Wanting to start a salt water tank but know nothing.
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Wanting to start a salt water tank but know nothing.

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Wanting to start a salt water tank but know nothing.
Old 07-21-2010, 01:06 AM   #1
Question Wanting to start a salt water tank but know nothing.

I am wanting to start a salt water aquarium but I know NOTHING, when I say nothing, I mean nothing.

I have a 30 gallon freshwater tank with some guppys right now, but my plan is to make the 30 gallon a salt water and get another tank for the guppys. I have no idea where to start...

I have:

-30 gallon aquarium
-filter (whisper brand)

Can anyone help me out by telling me what else I need to set it up and get it cycled?

Should I start out with fish, fish/corral, fish/corral/live rock?

I really like the fish and this is the main reason I am doing this so I'd like to have a few at least.

How many fish can I keep in a 30 gallon?

What "starter" fish do you reccomend?

Can you make me a list of things I need to purchase (equipment, salt, chemicals, etc)

Thanks in advance!

I'd like to add I have done some research (I cant for the life of me understand most of it but..) I think I want a Clownfish and a Royal Gramma. Supposivly there hardy fish who have about the same tank requirements. I'll copy some of the information I have gathered so you can confirm if it is true.

Name: Royal Gramma
Size: 3.2 inches
Diet: Brine shrimp. plankton, mysids, krill, chopped shaell fish such as clams, scallops, and high quality pellets.
-- Tank requirments....
Gravity- 1.020-1.025
PH- 8.1-8.4
Temperatures-72-78 F
Light- Low- Medium
Additional notes- Plenty of live rock, doesn't bother reef, do not keep with pseudormod, dottyback, or basslet.

Name: Clownfish
Size: 2-5 inches
Diet: Algea, Brine shrimp. plankton, mysids, krill, chopped shaell fish such as clams, scallops,
-- Tank requirments....
Gravity- ?
PH- 8.1-8.3
Temperatures-77-83 F
Light- No special requirements

I was also wondering about sand on the bottom?.. .Which is best? What about live rock?
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:50 AM   #2
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Hi Emily94,

Congratulations on starting a saltwater aquarium! First and foremost, I would strongly advise you to keep your guppys in their current 30 gallon tank and buy as large a tank as you can afford and have room for for use as your saltwater aquarium.


I say this because the more water you have in your aquarium, the more forgiving your aquarium will be. Waste, etc., will not be as concentrated in a larger body of water, and you will likely have to do water changes less frequently as a result. You will also have more room for more fish, and a greater variety of fish, which means your aquarium may suit your needs longer than a smaller aquarium that you grow to feel isn't big enough. When we first got our 55 gallon aquarium I thought it was huge. Now I would probably purchase a 180 if I was confident it wouldn't crash through the floor of our apartment. Of course, if your intention is to keep something small like a nano then this logic doesn't apply, but if that's not your explicit intention then a larger tank would facilitate keeping your fish healthy more easily, allow you to have more and a greater variety of fish, and prevent you from tearing it all down and paying for a larger setup a year or two later.

I don't know what your budget and level of patience are, but the fastest way to get up and running is probably to use the pre-cycled saltwater sold in some LFS (local fish stores), "live sand" (which supposedly contains a lot of beneficial bacteria), and fully cured live rock. Otherwise you'll have to wait weeks for the nitrogen cycle (the process of breaking down ammonia into nitrite and then to nitrate) to complete.


As for the sand on the bottom (the "substrate"), the live sand I mentioned is said to have a lot of bacteria beneficial to the nitrogen cycle right out of the bag. From what I understand, you could mix some live sand with certain sand from home improvement stores and it will all become "live sand" eventually. I'm sure you could go with certain sand from home improvement stores by itself and just wait for beneficial bacteria to develop, as I imagine people have been keeping saltwater fish long before bags of "live sand" hit store shelves.

Live rock

Live rock is also said to be live because of the bacteria in it that assists with breaking down waste in your water. It is said to be biological filtration. While not strictly necessary for a fish only saltwater tank, many advise it and some swear by it. We've had no live rock in our 55 gallon tank for the 4 years we've had it until we began adding some very recently, but we've also had consistent nitrate issues that you don't want. I've read that you want anywhere from 1 to 1.50 or 1.75 pounds of live rock per gallon of water in your aquarium, leaning to the higher end if you intend to keep a reef.

It's very important that you don't just get any old live rock and stick it in your tank, though. There is a process called curing, which essentially means killing all of the bad stuff in the rock. You don't want this to happen in your aquarium. You can either buy fully cured live rock, which will run you around $8.00 a pound based on what I've seen in my research recently, or cure it yourself in a separate tank or tub, but I've heard that curing your own live rock can be a drawn out, messy, smelly process.

Protein skimmer

You will also want a device called a protein skimmer. A protein skimmer is a cylinder that forces very small bubbles through an isolated column of your aquarium water. Particles of waste mater in the water ride the bubbles that bubble up to the top of the skimmer where they are removed from your tank. This helps your water quality, of course.

I have to get going, but I'm sure that other members will be able to provide you with additional information about what I've described and make recommendations about filtration, lighting, brands, etc.

I look forward to hearing about your progress!

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Old 07-21-2010, 09:20 AM   #3
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I agree with everything that Admin says here.

About the Royal Gramma, I have heard from multiple sources that they are Ich magnets, so I would Quarantine these guys before adding them to display tank. If your decision is to do just a couple of clowns and a Royal Gramma, than the thirty gallon should be fine (if you can't possibly go any bigger...).
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:17 AM   #4
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you're gonna need a lot of cash too ^.^
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:42 PM   #5
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Great thread. I'm still trying to understand what it is I am going to need for my tank. Saving this thread for further information.
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:30 AM   #6
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damsels fishes are great starter fish for a tank thats just cycling as they can handle the amonia spike in the few week or so the clowfishes should only be added once the tank is fully cycled. that means after both the amonia and nitrite spike goes down.which will happen in any new tank
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:01 AM   #7
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to be honest with live rock and live sand there is no reason for a fish at all... while some may be able to "handle it" they still suffer from the amonia burn in their gills.... a SW tank cycle does not require any stock other than the rock and sand... after the Diatom bloom (rust colored algae on everything that comes and goes on its own) then a CUC and after a little while some stock (fish, inverts, corals etc.)
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:34 AM   #8
one of the biggest difference in filtration between SW and FW is that in FW the filter usually pulls water from underneath the surface whereas in SW you want to skim from the top of the surface. Doing this will keep the top of the water clear because most of the protiens float on the surface. so if you are using a non predrilled tank you might want to get one of these http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...m?pcatid=18358 and then add a sump so you can hold a skimmer. If you use a regular canister type filter you will notice a scum like film always floating on the surface of the water. This is kinda like a bubble bath where you see soap scum on top of the water then eventually leaving the scum on the rim of the tub.

Last edited by reefsahoy; 08-09-2010 at 07:37 AM..
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