Need your advice on setting up a saltwater tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-11-2016, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Need your advice on setting up a saltwater tank

Hey everyone I need your advice on setting up a saltwater tank. A quick rundown on me, I am a 55 year old disabled Army vet that lives on a budget and I have had freshwater tanks for many years. I have a 40 gal freshwater setup now and had a 55 gal (tank only) gave to me and I want to set it up saltwater. My wife said she would like lots of color and plenty of "Nemo's"(Clown's) lol. We do not have the room for both tanks so I would like to change the 40 over to saltwater for now. My 40 has white sand substrate, glass lid and a led light bar, new submersible heater and I have a 5 stage canister filter. I don't know for sure if I will do all live rock, coral etc or go with artificial. My plan is once I have what I need for the 55 gal tank I will sell my 40 gal. I do want a stand just like my stand my 40 is on, a glass lid and from there is where I need the help. I was thinking about using my canister on the 55 gal and not going with live rock etc, so from here is where I need your help. Back in 1994 I had my first saltwater and at that time I had no idea what I was doing. So from here on out I need advice on doing this properly, just remember I am on a fixed income so I will have to buy one thing at a time. Also do I need to get a R/O filter? Any links, stickys etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Bill
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-11-2016, 04:43 PM
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Things have certainly changed since the 90s, equipment have drastically improved and knowledge has become increasingly vast. A refractometer to test the salt can be found rather inexspensive compared to a decade or two ago.

I must say that for fish only tanks a canister filter will suit you fine but if you decide to go with a full blown reef tank I would just sell the unit and use its currency for other equipment like circulation pumps or whatnot.

I would recommend getting a quality protein skimmer for your tank and if you go with corals get an equally good set of lights for the system. Both of these things will set you back well over a $100 but they will save you much more than that in setbacks, issues, and inevitable upgrade costs.

Here is a link to my personal favorite RO guys, these are life time units right here.

Typhoon, RODI, Reverse Osmosis, Deionization

But if you are on a budget for this you can really use any RO unit as long as it actually strips the water clean. Many will clog or become obsolete very quickly or may not have very serviceable parts. I have a few clients whom just go to the store and buy 5 gallon jugs of water formt he store such as safeway or winco.

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post #3 of 9 Old 05-11-2016, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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badxgillen thanks for the reply, I agree things have really changed. Back then I did not know to use an RO system for my water so I set my first saltwater tank up with city water. Of course I removed the chlorine etc but lost sea horses and fish both. But now I have a friend that lives here in town where we live in the Tampa Florida area and his whole house is RO. I have a 15 gal water drum with a lid that I use for water changes so I can use it to carry RO water until I can get my own RO system. I think I will use artificial rock and corals for now and set my 40 gal up for now and work on my 55 gal piece by piece lol. My buddy I'm talking about just bought a 250 gal tank and wooden stand for $175 on the local Craigslist. As I get money saved up I will have him and his wife help me look for stuff as I get ready for it. I will keep you posted. My canister filter is 5 stage 396 GPH my top tray id filter media second tray is my charcoal tray and bottom three trays are ceramic bio balls. Let me know if thats on.
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-15-2016, 10:56 AM
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Do you know if you can get the tank drilled? Having a sump will make things much easier for you, especially in the types of equipment you can have on the tank.

I take my tanks to a local glass store and they do a professional job fro a reasonable price $20-$30 depending on the size and number. Add a bulk head and some PVC plumbing and you are ready to go.

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post #5 of 9 Old 05-15-2016, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Now see I was trying to decide if I want to sell my 2 freshwater tanks (I only have room for one) and work on getting a used drilled tank. I have seen a lot on the local craigslist here in Florida. My buddy just bought a 220 freshwater tank and custom wooden stand and that's tank and stand only for $225. In about 2 years I will be buying another house, right now I am renting an apartment and its ground floor so I can go a little bigger for now. My end result goal is lots of color and to base my saltwater tank around Clown Fish. The Clown Fish will be my primary fish in my Saltwater tank. When I buy my house I will go up to at least 120 gal so if I decide to go live and colorful reef I will have a good start on it. From what I am reading on here and online I can use my canister filter and a protein skimmer only in my 40 or my 55 gal as long as I stay with all artificial rocks and coral etc. I got my first fish when I was 9, my mom bought me a goldfish and on my 10th birthday I got a 10 gal tank and I left the goldfish in the big bowl and put guppies in my first tank, my aunt helped me, she had a ton of guppies in her tanks so that's where I got my start and now I'm 55 and really want to convert to Saltwater but I don't want to do what I did back in the 90's with my first saltwater tank. This one will be researched and setup right. I am open to any and all suggestions on this new project!
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-19-2016, 12:28 PM
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Are you good with DIY? You can make and or modify a number of components\equipment.

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post #7 of 9 Old 05-20-2016, 12:01 PM
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Look on craigslist for any Reef Ready (sometimes marked as RR) tanks in your local area. They are much easier and can save a lot of time and are usually not very expensive.
Canisters work and many people use them, they just require a little more cleaning to stop nitrates getting out of hand. To be honest, you might say that you dont want corals now, but its worth planning for them as at some point you will want to transition.
You might get lucky and be able to get a lot of equipment needed to setup a saltwater tank really easily.
I have some very good supplier sites that I wont post here but if you wanted them, then drop me a PM.

10g Fry / Hospital / QT tank (as needed)

75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-20-2016, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Yea I use to have a my own wood shop and I do most of my own plumbing, my cousin just passed away a few weeks ago and he was a master plumber as was his dad. I grew up on a farm so we did all our own work and such.
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-20-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Tazman I have been doing just that, I am looking on my local Craigslist and finding several good deals.
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