clearing some confusion for first saltwater tank
I have a 10 gallon and a 20 gallon "long" aquarium. I have been researching for a few weeks and talking to the petland people for information on starting my first saltwater tank. I have some experience with freshwater, but none whatsoever when it comes to saltwater, I here is the plan I have laid out.
I can not afford the live rock so I was thinking of going for a "fish only" tank in either the 10 or 20 gallon. From what I understand, what I need to do this is...
-Tank with stand
-normal 20 gallon filter
-sand, not live sand
-instant ocean saltwater mix
-fish and fake coral/rocks/plants
I set up the tank, test water, make sure levels are right, keep tank running like this for 2 weeks changing a bit of water with pre mixed water, and then I can add a fish. Right?
Can I substitute normal sand and a normal light for live sand and a suitable light to improve the water quality?
Why can I not simply have maybe 3-6 pounds of live rock in my tank?
Which tank should I use, the 10 or the 20 gallon?
I know I want an ocellaris clownfish, how many other fish can live comfortably in a 10 or 20 gallon with this clown, and what species?
my advice is to do more research, and when you think you've done enough, do some more. ( while you research this will give you time to save money as well as be able to do it right the first time )
i personally would use the 20 gallon ( because the larger the tank, the more stable the water is, and saltwater fish cannot be stocked in tanks like freshwater, due to the oxygen content, territories ect. )
ok so your going to need alot more then what you listed, so my advice is to slowly buy what you'll need over time to be able to do it right.
i would set up the 20 gallon with saltwater and add live rock. i know its expensive but live rock actually works as a natural filter, id say your going to want about 25-30 lbs. you can buy a pound or a couple at a time as you have the money and add it to your tank carefully placing into the water and on the bottom not to crack the glass. now let the rock "cure" for a few weeks and this will give you time to save more money. i would use the 10 gallon as a sump. ( this will increase the overall volume of your tanks water capacity, and provide a good place to hide equipment ) do some research on sumps! id buy a protein skimmer,return pump, thermometer, and heater and put them all in the sump. when you can afford live sand, id add atleast a 3 inch base, so you prob will need 20-30lbs ( just a guess ) live sand also acts as a natural filter. your going to need a powerhead or 2 to create water movement inside the tank and water flow on the live rock. after your live rock has "cured" and your tank has cycled, id add a few hermit crabs,snails, and shrimp for a clean up crew. a week or two after that, id say 2 clownfish would be your max for this size tank.
i have found there is no cheap in saltwater keeping. if you want cheap, cycle you tank with freshwater and put 6 neon tetras in it :) because really, you'd be better off with the top of the line freshwater tank ( fish, plants, even c02 injection ) then a skimpy saltwater tank.
why try getting away with the bare minimum when you'll be more sucessful with doing it right.
a rough idea of what you will need:
pump for sump
liquid salt water testing kit
bucket, tupperware, trash can (NEW! and rinsed VERY WELL with only water to make sure it is clean inside, for premixing salt water atleast 1-2 days in advance)
powerhead for salt mixing ( helps make sure your mixture is consistant )
heater and thermometer for salt mixing
plumbing for sump
if you dont plan on any corals at all, a regular flouresant light will work just fine
other things considered: uv sterilizer, refugium
is all this 100% absolutly needed, probly not, but id say it is best to have to have a success at keeping salt water fish. i think i answered pretty good ( as i am fairly new to saltwater keeping myself ) but if anyone sees anything thing to argue, please post about it!
Re: clearing some confusion for first saltwater tank
What do you mean when you say "normal 20 gallon filter"? What exactly do you intend to use for a filter?
When you say "sand", what do you mean exactly?
You can have small amounts of live rock, and you SHOULD. Additionally, you want to use the 20 gallon long. This is a no-brainer. Regardless, in such a small aquarium, you will ONLY have a pair of Ocellaris Clownfish. You will not keep any other fish at all. This is an extremely small aquarium for a marine setup and success will depend on your willingness to operate within your setup.
If this project were in my hands, here is what i would do:
20 gallon long
3'' aragonite sand
8 - 10 lbs live rock
Power filter with activated carbon
Small protein skimmer (extremely important). Here is a simple model for this size tank:
It will require a strong air pump, with an adjustable air output. I'd recommend:
When you think about cost and what you can afford, you have to think long term. The cost goes down when you set up an aquarium with live rock, aragonite sand, and a skimmer. Why? Less live stock loss. Fewer water changes. Fewer tests.
First of all, it seems that I have come to the right place. The guy at Petland seems to think this can all be set up really fast, but my research is telling me otherwise, so I'll definately be taking the slow route. Let me lay out my "plan" or what I think I know for and you can tell me again if I am right or wrong...
Things I have now...
