i'm new here and i have some questions
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i'm new here and i have some questions

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i'm new here and i have some questions
Old 04-02-2008, 09:55 PM   #1
 
i'm new here and i have some questions

hey, this is my first post and i'm thinking about setting up a saltwater tank and i have a few questions so if someone could answer them the best they can it would be greatly appreciated.

1. this is probably the most asked question by beginners but, how do you convert freshwater to saltwater?

2. what kind of water should i use (tap or bottle)?

3. out of the tanks i have, which would be better for a first timer. i have a 10 gal. and a 20 gal. long

4. what preparations are needed?

5. what equipment is necessary? (ex. what kind of lighting, lid, stuff in the tank, etc...)

6. is it ok to have these kinds of fish in the same tank; clownfish, blue tang, yellow tang, cleaner shrimp, starfish, moorish idol (most of you can probably see that i'm naming the fish from finding nemo) so all the fish in the tank gang but adding dory and excluding bloat

7. are live plants necessary? can i use fake plants, coral, anemone, etc...?

thats about all the questions i can think of right now. if i think of more then i'll post them or just edit this post.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:12 PM   #2
 
Re: i'm new here and i have some questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by bndoarn
hey, this is my first post and i'm thinking about setting up a saltwater tank and i have a few questions so if someone could answer them the best they can it would be greatly appreciated.

1. this is probably the most asked question by beginners but, how do you convert freshwater to saltwater?

2. what kind of water should i use (tap or bottle)?

3. out of the tanks i have, which would be better for a first timer. i have a 10 gal. and a 20 gal. long

4. what preparations are needed?

5. what equipment is necessary? (ex. what kind of lighting, lid, stuff in the tank, etc...)

6. is it ok to have these kinds of fish in the same tank; clownfish, blue tang, yellow tang, cleaner shrimp, starfish, moorish idol (most of you can probably see that i'm naming the fish from finding nemo) so all the fish in the tank gang but adding dory and excluding bloat

7. are live plants necessary? can i use fake plants, coral, anemone, etc...?

thats about all the questions i can think of right now. if i think of more then i'll post them or just edit this post.
Welcome to the forum. :)

Now for your questions:

1) A few things you need to look at for Saltwater is Water movement, proper lighting, water salinity level, type of water, and filtration. It is a lot to think about. As you know, the ocean never stops moving, so a good current in the tank is needed. This is solved with a powerhead (or two, or three+). Lighting is the most important thing for Reef. In FO or FOWLR (Fish Only/Fish only with live rock), it isnt so important. The salinity level needs to be a certain range, while the Specific gravity being 1.021-1.025. Filtration is also very important, because you need to have certain things that FW doesn't require (Protein Skimmer, Cheato/Algea, rock, floss, etc).

2) Neither Tap or Bottled. You want RO/DI water (Reverse Osmosis/De-
Ionized Water). Tap/Bottled water contains unwanted phosphates which can cause huge algea outbreaks. You can get RO/DI water from your fish store, or buy a diffuser.

3) 20G long. This opens up more variety, and more room for error.

4) Preperations? Like salt, live rock and sand?

5)Equipment:
-Powerhead; stimulates water movement
-Lighting; this all depends on what system you are running (Reef, FO, FOWLR). Reef should have at least 4 watts per gallon. The more the better.
-Glass/Acrylic Lid: Helps stop evaporation.
-Sump/Refugium/Fuge Filter: Helps a ton with filtration. Your second source of filtratino after Live rock. A good hang-on-back filter, like an Aquaclear 110, can be converted into a fuge (which is basically a seperate container which flows clean water back in the tank, and you can grow beneficial copepods and bacteria.
-Live rock/sand: Your most vital source of filtration.
-Heater: Most tanks need a temperature between 78-82 degrees.
-Refractometer: Measures specific gravity and salinity levels.

6) Yes, but absolutley not in this tank. Tangs should have 75 gallons minimum. A pair of clownfish can work, but add them at the same time. Cleaner Shrimp; yes. Starfish; only brittle stars, or some safe stars. Morish Idol: very bad choice. These are not hardy at all. You also will need a clean-up-crew, which would consist of hermit crabs, snails, and brittle stars (actually there is a lot, but those are the main ones). They do what the name says; clean-up everything unwanted.

7) No, but Live rock and sand helps immensly. This is your main source of filtration. You can, however, buy fake rock with a few pieces of live rock, and it will seed the "dead" rock. Fake corals look very tacky in my opinion. Go with either live corals (if you have everything in line), or none.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:29 PM   #3
 
I have notified one of our forum members to answer your post. She will be on later to leave her input. Dawn(bettababy) is very well versed in saltwater to the point that I am going to use her as my mentor when I set up my salt tank. It's unbelievable to many that with all of the tanks I have I have no salt tanks. Oh, well. She will be along shortly.

