What do I need to start a FOWLR tank? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 22 Old 02-17-2007, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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What do I need to start a FOWLR tank?

Ok, I have been keeping freshwater fish for about a year now, I have a 40gal with angelfish, and a 55gal with discus. both tanks very stable and healthy.

I want to start a new saltwater tank, fish only with live rock, but I am unsure about the basic equipment that I would need to purchase.

I am thinking of a tank around 55gallons.

would I need to setup a sump? and does that depend on how much live rock I add to the tank?

How much live rock? live rock with sump?

live sand? if I can even find it......

I am pretty sure that I'd need a protein skimmer, do you recommend venturi or air driven? or is the answer always venturi unless I can't afford it?

Lighting- just flourescent because I am not doing corals - right?

water - would I need to get set up with an RO unit or deionizer type unit or is tap water good enough? and does that depend on the tap water?

I am posting this here because I am having a hard time finding these basic answers on the internet, and I live in Japan with the military, so it makes it hard to ask the shop keepers here questions.

I have learned alot through trial and error with my freshwater fish, but I know that most saltwater fish are wild caught, and I don't want to play that game with this tank.

thanks for all your help!
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post #2 of 22 Old 02-17-2007, 11:33 PM
I cant answer all your questions but i know some

You dont need a sump but it is highly reccomended.
Live rock for filtration is 1-1.5 pounds per gallon, you can add more if you want it for looks.
Live sand is recomended but not needed, you could go for 20 pounds of live sand and the rest non-live sand
cant answer about the skimmer
You should get a strong lighting for the live rock and it will be better for the fish as they are used to a strong lighting, compact flourecents are good and doesnt cost more
The water, buy R/O water at your lfs or supermarket or something. You wont need to buy your own R/O filter as they can be expensive and unless you have like 500 gallons of saltwater, it is more economical to just buy the water yourself. Tap water contains too many bad things that can promote unwanted algae growth, most salt mixes are meant to be used with R/O water anyway.
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post #3 of 22 Old 02-18-2007, 08:00 PM
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When I started my SW tank I broke all the rules. Mind you it was years ago when a small SW tank was still frowned upon of but in my 12g Nanocube I used about 15lbs of LR and had good luck with Caribsea live sand. I used dechloronated tapwater and kept my clownfish, yellowtail, coral banded shrimp, chocolate starfish, and various hermits and snails very happy for years. No skimmer, distilled water, super huge water changes or anything. Not that you should but that you could. If you are only doing FOWLR and don't have any plans of corals then stock lights are ok, like said CF are better. A sump isn't really necc. unless you want to hide everything (heater, skimmer, etc.) under the tank. Otherwise you could really throw some powerheads and a heater in a tank full of LR then do a nice water change once a week and enjoy your tank. Good luck.
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post #4 of 22 Old 02-18-2007, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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so, it sounds like I have the right idea about what equipment that I'd need, the guy here at the LFS does speak a little bit of english(I'm in Japan) and he wants to set me up with his biggest Eheim instead of a sump, says that dechlorinated tap water should be fine, encourages me to buy a UV sterilizer, and has live rock to sell me.

New Question: His live rock that he has for sale is currently in his saltwater tank with all the fish he has for sale, so if I buy this, than there shouldn't be any curing process involved, right? I live a grand total of 5 minutes from his shop, all I'd have to do is drop it in, right?

another new question: He has agreed to trade me some of his cycled crushed coral that is in his sump, for some uncycled crushed coral(which I'd buy from him anyway), again, doing it this way would cut out any curing/cycling process, right? I'd add this to the Eheim that he'll sell me, check to make sure there isn't an ammonia spike, and then add fish almost immediately. or would I still need to allow for cycling time?

thanks for all the help, saltwater fish keeping still has that shroud of mystery for me, and I'll be nervous about this until I see the fish happily swimming for at least a month!
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post #5 of 22 Old 02-19-2007, 06:31 AM
Your tank will still need to clycle no matter what. Adding live rock and live sand will help boost the process, but it still needs to cycle.

And to add..crushed coral is not that good for your tank. Everytime you disturb the substrate it will cloud you water. And it will so this no matter how good you rinse it or how much time has gone by. The best thing to get for your tank would be sand.
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post #6 of 22 Old 02-19-2007, 10:37 AM
lol im surprised he encouraged tap water, how does he make money if you use tap water? But even that i suggest RO/DI water. As for a UV sterilizer, waste of money, for now anyway. You wont need a UV for a beginner tank, maybe if you want to try coral fragging or fish breeding but for now, you dont need to spend a few hundred dollars on a uv sterilizer, a prolonged use of the UV sterilizer will give the fish some deficencys and make them less likely to ward of diseases since they have been so immune for a long time
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post #7 of 22 Old 02-19-2007, 12:51 PM
uv sterilizers are good for tanks, but can be bad if run all the time. Its god to use when you have ich outbreaks on whatever fish. And can help control algea out breaks.
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post #8 of 22 Old 02-23-2007, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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The crushed coral won't be used for the substrate, it'll be used as the main filter element in the Eheim canister filter. good to know about the clouding issue though.

well, I just got finished building the stand, so now I am going to go out and start buying the equipment. it sounds like I'll probably skip out on buying the UV sterilizer, at least for now.

thanks for all the help, wish me luck!
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post #9 of 22 Old 02-23-2007, 12:00 PM
Were going to require that you post a pick of that stand you just built. Its required.
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post #10 of 22 Old 02-23-2007, 04:11 PM
A canister filter is a good idea on a fish only. Please clean it regularly. the crushed coral was a good suggestion as the passsing water will cause it to slowly decompose and leech minerals back into the water. It will also help stabilize your PH. If it was me, I'd still go for a skimmer. It will only make keeping a tank even easier. If it came down to a cash issue, I know I'd grab a skimmer before a UV sterilizer.

You haven't told us what type of fish you are planning.
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