Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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MattD 10-26-2007 12:46 PM

What is the likelihood of success with a small tank?
. . . such as a 5g? I'm seeking to start out a small critter tank. Mostly shrimp with live rock.

I've read several sites on nano tanks. Some say it's easy if you're patient, others say it's difficult at the very least. I'm a somewhat experienced freshwater keeper but I love the majesty of saltwater tanks - particularly the smaller ones due to their microcosmic representation of the ocean. Absolutely fascinating. Plus I'm broke so a tiny tank is all I can afford and fit in my room anyways.

The problems I fear are primarily human error, and the reliability of smaller equipment. My lfs says the miniature protein skimmers and bio-wheels they carry are crap (not sure why, or what size I'd need for a 5g). I'm also slightly concerned about the saltwater. I did the research and understand the concept of specific gravity and how to maintain it with top-off water etc, but the pH is a bit of a hard one for me. My local water is neutral so I would need to adjust the pH with chemicals every single water change/top-off? I tend to opt against chemicals since they're obviously artificial but I suppose I'd have no choice.

Also, when mixing saltwater, I understand that it should churn for at least a few hours to gain adequate oxygen. Can't I just agitate the water heavily for a few minutes? Surely that should build the oxygen levels?

Thanks, any tips or advice is most appreciated.

caferacermike 10-26-2007 04:13 PM

A 5g tank will be both fun and enjoyable, I keep a 7g minibow.

Plan for simple life forms that are hardy such as soft corals, mushrooms, leathers, zoas etc... Leave the SPS out. You may even find a small broken head of LPS such as hammer, frogspawn or bubble coral will thrive in a small environment with good lighting. A single shrimp with a little goby would be adequate. I always mention getting a pair of symbiant shrimp/goby such as a yellow watchman and pistol shrimp as their pairing is neat to watch. The shrimp is basically blind but builds a cave for the shrimp and goby to live in. The shrimp will venture out touching the goby. If the goby shudders the shrimp will instantly retreat.

As for how to keep it going? Simple, keep it simple. I'd get a small hang on back filter, remove the filters themselves, fill it with a little live rock rubble and maybe some macro algae (chaetomorpha). Leave the top off so light can help the algae grow. This creates a refuge for good critters to thrive in. The returning water will help create flow. I'd do a 1-2 gallon water change weekly. Get yourself a 5g bucket, a cheap maxi-jet and use only RO/DI or purified water from the grocery store. Pollutants in your tap water could easily lead to an algae outbreak. The salt mix contains buffers that will help prevent a PH swing and by replacing it often you will have nothing to worry about. You'll also be removing wastes and replenishing any lost minerals. Use a good quality salt like Seachem or Tropic Marin as they don't skimp on the buffers and elements. I'd mix up a 5g buckets worth of salt water with the maxi jet. Keep a lid on it and stir it up before each water change. This way you could mix up enough for 2 weeks and have it at the ready.

MattD 10-26-2007 06:13 PM

Hmmm, doesn't seem so difficult.

If I embark on such an endeavor, I will post many pictures and ask for quite a bit of help in this very thread most likely. I ask that you please keep an eye on the thread, I'll be asking questions often.

Thanks for your help so far. 8)

MattD 10-27-2007 06:07 PM

Ok I'm currently prepping the area where the tank will be kept, and last night I spent some time researching various soft corals and creatures that can thrive in a nano reef. I'd appreciate anymore suggestions regarding symbiotic relationships, as I've discovered that the Yellow Watchman gets slightly larger than I'd feel comfortable with keeping him in such a small tank.

Also, any suggestions on what specie of coral I should keep? There are many that are considered nano reef safe, but I'm slightly confused and concerned about their 'stinging' and potentially toxic nature. How/why do they sting? Is it defense? I read that at night it's inevitable in some species. Can someone clarify this phenomena for me? Thanks!

Additionally, I will need some info on what exactly is required to maintain the tank's water. I am aware of things like protein skimmers, powerheads, etc, but not entirely sure what their purpose is and whether they're even necessary or not. I also read that the sand and live rock completely takes care of the bio-filtration??? If someone could provide a short detailed list about what equipment is required, I'd appreciate it enormously.

Thanks again, gotta get back to cleaning the space for the tank!

caferacermike 10-28-2007 06:15 PM

You won't have enough space in the tank to rely upon live rock and live sand to convert your wastes. A typical deep sand bed to convert nitrites is about 6" deep. That'd be half your tank. A little of both and plenty of water changes should suffice.

Corals "battle" with stinging nematodes in an attempt to say "hey I'm growing and I'm going to sting anything that gets in my way". It's a battle for space on the reef. As they grow they kill weaker specimens. You won't need to worry about it to much if you play your cards right. Zoa won't attack much, LPS can typically cope with touching each other within the species of euphyllia (your hammers, frogs, bubbles, etc..). Mushrooms won't effect much or be effected by much. The real battle is when your frogspawn ($20) wipes out your $600 an inch frag of superman monti SPS you just bought.

MattD 10-28-2007 11:34 PM

Yeah, I've done some additional research and have decided to start either a 7g minbow or a 10g rectangle. Picked up a nano skimmer today. The only thing I'm worried about now is the lighting. :shock:

caferacermike 10-29-2007 05:10 PM

20-30w of power compact or T5 is all you'll need to worry about.

MattD 10-31-2007 05:45 AM

Thanks for the advice.

I've decided to sell-out and purchased a Biocube 8, an all-in-one tank that will make things a helluva lot easier for me since it comes with all the equipment necessary. I've done the research on this system and it seems to work quite well. The lighting is great, and it even comes with 2 moonlight LEDs for night viewing. I also really like how the built-in filter contains three large compartments, one which I will most likely attempt to convert in a miniature refugium (the only problem being how I will light the refuge).

All I need now is the salt mix and the floating hydrometer (can't afford a refractometer at the mo), and a digital thermometer. I'm also already considering some mods to the hood.

A fine toy indeed. I'm going to start a thread chronicling my ventures with this from the beginning with lots of pics so stay tuned.

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