Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Very new to fish and would like advice on going to saltwater (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-saltwater-aquariums/very-new-fish-would-like-advice-37819/)

DaughteroftheKing 02-23-2010 03:01 AM

Very new to fish and would like advice on going to saltwater
 
Hi, I am new here and It looked like there were some very knowledgeable people here so I am hoping to get some answers.
My name is Elizabeth and I was given a 75 gallon acrylic aquarium. It is freshwater right now but I have always wanted a salt water! Any advice I can get here I will take in and hopefully have a happy saltwater tank.


what I have:
and Emperor Power filter 400 Like this-- Emperor 400 Power Filter

a Tronic 50 watt heater

lots of gravel (I know I won't need)
some fake plants and rocks and 10 FW fish that need a new home!

I have heard that aeration is not recommended because it causes salt build up??? So I took it out.

I plan on taking this slowly because funds right now are scarce and I want to take this step by step. so what are some small steps that I can do to head towards SW?

any advice is greatly appreciated!
Thanks!

n1zjd 02-23-2010 08:11 AM

Welcome to TFK! The Emperor power filter you have will be of no use to a Marine aquarium. All of the filtration for a Marine aquarium comes in the form a 1) Live sand bed, 2) Live rock, 3) Protein skimmer. And yes, you will need all three of these. For your sandbed you will either want it to be 1" deep or 4-6" deep for proper De-nitrification. Next you will need around 75-100lbs of live rock. Here is a great place to get live sand and rock, http://www.marcorocks.com And lastly your going to need a protein skimmer.

Pasfur will be able to give you recommendations on a skimmer suitable for a 75G aquarium without breaking the bank. Before asking him what one to buy you would be better off posting what your intentions are with the aquarium, FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock), Reef....etc.

I dont believe a 50W heater will be large enough to maintain a stable temperature in a 75G but I could be wrong.

Your also going to need test kits, personally I like the API kits best. You will need both of these,
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Saltwater Master Test Kit
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Reef Master Test Kit You will also need a means of testing your waters salinity, I recommend a refractometer for accuracy, Milwaukee Instruments Salinity Refractometer

For salt, Instant Ocean is a good choice for both price and quality,
Aquarium Systems Instant Ocean Sea Salt, 160 gallons

Your going to need a Alkalinity Buffer and Calcium supplement before long to promote coraline algae growth and to maintain a stable environment. I recommend BIonic here ESV B-Ionic, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Hydroxide, Calcium Chloride, etc. Additives/Supplements

All of this will get you off to a great start! Keep in mind that its going to take a month or more for your tank to cycle, and even longer for it to mature. You will need to add your fish slowly because the tank wont have enough life to support a big change in bioload early on. Youve also got to introduce your fish in a certain order to limit aggressiveness as much as possible between species. Others can help you out with that on here.

I recommend reading some build threads here on TFK because you will learn alot there. The absolute biggest thing I can say to you is DONT RUSH. If you do your going to have a hard go of it. The goal here in the marine hobby is Stability. And this takes time for the life needed in a tank to flourish (copepods, amphipods, and other microfauna). Patience, and your tank will reward you well :-D

Looking forward to watching the progress! Good luck

wake49 02-23-2010 08:28 AM

Welcome to the forum!

The only things that will be of use to you are the tank and the heater. Everything else is useless (especially the filter).

First, you will need to start with Live Sand and Live Rock. For Live Sand, most of us here use a Deep Sand Bed (DSB), of 4-6". Anything between 1" and 4" will become a detritus trap and result in nutrient buildup. If you only want to use a shallow sand bed, use less than 1", or bare bottom.

For rock, I would use somewhere in the range of 75-100 lbs, depending on density of the rock. Pasfur and others on this forum tend to use Marco Rocks (I inserted a link). More porous rock will take up more space and won't really be heavy, so when about 2/3 of the aquarium volume is taken up with rock and sand (visually), you should be ok.

Next you will be buying salt. I tend to use Instant Ocean, as do others here. I have a friend that uses Brightwell Aquatics, and swears by it. Mix the saltwater up before adding it to the aquarium.

Next you will need powerheads. I would use a Hydor Koralia #3 and a Hydor Koralia #2. Try to give them good placement as to disrupt the surface of the water.

I told you that the filter would be useless because the filtration of a saltwater tank is: The live rock and DSB coupled with the most important piece of equipment in the marine industry: the Protein Skimmer. I would probably suggest the Aqua C Remora Pro w/ the prefilter box that is available for this unit.

You will need three test kits: pH, Alkalinity and Calcium. These are the most important tests in saltwater, with Alkalinity being the most important. Testing for these will give you a look into the how your water is performing, and the quality of your water.

Now some questions: Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR) or Reef? The answer to this questions will help determine lighting. If Reef, is it Hard Corals you are interested in, or inverts and softies?

Are you planning to use a sump? This is a great addtion to any saltwater tank as it gives a place to hide equipment and the prefilter box offers great surface skimming, along with aeration.

Please if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask, and good luck!

wake49 02-23-2010 08:35 AM

Mike, great post! I must have started writing mine while you posted yours...lol.

