Converting a 5g to saltwater
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Converting a 5g to saltwater

This is a discussion on Converting a 5g to saltwater within the Nano Reef forums, part of the Advanced Saltwater Discussion category; --> Hi. I have a little 5g (I believe, might be 5.5 or 6) bowfront tank by Eclipse. I've been considering converting it to a ...

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Converting a 5g to saltwater
Old 10-16-2008, 01:44 PM   #1
 
Converting a 5g to saltwater

Hi. I have a little 5g (I believe, might be 5.5 or 6) bowfront tank by Eclipse. I've been considering converting it to a saltwater nano tank, since I can't think of any other interesting things to do with it (I wanted a dwarf puffer, but I can't find any around here). In the meantime, I've kept a few pristella tetras in it to keep the tank cycled.

How would I go about making a freshwater into a saltwater? What sort of equipment would I need to buy? I don't know if there's differences between large/small. Do I need a protein skimmer, powerhead, etc.? I don't think (from what I've heard) I can keep fish in a little 5g, so I was going to just get some inverts, like a few shrimps or snails. Correct me if I'm wrong, though (specifically, I'd really love to be able to have a red fire goby). Also, would it be necessary to buy a different filter/light fixture?

Also, how would I actually go about converting it? Would I need to just take the fish/plants out, insert appropriate substrate, salt the tank and add live rock? Or is it more complicated than that? Would I have to do a 100% water change and scrub everything down and whatnot?

I would buy a new 10g to make into a nano, but I'm REALLY trying to keep the amount of fishtanks I have to a minimum.

Thanks!
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Old 10-16-2008, 03:00 PM   #2
 
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more complicated than that
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Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
more complicated than that
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Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
more complicated than that
please to more research. alot more research. it will save you in the long run.
a small tank is great but keep in mind it usually is more difficult to upkeep then a larger tank(which is more stable) you will have to top off the water more religously to prevent great changes in water chemistry, temperature gets too high etc etc.
dont get me wrong, small tanks are very possible and i think it would look super with 3 sexy shrimp in it but keep in mind even small tanks cost lots of $$
i would with out a doubt start over. the freshwater that is in your tank now has phosphates which will just cause lots of algae problems down the road. when you do choose to do a saltwater tank use RO/DI water ONLY. this can be achieved by ReverseOsmosis unit in your house or purchasing water from a LFS (local fish store)
when you make salt water, you do it in a SEPERATE container with a powerhead a day or 2 in advance to insure a consistant, accurate salt mix.
you will need a powerhead,a refractometer,test kits for PH,amonia,nitrITE,nitrATE,calcium,ALK,magnesium at the minimum, and a 2 part dosing suppliment (B-ionic is a good one) better lights if you plan on housing corals, sand, live rock(which will initiate the cycle) you should be fine without a protien skimmer but water changes have to be RELIGOUS and PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE (rushing with saltwater = FAILURE) theres soo much more to include but i think thats the basics. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do more research and dont be afraid to ask questions.
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Old 10-16-2008, 03:54 PM   #3
 
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please to more research. alot more research. it will save you in the long run.
a small tank is great but keep in mind it usually is more difficult to upkeep then a larger tank(which is more stable) you will have to top off the water more religously to prevent great changes in water chemistry, temperature gets too high etc etc.
dont get me wrong, small tanks are very possible and i think it would look super with 3 sexy shrimp in it but keep in mind even small tanks cost lots of $$
i would with out a doubt start over. the freshwater that is in your tank now has phosphates which will just cause lots of algae problems down the road. when you do choose to do a saltwater tank use RO/DI water ONLY. this can be achieved by ReverseOsmosis unit in your house or purchasing water from a LFS (local fish store)
when you make salt water, you do it in a SEPERATE container with a powerhead a day or 2 in advance to insure a consistant, accurate salt mix.
you will need a powerhead,a refractometer,test kits for PH,amonia,nitrITE,nitrATE,calcium,ALK,magnesium at the minimum, and a 2 part dosing suppliment (B-ionic is a good one) better lights if you plan on housing corals, sand, live rock(which will initiate the cycle) you should be fine without a protien skimmer but water changes have to be RELIGOUS and PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE (rushing with saltwater = FAILURE) theres soo much more to include but i think thats the basics. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do more research and dont be afraid to ask questions.
I do know some of the basics of nanos, I'm just confused on some of the specifics. You said I need a powerhead to mix the water up, would I actually need one in the tank? And when you say another container, would one of the 5-gallon fish-change buckets work?

