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First, thanks for reading this and offering your input.

I've kept freshwater aquariums in the past and have had good success. I always said that the next aquarium I keep will be saltwater.

I feel like a tool, but I went down to Petco and talked to the guy about wanting a saltwater aquarium-you know, the ins and outs. He tells me I can easily keep a 10 gallon tank and it will be fine. I figure, this is a christmas gift for me to enjoy with my little son, so I'll start small. If I can handle 10 gallons I can work up from there in the future (which I want to do). I felt proud of my purchase and am looking forward to starting to set it up on Christmas morning.

Before the big launch, I figured I would google a bit, just to make sure I am doing this right. I came across this site, began reading a lot of the postings, and now I am sweating.

Help me out here. My purpose is a 10 gallon tank with about 4-5 smaller type fish. I am sure one will be a clown fish. I bought a "kit" from Petco, the price was reasonable. I also bought the coral sand, salt, etc.--everything I thought I needed except for the fish.


If you could please talk to me like I am dumb, and don't know the aquariumnese language I would appreciate it. For instance, someone was talking about "live rocks" and to my shame, I don't know what that means.

Please help. Should I take back the 10 gallon tank and get the 20g? I will have to sell my wife on it, but am sure I can if it's critical. I don't want the fish to feel like they are living in a garage, as one poster put it. Any insight will be appreciated, even if you want to rip me for making some mistakes. I've got to start somewhere. Thanks.
 

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I feel like a tool, but I went down to Petco and talked to the guy about wanting a saltwater aquarium-you know, the ins and outs. He tells me I can easily keep a 10 gallon tank and it will be fine.
This was the first thing you did wrong,most places like petsmart and petco dont have people that now about freshwater let alone saltwater. You can keep a 10gal, But the problem is its can get troublesome after a while. The problem with them is evaporatio. When the water evaporates out it will raise the salinity quick, and then problems can start. What is said the bigger the tank the easier it is. I would get the biggest tank possible. If you can only get a 20gal go with the 20gal.

Help me out here. My purpose is a 10 gallon tank with about 4-5 smaller type fish. I am sure one will be a clown fish. I bought a "kit" from Petco, the price was reasonable. I also bought the coral sand, salt, etc.--everything I thought I needed except for the fish.
As for the 10 gal with 4-5 smaller fish this will be to many in such a little space. I am running a 20gal system for my son that has 4 fish(2 clowns, 3-striped damsel, and a purple fire fish). This is all the fish I am putting in this system. I wouldn't put that many fish in a 10 gal because when the water evaporates thats when problems will start the build up of ammonia and detris.

If you could please talk to me like I am dumb, and don't know the aquariumnese language I would appreciate it. For instance, someone was talking about "live rocks" and to my shame, I don't know what that means.
Live rock is a usually coralline rock with marine organisms living on or within the rock, and is a term used mainly in the aquarium trade. Live rock is used in saltwater aquariums as the main source of nitrifying bacteria, important roleplayers in the nitrogen cycle that processes waste from aquarium inhabitants into less toxic forms.

also bought the coral sand, salt, etc.--everything I thought I needed except for the fish.

What do you mean by coral sand. Is it live sand, crushed coral, or aragonite sand. If you went with the crushed coral, take it back it is a no-no in the saltwater trade. It will cloud the water whenever disturbed for a lifetime. The best type to get is live sand, the next is aragonit. But with the size that your wanting to go with I would get the live sand. All live sand is, is sand with benificial bacteria already in it.
 

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To touch on what USMC said, live sand is aragonite sand that is shipped and stored wet with beneficial bacteria in it. I too would recommend a 20g set up. 10g set ups are usually considered difficult. You can do it, and it can even be your first tank. Just understand that it can give you headaches. I would only keep one fish in a 10g and it would need to stay small.

Could you describe the "kit" and price?

I'd like to see a skimmer, a powerhead, 15lbs of aragonite, hydrometer, thermometer, quality power compact or T5 lighting of about 25-50watts (if it comes with incandescents take teh kit back and tell them to shove it.) salt mix, test kits.