I just want to touch on a few points that Mike reminded me of:

Temperature should be 78 degrees, give or take a degree. Salinity should be 1.024-1.026 sg, and a refractometer is more reliable than a hydrometer like Mike said. I still choose to use a Hydrometer, and because of stable temps, get a pretty reliable reading (I have borrowed my LFS refrac and got the same readings..)

Calcium should test between 400-460 ppm, and Alkalinity should test between 8-12 dKH. pH should always be 8.3. I personally use the B-Ionic supplements that Mike suggested and am happy with them.

I agree with everything he has said also with reading build threads and asking questions...

Pasfur 02-23-2010 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by n1zjd (Post 330719)
All of this will get you off to a great start! Keep in mind that its going to take a month or more for your tank to cycle, and even longer for it to mature. You will need to add your fish slowly because the tank wont have enough life to support a big change in bioload early on. Youve also got to introduce your fish in a certain order to limit aggressiveness as much as possible between species. Others can help you out with that on here.

Great advice from Mike and Wake in the above posts. Took the words out of my mouth. I do want to comment on this one paragraph, just so you don't get discouraged.

In freshwater we talk about the "cycle". This is the process of bacteria growing that are capable of breaking down ammonia and nitrite, with an end result of Nitrate. These bacteria keep freshwater fish alive.

In saltwater, this topic is not as important, because these bacteria are already present on the live rock and quickly spread across the dry rock and sand. In fact, in saltwater these bacteria are different, and are also capable of process nitrates into Nitrogen Gas. This is a bonus because Nitrates become toxic to marine fish as they increase, so we do not want to introduce Nitrates into the aquarium. Which is exactly why you should not use that freshwater filter on a marine tank.

Continuing on, the cycling process in a saltwater tank can be almost instant. You can literally have life in the tank sooner than you have life in a freshwater tank. However, being patient during the first month will allow the tank to MATURE and become more stable. People who struggle with marine tanks rush this process and never catch up.

By "mature" I am talking about environmental conditions that have nothing to do with the cycle. For example, after a few weeks of allowing a tank to mature you will see microfauna such as copepods and amphipods thriving in the sand and on the rocks. You will have a diatom bloom of brown algae that comes and goes, and is replaced by coraline algae growth, which is good. The denitrifying bacteria in your rock and sand will begin to thrive and NITRATES will begin to drop and eventually reach near zero. The entire environment becomes much more stable. At this point fish are much easier to keep and many are even quite hardy.

I agree with Wake on the protein skimmer suggestion. To recommend an exact model, we do need to know if your tank is drilled? In other words, is there an overflow? I assume there is not, in which case this is the exact model skimmer I would use:
AquaC Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Mag 3 Pump
You also need the prefilter box:
AquaC Surface Prefilter Box
I recommended the Mag3 pump with the AquaC Remora because of your tank size. A 75 gallon tank is generally a bit larger than normal to use a hang on skimmer, so you will want the best pump available to drive the skimmer. The Mag3 is amazing, and not much more expensive.

By the way, welcome to the forum!

wake49 02-23-2010 09:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur (Post 330741)
To recommend an exact model, we do need to know if your tank is drilled? In other words, is there an overflow?

I do believe that this is an acrylic tank, so even if it is not drilled...I believe that she can drill it herself without damaging the tank. In that case, I have heard that Coast to Coast Overflows are more effective than traditional baffled overflows.

Just a thought...

Pasfur 02-23-2010 09:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wake49 (Post 330742)
I do believe that this is an acrylic tank, so even if it is not drilled...I believe that she can drill it herself without damaging the tank. In that case, I have heard that Coast to Coast Overflows are more effective than traditional baffled overflows.

Just a thought...

I agree, but in this particular case I am almost afraid of a sump. This is her very first aquarium and we might just want to keep things a little more basic.

Question for DaughteroftheKing.... are you a "handy" person? Or perhaps The King or The Husband would be handy?

DaughteroftheKing 02-23-2010 02:35 PM

Wow thank you all! you answered so many questions and I came up with more.

Pasfur, yes I am somewhat handy, and if I can not do something my dad will help.

some of these questions may sound dumb but so many things have been recommended and I don't know what for. I understand that a skimmer is a must. but what exactly does it do???

what do you mean is my tank drilled? like a hole in the bottom for drain or something? My uncle (who gave me the tank) mentioned this but I don't know what for.

is my filter worth anything even tho it is used, is it worth selling? I have heard it is a really good filter. but I don't know.

I would prefer to have less than an inch of sand if that is an option to start with, seems like it would save more room for more rock and stuff.

do any plants have to be live? what about lighting?

This is more of a family tank, but I am in charge and have most say so. but my mom wants some anemone ? my sister wants a clown fish and the anemone that they live in, and my dad wants lots of fish. (not tons but just so he has something to watch. I just want it to look nice happy and healthy. I don't even know if all that together is possible but that is why I came here. lol.