In the meantime, I suggest that you take a look at these links:

http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=1802

http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=13263
herefishy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2008, 10:33 PM   #4
 
thanks cody for the fast answers. i'm gonna have to look into gettin all the necessary equipment. also by preparations i meant how should i clean it before i get started. it's been sitting in my garage for over a year and there's no telling whats all been in it. is it ok to uses bleach to clean it out as long at it is thoroughly rinsed afterwards? (sorry, i should've been more clear in my original post), and how about this revision of the fish for the tank: 2 clownfish, 1 blue tang, 1 yellow tang, 1 starfish, 1 cleaner shrimp, and the cleaning crew with hermit crabs and snails. also where can i get live coral? is it sold at petsmart cause thats the closest pet store to me?
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:38 PM   #5
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by herefishy
I have notified one of our forum members to answer your post. She will be on later to leave her input. Dawn(bettababy) is very well versed in saltwater to the point that I am going to use her as my mentor when I set up my salt tank. It's unbelievable to many that with all of the tanks I have I have no salt tanks. Oh, well. She will be along shortly.

In the meantime, I suggest that you take a look at these links:

http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=1802

http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=13263
thanks, the more help the better. i just hope i can maintain s/w tank. i've always wanted one
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:05 PM   #6
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bndoarn
thanks cody for the fast answers. i'm gonna have to look into gettin all the necessary equipment. also by preparations i meant how should i clean it before i get started. it's been sitting in my garage for over a year and there's no telling whats all been in it. is it ok to uses bleach to clean it out as long at it is thoroughly rinsed afterwards? (sorry, i should've been more clear in my original post), and how about this revision of the fish for the tank: 2 clownfish, 1 blue tang, 1 yellow tang, 1 starfish, 1 cleaner shrimp, and the cleaning crew with hermit crabs and snails. also where can i get live coral? is it sold at petsmart cause thats the closest pet store to me?
You can clean it out with bleach, but you have to have it in a certain solution (like 10% bleach). A member should verify that.

No tangs in a 20G. They need way more space. You can do a pair of clowns (with a star, CUC, shrimp) and maybe another small fish max. Look into gobies, some wrasses, Pseudochromis, and Royal Gramma.

Live coral should be found at any local saltwater fish store near you.

I doubt Petsmart carries anything saltwater. Look for local "mom and pop" stores.

Also, as Herefishy said, Dawn (Bettababy) is highly knowledgable in this subject. She should be able to clear up anything that any other members cant answer.
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:48 PM   #7
 
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Re: i'm new here and i have some questions

I'm going to answer your questions in bold so they are easier to read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bndoarn
hey, this is my first post and i'm thinking about setting up a saltwater tank and i have a few questions so if someone could answer them the best they can it would be greatly appreciated.

1. this is probably the most asked question by beginners but, how do you convert freshwater to saltwater?

I'll answer your specific questions and then get into more detail about this at the end.

2. what kind of water should i use (tap or bottle)?

Cody is correct with stating that the best water to use is RO or DI water. I will warn about using RO water that comes from a grocery store, though. RO is a filtration method, and requires that filters be changed frequently. Grocery stores are not good at keeping these filters changed in a timely manner to make this water safe for a marine tank.
Cody is also correct in saying that phosphates is the biggest issue with other water sources. However, what Cody didn't mention is that saltwater needs to be premixed in another container/vat, and it isn't really that much more work to hook up a good filter to this vat and run a phosphate remover in that filter. Beyond basic setup, salt can NOT be added directly to the tank. The premixing period should take at least 48 hrs, to be sure all salt is dissolved and that salinity is stable at the proper level. Over time you will learn how much is needed to get the salinity just where you want/need it.


3. out of the tanks i have, which would be better for a first timer. i have a 10 gal. and a 20 gal. long

I agree with Cody... the bigger the better when dealing with a marine tank. The larger the tank the more stable it will be, the easier it will be to maintain, and the more you will fit into it.

4. what preparations are needed?

After reading your last post, bleach water would be the cleanser of choice for what you need. Wash it good with a solution of 1/2 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Rinse really really well, then let it AIR DRY for 72 hrs or more. Once completely dry, rinse again, really really well, and again air dry for 72 hrs. Continue rinsing and drying until all odor of bleach is gone.
Beyond cleaning the tank, there are other things to do in prep. Start researching the animals you wish to keep. We can help you here, but that won't compensate for reading scientific based articles about the animals you wish to keep. It's easier to set up a tank for something specific than to set it up generalized and try to find something safe to put in it.
There is equipment you will need to purchase, and there is no way around these:
hydrometer or refractometer
heater
filter
test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, kh, and calcium.... and yes, you will need ALL of these tests and you will need them from the very first day.
live sand
salt mix
live rock
thermometer
power head (looking for a gph of 200 - 250... this is your flow rate, and again, not negotiable... not enough current will cause many issues once the tank is set up)

And... a hefty bank account. Be prepared, saltwater is not cheap to start, it's not cheap to maintain, and it's extremely expensive to screw up!



