First Marine Tank!

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by Asomeone, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. Asomeone

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Just wanted to make a post. I'm super excited to try out saltwater. I got the fluval flex 15gal and figured I would give the salty fish a go. I am making a FOWLR tank. If it goes well, maybe convert a current tank to saltwater, we'll see.
    Anyway I got 2 seeded live rocks from the LFS today and paired them with some dry rock I had. I have more semi-live rock I'm getting tomorrow. I say semi because its rock thats been in a saltwater tank without a heater, water movement, or water changes for about 2 months. I assume theres still some bacteria left on them but not much.
    I read somewhere that adding too much live rock quickly can crash the tank. Is this true? in my experiences with freshwater I've never heard of this.
    Also I did a very shoddy set up of the marine tank. I bought the live rock at 12pm today. Set up the tank with prime, Instant ocean, and tap water at 1:30pm, and built the stand at 4pm. So....been a busy day. I feel like with the way I did this I'll be running into issues...I've just been trying to research the types of issues i'll run into.
    I didn't wash the sand which is "super naturals" sand I just plopped it in and assumed it would be alright. I didn't clean the live rock before I put it in, just figured any hitchhikers would add to the tank. I understand I didn't do this by the book and will have to wait and see what happens...but a little hint on the possibilities would be nice too.
    I've also got a little hitchhiked coral and I'm wondering about its viability in the tank. I'm happy to just leave it and see what happens but if someone thinks it would cause issues I'll remove it.
    Also! I'm a little confused about which levels are proper. I thought in saltwater it was supposed to be 0 nitrates 0 nitrites and 0 ammonia. But some of the videos I was watching said that it only has to be 0 nitrites for saltwater. Thats just following the freshwater rules and doesnt make sense to me. Aren't all saltwater fish extremely intolerant of both nitrite and nitrate?
    i know I just keep going on, lots of questions. I have freshwater nerite snails that do fine in my freshwater tanks. I'm in the process of getting a RODI system but...its a process. If my freshwater snails are not harmed by possible trace levels of metals like copper in the system will the saltwater also be fine? I know tap water is not optimal for saltwater but I figured give it a go and if i have to change it then I will.

    I'm very excited about this tank. Once its all set up and levels are good maybe even some very hardy corals. Only a 10w light so only would be the hardiest of hardy.

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  2. Tony_097

    Tony_097Valued MemberMember

    I know you are excited about your new salty tank but tap water is not the proper way to go as it's too unsafe (and causes alage too)for a marine enviorment. I see your into coral and thats were the fun starts. To start it off, yes saltwater is expenisve and a reef even more.
    Do you have a small power head for thr tank ? I would add one as you can get a nasty case of cyano without one. Apart from that plan on getting an rodi system and you set.

    And to end the essay i wrote i see you want hardy corals will you plan a fowlr ($) or a reef ($$) i know some people might say it's not exspensive but anyone coming from the fw side will find it exspenive.

    My question is Reef or fowlr ?
  3. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Well fowlr to start, probably about 6 months to let everything settle, add fish/shrimp/snails, then possibly add a couple hardy corals. The Ro system should come in next week and I'll be doing water changes with that from then on.
    My flex tank has 2 heads for the output of the pump that allow me to shift direction of flow towards the rock. I thought it might be enough considering the size of the tank.
    As far as expense goes, I'm hoping I'm past the expensive side since everything is in the tank aside from fish/cleanup crew.
  4. Tony_097

    Tony_097Valued MemberMember

    Good choice to start but for a reef tank you will want to get a wave maker as flow is the backbone of a reef. My first coral would be a zoanthid or a Duncan coral as their are relatively fast growing and hardy.
    Question #2 what’s your budget so people can recommend you to some equipment.
  5. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    tough question. If its absolutely necessary I'll buy it. If not its meehhhh. Maybe 100 bucks.
  6. Tony_097

    Tony_097Valued MemberMember

    Since your tank is a nano water changes will be what keeps your system going but in an eventual reef you need 3 essential things 1)good flow 2)good water chemistry 3) good lighting so...

