1 And 1/2 Months In - 5 Gallon Saltwater Tank!

Discussion in 'Saltwater Fish and Tank Photos' started by Bruxes and Bubbles, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    It's going really well! Here are pictures!


    Unknown amount of liverock - around 8lbs.
    Aquaclear 50 (200 GPH)

    My inhabitants:

    One scooter blenny (he loves mosquito larvae!)
    One Mexican turbo snail
    One blue legged hermit crab
    One emerald crab
    One Hawaiian featherduster worm
    Two cerith snails
    Two soft corals

  2. PlatyloverFishlore VIPMember

    Glass it going well! Do you mind me asking what equipment you needed for it and roughly how much it all cost? I have a 5g currently fresh and am undecided on what I want to do with it now.:)
  3. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    I can definitely give you a calculation - give me around 30 min. or so to write everything down. :)
    Do you want the calculation with my livestock or without, and do you plan on any corals (as I have special lighting for that).
  4. PlatyloverFishlore VIPMember

    Without live stock and with corals if you can, thank you! You've got me seriously considering it now haha.
  5. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    It's a lot simpler than I thought it would be, to be honest. I was lucky enough to get the filter and lights hand me down from my dad as he set up his saltwater tank a while back and decided to tear it down (tower tank and he got frustrated with the rocks. Lol). But you should cycle it the same as a freshwater tank's filter if your filter needs to be cycled. Just remember that you need adequate water to flow over the rocks, as that provides filtration as well. You want the water flow to be pretty strong.

    Lighting system:

    Wave-point of some sort. I no longer have the box, but it looks like this and here are the measurements:

    Approximately 10 in. length
    Approximately 4 1/2 in. width


    It'll grow pretty much any soft corals from the research I've done on it.

    Price: $70 from our lfs

    Filtration system:

    Aquaclear 50 (200 GPH)
    Price: Around $40 for the filter. Media may be extra depending on what media you choose. Mine has coarse sponge at the bottom, fine sponge in the middle, and gravel at the top.


    Live rock:
    $8 per pound where I live.
    $3 per pound for dry rock.

    Around $50 if you did 5lbs of live rock and 3lbs of dry rock.

    Live sand:
    $15 per bag approximately.

    Simple Aqueon heater for 5 gallons. Around $15.

    Around $10. I have the Instant Ocean brand.

    Depends on the brand you buy and the quantity. Usually around $10 for my bag.

    Prime water conditioner:
    Around $5. (I use tap water. Not everyone can, though, so most use RO water for safety. My dad has used tap water in his saltwater tank for years where we live, and it has worked for both of us. My PH is 8.2-8.4.)

    Coral can cost anything from $10 to $100+. One of mine was $10 and the other was $15.
    Hint: Look at Petco for coral fragments...all of theirs are $15 - even the ones that would cost $30+ at a saltwater shop. Sometimes you find diamonds in the rough.

    5 gallon tank:

    All in all estimate with no coral:

    Approximately $177. Say $200 for ease purposes.

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  6. PlatyloverFishlore VIPMember

    Wow thank you! This really helps me out a lot, your tank looks beautiful as well. Did you get a saltwater master kit as well? A goby and dwarf sea horses are pretty much the only fish you can keep in a 5g right? Is it much different compared to FW in waterchanges? I understand you'll need to get the salt correct and let it dissolve before putting in. Specialised lighting systems aren't a necessary unless you have corals right? Sorry for bombarding you with questions, but this really interests me!
  7. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    It's no problem; I am currently doing schoolwork right now so I will have to get back to you later as it's a lot of information to write.

    If you (or anyone) have very specific questions please feel free to ask them so I can add them to the general summary I'll write for everyone when I finish with my schoolwork.
    I did a whole bunch of research on saltwater before I delved into it, so I have a good bit to write down.
  8. NamtabWell Known MemberMember

    What makes your tap water "safe to use?" Does it just have a high ph and no ammonia/nitrates/nitrites?

    Ive been wanting to get into SW for awhile now I have been eyeing a Mr. Aqua 12gal at my lfs for that purpose (might also be a high flow setup with bamboo shrimp and maybe hillstream loaches.)

    What makes it different from freshwater? If I do a SW setup it will probably be a FOWLR (the lfs nearest to me stopped stocking live rock, such sadness, gotta find a place that stocks it.)

