First saltwater aquarium help!
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First saltwater aquarium help!

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First saltwater aquarium help!
Old 07-11-2011, 01:53 PM   #1
 
SchBetta5123's Avatar
 
Question First saltwater aquarium help!

Hello,
I have a few tanks. They are two 10 gallons, one 15 gallon, a 29 gallon, and a 55 gallon. The smaller ones house Betta's, the larger ones house more Betta's :P With some bottom feeders and shrimp. All the tanks are planted.

I am planning to turn the 29 into a saltwater in the next few years after my current fish bite the dust. In the past I have kept angel fish and black ghost knifes, not saltwater, but I consider the BGK a pretty sensitive FW fish, I have had amazing success with them.

I understand that the recommended tank size for a saltwater is a 55 gallon, but I just want to start with a 29 gallon because I do not want to put thousands into a 55 if it fails. This will be my only salt tank, I plan to stay fresh with the rest of them.

I also know that there are few fish I can put in a 29 gallon because of the size and because the levels are harder to keep good in smaller tanks. I am planning on keeping live rock with maybe a few mushrooms.

Now I need some help here:

-I am looking at buying a RO/DI system to make tap water safe for the aquarium. Any recommendations? I have no idea really what it is. But I know that tap water is not safe for the aquarium. If conditioner is important, I will use Prime for the water.

-Right now I have a 30 gallon filter on the 29 gallon. I'm going to upgrade to a 70 aquaclear. Does that sound OK?

-I plan on throwing a large raw shrimp in the 29 to help cycle. I will cycling for no less that 2 months. Tips?

-Is live sand needed? I have pool filter sand in all of my aquariums right now, will that be suitable?

-Heater will be an Aqueon Pro. Does a 100 watt sound good? I have a 150 in my 55 gallon.

-Testing kit will be a API saltwater master kit. I have a freshwater one in all of my aquariums. Good?

-Instant Ocean for salt?

-How many water changes per week and how big?


Stocking:

- I am looking for things that are hardy.

- I love blennies. Any that are hardy and will go good in a 29 gallon? What do I feed if they can go in there?

- Looking for fish that are non-aggressive. I do not mind having only 2 or 3 in there. 1 is also a option.

- What mushrooms do you recommend for the tank? Will be added after cycle.


Lighting:

-What lighting is needed for mushrooms and everything else? Watts and Kelvin suggestions are needed :P

- I plan on ordering off of amazon because I have not heard of any sites that are good with shipping lights. If you have any sites that are good, I will order off of those!


I know this is long, but I really need to know everything! I want this to be a good tank.
I plan on starting to save up for everything now. I know it will be expensive, but I am committed to it.
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Old 07-14-2011, 03:17 PM   #2
 
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ok hopefully i can help answer a few of your questions, though i warn you, salt water is not cheap. freshwater can be done verry cheaply if you know what your doing in it, and what environment you are going for, but with saltwater it is never cheap.

firstly i want to address the filtration. do not get the aquaclear. i'm not a big fan of that brand for freshwater even, but for saltwater you arent going to be useing a mechanical filter. basically the live rock will grow all the bacteria you need to take care of your ammonia/nitrite. you will however need a very strong pump though, so if the aquaclear is cheaper then say a rio pump for the same amount of gallons per hour then go ahead and add it back to the list.

continuing with filtration, i am going to recommend a deep sand bed (dsb), as i do with all aquariums to some degree, in the form of a mud sump. this is basically a smaller tank, 10-20 gal that will sit underneath your main tank kinda like a canister filter. if you really are just wanting a blenny and some mushrooms then this isn't exactly necessary. however, just because the tank inhabitants don't need absolutely ideal conditions doesn't mean that pests wont menopolize on the conditions. if you only consider the current inhabitants, and not the tank as a whole, then you will most likely end up with a tank covered in hair algae.

further incentive for a mud filter is that its is little to no maintenance and makes taking care of the system so much easier. in addition you wont be as restricted on fish as you would be without it- corals will still depend on the lighting. do a little research on dsb and if you want me to go in detail about anything let me know and i'l be happy too.

now im going to address your specific questions:

an r/o system is great, but it might not be the top of my priority list. my list would probably be mud filter, lighting, nutrition, uv sterilizer, r/o system, then skimmer. an r/o system will strip your water of everything and leave it as close to pure h2o as possible, so i would have your nitrates and kh or alkalinity tested. if high, then a reverse osmosis system may be needed.

