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  1. #1
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    Noob to saltwater

    Hello all, I've been reading these forums for the past 3 days! Seems like there are alot of competent saltwater people here so I'm looking for some advice on my new saltwater tank.



    I have:
    -1 55 gallon retangular tank
    -2 penguin bio-wheel 350s (about 700gph or so they say) which I got for a very reasonable price.
    -40 lbs of crush coral
    -20lbs of live rock
    -1 thermometer
    -current water temp: 73 degrees (suggestions on heater?)

    The tank has been up and running for about a week without any fish yet. I dont know if the water is cycled or not. I took the filter medias from my other tank.


    Any suggestions? Comments? Open to all advice. My goal is to make a saltwater aquarium much like my freshwater; have it run with having for me to do any work other than the initial setup. My 29 gallon freshwater tank hasnt been maintained in over a year and half. The water is crystal clear and the fish still look happy =)





  2. #2
    Senior Member nomadofthehills's Avatar
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    I'd still do weekly water changes on your freshwater tank. Unless its planted?



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sealion
    Hello all, I've been reading these forums for the past 3 days! Seems like there are alot of competent saltwater people here so I'm looking for some advice on my new saltwater tank.



    I have:
    -1 55 gallon retangular tank
    -2 penguin bio-wheel 350s (about 700gph or so they say) which I got for a very reasonable price.
    -40 lbs of crush coral
    -20lbs of live rock
    -1 thermometer
    -current water temp: 73 degrees (suggestions on heater?)

    The tank has been up and running for about a week without any fish yet. I dont know if the water is cycled or not. I took the filter medias from my other tank.


    Any suggestions? Comments? Open to all advice. My goal is to make a saltwater aquarium much like my freshwater; have it run with having for me to do any work other than the initial setup. My 29 gallon freshwater tank hasnt been maintained in over a year and half. The water is crystal clear and the fish still look happy =)
    Well, I can help.


    The following will tell you the basics that you will ever have to know.
    All this is based on my experience



    By the way, i understand the confusion you are probably going through. There is alot of suggestions and advice that you read online, some contradicts others. Some people might say one thing and swear by it, and others will strictly disagree with them.

    1) your water is not cycled. I suggest you search on the web for "cycling saltwater aquariums" Since it is biology the time frame will basically stay constant. Approx 6-8 weeks to fully cycle the tank. If you are getting impatient you can purchase fish and stick them in.
    Some fish I would suggest for cycling:

    Damsels, Lionfish, Gobbies, and Blennies

    Once you have it cycled you may want to put in fish (if you havent already) or add more.
    Some fish I would suggest for the beginner: Actually, I will just explain what to avoid:
    I am going to be honest. Steer clear of expensive fish no matter how hardy people claim they are. Don't waste your money flat out. You will read a million DIFFERENT stories on which fish are right for a beginner and they are all correct, from THAT hobbyists perspective. Perhaps THIER trigger died after a month...and they will say "Triggers are high maintenance fish" just because that is thier OPINION. Get what I am saying.

    Here is some BASIC guidelines and common sense.

    Stay away for fish that require secific lighting (unless you want to buy a 400 dollar hood).

    Stay away for mixing Carnivores with inverabrates and crustations (makes sense).

    Dont put a large carnivore with really small fish (fish that are roughly the size of the other fishes mouth (use your imagination )

    Stay away from fish that are hard to feed. There is no bigger pain in the but than trying to feed a difficult fish. Again, there are OPINIONS to what is a hard fish to feed. Go to the pet store, and ask them to feed a fish you wish to buy. Usually they will feed the fish at night so during the day they will be able to demonstrate their feeding habbits to customers.

    Try to get fish that eat relatively the same thing. Its a pain to have to give seaweed, pellets, flakes, krill, silversides, and a giant sirloin to each of your fish.

    Stay away form seahorses. They are touchy, everybody and their mother will tell you this.

    Be weary of mixing agressive and docile fish together. You wouldnt put Bill Gates and Mike Tyson in a room together when they are guaranteed to fight would you?

    Make sure you can afford feeding and maintaining your fish. Larger fish require more food and more frequent water changes. Cha Ching.

    The fish get bigger. way bigger. if you buy a inch long lionfish, it will grow to 8-15 inches, so keep that in mind. More fish stores and fish info webstes will list their adult size, feeding and lighting regiments and requirements.

    People will toss a list of fish at you of what not to buy if you are a beginner. As I said earlier, if its expensive, chances are its a high maintenance fish. A lot of these fish are more expensive becasue many die on the long trip to the pet store, not necessarily becasue they are rare.

