29 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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29 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium

1. Tank size. 29 Gallon. 30x12x18.

2. What type of tank and how long has it been running? FOWLR. 1 week.

3. Water parameters. No water parameters as of yet. Salinity is stable at 1.021 and 1.022. Temperature is stable at 78 degrees. Water was aired and filtered out before adding live rock and sand for a week. No chemicals or conditioners added. As of now, water will be changed 50% weekly until water parameters are stable. Will see from there. Possibly 10-20% water change weekly or bi-weekly.

4. Set up. Cultured Fiji live rock. 30 lbs. White sand. 30 lbs. Current set up is a Marineland Penguin Power Filter 350 (tube was shortened; tube length was near sand, now in the middle of the tank; afraid the filter might suck up the sand), Marineland Stealth Submersible Heater 200-watt with a 60 gallon Sea Clone Protein Skimmer. Lighting is an All Glass Aquarium 17-watt fluorescent 30" light bulb. Might upgrade to a 30 or 60-watt.

5. Livestock. None as of now. Maybe a month later. Would like 2 Ocellaris Clownfish, 1 Hippo Tang, 1 Blue Leg Hermit Crab, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, and 1 Sand Sifting Starfish.

Hi. I am new to this saltwater hobby and forum. I have been researching for quite some time and happened to stumble upon this site. Seems to be a very helpful site. I would like your inputs on my set up. Please ask questions and share useful information as I would like to see my tank grow. Thank you.
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post #2 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 06:35 AM
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what do you mean water was filtered then aired out? why such large water changes? infact i would wait until a diatom bloom happened and then do a small change.
canister filters collect debris and detritus causing issues down the road unless kept clean frequently and i havnt heard the best things about the seaclone however i have no used one myself personally. its best to read online reviews and not skimp on a skimmer as it is one of the most important things for a saltwater fish tank IMO.
start with a mixture of different snails and hermits if you wish. i personally dont like them because no matter how many empty shells you leave for them they always seems to kill a snail for their shell and usually decide they dont even want it. the sand shifter may need to be spot fed from time to time as in a 29 gallon it may run out of a food source. the hippo or any tang for that matter wont fit in a 29.
i suggest looking for a local reefing club as you can pick up information, equipment and meet new people.
welcome to the forum.
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post #3 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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I let the water sit there so it can decholrinate and then I poured the water into the tank and let the filter run. A 50% water change because I was told to do so to get rid of the debris on the rock and the sand. I was even told to scrub the rock to get rid of excess algae and remaining debris. What do you mean by diatom bloom? It's a hang on power filter because there's mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. Sea Clone was recommended by a few fish shops, Petland, and Petco. They said a 60 gallon protein skimmer was more than enough for a 29 gallon. What would you suggest for my set up? Should I replace or add something? Thanks for your input.

Last edited by mikOll; 06-08-2009 at 03:32 PM.
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post #4 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 03:46 PM
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Are you using Tap Water? If so, than I suggest to change all the water, and use RO/DI. I get mine at my LFS(Local Fish Shop) for $0.85/gallon. Use a quality Salt Mix; I use Instant Ocean. I have used cheaper brands and have had algae problems. The SeaClone is a good starter skimmer, I used it and I would only complaing about the air adjustment valve...it could be a little more accurate. You'l find yourself adjusting the air every day or so. And I don't suggest using a filter. If you don't clean it twice a week, you'll get algae blooms. It took me six months to get rid of mine, and incorporate a sump.

Nothing good happens fast in an Aquarium

My 30 Gallon Long Marine Tank
My son's 20 gallon FW Community
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post #5 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I am using tap water. What is RO/DI? I am using the Petco salt mix that they recommended. Do you have a protein skimmer you would recommend as a starter besides the Sea Clone? As for a sump, I don't think I'll be investing in one due to the lack of space.
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post #6 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 06:53 PM
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Wow. One or 2 times per month I find myself shaking my head in frustration at how difficult it is for a newcomer to this hobby to find quality advice. I am very glad you stumbled upon this site and asked these questions today, because you have some things completely messed up. Let me be the first to invite anyone from PetCo or Petland, who wishes to debate this topic publicly, to visit this thread.-)

Lets start with some basic concepts. In saltwater the long term goal is low Nitrate and stable alkalintiy, calcium, and pH readings. It does not matter what you intend to keep in the aquarium, be it corals, fish, or inverts, these parameters will impact the overall health of your system and have to be monitored for any sustained level of success. When selecting filtration, you must ask yourself how the filter you are using will impact these test results. The same concept applies to the depth of sand and design of your live rock structure. (pictures would be helpful)

Lets start with what you've done well. You chose to use live rock and sand. Live rock is fabulous for the overall stability of the tank. It introduces copepods and amphipods to the tank, which are great natural food sources, and help to seed the sand to become "live". The live rock also processes waste efficiently, breaking down organic acids into nitrogen gas, which leave the system naturally. The sand bed compliments the live rock, and provided you have between 4'' and 6'' depth, will effectively provide denitrification benefits to keep Nitrates low over the long term.

You also choose to use a protein skimmer, which is an important decision. The SeaClone models are adequate for a 29 gallon tank. I've used them myself on many 29 gallon tank applications. The skimmer will remove organic waste directly from the water, reducing the waste which is biologically processed by the live rock and sand. This helps to keep carbonates in your buffer system, as less acids are utilized biologically. These carbonates will help to keep calcium levels up, keeping alkinility more stable, and fixing pH at a level that is needed for marine fish. It all starts with the skimmer and the removal of organic acids.

Now, for the list of mistakes. There are a few, so lets discuss.

