Anyone with a Saltwater fish tank?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by M1A Shooter, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. M1A Shooter

    M1A Shooter

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    we currently have a 72 gallon freshwater tank with Koi in it. while they are ok they are just not interesting enough and are quite dirty. we have been debating converting it to a saltwater tank for awhile now and when we bought the tank, we made sure it would be saltwater compatible later. the pump and filter will be enough to work well with the saltwater.

    i am curious about what all i will need to get the conversion going? im pretty sure i wil need a heater as Koi dont require one. and obviously the salt to get the water right.

    as far as coral goes, is it better to have live coral in there or does it not really matter? we are looking to put a couple clown fish in among a few others, cant remember the names of them at the moment.

    anything i should know about getting one started or maintaining one?
     
  2. 03 Jarhead

    03 Jarhead Stiff Member

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    PM Nicko, I believe he has a saltwater setup. :wavey:
     

  3. SilverBullet_83

    SilverBullet_83 NRA member

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    I had a 210g up until recently. If you are going to want to keep what you have it will have to be cleaned very well.
    Here is a site that I used to frequent. People are very friendly. Feel free to ask any questions that you have. saltwaterfish.com/vb

    To answer some of your questions. I did not have a heater on mine up until recently, but you should have it to maintain a stable environment. Have you ever treated the tank with chemicals? If so, not a good idea. The chemicals have been known to lay dormant in the silicon and then be released to wreak havoc on the tank. As for corals, you will have to upgrade the lighting system to T5 or halide. For that size tank T5's will be more than enough. For the filtration, if it is at least 10x turnover of the tank size per hour it is a good start, but remember you will need at least 20-25x turnover rate within the tank to keep from getting algae growth.
    This was my tank before I sold it:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. bchandler

    bchandler

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    Here's my tank. All the corals are live:

    [​IMG]

    In general, most freshwater equipment is not compatible with saltwater systems, with a few exceptions like pumps. You don't really use a filter with saltwater, instead we use high flow in conjunction with skimmers, and let the natural bacterial break nitrogen end products.

    Flow is important; I have 100x turnover per hour in my tank, but that is considered very high. If you have fish only, you can get by with a lot less.

    Fish only systems are relatively easy compared to coral oriented systems like mine. I'd suggest you convert your tank to saltwater and try to keep a few fish while you get the hang of it. You need to get comfortable with keeping all the parameters in line before adding coral. pH, temperature, alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, and salinity are all essential parameters to keep rock solid. Yes, a heater or three helps keep temp up, but if you have high powered lighting or a lot of equipment like pumps in the water you may actually need to cool your water with fans or a chiller (a piece of equipment like an A/C for water). Personally I use a small computer to which my heater and fans are connected, and it keeps my water to within 0.5 degrees of 79F at all times (it uses the heater when water gets too cool, and fans when it gets too warm).

    Let me know if you have any specific questions. You can also check out reefcentral.com, pretty much the largest saltwater forum out there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  5. M1A Shooter

    M1A Shooter

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    so to just get started with the fish, i dont have to have live coral? can i get by with regular fake stuff? didnt know if clown fish or sinilar relied on the coral for more than shelter or whatnot. im really not trying to sound retarded but i really just dont know.

    also as far as cleaning goes, is it done by an animal like my Plekos or do i rely solel on pumps and filters?
     
  6. BSA70

    BSA70

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    Be prepared to pay lots of $$$$. Salt water is very expensive and labor intensive.
     
  7. jeff painter

    jeff painter

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    I have a 300gal display in the family room wall. Only have a few small mushrooms and polyps. It is mainly a fish only due to limited time, but I have the lights and gear for corals if I get motivated again. I recommend spending some time on sites like reefcentral and go with a lot of live rock and a refugium. Spend your cash on a good protein skimmer and pumps. You can save a lot by building things like sumps and even building your lights plus there is tons of used stuff out there.

    -JWP
     

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  8. Milky

    Milky

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    You can do fish only with live rock to break down the byproducts without having to do corals or upgrading the lights.

    You can try www.aquariacentral.com and check out the saltwater section.
     
  9. bchandler

    bchandler

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    You don't need corals to keep fish. There are plenty of tanks out there with fish only. It will be a lot easier to start that way because fish are way less sensitive to water parameters than are corals and other invertebrates. I would absolutely advise against buying fake coral. For one, it looks extremely cheesy. It also costs nearly as much as real coral. Just pay your dues, learn slowly, and soon you will be ready to have the real thing :). In nature clownfish host anemones, however these animals are pretty hard to keep for the uninitiated. The fish will be fine without one.

