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Old 04-27-2011, 01:28 AM   #1
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Looking to convert 20g tank into saltwater.

Dimensions are 12" height 30" length. I have a few questions.

Can I use the filter media from my filters? They don't work real well so I'm going to buy a marineland 30 gallon biowheel filter and just throw in my media.

Powerheads. Can I just use one sweep powerhead?

I'm doing FOWLR obviously but I do not have an RO system or money for one. I kinda just want to use conditioned tapwater. At best, I can initially stock up with tapwater, and every week, do a 25 percent water change with store bought salt water. It would strictly be once a week and only 5 gallons worth.

Live rock. Anywhere I can get a good deal? LFS is 27.99 per ROCK, my discount only makes it a measly 23.99 after tax -_- Not to mention our tanks aren't faring well lately, dunno why, we're kind of at war with corporate, but anyway!

Fish. I LOVE large groups of small fish, never been a one big fish kinda guy. Though I would die for a dwarf lionfish. Can I work with that? Or, what combination of fish, snails, and crabs should I get?

Protein skimmer. Do I need one? Not doing a sump or refgium.


Any help is appreciated, tips, advice! Minus getting a bigger tank. Rents won't let me
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:51 AM   #2
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Well my current tank i am using for holding my clowns for there new home is only a 20. works well just gotta stay on the maintenance. you can probably get by with the one power head depending on placement you dont want to throw the fish around the tank.

Sense the tank im using is only temp i only have one powerhead and my filter to move water around and i have no dead spots. This tank is currently conditioned tap water but clowns are hearty so im saving my majority of RO for the 44 gal build.

go to reefcleaners and get some base rock to start the tank and just get a small piece of liverock and it should work out you only need 20 pounds of lr my lfs has lr from 5.99 to 20.99 a pound cheap stuff is hideous but will work.

dont think about fish till you get a good cycle a 20 can spike fast on you if you overstock which in a 20 is easy
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:54 AM   #3
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dwarf lions need 30g so it wouldn't work.

I just buy 5 gallons of RO/DI to top off and that lasted me for about 2 weeks since I dont have much evaporation. $2.50 for 5 gallons

I also go to my LFS to get 5 gallons of SW every week to do PWC. I don't see the benefit of making my own SW since I use so little. $5 for 5 gallons

I dont think you can stock very much in a 20g, I think the rule of thumb is for every 5 gallons, you get to keep 1" of fish.

You could always buy base rock online and just one LR to seed it.

If you get a larger marineland HOB filter, I dont think you would even need a powerhead. I have 2 HOB filters and its enough water movement
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:07 AM   #4
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1" per 5 gallons, eh?

I'm wondering if I should even bother.
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:09 AM   #5
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fish can be limited but you can add other things like starfish, hermit crabs, and shrimps.

I stare at my fire shrimp as much as I stare at my fish xD
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:10 AM   #6
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oh you can, i would get yourself a set of paired clowns you wont regret it. it gives you good experience for a 55 or bigger later on.


edit: Just remember go slow everything poops =p
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:28 AM   #7
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Yeah lol, I plan on going slow. I work at Petco, I'm actually their freshwater aquatic specialist and they're slowly training me on saltwater as it is an entirely new realm to me. I've learned a fair amount, but those training me do not know... much. They suggested I get new filters for my tank, I mean I plan on it, but they said not to use the media from my old ones. :/ They also suggested two powerheads.

I'm kind of interested in a saltwater tank, I just have a few pressing concerns. For one, I don't know how to work around with the stocking, and two, I don't know what to do as far as water is concerned. Like I noted, I'm going to initially fill it up with dechlorinated tap water, mix in the salt, and just top off/change 5 gallons every week with premixed saltwater.

My other concern is if I need to wait for another cycle, CAN I use this media, do I NEED a skimmer, and so on.

I got to completely re-decorate our 80 gallon reef tank today because corporate didn't like the layout. It was amazing.
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:40 AM   #8
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Skimmer on a 20 in my eyes is just a waste save the coin. I've seen sw 20 gal tanks work out great with even a whisper filter. 20 gallons of water can be easily managed
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:40 AM   #9
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I agree, you should just get new filter media.

About the powerheads, I THINK you want to turn your water over 10x an hour so thats about 200gph. The 20g is a pretty small tank so I dont think you'll even need a powerhead (I could be wrong).

Saltwater was a completely different change from freshwater for me because I never needed to test for water quality in my FW. I know that was bad, but I always had great water quality because I never lost a fish before. In a FOWLR, you'll need to test for ph, (8.1-8.3), ammonia (ideal level = 0ppm), nitrite (0ppm), and nitrate (<40ppm). Live rock and sand is 80% of filtration in your tank and it takes care of ammonia and nitrite if cycled correctly. nitrate can be controlled with PWC.

5g PWC for a 20g is quite a lot, people usually suggest 10% only. You should only top of with freshwater just incase you didnt know.

You will def need to re-cycle the tank. Bacteria from freshwater is different from SW and on a small tank (usually below 30g), a skimmer isn't needed if you keep up with PWC
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