Considering a saltwater tank

  1. BriLandy Well Known Member Member

    Hey all,

    I'm a freshwater fish hobbyist and I've been toying with the idea of setting up a saltwater tank for some time now. I understand they generally require more maintenance and can be more difficult as far as initial setup goes.

    I'm thinking of converting a 29 gallon tank into a FOWLR, since I don't want to spend lots of money on a reef when I don't know what I'm doing yet.

    I was wondering about other people's experiences when going from freshwater to saltwater. Is it true that it's more difficult? How are the ongoing costs compared to freshwater tanks? I am concerned about buying RODI water on a regular basis.

    Any tips for a newbie would be appreciated.

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  2. Coradee Moderator Moderator Member

    Bumping this up for you
     

  3. Slug Well Known Member Member

    Do you have any spot for an RODI filter? For ~$200 you can get an RODI system and make it yourself. Very worthy investment if you have the space, trust me.

    I don't think it's THAT much harder. Especially FOWLR. Reef you will be monitoring more parameters than FOWLR. FOWLR is the usual FW parameters and then salinity. RODI water (unless making your own), salt and fish food will be your only real constant costs. RODI filters every few months if you have your own system. A bucket of plain Instant Ocean salt runs about $55, you can get about 11 50% water changes out of one bucket for your tank if my math is correct. So you figure maybe a water change twice a month and you're looking at $110 a year for salt. If you do less than 50% each WC (likely) you can probably stretch it further.

    Take things slow, read up on things you aren't clear about and enjoy it! I love salt. Invest in a refractometer instead of those cheap hydrometers with the swing arms. It's like $20 or less on Amazon and much more accurate.
     

  4. guthrieb08 Member Member

    About the same size as mine that instarted with. Im have to completely restart everything. :( so dont let the downs keep you down. Its way more interesting than fw in my personal opinion. I love the chemistry behind it all. More colorful at the very least.
     

  5. BriLandy Well Known Member Member

    I have no idea what it would entail to install a RODI system! I'll look into it.

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  6. fishfanman Member Member

    It's very easy if you are an experienced freshy keeper. Read the stickies and go slow. Become familiar with the requirements of any fish you are considering. You will need some power heads and a skimmer though. Also get a refractometer to measure salinity. Rodi is very easy to hook up to your faucet. If you need any adapters just visit an ACE store or a chain hardware store and they can get you properly setup. Your water bill will take hit because you will be using a bit more of it to make rodi water for your tank. Some people buy salt water at a LFS instead of getting a rodi.
     
  7. shusband Well Known Member Member

    I did the exact same thing a few months back, turned my freshwater 29 into a FOWLR. Slug is very helpful, and probably the most active experienced saltwater tank keeper on Fish Lore. It's not much harder to maintain FOWLR than freshwater, I do less frequent water changes since they aren't practically free (I'm on well water so no need to dechlorinate) but besides that the start up is the only major expense. Don't skimp then, get enough live rock and a good protein skimmer. I don't have a sump, but wish I did for look reasons. I'll try my best to help with any answers you have.
     
  8. Slug Well Known Member Member

    It should be noted that chlorine and chloramine are not the only things you are looking for or your reason to go RODI. It's everything. Heavy metals and silicates especially. RODI strips the water to the basic elements where your salt adds back in what you need for your tank.
     
  9. BriLandy Well Known Member Member

    Thanks for the help everybody. I think installing a RODI system would be easier long term since I like to do frequent water changes.
    I know that a LFS that I've been to has lots of live rock and a pretty cool selection of corals, etc. And saltwater fish. I'll probably stop by this weekend and pick up some stuff.

    Since my tank is cycled already as a FW tank, will I need to wait before adding saltwater fish after the transition?

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  10. Slug Well Known Member Member

    Yes, saltwater has a cycle like freshwater tanks do. You want it cycled and stable before adding anything. Your order generally is live rock/sand/water, cycle tank, clean up crew/inverts, fish.
     
  11. DanB80TTS Well Known Member Member

    I could be wrong here but I think she means can she just flush a cycled freshwater and add saltwater and have a cycled saltwater tank. Is that what you meant BriLandy?
     
  12. BriLandy Well Known Member Member

    Yes I mean that the filter has BB established, it is already cycled. So can I do a water change, add salt and be ready to go?

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  13. Slug Well Known Member Member

    No the freshwater bacteria is totally different to saltwater bacteria. Saltwater will kill your freshwater cycle and vice versa. At least it's my understanding. Different strains of bacteria.
     
  14. DanB80TTS Well Known Member Member

    From what i read on the 100% true internet we have, Is that they are different strains of bacteria but they can help to seed one another. I'm not sure how that can work since saltwater things can be freshwater dipped to get rid of anything nasty and vice versa, but I guess that might be linked specific organisms and not rain true for bacteria.

    Whatever is correct BriLandy, you need to cycle the tank anyway and have the BB colonize on the dry rock or live rock depending on which you buy.
     
  15. BriLandy Well Known Member Member

    Ok that's a bummer. But I'll play it safe and let the tank cycle again.
     
  16. Sharka Initiate Member

    I have installed mine under my kitchen sink with a little tap just before the unit; and have no issues. It doesn't take too much space; I have a long hose that I extend to my 15 gallon bucket and watch it filling. Once full, I close the entry tap and fold the hose underneath the sink.

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  17. jpm995 Well Known Member Member

    I've had sw and fw for years, the cost of salt and the fish themselves are much more expensive than fw. RO is not necessary imo. If your a good fw fishkeeper you'll be good at salt water. I never tried live rock but it sounds like if done right it does most of the filtering. To me selecting fish is tough, sw seems more territorial with less schooling options. Good luck with your new adventure.
     
  18. Slug Well Known Member Member

    Wrong, IMO. You will be plagued with the worst algae outbreaks ever if you don't use RODI. Not to mention, you may have something in there you don't want. RODI water strips it down and lets your salt mix add in what you need as a base. I would never recommend SW to someone who can't use RODI. Just my opinion.
     
  19. jpm995 Well Known Member Member

    I had a 240 gal sw tank for over 25 years, never had algae, no ro.
     
  20. Slug Well Known Member Member

    Do you have a water filter for the house? Could be why. Tap water puts phosphates into your SW tanks, it's a fact. It can also put nitrates and heavy metals in depending on your water and pipes. Not to mention the Chlorine/Chlorimine factor. Well water MAY be a bit safer to use but I still wouldn't trust it. Perhaps you got incredibly lucky with your location. Read anywhere and you will find 98% of SW keepers use RODI, for a reason. It's not just an algae issue, though that is one of the biggest causes of algae in aquariums (introduction of Nitrates/Phosphates), it's all of the other trace stuff in the water.

    Like I've said many times, RODI is stripped down water to the very basic form. Add in salt mix and you KNOW whats in the water, not guessing or getting something you don't want. Why wouldn't you use it?

    If people want to play with a ticking time bomb, be my guest. The stuff won't touch my tank. Spent to much money on the tank to put what I consider low quality tap water into it.