New tank question...

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Aquarium Advice Addict
Jul 24, 2005
Wenatchee, WA
I was just wondering about what livestock I should add to the tank, once set up and has been running for 3-4 weeks. Would it be various crabs and snails? Also, for the hermit crabs, how many would be a good number for a 55G? 29G? I'm not looking to get fish or larger shrimp, etc. yet, just wanting to know what a good initial setup would be.
After the tank is fully cycled (3-4 weeks just like you said) I would pick up probabaly half a dozen of each: red or blue leg hermits, nassarius snails, any algae grazing snail of your choice. I would avoid the larger mexican turbo snails if you plan on going reef down the road. The are great cleaners but are also bulldozers that will knock around coral and frags and anything else that gets in the way.

Some people don't like hermits but i think they are valuable part of a cleaner crew and interesting to watch as well.

I have found that a common rookie mistake is to buy a "clean up crew package" from varius online sites. While they may be assembled for your size tank it would be way to much for a new tank. A tank has to be old before i can be dirty. When tanks are new there isn't much food for your CUC and a good portion of them will most likly die. Better to start small with the basics and add more as you see the tank start to get a little dirty. You will be able to tell when what you have in there can't keep up any more. I think it is also a good idea to have a diverse clean up crew. Add different kinds of snails as you go. You never know what one will eat and another will not. Can't hurt right?

Lots of places suggest sand sifting stars to keep your sand bed clean. Not a fan of these. The will consume valuable infauna that live in your sand bed and contribute to it being part of your biological filtration.

The nassarius snails are great. They turn over the sand bed with out consuming the critters in it like a sand star. They will eat any left over food that falls around them as well as anything that dies in your tank. They are also very funny to watch come charging out of the sand when they smell food.

Also one other misconception is that your CUC are less sensative then your fish. The crabs are relativly indistructable but snails and especially shrimp should always be acclimated.

Now that i have spouted out way more information then you probably wanted to know. Good luck with the tank. I can't wait to see how it turns out.
Actually, that was great help, thanks...

I agree with not going too much too fast. I don't plan on doing package deals for tank size. I've been looking around at various sites, as well as ebay, etc, and may also ask around on the forums when the time comes, to see if anyone has extras that they sell or ship for cost of shipping, etc. I've done this a bit myself with plants, but never charged anything, not even shipping cost, lol. It will be a little bit before I actually do it, as I still have to get rid of my tiger barbs first, and move my fire eel to my 75G. Then I can clean it out.

I have some lava rock in my 55G. If I were to boil and brush and rinse them, would I be able to use them in my SW tank? If I can, then I would use them as base rock, and get some live rock to place with them. I think I have 3 or 4 large pieces in there.
I think it would be ok. It is nice an porous just like live rock. I would assume that since it was used in a FW tank that it wouldn't leech anything into that water which is really the big concern for putting things like that into the tank. I would just boil it and let it dry before you dropped it in.

Snails don't breed quite so prolificly like the do in FW. From my understanding breeding to machurity at all is fairly uncommon so you may have a little trouble finding someone to give you snails. If you can power to you though.
One other question, on initial setup, is it ok to use tap water, and then for water changes and topping off, use distilled? I really don't want to go to Safeway or Walmart and buy 55 gallons of Distilled and 29G distilled for both tanks, lol. I know it's best to use distilled or RO water for reefs, but will it be ok for just the initial setup, then go RO/Distilled from then on? I'm thinking of doing a reef later down the road, maybe in a year or 2. But just want to get some of the basics down at first, running tests on the water, getting the live rock going, and eventually some fish and shrimp.
It will depend a lot on what kind of tap water you have in your area. Even if it is really good i still can't suggest it. It can have chlorine, heavy metals, phosphates, or a whole variety of other things that will cause you problems down the road. A 55 is big enough i would probably suggest that you just pinch for the RO/DI unit. Especially since you could then use it for your other FW systems if you chose to do so. You can get one for around 100$ from ebay. A small price to pay if it will save you fighting an algae bloom or other things that can be caused by contaminates in tap water. Plus running to safeway and hauling buckets every time you need top off water will get old in a hurry.
As far as lava rock, I would advise against it. It may not have leached out anything in a FW tank, but under Saltwater conditions...who knows(hard metals come to mind,ie Iron, sulfur, silica). Second it is not a source of calcium and would not help in stablizing your tank. Use either LR or dead rock from the could use Diy rock too.

I may have to make a trip to the coast and see what I can find. Not sure I know of any good areas where I can get some rock. I may have to look through ebay more and see what I can find as well. I still have lots of time, so no rush on anything, at least not yet, lol.
Oh, and what would be a good color for background? Once I have the 55G cleaned, I'm going to use paint like I did with my 29G and 75G and spray the background on. I used textured spray paint on them and they look great, the 29G is a textured black, and the 75G is a textured off-white. It's sprayed on the outside of the tank, not inside, and looks awsome. I'm thinking black like my 29g, or maybe even hammered gun metal. But not sure yet. Will have to make a trip to Lowe's. But with SW fish, LR, and other creatures, what's the best color for the BG?
it's totally up to you. Whatever you like best is best
I imagine it will be OK to do the initial set up with tap water but dont use it after that. You might see a bit more diatoms during your cycle due to the silicates in tap water. Here is a good article on tap.

Chemistry and the Aquarium
Another quick question, where is the best locations for the powerheads in a 55G? Would it be on the back on each end of the tank, pointed up and towards the front center? Or would it be on the sides of the tank? Is a 2 PH system ok, or would 3 or 4 be better? I want really good flow, with some of the currents colliding with each other causing some disturbance, as well as good flow at the surface for good gas exchange. Was thinking of having most of the live rock on both sides of the tank, and not so much in the center where the tank support goes across the top of the tank, blocking some of the light. Or maybe build up the rock on both ends of the tank and have a sandy playground in the center with a couple well-placed rocks in the sand. Any ideas?

Also, would 2 850GPH Koralia 3's be enough, or should I go with the 1200GPH Koralia 4's? Debating if I even want to use a canister filter, as I've done some reading and several places say it's not really required. May use it with LR rubble though. Not sure.
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Being that surface aggitation is the way that you aerate your tank I would have at least one pointing upward to the surface
A lot of people will go out and buy one of those trash cans and get the wheel base for it. You can use that to mix and then roll it out to the tank for changes.

I like putting my power heads on the back glass somewhere out of the way. I try to hide them as much as possible. You can also bounce the flow off the glass to break up the flow and get more disrupted flow
I 2nd pat's statement, get something with wheels.....30 Gallons of SW is pretty heavy...
I just got a Brute trash can and bought the wheels (32G) at either Lowes or HD, not sure what you have across the border....
The one I got, I had to buy the wheels seperately. As for the phs, I have them (2 in my 55) on the back glass pointing slightly up and toward the corners. I also have a filter output in the middle.
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