first saltwater tank (noob) - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-28-2009, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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first saltwater tank (noob)

the story goes that i've always wanted to put together a salt water tank. I was always reluctant after looking at prices and equipment at petsmart and petco. Recentally i was given an acrylic 50 gallon(or so) tank with canopy and stand...very nice piece of furniture. Since I already have a 55 gallon freshwater tank with 2 fish and 2 turtles, I did not want to do with freshwater again. I am attaching pictures of everything that I had gotten for free. I know a lot of this stuff will not work for saltwater, but some backup to my own thoughts would help. I spent my entire day yesterday (literally like 8hrs) on this forum reading. I am in no hurry to get things rolling, My current funds wont allow me anyways.

I am thinking my best bet is to start with water and live sand. I plan on ordering 160lbs of dry sand from (i have a 40 gallon long tank im setting up with land hermit crabs for my son, so some sand wil be for that) as well as 25lbs of live sand from my LFS. They also sell live rock there, but its 6.99 a pound. I would like to add maybe 100-150 lbs of rock to the tank as well (on top of the 150lbs or so of sand) I figured i would buy the minimum amount of live rock possible and get the rest dry. Like i said i am in no hurry at all to complete this project.

Now i have water in this tank already, i had assumed i could treat it mcuh like a freshwater tank (i know this is not true) my LFS sells water for cheap, probably going to start with that until i buy a RO/DI setup. I also have been running the powerheads, like i said they are used and i want to make sure they are working well in the tank. they are aquaclear50 (402) powerheads 270gph.

There is also some dry rock that came with it, looks mainly like some solid pieces (non-porous) and some hard coral pieces.

I would like to do a reef tank eventually. I understand one of the biggest cost with this is the lighting systems. I have a flourscent shop light that fits on top, would full spectrum bulbs be sufficient for this tank UNTIL i decide to put live coral in?

I also would like to incorportate a refug and a sump. I was thinking a 30gallon tank would fit nicely under the stand, or maybe even a 10 gallon and a 30 gallon.(if thats possible)

One thing i am worried about it having the bacteria die off or possibly having the tank not be cycled properly, if i get my sand and rock in the tanks (no filtration, just powerheads) and the tank cycles....lets say i dont do anything with the tank for 6 months (other than just having the rock and sand) will that hurt anything, should i put some food in the tank for the bacteria to feed on...or even a crab or two. I dont want to buy the cheapest stuff i can find just to get this running...i'd like to do it right the first time (with the exception of the lighting, i would like to upgrade that when i decide to add coral)

Another thing, as far as the sump goes, would it be beneficial for drill the bottom of the tank out to run piping, over having an elbow siphon the water out. And this tank is not "reef ready" but i can certainly attach arylic panels in the corners to accomplish long as there is a benefit to it...

I have an electric heater for the tank too, looks like it was for a freshwater...would this be sufficient to start with?

the main thing i would like to start with is "making" my live rock and sand, based on purchasing a minimal amount of "live" sand and rock. Which will take time from what i understand, which is what i have. so i guess what im asking is, would the power heads, flourscent full spectrum bulbs, premade water, sand and rock be sufficient to accomplish this? and maybe a crab or two once it has cycled.

thanks again for taking the time to read all of this, i know i rambled on about a few things..i suppose im anxious to be learning something new and taking on a new adventure.

the pictures:
Out of all those rocks, it seems like there is only one that will work well, im assuming the solid rocks will only hinder the filtration process.

I dont think there is any use in saltwater for that "waterfall" style fresh water filter, is there

The tank came with gravel, im also assuming this has no purpose in saltwater, i would like to do a deep sand bed.

The last two are pics of my freshwater setup and a closeup of one of my turtles and my Red Belly Pacu
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-28-2009, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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my checklist to get so far:
25lbs Live Sand
125lbs Dry Sand
100lbs of Dry rock
25-50lbs Live rock

RO/DI System ( AQUA REEF RO DI REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM - eBay (item 380141380903 end time Jul-27-09 21:04:10 PDT) ) (eventually)
48" Current USA Nova Extreme T5 HO 8x54watt with Lunar Lights (once i start to add coral)

any comments or recommendations would be apperciated...

i also dont know what kind of protein skimmer to get, ive read about a few different kinds.
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-28-2009, 08:42 PM
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I really like your plan. I agree with the majority of the decisions you have made up to now.

On the subject of rock, the only rock I would use is the large Tufa rock with the 2 holes, in picture #7.

I think you will find the experience with Maro Rocks to be very positive. I personally like the Fiji dry rock the best, but the Key Largo dry rock was nice as well. I think the Fiji became "live" faster and is showing better coraline algae growth at this point, a short 4 months after purchase. I used a similar amount of dry rock to live rock ratio as you are discussing. You can see this rock on my 180 build thread in the "Pictures and Video" area of this website.

For a skimmer, I currently use an ASM G3 on my 180 and I would be very willing to use another ASM skimmer. I have been pleased. You could use the ASM G1, or even G2 on a 55 gallon. The G2 would give you great piece of mind and handle almost any type of marine system you want for your tank.

On the subject of rock again, I think you are overestimating the amount of dry rock that you need. For a 55 gallon tank, you could use 25 pounds live and 75 pounds dry rock. Anything beyond that might start to overfill the swimming space in your tank. This assumes you are ordering Fiji rock. If you go with Key Largo, you may want 25 pounds more, as it seems to be a bit heavier.

Finally, you do not mention anything about a quarantine tank. Don't skip this step. You NEED a Q tank. A 10 or 20 gallon would work very well for you.
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-28-2009, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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thanks a lot for the reply, i had figured that would be the only rock out of the bunch that id be able to use. On marcorocks website they state that importing of fiji rock has been banned. Does this mean i should make a rock purchase asap before I am unable to? I was only mainly looking at the keylargo rock because of the package with the sand. Would there be any harm in mixing the different types of rock? Im assuming the Fiji rock is more pourous thus works better at filtering.

As far as a quarantine tank i plan on researching that now that you mentioned it, but what all would be needed for that? basically another saltwater tank setup but on a smaller scale?
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