Freshwater or Marine?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by elvip, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. elvipNew MemberMember

    Hi all,
    I have just decided to start up a new tropical aquarium - been wanting to do it for ages but never got around to it.
    I have never had tropical fish before, just goldfish and fighting fish.
    I am currently considering buying a six foot aquarium, and would really like to setup a marine aquarium , but from all the reading I am doing - I am just wondering if this is too ambitious/complex for a first timer, especially some-one who has never had tropical fish before?
    Has anyone out there had a similar experience or got any real life experience regarding this? - I would appreciate your thoughts.
    I just don't want to walk before I can run!
  2. GunnieWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to FishLore! It's great to have you with us! I have no experience with marine tanks, but I am a forums junkie, and my constant reading tells me that marine tanks are much more expensive and complicated. Folks will tell you that they aren't hard to keep which may be true, but I think in the beginning, they are more of a challenge than freshwater. I really don't have the time and money to put into a marine tank at the moment, but that may not be true for you. A six foot long marine tank would be awesome if you are willing to put the time and money into it. You'd probably have at least $1000 in just the live rock alone! Just do a lot of reading, and see if there is a marine club in your area you can get involved in. This link is a book highly recommended on another forum I go to and trust to help you deicide if a marine tank is for you!
  3. elvipNew MemberMember

    Thanks Gunnie for your quick response and advice - it is much appreciated.
    I went to an aquarium supply shop today - I have my heart set on a marine aquarium, they are just so beautiful!
    I am determined to make the effort and put as much work in that is required to learn about marine reef systems before I actually venture into setting one up. It seems the more I read, the more there is to read and know! It's scary at first, but I know I will just have to persevere and I will eventually get there - so for the time being it is reading and more reading!! I will keep you posted.
    Thanks again
  4. MikeFishloreAdmin Moderator Member

    IMO - The book Gunnie recommends is probably the best overall for saltwater info. Another good one is The New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paletta. It's not as in depth as The Conscientious Marine Aquarist but it can be a very good starter book.

    We've reviewed the books mentioned above as well as a few other saltwater books:

    Here is a link to a basic saltwater setup with live rock. Live Rock will probably be the most expensive part of the saltwater tank but it is absolutely incredible how well it performs biological filtration:

    Don't forget about the quarantine tank which is a must with saltwater tanks - IMO:

    You will get the best info from reading the book Gunnie suggested. Read a book or two before you purchase any equipment.

  5. elvipNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the info and references - I'll be sure to take a look at these.

    Just another question - in reading about marine reef aquariums, I have come across information that recommends a deep sand bed as a natural way to remove nitrates from the system (especially as corals do not tolerate nitrates very well). It is bed of sand at least 10cm deep in which the water is poorly oxygenated thereby allowing anaerobic bacteria to grow, and these bacteria convert nitrate to nitrogen. However, other information I have come across advocates a minimal sand bed, as it suggests that sand can harbour debris which can not only be toxic to the aquarium but also be a potential source of infection.
    What are your thoughts on this?
    Also should the sand bed be cleaned during the regular maintainance of the aquarium, or would this destroy the balance of anaerobic bacteria in the substrate?
    Thanks again
  6. MikeFishloreAdmin Moderator Member

    I have two saltwater tanks that have very shallow sand beds, about 2 - 5 cm deep (1 - 2 inches) but I use alot of live rock, about 2 pounds per gallon. I change about 10% of the water every 2 weeks and test every two weeks and have always had very low nitrates. If you don't want to get a lot of live rock, then perhaps you could go with the deep sand bed. From all that I've read, the deep sand bed can be fairly good at converting nitrates.

    I think if you're going to have a deep sand bed it's important to have high water circulation (power heads) so that debris gets picked up by the mechanical filtration and doesn't sink into the sand bed. I also don't clean the shallow sand beds in my tanks when performing maintenance. I just skim over the top of the sand bed with the python vacuum.

    If you're wanting to keep corals they require very high output lighting (very expensive) and you are venturing into the "reef" type setup which can be much more demanding than a regular fish only saltwater tank. A good book for an intro to reef setups is The Simple Guide To Mini-reef Aquariums by Jeffrey Kurtz.