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29G Saltwater tank: What do I need?
Alright, I am not new to aquariums, just to saltwater aquariums. I have a 29G aquarium sitting that I'd like to set up as a saltwater tank. What woul I be getting myself into as far as cost of setup. I know what fish I'd LIKE to have but I don't know if they can all coexist with each other. 1 Red Striped Goby, 1-2 clownfish, and 1 Flame Angelfish. For my goby, I like the striped goby but I saw one in a saltwater tank at a local hospital that I liked. I don't even know for sure if it was a goby. I'll describe, hopefully someone can I.d. It. Basically it was a deep teal color, with orange "pin striping." it never swam in open water, it was always either bellied up to rock or sand. Any help would be great. Back to setting up my tank, what all do I need besides light, filter, heater. I would assume a powerhead? Someone make a list so I can get it setup correctly
The key difference in saltwater compared to freshwater is 2 things. One, nitrates need to be kept near zero. This makes the use of almost all freshwater filters difficult, because they are all designed to process nitrogenous wastes with the end result of Nitrate. Water changes are NOT sufficient to lower nitrate in a marine tank. Second, the long term concern in a marine system is creating a stable environment, rather than an environment which constantly changes and requires water changes to keep stable. This means you have to carefully monitor alkalinity and calcium levels, and adjust these when necessary with buffers and calcium supplements. This is easy to accomplish, just different than what you are used to.
For the basic setup you will want a protein skimmer, live rock, and aragonite sand. This will be the entire life support system on your tank. Adding other types of filtration will not improve water quality, but will degrade water quality by increasing nitrates and depleting carbonates from the buffer system. The live rock and sand will do all you need to process nitrogeneous compounds, and the end result will be NITROGEN GAS, as opposed to nitrate. (This is not possible with FW designed biological filters, such as biowheels, sponges, etc.)
I would recommend that you begin with an order of dry rock from marco rocks. They are a very reliable supplier of dry rock. Dry rock will then be "seeded" with actual live rock. By creating the bulk of your reef with dry rock you will save a fortune on the cost of rock. I would suggest ordering this:
40Lb Bahama Aragonite sand <br>(shipping included) - BAS40 and this
25 Pound box Key Largo Dry Rock, <br>Pre Cycled - DS-25
You will then buy 5 to 8 pounds of cured live rock from your LFS to complete the reef structure. Let the aquarium run without livestock for about 3 weeks. This will allow time for the tank to mature, and allow microfauna such as copepods and amphipods to spread throughout the sand and into the dry rock. Bacteria will also spread from the live rock to dry rock and sand. As you add livestock these bacteria supplies will continue to develop.
It is likely that you will never see an ammonia or nitrite reading if you start with cured live rock as described here. This is not uncommon. In a marine tank we do not really discuss the tank being cycled, so much as we do the tank being mature. The tank is mature when you see populations of the microfauna rapidly spreading. In a few short weeks there will be so much micro life in the tank that you will actually be able to see copepods scurrying about on the glass. Another sign of a mature system is the diatom bloom, which will come almost overnight and then disappear just a quick. Finally, watch for coraline algae to spread over the rock and glass. These are much more important things to watch for than anything a test kit can tell you.
You will need to purchase a protein skimmer very soon. I would have it on the tank within the first week or 2. Your easiest option will be a hang on skimmer, such as the AquaC Remora. You can buy one online at a great discount:
AquaC Remora Protein Skimmer with Maxijet 1200 Pump
You will need the surface skimmer box also:
AquaC Surface Prefilter Box
If this skimmer is simply out of your budget, you could use the Coralife:
Coralife 65 Skimmer Coralife Super Skimmer 65
I would strongly encourage you to use the AquaC Remora. It will easily pay for itself by more effectively removing organic wastes, resulting in less nitrate accumulation and less carbonate depletion. This saves money on salt mix and additives, and seriously reduces stress on livestock.
The obvious things you need:
Instant Ocean salt mix
Test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, alkalinity, and calcium.
A buffer & calcium supplement. I use Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH and Kent Marine Liquid Calcium Chloride. The BIonic 2 part product is also reliable and popular.
Finally, you will also need a quarantine tank. A 10 gallon tank can suffice. This is another long and boring topic that comes up daily, so I wrote an article on this one. Link here:
The bicolor pseudochromis is going to be to aggressive for this small of a tank. They are super territorial and nip like crazy. This fish selection would be fine for a 75 gallon tank, but not a 29 gallon tank including a pseudochromis.
If you make these changes then you should be ok. 2 Clownfish, 1 Flame Angel, and 1 Flame Hawkfish would be maxed out on a 29 gallon tank. Not because of bioload, but because of fish behavior.
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