    1: a jebao is pretty good inexpensive brand of wave makers and so is the koralia line don’t bother with those little suction cups ones they won’t stick if your life depended on it
    2) as I said good salt and proper habits will keep this good
    3) the light for a reef that I personally use an have see results is the hiparergo light for $60 on amazon. yes there are kessils which have used but you won’t want to break the bank it is a proven light for nanos
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  7. Tony_097

    Tony_097Valued MemberMember

    Attached Files:

  8. Jesterrace

    JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    The wavemaker IMHO is absolutely crucial FOWLR or Reef. Saltwater tanks need much higher turnover rates. Even in FOWLR lack of flow at best can lead to unwanted algae growth and at worst Cyanobacteria (Red Slime Algae). For a 15 gallon something in the 800-1000gph range would be great.
  9. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    A week in and I think it looks pretty good! I found a bristleworm in the tank. I'm not too concerned about it, we'll see if it survives for the couple months of cycling.
    Should I be doing weekly 5 gallon water changes while cycling? Should I plop a carbon bag or Purigen in?
  10. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hey there @Asomeone :D Congrats on the salty tank!!!:D:D:D

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention @Thedudeiam94 :happy:

    @Asomeone , I am unsure what your current burning questions are so I just have a bit to add at the moment, but please feel free to ask away.;)

    I see you got a wavemaker. That's great because you absolutely want your total flow rate to be at least 20x the tank's volume. The flow rate is sometimes hard to believe when you've come from freshwater but just think about how dangerous ocean currents can be for us! Anyway, I heartily agree that low flow will only cause problems and it's a very good idea to supplement your output's flow with a powerhead. For what it's worth, you may still want to look into Jebao powerheads someday. They are relatively cheap, come with a controller allowing the user to set a flow pattern, (which really is what makes them cheap because other controlled pumps can be quite expensive) and are quite a bit smaller than the one you've got.;)

    Idk about too much live rock crashing a tank. The issue I think is being referenced here is when the 'live' part of live rock suffers some or total death. Live rock must be kept wet or the life begins to die, and what do dead organics give us? Just like in freshwater, dead organics mean ammonia spikes. Perhaps a large, established, strongly cycled tank could handle it, but a smaller water volume, and/or a less mature tank and cycle make ammonia spikes more dangerous. In fact, the biggest reason that bigger is better with any tank is that smaller tanks are more vulnerable to instability and in much greater danger with toxins... since those big tanks have all that dilution.

    However... I'm a nano reef keeper myself.:p So, don't let that go big or go home thing put you off of reefing someday. It's really not that hard, I swear it!:D As has been said, your tank will rely on regular weekly water changes of about 20% for keeping the water clean and parameters stable.

    As far as a cycle goes... I do not change water during a cycle unless ammonia or nitrites hit 4ppm or higher and/or nitrates hit 100ppm or higher. Your live rock may have given you an instant cycle... though I kind of doubt that given that you had the rock for several hours before the tank was running. Live rock really does depend on staying 100% wet as well as the oxygenation provided by flow. Soooo... take care that the semi-live rock doesn't make your nitrogen levels too high and to avoid the other bad news that comes from dead organics, you should probably get yourself a phosphate kit. Nitrates and phosphates feed algae.;) So, where do you want your parameters to be in a cycled salty tank?

    Ammonia - 0ppm
    Nitrite - 0ppm (yes, just like with fw, ammo and nitrite are toxic to salty critters)
    Nitrate - 0 -15ppm
    Phosphates - below 0.5ppm

    Why the range on nitrates? Well, also like fw, nitrates are less toxic than ammo or nitrites, but marine creatures are sensitive to higher levels of nitrates. 15ppm doesn't sound so bad coming from freshwater but consider the vastness of the oceans and the dilution that takes place there. Despite pollution and all the rest, the oceans still provide very good water quality for the most part.;)

    Errmm, we didn't wash our sand either.;) What's the point of buying live salty sand if you're gonna rinse it with tap water?

