Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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rustyness 05-26-2009 10:49 PM

converting 20 gallon tank from fresh to salt
so right now, i have a fresh water tank. when i had it, i found a poor green spotted puffer who was being kept in completely fresh water. feeling bad for him, i purchased him and have slowly been raising the salinity of the water. and after doing research and such i have decided i want to go the full way of converting it to a marine tank.. i just had a few questions on things.. correct me where i am wrong on my assumptions and feel free to throw out advice! i would hate to mess up!

i read i should lose my filter (bio wheel rated for 30 gallons/ 150 gph) and go to a protein skimmer... is this true? if so, any recommendations for a 20 gallon(high, not long) tank?

i need powerheads probably if i plan on building coral correct? i know coral and the green spotted puffer will be a bad mix.. i will be lining up a new owner for him and am not even sure i will necessarily want fish.. my primary reason for the build is to get the reef going :)

i will need a new light.. how much lighting/what brands would you recommend for my tank if i want to build a decent reef?

also, are live rock and sand necessary at all? my tank is fully cycled and has been running for a year now, started as fresh and is currently at approximately 1.015 salinity.. will be reaching my final of about 1.025.

ps- rough estimates of what it will cost to fully convert would be greatly appreciated. due to lease limits it must remain a 20 gallon tank, and i'd prefer to get the best bang for my buck (am a college kid after all;) )

thanks for any help and advice!

Kellsindell 05-27-2009 09:59 PM

Very good questions and welcome to the reefing community. There are plenty of good people here to help you go the right direction. I've been reefkeeping for 6years and i have 2 reef tanks going now (both listed in my signature).

Lighting is a very important thing for the corals. It affects the growth rate, pattern, coloration and density of the coral. To get a good breakdown of the lighting read Coral Lighting and Acclimation. It'll give you some insight into what you will be expecting. You will need to give more information on where you plan to go. Yes, you will need to get rid of the spotted puffer because he will chew on some things.

As for a skimmer... this is a personal preference, IMHO. You can use a skimmer for a tank this size, but it's not mandated. If you keep up with the weekly maintenance of the tank and do 10% water changes a week or 20-25% changes every 2wks or so, then you'll be fine without one (this is assuming you don't overfeed, and over stock your tank with fish). If you must have a skimmer in the tank then i would recommend a AquaC skimmer Remora. They are efficient and do a great job of keeping bubbles from the tank as well as silent. Others will say SeaClone or Prism, or Skilter skimmers, but they are no where near as good as the AquaC and it's not that much more expensive.

LR and sand are very important to a tank with no mechanical filtration. The Sand will denitrifly the tank and create a home for critters that will eat the negatives in the tank and the LR does the same thing. Corals love to grow on LR and success without the LR is, though possible, very poor. in the eventual, you will find yourself getting LR anyways.

You will need some lateral flow as well. So you'll need a powerhead and especially with corals. What are you going with? Soft corals? LPS or SPS? very important things to look at. Soft corals like flow but not as much as LPS and SPS require a lot more flow then most other corals. Where do you plan to go with this tank? A MaxiJet 1200 or 2 will give you all the flow you'll need for a 20g high. The general rule of thumb is 10xgallons. So if you have a 20gallon tank then 200gph is fine, if you are going to get LPS and SPS then you'll want to follow the 20xgallons rule which will be 400gph. They are in expensive and with smaller pumps you can change the patter easier then one large pump.

Kellsindell 05-27-2009 10:10 PM

one more thing...

Join a local club. They will give you great info and are a great resource for items that are normally expensive. I got 2 metal halide bulbs (then had to be replaced, but that's normal) 2 ballasts and everything needed to hook them up for $110. If i where to purchase these brand new from an online vendor (where prices are cheaper) i would have paid $180 for just one of these settings. and i got 2.

oh, and price will vary depending on where you are. If you're in the states then i'd check the online vendors for all your dry products.

Pasfur 05-28-2009 09:39 PM


Originally Posted by rustyness (Post 199154)

also, are live rock and sand necessary at all?

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday, who is rather new into the marine hobby. I told him the same thing I will tell you. At this point in my marine fishkeeping life, having kept marines for over 15 years in various setups, I have no doubt that live rock is what separates the successful marine hobbyists from those who come and go.

In the early to mid 1990's live rock was less common in a marine system and generally reserved for reef systems. Today, the majority of marine aquariums are FOWLR. This single change has increased the degree of success an unbelievable degree.

Yes, live rock is necessary. Live sand is a bonus. For a 20 gallon tank, the live rock is far more important than a protein skimmer.

kieffer5 05-03-2011 05:34 PM

also looking for help...
you never answered the question if you still need to cycle the tank if converting to saltwater
also can i keep the sand blasting sand in my fw tank for substrate?

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