Getting in to saltwater need help

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Adams92

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Evening all,

in the new year I’m lookingto make the scary jump from fresh water to saltwater!I’ve been keeping ta make for 5 yearsor so so have the basic knowledge and have built up a Adequate stock of aquarium equipment. I’m going to start out small-ish and convert my 100L tank and keep costs low as I ease into that area of the hobby.
I’m thinking:

- live rock
- hob filter
- bare bottom
- powerhead

one area I’m unfamiliar with is water changes in respect to salt levels.. I imagine as water evaporates the salt level gets higher. I plan to start off with pre mixed saltwater from my LFS but if I I’m adding that water to a tank with a already high salt level will the salt level still be highafter the water change? hope I’ve explained that clearly lol

much appreciated

Matt
 
  • #2

MomeWrath

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You top off a saltwater tank with fresh RO/DI water, since water evaporates but salt does not. Top off has to be done every day or you will need an auto-top-off to keep salinity stable between water changes and prevent your salinity from creeping up over time.
If you can, start off big, as small tanks are even more susceptible to wild parameter swings and SW critters are way more sensitive to change than FW. Skip the HOB and use plenty of live rock in the tank and get yourself a good skimmer. Yes they are expensive, because they are worth it. An HOB is really not doing you any favors except as a place for more live rock (rubble) or you can turn a big AquaClear into a mini-refugium. A skimmer removes organic waste before it has a chance to convert to nitrates, and an HOB just provides a place for it to happen. Nitrates are not a huge deal for SW fish, but inverts and coral do not respond well to elevated nitrate levels that can result from HOB filters on a salt tank. Hope that makes sense. Your flow over live rock and your skimmer are your best friends.
 
  • #3

HarrisonAquatics

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I have a somewhat different approach to saltwater tanks than a lot of people do on this forum - they're not at all wrong, but there's more than one way to do it.

Personally, I completely recommend you start with a nano in the 10-30 gallon range. Smaller is doable for someone new (my first tank was around 5 gallons), but I feel that a 10 gallon tank is completely doable for anyone. I'd recommend an oversized Aquaclear HOB in conjunction with a small powerhead like a Koralia Nano 240 (for a 10 gallon - larger tanks will differ), and an appropriately sized heater. You can either convert the HOB to a refugium OR use it to run carbon/purigen in. Or, just use it for flow. Get yourself a decent light such as the Aquaknight or a PAR 38 (for a 10 gallon - larger tanks will differ), and you're done with equipment. Yes, a skimmer can be nice - but on a small tank, they don't make much sense. It's so easy to do a relatively large water change (25-50%) that it kinda negates the need for a skimmer, IMO. Plus, finding a decent one is a challenge for a nano.

You're on the right track with live rock and bare bottom, IMO. It doesn't look as nice as a sand bottom, but is much easier to clean.

Salt levels were explained very well in MomeWrath 's post, so I won't go into it. Just make sure that the water your LFS provides is actually RODI (or at least RO or DI), and not just filtered tap like some LFS's sell.

I think the biggest thing is to research and move slowly, one step at a time. If you rush it, you will have problems. Maintain a reasonable stock level (2-4 small fish) and I think you should have no issue maintaining the tank.

IMO and IME, a well-built SW tank will basically maintain itself other than topping off and water changes. Very little intervention is needed otherwise - that wasn't true back in the 80's and 90's, but knowledge and equipment has advanced enough to make the salty side of the hobby easy, if not cheap.

Welcome to the salty side! Feel free to ask more questions, either in a PM or in the forums. :)
 
  • #4

MomeWrath

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HarrisonAquatics said:
I have a somewhat different approach to saltwater tanks than a lot of people do on this forum - they're not at all wrong, but there's more than one way to do it.

Personally, I completely recommend you start with a nano in the 10-30 gallon range. Smaller is doable for someone new (my first tank was around 5 gallons), but I feel that a 10 gallon tank is completely doable for anyone. I'd recommend an oversized Aquaclear HOB in conjunction with a small powerhead like a Koralia Nano 240 (for a 10 gallon - larger tanks will differ), and an appropriately sized heater. You can either convert the HOB to a refugium OR use it to run carbon/purigen in. Or, just use it for flow. Get yourself a decent light such as the Aquaknight or a PAR 38 (for a 10 gallon - larger tanks will differ), and you're done with equipment. Yes, a skimmer can be nice - but on a small tank, they don't make much sense. It's so easy to do a relatively large water change (25-50%) that it kinda negates the need for a skimmer, IMO. Plus, finding a decent one is a challenge for a nano.

You're on the right track with live rock and bare bottom, IMO. It doesn't look as nice as a sand bottom, but is much easier to clean.

Salt levels were explained very well in MomeWrath 's post, so I won't go into it. Just make sure that the water your LFS provides is actually RODI (or at least RO or DI), and not just filtered tap like some LFS's sell.

I think the biggest thing is to research and move slowly, one step at a time. If you rush it, you will have problems. Maintain a reasonable stock level (2-4 small fish) and I think you should have no issue maintaining the tank.

IMO and IME, a well-built SW tank will basically maintain itself other than topping off and water changes. Very little intervention is needed otherwise - that wasn't true back in the 80's and 90's, but knowledge and equipment has advanced enough to make the salty side of the hobby easy, if not cheap.

Welcome to the salty side! Feel free to ask more questions, either in a PM or in the forums. :)
I agree with you on almost all points! The skimmer can go either way, but I agree on a small tank it's not really necessary with proper water changes. I had a DIY "Dr. Pepper Bottle and wood airstone" skimmer on a 20, but it probably wasn't strictly necessary even for that tank. Size matters, and a larger tank is really no more work ad the stocking options are so much better. Everyone thinks they want FOWLR until they see their first hitchhiker mushroom coral step off and make a baby, and then the whole game changes... I just always recommend that folks start out with a coral-capable setup. It saves time and ultimately money ;)
 
  • #5

Jesterrace

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I also agree it's not as simple as "the bigger, the better" mentality that many spout. The truth is that all the different tank sizes have their advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand larger tanks offer more stocking options and more stability for water parameters (ie more forgivable for an accidental overfeeding, salinity levels don't fluctuate as much, can go longer without maintenance), it also does save a fair bit of money if you commit to the hobby since you will likely be more content with a larger tank long term. On the other hand though they are much more expensive to setup, generally have more equipment to maintain and when it comes to things like scraping coralline algae off the glass you would take a small tank any day of the week over a larger one in that respect. It's also better if you decide that the hobby is not for you as getting rid of a big setup (ie tearing it down) can be a huge pain. Some people can also be perfectly content with small tanks long term. There is a healthy sized nano community out there. So it's not as clear cut as some would make you believe.

As for FOWLR vs Reef? I would say the size of the tank comes into play quite a bit more with that argument. I agree that a nano FOWLR is pretty easy to get bored since it's just a couple or a few small fish and a rock pile to look at long term. I think larger sized FOWLR tanks are much more viable long term because you open up a wide variety of stocking options and can have enough fish to keep the tank alive. You also get a much larger range of non-reef safe stocking options (ie Large Angels, Butterflyfish, Triggers, Non-Reef Safe Wrasses) which means you get fish that many reef keepers could only dream of keeping so you get that as a trade off.

The thing to remember about corals is that you can save a lot of expense and hassle by doing two things: 1) Stick to frags. Much cheaper to buy, easier to spot pest and easier (and more fun IMHO) to track growth over time 2) Stick to Softies and Easier to keep LPS. Much less demanding than the likes of Chalice Coral and SPS Corals in terms of lighting, flow and feeding/dosing trace elements.
 
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