    The coral pictured here...
    is a leather coral called a Toadstool. Very cool!:cool: It's extended (the stringy things, called polyps) in the pic too and that's great! PE (polyp extension) is a sign of happiness in corals and happiness means they're comfortable and assumedly healthy. Leathers are considered the hardiest of hardy and most species do okay in very low light indeed, (by reef standards that is.)

    Phew... that was more than a bit. Nice to meet ya, I'm Stella... the author of very looong posts all too often. Hope this helps! Lastly, stop beating yourself up.;) We all start somewhere and all will make their mistakes, (a couple of mine have been BAD.:eek:) You're doing great!:D
  11. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Wow thank you for such a detailed response! That is exactly what I needed. I'll pick up a jaebo since I apparently like blowing money and already purchased a coral light, Ro system, ato, skimmer, I can go on. Point is I blew way too much on prime day. At least I'm ready for whenever I keep corals down the road.

    If I add a light designed for corals in a FOWLR tank will that harm anything or just be overkill? I already bought it so I'm just wondering if I should wait to use it or not.

    Well I'll have to do some tests to see how my tank is actually doing...shipment with the test kit was supposed to come yesterday but whose counting.
    So when the levels stabilize in the proper range for say a week the tank is cycled like freshwater?

    That coral piece turned white and curled up so i cut it off. Maybe I should have left it longer, woops.

    I did get one piece of live rock that I kept completely submerged (the red rock) so maybe that one made it home...the bristleworm survived on that piece so maybe a good chunk of bacteria did too.

    Again I appreciate the extremely detailed response, it all helped greatly.
  12. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Bahahaha... If I were in the setup phase, I would've gone crazy on Prime Day too! Don't worry too much... reef tanks are not very cheap to maintain, but the real kick in the wallet is at startup. I've never spent as much at once on my reef tank since.;) Besides, that's AWESOME that you'll have all that gear soon. You'll be a pro reefer in no time my friend.:D

    Nothing will be harmed by using reef lighting before you have corals but there is something to keep in mind. Algae too enjoys light, so I would keep it set just high enough for viewing pleasure because at this point, that's all the light is for. Someday, you may want or need to turn it up for corals. Someday... doesn't sound so far away, YAY!!:D:D:D

    Indeed, a cycle is the same among fresh and saltwater.:) You just need an ammonia source, and when nitrogen levels show you are cycled, you are.:)

    Bummer about the Toadstool leather. Turning white is a very bad sign but at the same time... corals are hardier than we automatically think. In other words, give a coral a good long time to try to recover before decided all hope is lost.;)

    Well then, perhaps you will get a quicker cycle due to the red rock.:)

    No problem.;) I am very happy to help a new reefer when I can. Spreading the hobby just feels good!:D
  13. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Jaebo is in and pulsing away. Lomine light is buzzing. Cooling fans setup. I gotta say it's impressive how much my fan cooled my tank. Went from 80-75 in about an hour. Aside from waiting for my levels to stabilize I'd say I'm about ready.
    One thing if anyone reading this could clear up for me is. I have a Coral life biocube skimmer. It's an airpump powered skimmer. I have the bubble level about halfway down in the collection cup and it still fills up daily with a semi yellowish liquid. Is this what I want? I thought it would be more....cruddy looking. It's difficult to tell since the collection cup is also tinted. I pour it into a cup before I decide to throw it down the drain. If it's yellow I toss it. I just thought it would be less water and more junk.
    Edit: also RO water. I got my system today. And made 2 buckets of that nice pure water. But since I'm cycling should I do that 25% change or wait until the cycle is complete to do so.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  14. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    Nice little setup you have there. Skimmers usually take some time to break in and need to be adjusted. You have what is called a wet skimmate. Those bubble driven skimmers are not all that great they usually produce pretty wet skimate. Try adjusting it to produce a more foam driven skimmate to the top edge of the cup. dump any skimate wet or crudy in the cup. it can take a few weeks for it to work correctly due to a film developing on the skimmer. I had a diy one for around 6 months and you have to change the airstone every few months for it to work properly due to it clogging.