You might want to think about one of these instead..
http://www.jbjnanocube.com/ There are several modela available and in several price ranges. Much more plug and play in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What do you mean by coral sand. Is it live sand, crushed coral, or aragonite sand. If you went with the crushed coral, take it back it is a no-no in the saltwater trade. It will cloud the water whenever disturbed for a lifetime. The best type to get is live sand, the next is aragonit. But with the size that your wanting to go with I would get the live sand. All live sand is, is sand with benificial bacteria already in it.
The bag reads: "Natural Coral Sand Pure Marine Substrate

100% Calcium Carbonate
Multiple Grades
Increased pH Buffering
Aesthetically Preferred
Minimal Rinsing

Recommended for use in all salt water aquariums.

Tideline Inglewood, CA
10 pound bag"

This is what the guy said they use in the store.

It looks like little bits of coral, like pebbles ceral or something, it doesn't look like fine sand, it looks more like little pebbles or stones. It's dry, not wet.
 

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caferacermike said:
Could you describe the "kit" and price?

I'd like to see a skimmer, a powerhead, 15lbs of aragonite, hydrometer, thermometer, quality power compact or T5 lighting of about 25-50watts (if it comes with incandescents take teh kit back and tell them to shove it.) salt mix, test kits.
Here's what's included with the kit:

10 gal. tank
Full fluorescent light hood
15 Watt fluorescent bulb
Whisper 10 power filter
Whisper filter cartridge
50 Watt UL listed aquaruim heater
Nylon fish net
Starter size water conditioner
Starter size Tetramin tropical fish food
External aquarium thermometer
Fish are Fun guide

I had to buy the salt and everything else seperately. The kit was on sale for like $50 bucks. I spent about $120 or so on everything.
 

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Would make a great freshwater set up.....


You could use it for salt but you will need to stock very very lightly. one small goby, blenny, maybe a percula clown, some hermits a few snails. Water changes will be VERY important in such a small tank for nutrient export. You will need to clean that filter weekly, just rinse it under the sink faucet. Don't worry about killing the bacteria as it will be used only for mechanical filtration. You will need to get some rock. Your lighting will not be sufficient to keep any corals except for some mushrooms, maybe a bit of green star polyp. Any corals that you get will need to be non photosynthetic.
 

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caferacermike said:
I know you care and this is why I hate being so straight forward....

That stuff looks like leftover beach sand....

Aragonite is pure coral skeleton that has been crushed by nature into grains like sand. http://www.carib-sea.com/pages/products/marine/substrate/aragalive.html

This is what I'd be looking for.
Thanks man. I checked the site and found a couple of places where I can pick that up.

You mentioned in a previous response to me something about a powerhead and hydrometer, etc. Could you take sec. to explain those to me, do I need them?

I have a feeling I will end up going with a 20 gal. tank. I guess the guy at the store scared me a little because he mentioned how much salt water tanks evaporate water and the price of salt wasn't cheap. He said they add water to their tanks like 2x's per week.
 

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Ok keep in mind that a 5g bucket of salt will last a year for a 10g lol. You want to hear scary, I will need 2 buckets just to fill my new tank.

FIRST!!!! When the water evaps you do not add salt water to it........ You add freshwater. Salt does not evaporate. This is why it's important to keep an eye on yoru water level. When it gets low your salinity shoots up. When you add water back to it, it lowers. In a 10g I'd never let more than half an inch evaporate. You'd probably need to add about a quart daily. If possible plan on using RO water. If you do not have a local LFS that sells it cheaply those "Penguin" brand (might be different in your area) drinking water stations in front of the supermarket work well. Using straight tap water can add excess nutrients and minerals to your tank that you don't want. For such a small tank you could even just buy distilled water from the supermarket for about 50 cents a gallon. It'd be better to buy it for 25 cents a gallon out front from the machine. Also these 2 waters will not need any conditioners.


