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I was sweating, now I'm drooling...

2033 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Melissa
I must be driving my wife crazy. It's 11:15pm and I am going on and on about live rocks, powerheads, xenias, hydrometers, nitrates, 12g nano reef tanks,--this stuff wasn't in my vocabulary 12 hours ago. She said, "I'm glad you like reading about all of that stuff. I was just going to say to get Elijah (our son, yeah he's 3, and I guess this tank's a little more about me then him :) ) a little tank and that be the end of it."

I was looking at so many of the pictures posted here and other sites today. I starting to get excited thinking that I can kind of have part of the ocean in my home! I would just be pumped about seeing what grows out of the live rock I get!

Anyway, I am into this, and plan on starting slowly. You guys were super helpful earlier, and helped to fan the flame and pique my interest.

To help answer the questions I am about to ask, let me give you this little bit of background about me: I am a novice when it comes to saltwater. But, I'm a detailed person and love to learn. I have had fresh water fish, snakes, lizards, and a I know and have a desire to take care of the pets I own.

So here are my two questions: Where should I start? If you were me, (and you have, what will most likely be a 20 gal. tank) and you could pick my set-up for the first 6 months, what would you put in there? Keep in mind that I would like to have more than fish and a live rock (FOWLR-I think that's what you call it), but am willing to wait if it's wise.

Next: What will it take on my part to move from a novice to novice-intermediate--so I can add more than the live rock and fish?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this, and for your input. Please feel free to share whatever you'd like.
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Hi newguy and welcome to ff!! Merry Christmas!
I'm glad everyone here was able to help feed your fire for saltwater, but let me warn, patience is going to be your best friend along this trip. Important to avoid impulse buying. I'm glad you like to read, research will be your next best friend.
As for a 20 gallon and where to begin... let me start out by saying that you won't actually get live animals into that tank for at least a good 4 - 6 wks after setting it up. Freshwater is great, and saltwater isn't "harder", but it is very different. Spacing/stocking is different, water quality is going to be much more important, and will need to be monitored more than in freshwater.
As for where to begin, it will be important to figure out what you wish to keep and accomplish. I warn about considering only the first 6 months right now, because animals grow quickly and as you learn about saltwater, you will get more and more excited and your wants may change quickly.
A 20 gallon is a fun size, however, it will be more difficult than a larger tank, and you will be a lot more limited on what animals you can keep because of the size of the tank. In 20 gallon freshwater, you could average about 5 - 10 small fish, in saltwater... about 3 - 4 SMALL fish at very most.
20 gallons is considered a nano tank, so I will suggest doing some reading about nano tanks/setups.
For basic equipment, I would consider these to get you started:
tank/cover/stand (I would work with a glass cover instead of plastic)
lighting (type will depend on what you wish to put into the tank)
test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, KH, and calcium
marine salt
live sand (aragonite) instead of crushed coral
15 - 25 lbs of live rock
filter (also dependent on what animals you decide to keep)
heater (submersible)

These are the basic needs for saltwater... but again, it is safer, cheaper, and easier to choose your animals first, and then set up accordingly.
Do you have any ideas yet? If you post some names it will give us somewhere to start in helping you. We can either give you the thumbs up or down, and explain why, and make other suggestions based on your apparent likes and dislikes, and based on compatibility in a tank of that size.
Merry Christmas and welcome aboard!
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New guy, since we've been through all that in a previous thread I'll give it my go.

I'd say to plan for a reef tank. You say you want a little more then fish and rocks. That sounds great. Keep in mind that it will be cheaper to set up the tank for what you want in the end instead of starting with one tank and converting it to another. You have a few options. I'd recommend checking out it'll make your head swim. There are some really great set ups turn key available there.

My 20g home build.

20g tank
600gph overflow box.
20g sump/fuge in the stand
ASM miniG skimmer
These can be had a little cheaper and can be added a few months down the road.
Lighting. 150-250w metal halide 12-15K with PC or T5 supplemental lighting in 20K
My friend bought 4 lights from this guy and has loved the quality and results. Much cheaper than anything you can get in the LFS. Thei light will meet ALL of your demands as your tank grows into it. Can also be moved up to a 50g if you ever upsize. I realize this is very expensive but lighting is the single most important part of reef keeping besides clean water. Again you can begin cycling the water without a light and get this a few weeks before you are ready to establish the tank. I think he offered a 150w with some PC bulbs for about $300 if you call him. My friend Kyle ordered the 15K bulbs he sells and loves them.

