8 Gallon Beginner

  1. Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Hey guys. I am looking to start my first saltwater tank! I have an 8 gallon tank sitting around with a really powerful light and am looking to use this as my tank. I am not new to fishkeeping as I own a 125 gallon freshwater tank, however, this will be my first saltwater tank. I realize that I will be incredibly limited in this size tank, and am really doing it more to grow some cool coral (if thats possible) and other lively things in the tank. My buddy is going to be making a refugium for me as well. Ive seen talks of firefish and gobies for this size tank, and was thinking one of each plus a shrimp and snails. If this is way off please corect me and give me some stocking options! Thanks!

    Edit: The 8 gallon is 14 inches tall, and 11.5 inches long and wide.
     
  2. OneLittleBubble

    OneLittleBubble Well Known Member Member

    You could get some ocellaris clown fish. One thing though, a 8 gallon tank will be hard to keep due to water parameters fluctuating when doing a water change. Most beginners start of with a bio cube and that is what I would recommend. The smaller the tank the harder it is to keep stable parameters
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Everything ive read has pointed towards no on the clowns. I wouldnt want to cram any fish I keep. I was thinking of a goby/pistol shrimp pair and then possibly a fire fish as well.
     


  4. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Also, Im reading that a filter might no be necessary for such a small tank? Just sufficient powerheads and quality sand/liverock? Help!
     
  5. Fanatic

    Fanatic Fishlore VIP Member

    I always recommend a filter, no matter what the tank is.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    My buddy is saying I will need a refugium. Is this true? Im not really sure what the function of one is. Is it in addition to the filter, or in place of it? Also, how does a goby, pistol shrimp, and fire fish sound to you as far as stocking?
     
  7. stella1979

    stella1979 Fishlore VIP Member

    Hi! :) I think the 8g sounds perfect for a pistol/goby shrimp pair. If that light is strong enough, it probably won't be long before you're looking at some easy corals. :D I have a 12" cube that's 7.5 gallons and it houses my beloved betta right now, but I can't help but consider what a lovely little saltwater tank it would make.

    I would agree with you on the clownfish. Though some are very successful in keeping clowns long-term in small tanks, it is not something I'd feel great about either.

    Okay, so the hardest part of a pico tank is maintaining salinity or the salt content of your water. This is because water evaporates but salt does not, so as the water leaves your tank, the salinity is rising. The best thing to handle this is an ATO, or an automatic top off unit. It will monitor your water line and slowly add fresh water to your tank to maintain the correct salinity. You get what you pay for in this hobby though, and I would not recommend cheaping out too much on an ATO. If you're handy, you can make one though.;) YouTube @Culprit & @Lorekeeper can help you there.

    If you cannot buy or make an ATO, you'll have to monitor salinity like a hawk at first, just until you know how much to top off and how often you need to. It may be that you have to top off more than once a day if you're doing this manually, as most species will be at least unhappy with swings in salinity, and some species will not tolerate it at all.

    Yes, the rocks with enough flow in the tank will colonize with beneficial bacteria and maintain your nitrogen cycle for you. :) If you have too little rock, or super dense rock, it may be that there will not be enough surface area for a thriving BB colony that will support your stock. This is actually sort of unusual, but something to be aware of and why many choose to keep 'back-up' media in a filter.

    A refugium is for nutrient reduction, or more plainly, to consume nitrates in your tank. I love having a small HOB refugium on my 20g reef. It's just some chaetomorpha macroalgae in an Aquaclear with a light over it. The chaeto uses nitrates like any other plant and as it grows, you simply remove some and give or throw it away, making room for new growth. Our reef tank is low stocked but gets a couple big feedings of the corals each week. Running our little fuge each night keeps nitrates very low and thus, there is very little algae in our tank. Algae is generally more of a nuisance in saltwater, and a bloom can irritate corals. You've probably also run across skimmers... I won't get into the particulars, and you definitely don't need on on a pico, but they achieve the same end in that they are for nutrient reduction.