    as for water changed if my ammonia is not past the 2.0 ppm mark and my nitrates is not pased the 40%+ mark I would not do a water change.
  15. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Thank ya! I'm quite annoyed by the skimmer. I can clearly see a lot of particulate matter in the tank. Just tiny little particles and film I try to break up on top of the water. I feel like the skimmer should suck it up....Guess I'll drop another $100 on a decent needle wheel skimmer....Jeez this nano tank was supposed to cost me less than setting up a heavily planted tank with co2....Right now I"m at about $450 deep. Cant really go back now...but I kinda wish I did.
  16. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    The skimmer skims the water for broken down organics not particulates some times it will catch some but ita not its purpose. If you want to filter particulates you just need a piece of filter floss and for the water to flow through it and you replace it every three days. I personally would not put a skimmer on it yet. Take it slow. Nano tanks dont usually need them just wcs and filter floss work wonders. But youbhave to replace it every 3 daysto prevent thw organics from braking down.

    To break the film at the top of the water you need surface agitation.
  17. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    Ok so I took a look at your tank specs. For surface film I would aim one of the return pump nozzles higher to the surface so it just slightly breaks up the film. How high is your water level?

    In the rear are you still using the big foam sponge filter? You can either make a diy filter floss holder in that compartment or get a media basket and the first part of it use filter floss.

    Keep it simple you do not need to dump a bunch of money for a simple salty setup.

    Skimmers are not necessary. A roll of filter floss is like 10$ and lasts about 4-6 months replacing it every 2-3 days.
  18. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Ah gotcha. Thank you, I was a bit confused since I see pictures of other peoples skimmate just looking black and disgusting. Not just a little yellow.
    I do have one nozzle pointing up to the surface to help break it up. It kinda works.
    Yep, still using the foam block. I was thinking about purchasing some filter blocks of various porosity so I dont have to bother with floss. Been running 3 blocks of foam in my fw sump for close to 3 years. Rinse and repeat.
    I'll have to make a custom holder so I can stick the floss in after the foam and not fight to take it out.

    I had a good amount of evap (maybe 5%) so I sucked out about 4 gallons of water to clean the top of the sand, which was pretty dirty from stuff falling off the rock. Now at least it has some RO water in it. I'll test in 2 days to see if it messed anything up. My levels have been pretty stable for the past 4 days so as long as things dont change I'll be adding maybe 2 shrimp and some sand sifters later this week.
  19. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    What I find with filter blocks is they clog over time. What you want to do is remove the organics. With a small piece of floss you trash it every 2-3 days and add another small piece. With the foam no mattwr how much I have rinsed more crud comes out lol

    What I have is a piece of foam cut out to fit my media are snuggly. 3inches thich. Ontop of that I place a piece of filter floss. If I want ro polish the water really good.I add a 50 micron sheet of floss then the normal floss. Ill take a pic when I do my wc tommorw
  20. OP

    AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Since my levels have been stable for the past 5 days and within the parameters laid forth by Stella...we have our first addition to the tank! This is my tester addition...not a cheap one I might add. If mr shrimp makes it I'll proceed to add fish in the next week or so. If not then i'll go back to the drawing board. Im aware i may have added shrimplypibbles a bit prematurely. I think we all get overly excited at times. Im hoping for the best in shrimpsters survival. It was drip acclimated for about an hour. Shrimpkins is hiding right now but i'll be keeping a close eye.

    I buy my foam from swisstropicals. They sell various porosites of foam that I use for my FW tanks. I'll be picking up some of their 30-20-10ppm foam to use in the place of the foam block. Obviously i'll leave the block in until the new foam is properly coated with biomedia. I find the 10ppm foam is just as efficient as filter floss and is reusable. I know its time to clean my one fw tank when the first sump chamber starts overflowing from the impregnated foam. It works wonderfully and the when rinsed the waste water is so dark and gross. My FW tanks are crystal clear with this foam. High initial cost but definitely worth it, you should check them out!