    Reefs:

    Soft corals are easier to maintain and keep than hard corals. People say you can use flouresent light for soft corals..but I sugest VHO, call it a bit of overkill since most soft coral cost between 25 and 100 dollars, why gamble with lighting? Hard coral is more expensive and you should use good lighting The are also more difficult to keep care of. They often require you to feed them, and they are picky eaters.. This will require special fixtures as well, not just bulbs, and they can run quite expensive. If you want a budget tank, stear clear of coral.

    Amenomes: Poeple say they are hardy, others claim they are not. They require good water conditions but dont frett. Don't put a gaint Volitan Lion in your tank becasue it will poop all over your anenomes like a seagull poops all over my windshield. Use your own good judgment. If you plan on neglecting your tank a bit dont get anenomes.


    Heater. Bring it up to 76-80. my tank is at 80. The fish love it.

    The biggy. Overstocking. "DONT PUT THIS IN HERE..DONT DO THIS.bla bla bla" You will here people shouting orders at you about how many fish should be in your tank and how you are doing everything wrong for the rest of your life either from friends, or on forums. We all have OPINIONS.
    I'll be blunt:
    Dont add too many fish becasue they will suffacate. Saltwater has less oxygen in it than fresh.
    Air stones dont add much water size the bubble burst and the survice. Air stome will however help disrupt any film on the surface that might form and will help break the surfice tention to allow a LITTLE bit more air in your tank.
    Live rock and agood biological base (bacteria) will add oxygen as well.

    Here is some suggestions that are floating around:

    2 inches of fish per gallon

    3 inches of fish per gallon.

    1.5 inches of skinny fish (like eels per gallon)

    5 inches of fish per gallon

    (The Funniest) 2 inches of fish for each square foot of surface area of your aqaurium. So if you have a 4 foot long aqaurium that is 1 foot wide, you can have 8 inches of fish. HA HA HA

    These people would soil themselves if they knew I have kept a 8 inch volitan lionfish in a 33 gallon tank for an extended period of time. "Waht? It didnt die?, but according to are messed up Biological equatiosn of 2 inches of fsih per square foot that fish should not have thrived.

    Just remember. Live rock and bacteria create oxygen and so does the surface of the tank. You could keep about 5 medium fish in that tank easily. Don't let people fill your head with mock science.


    Your filtration is adequite. A reef should be cycled 15-25 times an hour. your is being cycled at about 14 times an hour. Fish only tanks only require 10 or so. Even less if you love to change water on a daily basis..I love to do that.

    People will tell you to by another 35 pounds of live rock. Don't listen to them. It will help the tank marginally and will deflate your wallet substatially.


    Not to sound like an idiot but you didnt mention if you had a hydomter...You will need one to measure the salt content. Again, you dont need a fancy 200 dollar electric one. the 8.99 one will do just fine. Just rinse it with hot water after each use. otherwise salt will dry into the needles hinge and the hydrometer relys on almost no resistance on that hinge to give you an accurate reading.

    Vaccum your gravel when making water changes. Actually, if you have the right size vaccum, you can vaccum your gravel in order to give your tank a water change.

    Change about 1/8 of the water weekly or slightly longer. But use discretion, If there is a lot of debris and poop floating around do not wait. Scoop the stuff out and give the tank a water change even if you just did one a couple days earlier (this is a good sign that your tank is overstocked..Poor water quality). SInce fish produce waste..lots of fish will produce lots of waste and if your biological filter can keep up, there is too many fish.

    Heaters, you will need 50 watts per 10 gallons. So your tank will require 250 watts.


    DOnt mix the water you get in the bag from the pet store with the water in your aquarium. Scoop the fish out with a net. Fish store water often contains copper to help fight off desease in their tanks. Copper can kill invertabrates and even wanted bacteria.

    LAstly. If you are hoping for a tank to be exist without much maintenence you ar ein luck. Besides water changes and feedings you wont have to do much if you have a good biological equilibrium going. All biological is (i was confused at first about the talk of biological this biological that) is bacteria. The live rock has it and it will begin to grow in the subsrate. By some shrips, crabs or snails and let them do the cleaning and keep unwanted waste in check while the other bacteria keeps the water relatively clean. You will still need to vaccum the coral, sand or gravel and wipe off the saltwater creep(salt will build up in crystal form under the lid etc where water has evaporated leaving the salt.
    Dont let this salt fall into the tank becasue fish may accudently eat it thinking it is food and probably die.

    NOTE a reef tank or amenome tank does not make the kind of easy maintenece tank you are looking for. Try to keep a fish only tank. I know I know, I am lazy too, and I am happy with a fish only tank. You can buy plastc coral or get dead junk (if you can) from the ocean..Note: grabbing coral from the ocean (expecially in the US) is a crime. If you have a relative that went to hawaii, chances are they brought back loads of coral they found, ask them if you can grab it. If you get a bunch of fake but reall lookign coral in the tank, you migth as well tell your friends it's a reef tank

    Note Note Note: You must actually change the water when doing a water change. Do not just refill the amount lost due to evaporation. Also remeber that salt doesnt evaporate so if 1/4 of the water evaporates form the tank, that 1/4 of salt is mixed in with the remaining water!

