First Aquarium EVER

CrushtheTurtle

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Hey guys new here, I've always wanted to get into this hobby and am thinking this summer is a great opportunity! as I am just gonna be chillin in the awesome San Diego, CA. This will be my first aquarium, no freshwater or saltwater experience, but I do love fish. Ive been doing a lot of research on both, know for the most part what's necessary and the maintenance involved. I know saltwater takes a bit more work, and possibly money, but am just wondering if its possible for a newbie like me to go straight for the saltwater stuff, because I find it so much more fascinating and awesome than freshwater to be honest.

The ideal setup(in terms of livestock) i'd like to have is a 15-20 gallon tank, with maybe a couple of clowns, 2 blue-legged hermits, 1-2 snails for some cleanup, and possibly one other fish same size or smaller than the clowns. and at least for now, artificial plants.

Let me know if I'm out of my league! thanks haha
 

new_sw_gurl

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Welcome! I'm new to the hobby too! One piece of advice! Go for it! Just make sure you research and exercise patience. I have a 75 gallon reef tank and LOVE it! I went to the store to get one of the Nano tanks and my husband ended up talking me into getting the 75 gallon. It looked huge when I first got it. 2 months later I'm already talking about an upgrade!! So far...I'm not regretting my decision at all. It's a little work to test and do water changes. But...worth it!!
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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That's awesome! Did you have any previous freshwater experience? And have you added fish to the tank yet, if so how are they doing?
 

new_sw_gurl

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I kept a freshwater tank when I was about 13 years old. My parents had nothing to do with it. Now that I know about the nitrogen cycle and all of the water parameters....I feel a little bad for those old fish! I probably tortured them!! I had the tank about a year & got rid of it. My dream was always a saltwater tank anyway but I heard horror stories about how hard they were to take care of. I can't tell you how many people frowned when I told them I was getting one.

I started out with cured live rock (slightly more expensive)...this made my nitrogen cycle go much much quicker. Within 2 weeks I was ready to add crabs and snails. I'm lucky enough to have a friend that's been in it for 20+ years so I can bounce questions off of him. Two months later, I still have no corals (which is OK...money is a small issue there so I'm taking it slow) and just 3 fish and 2 shrimp. Watching my coraline algae grow daily! Water parameters are perfect (just tested yesterday) and things are looking great.

I'm definitely addicted!!!
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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That sounds sweet! I'm glad everything's working out for you, unfortunately I don't know anyone with that kind of experience, however I do have these forums! haha what do you guys think of a setup like this?
 

new_sw_gurl

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These forums are Key! If I can't find it here...I defer to my friend.

This is exactly the type of tank I originally wanted. My hubby knows me better and decided I should go bigger because after putting in 2 fish and a few corals...tank is full. I was also told that larger tanks are easier because there's a little more margin for error. However...it can be done in the small tank! My LFS has a gorgeous 10 gallon reef set up on the counter.
 

Lucy

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HI Welcome to FishLore!!
Only one thread is needed for a topic, the other has been deleted.

I love looking at them, but I don't keep SW. I'm sure some of our salty members will be able to help you.
Sometimes it takes a little while for the right member to log in

Good luck!
 

lanlesnee

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If you want a sw go for it. I had no expearence with sw when I got mine. I have keep fw for awhile but never sw.

I was kind of scared off of sw because of all the stories I've hear on how hard they where to keep and the expense.

It's not really that hard. Most of the hard stuff is the labor involved, water changes, set up changes, reading up on things.

Now that I've been doing this for 2 months and see what's really involve I realized I was sweating it for not reason. It's different than fw and it's got some degree more of difficulty. But it's nothing to worry about.

I think for a beginner a 55 is a better size. Not so large as to kill you in water changes and expensive, but big enough to be more forgiving on errors/mistakes. I brought my tank used and already set up and running. Saves a lot of money this way.

What ever you get ask lots of question and most of all enjoy your tank.

Here's a quick video of mine. I just thought maybe you like to see. Not as nice as some the others in here, but remember that last weekend was only my 2 month into sw ownership.