5. what equipment is necessary? (ex. what kind of lighting, lid, stuff in the tank, etc...)

If you consider the sump system that Cody suggested, add a protein skimmer to the tank. This is going to be your safest and easiest form of filtration (the sump), but it isn't the only one possible. You can work witih a hang on filter, or combination of hang on filters. I would suggest the Skilter or a similar hangon filter with skimmer combined. You could also work with a canister filter. Filstar makes a good one, Eheim makes the best (but it's not cheap) and the Cascade can work just fine, also. If considering a canister filter, expect to use one large enough to filter 55 - 75 gallons. This will increase your flow rate, increase your level of filtration, and provide more room for proper media. Spray bars can be cut down in size to fit provided the end cap is removed first, and reinserted after cutting.
I am currently running an Eheim 3312 on a 20 Long tank and it isn't proving to be enough. Unfortunately, for such a small tank there isn't really a skimmer that works decent, so organics at the surface become a problem. With a larger and stronger canister filter you can position the spraybar at the water's surface to help prevent as bad of an issue with surface proteins.

One other nice comment about the sump system... if set up properly, it can also house your heater, which means a bit more space and less eyesore in the tank itself.

I won't suggest the Aquaclear refugium idea that Cody suggested. This would require a clip on light, and for a filter that size, isn't going to be as much benefit as if it was a large filter on a larger tank. However you set it up, a 20 long marine tank is going to be work.


6. is it ok to have these kinds of fish in the same tank; clownfish, blue tang, yellow tang, cleaner shrimp, starfish, moorish idol (most of you can probably see that i'm naming the fish from finding nemo) so all the fish in the tank gang but adding dory and excluding bloat

All of those fish are compatible, but to keep them you will need about 200 gallons. You're a zero short. All except the moorish idol. I agree here, nix that idea. 1 moorish idol will need about 400 gallons just by itself. They get absolutely huge and even expert fish keepers have not had much success in keeping them alive long term. They stress very easy and are one of the most difficult fishes to feed. Their main diet is comprised of algae, corals, sponges, etc... and the stress of moving them will usually cause them to stop eating. The stores where you see them for sale, chances are they haven't eaten since getting there, and will die soon after you take it home. Most stores kill more than they sell, and they are in the stores for such a short time, it's hard to track the kill rates. Please don't encourage the sale of these animals by purchasing something you could never keep in a 20 gallon tank anyways.

When figuring out what fish you can have in that tank... do your research, look for adult sizes of these animals. 1 - 2 fish of 5 inches or less (anf they must be compatible), 1 - 2 shrimp (of same species in a tank that size) and basic clean up crew... then whatever corals you wish to add. Please also be forewarned, you will not find much for options of anemone that will stay in a 20 gallon tank beyond a month or 2, and you won't find any that are safe enough to mix into a 20 gallon tank containing corals. Maybe a long tentacle plate coral or a torch coral would be more of an option. They have the long tentacles like an anemone, clownfish are known to use them in place of an anemone, and you could keep them longer term in a 20 gallon tank provided the tank is healthy and appropriate for them.


7. are live plants necessary? can i use fake plants, coral, anemone, etc...?

Live plants in saltwater are not the easiest things to keep. Most of the standardly available forms of macro algae, aka caulerpa, need a good nutrient level and good lighting, and will harm corals by smothering them and blocking out their light source. You can work with silk, resin, etc.. but I would avoid plastic plants. The plastic used to make aquarium plants is not very durable, and most especially in saltwater. Plastic is known to break apart over a course of a few months, and these pieces commonly clog filtration intakes, and can be unsighltly and difficult to remove from the tank. They get very brittle.

Your primary decoration should be live rock. In a 20 long you'll want as close to 20+ lbs of live rock as you can fit into the tank. The fish will need extreme amounts of territory and the live rock is 1/3 of your filtration. The other 2/3's are the filter and the live sand.



thats about all the questions i can think of right now. if i think of more then i'll post them or just edit this post.
I hope I was able to answer your questions enough to help. Please ask more if you need to.

If you decide to go through with this, there are some basic steps you can follow to get you set up. I've managed to break it down into a 10 step program for easy understanding, but please be advised... the steps must be done in order. If you add sand or rock before salt, you're done for and just wasted a lot of time and money... meaning you'll be needing to buy new sand and rock... etc...

