Hello and request for tips in setting up new tank
Hi guys. My very post here, and its gonna be a pretty lengthy one. First, a brief intro to my fishkeeping history. I'm 24 this year, and have had a aquarium for most of the years. I dabbled in marine tanks for awhile, but that was 6 years ago when undergravel filters were still the rage. The tank fizzled out after a while, and since then the same tank (75g) has been home to only freshwater fishes. Recently, I've been thinking of giving marine a go again, and hence, here I am.
In hindsight, there were many things wrong with my tank. I was taking advice from the wrong people for one, and I was impatient as well (heck I was 18!) I'm determined to do it right this time, so I hope you guys will bear with the many questions I have now, and the many more that will surely be forthcoming in the coming months (expected setup to be done in august)
Ok. Here is what I would like to achieve. A marine tank that is as low maintance and hassle free as possible. Now, what I'm visioning is just sand, live rocks, less then 10 fish (again, my tank is a 75g), and other bare neccesities. I'll break up my question into groups.
1. My tank is a custom made 75g with a built in overflow compartment, where the sump, filter media etc will go. Currently, it is extremely well cycled and home to fresh water fish. Question, can I reuse the water when converting the tank? As in I'll just add marine salt directly to the tank, so as to avoid a nitrate cycle, or is salt water and freshwater beneficial bacteria different?
1. I used an undergravel filter 6 years ago. It was messy, and there were spots were the sand turned black. I was thinking of just putting in a thin layer of sand now. What would be a good thickness?
2. Can I use sand from the beach? If not, what is a good commercial brand?
3. What is live sand?
3) Live rock
1. I still have quite a amount of live rock from six years ago lying in my garden. But they are completely white and dead now of course. Can I reuse them?
1. I dimly remembered adding a huge amount of coral chips to act as a ph buffer to my tank. Can someone eleborate what was that about?
1. Right now, I'm looking at couple of 3-4 damsels, a common clown, a small angel, a goby, and a cleanup crew of shrimp. Based on bioload, how often should I do water changes?
TIA for any feedback guys. I would appreciate links to any good articles as well
Re: Hello and request for tips in setting up new tank
1. Marine water should be mixed with Reverse Osmosis, RO/Deionized or distilled water. Tap water will cause you problems down the road, as volatile gases and toxins that water conditioners are incapable of removing will accrue in your system, binding with your rock and substrate, over time until your tank is poisoned. Regular, usually daily, top-offs of evaporated water should be replaced with RO, RO/DI or distilled water WITHOUT the salt. As water evaporates all the salts and minerals are left behind, so only pre fresh water of the same temp should be used for top-offs.
Change 30 percent of your water every week without fail. Also, buy the best protein skimmer you can buy; don't scrimp. A good protein skimmer is essential to water quality and dissolved Oxygen.
And no, you can't use the water already in the tank to make your marine water.
2. No. You have no way of knowing what's in that beach sand, and it isn't worth the lives of your livestock to go cheap to find out. CaribSea has several kinds of sand for marine tanks. Live sand is colonized with benthic and micro-organisms. They aid in nutrient processing. A layer of live sand atop the substrate is commonly used for that reason. Also, live sand will colonize inert live rock and will provide a food source for the tiny hermit crabs you plan to keep.
3. Don't. The weather and creatures have made those rocks VERY dangerous and foolish to use.
4. Marine fish live in a very narrow span of water conditions. Ph between 8.1-8.2, a proper ratio of the 11 major marine ions (like Calcium, Magnesium) and 3.5 mg/l of alkalinity. Temperature should be in the upper 70's to low 80's and it is ESSENTIAL that it is steady. My tanks are kept at 77 degrees.
There's a liquid product from Two Little Fishies called C-Balance. Used properly, the two-part product will maintain the proper pH and natural sea water levels and will provide the alkalinity (aka buffer). C-Balance is what I recommend people use.