What is a sump? what does it do?

and one more question (for now) when I set up the FW, we just put some cheap fish in it because like i said before, my dad want to see something in it, and does not want an empty tank. I understand that it needs to run for weeks before I can put fish in it, any ideas to help convince my dad that its just gonna have to be empty for a bit???

also I have heard that Platys (mickey mouse) can go from FW to SW? Is this true??? I think it seems odd. but thats what i have.

sorry for the long post and all the dumb questions, but I want to do things right by understanding them. Thanks.

wake49 02-23-2010 03:55 PM

Alright, read this: Understanding Sumps. That will give you a good head start as to the nature and nurture of the sump.

A protein skimmer uses foam fractionation to seperate Dissolved Organic Compounds (DOC's) from the water column. The idea is that by injecting air into a volume of water, and letting that air/water combo build up to a foam, the positively charged ions of DOC's are attracted to the bubbles. This foam then rises above the neck of the skimmer and produces the skimmate, or collection of the DOC's.

An inch of sand will be fine, as long as you keep no more than that (unless its over 4").

In saltwater most people generally do not keep plants (unless we are talking mangroves or macroalgaes, but those are a discussion for another day), but we do keep corals. Corals are actually animals, (according to scientific research that is above my level of classifying plants and animals) and require different maintanence than plants. Corals actually have tiny plant-like symbiotes that provide them some of their food called zooanthelle. The zooanthelle is the reason that we are concerned with lighting when one is keeping a reeftank.

For now, you will be breaking down the FW tank and starting over with a SW tank. They are set-up and run different, and trying to convert a FW to SW could be disastrous in the long run. Unfortunately, the tank will have to sit for a few weeks while it matures, in order for it to go through the appropriate stages of maturity.

Anenomes are sensitive SW animals and need special care and lighting. I am sure that in a year or so you will begin to have the discipline to care for such a sensitive animal. As of right now, I would be more concerned with the basics of getting a SW tank started...

Can you post a pic of the tank?

Pasfur 02-23-2010 06:03 PM

Normally I try to avoid repetitive answers. However, given that you are totally new to fishkeeping, I think it will benefit you to hear multiple versions of the same answer, and perhaps help increase your understanding. You have several experienced hobbyists helping you on this, so you should learn quickly. I'm curious, you say you live at home. Can I ask how old you are?

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaughteroftheKing (Post 330885)
some of these questions may sound dumb but so many things have been recommended and I don't know what for. I understand that a skimmer is a must. but what exactly does it do???

A protein skimmer removes waste from the water before it breaks down. This keeps Nitrate low and helps to keep alkalinity stable.

Quote:

what do you mean is my tank drilled? like a hole in the bottom for drain or something? My uncle (who gave me the tank) mentioned this but I don't know what for.
Exactly. Is your tank drilled?

Quote:

is my filter worth anything even tho it is used, is it worth selling? I have heard it is a really good filter. but I don't know.
Please keep the filter. You can use it on your quarantine tank. Read this article on Q tanks:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/m...ne-tank-35693/

Quote:

I would prefer to have less than an inch of sand if that is an option to start with, seems like it would save more room for more rock and stuff.
Less sand will actually result in less fish and other livestock. The sand depth of 4'' to 6'' will help to remove Nitrate buildup, and will allow places for microfauna, copepods, amphipods, etc to spread. This is a natural food source for fish, greatly increasing the health of the tank and stability of the environment. I strongly encourage you to use a 4'' sand bed. VERY strongly encourage you. It needs to be at least 4'' and no more than 6''. This is very very important. Going with 2'' or 3'' can be a disaster.

Quote:

This is more of a family tank, but I am in charge and have most say so. but my mom wants some anemone ? my sister wants a clown fish and the anemone that they live in, and my dad wants lots of fish. (not tons but just so he has something to watch. I just want it to look nice happy and healthy. I don't even know if all that together is possible but that is why I came here. lol.
Dear Mom & Dad,
You have my word, if you are patient and follow the advice we give you here, this tank will be a great success. This is our passion and what we are good at. I personally have almost 20 years experience with saltwater tanks. From you we need great patience. In the end everyone will get what they want out of this tank, but it will take time and patience. ..

Quote:

What is a sump? what does it do?
A sump is a smaller aquarium that sits under the main tank. It holds the filtration equipment, etc. It is not necessary at all, but can be helpful if your tank is drilled.

Quote:

and one more question (for now) when I set up the FW, we just put some cheap fish in it because like i said before, my dad want to see something in it, and does not want an empty tank. I understand that it needs to run for weeks before I can put fish in it, any ideas to help convince my dad that its just gonna have to be empty for a bit???
Sacrifice for the short term, and over the long term you will be able to have a whole lot more of what you want. We need to get the populations of microfauna spreading, and fish will prey on this life, making it take a lot longer for the aquarium to really mature well. I prefer no livestock of any type for 3 weeks after adding live rock.

Quote:

also I have heard that Platys (mickey mouse) can go from FW to SW? Is this true??? I think it seems odd. but thats what i have.
Not Platys. Mollys, however, are brachish and can live in both FW and SW. We will not be using Mollies in your tank.

I am really taken to your tank. I think this will be a great family project and something you can all be proud of. My only request is that you trust us here and don't do anything without discussing it first with us. For the most part, your local pet shop (LFS) is not a good source of information.


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