First Saltwater, Need Professional Advise

Kvandenplas
Member
sorry in advance for the long thread. But if you have a saltwater tank you’ve got to be use to reading endless info so.
I haven’t set it up yet - haven’t even bought anything. But i’ve been reading...reading....reading. And I just need so dang guidance! I’m extremely interested in setting up a nano reef, as self-sufficient as possible. I take vacations, and while I can always have someone drop by and do water changes for my FW and feed fish, I don’t know that it’d be feasible to teach someone exactly how to take care of a salt water. So if I do, I want to make sure its safe for me to be gone for a few weeks and some joe schmoe can come check the refractometer and make sure the **** still working.
Im considering a 20g nano waterbox aquarium (would consider slightly larger). So far my equipment list consists of: (1) powerhead (2) good LED for marine life (3) wave maker (4) refractometer (5) RODI (maybe) (6) ATO (7) protein skimmer (8) biomedia/charcoal bags (and the obvious sand/liverock)

So my main question is, how “self sufficient” can a nano reef tank be? Or how easy could I make it for a friend to pop by while i’m on vacation?

other questions would be what kind of coral? I’ve already assumed hard coral is the easiest for a beginner and most controllable/forgiving, is that the case in everyones experience?

What kind of fish should I keep? I absolutely without a doubt want a goby/pistol shrimp pair, that part is certain.

any and all ideas/advise is welcomed in regards to anything above. I will not set up a tank that could suffer from my absence, i can do it most days but I know I will not be consistent to an absolute, and won’t risk fish lives for my viewing pleasure. Side note, i did see a nano reef on yourube that hadnt had a water change in 300 days.
 
fish 321
Member
Once a tank gets established it stays pretty stable I did water changes on my 10 gallon every two weeks and now that the tank is almost a year old I do it about once a month. Soft corals are the easiest and hardiest, some examples are, mushrooms, green star polyps, zoas, xenia, and leathers. Some easyer lps (large poly stony coral) are candycane coral, chalices, and war coral. Stay away from sps (small polyp stony coral) if you are a beginner.
 
  • Thread Starter
Kvandenplas
Member
fish 321 said:
Once a tank gets established it stays pretty stable I did water changes on my 10 gallon every two weeks and now that the tank is almost a year old I do it about once a month. Soft corals are the easiest and hardiest, some examples are, mushrooms, green star polyps, zoas, xenia, and leathers. Some easyer lps (large poly stony coral) are candycane coral, chalices, and war coral. Stay away from sps (small polyp stony coral) if you are a beginner.
Awesome! Thank you for taking the time to give me some input. I appreciate the coral suggestions too that is one of my biggest struggles. Now that I have a few names I can dive in to their specific needs. Would you recommend cycling the tank, then adding fish- or cycling the tank, then adding coral?
 
fish 321
Member
Kvandenplas said:
Awesome! Thank you for taking the time to give me some input. I appreciate the coral suggestions too that is one of my biggest struggles. Now that I have a few names I can dive in to their specific needs. Would you recommend cycling the tank, then adding fish- or cycling the tank, then adding coral?
Cycle the tank then add fish. I waited about a month before adding corals. I also recomend getting a clean up crew like astrea snails, nassarius snails, I like hermit crabs but they tend to knock over corals in my experience.
 
Jesterrace
Member
Kvandenplas said:
sorry in advance for the long thread. But if you have a saltwater tank you’ve got to be use to reading endless info so.
I haven’t set it up yet - haven’t even bought anything. But i’ve been reading...reading....reading. And I just need so dang guidance! I’m extremely interested in setting up a nano reef, as self-sufficient as possible. I take vacations, and while I can always have someone drop by and do water changes for my FW and feed fish, I don’t know that it’d be feasible to teach someone exactly how to take care of a salt water. So if I do, I want to make sure its safe for me to be gone for a few weeks and some joe schmoe can come check the refractometer and make sure the **** still working.
Im considering a 20g nano waterbox aquarium (would consider slightly larger). So far my equipment list consists of: (1) powerhead (2) good LED for marine life (3) wave maker (4) refractometer (5) RODI (maybe) (6) ATO (7) protein skimmer (8) biomedia/charcoal bags (and the obvious sand/liverock)

So my main question is, how “self sufficient” can a nano reef tank be? Or how easy could I make it for a friend to pop by while i’m on vacation?

other questions would be what kind of coral? I’ve already assumed hard coral is the easiest for a beginner and most controllable/forgiving, is that the case in everyones experience?

What kind of fish should I keep? I absolutely without a doubt want a goby/pistol shrimp pair, that part is certain.

any and all ideas/advise is welcomed in regards to anything above. I will not set up a tank that could suffer from my absence, i can do it most days but I know I will not be consistent to an absolute, and won’t risk fish lives for my viewing pleasure. Side note, i did see a nano reef on yourube that hadnt had a water change in 300 days.

IMHO small tanks are not well suited for people who travel a lot or even semi-frequently. While it's true some folks can maintain a small tank with minimal maintenance the fact remains that it's the exception and not the rule. It's also NOT something I would recommend just having someone random stop by for care. It really needs to be handled by someone who is familiar with saltwater tanks and can deal with a potential emergency if the situation arises. A slight imbalance of any kind will cause things to go wrong very quickly in a tank of that size.

I'm not trying to be the wet blanket here, just saying that weekly water changes, weekly algae scraping, changing the filter floss/sock/cup/pad, etc. at least 2x a week are the norm for tanks under 40 gallons. You could possibly do an invert only tank that would be a bit less maintenance (the lower the bioload the easier a tank is to maintain).
 
  • Thread Starter
Kvandenplas
Member
Jesterrace said:
IMHO small tanks are not well suited for people who travel a lot or even semi-frequently. While it's true some folks can maintain a small tank with minimal maintenance the fact remains that it's the exception and not the rule. It's also NOT something I would recommend just having someone random stop by for care. It really needs to be handled by someone who is familiar with saltwater tanks and can deal with a potential emergency if the situation arises. A slight imbalance of any kind will cause things to go wrong very quickly in a tank of that size.

I'm not trying to be the wet blanket here, just saying that weekly water changes, weekly algae scraping, changing the filter floss/sock/cup/pad, etc. at least 2x a week are the norm for tanks under 40 gallons. You could possibly do an invert only tank that would be a bit less maintenance (the lower the bioload the easier a tank is to maintain).
No, no, wet blanket away. I need to know the facts because there is a lot saying I can pull it off, and then theres everything i’m reading telling me its a science. Plus its not like im new to fish keeping, part of me understood that a smaller tank, esp reef, would probably be difficult to maintain.... butttt what about coral And a CUC only? Or perhaps a 30g?
 
Jesterrace
Member
Kvandenplas said:
No, no, wet blanket away. I need to know the facts because there is a lot saying I can pull it off, and then theres everything i’m reading telling me its a science. Plus its not like im new to fish keeping, part of me understood that a smaller tank, esp reef, would probably be difficult to maintain.... butttt what about coral And a CUC only? Or perhaps a 30g?
A tank of soft corals and inverts would be easier to keep due to the lack of fish bioload and feeding. I would definitely stick with softies and/or easier to keep LPS as they don't really require dosing.
 

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