    Speaking of cleaning your water... how exactly do you plan to provide saltwater for this tank? That's pretty much the first step.;)
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Hello! Wow thank you for all this info! Sorry if anything I am proposinng/responding with sounds off or uninformed, I am doing my best to take all of this in after doing freshwater for so long! The goby/pistol shrimp pair is super exciting to me! Whats your opinion on a fire fish as well? This was suggested to me and i see mixed opinion on them in my size tank.

    As far as how I am going to get my saltwater, I have toyed with two ideas. My LFS sells saltwater for x amount per gallon (havent looked that heavy into it yet to know exact cost) and I figured this is viable for me as Ill only have 8 gallons at first and not much to top off as time goes. Second, my two best friends both have RODI units (4 stage I believe) and have offered to make me some water that I can keep on hand in my apartment. Both are more work than me buying my own RODI unit, but im not too worried about that.

    Ive also been researching dry rock vs live rock and have decided that I want to go with dry rock because of the cost and the potential drawbacks of live rock hitchhikers. I understand that this will take longer to cycle, but if this is the only drawback, I am fine with that.
     
  9. stella1979

    stella1979 Fishlore VIP Member

    No problem, I love to help when I can. Don't worry about how you sound.;) It's all a learning process, the information sticks better with experience, and you sound like you're doing your research. You're doing great. :)

    I have a firefish and love him a lot. :) I wouldn't say that he makes use of the entire space of his 20g long, and he does spend most of his time in one of two spots. So, I guess I could say he uses more than half of this tank which is 30 inches long. That's not to say that I am entirely sure that one would be unhappy in a pico, but in my experience they are open water dwellers when they are comfortable, (that is, not hiding, which mine never does because he's quite comfortable being the lone resident of our little reef.) The pistol goby/shrimp is a sand dweller and only need enough space to build a burrow or two where they will feel comfortable. Sadly, this means that you don't see them as much, but it is still a very cool relationship to observe and you are quite limited on swim room in this tank. If you'd like to look into more visible fish, you might consider another goby like the Neon Goby or the Clown Goby. As far as I know, neither require a lot of space, but certainly do your own research here. A more unusual fish that would go well in the tank is the Possum Wrasse. This is a tiny and peaceful wrasse as opposed to it's larger more aggressive cousins. :) Any of these other options will appreciate you creating a good rock structure where the will have places to hide when stressed... but that's true of most nano marine fish.

    With the water, using RODI and mixing it yourself allows for better control, though many nano tanks are maintained on saltwater from the LFS. I have recently heard of a bad experience with one of my most trusted LFS's though, where suddenly the tank was full of nitrates and it was from purchased water. :meh: So yeah, I'm probably biased these days, but my friend's experience made me very glad that I mix my own using RODI and marine salt. The best friends 4-stages should be perfect. :) With all RODI water though, you'll want to periodically check the TDS to make sure it's still reading zero. Like most things, RODI systems need maintenance. so if carbon, the RO membrane or DI resin are exhausted you'll start seeing TDS creep.

    Many will disagree, but I'm with you on the dry rock. It may take longer to cycle, but I was okay with that when I started my build too. The other consideration is the type of dry rock you go with. Some types of dry rock will contain ancient dead organics, and when they are exposed to water and flow they begin to break down into nitrates and phosphates, the number one supporters of algae in a marine tank. It is a good practice to cure any rock you'll put in the tank. This just means that you put the rock in a container with saltwater, a heater and a pump. As the rock soaks it will leach nitrates and phosphates. Algae growth here can be limited without using lights. The water would have to be changed periodically and tested to monitor levels of nitrates and phosphates. Eventually, the rock will stop leaching and can be considered cured, but curing time will vary based on the rock type as well. Dense rock like the Fiji I have in my tank will cure quickly and it was less than 30 days for me. This is because it's not super porous, so there was less room for organic life within. On the other hand, there is super porous but very nice looking natural rock like Pukani. A friend used Pukani last year and it took him four months to cure it.

