Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Saltwater and Reef > Saltwater Fish Only & FOWLR

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
Old 01-05-2011, 01:43 AM   #1
Aquarium Advice Regular
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 77
First SW Tank-Up & Running


I'm a fifteen year old highschooler just starting up my first saltwater tank. I've recently added water to my 60 G tank.(about a week ago) I have a Tetra Whisper Power Filter running, heater, and powerhead. I have 40 pounds of Argonate sand. My LFS gave me some gravel/gunk from one of their tanks to get the cycles going and essentially made my sand "live". I plan on adding a few pounds of live rock to start with as soon as I can and will gradually add more.


-What exactly is a sump/refugium, and do I need one?

-What kind of light is suitable for a FOWLR? My LFS suggested a T5 and I'm likely to go with that. I found a wholesaler on Craigslist who can give me some good prices.

-I have test kits for nitrates, pH, phosphate, and alkalinity....which other test kits are necessities?

-What kind of lid is cheap and gets the job done? I'm not going for look by any means.

-As far as a protein skimmer, can I start with out one and eventually get one?

-I know it's recommended for 1-2 pounds per gallon on the Live rock but would around 20 lbs. be good to start out with? Keep in mind I'm in high school with a tight money situation.

-Recommendations on starter fish?

-When am I ready to add fish?

-My powerhead I have now is only for like a 20 G tank but I plan on adding another. Can I just keep that and use another one that's designed for my tank?

-If I buy uncured live rock, can I cure it in my tank?

Also, any suggestions or questions for me please ask...I'm looking to get this tank rolling in a timely manner but get it done the right way.

Thanks and hope to hear back!

Bnortz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 09:01 AM   #2
Aquarium Advice Addict
iDream's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: No longer here.
Posts: 2,862
okay let me try to answer as much as i can.

first off, WOW 15 and a 60G tank!? i'm jealous! i have a job and i couldn't afford that!

the LFS was good in giving you some stuff to seed/start a cycle, and thats good you know what a cycle is.

a sump is a tank (usually under/in the stand)) that is essentially a really good filter and most house their protein skimmers in there, a refugium allows you to have other critter (copepods, snails, other small things) in the sump/fuge area (like a seperate chamber) you don't necessarily need one, for a 15y/o it may be too expensive except for a basic wet/dry trickle.

for simply a FOWLR tank whatever light floats your boat will work, it could be a blacklight for all you care, a T5 fixture could support corals if you wanted, so the lights are all up to you.

you'll need an ammonia, and nitrIte test kit for your cycle.

depending on the dimensions of your top you could find a glass top, or even eggcrate to keep fish from jumping.

yeah you can, but if you get lazy with maintenance it would give you a buffer, so i'd suggest investing in one, even if its a hang-on-back skimmer.

yeah if i were you i'd add it all at once, or add some LR then add some base(dry/dead) rock because if the rock you get isnt cured, you could start another cycle which wouldnt be good for any life you have in there.

starter fish, hmm. of course clowns are nice and easy, i wouldnt recommend any more than a pair and don't mix species of clowns.

this site here: Saltwater Fish: Marine Aquarium Fish for Saltwater Aquariums has a ton of fish to look at, as well as there care requirements and the parameters they live in, be sure to look at the minimum tank size and the max length, over stocking your tank wouldn't be good.

you are ready to add fish when your cycle is done, a good way to tell is if you have a spike in ammonia, then a spike in nitrIte, then those die down to 0 and you have ~20 or less ppm of nitrAtes. the gunk you got from your LFS should help speed that up.

the powerhead sounds fine, koralia makes good ones when you get another.

you can add uncured first, but after that like i said add dry rock and it'll become live eventually.

remember, nothing good in saltwater aquaria happens fast, so go slow and be VERY patient. it's a great hobby and soon you'll want an even bigger tank!

have fun and ask anywhere on here for further questions!

iDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 09:03 AM   #3
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Krypt's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Holley, NY
Posts: 752
Welcome to AA! It sounds like your off to a pretty good start. Now to your questions.

A sump is a separate smaller tank located underneath your tank that you use to house your heaters, skimmer, and other hardware. With a tank your size, I would recommend a 30 gal sump. That will give you plenty of room to put your equipment as well as add a refugium. The refugium is a lighted section of the sump where you can put some macro algae like chaeto to allow it to grow and absorb the nitrates and phosphates from your display tank. If your interested in learning how to make one, head on over to youtube, they have some great videos walking you through the process.

Lighting: If your confident that you are only going to have fish then a simple fluorescent strip light would be sufficient. However, if your thinking that you may want to get corals sometime then you will want to look into T5HO lighting.

Test kits: Your off to great start, the only other ones you need right now are tests for ammonia and nitrite. They are the principle catalysts for your cycle so you need to be able to measure them. If you ever go with coral, then you'll need to worry about others like calcium. I didn't see in your post what your using to measure the salinity (salt in the water) but you will need something to do that. Hydrometers are cheap (around $6.00) but can be inaccurate. I would recommend you get a refractometer. They are around $40.00 but are very precise.

Lid: Cheap lighting grid from Lowes or Home Depot cut to the dimensions of your tank would be fine. It's cheap, allows air into your tank, and keeps your fish inside.

Skimmer: Yes you can start a tank without one and get it later on. As long as you perform weekly water changes once you get fish in there you'll be able to keep it in check until you can get one.

LR: 20lbs is ok to start with. Just remember that as you add LR, if it is not cured, then you will have to cure it in a separate tub before adding the new LR to your tank if you already have fish in there.

Recommended fish: head on over to liveaquaria.com and look around. On the side they have a filter so you can select care level to beginner and it will return a whole list. Ocellaris Clowns are usually great beginner fish as they can pretty much stay in whatever setup (FOWLR/Reef) that you end up going with and they don't get too aggresive down the road.

