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Old 06-07-2006, 11:19 PM   #1
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Want to convert to S/W--So confused!!! PLEASE HELP!

Hi Everybody. I have asked a few questions (F/W) on this site and everybody has been great, however I have a problem. I just returned to the hobby and now I want to go S/W. The problem is I am a freshwater guy and I don't know the 1st thing about S/W. So this is my 3rd site I have asked for help. By the way, this site is the best experience and most advice I have gotten about FA/W so hopefully this will be the same. The problem is that I read the neb sticks, the sites...and I really need this in baby language. All I know is an Aqua Clear 2000, a heater, and test kit for FA/W.

So, what's the difference between live rock, reef, coral? What is a pre-drilled tank, and why do I need one? What the heck is a protein skimmer, auto top-offs? What equipment do I need to get going? What should I start out with? How do I cycle as I would with fresh water, how much salt do I add to the water?

I only want to start with a 30G S/W with 2 clownfish and some great growiing stuff(I don't know if that is reef or live rock, coral??) What is the stuff that clowns are always pictured swimming in?

I apoligize if this sounds so ignorant, however people on other sites tried bu gave me abbreviations and equipment that I can't comprehend because I am new to this. I would really appreciate it if anybody has some advice, checklist, links, or any way to get me started. This is definetely different than Oscar's and Pleco's. I sicerely appreciate all your help!

Thank You
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Old 06-07-2006, 11:34 PM   #2
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I recommend starting with a book. Check the library at this site for Robert Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist". I think you should start there and get a better understanding of some nof the basic terms, equipment, livestick discussion, etc. From there, you'll develop some really good questions - - not that the ones you asked aren't good, just pointing out there is a lot of basic info available that you'll need to proceed. Some reading with pictures. The book (and others) will take you a lot further than you may think.

Good luck and let us know how you're doing along the way. From equip selections and the rest.

BTW, if you can try starting with somehting just a bit bigger. 30 -50G maybe. More water is more forgiving to mistakes for those learning.
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Old 06-08-2006, 02:50 AM   #3
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I agree with austinsdad. A good book will cover all the basics quicker than we can and it has the added benefit of pictures to really hammer home the concepts. After reading the
book/s, you will definetely have many more questions and then we will be here to answer them.

Saltwater is way too broad of a topic to learn the basics in one post. Once you read up a little, the abbreviations will make much more sense and the answers you get on here will be much clearer.
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Old 06-08-2006, 10:46 AM   #4
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I agree with the two previous posts. I went with a 55G because the bigger, the easier it is to correct water quality.

Quote:
Robert Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist"
Is an excellent book and it helped me to understand in "baby language".

Live rock is simply rock pulled from the ocean, that has critters in it. (it can be cured or uncured)
A reef, in nature, is where a lot of the corals/fish and such live. Like The Great Barrier Reef, in Australia. A reef in the hobby is a tank set up to replacate the natural reef, ie; grow corals and some fish/inverts.
Coral grows on the reef/LR, or can be CC (crushed coral), which is dead coral.
I was overwhelmed when I got into the hobby, by all the equipment names and such. I did a lot of reading and asking questions and now feel a little more comfortable.
There are a lot of good links, here on fishless cycling of the tank, hardware and stocking, at the top of the page.

I know you probably wanted more definitive info and we are not trying to brush you off, but in my experience, I read and then was able to ask more specific questions, based on what I wanted to do with my tank.

Quote:
What is the stuff that clowns are always pictured swimming in?
Anemones
http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/s...cfm?pCatId=499

Good luck and keep us posted!
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Old 06-08-2006, 11:24 AM   #5
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Before you get too far with wanting a SW tank get ready for the sticker shock and see if you really want to commit to this expensive hobby:

Tank/stand = $150 - $300+ depending on size and if it’s drilled
Lighting = $200+ and probably considerably more since you need powerful lighting for Anemones.
Substrate/base/live rock = $250 - $400+ depending on size of tank.
Skimmer = $150+
RO/DI water filter = $120+
Power heads = $30+
Heaters = $20+

Just to get started in this hobby and especially if interested in corals even for a relatively small tank like a 30 gal can set you back $1000+ and monthly costs of $30+. If wanting a 55 gal tank it’s $2000+ to start.

If you abandon your goals of having a reef you can cut that budget down slightly (mostly lighting costs) but most of the other equipment will still be needed. The above costs don’t even account for the cost of livestock which is 5-20 times more then FW.

Unlike FW where you can basically buy the tank/stand, get a cheap HOB unit for filtration, cheap substrate, & a heater SW tanks require so much more to really be successful.

Not trying to discourage you but I see way too many people jumping into SW without knowing the upfront costs that are associated with it.
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Old 06-08-2006, 04:00 PM   #6
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I agree with tecwzrd. YOu need to look at the costs up front. Small tanks can cost a lot and big tanks can be money pits.

