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New to Saltwater

This is a discussion on New to Saltwater within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> So Hubby & I recently acquired a 55gal tank full setup for Freshwater fish. BUT a friend of mine offered to give me all ...

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Old 12-19-2010, 02:30 PM   #1
 
Question New to Saltwater

So Hubby & I recently acquired a 55gal tank full setup for Freshwater fish. BUT a friend of mine offered to give me all his old saltwater equipment for the tank he has everything i would need for a new setup except water.

I have not a clue how to take care of a Saltwater tank. He says he can help and go through it all with us and teach us what we need to know.

Now My question is what am I going to get myself into?
Is it better for me to stick with freshwater or should I take the leap and learn all i can about salt or stick with what I already know. How much work exactly is a salt water. I always heard stories of how hard it is to take care of saltwater tanks which is why I was never really interested.

Then my husband suggested we start small and turn our 30 gallon into a saltwater. just transfer all the fresh over to the 55 gal.
Is it easier to take care of a Small saltwater tank or better to go large?

Thanks everyone!
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Old 12-19-2010, 02:50 PM   #2
 
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from what I have bean reading it's easy the bigger the tank for salt but I am only new to all fish keeping.

welcome to the forum Rae.
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Old 12-20-2010, 04:57 PM   #3
 
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It will be far easier to have a successful 55 gallon tank than a 30 gallon tank. Plus, the overall costs won't be much different. In terms of time, I spend far more time caring for my freshwater tanks than my saltwater tanks. Hauling buckets around, etc.... freshwater is a pain in the back.-) A properly set up saltwater tank requires more time LEARNING and less time WORKING.

So, the question is, are you the type of person who will enjoy the challenge and take the time to learn? Or would you prefer quick gratification and a tank full of thriving fish within 6 weeks? To me, the choice is obvious, but everyone gets into this hobby for different reasons.

Before you make the decision, I would encourage you to post pictures of the equipment your friend has given you. I've seen hundreds of "saltwater" setups that were doomed from the beginning due to the types of equipment that were chosen.
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:47 PM   #4
 
thanks everyone!!! :)
he is also giving me Live Rock with the equipment which I have read helps with filtering. We would like a few plant life or coral eventually but mostly fish. Nothing too crazy we would like to stay on the lower end of the price scale on fish. Damsels and clown fish and whatever else is friendly. I want all community fish No aggressive even if they are super pretty. That is why i stayed away from Chiclids I like happy fish LOL

Now I have another question since we were discussing this last night. We will most likely be moving within the next year. How hard will it be to take down move and reset back up. We will be staying within our city so it wont be a huge move.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:25 AM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaeRae84 View Post
thanks everyone!!! :)
he is also giving me Live Rock with the equipment which I have read helps with filtering. We would like a few plant life or coral eventually but mostly fish. Nothing too crazy we would like to stay on the lower end of the price scale on fish. Damsels and clown fish and whatever else is friendly. I want all community fish No aggressive even if they are super pretty. That is why i stayed away from Chiclids I like happy fish LOL
This is the biggest challenge for a freshwater person trying to tackle saltwater. Everything you have learned has to be forgotten because nothing is the same. There are no friendly or community fish in the marine hobby. Every fish is highly territorial of certain areas within the tank, and your job is to mix these territorial fish into a community. In freshwater behavior is driven by breeding behavior. In the saltwater aquarium, fish behavior is driven by feeding behavior. What feeding territories do they control in nature and how do they interact with other fish that may or may not have the same dietary tastes.

The equipment is a similar challenge. We don't actually filter saltwater tanks. Instead of removing waste with mechanical filters and breaking the organic waste down into nitrate, we use methods that remove the waste directly (protein skimmers) and live rock to biologically process the waste into nitrogen gas, which leaves the system naturally. The long term concern is maintaining the relationship between alkalinity and calcium, not so much pH and nitrate. Everything we do is different.

Both sides of the hobby are equally difficult in my experience. Both require similar amounts of time, but the saltwater hobbyist will spend their time testing water and adding chemicals, where the freshwater hobbyists spends more time draining water and carrying buckets.

Quote:
Now I have another question since we were discussing this last night. We will most likely be moving within the next year. How hard will it be to take down move and reset back up. We will be staying within our city so it wont be a huge move.
A saltwater tank won't be any more difficult to move than freshwater, and in some ways can be easier because live rock provides the life support to your fish. You can just drain water into a storage tote, add the live rock and fish, then use a small power head for circulation. This serves as a temporary home to the fish during your move.

I actually have a thread on here somewhere that documents the move of my 38 reef, upgrading into a 54 bowfront at my new home. I will see if I can find the thread.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:41 AM   #6
 
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I couldn't find the thread. But I just move the fish in buckets:



And keep the live rock covered with wet newspaper, place it into a tote or cooler for transport:



Other live rock can be use to sustain a temporary aquarium environment, just by filling a tote with water and adding a water pump.