Any fluctuation in water parameters will cause your livestock deadly stress. Rock-solid stability is the name of the game in marine.
5. Add the damsels last, and get five or six, and make sure to add them all together. In order of addition, it should be the crabs, the goby, the clown, the dwarf angel and then the damsels. That is in the order of aggression.
As above, weekly changes of 30 percent.
If you PM me with your email address I'll send you my reading list. Buying authoritative books on your chosen subject should be the FIRST thing you do in planning your tank. Without them you'll be groping in the dark. Books can prevent many foibles that new hobbyists experience.
1) Good to know. Have to check out the price for a RO/DI unit now
2) Thanks for the info. My plan is now to just place a very thin layer of sand (<1cm) for a natural apperance.
3) Regarding the live rocks, what if I wash them thoroughly, then reseed them at a LFS first? The shop I frequented years ago is still around, and I'm hoping to strike deal with them to let me place the rocks in thier tanks, in return for buying all the stuff I need from them in the future
More questions though...
1) What should I put in my overflow compartment? Currently, the water runs over the cotton bed onto bioballs, with several bags of coral chips underneath.
2) Filtration - I'm using a large canister filter that sucks out water from the overflow compartment and expels it directly to the main tank. Is this fine?
3) Since I have only one outlet providing water flow, I'm anticipating a water current shortage. How do you guys position your powerheads so that it provides maximum current with minimum visibility?
I am going to step outside my normal online "personality" and be very direct. If you take a second to read my prior posts, you will find that I am not someone who is rude. My goal is be helpful and courteous, so please do not take this wrong...
You are completely off base in your thought process. Your questions tell me that you have done very little if any research into modern day marine aquariums. It will be almost impossible for us to help you until you are capable of asking questions which are applicable to the topic, meaning you have the basic background of marine husbandry.
A few quick points that should not require elaboration:
Undergravel filters have not been a part of the marine hobby since the late 1980's. It has been almost 20 years, not 6 years ago.
A thin layer of sand is not what you want. You need 4'' depth for denitrification.
There is no possibility of reusing your live rock.
Bioballs have no place in a marine aquarium.
You are correct about water movement. You will want at least 3 or 4 additional power heads to move water in all directions. One of the primary functions of water movement is to keep organics suspended in the water column until removed by your protein skimmer or activated carbon.
For a 75 gallon, i recommend using 4 x MaxiJet 750's.
The use of a canister filter can be a huge benefit or an absolute disaster, depending on your dedication to maintenance. FREQUENT cleaning of the filter pad is essential in a marine system. Most dedicated hobbyists clean their filters daily, which can be difficult in a canister unit.
We need to know one thing, what system are you going to run? This would be FO (Fish-Only), FOWLR (Fish-Only-With-Live-Rock), or Reef?
Also, 99% of the time, Damsels=Devil Fish. They should be a little more calm in a group like that, but you will most likely have one evil guy who will torture everyone else. I have seen Damsels attack/harass fish 2-4 times their size.
Also, most Clownfish (Occleraris and Percula are your "common clowns") of smaller size should be kept in pairs. They behave much more like they would in the wild than if kept alone.
You should have a CUC with snails, shrimp, crabs, and possibly Brittle Stars/Conches/other interesting things.
Water changes every week, with Top-offs as needed.
Also, be weary of the type of Angel you get. Some Dwarf Angels are territorial and can nip at corals.
Sorry if its not clear in my first post, but I'm planning a FO tank with around or less then 10 fishes.
Like I said, I recieved pretty bad advice back then. Hence the bioballs and undergravel filter.
If you have read my post more carefully, the water from the overflow runs over the filter pad first, before being taken into the canister. So basically my canister is just for extra volume.
Also, is that deep sand bed really necessary? Some links to pros and cons of bare bottom vs DSB will be appreciated. Its seems many LFS here maintain bare bottom tanks for easy maintanence
alot of these look good
There is really no reason for links. The hobby already went thru this. The entire 1990's was spent debating which is best. In the end the use of aragonite substrate was the overwhelming winner.
