Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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IonBaller07 05-27-2009 07:11 PM

So what would I need?
So I was considering starting a small 10g nano saltwater tank, I recently started a few betta tanks and dont get me wrong I love them but I want to try something...different. Before I start one I will do MUCH more research I just want this info to know if its even worth considering. What I want to know is what exactly I will need to make this aquarium work, Im thinking just a 10g FOWLR with maybe just maybe some of those easy soft corals.

What I have.
10g Tank
Water ;-)
50w Heater
Crappy tetra filter like this: (dont think I need it, or could use it anyway)
Perfect-a-lite hood with 15w Eclipse Florescent bulb:

What I know I need:
About 15-17lbs of live rock
Some kind of sand that makes about a 2.5" bed

What else do I need just to get started, I know I need alot but how much exactly?

conger 05-27-2009 07:38 PM

well first lets dispell some of the incorrect information you listed :-)

The filter you listed, don't use it. Filters for saltwater tanks are very different than those used on freshwater tanks, or should be anyways. The "best" (one man's opinion) filter setup for a saltwater tank is plenty of good liverock (1.5-2 lb/gal, your quoted 15-17 lbs would be good for a 10 gallon tank), good water flow in the tank, and a quality protein skimmer. Maybe a deep sandbed. I'm not positive about nano cubes, but I believe skimmers are still suggested for the very small tanks. Perhaps you could get away with just doing frequent water changes though, hopefully one of the guys on here who are familiar with very small tanks can chime in.

On the subject of sand, 2.5" would be a bad idea. You want either 0.5" or less, or 4"-6". Not in-between... the deep sand bed (4" or greater) will allow anaerobic bacteria to grow in the depths of the sand bed where oxygen can't reach, which will provide very nice nitrate removal. Half an inch or less is just for looks, if you want sand but don't want a deep sand bed. If you go in between those depths, your sand will trap organic matter and allow it to decompose without being removed by your protein skimmer, and pollute your water (but won't be deep enough to allow denitrifying bacteria to grow).

As for the flourescent lighting, that's also something I wouldn't really recommend. If you aren't keeping corals, then maybe it will be OK, but even in FOWLR tanks at least PC lighting is recommended. You can get a small PC fixture with a 10000K and actinic bulb for pretty cheap. Or, if you buy an all-inclusive nano cube setup, it will likely come with one.

In addition to the things you listed with the corrections above, don't forget about RO/DI water (don't use tap water for a saltwater tank), test kits, supplements for at least alkalinity and calcium, salt mix to make new salt water for water changes, etc. RO/DI water can be bought at most local fish stores for pretty cheap, I used to get a 5 gallon bucket full for $2. You could get a home unit to make your own, but if you're looking to save money and don't mind lugging a bucket or two to/from your LFS, then you should probably just go that route. Also, a small powerhead or two to create some good water flow in the tank (water should not be stagnant in a saltwater tank).

You will be limited on the fish you can keep in a small 10 gallon tank, just a couple of small fish and some inverts like crabs and shrimp. Adding corals will definitely make the tank look cooler, but the stuff I said above (improved lighting, correct filtration, etc...) will be super important if you are keeping corals.

aquakid 05-27-2009 07:53 PM

you can use the prism skimmer

IonBaller07 05-27-2009 08:02 PM

I figured the filter was worthless just figured Id mention it incase I could use it for something.

I read that you shouldnt use a skimmer for anything under 20g. Guess I will have to read again.

The sand isnt an issue I just read from someone that they were using 2.5" so I thought that was the reccomended amount, 4" would look better anyway.

Do you have to do weekly water changes on the tank like freshwater, if so wouldnt buying the water get real expensive real fast.

Could you link me to a decent cheap powerhead, are they powered by air pumps because I already have one of those too.

I will have to do more research to find out the supplements and such and I will need to and the salt statement reminded me I need a refractometer or whatever.

The biggest problem I see would be with the lighting because those things are expensive, is there anyway I could buy a bulb to put in my hood and then use a portable lamp for the other bulb maybe? I know saltwater setups are expensive but I dont think I can just throw down $100 for one piece of it.

conger 05-27-2009 08:12 PM


Originally Posted by IonBaller07 (Post 199357)
I figured the filter was worthless just figured Id mention it incase I could use it for something.

I read that you shouldnt use a skimmer for anything under 20g. Guess I will have to read again.

yeah I really am not familiar with keeping nanocubes, so you may very well be right... I thought I had heard the same (well, that you don't HAVE to use a skimmer, not that you SHOULDN'T use a skimmer). I definitely know of people who keep 10 gallon nanocubes who use skimmers. Read more, and wait for some more people to chime in here, then decide for yourself if you want to use one or not.

Regarding the tetra filter you listed, really the idea is that you don't want to have much or any mechanical filtration in a saltwater tank (keep in mind, a protein skimmer is mechanical filtration, but I'm not talking about skimmers here). I'm just talking about filter socks, sponge blocks, etc. If you DO use them, you should rinse them out regularly, like as much as you can stand (daily wouldn't be a bad idea), because you don't want bacteria to grow and the filters to become biologically active. But in a properly set up and maintained saltwater tank, you shouldn't need sponges and socks. Your liverock and sandbed should have all the bacteria you need for biological filtration, and the skimmer complements the liverock and sandbed by removing dissolved organics before they can be broken down by the bacteria. The water flow in the tank serves to keep particles suspended in the water column where they can be removed by the protein skimmer and liverock.

Kellsindell 05-27-2009 09:43 PM

You don't need a skimmer. Yes you can get one, but it's not required. I keep a 2.5gallon Picotope and it's doing fine with a 10% water change every week. All you need to change is 10% so you have a 10g then 1g water change is all you need. You would only be able to keep small fish such as a goby or clown. see Cody's 10g tank for more details in that area. He does a wonderful job setting up the system.

You will need a small powerhead. I will alwas suggest Maxi Jet pumps. They are cheap, low wattage, and very dependable. RIO pumps have the tendancy to go bad quick and will shock you and many on the forum love Korelias. I personally have nevery used one and they are a little more pricy, but they also put out way more flow? Why is flow important you may be wondering? It's because it keeps from having stagnant water in the tank and dead spots. The fewer deadspots you have the better. (it'll allow the filtration work through the sand better).

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