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Old 08-19-2009, 02:49 AM   #1
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What does it take to convert my 55g freshwater to saltwater?

I had a fw tank for a few years and we just moved, so I am setting it back up.

I am at the stage where I am ready to cycle my tank but I think I want to turn it into a saltwater tank. I have a 55 gallon tank. I want to know what it would take to turn it into a saltwater tank. I have a cascade 1000 filter and a powerhead. Is it merely a matter of adding salt to the water and cycling the tank? Is a protein skimmer necessary? Why?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 08-19-2009, 02:59 AM   #2
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Alright here goes.

First two things your going to need are Patients and Time. Everything in SW is going to take time, because nothing good ever happens fast in SW tanks. Only thing that happens fast, are bad things. Sure you already know that though

Well, your going to need to gather a few things before you start to cycle the tank. You need the proper Salt. Look for Sea Salt mixes on the internet. Also, look for some salt at places like petsmart, petco, or your LFS. They usually have good prices, and you wont have to pay for shipping. For a 55G tank, your definitely going to need a protein skimmer. With smaller tanks, getting rid of waste is as easy as keeping up with your weekly water changes, but in a 55G, theres alot more water to clean up. So i would definitely reccomend a protein skimmer. In that 55G, your definitely going to need another powerhead, maybe two. Look into the Hydor Koralia powerheads. They are great for the money. Also, you CAN use that filter you currently have. Also, do you know what you want to do with this SW tank? Because alot of the things you will need to buy will be based off what kind of SW tank you want. You can either have a FO(Fish Only), FOWLR(Fish Only With Live Rock), or the best IMO, a Reef tank. And thats having corals.

That clears up your questions for now. Just ocme back with more.
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:39 AM   #3
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I just converted my 55gallon FW to a SW. I had to buy a new light, a few more powerheads, live rock, replaced all sand, salt, a refractometer, saltwater test kit, and a skimmer. There is a good article here on the site that explains the pros and cons of a protein skimmer. It is used to remove dissolved organic compounds, which ultimately can result in high nitrate levels (the canister filter can also potentially lead to this). The downside was that it could remove important trace elements. I believe for larger tanks the skimmer is more important, while on smaller tanks, water changes can achieve the same results. Hope that helps
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Old 08-19-2009, 12:36 PM   #4
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It sounds like all I need is some salt, one or two more powerheads and a protein skimmer. At this point I plan on doing FO, and I just do not get why I would do live rock. What is the benefit?

Also, what do you mean by the canister can cause high levels of nitrate? Is there a way to prevent this?
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Old 08-19-2009, 01:40 PM   #5
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I've read that the sponges in the canister filters trap left over food and detritus, which are eventually converted into nitrates. Some people have had success with the canister filters, but say that they had to keep up with cleaning the sponges and water changes. Another option is to remove the sponges and replace them with live rock rubble instead. With FO, you can keep using the canister, if you choose down the road you can move over to live rock, which will replace/enhance your canister filtration. IMO it seems like a more natural filtration method but not at all necessary.
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Old 08-19-2009, 02:44 PM   #6
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Th Live Rock is a natural biological filter that contains a high content of the nitrifying bacteria and other hitchhikers that break down the waste in the tank. With fully cured LR it is all positive and no negative, except maybe a bad hitchhiker which can be removed. Besides its looks great.
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:04 PM   #7
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Yeah +1. The live rock makes SW all the better. Specially when you do a reef!
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:07 PM   #8
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Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank.
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Old 08-20-2009, 01:18 AM   #9
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Ok, here is my current plan of attack:

Filter
I currently have a Cascade 1000 canister filter (100 gph) and one powerhead. I will add one more powerhead to make sure the waterflow is sufficient. I was told today at my lfs to think about a protein skimmer in about six months. I will probably pick on up at that point.

Salt
There appears to be a wide variety of salts out there, including those at my lfs. I would like to keep my options open for an eventual reef tank, but that is pretty far down the road so I think i am safe to just buy the common stuff (Instant Ocean, Oceanic, & Red Sea.).

Lighting
My current lighting is two Coralife T-5 Colormax Lamp-48" I think these should suffice if/when I get LR down the road, and maybe even some soft coral. Is that right?

Substrate
I current have T grade 3m colorquartz sand. Worked great in my fw tank and I think this should work just fine in a saltwater tank (I got different sand for this sw tank btw).

Live Rock
I imagine this cannot go in until the tank is cycled, and even then I will probably want to get my feet wet a little bit before buying some rock. Looks like you can get lr for as little as $3-4 shipped. My lfs quoted me $7 a pound. I will probably get some base rock and mix it with some lr a few months after I cycle my tank. Probably will end up costing a couple hundred bucks.

That is about it. To start, it seems right now I just need salt, a sw test kit and a dechlorinator (live in vegas with hard water). What is going to be the easiest way to combine the salt and water considering I already have substrate and water in my tank?

After that I should be ready to start cycling (without fish). I will just find an article here on doing that, although I was told its not much different than cycling a fw tank.

Anything to add to that plan? When I started by fw tank I got a ton of information from this site and it went very smoothly. I understand something always pops up, but I want to be prepared as possible and do this right from the begining. The more I understand the more I can contribute down the road.

Thanks!
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Old 08-20-2009, 01:27 AM   #10
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well here is an article on a fishless saltwater cycle.. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/articl...ank/Page1.html... just ran across it a minute ago and saw your post. hope it helps
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