Adding fish: Do not add fish until you finish cycling your tank. Here is an article to explain that process: Cycle your salt tank

Power heads: You can add more down the line, just as long as you can point what you have at the surface and agitate it to exchange air (basically make the top of the water ripple) you'll be fine.

Uncured LR: If your tank has no fish in it then you can add it directly to your tank. If you go that route then the die off from the rock should be a great way to cycle your tank. If you buy it later on after you get fish, you'll need to cure it before you put it in.

Suggestions: Patience! To quote another member here, "Nothing good ever happens fast in a SW tank." The time frames your looking at are weeks, not days. It will take about 2-4 weeks to get your tank cycled correctly (depending on LR and method used) and since it's a new tank only add 1 fish a month once your cycled to build up your bacterial colonies. I hope this info helps you out and welcome aboard!
"If your wife ever asks how much something was for your tank, just tell her you got it on sale and you had to have it! She'll understand"

Krypt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 09:04 AM   #4
Aquarium Advice FINatic
Krypt's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Holley, NY
Posts: 752
Looks like Corey and I were typing at the same time. You got a double dose of info! lol and we even used the same quote!
"If your wife ever asks how much something was for your tank, just tell her you got it on sale and you had to have it! She'll understand"

Krypt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 09:14 AM   #5
Aquarium Advice Addict
iDream's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: No longer here.
Posts: 2,862
haha i know! we said a bunch of the same things!

it's okay, there's no way he'll miss it now!
iDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 09:21 AM   #6
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Trenton Tn
Posts: 38
Just like the guys stated,the main thing is patience,you just started an addiction that is an awesome hobby,you will be wanting corals later then the full blown reef,I know I went through the same thing.good luck
SNAKEMANVET is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 01:52 PM   #7
AA Team Emeritus
cmor1701d's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Belle Mead, NJ
Posts: 7,814
You've received some great advice above. Try to use about 75% base rock and only 25% LR. That should help the budget. Lot's of base rock also has dried organics matter on/in it. When added to a tank, it re-hydrates and causes a spike in ammonia. So it's best if you add all the rock up front. If not, you will need to cure your rock outside of the display tank once you have livestock in it.

Read the articles in our articles section and please keep asking questions. As you can see, this is a pretty friendly place to get good advice.

I'll pass on my 10 rules for a successful SW aquarium:

Rule # 1. Nothing Good ever happens Fast in a salt water aquarium
Rule # 2. Don't add anything (supplements/chemicals/minerals)you don't test for first.
Rule # 3. PWC (Partial Water Changes) are your friend, and cure many ills.
Rule # 4. QT EVERYTHING before adding it to your tank (mandarins excepted, corals should be dipped)
Rule # 5. Use only RO or RODI water (either buy it or make it)
Rule # 6. All animal species live longer on a 30% reduced caloric intake. Only feed every other day at most (fish species dependent)
Rule # 7. Hyposalinity is the best, safest, and most effective treatment for marine Ich (IMHO)
Rule # 8. A Refractometer is a MUST HAVE, not a luxury.
Rule # 9. Anemones will never live anywhere near their normal (approx 30 years) lifespan in a home aquarium. Leave them in the ocean.
Rule # 10. The tank size recommendations for fish are there for a reason - HEED THEM!
I have been asked to add
RULE 0 - Don't believe the LFS!

cmor1701d is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 04:16 PM   #8
Aquarium Advice Regular
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 77
Thanks guys!

Thanks for the advice guys! In response to a few suggestions/comments:

Hydrometer: I forgot to mention it but yeah, i have a swinging arm one but am planning on getting a refractometer eventually.

Water: I used tap water and dechlorinated it to begin with but plan on buying RO water or maybe even getting a RO system.

Rock: I like the idea of the 75% base, 25% live....how much does base go for by the pound? I'm thinking I'll get some of the base then some uncured and cure it in my tank before I get livestock.

Lid: I liked the suggestion of the lighting grid. My dad also suggested Plexiglas how would that fare?

Skimmer: I'll get one as soon as I can and once I have the money for it but will just go without one to start.

Light: I'm gonna probably go T5 since I would eventually like to get some corals. I found a guy who can get me a good price around $50 on a good light.

Sump: I have an empty 20 G....will that work? and will I need an overflow tube or some type of plumbing to cycle it through...?

When should I start PWCs?

I know I've had some evaporation but that's cause I don't have a lid and once I get the rock in the level will rise so im not worried about that

At this point, how often should I test water parameters? to be honest I've only done it once in about a week.

Thanks guys!

Bnortz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 04:59 PM   #9
Community Admin
melosu58's Avatar

Tank of the Month Award
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 37,891
Originally Posted by Bnortz View Post
When should I start PWCs?
As soon as the cycle is done.
melosu58 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2011, 08:45 PM   #10
Aquarium Advice Regular
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 77
Just added about 10 lbs. of well cultured live rock from a guy I know and put it right in. Where should I go from here as far as cycling?

Bnortz is offline   Reply With Quote

first sw, tan

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
55g FOWLR up & running! (PICS) MoJoe Saltwater & Reef - Getting Started 6 11-14-2009 07:36 AM
up & running ditchdoctor81 Saltwater & Reef - Getting Started 6 03-10-2007 05:55 PM
OK--so my 20g tank has been up&running Good Crab Saltwater Reef Aquaria 5 03-29-2006 12:48 PM
running salt & water. yigosflower Saltwater & Reef - Getting Started 7 06-22-2004 09:32 AM
making an already cycled& running tank PLANTED mgkaelen Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 8 12-25-2003 11:37 PM

» Photo Contest Winners

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:57 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.