Is a saltwater tank harder to maintin than a freshwater tank?
My wife was asking me if it was much harder to maintain a saltwater tank than a freshwater tank. I had no clue what to tell her. The way I see it, it's hard enough to get the water parameters right in a freshwater tank... it must be even harder in saltwater...
What's involved in starting a saltwater tank?
To answer this question we need to know what you mean by "hard" or "difficult".
To me, "hard" and "difficult" are a reflection of physical labor. In this case, freshwater systems are much more difficult to care for, requiring frequent water changes to maintain the environment.
That being said, saltwater systems require a greater level of knowledge and learning prior to taking on the challenge. I don't consider this to be hard, but simply to be a process that takes time to acquire the knowledge and skills. After the knowledge is acquired and applied correctly, maintaining a marine system is relatively less time consuming.
For example, some people think it is easier to write a check from their checkbook that it is to use their banks online billpayer system. In fact, it is much quicker and easier to pay your bills online. It just takes time to learn how to use the system and get it set up properly. Once you do, paying your bills is much less time consuming than when writing checks, putting them in an envelope, licking a stamp, and driving to a mail box.
All right let me state the question a different way (complete neophyte here so bear with me):
How does the salt get in the tank? Is it special salt for saltwater tanks? Does it come in a pouch, liquid form, pellets?
Does the salt leave deposits on the tank? Equipment? Filters? Etc.? Does it ever harden and sink to the bottom of the tank in the sand/gravel?
I assume that water changes are needed... does the water being added need to match the salinity of the tank exactly or does it get adjusted once it is in the tank already?
How does the cycle work in a saltwater tank? Is there such a thing as a cycle? How long should one wait before adding fish?
I don't have a checkbook and bank online so I take it I'm halfway there already! :-D
Equipment... Skimmer, good water flow (pumps) and everything is based on what you will be keeping in the water (fish, corals and what type of corals). Sand and never gravel or crushed coral. Now, i do use aragonite, which is finely crushed coral, but it's sand like consistency. Why? Do research.
Salinity Changes when water evaporates. If you evaporate 1in in your 55g water the water may go from 1.025SG to 1.026. Sounds like a small amount, but if you are doing water changes to 1.025 and the water is continually being topped off with that amount of SG then your water will go from 1.025 to 1.030 fairly quickly and things in the ocean take a long time to change. What else changes? Do some research.
Cycle is a great thing. It takes a bit to get it started, can't say i've really learned anything about the FW cycle, but in saltwater it takes some time and you need to test your water while the cycle is going. What are you testing for and when can you add fish? Do research.
I stress doing research to get you acclimated into the world of SW. the questions have been asked several times and is available to anyone serious about the hobby. It's a pain in the but to maintain, IF you start it incorrectly.
For great information go to Reefkeeping Blog it's an online magazine and so is Reefscapes
Good info!! I think I learned something tonight about saltwater.
All of those questions are knowledge questions. Knowledge which is easy to acquire, easy to remember, and readily available. If you do not find this process frustrating, and are patience and open to learning new things, then saltwater is for you. I would encourage you to lean on different sources of information, using each where practical.
You will want to begin with books, magazines, and by browsing the threads on this forum. I think you will find the "build" threads in the Pictures/Videos area to be the most helpful.
Another thing you should do is to to You Tube and watch a few videos on these basic concepts, such as how to mix saltwater. Many of these things are visually communicated much easier.
We can be a great source of knowledge and especially helpful in making equipment and livestock selections. You will want to lean heavily on conversations here on the forum for the ideas behind what purchases to make. Our only goal is to make you successful. We are not sales people and have no vested interest in one product vs another. It is very difficult to get unbiased advice in a book, magazine, or at the LFS.
It just occurred to me, this article which I posted might be a helpful place to start:
Wow! Great info guys! Thanks a bunch!
Sounds like I have some research to do! :-)
I just stumbled across this thread and thought I'd add my 2 cents as an observer. My cousin kept Cichlids for 10 years before he decided to get into a salt water tank. Initially he converted his existing 90 gallon to salt and hated it. The daily or near daily maintenance was too much. His LFS convinced him bigger is easier in salt water so he stepped up to a 210g tank. The maintenance dropped to once a week.
Evaporation was the biggest issue. As noted in an earlier post, loosing 1 gallon in a 55g has a much greater impact than loosing 1g in 200g tank. The salt doesn't evaporate, but the water does. Other than the normal scraping to rid the front glass of coraline algae, his weekly maintenance was adding 5 gallons of RO water. It is far less maintenance than I do with my planted FW tanks, but it is a more fragile environment and much more expensive to replace if you kill everything off.
I'd say, if you're gonna do it, GO BIG!
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