First, why did you decide to maintain a salinity at a level that does not naturally occur? 1.021 to 1.022 is not even close to natural seawater. Any claims you might have heard about helping to fight off parasites are misguided, as it has been shown that hyposalinity requires a salinity no higher than 1.016 (some say 1.013). You need to raise your display tank to 1.024 to 1.025 for long term health.

Lets discuss your Penguin 350. This is a very effective biological filter. Unfortunately this does not consider the type of biological filtration being provided. The penguin units, as do most freshwater biological filters, creates a high oxygen environment to grow bacteria. These bacteria break down ammonia and nitrite, producing Nitrate as the end result. This is exactly opposite of what you want in a marine system. This filter is designed to INTENTIONALLY pump high volumns of NItrate into the aquarium. Intentionally????????? The concept makes no sense at all and has absolutely no use on a marine aquarium. You want low levels of nitrate, which are achieved by the natural system of live rock, live sand, and protein skimming that you have already created. You need to remove the Penguin 350 immiately. Now. Like right this second. Stop reading and go take this filter off of your tank.-)

Ok, now that you have that taken care of, lets talk about water changes. What are you trying to accomplish with the water changes? Again, this is a freshwater concept. Freshwater systems are designed to intentionally reduce carbonate and add Nitrates. We don't have this problem in a properly set up marine aquarium, so have very little need for water changes. We do small water changes monthly, say 10%, but this is only to replace trace elements that can not be tested with test kits. There are approxomately 178 of these trace elements and fish and corals tend to respond well to small monthly water changes. Frequent changes are unnecessary and only disturb the stable environment you've worked hard to create.

And finally, lets discuss livestock. You have a small tank. This requires fish that reach a small ADULT size. Most marine fish reach 75% of their adult size within the first year of their life. Without proper space to grow they will not develop properly. Their immune systems are compromised and they generally do not fight off infections well. You need to buy fish that stay 3'' or less in size. You should be thinking 3 to 5 fish in total. The Clownfish are a good choice. The Tang is a horrible choice. You should consider a small Goby and Flasher Wrasse to complete the setup.
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post #7 of 43 Old 06-08-2009, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! I am saddened by what Petco, Petland, and local fish shops have been telling me then. So I should raise my salinity level a little more and remove my power filter. I have not start changing the water and adding livestocks which makes me safe. So what should I do from here? What should I add? There will be no filtration since I took out the power filter which contains carbonate. Carbonate is important isn't it? What about water movement and oxygen if I have nothing creating bubbles? Do I add chemicals now? I go to www.drfostersmith.com and read their articles and this is what they recommended also. This task seems very daunting to me now. Do you have a guideline on how this should be approached? Great advice by the way. Totally different. What would you recommend? Thanks.
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post #8 of 43 Old 06-09-2009, 05:42 AM
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Don't confuse activated carbon and carbonates.

Activated carbon is included in the Penguin, and when used in large quantities removes organic acids from the water. You have a protein skimmer which will produce this result, and do so much more efficiently. The small amount of carbon included inside the filter pads provides almost no benefit, and could even become biologically active, hurting water quality.

Carbonates is a generic term used to refer to the ions which provide buffering ability. Your alkalinity, basically. You need to test alkalinity every week, twice per week for newer tanks. A buffer powder is added to the water to replenish carbonates which are lost as acids eliminate carbonates from the water. (Good protein skimming helps to remove organic acids, cutting down on alkalinity shifts.)

I use Kent Marine SuperBuffer DKH in my aquariums. I attempt to keep alkalinity between 8 and 12 DKH. I add the buffer as needed to achieve this result. In addition to a buffer, you need to add calcium. Calcium is the major buffering ion in seawater and is best added separately from a buffering powder. Almost every successful marine hobbyist is greatly concerned with Calcium additions. I personaly use Kent Marine Liquid Calcium in my reef and my FOWLR. I test for Calcium weekly and aim for levels between 400ppm and 460ppm.

When testing for alkalinity and calcium, you can get a feel for when water changes need to increase. If your test results provide low alkalinity and high calcium, then you have depleted buffers other than calcium, and a water change is needed. I change 10% monthly as a prevenative to this issue.

Moving on, water flow is important, yes. Most of us use a power head or two inside the aquarium to provide water circulation. If you want, you can continue to use the Penguin for water movement only, by removing the filter pads and biowheels. This would also allow you to "polish" the water on occassion, by adding a bag of carbon to the power filter. Carbon is effective at removing the yellow tint from water that comes with age.

Finally, you need more research. I'm not talking about the fun type of research. I'm talking about the boring stuff. You need to understand the CHEMISTRY that takes place inside your aquarium. Here is a link to get you started:
Chemistry and the Aquarium
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post #9 of 43 Old 06-09-2009, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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So it looks like I will need a test kit to test the water once or twice per week. As to water, what are your procedures before you add the new water to the tank? By that, I mean do you use water conditioners to remove traces of elements in tap water? Or do you buy salt water ready from shops?

As to the power filter I have already installed, I have removed the filter cartridges and the bio wheel. I think you told someone the same exact thing. As of now, I am only using it for water movement. But I want to know what did you mean by adding a bag of carbon? Is it something I have to buy and make or can it be bought from a shop? Because I want the filter to keep the water crystal clear for viewing pleasures as well.
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post #10 of 43 Old 06-10-2009, 05:23 AM
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For water, you have options. You can buy RO water directly from the LFS, then add your own salt. Or you can purchase an RO unit for home and prepare your own water. I do not recommend buying premixed saltwater, as it is much less expensive to add your own salt.

Activated carbon can be purchased in bulk and then placed into a mesh bag (also available at your LFS). I just drop the bag into my sump. In your case, just place the bag into the power filter. Water will not be forced to flow thru the bag, but it does not have to. Carbon is effective even with passive water flow.
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