Quote:
So, what's the difference between live rock, reef, coral?
Live rock is well rock that is very porus. In the holes and crevices of the rock are bacteria, small animals and some plant or algae life. The rock itself is not alive or growing in any way- the stuff inside of it is what is alive and this stuff insie of the rock is what actually does the majority of the filtration for your tank. Coral is a fully living organism. Some corals are one livign creature others are multiples livign together. But they are alive and growing and living. Some are soft some ar hard, colors vary and so on and so on.


Quote:
What is a pre-drilled tank, and why do I need one?
A pre-drilled tank is a tank that has holes drilled in the bottom (sometimes in the back) that allow you to run drain lines down and into a sump. A sump is anotehr tank that you can keep under the main tank. In the sump you can put live rock for filtration, you can put your heater in it and even set up a fuge or area to grown micro algae. You can also place your protien skimmer in the sump. In the last part of the sump you put a return pump that will pump the water back up and into the main tank. You need to make sure the flow out of the tank to the sump is equal to the flow back into the thank from the sump. Sumps are great cause they increase the overall water volume in the system, provide a place to house equipment, create flow and allow you to do more things.

Quote:
What the heck is a protein skimmer, auto top-offs
A protien skimmer is sort of a filter. In saltwater systems you can use air bubbles to remove protien from the water. Small air bubbles are created and conctantly disscharged. The bubbles attach themselves to protiens in the water and then create bubbles at the top of the skimmer which are caught in a collection cup. This is the way protine can be removed fro mthe system. Fish produce waste and protine that needs to be removed. Skimmers are definitly needed for systems with a lot of fish. Systems that are coral only may not need skimmers but they are still good to have and worh gettign if you have a tank 30gallons or more. And auto top off is a way to maintain the water level in a tank. Saltwater evaporates a lot faster than freshwater. So each day you can see water loss. Loss of water means increases in salanity cause less water and the same amoutn of salt means saltier water. SO they sell things like you have in a toilet bowl so that when the water goes below a ceartain point in the tank new freshwater is added to the system to get it back up to the proper level automatically.

Quote:
What equipment do I need to get going?
Tank/Filter/Skimmer/Tank stand/powerhead pumps/lighting - add water/ add live sand/ add live rock - wait for long time for tank to cycle then add livestock (fish/coral) Takes 3 to 6 months or more depending on the system.


Quote:
only want to start with a 30G S/W with 2 clownfish and some great growiing stuff(I don't know if that is reef or live rock, coral??) What is the stuff that clowns are always pictured swimming in?
Well you basically get your water in and your sand and live rock in the tank. The tank will then begine to cycle itself. YOu are goign to need to purchase test kits. I suggest ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium, phosphate, water hardness, PH and get a salinity indicator. YOu need to monitor the water quality to see where you are in the cycle. Durrign this time I would cycle the lights on and off for about 6 hours a day. Then leave the system be for another few weeks and do a 20% water change. See what your levels look like and if everyhitng is maintaining itself. If so you can start addign livestock. I say go with the fish first. The thing that clown fish swim in are called Anemones and they are typically not for beginners. They require a lot of light and great water quality. Make sure that you plan for a very nice lighting setup. Something in the 250-300 Watt range and probably a mix of metal halid bulbs and PC. (GOING TO COST MUCH $)

Then keep your fingers crossed. Remember you are goign to have to do 15-20% water changes every 2 weeks or so. I am tired of typing now.
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Old 06-08-2006, 04:21 PM   #7
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I bought the above mentioned book and it is awesome - I plan on having a SW tank in about a year or two... the absolute best advice I can give is to pick up that book and read read read. Read through the stickies here and take some notes as there is a LOT of information to learn. You will have questions but the best way to get them resolved would be to try and research them and fine tune what you dont know / understand. This site is probably one of the best resources you could have access to.

Also like was stated several times, be aware of the cost involved. Skimping and buying cheap in this hobby truely gives you what you pay for and you end up spending more money in the long run by trying to save money in the beginning. Plan out exactly what you want, down to the species, quantities, etc before you buy a single thing.

One last thing, don't let any of this scare you away
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Old 06-09-2006, 06:40 PM   #8
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Thanks everybody. The only thing that scared me off is the tank size rec. I live on the 5th floor of an apartment building and I am already pushing it with my 30GL F/W. Thanks for all the advice. I anticipated those kinds of costs. I am going to do more reading and probably dive into it. I will probably lose tons of money, and be aggravated but I can't wait!!
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Old 06-10-2006, 05:24 PM   #9
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On the floor support. This comes up a lot. Check with your landlord or manager. They may be able to help.
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Old 06-10-2006, 09:50 PM   #10
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You also might want to think twice about getting an anemone in your first SW tank. They take a lot time and patience, and are usually only recommended to more experienced tank owners. Plus, if you're only planning on having a 30 gallon tank, there's some major repercussions to consider if the anemone dies in such a small tank (potentially major tank crash). I'm not trying to discourage you from getting one, just make sure you know what you're getting into before you buy one. Like everyone else has said, reading is a really really good idea.
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