 
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CrushtheTurtle

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Wow! thanks for sharing, I actually think your tank looks awesome! Also, I would love to get a 55, however I'm living in a Loft and currently space and price is somewhat of an issue.. I know a smaller tank requires more weekly maintenance and is less forgiving, however I have heard that a 20gal can be a nice starter tank if taken seriously.

I do have one question though, about mixing saltwater, since I feel like i've seen multiple answers for this question on the forums. Is RO water necessary for making your salt water, and for water changes? or can you just use tap water (mines decent..live in San Diego, CA) and just use things to de-chlorine/de-contaminate the water before adding the salt mix?
 

ATP

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chlorine is not the big problem IMO, with tap water. Its the havy metals and nutrients which will cause bad algae growth which is a real pain in saltwater.

btw, go for it. Be patient and make the right decision and you will have a succesful tank. Saltwater (reef) is way expensive though. I've spent over 5 grand on saltwater. (most are even used equipments which is usually 1/2 the cost)

I have a 120 and a 125 saltwater reefs. Pic and video is on my sig. They're about a year old.

btw, what kind of tank are you thinking off?

___________

Lanlessne
wow. 2 months old and already looking that..... nice.
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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Thanks ATP! your tanks are some seriously sweet setups!

So the way to make the water is you gotta buy RO water from somewhere and then mix it? Does this get expensive? I think you can get it at my local walmart..they sell distilled and RO(supposedly) water, is using this stuff okay? I would definitely hate to have out of control algae all over the place, I am thinking of going 20 gallon FOWLR, I know I'm not ready for any kind of Reef stuff, much respect to you guys who are at that level. Since its FOWLR I believe this makes it easier in a few aspects?

also just bought the book, 'Thew New Marine Aquarium'-by Paletta, so hopefully it will give me some insights as well.
 

lanlesnee

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FOWLR is a good start. Your only a step or two away from corals and a reef tank.

I started a brackish water with tap and the algae got out of control in a matter of days. I started doing my water changes with RO and DI and the algae is dying off on it's own only after 2 water changes.

I have a RO maker, but I still buy my RO from a Caligan water refill machine inside of Walmart for 37 cents a gallon. Not bad IMO for the benefits of RO. A local grocer my sell RO it too.

Once you tank is set up and stablized, you shouldn't have to do that many water changes so the price of RO shouldn't be too bad for a 20.

And ATP you do have some awesome tanks. I can only hope that my tank is half the level of yours someday.
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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some interesting news! just found out that there is a pier next to where I live (fortunate enough to live next to the ocean!) and they have a free triple filtered saltwater tap that people go to to get salt water for their tanks! no mixing necessary.
 

ATP

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that is called NSW (natural salt water) or (natural sea water). Its parameters may not be the best depending on location, but shouldn't be to big of a problem for a FOWLR. Once you have a reef, I would suggest mixing your own with the fake salt since the water parameters of the mixture should be better for reefs.

You will still need RO/DI for top off. Condensation leaves the salt behind so water gets salty. I would invest in an RO/DI unit. It filters tap water into RO/DI water. (de-ionization is often stated as unncesary, but I would go with it. It means it removes the metals like copper)

__________
lanlesnee:
your tank is really amazing...and its just 2 months old. My tank was pretty bad when it was first set up. With GHA outbreak and things keep dying. I did more of guest and test instead of research when I started

Its a really nice set up. (off topic), but what size is it?
 

lanlesnee

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CrushtheTurtle said:
some interesting news! just found out that there is a pier next to where I live (fortunate enough to live next to the ocean!) and they have a free triple filtered saltwater tap that people go to to get salt water for their tanks! no mixing necessary.
I hope you don't live off the Gulf coast. lol I agree with ATP on using this for FOWLR. I think I will go RO for reef, but if money was real tight, I guess it's better than tap.

ATP (sorry CrushtheTurtle for taking this a bit off subject). My tank is a 150. I've had it 2 months, but brought it used. It's been set up prior for years. It's very well established. I've lost a few small coral, some due to my anenome deciding to move around.
 

zeeter

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For a 20 gallon tank I'm not sure I'd bother with an RO unit. I would just buy the water from Walmart or someplace.