1. Set up tank and filtration (for reef, you'll really need a skimmer, too)

2. Fill with water, add water conditioner if using tap water.

3. Test water for pH, phosphate, and calcium before you add salt.

4. Add power heads (in 20 gallons you should have 1 - 2 for proper circulation) and salt. Wait 48 hrs.

5. Test spg/salinity, adjust with salt or freshwater as needed until you are within a range of 1.023 - 1.025. Add heater at this time. Wait 24 hrs, test spg/salinity again.

6. Continue witih adjustments until tank has remained at a stable salinity for 72 hrs minimum before doing anything more.

7. Add live rock first, then live sand. This method helps to anchor the base pieces of rock for sturdy structures. Sturdy is a must because many fish and inverts dig and burrow in the sandbed, and because corals can grow in many directions, and an unsturdy rock structure will send them tumbling, which could kill them and anything they might land on and crush.

8. Wait 24 - 48 hrs, then test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and calcium.

9. Sit back and patiently watch it cycle. This will average about 6 - 8 wks, each tank is different.

10. Test every few days to keep track of cycling. Water changes shouldn't be needed during this time, but if your live rock goes through a heavy stage of die off, ammonia can get quite high... which would leave your cycle ending with a nitrate level that is off the charts and lethal to your animals. If ammonia spikes above 1.0, do a small... 10% water change with premixed saltwater. Wait 24 hrs, then test again. This will prevent your cycle from being so harsh which will also prolong it. The live rock and live sand will do the cycling, please do not use fish.

I hope this helps.... let us know if there's more we can help you with!
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:44 AM   #8
 
thanks for all the great help bettababy. i'm gonna have to work on getting all of that stuff (and the money). this tank probably won't get started until the summer when i get a job. so far the only thing i have is a tank. also if i do get a new tank which size should i get? would a 20H be better than a 20L? and just one more question, is more bubbles better? i have a airstone if i need to use it.
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Old 04-03-2008, 11:57 AM   #9
 
This I can answer. The 20g long would be a better choice, for a number of reason. None is more important than the fact that it has a greater surface area allowing for more oxygen transfer. Add to that the fact that is not as tall and allows for more usable light to reach the bottom of the tank. Less diffraction. See, I am learning. lol

As for asthetics, a longer tank allows for a wider diorama. A longer "picture", kind of like a widescreen TV.
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Old 04-03-2008, 01:23 PM   #10
 
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Great answer herefishy, I'm going to add to it. A longer tank also allows for more area in the tank, which means more room for animals. Area means territory!! Corals can't go too close to each other, so the longer tank allows more room for keeping them spaced away from each other.

As for air stone.... I don't like them in saltwater because they cause a lot more salt creep.
Ok, here we go... a few things you'll also need to know before getting started... Everyone who owns a marine tank deal with salt creep, to some extent or other. Water evaporates, salt does not. When you have water spray, splashing, condensation, etc with a marine tank, the water dries and leaves salt crystals behind. This will greatly affect your salinity level if not kept under control, and if the tank water isn't tested for salinity anytime water goes in or comes out. You can minimize salt creep by keeping things covered wherever possible, and by doing a daily wipe down of your tank and equip.

Now, the most important part beyond set up.... quarantine tank!
Anyone keeping a reef tank will need a quarantine tank for sure... anyone bringing home a new fish from the pet store or ordering them from online, needs a quarantine tank. This can make or break your tank right from the start.
Any fish you bring home should spend 2 - 3 wks in a quarantine tank before going into the main tank. The majority of marine fish are still being wild caught, which brings in many many disease and parasite issues. If in a quarantine tank, you will have the chance to make sure the fish is healthy before adding it to a tank full of corals, inverts, other fish. Fish diseases and parasites tend to be highly contageous, and the medications to treat them are not safe for any invert... corals, shrimps, starfish, urchins, snails, etc. Some parasites, such as ich... will run a specific life cycle. With corals and other inverts in a tank, the only way to be rid of the parasite is to remove anything that would be a host for them... so all live fish should be put into quarantine. The fish can be safely treated in quarantine and then remain there until the main tank is parasite free. The only way to make a reef tank ich free is to let it run out its life cycle without a host to feed on. This takes a period of weeks.

Corals can also bring disease and parasite issues into a tank, so a coral quarantine is also a good idea. Neither qt tank needs to be real large... expect it to hold partial of what's in the main tank... and it can be set up rather quickly using the main tank supplies in an emergency. A quarantine tank should be bare bottom or almost bare bottom (a handful of live sand from the main tank can help keep it cycled when not in use for fish), a few small pieces of live rock, some shelter for the fish to hide, a heater, and a sponge filter.

Hope this helps...
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