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Old 12-22-2011, 03:52 PM   #1
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First time on the salty side and in need of some info

Hello everyone,

I suppose I should introduce myself before I dive into the ton of questions I have.

My name is Gary, and I come from Belfast in Northern Ireland.
Ever since I was a child there were always fishtanks around, so with growing up around them (and having my own ones) I do know quite a bit about running an aquarium, the only problem, and what brings me here, is that they were all freshwater tanks.
After much consideration I have decided that I would like to try my best at getting a saltwater fish only with live rock tank set up.. And that's where my questions start..

First of all, after selling and re-housing all my freshwater fish and plants I now have a bare 200 L or about 50 or so imp.gal tank, with t8 lights, heaters, and an Eheim canister filter (professional 3 2073), and all the tests (ph, gh, kh, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate).

I have two power heads, a refractometer, an RO unit on order and I should have them by the first week of January (bloody Christmas post).. I'm also going to place an order for marine salt, but I thought I'd ask the community here which makes are the best ones.. So I would really appreciate your input on that. Then of course the live rock. I was thinking about starting with 20kg plus some base rock, and live sand, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Also, is there any other tests I should buy? Oh and how much live sand should I buy? I already have enough sand from my previous tank for a substrate of around an inch, but that's not live, and I have no idea if it can be used in a SW setup..

Now, I don't have the space or the money for a big sump, so seeing that there are quite a few people on board who use canisters on their SW tanks was a bit of a relief to be honest... Most of my questions are about how set my filter up to work alongside the live rock.
As far as my understanding goes I should be setting it up for mechanical and chemical filtration using coarse sponge, fine filter floss, and carbon, and anything else yous will tell me to go with. I don't quite know the order I should place the materials in the canister, so if there's anybody who has experience on using a canister on a S/W tank it would be brilliant.

Of course down the line when I don't have to be so budget conscious and if everything is going fine with the whole salty malarky, I would most certainly upgrade to a full on plumbed reef setup with sump, refugium etc.. But for now any advice on how to get going would be greatly appreciated...

Thank yous all so much,

Gary

Ps.: Sorry about the book.. I don't mean to be boring, but I thought I'd try to describe my situation the best I can.
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Old 12-22-2011, 04:06 PM   #2
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Hi Gary, and welcome to AA!

Glad you're taking a dip into the salty world. As for the salt, it really depends on what type of tank you want to have, and would like to have in the future. If you don't plan on having corals any time soon, you can go with regular salt (any brand would do). On the otherside, if you do plan on having corals soon, i would go with a reef salt now. I use Instant Ocean Reef crystals. It easily dissolves and works great. With a 200L set up you probably want around 30-35kg of rock total. So 20kg of live plus around 10-15kg of base will be just fine.

As for sand it depends if you want to have a deep sand bed (DSB). If you do, most folks reccomend 4-6 inches. If you don't end up going the DSB route (or plan to have the DSB in your fuge later down the line) you can add as much sand as you'd like. Go for at least an inch of coverage though. Don't worry about getting live sand or not. With base rock and cycling your tank, you can get regular sand. It and the base rock will all become "live" as you cycle etc.

If possible I'd get new sand. Pool filter sand or play sand from a hardware store will be just fine if you want to go that route and is pretty inexpensive.

I haven't used a canister on a SW set up, so hopefully some folks who do can chime in on what type of media they like to use.

Hope this helps and good luck!
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Old 12-22-2011, 04:49 PM   #3
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Hi, welcome to the forum!

i use a fluval 305 on one of my SW tanks and use just foam pads, filter floss and biomedia rings. If taken care of properly the canister can work for saltwater. But if you don't clean it out promptly and frequently you will eventually have nitrate issues as all the "gunk" can accumulate inside.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:54 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate your input..

Rick, I've heard of Instant Ocean myself and the LFS recommended the same, so I think I'll stick to them..
Is there a significant difference between going the DSB route or just using a couple of inches of sand?

I think that for some species that like burrowing having a DSB is a must, but I haven't thought of a stock list at all just yet, as I have no idea about 'what's right' for the size of tank I have. I have heard many many different theories about stocking a fowlr tank, so I'd say I'll have a wee browse around here and see how things are done when it comes to fish and inverts..
Although I must say that the idea of having 'live' rock in my aquarium with hitch hikers etc. will be more than enough to amuse me for quite a while..

Carey, so basically if I just get a fresh set of Eheim media (they sell them all together) and swap one of the baskets of bio media for fine filter floss I should be good to go? That's great news.. I was pretty sure that I would need some sort of chemical filtration...

As for maintenance, would doing a 10% weekly water change with siphoning out any stuck debris, and cleaning the canister every two weeks be sufficient, or would you say that I should rinse the inside of the filter with every water change as well? (in tank water of course)
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:10 PM   #5
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You can use carbon if you like in the filter, thats up to you. i run it once in awhile. You can also run GFO media if you run into phosphate issues.

Doing a 10% pwc every week sounds like a good plan. If you have proper water circulation in the tank though you shouldnt have to vacuum debris from the sandbed. there should be no dead spots in the tank on the sand, rock or anywhere else. thats key in saltwater, circulation.

I would say clean out the filter every other pwc unless you run into nitrate issues or you need to put some other media in.

Hope that helps
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:31 PM   #6
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The DSB is for filtration purposes mostly. With a deep enough sand bed where the absence of oxygen is possible, certain bacteria strains will turn nitrates into nitrogen gas. However, with a DSB if it is stirred up too much it will release nitrates and other undesirable things into your aquarium and could cause a tank crash.

It's really up to you if you want a DSB or not. I personally went with about 4 inches or so in my display tank, and 6 inches in my fuge.

You can still keep burrowing species like sand sifting gobies (a favorite of mine) in a tank with a couple inches of sand. It's really up to you.

If you want to go reef eventually, keep that in mind while you stock your fowlr. Get reef safe or semi reef safe fish etc.

Good luck! Feel free to ask questions. Folks here are pretty nice =)
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:38 PM   #7
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Of course it helps, thank you very much!
It's awesome to get so much good info without being pressured to buy stuff...

I think I'll just go with the normal media for starters, (without chemical filtration) and see if I run into any trouble.. Hmm, phosphate test kit is going on the shopping list..

Sorry that was my mistake about vacuuming the sand.. It's because of having only kept freshwater tanks in the past I guess.

Right, I'll keep to the 10% pwc weekly and cleaning the filter every other week.

Thanks again for all the help, I'll make sure to post a thread about setting up the tank once I get started... I can't wait!
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:50 PM   #8
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Rick, that sounds good, I'll go with a 3-4" sand bed so, and will add a fuge once I get some more space to play with.
Have you got any advice about how to prepare for such an event in case the sand gets stirred up?

I quite like gobies myself, so good to know that I can still house them without having a huge layer of sand..

Thanks for your help and the encouragement! This really seems like a great community with a ton of helpful people! Very glad I found it
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:36 PM   #9
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Nope not much you can do besides not messing with it too much. You can still clean the top layer etc. Just keep from messing with the bottom.
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:58 PM   #10
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My irish blood sure is happy to see more of my own

Overall man, everything you have said so far is all good in terms of getting started in SW. Really jealous of your 50 gal though. I really wish I had gone larger...just couldn't fit anything bigger than a 36 gal into my 2 door! Since everything is set up, I just can't move it all over. Everything just got set up so it is time to stop messing around with it. It's going well. Any questions feel free to ask, we'll help you out.
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