Powerheads are current devices. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Produ...ll&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&N=2004&Nty=1
You will need one larger one or 2 smaller ones ina 10-20g set up. For a 20g set up I'd even look at the Seio M620 http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Produ...ll&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&N=2004&Nty=1

Hydrometers measure the salinity level to tell you what the specific gravity is (how mcuh salt is in the solution) http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/NavResults.cfm?N=2004+113761
 

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You mentioned in a previous response to me something about a powerhead and hydrometer, etc. Could you take sec. to explain those to me, do I need them?
Apowerhead is a submersible pump that produces currents in the tank. Just like these. There are many types.

http://www.petsolutions.com/Aquarium+Systems+MaxiJet+Powerheads-C-10311-C-.aspx

Now a hydrometer reads how much salt is in the water. Also there are many different types all do the same thing.

http://www.tonmo.com/images/cephcare/Hydrometer.jpg
 

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BTW, yes this is all expensive but well worth it.

Just take it slow and build it as you can. The best piece of equipment you can have as a salt enthusiast is a tool that we all should have, patience.

You can just as easily get the tank, substrate, a small power head, and some salt mix and get started. Set it up and let it circulate until you can start buying some liverock.You could spend 2 months like that if you have the patience. Your tank will cycle on it's own and you will have less troubles.

BTW, did anyone at Petco tell you that you will need to wait a month before adding fish anyways?
 

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caferacermike said:
BTW, yes this is all expensive but well worth it.

Just take it slow and build it as you can. The best piece of equipment you can have as a salt enthusiast is a tool that we all should have, patience.

You can just as easily get the tank, substrate, a small power head, and some salt mix and get started. Set it up and let it circulate until you can start buying some liverock.You could spend 2 months like that if you have the patience. Your tank will cycle on it's own and you will have less troubles.

BTW, did anyone at Petco tell you that you will need to wait a month before adding fish anyways?
You both have been extremely helpful, I appreciate it. I want to do this right.

He said the least I could wait is 4 days, but around a week is best. I didn't know it should be a month.

I saw on another site that it is wise to do a 30% water change once a month. Is that true? I saw that on a link I found while looking into that aragonite. Also, is the aragonite the live rock that I need? If not, what is live rock, does it go on the bottom of the tank like the aragonite?

Thanks for taking the time.
 

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30% monthly is a fair number. I do about 10% weekly. Products like a skimmer can help stretch that number out a little longer. they completely remove wastes from the water. Much better than a power filter of any kind.

Live rock is different from live sand.

Let me explain for a second. Live rock does not actually get up and dance or anythign cool like that. It is calcium formations from the coral reef beds that have broken away during storms. This rock is covered in bacteria, invertebrae, and other microscopic critters from the area it was collected. These critters will help process waste in the tank and keep it running more smoothly. Live sand is the same sort of thing, basically it is live rock that has been crushed into sand over time. Live sand is from either an established tank or bagged in the ocean.

For live rock I'd check out www.oceanhomesetc.com

http://www.oceanhomesetc.com/store/index.php?cPath=72&osCsid=790f9fc981bd45df9ef8afcf44813829

My preferences would be.

http://www.oceanhomesetc.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=857
http://www.oceanhomesetc.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=257
http://www.oceanhomesetc.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=252

Especially the Pukani. The reason being that you want light, fluffy and porous rock. The more porous the more surface area for bacteria.

Monica's prices are some of the best I've ever seen. Her rock is very nice quality. Tell her that some weird guy named Mike from an online forum, living in Austin TX, sent you and she might even do you a little better. No guarantees on that.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Mike, thanks a million man.

I am off to a Christmas Eve service, but I will check back later. I am sure I will have more questions and concerns in the future. I appreciate all the links and places to buy stuff that you've helped me to discover.

I have a lot to think about, and am pumped about the prospects. I liked that you mentioned starting slow and then building as I go along; I think that's what I had in mind all along.


ps, I've always liked Texans. I work with 2 guys from Lufkin. Talk to you later.

Adam
 
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