Saltwater Aquarium Setup - Questions and Tips

Questions about the Saltwater Aquarium Setup. This page continues the questions and answers from the saltwater setup page. Hopefully these questions and answers will help others when they go to start a saltwater aquarium.

From: Sean - Live Rock Curing
I am going to get fully cured live rock. My question is, once it has been shipped over won't there be die off, creating an uncured peice of live rock? Thanks - Sean
If you're having it shipped to your home, then yes, there will most likely be some die off during the shipping process. You could sort of classify this type of rock as semi-cured. Some of the beneficial life will most likely make it through the shipping process but you will still need to cure rock of this kind in a separate tank or bucket for a few weeks before placing it into an existing saltwater setup. For more information, check out the live rock page.

From: Scott Douglas - Live Sand or Live Rock First?
I was wondering when you first set up a saltwater tank, if you can put the sand in first and then the live rock to cure?
You could do this but beware of a couple of potential problems. The first one is the amount of detritus, dead organisms and other matter that falls off the rock as it cures can be significant. It really depends on the shape the rock is in to begin with. If the rock has been curing in the dealer's tank for a few weeks and you take it home and put it in your new marine setup, you may not see very much detritus around the base of the rock.
Another potential problem is the danger from sand burrowing organisms becoming crushed under the rock as it settles into the tunnels created by these burrowing creatures and sometimes burrowing fish. This could also lead to instability of the rock scape as the base of the rock settles into the sand causing the top most pieces of the structure to hit the tank sides or even worse, cracking the tank glass. We like to place ours directly on the tank glass bottom and then put the sand around the rock for these reasons.

From: Chad - Cleaning a Saltwater Tank
Let me say first, thank you for this page. I went to the pet store today looking for a Betta and came out desperately wanting a saltwater fish tank. After reading this, I just have a couple questions. How do I clean the tank after everything is added? Will I need to take every single thing out? What if I have Coral or Reef?
As far as aquarium maintenance goes, if you follow our directions for the saltwater aquarium setup with live rock, you really are only doing small partial water changes and every once in a while you may have to do some light sand vacuuming to remove any darker detritus from the sand bed. The water changes are removing any nitrates that have built up since the last water change and you're introducing many needed nutrients and minerals (via the salt mix) that have been used up during the normal course of running your marine aquarium. You may also need clean the protein skimmer collection cup, clean any salt creep from the top of the tank and scrape the front viewing panel to remove any coralline algae build up. If you have a glass tank, check out the article on the DIY Algae Scraper.
You definitely don't want to be messing too much with the aquascaping in the tank once it is in place.

From: JMB - Start up water
I am setting up a 400 gallon saltwater tank and am wondering if it's ok to use chlorinated water to fill the tank up initially if I use a dechlorinator. Otherwise, how do you get the saltwater mix with freshwater in a tank that size?
Yes, it should be fine to mix the salt directly in a tank full of dechlorinated tap water. Mix slowly and test frequently with your hydrometer (or refractometer). Put a little less salt in than what is recommended on the bag/box. Let the mixed saltwater sit and aerate for a couple of days and then re-measure with the hydrometer to see how much you need to add. Don't forget to get the temperature up to normal operating temperatures before testing specific gravity. Lather, rinse and repeat.

From: John - Maximum Fish Load
Im setting up a 55 Gallon tank and I'm putting live rock, fish and invertebrates in it. If I put about 38 pounds of live rock in the tank, what is the maximum number of fish and invertebrates I can put in this tank? Thank you
Wow, this is a very open ended question... It all depends on what strikes your fancy. If you're interested in the blue chromis or green chromis, you can stock the tank with several and maybe have a small dwarf angelfish as the centerpiece of the tank. You can keep multiple skunk cleaner shrimp in the same tank. We could go on and on here. It really does depend on what you want to keep. Certain species may or may not get along. Larger fish species could make snacks out of your invertebrates, etc.
If you're looking for a "inch per gallon" rule or "4 inches of fish per gallon" rule, you're not going to get one here. There are just too many variables that need to be taken into account when stocking a saltwater aquarium.

From: Mary R. - Reef Tank Mechanical Filtration
Hello, I have learned a lot from your site but have a question about filtration. I have a 55 gallon tank that I am going to start a salt water reef system combining fish, live rock and different types of corals (not sure yet). If I am going to run a Cascade 700 filter do I also need another filter such as a Millennium 3000 Filter? There is so much reading involved which is cool but I need to make sure I am doing this right. Can you help me?
Thanks, Mary
Hi Mary - Good news, you really don't need those high tech mechanical aquarium filters when running a reef tank setup. Live rock and a protein skimmer are all you really need. You can always plug in the canister filter if you want to run activated carbon (to polish the water) or some sort of phosphate removing media. You can step it up a bit by implementing a plumbed refugium and sump. While the addition of a sump and refugium are great enhancements, they are not mandatory for running a reef tank.
When planning and researching on how to setup your reef tank you'll hopefully learn about the importance of the lighting system. These high output (metal halides, T5-HO's) aquarium lights can get expensive and it would be better to use some of the money that you were going to spend on the mechanical filters and put it towards better lighting. It's excellent to hear that you are researching before buying your equipment and livestock.

From: Scott - Losing Fish - Need way more info
I have a cycled 55 gallon saltwater tank with 55 lbs live rock and 60 lbs live sand, all levels are fine but have loss the two first fish added to the tank. Can anyone help. The temperature is 78.
I know you say that "all levels are fine" but to the rest of us that means nothing. Always give the exact readings from test kits when asking for help. ammonia, nitrite, Nitrate, Temp, pH, and others if applicable. Were the fish quarantined beforehand? Were they eating in the dealer's tank? Did they show any signs of disease? Need way more info before we could hazard a guess here.

From: Scott - New Setup
I have just finished viewing your website and I wanted to say thank you for all of this great info. It will be two weeks tomorrow 5/26/08 that I set up a 46 gallon bow front salt water tank. Sadly I was unaware about how cruel it was to use damsels to start to cycle my tank and bought six of them to do the job. I have a friend that is going to be giving a Clown fish and a yellow tang in a couple of months. My temperature is at 80 deg. and I tested my water today and my ph was at approximately 8.2, ammonia was 0, nitrite at 0.1. I used live sand also and currently going to be getting some live rock for my tank, I hope tomorrow if I can. Is there anything that I'm doing wrong or could be doing better? What should I do to make my tank good for the new fish coming. I will be returning the damsels before they come. Thanks for your input!
In our opinion you'll see better results if you get at least 45 pounds of live rock (1 pound per gallon, if not more), a protein skimmer and some power heads for water movement in your new marine fish tank. Keep the rock in your new tank for a couple of weeks and monitor for signs of ammonia and nitrites... Note that you may not see any of these levels if the rock has been in the dealer's tank for awhile. If that's the case you could slowly start stocking this tank. Get a protein skimmer if you don't already have one, take your time, go slowly, and research all fish before you buy them.

From: Kelly C. - live rock and new tank startup
A word to the wise, do not buy any rock from a dealer that doesn't have it in a curing tank... you also don't have to sacrifice damsels or other fish, there is a new addative called Bio-Spira, I did this and have had no ill effects yet.
Thanks Kelly - not only is there bio-spira but several other products that will introduce the beneficial bacteria too. Some work better than others with bio-spira getting a lot of good reviews.

Author : Mike FishLore