Also, what do you mean by "religious" water changes? 50% a week or so? The main appeal for me to a nano saltwater tank isn't because I think it's "cheaper" or "easier" but it's because I don't want to buy another tank to experience saltwater.

I have a question about using RO/DI water. I'm a little confused with this, would just buying a RO unit be sufficient, or would it also have to be deionized? And is distilled water different? Would I be looking for something like this, if I were to clean the water myself? Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Filter, DI Only Water Filter > Reverse Osmosis > Saltwater Aquarium Supplies

Sorry for all the questions.
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:33 PM   #4
 
I want you to see this. 5.5G glass tank with a built-in fuge. Great tank. Read it all. My 5.5g pico with built in Fuge - Nano-Reef.com Forums

You should just buy a 5.5G standard glass aquarium. Eclipse tanks are terrible for SW use, and they will be full of scratches within two months (acrylic). You will be much more satsified if you get a 5.5.

No protein skimmer is needed on this tank IMO. It would probably do more harm than good in a small tank. A Good powerhead is a Koralia Nano Powerhead: Water Pumps & Wavemakers: Hydor Koralia Water Circulation Pumps

You can keep a small fish in a 5/6 gallon. Shrimp Gobys and Small Gobies are great candidates. Plus a shrimp, hermits, and snails, and corals if you want.

You dont need a filter on this, since your powerhead can be good. If you do get one, get a HOB filter. For lighting, the question is: do you want corals or not?

To actually convert it, you need to drain everything FW and give the tank a good rinse. You need RO/DI water, which can be purchased from your LFS (not tap water), or you can buy premixed SW, which is very easy and many people do it with small tanks. I wouldn't do more than 20-30% changes a week, either, but you need to make sure you are doing it to keep your params under control.

Any other questions, feel free to ask. We are here to help.
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:30 PM   #5
 
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I want you to see this. 5.5G glass tank with a built-in fuge. Great tank. Read it all. My 5.5g pico with built in Fuge - Nano-Reef.com Forums

You should just buy a 5.5G standard glass aquarium. Eclipse tanks are terrible for SW use, and they will be full of scratches within two months (acrylic). You will be much more satsified if you get a 5.5.

No protein skimmer is needed on this tank IMO. It would probably do more harm than good in a small tank. A Good powerhead is a Koralia Nano Powerhead: Water Pumps & Wavemakers: Hydor Koralia Water Circulation Pumps

You can keep a small fish in a 5/6 gallon. Shrimp Gobys and Small Gobies are great candidates. Plus a shrimp, hermits, and snails, and corals if you want.

You dont need a filter on this, since your powerhead can be good. If you do get one, get a HOB filter. For lighting, the question is: do you want corals or not?

To actually convert it, you need to drain everything FW and give the tank a good rinse. You need RO/DI water, which can be purchased from your LFS (not tap water), or you can buy premixed SW, which is very easy and many people do it with small tanks. I wouldn't do more than 20-30% changes a week, either, but you need to make sure you are doing it to keep your params under control.

Any other questions, feel free to ask. We are here to help.
Wow, that looks amazing. I'll probably follow your advice and pick up another 5.5, and save my other tank for something else, since the more I think about it the more it seems like a silly idea to convert it.