You will find many cases of hobbyists who do not like sand. They always have a few simple things in common. Usually the sand bed is not deep enough for proper denitrification to occur. You need a full 4''. For some reason hobbyists only use 2'' or 3'' of sand and then complain when they don't get the desired effects.
Another common problem is the lack of sand sifters. You need Nassarius snails, blue leg hermit crabs, starfish, etc to keep the sand from packing. In fish-only systems this needs to be done manually on occasion.
Part of the debate was the use of a "plenum" underneath the sand. Hobbyists would use egg crate and window screening to create a void of water underneath the sand. In the end the results were less effective than placing the sand directly on the bottom of the tank.
Most LFS keep bare bottom tanks, true. But the LFS is doing the bare minimum necessary to sustain an animal for a short period of time prior to sale. It is rare to find an LFS that is concerned with long term results, such as how the aquarium will look in 5 years.
There are sources of information on the internet that can be helpful, but be careful in reading a thread from the common hobbyist. More often than not, those who complain have cut corners in an effort to save money. If you want good quality information on the net, look towards the big names in the hobby and read what they have to say about the latest topics. Jullian Sprung, Charles Delbeck, Eric Borneman, Randy Holmes-Farley, Martin Moe, John Tullock, etc.
The library is a great source of information. You should check out the last 24 to 36 months issues of Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, etc. Or look at some of the online magazines, such as ReefKeeping Magazine. You should read many books, and start with the 2 part series by Sprung & Delbeck. Anything written or revised post-1990 is probably worth reading, so long as you recognize the advancements that have been made.
As to the canister filter, i see no reason. The added volume is minimal. But sure, you could run it if you want to. I just don't see any reason to utilize equipment that doesn't enhance the system in some needed way. Also, canisters do heat the water a bit and can make it more difficult to keep the temperature down.
Elaborate more on your exact plans. What types of fish? I think we assumed you were keeping a reef because you said "less than 10 fish", which sounds like 8 or 9 fish. :wink: The only way you'd keep 8 or 9 fish in a 75 gallon is if the fish were extremely small, and that usually means live rock and reef. If you are keeping fish-only and no live rock, then this entire conversation needs to start over. LOL
Well my plan is to keep around 10 or less small fish. A firegoby, 2 small clowns, a small angel, and a few damsels. I'm also looking at a cleanup crew of a few shrimps. And an optimum amount of live rock. And thats it actually
Btw pasfur, I didnt mind your tone actually. Good to have someone hammer home the point that I still have a lot of research and reading to do before I start on the tank. I've been reading the links provided, and it actually seems like there is an even number or pro/against DSB aquarists around. Most commonly stated is that DSB become a nitrate sink over time etc etc. There are tons of articles though, so I'm still going through it, as well as waiting for my copy of THE REEF AQUARIUM to arrive.
Question, so what you are saying is, with the DSB, a substrate consisting entirely of argonite (course or fine, does it matter?) is simply placed to a thickness of 4 inches, and thats it? You then rely on substrate cleaners to move the sand around, or manually if its fish only?
1. For FO tank, is choice of lights important?
2. UV, yay or nay?
3. Gathering from what I've read, live rock + DSB will will take care of the denitrification process. My job is to clean the filter pads daily to remove sources of nitrate. Which means I do not need extra biomedia in my overflow?
I have no plan to cut costs, just to minimise maintanence. Hence my plan to go FO for now.
FO - lights are personal preference.
UV - I will never run another marine system without one. Most hobbyists consider them to be optional, but i've never met someone who had actual experience with a UV who did not see the benefits. Most people have only 2nd had knowledge of the topic.
"Gathering from what I've read, live rock + DSB will will take care of the denitrification process. My job is to clean the filter pads daily to remove sources of nitrate. Which means I do not need extra biomedia in my overflow?" - EXACTLY!
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