Help with daughter's 29 gal tank
Here is the quick story on my journey to get a saltwater tank... My daughter who will be 6 months old loves all these saltwater fishes!!! So wife and I go to petsmart and buy a 20 gal starter kit thinking we wer egoing to do fresh water tank... after some thought and contemplating wether or not to go saltwater, I made the decision we would, since my baby girl LOVES all these bright fishes...
(this is for a fowler?) meaning, fish with live rock and some corrals? What I am saying is that I will have fish, live rock, and some corrals (in the near future, future meaning probably within a month after the cycle period, lol)
I was going to ahead and use the starter kit for the saltwater tank, but decided not to. I exchanged the 20 gal starter kit at petsmart for a 29 gal tank (due to space this is the biggest I could get, it will be in my daughters room for her to enjoy), a 150 watt heater, and a marineland bio-wheel filter (says its for tanks up to 50 gal) I already have the live sand, red sea salt and hydrometer. (will have to get more seasalt and live sand since I now have a bigger tank, lol)
I will be getting a power pack for lighting today... And also be getting some liverock! My question is what else do I need?
I have heard some things about a skimmer? and an air pump? will I need all of this for my 29 gal tank?
I just want this to be done right and not rush into it, but its hard not to because I want this up for my daughter already, lol... I know this will be for my daughter but I AM SURE that i will be getting more in depth with this HUGE hobby...
I am here to learn more about this hobby and any help is GREATLY appreciated!!!
Okay, if you want to do it right. Many opinions will vary, but what you need to do is go out and get some books. Most run about 20 to 60 bucks each new, or be like me and get them off ebay.
You WILL need a protein skimmer for your tank. It gets rid of organic waste that will build up and eventually kill your fish. Called Sudden Death Syndrome, no one really knew why it happened before the skimmer came along because it's not testable like nitrates and nitrites and pH.
I suggest you get this book at the very least.
There are many others, but look around for the ones that suite you. I have roughly 35 books of various sizes and information does go a long way.
First, pick out the must have fish that you want. Then from there pick out other fish or invertebrates that are compatible with your must have fish. Just work your way and plan your entire tank as if everything was fully grown. No use thinking your fish will stay small forever. Get a good quality test kit, also.
Three main things. Do not overstock. More waste than your filters can filter. Do not overcrowd. If a fish needs space, give it what it requires. and finally, do not over feed.
Great advice from Fat_Fender, let me add to it just a bit. I agree that a skimmer is a must have, especially for a beginner with a reef tank, however, considering the size of the tank, this may not be possible. Look into a skimmer called "bakpak", this is your best bet for a hang on, they work well once you get them adjusted, and they come with everything you need, and are easy to care for.
The best advice I can give about this size of a tank is to treat it as a nano reef. 29 gallons will greatly limit the kinds of and number of fish you can keep, as most of the more common fish such as damsels and butterfly, tang, and etc are going to get way too big for a tank of this size. If you approach this as a nano reef, you can put together something that will thrive and grow rather than cause problems in overgrowing your tank quickly.
With that said, if you need ideas for planning a nano reef, there are a lot more for options than most people would think, and you can have a very active tank pretty easy.
First, live rock... lots and lots of live rock. When I set up a nano reef, I shop around and collect smaller pieces of live rock from various places. This will give ultimate growth potential and variety in color later. Add the rock during cycling, as this should be considered part of your cycling procedure. First is water, then salt... when specific gravity/salinity is at 1.023, then add your sand, and anytime after than your rock, the sooner the better. (NOTE: when choosing live rock from a store tank, be careful not to take rock from tanks with aptasia anemones present. If the aptasia are in a tank, you can be assured they will go home with you in your rock, and they can quickly destroy a reef and are hard to get rid of) If, during cycling and tank is only sand and rock, you should see aptasia appear on a rock, quickly lift that rock out of the tank and let sit in a bucket of freshwater for 72 hrs. before returning to the tank. This will ensure you have a good and healthy start without issues to deal with as you're learning.
As was already stated, get a feel for what animals you want to keep before you start worrying about bringing them home. Planning is important for a reef, especially in a smaller situation. Not all corals are compatible, not all inverts are compatible overall, and not all fish are "reef safe" or will fit into a 29 gallon tank.
Some ideas for you to research:
Red head goby
yellow watchman goby
firefish (these would be colorful and fun for your daughter to watch, but they do best in a group of at least 3, so keep that in mind for population purposes)
coral banded shrimp
sand sifting or sand stars
blue leg hermits
pulsing xenia coral
bumble bee snails
the list goes on... if you need more, let me know
As you can see there are a lot of options, and once you research these animals, you'll find you can have a lot of bright colors, just a bit smaller scale. Activity levels can be very high both day and night, and many people are having fun with the lunar lights so they can watch the different animals that are active only at night. If done slowly and with research, if done right, with proper expectations, you could soon have something really awesome! Patience, though... most important... it's a matter of being successful or not.
Good Luck and let us know what else we can do to help
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