As for the water at the docks, be wary. The thing about reefs is that the water is virtually nutrient free. I'm not sure that can be said of the water off of San Diego. I know that we're talking FOWLR here, but we all say that at first and then the next thing we know we're spending more on corals than on fish.

With a 20 gallon you're doing a 2-4 gallon water change per week. Assuming a cover, maybe a half to one gallon of top off during the course of the week. To me I'm not sure that justifies the purchase of an RO unit. Especially if Walmart's RO water is 37c a gallon.Your weekly water purchase is around $2. Compare that to a minimum of $175 for an RO unit and I'd go with Walmart. Some RO units are cheaper, but if it was me I'd get a good one for later on when I upgraded.
 

ATP

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zeeter said:
For a 20 gallon tank I'm not sure I'd bother with an RO unit. I would just buy the water from Walmart or someplace.

As for the water at the docks, be wary. The thing about reefs is that the water is virtually nutrient free. I'm not sure that can be said of the water off of San Diego. I know that we're talking FOWLR here, but we all say that at first and then the next thing we know we're spending more on corals than on fish.

With a 20 gallon you're doing a 2-4 gallon water change per week. Assuming a cover, maybe a half to one gallon of top off during the course of the week. To me I'm not sure that justifies the purchase of an RO unit. Especially if Walmart's RO water is 37c a gallon.Your weekly water purchase is around $2. Compare that to a minimum of $175 for an RO unit and I'd go with Walmart. Some RO units are cheaper, but if it was me I'd get a good one for later on when I upgraded.
I would just go with it (unit) and you would still save money on the long run. 37c for lets say 5 gallons a week is 1.85. 1.85x52 weeks is 96.2 dollars. and that's only 5 gallon a week. I doubt that you're be good wtih only 5 gallon a week.

also, the water from the sea, the other problem is that calcium, alkalinity, mg, could be off depending on location.
 

zeeter

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That's my biggest concern with using sea-water. You don't have any control over what's in the water.

Well, I'm going with a 20% water change since there's no skimmer mentioned. That would be four gallons and I can't imagine a 20 gallon tank would lose more than a gallon a week if covered.

In the long run certainly an RO unit will be more cost effective. However in the short term we're talking about a huge expense for a tiny setup. If it were me I'd at least wait a while until I had everything else mastered and THEN work on the RO unit.
 

lanlesnee

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I buy the Walmart water and make it myself with a 5 stage RO/DI unit. But for 37 cents for the Walmart water, I'm wondering if I'm making it much cheaper? By the time I figure 25 gallons of waste water for 1 gallon of RO/DI (I'm guessing) and the price of the filters am I making it much cheaper? or cheaper at all?
I think my tap is costing me 17 cents for the 25 gallons of waste water. So there's 17 cents to start plus the price of the filters. If I knew how many gallons I could get out of a set of filters it would be easy to figure up. But filters can run for years, or so I've been told.
 

zeeter

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You buy walmart water and then run it through an RO/DI? What does that do for you that would be different than running tap through your RO/DI?
 

lanlesnee

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zeeter said:
You buy walmart water and then run it through an RO/DI? What does that do for you that would be different than running tap through your RO/DI?
I make my own with tap, but I also buy the Walmart water. I was doing a lot of water changes and converting other tanks I had to RO. So the 10-15 gallons a day my maker was making wasn't keeping up for awhile. So I decided to buy the Walmart water.

My unit can keep up now, but I always like to keep 30 gallon of Walmart RO on hand.
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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Hey guys definitely appreciate the responses! did have another quick question though

since imsetting up a 20gal FOWLR, I was curious if its possible to use LR or LS from a reef tank, since it would be nice to get some of this stuff from some local members of this sd aquarium forum ive been lurking arround, since it would probably be healthy, and help speed up the cycling and much lower cost than buying it from a store. Or would I ahve to treat the sand/rock somehow? thanks!
 

