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Old 11-18-2004, 08:55 PM   #1
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what do i need to start a marine tank?

what do i need to start a marine tank? and what's the difference between a saltwater and a marine tank? i'm planning on getting a 55 gal tank, and i know i''ll need live rock, and a sand base, but what else? i'm really not planning on going too drastic with corals and annemonies, just a few blue damsels and a clown or two and maybe a yellow tang. but what other equipment will i need? what kind of heater and filter? i know there's a lot of questions here, but i thought i'd ask people who know rather than scower the web for hours. so any advice you can give me would be great! thanks!
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Old 11-18-2004, 09:29 PM   #2
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From my understanding, salt water is broken into 3 categories:
Fish only (FO), fish only with live rock (FOWLR), and reef (.. reef? )

You don't nessecerily need live rock, but its very advantageous to use it. If you have enough live rock (1-1.5lbs/gallon), you don't need any external filters, just power heads to move the water around. Look into getting a protein skimmer like the AquaC remora or CPR BackPack. This kind of filtration is called the Berlin method, and lots of people have used it sucessfuly.

Damsels are mean. The yellow tang would work in a 55, but they like all the room they can get (they are an active swimming fish).
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Old 11-18-2004, 10:10 PM   #3
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The first thing I suggest you get is a good book. I like "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner. Do as much research as you can, it will pay off in the long run. Good luck!
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Old 11-19-2004, 12:10 PM   #4
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Besides what is listed above PATIENCE and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

ALso you have found one of the other important things. This site :P
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Old 11-19-2004, 12:13 PM   #5
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right. way way more $ than you expect at first.
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Old 11-19-2004, 12:13 PM   #6
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BTW I guarantee that you will start with that plan, and the plan will change. Everyone gets the reef bug, or wants a bigger tank, or something changes the plan. That is the fun of the hobby!
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Old 11-19-2004, 01:49 PM   #7
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Very true. My plan was a 100gallon tank. Ended up with a 225 built into the wall. They money is well spent though. As long as you do your research and buy the right stuff the first time you will do ok. I hear too many people buy the cheaper equipment only to replace them with the better stuff later. I bought a lifereef sump and skimmer for mine and couldn't be happier. I am in my tank 4k at the moment including lighting, live rock, everything but fish. My cycle is just starting and I have my QT ready. I am going to go get my first fish this weekend to put in the QT
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Old 11-19-2004, 03:44 PM   #8
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If you go fish only set it up just like a fresh water tank. Get an aragonite substrate that is large enough to vaccuum. This will buffer the pH in the water. Also buy live rock and base rock, both will buffer the pH and help establish a good bio filter. Get one or two quality heaters. Get a decently sized tank so temp and SG dont swing much. Get one or 2 power filter for flow and media or a combo with a power filter and a power head. Lighting if you have live rock should be atleast power compact if you are trying to encourage coraline growth. If you dont care for coraline, just using normal output bulbs. When filling the tank use distilled or RO water.
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Old 11-19-2004, 07:43 PM   #9
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ok thanks theatrus your advice was very helpful, as was everyone elses, unfortunatly i dont have a clue what deepcutta720 is talking about. what's a aragonite substrate? and how does it vaccum? can't i just get a bunch of hermit crabs and shrimp to do that? and what do you mean by media? i dont like coraline growth too much, and i dont want it on my glass so i think i'll skip the power compact bulbs. how powerful of bulbs do i need with a 55 gal tank? oh and tmcpeek, wow, i have no where near 4k to drop on this, or anything for that matter i'm just a 22 year old girl who always wanted some cool fish. so i dont have the means to keep upgrading and such. but thanks for the warning
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Old 11-19-2004, 08:58 PM   #10
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Don't let me discourage you. A majority of my cost was the lighting, sand and live rock. unfortunately I live where I cant get southdown so I had to shell out too much to get sand. You will not need as much rock and lighting so it will keep the cost down. Just figure a budget and do your research. Deals are out there if you look hard enough.

Also included in that 4k is a 35 gallon QT tank with powerhead, power filter and heater.
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Old 11-19-2004, 09:53 PM   #11
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I'd recommend that your first investment be a good book like Paletta's New Marine Aquarium or Fenner's Conscientious Marine Aquarist . . . either of these will give you a wealth of information about what you'll need to invest (even going cheap, this hobby ain't cheap). It will be the best $25 you spend for your future fish . . . your refractometer will be the best $50 you spend.
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Euroreef ES5-3
2x Maxijet powerheads
Mag drive 9 return
Coralife 4x65 Lunar Aqualight
120 lbs rock from liverocks.com
1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
2 black Ocellaris, Squish and Smudge
3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
10-gallon tropical
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Old 11-20-2004, 10:49 AM   #12
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Please be sure you're prepared for this financially. I don't want to discourage you, but SW tanks cost a ton. most people here have spent $1000-3000
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Old 11-20-2004, 04:06 PM   #13
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wow. maybe i'll just stick with goldfish for a few years. i still live at home and plan on getting married in a few years anyway, which would mean moving out which would mean either having to transport a 56 gallon tank full of live rock and fish (which i dont even want to think about how difficult that would be) or leaving them behind. which would be a waste of $$$$. *sigh* is there anyway to do a saltwater tank for under $500 or is that just out of the question? (ps my tank was free)
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Old 11-20-2004, 07:25 PM   #14
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You could do a FO tank for sure, saves a lot on the dollars. My running total is currently (for a 55g going-to-be-reef):

