First Salt Water Build Advice

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Setup' started by Kolby Holdren, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Kolby HoldrenValued MemberMember

    So doing my first salt water build. Have experience with multiple fresh water tanks, going to step into salt water!
    Ill just write down my plan
    36 gallon BowFront.
    Filter- Fluval 306(ideas on extra media?)
    Protein skimmer- CoraLife Super Skimmer for 65 gal
    Light- Finnex Planted+ 24/7
    Heater- 200w Aqueon Pro
    Powerhead- 2 530gph pumps
    Substrate- 40#s of eith natures ocean or carbsea live sand
    Also found some used live rock.

    The fish stocking plan is:
    3 clowns,
    A tailspot blenny
    3 neon damselfish
    A camel shrimp and a hermit crab
    (Plans to maybe add some chromis or basslets down the road)

    What do you all think?
  2. LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    I can't speak for the equipment for the most part, other than the fact that the light will be very white for a saltwater tank. If you're doing a Fish-only tank, then it's no problem. If you decide to go for coral later on, then you'll likely lose a lot of color. And trust me... you'll probably want some coral at some point!

    As for stocking, I think I'd personally do a pair of clowns instead of a trio. They may be okay in groups of 3, but I think it'd be less stressful on the fish to have a pair (although I could be wrong).

    I don't know a ton about tailspots, but some blennies tend to be pretty picky eaters. Be careful, and research before you buy.

    Damsels are, simply put, devils. I love them, and I have one in my 5.5 gallon right now. But I wouldn't recommend them in a tank with other fish. If you decide to add them, add them LAST, well after the clowns are established and have grown to a decent size. I'd personally recommend something like 3 cardinals.

    Camel shrimp aren't reef safe. Meaning that if you ever want corals down the road, you won't be able to keep it in the tank. Even if you're 100% positive you don't want corals, I'd go with something like a skunk cleaner. It's nearly impossible to catch shrimp in a tank without tearing it down, so save yourself some time and choose a reef-safe option, just in case.

    Do you have a clean up crew picked out? Even a FOWLR tank will probably need a small clean up crew. I'd go with something like this:

    20-30 cerith snails
    7-10 red-legged reef-safe hemits
    Skunk cleaner shrimp

    I'll link @stella1979 , as she'll have more knowledge with larger tanks than I do.
  3. Kolby HoldrenValued MemberMember

    Awesome. Yes there is 0% chance of this one becoming a reef tank. So i wont worry about that. Thank you for the info on the damsels. Ive read they were mean and some are far more aggressive then others.
  4. Kolby HoldrenValued MemberMember

    Also if anyone has suggestions for supplements dealing with live rock
  5. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Agreed for the most part with @Lorekeeper :) Only want to point out that tailspot blennies are super cool and generally easy to keep and feed. I love these guys!!! They may eat frozen protein, but they are herbivores, so their diets should mainly consist of foods containing marine algae. Spirulina is a super food, and a good ingredient to look for in food choices. It will also munch on algae in your tank, a huge plus for this fish. Nope, they won't keep the tank clean, but every little bit helps.;) These guys are rock dwellers, so be sure you offer him lots of nooks and crannies when you're setting up your rockscape.

    Stocking carefully and slowly is super important. You should stock from least aggressive to most and give time for each addition to become comfortable, (several weeks to a month), before adding the next fish. I agree that you should go without the damsels unless you're willing to dedicate a tank to them and other meanies. I'd look into a Royal Gramma Basslet or Orchid Dottyback instead. Both are beautiful active fish and might be semi-aggressive, but they've got nothing on damsels. Chromis often do not do well in groups, despite a reputation to do so. Cardinalfish are a good alternative, and personally, I think the black and white guys look great when grouped with other colorful fish. One more thing... often times, these fish are sold as tiny babies. A baby cardinal may not get enough to eat with say, a clownfish around. If you do get babies, you really should give them time to grow a bit, and definitely wait until they are good eaters before adding the next fish.

    One more thing regarding fish... look into wrasses. :) Beautiful, active fish, and more than a few of them would be happy with your tank size, though research thoroughly as some get quite large or aggressive.

