I added about four pieces of liverock to my tank (from an already established tank) - and collected about 300lbs of Texas holy-rock from "clean" areas (bleached as a secondary preventative measure). Saved myself about $1500 if I had purchased it all as live - plus prevented from having all of the negative hitch-hikers (save from featherdusters, pods
and snails). Some people appreciate hitch-hikers - but I'm not interested in battling aiptasia, mantis shrimp, or anything else like that. The only problem with this is waiting four weeks for it to cure and another four weeks for coraline to propagate accordingly (there are additives to help increase coraline growth significantly, but I'm anti-additive as well, hehe).
Once you start, you'll have the mind-set of working slowly - but you'll get impatient, we all have, and still do - and you end up buying something you didn't really have to buy for way more than you should have just because you wanted it at the time. Dont lie, I know we're all guilty
. (My mistake was a mandarin added at the two-month mark).
Before you even begin, you should know what kind of tank you want:
(Predator or peaceful or both)
-Fish only with Live Rock/FOWLR
(predator or peaceful or both)
-Fish with liverock and coral/Reeftank (typically only peaceful, but you can get away with some predatory fish - tho it will generally prevent you from adding hermits, snails and the like for a cleanup crew)
-Liverock and coral only/Reeftank (no fish)
Some might even go into subcategories of whether or not you want an anemone (or two or more) or clam(s) - but this list is about as simple as it gets.
The selections below do not affect your fish/coral choices, but you should have this figured out first as sand is typically the first thing added after the water:
Barebottom (no sand)
Thin sand-bed (less than 8")
Deep sand-bed (more than 8")
Also, something to keep in mind, know your limitations. How big is the tank going to be will be a huge deciding factor on the type of fish and how many you can keep -- how many you can keep will also be regulated by the type of tank you have (listed above). Whether or not you can choose one of the above will also be limited by the lighting you provide your tank (NO
- 10-40w per bulb, HO
- 40w+ per bulb, VHO
- 110w/160w per bulb, PC
- 65w/96w per bulb, MH
- 175w/250w/400w+ per bulb, total wattage amount, type of bulbs, and watts per gallon are common terms to research).
All of this, of course, will be regulated by the time you're willing to put into the tank (time, of course = $$$$). I was fortunate enough to have a significant amount of my tank and accessories donated (tank, stand, fuge, UV
, pumps, various NO
lights that have since been replaced and the four pieces of rock listed above), however there are tons of upkeep expenses: water changes (purified water ($) & salt ($) ), test kits ($), food ($), and additives ($). Though I haven't spent much on my tank personally, it has still added up after about 8 months to around $1500-2000 mark. But do not fret, expendatures decrease the longer you've had your tank (and can possibly reverse if you begin selling coral frags
), and some long-term expendatures can be resolved by purchasing something to prevent the recurring expense (6-stage water filtration devices would be a prime example of this).
If you want to save yourself a TON of money, check for a local aquarium hobbyist forum/classfied ads. I purchased my Icecap 660 setup (four URI bulbs retail for about $25-40per, ballast retails for $170ish, digital timer retails for about $100) from a local guy for $120.
setup was $75.. again
Even with all of the dinero I've dumped into this hobby, I have never regretted spending a single dime of it! Its ROI (return on investment) has been 10-fold.
If this isn't more information than you could absorb in one sitting - I must be doing something wrong.
And as always, welcome to the forums, and best of luck in your adventure into saltwater. 8)