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This is a discussion on Questions within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> I had a few questions about the world of saltwater, and I thought I'd ask them all in the same thread. -Does the need ...

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Old 07-10-2008, 03:26 PM   #1
 
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Questions

I had a few questions about the world of saltwater, and I thought I'd ask them all in the same thread.
-Does the need to replace test kits form one of the big costs of a saltwater system? I wanted to know so I don't go out and buy an expensive master test and have to replace it every few months.
-Do you know of any tank mates for a damselfish, that can be kept in a 20 gallon?
-Will dead coral skeletons become live rock?
-Is this all of the equipment needed for a fish only system?:
*Tank
*HOB filter
*powerhead
*rock
*live sand
*light
*hood
*heater
*thermometer
*hospital tank/Q tank setup
*test kits for ph, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate
-Does live sand contain calcium carbonate? Should I add crushed coral/aragonite too?

Sorry to ask so many questions at once, but I don't want to just jump right into a saltwater setup.
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Old 07-10-2008, 05:48 PM   #2
 
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Also, can pumice be used in a saltwater aquarium?
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:19 PM   #3
 
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Re: Questions

You will only need to replace pH, Alkalinity, Calcium, and Nitrate kits, as a rule. Probably every 6 months or so.

As a rule it is a bad idea to keep any other fish with Damsels, especially in a small aquarium. However, i would personally feel comfortable keeping a Yellow Tail Damsel with a Clownfish or Dottyback.

Your dead coral skeletons will not become live rock.

Every marine aquarium needs a protein skimmer. They are not option. Your hang on filter really serves as a place to run activated carbon and merchanical filtration. Do not use ANY biological filtration, other than live rock and sand.

You want to use aragonite sand only, at a minimum of 3'' depth, preferably 4''.
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:16 PM   #4
 
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Okay, so I will pick up some aragonite for substrate base, and I will get atleast 10 lbs of live sand for biological filtration.

As for the skimmer, I am thinking of getting this one: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...6&pcatid=14676
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:27 PM   #5
 
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Re: Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur
Your dead coral skeletons will not become live rock.
I have to disagree with this statement. Since some of the live rock you buy in stores is actually comprised of coral skeleton, It would make sense that, providing the coral skeleton is porous, in time, the skeleton would become home to the same organisms and bacterias that occupy your live rock. add to that a nice heavy coating of Coralline algae, and you have, for all intents and purposes, a chunk of live rock.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur
Every marine aquarium needs a protein skimmer. They are not option.
Again, I disagree. I have seen a number of Fish Only systems (and even a few reefs) very effectively kept without the use of a protein skimmer. In fact, we have a very reputable LFS up our way that effectively runs a 10 gallon display reef with Live Rock, a few hardy soft corals, and a pair of small clownfish, equipped only with a small HOB bio-wheel filter. This tank has been in operation for several years and never looks as though it is unhealthy. I do agree in that, as personal opinion, I would highly recommend the use of a protein skimmer. It can however, be done without one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur
You want to use aragonite sand only, at a minimum of 3'' depth, preferably 4''.
I'm curious as to the reasoning behind that statement. Would you mind providing an elaboration on that claim?
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:25 AM   #6
 
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I'd be happy to elaborate. That is what i get for answering any question in a hurry...

On the live rock issue. As the question was presented, and after rereading the original question, it appears he is setting up an aquarium with artificial corals, a biological filter, and fish. In such a setup, even with the introduction of "live sand", the corals will never attain the level of microscopic life that is achieved in an aquarium which uses true live rock. That being said, i do agree with the concept of dead corals becoming "live", provided the corals are very porous, are introduced into an aquarium with high quality live rock, and a reasonable period of time passes. Even in this type environment, the artificial corals still never achieve the level of effectiveness of true live rock. You generally will not have very deep pores which allow for the growth of low oxygen bacteria inside an artificial coral, as you do in quality live rock.

On the skimmer issue, of course it is possible to maintain a system without one. In the 1980's it was stand place to use biological filters without skimmers. Unfortunately in that time there were massive system crashes and success was virtually unattainable for all but the most dedicated hobbyists. Given the low price of skimmers on the market today, i would consider it irresponsible to recommend that a beginner attempt to keep a system without one. And in this post, we clearly have a beginning marine fishkeeper asking the question. So yes, i do believe that every marine aquarium needs a skimmer and would never consider them to be an option. In other words, possibility does not negate need.