    You can avoid all this by purchasing something like Reef Saver rock from Bulk Reef Supply, or a man-made option. Reef Saver is a favorite though because it's cheap, easy and fun to work with as far as creating an interesting hardscape, and has been reported to not leach a darn thing. :) Man made options will also be free of dead organics of course so they will not leach either.

    Speaking of Bulk Reef Supply... I learned a lot in the early days from watching the 52 Weeks of Reefing playlist on the BRStv channel on YouTube. ;)
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Awesome, thank you! I am going to check into the Wrasse! This would work in addition to the goby and shrimp, correct? Also, sorry if I missed it but is there a certain type of goby that goes with the pistol shrimp?

    I can see your point on mixing my own water. It will probably give me more piece of mind that way. Thank you for the recommendation on the rock!
    Im going to look into that as well. Do you have a recommendation as far as how much rock to order? Ive read one pound per gallon of tank.
     
  11. J

    Jesterrace Well Known Member Member

    For your size tank you definitely the lb per gallon rule as you will need all the help that you can get. I would really recommend a 20 gallon long for a starter tank as it offers far more flexibility for fish, corals and far more stable water perameters, but if you are dead set on doing a nano then we will do our best to help you. A shrimp and a small goby paired with a Possum Wrasse will be really pushing it for bioload but it is possible. Here is what the Possum Wrasses look like:

    Live Aquaria - Search Results for Possum Wrasse

    One other thing to consider is that corals will demand a fair bit of light, so you will want to invest in a good one. The Kessil A80 Tuna Blue would probably work well for your tank if you want a higher end light for a nano tank. Arguably the holy grail for a tank of that size would be an AI Prime HD, but be prepared to spend over $200 with the mount.
     
  12. stella1979

    stella1979 Fishlore VIP Member

    Looking back, I see that I was unclear. I was suggesting that you may want to replace the pistol goby with a fish you might see more often... so the wrasse instead of the goby. However, if you are prepared to feed carefully and test often in the early days to make sure you're keeping things in line, then yes, I think there is room for the goby and the wrasse. The tank would be borderline overstocked, but these fish will occupy different areas in the tank, so there shouldn't be trouble housing them together in that respect. It's the bioload and the speed at which nitrates rise that you'll have to watch. ;)

    Yes, there are specific gobies that will pair with specific shrimp. Look into Yellow Watchman (ywg's) or Yasha Gobies and Randalls or the Tiger Pistol shrimp. My first goby/shrimp pairing did not go so well, so please learn from my mistake. I wasn't careful in selecting the shrimp species and brought home a Red Caribbean Pistol shrimp. These guys pair with anemones and do not pair with fish at all. The goby didn't know better though and would approach this shrimp... and the shrimp would go into attack mode and ultimately killed that goby. :( More recently I put a ywg with a Randalls pistol and the pairing went quick and perfect.

    I agree that you'll want a good amount of rock to maintain a strong cycle in the pico tank. The lb. per gallon rule though... it's imperfect. Because some rocks are super dense/heavy-weight (Fiji), and others are super porous and light-weight, (Pukani or Reef Ready), you will end up with a far larger volume of the Reef Ready than you would if you ordered something like Fiji. That said, Reef Ready is great stuff, and cheap. I would order the 8 lbs and may end up with more than I can fit, but spare rock doesn't go to waste very often. For example, perhaps someday you'll want a mushroom coral. Corals come on ugly plugs so you'd probably want to take the mushroom off the plug, but at that point you may have a slimy shroom that is not attached to anything at all... it's very difficult to glue a slimy shroom down. The solution is to put that shroom in a glass with some rock rubble and stick it in the tank. With the low flow in the glass, the shroom would then attach itself to a piece of rubble, which is a much nicer addition to your scape than an ugly frag plug. :) Another example? Corals like green star polyps and pulsing xenia... they are beautiful and easy, perfect for beginners because they grow so easily. They grow so fast that they can take over an entire tank though. So the solution there is to put them on a small rock that you can place in the sand away from the main rockscape. The coral would cover that rock, but as long as sand separates it from the other rocks, it won't make the jump. :)
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Thank you again! Ive had many people tell me its a mistske to do this 8 gallon tank, so i think im going to scrap. As I am in college, I dont have money to throw around for a 20-30 gallon reef tank and ive had too many tell me that my sizd wont work for me
     