10 gallon tank with cover and stand
20 gallon tank with cover and stand
10 gallon power filter
10 gallon size light
What I need to do...
1. Mix dechlorinated water with Instand Ocean and put into empty tank, while running a powerhead, and a 20 gallon power filter. Do the same to the 10 gallon that I will keep to replace water I take out with water changes
2. Once the levels are correct (check with hydrometer), I can add the live sand, and run the tank with a regular flourescent light
3. Then if everything stays normal, buy some live rock and position in a way that creates a good hiding place/cave.
4. Wait for live rock to "cycle." I don't know much about the cycling process...from what I understand... brown algae grows, then green algae, and the chemical levels increase but will go down after the cycle is complete. Adding a dead shrimp for 2 weeks will help the cycle? How long does the cycle take?
5. Test water levels
6. If everything is alright, I can add a shrimp or crab or some other small vertabrate (what species?)
7. Again, if everything is alright, now I can add 1 fish, So i'll buy a clownfish. How long should I wait before adding one more and final fish? Should it be another clown, or is there another species of the same size that is hardy and friendly?
8. Feed fish, change a bit of water every couple(2?) of weeks, check water levels, and enjoy?
9. Where does the protein skimmer come into play? When should it be installed and what does it do that the biological filters and power filter wont do?
10. What are the consequences of having less than the preferred 1.5-2 pounds of live rock per gallon?
Sorry for being a noob, but I have been having a hard time finding definitive guides on FO or FOWLR tanks and the set up process.
No, you do not add a dead shrimp to help the cycle. The live rock has everything you want for the cycling process. If the rock has been "cured" then the tank should be ready for fish within a few short days after adding the rock.
If you want Clownfish, then add both at the same time. You should buy both of the same species, from the same selection of fish. One should be visibly larger than the other, which will let them settle naturally into your aquarium as a female and male. This helps curb any fighting among the 2 fish.
You need to test Nitrate, pH, Alkalinity, and Calcium weekly. You will add a calcium supplement and a buffer as needed. I add calcium daily and buffer 2 times per week, based on the test results. The Nitrate test results will help you determine how frequently and how much water to change.
The protein skimmer is the filter. Marine systems should not use a biological filter. This is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU NEED TO COME TO TERMS WITH. If you ignore this advice, you will come to hate the saltwater hobby. The protein skimmer is what allows us to create a stable environment capable of keeping these delicate animals.
(The power filter is optional, with the benefit of activated carbon.)
I disagree with bullet point 10. You simply do not need 1.5 to 2 lbs of live rock per gallon. You need a 3'' aragonite sand bed and 1 pound live rock per gallon. Using less live rock will result in less diversity of life, resulting in a less stable environment. The microscopic critters which live inside the live rock are extremely important for the stability of your aquarium.
Here is the most important thing you need to know. Marine aquariums are not freshwater aquariums. EVERYTHING is different. The FW filters you are familiar with are completely useless on marine tanks. A properly set up marine aquarium will use a Protein Skimmer, Live Rock, and aragonite sand. No other filtration is used.
About the protein skimmer.... I guess this si where I was mislead, the fish area guy at my LFS said that I did not need a skimmer for a 20 gallon tank. So, the items I need are as follows...
1. small protein skimmer (like the one posted in the link above)
2. a powerhead
3. enough aragonite sand for a 3 inch base
4. 8-10 lbs of live rock
5. a 20 gallon power filter with activated carbon (this is the kind of filter I would use in a freshwater tank, isnt it?)
6. flourescent light. I already have an extra liught set up meant for a 10 gallon, it is 18 inches long, can I use this or should I buy a new light that runs the full length of the tank, 30 inches?)
7. Instant Ocean
2. Tests for nitrates, calcium, ph, alkalinity
Is there an online guide you can give me a link to that has the "step by step set up? This and a timeline seem to be the only information I cannot seem to find. I really appreciate all the info you guys are giving me to help me set this tank up the right way.
This all sounds great. I would be more comfortable if you said 10 to 12 lbs of live rock.
I don't have a link, but here is the basic timeline:
Day 1: add sand, water, and salt. Turn on power heads and power filter with filter pads. Allow to mix overnight.
Day 2: test salinity and adjust as necessary. Add live rock when salinity is correct. Remove filter pads when sand settles.
Day 5: test water. Continue to test every other day until both ammonia and nitrite are zero.
By day 10 you should be ready for fish and other livestock.
Long term you will need to test Calcium, Alkalinity, and Nitrate weekly. You will add calcium and a buffer to maintain Calcium and Alkalinity. You will change water as needed to keep Nitrate low. As your sand bed establishes, you will find the need for water changes to be minimal. I change 5 gallons weekly on my 38 gallon tank, which is a very short process.
Does the protein skimmer also go up on day 1?
Thanks for all your help pasfur :D
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