    What hydrometer do you use? Digital? Or one of the ones with the large needle things (like this one  : ) or are there other types that I havent seen yet.

    What is the target amount of GPH? I'm thinking 15x - 20x for the powerhead alone?

    How many pounds per gallon of live rock is reccomended? I have heard 1-3. Live rock is the main filtration method, correct?

    Sorry about all the questions.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  9. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    Before I begin, I would like to remind people that my summary will be for my 5 gallon - thus livestock recommendations and everything will be suited to my tank size. Please keep in mind that this is how I do things, and small saltwater aquariums are controversial.

    I will address the basic workings first, then the specific questions after.

    RO versus tap water -

    The main argument between reverse osmosis (RO) water and tap water is the fact that reverse osmosis water does not have the mineral content that most tap water has. When you add a salt mix to the water, it replenishes needed minerals. If you add salt to tap water with too much mineral content, it may create a mineral overload, so to speak, and cause issues in the tank. If your main focus is corals, then RO is definitely the way to go to safeguard, especially if you have issues raising freshwater invertebrates, (ex. shrimp), because of something in your water. Keep in mind that snails, shrimp, hermit crabs, crabs, and corals are invertebrates. Corals are alive and need specific conditions to survive and thrive.

    Types of saltwater tanks -
    There is the fish only.
    There is the FOWLR (fish only with live rock).
    There is the reef aquarium.

    Fish only refers to basically setting up a freshwater aquarium type system. Only fish and maybe a few snails or a hermit crab. There are no big rock displays, no coral, and the only filtration is your filter. Think adding saltwater to a typical freshwater aquarium setup and putting a saltwater fish versus a freshwater fish.

    The FOWLR system takes the setup listed above and adds live rock. Live rock not only enhances the look of the saltwater aquarium - it plays a part in biological filtration. When the water flows over the live rock, the bacteria living on it help to rid the tank of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates - thus making the tank safer for fish and invertebrates.

    The reef tank is basically a coral reef in a box. There are usually many corals, very good lighting, and maybe a fish or two. The main live things other than corals in a reef tank is usually the CUC (clean up crew), consisting mostly of harmless snails and hermit crabs. Hermit crabs, crabs in general, and shrimp can be controversial to be kept with corals.

    Filtration -
    I, personally, aimed for at least 20x GPH for my tank and ended up with 40x the GPH. Now seeing this, I would not aim for anything lower than 40x GPH in such a small tank.

    Temperature -
    My aquarium is set at 77 degrees.

    Salinity -
    I aim for 1.024-1.025 specific gravity.

    Water changes -
    Water changes are the toughest part of having a small saltwater tank. With small tanks salt can evaporate - therefor you have to check the salinity and calculate how much salt you'll need to add, if any, to keep the salinity stable. You also have to make sure not too much water evaporates - otherwise your salinity will rise to unsafe levels.

    Lighting -
    If you want coral, you need special lighting. I will not delve into this, it is a very complicated subject and there are many opinions on lighting (LEDs versus T5 versus halide... etc). I will just state that soft corals are generally easier in terms of lighting and that if you aren't doing any corals you won't need crazy lighting. But if you want the coralline on the live rock to live (the pretty purple/pink color on live rock) you'll need some form of lighting.

    Livestock for the 5 gallon saltwater tank -
    Be warned, having ANY fish in a 5 gallon saltwater tank is quite controversial. My list is based on research and personal experience. I would either choose to keep a single bigger shrimp or one small fish in a saltwater tank. Not both. This list just shows some of the possible options, not that you can stuff them all into a 5 gallon and call it a day. lol

    I chose them based upon their size, activity level, and the consideration that there isn't too much swimming room in a 5 gallon with liverock in it. Fish that skip along the rocks are usually your best bet. Also stick with fish that stay 2 inches or under if it's possible.

    ! = Uncommon - cannot usually be found at a Petco or LFS.
    ** = Needs specialized feeding - ex. live food or frozen meaty foods.

