Basics for saltwater - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-02-2017, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
Basics for saltwater

Lots of freshwater people want to try saltwater but don't know what to start with, especially with filtration. Here's some options on how to do it:

Super cheap and easy:

1. Keep it simple for your first saltwater tank; you can get more complex later.

2. You can start with a "fish-only" tank, with fake things, and regular “play sand” one inch deep. And one small pump to circulate water.

3. Lights don't matter for fish-only; get cheap, or nothing at all. Fish feel safe in the dark. Or set it by a window.

4. No sump or canister is needed. That's right, no “filter” the way you might think of one.

5. Feed sparingly, based on the fish you have, and change 30% of the water per month. Yes, this will require new salt (or new saltwater) to buy. But it’s still cheap and certainly easy to understand.

6. Your sand, and your water changes, are your filter!

Next: Cheap and easy
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-03-2017, 02:53 AM
aussieJJDude's Avatar
Problems with this setup IMO:
1. windows will encourage algae, which may become a nuance as it goes out of control
2. sand will not filter the water, live rock (and a sump) will ensure that filtration stays on point. No filtration will encourage failure, especially since new marine-ers will tend to stock a tank similar to FW - a big no-no IMO - which will fail, and be disheartening
3. 30% every month... Try about 70% every week (with multiple smaller water changes carried about a few times each week) since there is no active filtration.

Owner of fish, hermit crabs, shrimp and plants!

Hermit Crab Association (HCA) is a great resource for hermit crab care
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-03-2017, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
Well as a super cheap and easy setup, some nuisance algae may be ok. And, you can choose fish that eat that if you want.

Sand actually filters very well; once bacteria form on it, it performs the entire nitrogen cycle, breaking down ammonia to nitrate. And the nitrate is removed by water changes (in this super cheap and easy setup). No rock is needed, although it does do the same thing.

A light stock load will allow less water changes, but being super cheap and easy, they can start with one fish and monitor nitrite and then add a second fish when things stabilize.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-03-2017, 11:36 PM
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Sand can filter well, if it has water movement over it. (AKA: fluidised) otherwise, it will hardly be able to filter the water. IMO, live rock is a necessity in such a setup, especially using play sand - not even live sand. And since you mentioned "a small filter" I can only assume your talking about a small internal or a powerhead, which will do nothing in biological filtration - and the sand.

Your looking at placing one small marine - like 3 inch or less - in a 75g and calling it done if you want to perform a (small) water change monthly. Otherwise, a new marine aquarist should/will need to preform weekly water changes as the system comes into balance, especially since it has no filtration.

Owner of fish, hermit crabs, shrimp and plants!

Hermit Crab Association (HCA) is a great resource for hermit crab care
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-06-2017, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
Fluidized is another type. A basic sand substrate, however, needs hardly any flow; the ambient movement over it gets plenty of nutrients to the colonizing bacteria. 1" deep is find. It does take about a month to develop though.

The super cheap and easy, in a 10 gal, can keep several small fish. A shallow sand bed performs the nitrification cycle better than you think.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-06-2017, 08:46 PM
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Skeptical about that, but won't really argue. SW and FW don't mix that well.
Have you had any success in doing this setup? If so, I'd love to see and hear your successes, failures and recommendations.

Owner of fish, hermit crabs, shrimp and plants!

Hermit Crab Association (HCA) is a great resource for hermit crab care
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