ATP

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CrushtheTurtle said:
Hey guys definitely appreciate the responses! did have another quick question though

since imsetting up a 20gal FOWLR, I was curious if its possible to use LR or LS from a reef tank, since it would be nice to get some of this stuff from some local members of this sd aquarium forum ive been lurking arround, since it would probably be healthy, and help speed up the cycling and much lower cost than buying it from a store. Or would I ahve to treat the sand/rock somehow? thanks!
If its from a running tank, I would just make sure there is no pests. If there are none, I just put it straight into my tank
 

zeeter

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Coming from a reef tank should be no problem. The reverse could cause problems, though even those are unlikely. In a FOWLR tank there's a chance that the owner may have used medication in there that included copper. Copper kills invertebrates. If it is coming from a reef tank then they wouldn't have ever used copper in the water. I'm not even sure that the copper would remain on the rock if moved, but personally I wouldn't take the chance, having spent so much on corals. You should be fine.
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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Alright! getting more confident in starting this thing haha might go check out some LFS today n get some things, but was wondering what you guys thought about filtration. What do I need in terms of filters and things for a 20gal FOWLR? I've heard I can skip out on the protein skimmer for this small tank (although i've heard they have nano-skimmers? are these expensive?) Would a power filter and a powerhead be suitable/capable for my setup, and ifso, how powerful would they have to be? thanks! Also what is the purpose of a refugium..? thanks in advance!
 

ATP

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CrushtheTurtle said:
Alright! getting more confident in starting this thing haha might go check out some LFS today n get some things, but was wondering what you guys thought about filtration. What do I need in terms of filters and things for a 20gal FOWLR? I've heard I can skip out on the protein skimmer for this small tank (although i've heard they have nano-skimmers? are these expensive?) Would a power filter and a powerhead be suitable/capable for my setup, and ifso, how powerful would they have to be? thanks! Also what is the purpose of a refugium..? thanks in advance!
For that size of a tank, a skimmer is unncesary, but I prefer one still. What do you mean nano skimmers? The biocube skimmers are cr*p. btw. I would go with like a HOB bak pak skimmer or reef octopus. Check out aquacave for skimmers.

A refugI'm is a refugee. Its a refugee for pods. So they could multiply. People also put macro algae in there which eats nutrients and provides shelter for pods. Most refugims has a deeb sand bed and rocks with macro algae
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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thanks ATP appreciate the clarification, how about turning a HOB filter into a fuge like suggested here, , have you had any experiences?

also when I said nano skimmer, meant something like the aquaC nano remora
 

ATP

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CrushtheTurtle said:
thanks ATP appreciate the clarification, how about turning a HOB filter into a fuge like suggested here, , have you had any experiences?

also when I said nano skimmer, meant something like the aquaC nano remora
aquac should be fine.

I've heard about changing HOBs into fuge, but never tried it. Was thinking about it when I was thinking about a nano, but never happened.
 

lanlesnee

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A friend of my had a well stocked 55 with no skimmer. Just a HOB type refugium and a HOB filter that was made for a 30. He had 80 pounds of live rock and that was it for filteration. The tank ran for years, with fish and coral before he sold me all the live stock and LR.

He had two powerheads rated for 1200gph for flow.
 
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CrushtheTurtle

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That's an interesting setup for the 55, but glad to hear it was a thriving tank! gives me hope haha, so I found a used nano remora for $65 but I heard it can be kind of loud..also a CPR hob bakpak for $40, ne recommendations? also what kind of chemical filtration would you guys recommend for a FOWLR tank?

also what you guys think about Hydor Koralia Nano for a powerhead at 240gph in a 20gal..too small? what if I had 2 of them? vs 1 400-600gph
 

ATP

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CrushtheTurtle said:
That's an interesting setup for the 55, but glad to hear it was a thriving tank! gives me hope haha, so I found a used nano remora for $65 but I heard it can be kind of loud..also a CPR hob bakpak for $40, ne recommendations? also what kind of chemical filtration would you guys recommend for a FOWLR tank?

also what you guys think about Hydor Koralia Nano for a powerhead at 240gph in a 20gal..too small? what if I had 2 of them? vs 1 400-600gph
I've never had experience with either, but I've seen the bak pak in action and it looks really good
 

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