100% Saltwater Newbie

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by FallenOwl, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    So, as the title says. I know NOTHING about saltwater tanks.
    To just express how little I know again, I don't even know if you feed saltwater fish. (I assume you do)
    I do not have a tank yet, this is just a question/idea I had.
    My first concerns are:
    1- Are saltwater tanks easier to keep then freshwater?
    2- Are they worth the money?
    So, after those questions have been answered, what's first?

  2. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Of course you feed them :)
    They aren't any easier, but IMO they aren't that much harder either.
    I would say they are worth the money if you do a lot of research and you buy from places that don't charge crazy amounts for things.
    The first thing is research, research, research!
    After that you have to figure out what size tank you want, what kind of tank you want (FO, FOWLR, or reef), get the necessary equipment for the tank, research what fish you might want for the tank, and what they go with and what they don't, and then start cycling.

  3. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Something I forgot to mention: PLEASE don't give me a link to anything, I will understand better if it comes from you!
    More questions :
    (By easier I meant keeping the fish alive/well)
    1-I don't know what FO, FOWLR, or reef is
    2- I don't know the equipment I need
    3-I don't know how to cycle a saltwater tank.
    4- What's the best size to start with? I know "bigger is better" but bigger is also harder to get so what is the smallest, easiest size to keep? Maybe something 29-45 gallons?
    I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SALTWATER! Just making that extra clear.
    This IS my form of research, I learn better from other people/their experiences. That's why I'm asking all of these questions here instead of just "googling it"

  4. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Sometimes when you type things on here there is an automatic link.. just so you know :)

    FO- Fish only
    FOWLR- Fish only with live rock (live rock is rock that has tiny living organisms on it, different types of algae, and various other things (some good, some bad at times)
    Reef- live rock + corals, mushrooms, anenomes, stuff like that.

    Equipment will depend on how big of an aquarium you want, and sometimes what kind of fish you want. Things like refugiums, sumps, protein skimmers, hob filters, wave makers, heater, refractometer, possibly ro/di water if you want a reef tank.

    For instance...in a 29-45 gal tank, you can't have tangs, or any other salt water fish that gets fairly big.

    I've got a 20 gal saltwater tank with 2 clown fish, a mandarin dragonette (which isn't recommended), a skunk cleaner shrimp, some zoanthids, a feather duster and snails and hermit crabs. I run 2 small HOB filters, one wave maker roughly 500gph, a heater and close to 20 lbs of live rock.
  5. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Are the filters the same as freshwater filters?
    I like the idea of FOWLR
    With reef can you have fish?
    Let's say I got a 40 breeder, what would I need and where should I get it?
  6. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    The filters I have in my tank are old Tetra filters I wasn't using anymore, so yes, same thing :)
    FOWLR is nice, don't have to worry about the ro/di water so much.
    Yes, you can have fish if you have a reef tank, but you have to make sure they are "reef safe"...meaning they won't eat the reef stuff you put in.
    For a 40 breeder you want a decent filter, about 40lbs of live rock, live sand, or crushed argonite/coral for the substrate. (Some fish require sand, so again, will depend on fish you want to get. You will need a heater rated for a 40 gal tank, a wave maker or two that will turn the water over in your tank a bare min of 20x's (this is why I say...or two, it is easier to get a couple of small ones than one big one that will throw your fish every where). You prob won't need a protein skimmer, or special lighting (forgot to mention that, reef tanks need special lighting (expensive)) You will want a refractometer, marine salt, thermometer, a saltwater api master test kit, and some prime.
  7. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Cycling a salt water tank is the same as cycling a fresh water tank, the salt water tank just has different bacteria that processes the ammonia, nitrite.
  8. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Ok, FOWLR definitely seems easier (in expense too )
    So.. How do you START a saltwater tank?
    And where would you get all of this stuff from?
  9. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Get the tank, get all your equipment, get live rock, get substrate, get refractometer and salt....put everything in the tank like you would a normal tank, take measurements of your tank and put down some masking tape on a flat surface and build what you want your rocks to look like in the box of the masking tape...then put that design in your tank, add 1/2 cup for every gallon of water for salt (you want a salinity of 1.025) into the tank (only do it directly in the tank when setting it up, you can actually mix it in buckets to add it if you want, to get you use to adding it like this during water changes.) Fill the tank up and you can either ghost feed or add ammonia to the tank to get it cycling. If you want to speed up the cycling process I used bio spira I think it is called. Test, Test, Test and test some more...for top offs you use fresh water (salt evaporates and doesn't leave) if you need to do a water change you match the level of salinity in the tank, to the level of salinity that you are putting back in, as well as temp.
  10. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Ok, that all makes sense so far.. Much less confusing than when I attempted to figure it out on my own
    How often should test the tank,
    how long does it typically take to cycle,
    and how often do I need to do water changes?
    I don't even know what the test things look like, are there certain numbers that they need to be at?
  11. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    I've had mine up since February... During the first week of cycling, I tested every other day. During the second week, when I added the beneficial bacteria, I tested it daily to make sure I didn't need to do water changes. After I added my fish I did testing daily, if I added inverts I did testing daily (for about 2 weeks after adding stuff) Now I test once or twice a week. Cycling is one of those things you can't put a time on...even with fresh water tanks it just depends on so many things! You are going to want to do a HUGE water change before you get fish, and you might have to do a water change if you have a big ammonia spike or nitrite spike while cycling.
    I do a water change at least once a week in my 20 gal, sometimes twice a week. Everything is stable so far, but sometimes I've got a heavy hand when feeding lol.
    Water changes are a must with tanks like this, if you forget and your nitrates creep up, your looking at choas and things you don't want to deal with! I actually try to keep my nitrates between 5-10.
    I used dry base rock for my live rock too...that way I didn't have to spend a ton on "live rock" already seeded that might come with some stuff I don't want on it.
  12. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    So, just making sure I read that right-
    Cycle before fish of course.
    Check/test every day/ every other day until all fish/inverts have been added. Then check every week. (Watch for Nitrates)
    Water changes once a week, mix salt in bucket, not tank.
    If all goes to plan so far, I will make another thread on stocking (after getting all equipment and starting cycle)
    What is the difference between "live rock" and dry base rock?
    But you still haven't given me any suggestions on where to buy all of this stuff!
  13. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Yes, I got everything that I needed on Amazon. For live rock, you might want to find a good lfs that sells it.
  14. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Ok, thank you for all your help!
  15. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    No problem!
  16. clemtine paceValued MemberMember

    I certainly think saltwater it alot more difficult that fresh.
    Its very expensive.
    And if its worth it depends on opinion.
    I certainly think its worth it!
    I get alot of my stuff from a small local fish store.
    But my favorite places to get supplies or anything else besides the local place is:
    Live aquaria
    Marine depot

    In that order lol! Unfortunately amazon doesnt carry alot of animal husbandry (frozen foods, and such) good luck!
  17. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you, ill probably need it!
  18. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Another question - can I cycle the tank with one of my already-running freshwater filters? Or will I have to "newly" cycle it ?
  19. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Freshwater filters that are already seeded won't work, the bb is different, from what I read.
  20. FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Ok, thanks again!

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