don't bother with the aquaclear.

i kiss your feet for considering fishless cycling. a cocktail shrimp is a common practice with this method, but i find that cocktail shrimp or silversides tend to get a gelatinous growth of bacteria directly around them that seems to slow down the process considerably. i'd recommend a few handfuls of fish food. go nuts, see how high you can get that test to read, then wait patiently for it to go down. if you dont want to wait over 2 months though then you might want to hold back a little and finish the cycle by adding a few small hardy fish first.

if you arent doing the mud filter and are just planning on a blenny and maybe a few equally hardy fish with only soft polyp coral, then you can probably get away with pool filter sand. aragonite is the recommended, and if you want to do more then just get your foot in the door then you will want to go with aragonite. it will help to buffer the water and it wont introduce as many phosphates supposedly.

most saltwater systems don't bother with heating, often its a chore to cool them. a certain amount of fluctuation in temperature is acceptable, and you will have several heat producing units in your aquarium already. if you have one already maybe use it and set it to a low setting just to make sure that if the temp ever drops too much its there, but i wouldn't worry about it.

umm.. probably fine, i like api well enough for freshwater, though there are a lot of better brands for saltwater. i cant remember offhand what it includes... i know there's no calcium test, and i think a few others are missing. anyway, for a basic fish only system you will want amo, nitrite, nitrate, kh(alkalinity or dkh), and of course ph. if you want to have a balanced reef system, or just want to go that extra mile, then add calcium, magnesium, and maybe phosphate to that list.

its been too long for me to remember specifics like the details about a salt brand. it's probably fine, just remember to mix salt slowly or you might get calcium-carbonate precipitation or reef-snow.

water changes depend on the setup, i have heard of, and i guess am guilty of myself, going months without doing a water change. in most systems you will have to keep up on some dosing though, especially without a calcium reactor. basically certain levels must be maintained in fresh or saltwater. if the tank is capable of maintaining them on its own then water changes are practically unnecessary, if not then water changes are required as frequently as needed to maintain the system. it really all depends on your particular tank.

as far as lighting, you can probably get a power compact at a reasonable price, most will come with a 10k and an actinic. this would be fine for mushrooms and maybe a few large polyp stony (lps). otherwise as far as 10k, 14k, and 20k are concerned just basically think of 10k as white and 20k as blue. what you want will depend on what you have in your tank.

as for fish recommendations, it would probably be easier to look around and pick a specific species and then look at whether its suitable for your tank, and other possible tank mates. my personal favorites are the pistol shrimp and gobies- excluding watchman gobies, they can pretty much all be considered my favorites.
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Old 07-14-2011, 03:39 PM   #3
 
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The AquaClear filter is an excellent choice.

Throwing raw shrimp in to help cycle I don't know, I have always read that there is no true way to "speed" or "help" the cycling process in a SW system, Patience and testing

Live sand ins't needed but I highly reccomend it, it acts as a natural filter and looks pretty I wouldn't use the pool filter sand in the new 29 SW, but that may just be me... Stay away from crushed coral in a smaller system because it is known for housing nitrates.

As far as the salt mix you are using that will be everyones personal opinion and also what you can afford because there are different quality salt mixes with higher amounts of trace elements then others. I use two kinds...For my reef tank I use Tropic Marin "Pro Reef" which is a little more expensive but a great quality salt mix and Tropic Marin also has less expensive versions then the Pro Reef which are also good. Then in my FOWLR I use Oceanic which is not the best and not the worst but a FOWLR is less demanding then a reef so I am able to get away with it and save a little $$. I did use Oceanic in my reef for the first few years I started and switched to Tropic Marin and my corals are very happy with all the extra nutrients in the water. You can always add trace elements as well.

I like to do a 15% water change once a week and every once in a while a 20%. You can get away with doing less water changes if you have a good skimmer.

Blennies are a great fish in a small reef system, they are hardy and they eat some algae and fun to watch. Another non aggressive reef safe fish you can get is a fairy wrasse or clown, Clowns can be aggressive but usually towards other damsels and clown fish, and a pair will sometimes fight when the female picks on the male. Ocellaris clowns are less aggressive then Perculas...It is smart to only have a few fish because reefs will do better with less fish to pollute the water.

Mushrooms do well in low to moderate lighting, if that is all you plan on getting then you don't have to get very powerful lights which wont heat up the tank as much and use less electrcity.

You are on the right track
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