    Cheers,

    Damselmaster.



  4. #4
    This ship is England! DansMarineTank's Avatar
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    Hi damselmaster

    there is alot of advice there, I am interested to hear of your tank specs/ experiances? I'm not saying i disagree with your comments, as i am relativly new to all this. But there is so much out there that contradicts what your saying



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DansMarineTank
    Hi damselmaster

    there is alot of advice there, I am interested to hear of your tank specs/ experiances? I'm not saying i disagree with your comments, as i am relativly new to all this. But there is so much out there that contradicts what your saying
    I change tanks quite often, when I started this forum I had a 33 gal, now I have a 70 and I am on my way to a 108.

    Right now I have a 8 inch Volitan, 1 blue velvet damsel, 1 small picasso trigger, and one baby snowflake moray.
    10 turbo snails and a bucket load of hermits (some become dinner but the Picasso is usually good with the hermits if I keep his stomach full at all times


    As far as experiences I am not sure what you want to know.

    I can tell you that contrary to popular opinion my Lion and Picasso trigger thrive and remain helathy while my Blue velvet dasel surcomes to deseases on almost a weekly basis,

    Yep, I kept a 8 inch Volitan Lionfish in a 33 gallon tank and he appeared to love it. He ate when he was fed (about once every 5 days) and he swam around and never got any ich or disease.

    I have had technically "overstocked tanks" and understocked tanks and the overstalked tanks thrived much better. By overstock I dont mean jammed, I mean comfortable looking but most peopel would call them over stocked.

    I dont know about other people but I enjoy maintaining my tank and take pride in its appearence. I have been known to wake up at 3 in the morning to hit the washroom and notice that my lion decided to leave a few fecal presents in the water, and I will do a water change and vaccum..at 3 in the morning.

    I am curious. What do you disagree with? I am sure ther is quite a bit...

    Like I told him, I am speaking from experience and my own practices when maintaining my tank. There is a lot of useless unfo out their from bias people that have been jaded becasue certain things didnt work out for them.

    Cheers,

    Damselmaster

    PS, I should note something I left out.

    Sealion,

    You should buy Nitrate and amonia test kits and possibly a PH test kit. They will help alot, otherwise you will be flying blind when it comes to water quality.
    Last edited by damselmaster; 10-19-2005 at 4:00 PM.



  6. #6
    This ship is England! DansMarineTank's Avatar
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    I truly am glad your systems have done well. As i said before all i am interested in is how you formed your opinions.

    I think the main points most people would disagree with are stocking (i was told one inch per foot, hench all i have is 2 baby clowns dispite wanting much more)

    and your thoughts on live rock (most mentioned to me that its a must and i should get as much as i posibly could)



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DansMarineTank
    I truly am glad your systems have done well. As i said before all i am interested in is how you formed your opinions.

    I think the main points most people would disagree with are stocking (i was told one inch per foot, hench all i have is 2 baby clowns dispite wanting much more)

    and your thoughts on live rock (most mentioned to me that its a must and i should get as much as i posibly could)
    Like I said, their are countless opinions on stocking techniques.


    Live rock is not a must in a fish only tank. From what I have found, the substrate can produce and hold the write bacteria, that is why porus crushed coral is so popular. If people can tell me that they had a tank without live rock and one with, and can tell em the one without failed misserable and the one with thrived (under the same conditions minus the rock) then I would be interested in hearing about it. Many people will listen to the store clerks who would like nothing better than to sell you rock that is 5 bucks a pound, better yet, you will love to sell you 100 pounds of it. So people then assume its a must through word of mouth. I dont want to sound like a cheapo, which I am, but I know people, and I am one who don't use live rock.

    As for your stocking, do you mean 1 inch per square foot?

    Cheers,

    Damselmaster.



  8. #8
    Nano-Reefer FreddytheFish's Avatar
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    Holy Crud Damselmaster! That's a lot of info. Just want to follow through...

    cycling- check out the stickie on this website

    fish to avoid- check out the stickie in the marine newbie forum

    BTW, I've never heard of anyone cycling a tank with lions... the best fish to cycle a tank with are damsels (or you could just use a piece of rotting seafood)






  9. #9
    A man, struck down in his prime... itstheantitang's Avatar
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    you could use uncured live rock as a kick start to the cycle too
    OR
    slowly drip water by a knotted airline tube into a bag with freshwater livebearers, they might thurn to saltwater, might not. Plus if they live, you could sell the offspiring to the lfs as saltwater starter fish.
    A man, struck down in his prime...



  10. #10
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    I should edit my initial post by correcting "inch of fish per gallon" it is supposed to be per 10 gallons.



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