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Old 12-21-2010, 10:43 PM   #7
 
This is awesome! thanks so much!

Ok so he stopped by tonight to drop everything off. Since Mike & I decided we want to turn the 30gal into the saltwater instead of the 55gal we didnt set anything up except a filter for the 55gal. So I have to setup the 55 and move my fish from the 30gal too the 55 (fun fun fun)
But here is a list of what I've got:
Tons of live rock, and crushed coral
a Protein Skimmer ( the Sea Clone 100 by Instant Ocean)
H.O.T. Magnum Bio-Pro System by Marine land (he also had a Canister Filter Magnum 350 by Marineland but we set that up for the fresh water tanks since it was larger)
Various heaters, chemicals, testing kit, this glass thermometer thing I forget what he called it >_<

But I've got lots of goodies :) Now I just have to learn how to set them up and use them! ;)
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:35 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaeRae84 View Post
Mike & I decided we want to turn the 30gal into the saltwater instead of the 55gal
This turns out to be a good decision, based on the equipment you have listed below.

Quote:
Tons of live rock, and crushed coral
Is the live rock still wet?

My first suggestion for you will be to not use the crushed coral. The grain size of crushed coral is to large to house beneficial denitrifying bacteria and results in detritus accumulation in the substrate. You would really be far better off to replace the crushed coral with a reef grade aragonite sand. It does not have to be live sand, just reef grade aragonite. You want a depth of less than 1'' or between 4'' and 6''. You do not want a depth between 1'' and 4''.

Quote:
a Protein Skimmer ( the Sea Clone 100 by Instant Ocean)
Not the greatest skimmer, but far better than many inexpensive skimmers. It will get the job done, assuming you don't skip on many other steps.

Quote:
H.O.T. Magnum Bio-Pro System by Marine land (he also had a Canister Filter Magnum 350 by Marineland but we set that up for the fresh water tanks since it was larger)
The HOT Magnum Bio-Pro is a freshwater filter. This filter has ZERO use on a marine aquarium environment. Regardless of anything it advertises or EVEN IF your friend was using it, this filter will cause water quality to WORSEN in a marine setup. Why? (good question)

The unit is designed to break down harmful ammonia and nitrite with an end product of nitrate. In freshwater this is great, because Nitrate is relatively harmless easily removed with water changes. In a marine aquarium, we are aiming for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to all be ZERO. You should not use any filter that will intentionally increase Nitrates.

Fortunately for you, the live rock and protein skimmer are all of the life support system you will want or need. Just remove the magnum completely and use it on another freshwater system.

I can not state how important it is that you follow this suggestion. This single decision will make or break your chances of success with a marine tank.

I have thrown a lot at you leaving out some explanations. I suggest you visit our Reference Library for some further details.

Filtration and Water Chemistry Reference Library
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Old 12-22-2010, 03:23 PM   #9
 
The live rock is not wet. He said it should still work if I just add a piece of live rock it will spread.
I wanted to use sand anyway. Is it oke to put crush coral and sand in there for looks at least?

So as long as I have live rock and the protwin skimmer I don't need a filter? I am reading up since I have some time before i even begin to setup the Salt tank since I just got my 55gal set up and cycling.

I appreciate all the help you have given me so far. Its nice to hear info from experienced people along with reading since i know some literature can be misleading at times.
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:56 PM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaeRae84 View Post
I appreciate all the help you have given me so far. Its nice to hear info from experienced people along with reading since i know some literature can be misleading at times.
This is a real challenge in this hobby. Every word you read and hear from the LFS should be treated like you are buying a used car. They may be giving you great advice, but you better double check it first to make sure you aren't just getting a sales pitch. The hobby is very commercialized and far to many people have their own agenda. Here on the forum, you don't have any of that to be concerned with. The admin are the owners of the site and the rest of us are just here because we enjoy the hobby and want to see others be successful.

You can mix the crushed coral with the sand. Keep in mind, you want a "Reef Grade" aragonite sand. It isn't actually sand, but is a very small grade of aragonite. The grains are much larger than grains of sand, but not 1/3 the size of a typical crushed coral pebble. Again, shoot for 4'' depth. If your depth is 3'', don't just leave well enough alone. It is very important to get to the proper depth for denitrification.

I would encourage you to get the live rock, sand, and water in the tank as quickly as possible. For a 30 gallon tank, adding about 8 pounds of live rock will be sufficient to "seed" this old dry live rock. Be extremely patience going this route, as the longer you allow this tank to mature in the early stages, the less problems you will have 9 to 12 months from now.
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