    Snails can clean a lot of algae, but you will still be doing a lot of manual maintenance to keep a tank clean. Think daily scraping of glass, blowing rocks off with a turkey baster once a week, a weekly 10% water change, etc. Again, there are no "filters" in saltwater like there are in freshwater; saltwater uses mainly biological filters. If you use a mechanical filter nitrates will build up in the media, which is bad.

    I'd suggest finding a reputable local saltwater store, preferably one that sells only saltwater. Beware, as there are many, many non-reputable stores out there. Ask for advice on a store on reefcentral.com or find your local saltwater club (I'd bet anything your area has one).
     
  10. *ASH*

    *ASH* FURBANITE

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    I REAP what YOU sow
    TO TIME CONSUMING , i had one , we went off for a trip , power failure killed everything, thousands of bucks gone . now i have african chiclids and love it , not alot of work and beautiful fish . and cheap .


    never will go back to salt water unless the lottery picks me
     
  11. jeff painter

    jeff painter

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    No matter what anyone says, make sure to cycle your tank until it is stable before buying anything like fish. This can take a month and sometimes longer if the live rock has a lot of die off. Unless the tank was established and moved quickly, it will cycle and kill anything you buy. Cycle and test, test and test more. Don't cycle with damsels or you will be cursing someone when you want them out of your tank, which you will. Just add something to feed the bacteria to start the cycle like fish food, frozen shrimp, etc.

    The best advice I received in the beginning was "Nothing good happens fast in a marine tank." The next was "Research anything you want to put in the tank and never impulse buy."
     
  12. Just1More

    Just1More

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    I had a 15 gallon "nano-reef". It did pretty well for a while, bet eventually went bad due to my lazy maintenance schedule. Converted it to freshwater and am very happy now. Plan on a lot of time/money for a saltwater tank. Do a lot of research first!
     
  13. ElevatedThreat

    ElevatedThreat NRA Member

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    About corals -- it is VERY hard to keep corals -- especially stony corals -- alive in a home aquarium.

    Corals have very specific needs for water quality, trace elements, stability and most of all, the intensity, duration, and frequency (color) of light. Unless you are prepared to become an expert, forget live corals, except for the easiest varieties of dull-brown ugly soft corals. As a rule, the more attractive, ornate, and colorful the coral, the harder it is to keep alive in a home tank. Ironic but true.

    The lighting equipment to keep corals is exotic and expensive, both to buy and to maintain. (The bulbs are expensive, and they need to be replaced every 6 months to a year as they age and shift their color spectrum.) They also run so hot you will need a water chiller, not a heater.

    And fish and corals are even harder to keep together, since the fish waste will kill the corals unless you have either a very large amount of water per unit of fish, or a very specialized biological filtration system.

    In your 72 gallon aquarium (a bowfront I presume?) you could keep a few small saltwater fish, of the easier/hardier varieties, along with some "live rock" and "live sand" for in-tank biological filtration (Google those terms, if you don't know what they mean).

    Or you could do a dedicated tank for something like a single Clownfish and its host anemone.

    The fatal mistake that most people make in doing saltwater tanks is keeping too many units of fish in too few units of water. Load your tank much, much lighter than you would for freshwater.

    -ET
     
  14. AutomotiveTech

    AutomotiveTech

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    Yeah, but they are so cool looking. I had a buddy that would have all the coral die in his tank fairly often, but when it was alive it was very fascinating.
     
  15. ElevatedThreat

    ElevatedThreat NRA Member

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    Coral keeping has come a long way recently. The best experts can now not only keep corals alive in home "reef tanks," but can actually "breed" them (a process called "fragging").

    The availability of fragged or aqua-cultured ("farm raised") corals really ups the ethics of coral keeping, since instead of constantly having commercial divers taking wild corals off reefs, slowly killing them in a home aquarium, and then replacing them, we can now actually raise them successfully in the very long term.

    But you had better be prepared to invest the time, money, and dedication to become knowledgeable enough to do it.

    One recent advance that is not quite there yet, but is promising, is the invention of LED array aquarium lights of the proper intensity and color spectrum. If these prove out, LEDs will address the two biggest problems of curent "reef tank" state-of-the-art lighting sytems like VHO florescents and metal halides. The new LEDs run cool, and they hold their color spectrum over the long term without shifting in color as they age.

    LED lights can even simulate lunar (moon) cycles at night when the main sun-simulating lights are off, to properly stimulate reef inhabitants to breed.

    One "secret" thing that advanced salt water aquarists use to increase their odds of success, is to use a large "sump." A sump is a secondary hidden, non-display tank that add water volume and/or necessary supporting life to the main display tank system.

