

I like AGA tanks myself. They are rather solidly built. Just all of their extra accessories are junk.
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Old 12-19-2005, 01:40 AM   #4
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20g tank might just not big enough for anemone and clam.
clam need food from a large stable environment, if the tank too small, i don't think u be have enough for it.
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:33 AM   #5
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After doing some additional reading, I probably will stay away from bi-valves. And as for anemones, I probably will have only one, two small guys at the most.

The books I purchased today:

The Saltwater Aquarium Handbook, Blasada (Barron's)
The Guide To Starting A Marine Aquarium, Boruchowitz (T.F.H. Publications)

and

A Pocket Expert Guide: Marine Fishes, Michael (Microcosm)

Another question...

A decade ago, I conditioned using damselfishes, which worked great. However, a particular blue chromis became EXTREMELY territorial and attacked virtually everything I put into the tank, eventually killing one of my clownfish.

Try getting a lightning-quick blue damsel out of a tank filled with stacked live rock. Talk about a serious PITA. I had to basically take everything out and disrupt everything to get that little bugger out, and I'm ashamed to tell you what I did to that mean little bastard for putting me through the trouble.

Anyhow, I tell that particular story because... I don't want to go there again. I'd love to hear some insight as to how I can avoid that situation.

As for lighting, I love the actinic more for nighttime than anything, I think they are a cool "moonlight simulator" (even though if you have ever done any night diving, you know there is no such thing.) I will read up on the T5 bulbs.

As for filtration, I have been told that the Cannister would work great for a smaller setup, and if I needed more movement, a small powerhead would be great. However, I was told point blank by an enthusiast that I really trust that a protein skimmer would be overkill for something this small. Honestly, I never had one before and was fine. But I am open to anything.
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:34 AM   #6
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And yeah... I won't go as small as 20G. 25-30 is what I have been considering.
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:59 AM   #7
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You can drop the protein skimmer, but you'll want to up the water changes to keep nitrates in check. Fish can tolerate nitrates, most inverts can't.

Actinic may be too bright for night, unless its a small NO fixture. LED moonlights are popular, and since they're point-sources of light they produce a shimmer effect similar to halides.

The two main fishless methods of cycling are uncured (or shipped) liverock or raw shrimp (the articles section has a bit on cycling with a raw shrimp). In LR, things will die, which fuels the cycle. Don't cycle with damsels, as you've expierienced!

If you don't want T5, use CF lighting, as its your next best bet (and dropping the clam from the situation means you can make do with a little less light).
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Old 12-19-2005, 04:33 AM   #8
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Bigger is better
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Old 12-19-2005, 02:04 PM   #9
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There is no doubt that bigger is better. But this is what the budget will allow, and again... it's a stepping stone to something HUGE. If I can keep a small tank healthy, it should not be a problem with a big one, in theory. Right?
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:58 PM   #10
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http://www.seatechaquariums.com/Prod...=View&Path=T0&ID=2370&RequestID=12%2F5%2F2005+3%3A10%3A50+AM
You should look into these.
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