    Gotta say, I'm with @Lorekeeper regarding reef safe inverts. Can't tell you how many times I've heard that there is zero chance of coral, then a year or so later, coral does indeed show up.;)

    I can't speak much on your equipment list either. I do like Jabeo pumps and agree that the light will be fine for a fish only tank. If however, you do not already have the Finnex, I'd suggest looking into Current USA marine lights. Pricing is comparable, and a little blue lighting will also help colors pop on fish. :)

    Do you know that your rock will host most of your beneficial bacteria in a saltwater tank? Idk how much of a concern this is with FOWLR's, but in the reefing world, canister filters are called nitrate factories. In other words, it will hold detritus and mulm and may be difficult to clean often, which will lead to a higher nitrate level than you may want. FOWLR tanks are ok with nitrates a little higher than reef tanks but do keep an eye on things.;)

    What exactly do you mean by supplements? If you're talking about bottled bacteria to boost the cycling process, well, you may not need it if you are getting some good aged live rock. If you do think you need a bottled bacteria for the cycle, I'd look into stuff by Algae Barn or Fritz Aquatics. I've heard good things about both, but have personally only tried BioSpira and Dr. Tim's One & Only... neither worked.

    Let's just talk about rock for a minute. :) In no way am I telling you that getting live rock is a bad idea, but you should know that it is likely to bring some pests with it. Aiptasia & Majanos (pest anemones), bristle worms, tiny asterina and large brittle stars are all likely culprits, but not everyone hates these pests. Bristle worms will eat detritus, but they'll also sting your hands when your handling rocks and may get way more than a foot long if left alone. Brittle stars are pretty cool, but also get sort of big and may reproduce a lot. Other pests are a possibility too of course, some worse than others. Having said that, plenty do just fine with live rock and are glad they used it. I myself started with dry rock only, and never really got any live other that small chunks that corals came on. My tank is almost a year old, and my rocks still aren't purple with coralline algae, though it's slowly growing. I also introduced aiptasia anyway through unquarantined macroalgae. I am still happy with my decision to start with dry rock, and that rock is certainly live now... it's just crawling with copepods and more than a few cute little feather duster worms. :D

    Welcome to the dark side!!! I hope this helps, and please keep asking questions and keep us posted. We love bringing freshies over to the salty side of the hobby and watching new builds progress.:p
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  6. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    Hey, I think you have my old tank (and what I started with).

    Your list of equipment looks good except for two faults:

    1) A Canister filter is the most difficult filtration method in the marine aquarium because it allows your nitrates to build up very quickly and it is a pain to keep clean. I would recommend a Fluval 50 or 70 HOB filter with something like a Chemipure Elite media bag once the tank is properly cycled

    2) The Coralife skimmer isn't very good. If you are going to do an HOB Skimmer on that tank then go with either a Reef Octopus Classic 100 or the Eshoppes PSK-75H. Both are far more effective than the coralife and have better build quality to boot.

    As for your stock, stick to a pair of Occ or Percula variety clowns (odd numbers=dead fish) and stay away from Damsels as they are generally unholy terrors that will bully and harass other fish to no end. I would also avoid chromis as they are a schooling fish and the 36 gallon is too small for a decent sized school. A Royal Gramma basslet would be a decent choice though.

    Incidentally here is a vid of my 36 bowfront with the Eshoppes PSK-75H skimmer in action and the Fluval 50 HOB filter in action:

  7. Kolby HoldrenValued MemberMember

    Thanks for your response and advice. Already purchased the equipment. So for now gonna have to stay with the coralife skimmer. Hopefully it ends up doing the job. Good thing. I bought on Amazon so easy to return if it's not working well in the cycling process.
    Thanks for the advice on the filter. Already switched and got the floval 70. I already have a lot of experience dealing with these filters so was glad someone suggested it. One question for you. what was the media change you suggested in the the video?
    Lastly, I'm glad stocking is a slower process so I don't have to make so many different decisions right this second. Do you think 2 pair of clowns would be to much for the tank?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using  
  8. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

  9. Kolby HoldrenValued MemberMember

    Sounds fine! And so you just replace the stock sponge with the chemipure in a media bag? Do you use any charcoal on top or anything else?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using  
  10. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    What i did was discard everything except the stock carbon bag and then add the Chemipure Elite bag (only after the cycle is done though). Do not use the biomax bag or white sponge as it will degrade in chunks in your tank. Just run carbon in the filter for the start of the cycle and then add the chemipure elite bag to it after the cycle is done.
  11. Kolby HoldrenValued MemberMember

    Thank you so much! Guessing its the salinity that breaks down the sponge. But why not biomax? Feel like that would work just like with fresh water and be a great surface for bacteria
  12. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    As someone who made the mistake of using it and had white foam film all over his tank when it was cycling I can say it was definitely counter productive. You are correct on the salinity and the sponge (who doesn't love bits of foam floating around in their tank :D ). Carbon is the only safe bet when Cycling (in terms of media bags) IMHO.