Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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ZachBates 05-20-2013 02:12 AM

Starting a 30 Gallon Tank
I'm looking to start a 30 gallon tank. I'm new to saltwater aquariums so I'm not looking for a setup to support corals. I was just wondering what I'm going to need to start the tank.

wake49 05-20-2013 07:45 AM

Welcome to the forum, ZachBates. Nice to meet you.

You obviously need a tank. With a 30 gallon your stocking choices are limited, so you will not be able to keep a lot of Angels (some of the Dwarf Angels will be ok), and absolutely no Tangs, Triggers, abd most Puffers (you may be able to get away with a Valentini Saddleback Puffer).

Next I would get a heater. I like the Aqueon heaters, but everyone has personal preferences. I have run the Aqueons on two twenty gallon tanks continuously with no issue whatsoever. For a 30, you will need a 100w (a 150w might be better if it has an auto-shut off. The Aqueons I recommended do.)

You will need Live Rock. I would put about 40 lbs in the tank, and start with 10 lbbs "Live" rock and 30 lbs "Dry" rock. The live rock will seed the dry rock.

You will need live sand. I myself prefer a Deep Sand Bed of 4-6", but you can also run a shallow sand bed of less than 1". The Deep Sand Bed will help with denitrification, as anaerobic bacteria turns nitrates into nitrogen gas, that leaves the system naturally. Here is an article on Deep Sand Beds by Ron Shimek. Just give that a read if you do decide to go that route.

You will need a light. I think that a single strip T5HO will be fine with a 50/50 bulb if you are not doing coral.

You will need a skimmer. Right now I am using a modified Red Sea Prizm Skimmer, but have not used it long enough to give a product review on it. I can tell you that members here have had luck with the AquaC Remora (although I know one member had a problem with the design as it didn't work for his specific situation) and Reef Octopus Skimmers. I have also heard of people modifying SeaClones and having success with them. It is all relative to your specific situation and sometimes how handy you are.

You will need test kits. I test for Nitrite, Ammonia, Nitrate, pH, Calcium and Alkalinity. The last two are the most important, as they are the buffering ions in your water and have a huge effect on pH and water quality. Make sure you also get some dosing chemicals, like a two part Alkalinity and Calcium. This will help keep your tank at the optimum levels.

Aside from that you will need salt mix (I use Instant Ocean, Brightwell Aquatics makes a better product), a thermometer, a couple of clean, never used before five gallon buckets and a source for RO/Di water. I wouldn't use tap water, as the little creatures in the rock that make it "Live" are invertebrates and sensitive to heavy metals, which can be found in tap water. Also, the minerals in tap water can throw off your Alkalinity readings and you can have pH, phosphate and nitrate problems with tap water.

Other than that, add fish and go! You should be able to add fish within a few weeks of starting up the tank.

Just keep us updated and post lots of pics!

Reefing Madness 05-20-2013 10:19 AM

You do not need a Skimmer in a 30g tank, nor do you have to have a substrate.
Read that Link he provided very carefully. When you see the words Hydrogen Sulphide Gas, read it even more carefully. Then judge for yourself if a Deep Sand Bed is for a beginning aquarist.

ZachBates 05-20-2013 11:34 AM

If I don't put a skimmer would I just use a standard filter
Posted via Mobile Device

wake49 05-20-2013 11:54 AM


Originally Posted by ZachBates (Post 2101801)
If I don't put a skimmer would I just use a standard filter
Posted via Mobile Device

Standard filters are nitrate factories and are more trouble than they are worth. You will be better off with a skimmer, but you don't need one in a tank of that size. You could get away with doing regular partial water changes, and keeping a close eye on Alklalinity because the depletion of Alkalinity in a marine tank is directly correlated to the presence of Nitrates. But if you add a regular filter, such as a Hang On Back (HOB) or Canister filter, Nitrate production increases as food and waste get caught in the pad and start to decompose. It can also lead to phosphate problems. I would steer clear of a filter.

On the other hand, if you do forego a skimmer you should do something to relieve the system of nitrates. This is where a Deep Sand Bed would benefit you. Anaerobic bacteria in the anoxic layers of the substrate reduce Nitrates to Nitrogen Gas, which leaves the system naturally. This system can essentially be run without a protein skimmer and will ease the need for regular partial water changes.

In that article I posted, Ron Shimek says that Hydrogen Sulfide Gas is not a problem and even says:


There is no real evidence to indicate that it may reach toxic levels in a deep sand bed.
Also in that article, he calls the problems of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas "imagined" and that " The imagined problems are proposed by people who are ignorant of the sand bed dynamics. Among these imaginary problems are accumulations of hydrogen sulfide and detritus, and the need for sifting."

As you can see, a deep sand bed is beneficial to a marine system and can alleviate the need for skimming. It is not a guaranteed method of success, nor will you fail if you do not have a deep sand bed. I am just giving you the option and some literature that you can study up on it with.

Reefing Madness 05-20-2013 12:24 PM

Simple water changes alleviate the nutrient build up. You don't need a filter nor a skimmer, nor a 4" sand bed. No reason to make it complicated.

ZachBates 05-20-2013 12:27 PM

So I can either go the deep sand bed route with the skimmer or a very small layer on the bottom and do weekly water changes
Posted via Mobile Device

wake49 05-20-2013 12:31 PM


Originally Posted by ZachBates (Post 2102137)
So I can either go the deep sand bed route with the skimmer or a very small layer on the bottom and do weekly water changes
Posted via Mobile Device

Yes. It is up to you, and I say do what you think your level of comfort is.

And Deep Sand Beds may actually alleviate the skimmer if you did not want to invest in one, and still diminish the need for Regular Partial Water Changes. In this article from Reefkeeping Magazine: The Old Becomes New Yet Again: Sandbeds and Vodka the author admits to keeping a tank with a deep sand bed and no skimmer and having no nitrate problems.

ZachBates 05-20-2013 12:34 PM

So the sand bed would be a good thing to invest In then
Posted via Mobile Device

wake49 05-20-2013 12:39 PM


Originally Posted by ZachBates (Post 2102201)
So the sand bed would be a good thing to invest In then
Posted via Mobile Device

I believe so. I wouldn't run a marine tank without one.

As with anything (and as you are doing) just research it first. There are things not to do, such as stir the sand on a regular basis or use sand-sifters such as the sand-sifting star or certain gobies (at least in a 30 gallon. In a larger tank you might be able to get away with one maybe both...).

I think you will be ultimately happy with a deep sand bed. I know I am.

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