Question, is the fuge necessary on the tank? I wasn't sure if I was going to include a sump/etc, since I wanted to keep it really minimal, and doing plumbing/technical work isn't really one of my strong points (I know it would be much easier in the long run, however if I don't install it right/it breaks down then it'll be a big hassle for me).

I seriously had no idea that I didn't need a filter on the tank... thanks for the heads-up.

As for life, I was looking into some stuff, and I was considering putting in a green-stripe goby. Would that be a good beginner fish? I have no knowledge on corals and stuff, except that they need a lot of light. I've heard that zoanthids are easy to keep. I was thinking about just putting live rock in the tank etc. and then adding things like corals later, probably after getting a nice light fixture for them. Hopefully I can also find a reefing club around here so that I can break off frags that get too big for the tank and share the joy.

Thank you very much for the response, also!
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Old 10-16-2008, 11:24 PM   #6
 
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Wow, that looks amazing. I'll probably follow your advice and pick up another 5.5, and save my other tank for something else, since the more I think about it the more it seems like a silly idea to convert it.

Question, is the fuge necessary on the tank? I wasn't sure if I was going to include a sump/etc, since I wanted to keep it really minimal, and doing plumbing/technical work isn't really one of my strong points (I know it would be much easier in the long run, however if I don't install it right/it breaks down then it'll be a big hassle for me).
you could even pick up a 10gallon tank. im not 100% but i think they are like $10-15 at petco or even keep an eye out on craigslist.com in your area for a used tank very cheap. with a 10 gallon you could include a false wall and have a fuge that way.
as for your question, a fuge or sump isnt ultimatly necessary however it adds a great place to hide extra equipment like heaters,skimmers (if your using one) and a place for a deep undisdurbed sand bed, cheato algae to grow ( which helps to remove excess nutrients from the water ) and they add aditional water volume to a tank...more water volume=more stable tank. i personally have a 46gallon bowfront with a 45 gallon sump (there really is no such thing as too big of a sump, i would have gone bigger but that the time of construction that was my only empty tank) and when i upgrade soon to my next tank i will use the same sump so a seperate tank sump can be recycled.

and yes, freshwater filters generally arnt used in salt water because they trap "crap" and end up pumping nitrates into the water.. nitrates in saltwater=trouble
a powerhead, live rock, sand and water changes act as your filtration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
As for life, I was looking into some stuff, and I was considering putting in a green-stripe goby. Would that be a good beginner fish? I have no knowledge on corals and stuff, except that they need a lot of light. I've heard that zoanthids are easy to keep. .
a green goby would make a fine addition but ive heard stories of them not eating. zoanthids, pulsing xenia, mushrooms, palythoas are some of the "easier" cared for corals.




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Hopefully I can also find a reefing club around here so that I can break off frags that get too big for the tank and share the joy.
that is what reefing is all about my friend.
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:55 AM   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
Hi. I have a little 5g (I believe, might be 5.5 or 6) bowfront tank by Eclipse. I've been considering converting it to a saltwater nano tank, since I can't think of any other interesting things to do with it (I wanted a dwarf puffer, but I can't find any around here). In the meantime, I've kept a few pristella tetras in it to keep the tank cycled.
Thanks!
The bacteria which keep your freshwater tank "cycled" are not the same bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate in a saltwater aquarium. You can't keep the tank cycled. In fact, you will be starting over completely and will need to give the tank a complete cleaning.

I personally would not get complicated on a 5 gallon setup, especially if you are just getting your hands wet in the marine hobby. I would set the tank up with a thin layer of sand and 5 to 7 pounds of live rock. Add a small hang on filter for mechanical filtration, carbon filtration, and water movement. This is all you need for a setup such as the one you describe. The live rock will serve as a biological filter on such a tank. So basically, your only updates will be to purchase sand, live rock, and salt, along with the obvious test kits and hydrometer. A small weekly water change of 1 gallon should be simple and sufficient to maintain water quality.