Free tank
$30 in lumber for tank stand
$10 for sump
$170 for Skimmer
$200 for lighting (4x55W and soon to be 2x96W retrofit)
$220 40lbs LR
$40 60lbs dead rock
$40 sand (live in CA, no cheap Southdown for me)
$15 Salt
$40 return pump
$25 heaters
$30 misc plumbing (and a CD spindle top for my overflow)
$30 in extra test kits (had a lot of FW stuff already, but looking to get some salifert stuff)

and about $120ish in livestock so far.

So I'm on $970 (incl livestock). With a fair bit of DIY work.


Its not cheap

For FO you're not spending half as much on lighting, and you don't have live rock. And you probably don't have a sump. I could see it under $500 (not counting tank).


I know I need to move in the next 2 years, but I'm set on moving it. I've done it enough times with smaller FW setups, so I think I can manage...
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xenia, mushrooms, wels. open brain, fungia radiata (orange), green eyed zoos

flame angel, mated pair of false perc, 6-line, firefish

20gH electric yellow cichlid
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Old 11-20-2004, 08:57 PM   #15
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thanks for the info! you've been the biggest (and most down to earth) help here to me! i appreciate it! and i'll definately consider a FO tank!
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Old 11-21-2004, 12:06 AM   #16
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Take lando's advice and buy that book. (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Fenner). It will answer a lot of your questions and save you some $$$$. You need a lot of patience in this hobby. Do your research, and then do more. It will all be worth it in the long run.

I know where you're coming from when you mention the budget concerns! I'm trying support myself while going to college and it is tough! Remember, you don't need to get everthing all at once. I've been buying a few things here and there for last 4-5 months. It's driving me crazy, but it'll be worth it in the end.

Good luck on your tank and remember that other members on this forum have years and years of valuable experience and would eagerly help you with any questions you may have, you just need to ask!
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Old 11-21-2004, 12:38 AM   #17
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k, since you mention it i do have some more questions as of late..... if i go with a fish only tank, i'll just need sand, some base rock and the fish right? but then i'd need heaters too of course and a filter or power mover or whatever. would i still want hermit crabs or shrimp? what does fish only really mean? and would i have to get a sump? i really appreciate all of your advice everyone! you're all so helpful! (even if sometimes i get lost in your terminology )

ps - i had a tragedy today one of my goldfish died. I think its my fault. i read some where that your suppose to completely clean your tank every month. so this afternoon, i took my precious little fish (which i miss measured severly they're only an inch long maybe an inch and a 1/2 with they're tails) out of the tank and put them in a holding tank (with completely fresh water, which also was probably a mistake) and then i rinsed out my tank in the tub. the tank never touched the tub, just the water, but the glass stones i keep in the bottom of the tank i just threw into the tub and rinsed them with warm water and then put them back into my tank. which i think is what cause my poor little fish to die. there was probably shower cleaner and soap residue on the bottom of my tub. i checked my ph an hour ago and it's alkaline (7.6) but that's suppose to be good for goldfish right? anyway, my other one is doing fine or seams to be at least. But can anyone tell me what i did wrong for sure? i'd hate to make the same mistake again.
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Old 11-21-2004, 01:22 AM   #18
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mle421, I keep GF too--I will PM you.
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75-gallon SW tank with 29-gallon sump
Euroreef ES5-3
2x Maxijet powerheads
Mag drive 9 return
Coralife 4x65 Lunar Aqualight
120 lbs rock from liverocks.com
1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
2 black Ocellaris, Squish and Smudge
3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
10-gallon tropical
29-gallon with two goldies, Carrot and Orangehead
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Old 11-21-2004, 01:48 AM   #19
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This hobby is very expensive. I've spent close to 1000 dollars since September on my tank. But you know it's worth it. I sit and watch my fish for hours at time. And when people come over it's a great conversation piece. Most people love my jawfish, and everyone knows Nemo.

But it depends on what you want in all reality. I suggest either FO or FOWLR. Maybe go into reef with more experience. In all reality you could go with CC for substrate. This is what I did with mine, and it worked great. I didn't use LR and went with fish cycling. I used two damsels to cycle my tank. They worked great, and went back to the LFS when I wanted other fish. It's not the best method, but that's before I found this site for advice. But don't spare any expense, and get the best right off the start.

All the time you'll spend on prep work is well worth it. Someone said earlier you'll want to go bigger or get more high-tech, and that's true. I really want to get a bigger tank, but I'm almost out of room. Good Luck to you!!
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Old 11-21-2004, 02:33 AM   #20
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thanks for the advice! what's fish cycling? how would i go about doing that? oh and i'll definately consider the CC! thanks!
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