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Old 06-12-2003, 03:23 PM   #1
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What is the best way to start a saltwater tank?

We have three freshwater tanks, a 20 gal and 10 hex, both with happy fish and live plants. And a 5 gal with a blue crayfish. We contemplated moving into saltwater. Problem No. 1--Room. How small can you and is it worth it to do a 29 gallon eclipse or is it really only worth it to go big? Problem No. 2--we would be starting from step 1 setting up a saltwater ad we would like to avoid the "learning along the way" we did with freshwater. I would say overall we were lucky and did a lot of research and avoided many disasters, but we did lose some fish and we like that we can do everything correctly now.
So, if someone wouldn't mind telling us about a good starter set up, and some fish. I know all about freshwater fellows. But not much about saltwater except I keep seeing small blue fish with exceptional color that I love. Not sure what they are called.
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Old 06-12-2003, 05:30 PM   #2
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Problem No. 1--Room. How small can you and is it worth it to do a 29 gallon eclipse or is it really only worth it to go big?
Well, rather than a 29, I would recommend a 30g. The difference is a 30 (only 1g more) has more surface area. It is 6" longer and the same width, it's just shorter. That is the smalles I recommend for a beginner and would urge for a 55. As for if it's worth it? If you catch the bug (which likely you will), go bigger, you'll get there sooner or later, might as well skip the middle step.

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Problem No. 2--we would be starting from step 1 setting up a saltwater ad we would like to avoid the "learning along the way" we did with freshwater.
I would recommend you research all your purchases prior to making them. Decide what type of SW tank you want and we can let you know what equipment you need. Probably the best advice I can give is to buy a book Book Library, any of those are good, but I would specifically recommend Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner.
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Old 06-12-2003, 11:35 PM   #3
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I started with a 5 gallon because if you put at least 5 lbs of live rock in the tank and do consistant water changes every 3 weeks to a month you dont need a protein skimmer, but the down fall is you can only put 1 or maybe 2 small fish in the tank. ( I had 2 clowns and some crabs) It actually worked real well and is what got me hooked on salt water tanks.
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Old 06-13-2003, 12:09 PM   #4
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Well, at this point we are limited on space. We already have 5, 10 and 20 gal tanks. they are spread out enough that there's not clutter. But the only room left with a plug in the wall that's available is the diningroom. But we would be better off with either a small corner tank or a hex...because they are narrow. But are the hex really appropriate for salt water?
We have a 10 hex right now with freshwater fish and I love it. Could we do the same with saltwater? And what is a protein skimmer?
Being that saltwater fish are a bit more pricey, we would start out with 2, maybe 3 fish until we truly get the hang of it...but we would be restricted by size for a while.
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Old 06-14-2003, 06:19 AM   #5
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a protein skimmer is a device used to remove wastes that is dissolved in the water.. i think the more surface area you get to work with the better.. a lot of people here is beginning to advise to start out with a raw cocktail shrimp first.. not much to look at but it helps start tank's cycle without endangering a starter fish..
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Old 06-18-2003, 11:40 AM   #6
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The shrimp does work to start the tank. I have a 15 gallon high salt water and you are right. the rotting shrimp is not much to look at but it is worth it because i know that down the road that shrimp will have created a home for a few fish and lots of coral.
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Old 06-18-2003, 11:54 AM   #7
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When selecting your tank try to maximize the surface area. One reason a hex tank is not overly desirable is that the surface area is so much smaller per gal than a regular shaped tank.

Corner tanks are cool and take up less space per gal with minimal sacrafice on surface area. One disadvantage to a corner tank is that given its odd shape it can be a burden to light evenly.

Go with as large a tank as possible simply due to the fact that larger tanks will have less fluxuation in their water peramiters.

As stated shrimp are good to start the cycle because your not forcing a fish to live thru this potentally deadly period.

With saltwater the oxygen level in the water is lower and even the most docile saltwater fish can be quite agressive when compaired to docile freshwater fish. For a 10 gal I would say 2 small fish would be the max I would suggest going with. Tangs and other potentally large fish should be avoided with such small, verticly orented tanks.

You could do a 10 gal hex if you where very cautious and kept a good eye on your levels. The book reefruner mentioned is in my view a must have for any saltwater aquarists. IT does not only go into the different types of setups and the equipment that is used in saltwater tanks but 1/2 of the book covers the different species of fish and common inverts.
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Old 06-18-2003, 12:59 PM   #8
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We started with a 29 gallon, only because we already had the stand and hood for it, that and we didn't really have room for a bigger one. Research and asking a lot of questions really helped us, but mostly, this site is what helped us get our tank the way it is. Reefrunner is right, it is extremely addictive, more than freshwater was. We've got a 40 long in our room cycling now. Good luck in what you decide!
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