As for livestock, i like your plan. One small fish should be fine, along with a few crabs and snails. By the way, the dwarf puffer would eat crabs and snails.
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Old 10-18-2008, 10:24 AM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by onefish2fish View Post
you could even pick up a 10gallon tank. im not 100% but i think they are like $10-15 at petco or even keep an eye out on craigslist.com in your area for a used tank very cheap. with a 10 gallon you could include a false wall and have a fuge that way.
as for your question, a fuge or sump isnt ultimatly necessary however it adds a great place to hide extra equipment like heaters,skimmers (if your using one) and a place for a deep undisdurbed sand bed, cheato algae to grow ( which helps to remove excess nutrients from the water ) and they add aditional water volume to a tank...more water volume=more stable tank. i personally have a 46gallon bowfront with a 45 gallon sump (there really is no such thing as too big of a sump, i would have gone bigger but that the time of construction that was my only empty tank) and when i upgrade soon to my next tank i will use the same sump so a seperate tank sump can be recycled.

and yes, freshwater filters generally arnt used in salt water because they trap "crap" and end up pumping nitrates into the water.. nitrates in saltwater=trouble
a powerhead, live rock, sand and water changes act as your filtration.



a green goby would make a fine addition but ive heard stories of them not eating. zoanthids, pulsing xenia, mushrooms, palythoas are some of the "easier" cared for corals.


that is what reefing is all about my friend.
I know here at our petco, a 5.5 gallon tank and 10 gallon tank cost the same amount (go figure), at 10$, and the 2.5 gallon somehow costs more (15$). As much as I would like to go bigger, I don't think I can. I would really like to have a fuge, because I've heard nothing but good things about having sumps/fuges. But I'm worried about the inside compartment taking up space from the fish. What you do guys think about this?
Reef Central Online Community - How to DIY an AC 70 fuge
It's a DIY conversion of a filter into a fuge. Seems like a really good idea, since I'm better at crafting than plumbing, and using a filter would eliminate the plumbing part for me.

I thought identifying freshwater plants was hard, now a whole new realm of corals is up to be memorized, lol..


Thank you guys a lot for the helpful responses, I really appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur
As for livestock, i like your plan. One small fish should be fine, along with a few crabs and snails. By the way, the dwarf puffer would eat crabs and snails.
I should have mentioned that I meant a freshwater puffer, who I was planning to feed extra snails from my tanks to.

I know I probably shouldn't get "complicated" and whatnot, but I'd rather have a good setup to be begin with so in a while I don't want to alter it and screw up my tank. I'm giving myself a long time to purchase and research everything I need so I can have a nice tank.
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Old 10-18-2008, 01:13 PM   #9
 
I would defiantley get an AC70 if you want extra water and space. Those filters are often used for fuges, and are easy to make too. I infact did a mod to the AC110, but didnt use i because of the noise (Tank in my bedroom). I say go for it.
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Old 10-18-2008, 03:37 PM   #10
 
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I would defiantley get an AC70 if you want extra water and space. Those filters are often used for fuges, and are easy to make too. I infact did a mod to the AC110, but didnt use i because of the noise (Tank in my bedroom). I say go for it.
I'll definately do that, then. Would this eliminate the need for a powerhead?

I have a quick question about lights. I'd like to have a few corals, like I mentioned. However, I don't really wish to get a metal halide setup, so would some mushrooms, xenia and maybe zoas do alright under fluorescent? How many watts would you guys recommend? Are there any other "low-light" corals?

And one more thing. I keep hearing conflicting opinions on what kinds of fish can live in what kinds of tanks. Ideally I would like to have a firefish in my 5g, however some sites say 10g is minimum for them, others say 5. It's the same with a lot of other fish I was looking at. How do you guys figure out the tanksize for specific fish? I usually have a pretty good idea for freshwater fishes, but I know it's different for saltwater.
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