    Fish -

    ! ** Panamic barnacle blenny

    ! ** Red Striped Goby (Trimma cana)

    ! ** Two Spot Bimaculatus Blenny

    ** Neon blue goby

    ! ** Clown Goby

    ** Scooter blenny (Please be warned that these are very controversial. They are not an actual blenny but a dragonet, related to the mandarin fish. They usually max out at around 2 1/2 inches but can get a good bit bigger. I am lucky enough to have a LFS to bring him to if he is one of the bigger ones. Also to consider, he will not eat flake food or frozen food, and will only eat mosquito larvae and other live foods. if you do not have a large scud colony or mosquito larvae always on hand, avoid these guys unless you can be sure you buy one that was raised on frozen food and will eat it. I can target feed him in my tank setup, which makes him a whole lot easier to care for.)


    Cerith snails

    Netrite snails (one that has grown up in saltwater!)

    Mexican turbo snail (Again, controversial. They get around the size of a mystery snail and tend to do best in the cooler range of saltwater tanks. Really cool though. Wouldn't get more than one for a 5 gallon.)

    Crabs -
    Crabs may pick at corals if they are hungry enough.
    * = Needs extra shells for molting or it may kill snails for them.

    * Blue legged hermit crab

    * Most other dwarf hemit crabs

    Pom pom crab

    Emerald crab

    Porcelain crab

    Shrimp (in replacement of fish; you may be able to have a few depending on the shrimp. Do research.) -

    Peppermint shrimp (Not always reef safe!)

    Scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp

    Stenopus cyanoscelis

    Sexy shrimp

    Other invertebrates -

    Featherduster worms are very neat. They will need to be fed phytoplankton (you can buy it online), however. Otherwise they'll starve in a few months.

    I'll answer specific questions in a comment below.

    @Platylover @Namtab
  10. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember


    I use my freshwater masterkit with a printed out color sheet for saltwater. They're the same thing - just a different chart color.

    I would definitely not get a dwarf seahorse. They need very small live foods at all times and are fragile. Unless you want to deal with hatching baby brine shrimp every day, avoid them. I listed most of the possible fish I know of on my comment above.

    You don't need crazy lighting for a FOWLR. Just enough to grow coralline if you want it.


    My father used our tap water for three years in his tank and he had no issues. If you're dealing with expensive or not hardy livestock, definitely get RO.

    Main difference from freshwater is the water changes. More math to do. Not just as simple as dumping water in with dechlorinator. Salt levels have to be checked daily. It's not too bad, though.

    My hydrometer is this one:

    Mine is 40 x GPH for the filter. I wouldn't go lower than that for a small system. It really needs the flow. You can add other pump systems if your tank needs more flow.

    No issue for the questions; I don't mind answering them.

    Edit: Wow, that's a lot of text up there. XD If anyone has any more questions feel free to ask.
  11. NamtabWell Known MemberMember

    Do you need a filter? Or can you accomplish the same thing with powerheads in a FOWLR.

    Do you pre mix the saltwater after doing the WC? Or the day before.
  12. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    I'd use a filter unless you plan to go really low bioload.
    I mix the salt in a 3 gallon bucket of dechlorinated freshwater as soon as I calculate how much I need. I test salinity, retest after a few minutes, then use.
  13. PlatyloverFishlore VIPMember

    Thank you for such great posts! Super helpful!:D you should consider writing an article here on it. That's what I read about Pygmy sea horses, I've always wanted sea horses though so if I do decide to do it then I'd have to decide whether or not daily hatchings are worth it. You'll have to keep this thread updated on your tank!
  14. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    I'm not quite sure how to write an article, is it the same as a post specifically on that subject?

    I'll keep it updated! Thank you for the compliment - glad it helped you!
  15. PlatyloverFishlore VIPMember

    In all honesty, I have no idea how to make the actual articles on here. It confuses me. What I'd do is just make a thread on it(and first post being the article).
  16. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    So just make a new post and paste my information? Sounds easy enough. :D
    I don't mind if it's a formal article so much. I do know that saltwater fish in a 5 gallon is controversial, though, and I'm not sure if I want to open that can of worms in a topic about it. But people on here tend to not be degradingly argumentative (usually), so it may be okay.
  17. PlatyloverFishlore VIPMember

    Pretty much, I think it'll be very useful!:D
  18. NamtabWell Known MemberMember

    Last question xD
    Do different brands of marine salt have higher concentration? Or are they all the same.
  19. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember

    They are different. :)
  20. Bruxes and BubblesWell Known MemberMember