  14. stella1979

    stella1979 Fishlore VIP Member

    You're welcome.:) It's a bit of a shame because I feel that too many are turned off the hobby due to tank sizes and space restrictions. That said, I do agree that a 20g long makes a perfect first reef tank and was unaware that you are a busy, starving student. :p The time and financial investment in this tank are not much less than they would be on a 20g, so if you want a bigger sw tank in the near future, it's probably best to wait. :)
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Im actually much more interested in just having a small salt tank such as this 8 gallon and dont have much of a desire to have anything bigger. With my 125 gallon freshwater tank, that behemoth satisfied my big tank needs, lol. My fear here is that I will get invested into this 8 gallon, only to find that im in way over my head as some have suggested is possible with it being my first tank. Im no stranger to daily maintenance to a tank and actually enjoy it, and I find myself liking having less stocking options with an 8 so i can keep the cost down. To sum it up, Im scared that i will end up pouring $100-200 into this just to find out I messed up with the size. As per your suggestion, I would probably just roll with a Watchman Goby and a Piston Shrimp. Im really more interested in the look of the tank than I am with the fish. I know that sounds off and seems like a bad reason to jump into salt, but Ive conquered freshwater and am ready to try something new and what better way to do that than with a tank I already have that is capable of growing some soft coral in the future. Thats just my thought process, I know most are concerned with packing in awesome fish but thats really not it for me. Im more interested in the rock and coral than I am the fish, theyre just an added bonus :). So I think I may still roll with it, just fearful of the “I told you so’s”
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member


    Edit: In addition, doing a 20 long (which i have) will require me to find a space for it somewhere in my apartment, whereas the 8 gallon is already placed on a counter top. For the 20, it would require to find a nicer stand as well as a light that would work as well. All in all, itd probably cost me another $100-$150 just to get to where I am already with the 8.
     
  17. stella1979

    stella1979 Fishlore VIP Member

    Well then... you kinda sound like your on the fence. I want to say... Do it!!! :D If you have time daily to monitor and care for the 8g, I'd say it could be a very rewarding project. The common advice is that pico's are too hard, but seriously, they are not that hard with a little time each day. There are a few threads here by @Lorekeeper that might interest you... he's a student that started the salty side with a pico reef in a jar! :D There are entire forums dedicated to pico tanks where you can see some really awesome tiny tanks.;);)

    I totally understand about the tank not being all about the fish. :) I've had only one in the 20g for an entire year, but have had so much fun with coral and now have about 40 of those. :D The fact that fish are less important to you only makes the 8g easier. I'd pick just one to make life a little easier and to assist in maintaining a strong cycle.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Just found a 29 gal complete setup (used) for $175 and I talked them down to $100 flat!
     
  19. J

    Jesterrace Well Known Member Member

    Very nice, that will give you plenty of options as it puts you in the realm of a much larger variety of fish and could probably have 4-5 of them:

    Your former list consisted of:

    Firefish
    Small Gobies
    Small Blennies
    Possum Wrasses

    Your current list consists of all of the aforementioned PLUS:

    Cardinalfish
    All Blennies
    Orchid Dottyback
    Any of the Ocelaris or Percula variety clownfish
    Pink Streaked Wrasse
    Royal Gramma Basslet
    All Gobies
     
  20. OP
    OP
    Dycofree

    Dycofree Well Known Member Member

    Awesome! Is there anything different I need to know with a bigger tank now? Im planning on running an AquaClear 70 on it and going with dry rock. Ill also be using a Marineland Advanced LED strip bc of its timer. I think this could grow soft corals, thoughts?

    Edit:

    Im going to be purchasing an AquaClear 70 and modding it into a refugium. In addition, buying a heater and putting two powerheads in the tank for 20x flow. As far as I know, this is the only equipment I am going to need. Please correct me if im wrong!