Originally Posted by aunt kymmie
Informative post, Pasfur. I'd been toying w/ the idea of setting up some type of S/W system and had all but given up on it. Too much money, too difficult, etc. Then I read this post and I'm back on the see-saw...getting dizzy. Why can't I just make up my mind already??
If you just want to get your feet wet, i suggest a 10 gallon invert with single fish and live rock tank. In a nutshell:
10 gallon aquarium, 1'' aragonite sand, 6 - 8 lbs of live rock, and a hang on filter. The hang on can be a spare freshwater unit. You are using it for water movement and activated carbon only.
If you have 2 light strips from a FW system that you can use, then great. If not, then consider purchasing an extra strip light. Use 1 full spectrum bulb and one actenic blue. You want these placed OPEN TOP on the aquarium. No glass lid.
This step is very important. You need to get a handfull of "rubble" from the bottom of the live rock bin at the LFS. The bottom of these bins has a ton of life. You just want a handful of the crushed up disguisting sandy rubble at the bottom of the vat. Ask for it and they will give it to you for free.
The goal of this system is not beauty. The goal is to observe interesting life. I would add 3 blue leg hermit crabs, 1 Turbo Snail, 2 nassarius snails, and 1 fish. The fish needs to be small, obviously. I would suggest a Blue Damsel. Only 1 fish allowed. Don't break this rule.
When you clean, don't worry much about algae growth. Just keep the front glass clean. In fact, you WANT algae growth in this tank. It will provide a safe haven for life to develop.
Then just sit back and watch. Within 3 months there will be life growing that hitchhiked in on the live rock. Copepods, amphipods, small starfish, etc. This tank will be awesome fun. The only maintainance is a 2 gallon water change every other week and DAILY evaporation replacement.