Return pump from sump, Eheim 1048 (marine depot or Big al's have great prices) This is only to lift the water back to the tank. Not to add flow.

Seio M620 for internal flow.

20 lbs Carib sea dry aragonite or oolite.

5 lbs of good live aragonite from LFS (generally $2 a lb) to seed the tank.

15-25lbs of quality live rock. the weight is only a guide line. As I pointed out in your other thread some live rock is very porous and light. What you are after is that kind. Surface area is the important thing with live rock. 20%-50% of the volume of the tank filled with rock is more then adequate as bio filtration. I use a lot, 240lbs in a 75g, because I like the look and don't have many fish.

Seachem reef salt
B Ionic supplements.

For the sump/fuge I'd make it as simple as possible. Use a 20g tank, silicone in a piece of glass that fits the inside of the tank. Have it cut so it's about 9" tall. Silicone it in place so that your fuge is about 2/3 the length of the tank, or 20". This will still leave 10" for your skimmer and return pump. Just have the overflow fall into the fuge part of the tank. Over the fuge I'd recommend a Lights of America cheap Fluorex 42W flood light. They are very cheap and come in the perfect spectrum for growing algaes.

That is a great place to start for about the most trouble free tank.

So what is a fuge? A refugium is a place for "unwanted" algaes and macro algaes to grow. By allowing the perfect place for algae to grow under the tank, your display will be devoid of algae. The algaes in the fuge will use up the available nutrients so that it cannot thrive in the display. By "harvesting", thinning back and throwing away, clumps of the algae you permanently remove unwanted excess nutrients from the tank. It also becomes an area for critters to thrive in unharmed by fish. Copepods, decapods, and amphipods will thrive. These will overflow into the return pump and end up in the display tank. Your fish and corals will quickly eat them up. A tank like this will grow most any coral you could ever want. After about a year you won't really need to feed the tank as it will become it's own ecosystem.

This is a lot of equipment and commitment, I understand that. The thing to keep in mind is that you can have much simpler set ups but when problems arise they can be devastating. I prefer to build "trouble free" and less maintenance tanks. You have several routes you can take. I recommend searching you local area for a reef club, chances are there is one. You could get most of this equipment used for a lot less money.

If time and money are a factor those custom nano cubes are working great ffor many of my friends. They are somewhat limiting on what you can keep in them but will provide access to about 3/4 of what is available to the reef enthusiast.

Stay in touch.
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Thanks again, to both of you, for your insight and help. I appreciate your passion and knowledge. You've both mentioned the importance of patience, and I am in no rush. I look forward to getting the basics set up and putting the live rock in (I probably won't even do that for a couple of weeks). I don't mind waiting 4-6 weeks for the tank to cycle. The more time I have to plan and think things through the better.

I'll be thinking though my last thread, this one, as well as reading others to try to gain more insight and really nail things down.

I'm not sure exactly what I want in the tank. This whole thing started over a clown fish, so that's one definite :wink:

I will keep in touch and will be sure to post my progress and any more questions. If you ever think of anything else you'd like to share regarding my situation, please feel free to add them to either thread...I'll be checking back here often and I do take the time to research and re-read what you've suggested.

Enjoy the day.
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If clownfish are what you desire, I would limit myself to ocellaris clowns in that size of a tank, and remember, there's not much room for "fish" in a tank of that size. Ocellaris are the smallest of the clowns, and usually the easiest to find, also.
Also, if planning a clown, I'd also decide early on if an anemone is important to you, because many many corals will simply not work in that small of a tank with an anemone, and each clown has specific anemones it will take to. Also, a tank raised clown may not understand the use of an anemone, where a wild caught clown will.
I hope this helps a little more.
Well if you want a clownfish it shouls do fine in your tank with out an anemone. Most would get to big for that size tank anyway. And if you eventually want corals you shouldnt get an anemone anyway. The clownfish can do fine without one. Aldo, the are many nice corals you could add to your tank in the future if your lighting is right. I hope we can help you out with whatever else you may need.
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