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Old 01-03-2006, 05:01 PM   #1
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FOWLR ease?

OK, I just set up my FW planted and while the planted part is not going outstanding (I dont have CO2 or the proper lighting in place so I'm crossing my fingers) I think I'm already starting to get MTS. I am starting to wonder if doing a FOWLR tank is really as difficult or expensive as I thought so I have a series of questions.

1) It seems that the smaller the SW tank the more difficult it can be due to water param volitility with small tanks. That being said, what would be a good size tank for someone who wants it to be a bit easier and avoid these difficulties?

2) What are the minimum hardware requirements. I really dont know much about this. I assume I need a power filter, lighting, and a thermometer just like freshwater but outside of that, what else? I read about protein skimmers and that there is some debate about using them etc. I also read about sumps etc. and dont even know what some of this stuff is. I've read all the FAQs and still dont really know.

3) What is live rock and live sand how does it work, what does it do, is it even remotely related to corals?

4) What are the lighting requirements for FOWLR?

5) If you were going to do your first SW tank (FOWLR) knowing what you know now, what would you do as far as setup, specific equipment, stocking etc. to give the best chance for success and enjoyment?

Thanks in advance.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:14 PM   #2
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I'm still a newb, but I guess I can offer some of the bits of advice that I've picked up around here to try and help out

1) Everyone says bigger is far better with a SW.. most I have seen starting out go 55 or so.. I was thinking 70 when I ended up with my 90 (90 is taller). More surface area of water = more life (generally..).
Most people I see around these parts prefer a 'reef ready' type of tank.. or one with holes drilled in the bottom to allow for a sump/overflow type system. That not only eliminates people from seeing your gadgets, but can add all sorts of things into the system (failsafes, foodstores, filtration etc).

2) Lights, heaters, thermometer, filter of some nature, way to produce flow (powerheads or a good pump on a return line with multiple outputs).
A sump is basically another tank underneith your setup that houses filtration and water pump type stuff. For instance I have a wet/dry 'sump' - fills about halfway with water that flows down over filter media, goes through more filter media, gets pulled into a skimmer (which removes disolved wastes..great to have imho) and then up through a pump/line back into the tank.

3) Live rock and live sand are simply rock and sand with bacteria on them (among other things!).
These bacteria break down waste products in the water and add a level of natural filtration to your tank.
They also supply food sources (via algae or critters) to certain livestock (mandarin dragonette<?> for instance eats little bug like things that live on your rocks).
Live rock usually comes with some pretty interesting tag-a-long life forms (I've got a bunch of tube worms and sea ferns...way cool!)

4) From what I have read, the normal ole flourescent and actenic lights are fine. The more power behind the lights, the more flexibility in livestock (for corals and anenomes).... but more light = more heat/power usage.

5) I still am... But I'll tell ya the real key... take your time & be patient!
(oh, and a nice bankroll helps ALOT)

Hope some of that helps
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info! Another thing I forgot to ask was what happens when you do PWC since you are obviously taking out salt water and filling with fresh water. I'd like to be able to fill with my python from the tap and then add salt to bring it back up. Is that completely out of the question?
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:35 PM   #4
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Ahh yeah.. I forgot about the water heh
Not only do you need salt and all sorts of marine specific tests (get a refractometer by the way..hydrometers are garbage), but the water is more of a 'pain' then with freshwater.
Your water to replenish after a water change has to be ready 24hrs in advance.
I use a 32gallon trash can that I put water from a RO/DI unit into until I get to 20 gallons (my salt mix has instructions for 4 gallons...).
The can has a heater and a powerhead in it to heat/keep the water moving to aerate it.
Then I use the python to syphon out the water to whatever level, then pump water in from my trashcan.
Many people here use all sorts of clever methods - auto topoff via piping and a float etc etc.
Right now I do alot of legwork (ie filling up gallon jugs with filtered water and taking em downstairs to dump into the can).
Fresh water (no salt) is used only if your salinity gets too high... you add a little at a time (preferably somehow which isn't directly into the stream of your livestock - yet another good reason to have a sump) until the salinity measures right.
Never mix in salt in the tank unless you have no life in the tank.. you can kill em pretty easy that way (from what I've read).

Also, you'll want to invest in a cheaper tiny tank/powerhead(or airstone)/filter for a quarentine. Even the smallest setups call for this (again, from what I read) so you have a way to properly acclimate new arrivals and watch them for a period of a few days/weeks to ensure they are healthy and won't kill everything else int he tank (or make em sick etc etc).

Like I said, take it slow and have a bankroll (don't buy the cheapest items for the main tank, you'll regret it later).
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:41 PM   #5
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ah, between the need to prepare water in advance and what sounds like a pretty absolute need for a quarentine tank, maybe my next tank will be just a larger FW instead of SW.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:53 PM   #6
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Well, don't let the extra work getcha... I tell you, my tank is new.. Just rock and the beginnings of a cleaner crew... but the rock is facsinating! Little bits of life clinging to rock...going through hell to end up in my tank...and almost instantly bouncing back and thriving...

It's so worth every moment of 'chore' associated with it.
To me anyhow (and trust me, lugging a 32g trashcan with a couple hundred lbs of water in it is a chore...that's why I bought another pump and a long piece of tube!)
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Old 01-03-2006, 06:20 PM   #7
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I guess it might depend on placement of the tank, but I live in a 3 story house with all levels finished so I really dont have a place for a quarentine tank and "extra" water to be conditioning.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 01-03-2006, 06:38 PM   #8
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IMO a 55 gallon tank is a good size to start. Pretty good job feron. I`ll have to recommend you for advisor
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Old 01-11-2006, 12:16 PM   #9
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OK guys, I'm back on the trail. My other hobby is home theater and I belong to several forums. I pinged some guys there as I trust their input on a variety of things and most of them do not go nearly into the level of complexity that I see here. I definitely wonder how much of the recomendations here are based on the hobbiest perspective. I.e. if someone said what is the minimum cost of a decent home theater setup, we might all say $7,000 - $15,000 minimum but I'm sure people here have $1,000 - $2,000 or even less in a system that they would call a home theater but people in the hobby tend to go overboard. I mean, some of these guys have been doing SW for 20 years and dont know what LR is (does that mean they dont have LR or that they just dont know that's what its called, etc.) or a protein skimmer or a powerhead. They have a HOB filter based on the aquarium size, a heater, a light bar and a hydrometer to measure salinity and that's basically it. They do 10% water changes monthly. Of course these are FO tanks, no corals or anything, but I'm not looking to do that either. Many of these guys claim their SW tanks are way easier than the FW tanks they used to run. Any more input????
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 01-11-2006, 12:42 PM   #10
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And here I though my $1000 dollar Bose system was pretty decent It could be because they have done it for 20 years they don’t know about using lr for filtration. It hasn’t been that long since people switched over from using canisters/wet dry/ and ugf’s to lr for filtration.

Of course if you want to keep it really simple and not get lr then I’d recommend a 30+ gal tank, Hot Magnum with bio wheel for filtration, a titanium heater, and floating hydrometer. As long as you do monthly maintenance on the filter you shouldn’t have any no3 problems and then it’s just a matter of doing a weekly or bi-weekly pwc of 10%-15% which is no harder than doing with fw except you have to mix the water the day before with a ph & heater so you don’t chemically burn the fish.

Keep in mind that you can’t stock as many sw fish as fw (see calculator at top of page) and you should be fine.
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