Ok, now sand. I'm not sure i understand exactly what to elaborate on. However, when reef systems first began they were run bare bottom with no substrate. Then the hobby "discovered" that denitrification can be achieved with the use of a plenum, which was achieved by raising the sand bed off the bottom of the aquarium using egg crate and screening. In theses systems, success varied, based on the types and depth of substrate being used. Different techniques were tried and different substrates were experimented with, nearly world wide. Magazine articles and internet chat rooms and forums were dominated by the discussion of the appropriate method. In the end, the best success rate has occurred with a 3'' to 4'' layer of sand of small particle size. Manufactures responded to the need, and today almost all aragonite sand is sold of appropriate grain size to achieve this success. My aquarium is a perfect example, testing zero Nitrate with a 4'' layer of aragonite. By the way, the plenum was discarded as unnecessary, and today the sand is placed directly on the bottom. Unfortunately, the almighty dollar and budget are still a consideration, and to many hobbyists today push the limits of what is acceptable. Meaning... they only use 2'' to 3'' of sand, which is simply not efficient depth to reduce water flow into the sand and provide areas of low oxygen craving bacteria to break Nitrate down into Nitrogen Gas.

So, overall we actually agree. I think.
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:52 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish-addict
Okay, so I will pick up some aragonite for substrate base, and I will get atleast 10 lbs of live sand for biological filtration.

As for the skimmer, I am thinking of getting this one:
I'm ok with that skimmer. It is very basic, but is a low cost option and better than nothing.

I would save your money on live sand and just buy aragonite and live rock. The extra expense of live sand is not worth the money, in my opinion.
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Old 07-11-2008, 07:35 AM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur
I would save your money on live sand and just buy aragonite and live rock. The extra expense of live sand is not worth the money, in my opinion.
Motion seconded. If I might add, check your LFS, they may sell Live Sand by the pound. Ours here sells it for $3 per pound. If you can get a pound or two of live sand (real live sand from an established system) just add that into your new sand and viola! live sand. Okay, so it actually takes time for things to spread into and colonize the new sand, but it's a good start.
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:39 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish-addict
Okay, so I will pick up some aragonite for substrate base, and I will get atleast 10 lbs of live sand for biological filtration.

As for the skimmer, I am thinking of getting this one:
I'm ok with that skimmer. It is very basic, but is a low cost option and better than nothing.

I would save your money on live sand and just buy aragonite and live rock. The extra expense of live sand is not worth the money, in my opinion.
Live rock is tempting, but I am 100% against the harvest of rock from the ocean, as the ocean has a biological filter too. Soon, live rock could end up like oil and then it would become more expensive since people would have to aquaculture to sell it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SKAustin
Motion seconded. If I might add, check your LFS, they may sell Live Sand by the pound. Ours here sells it for $3 per pound. If you can get a pound or two of live sand (real live sand from an established system) just add that into your new sand and viola! live sand. Okay, so it actually takes time for things to spread into and colonize the new sand, but it's a good start.
I am going to setup the whole system that way, by using tufa rock/dead coral skeletons for rock, and getting live sand to get all that healthy bacteria that will soon grow onto the rocks.

As for the 4 inch sand bed, I am setting this tank up on a budget and I am probably just going with 20 lbs of substrate.

Oh, and I have one more question: Petsmart sells Caribsea live sand that seems to have alot of good bacteria in it, and Petco sells more expensive live sand that has lots of coralline algae on it, and other bright colors. (Caribsea=$18 per 10 lbs, Petco=$25 per 10 lbs)
Do the bright colors of Petco's live sand at all effect the amount of bacteria the sand has? Caribsea's sand seems to have all the necessary bacteria - http://caribsea.com/pages/products/ocean_direct.html
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Old 07-11-2008, 07:20 PM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish-addict
Live rock is tempting, but I am 100% against the harvest of rock from the ocean, as the ocean has a biological filter too. Soon, live rock could end up like oil and then it would become more expensive since people would have to aquaculture to sell it.

I am going to setup the whole system that way, by using tufa rock/dead coral skeletons for rock, and getting live sand to get all that healthy bacteria that will soon grow onto the rocks.

As for the 4 inch sand bed, I am setting this tank up on a budget and I am probably just going with 20 lbs of substrate.
The large majority of fish are also taken from the ocean, with the exception of a few select species. As to live rock, a large portion today is actually biocultured. Rock is placed in the ocean and then removed at a later date for the aquarium hobby. So progress is being made in that area, although we have a long way to go. The only real way to protect our reefs is threw education, which is hopefully promoted by the hobby.

I do not envision you ever having the equivalent of live rock in your aquarium, unless you are willing to add some amount of live rock to see the system. The amount of life that springs from quality live rock is amazing and impossible to understand unless you witness the day to day changes that take place.

Finally, as i mentioned, one reason marine systems often do not succeed is that hobbyists cut costs far to often. If you want to cut costs, do so by purchasing inexpensive fish. But don't get off on a bad start by skimping on the aquatic environment.
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