    So for example you might have a 210 gallon reef display tank built into a wall in your living room, with live rock, live sand, corals, and other reef invertebrates, and some fishes, with the tank water circulating through a much larger 1000 gallon plastic storage tank "sump" located in the basement.

    The 1200 gallon total water volume of the system is much more able to support the life in the 210 gallon display tank, than the 210 gallons of water alone. Wastes will be more dilute, and shifts in water quality will happen much more slowly. The 1000 gallon sump would have additional live sand and live rock, for added biological filtration, and would support much larger breeding populations of copapods and isopods and plankton and such to feed the inhabitants of the main display tank.

    -ET
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  16. M1A Shooter

    M1A Shooter

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    what should i look at size wise? i like the Blue Tangs and Maroon Clownfish. the tang can get up to a foot in length and the clownfish about 6". are these like freshwater where they will generally get as big as the environment lets them or will they outgrow the tank etc...? would a pair of each be too much for a 72 gallon bowfront tank?
     
  17. ElevatedThreat

    ElevatedThreat NRA Member

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    72 gallons is very small for salt water fish.

    With larger fish like a tang, you are talking one fish.

    You might keep a single dwarf saltwater angelfish, as these are quite aggressive.

    Smaller, peaceful reef fish like chromis do well in aquariums, but these fish live in schools, and 72 gallons is too small even for a half-dozen chromis -- about the minimum size for a school.

    In a 72 gallon bowfront, I'd recommend you look at very small fishes like gobies. Yellow, clown, neon, watchman -- all the gobies are all small, peaceful, and interesting.

    You could keep a few small false clownfish, or a few of the common small damselfish.

    I once devoted an entire 72 gallon bowfront to a 3" deep live reef sand bed, live rock, and a single yellow goby (about 1.5" long), and I really enjoyed it. That fish had more personality than many dogs I've known, and got to where it would eat shrimp from my fingers. I also kept other interesting small invertebrate reef life, like crabs and polyps and featherduster worms, in that tank.

    I had that goby for many years, and was I bummed for a week when it finally died of old age.

    -ET
     
  18. Nicko

    Nicko GTDS FOR LIFE

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    Live rock, filtration, compatible fish, maintaining water quality, proper chemicals, and having enough patience to let the tank cycle properly is all a must for a successful aquarium. Tank size for saltwater is one of the most important elements that is needed also. The bigger the better, and no less than a 55 gallon. First off you should pick up a couple of books before you get started.

    1)The Conscientious Marine Aquarist
    A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists
    By Robert Fenner
    Publisher: TFH Publications (1997)

    2)Complete Book of the Marine Aquarium
    A comprehensive reference guide to more than 700 marine fish and invertebrate species, and how to setup and maintain a living reef aquarium
    By Vincent Hargreaves, Thunder Bay Press (June 2002)

    These two books are probably the best in publication for starting and
    maintaining a long and healthy life to your aquarium.

    Here are a couple of great forums that are helpful that I'm also a member of.

    www.aquariumforum.com
    www.fishgeeks.com

    PM me if you need any help.

    Good luck to ya'
     
  19. ElevatedThreat

    ElevatedThreat NRA Member

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    Overstocking a tank leads more aquarists into disaster than any other mistake.

    This goes double for salt water.

    I think a good rule of thumb for salt water fish is one inch of fish per 10 gallons of water.

    So a 70-gallon tank could take 7 inches of fish -- i.e., one 7" fish, two 3.5" fish, or seven 1" fish, etc.

    That is disappointingly few fish to someone new to the hobby and wanting one of everything, but think of it this way: fish pee in the water they live in, and the ammonia stays there until bacteria in your biological filtration ("live" sand and rock) process it into harmless N2 gas.

    So if you had to pee into the air you breathe, and your pee stayed all around you until it decayed away to nitrogen gas, how much air would you want? LOTS, I bet.

    Give your salt water fish LOTS of water volume per fish, for the same reason! :supergrin:

    -ET
     
  20. jeff painter

    jeff painter

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    I started my system with live sand and took it out after about 1.5 years and have gone bare bottom for the last 5.5 years with much better results. Sand can act as a sink for heavy metals and toxins. Disturb it and everything dies.

    I personally think that a 150gal would be a minimum for some Tangs and too small for others. There are plenty of small colourful fish that would work great in a 72gal. Gobies, hawkfish, etc.

    Metal Halide lights aren't that expensive if you put them together yourself. The cost is the power to run them and the heat. I have 1600watts over mine and a 1/2hp chiller. I budget for yearly bulb replacement. It does suck when I break one though.

    You can save money on live rock buy buying mostly dead rock for the bulk of it and seed it with a small amount or live rock. I bought 500lbs of dead and then bought live rock from people shutting down their tanks. I can't tell the difference after a few months.