Going Salty!

Lollipop0912

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So yep. After 5 Freshwater years (and a brief Saltwater stint) I’m ready to leap into sw. Here’s the list of things I think I’ll need... (for a 10 gallon setup)
1. Tank (check)
2. Filter (check)
3. Heater (check)
4. Pump/ wave maker (check)
5. Sand (6 dollars)
6. Live rock (10 dollars)
7.RO water from store (10 dollars)
8. Clowns (40 dollars for a pair or ORA online)
9. Refractometer 20 dollars
10. Light 4 coral : 25 dollars
11. Coral budget: 20 dollars
12. Unforeseen expenses: 20 dollars
12. Total cost: 151 dollars
Does anybody have anything to add to my list? And is it seriously plausible to do this for under 100 dollars??? (I doubt it)
And I blame
stella1979 , Gypsy13 , Nart , and KinsKicks for the sw addiction...
 

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YES! I'm so happy to hear!

For a 10 gallon, as long as you don't want to do any corals, you might be able to get away with something around $100. Do you have a light for the tank? Anything will do, but I'd recommend staying away from a super low Kelvin light, as you'll just be encouraging algae. Something around 6500K will be cheap and readily available, but won't look all that salty.

Instead of getting a hydrometer, I'd wholeheartedly recommend that you look into a refractometer instead. They do the same things, but hydrometers are pretty innaccurate. Hydrometers will run you around $10 or so, while a cheap refractometer will run you around $20 on Ebay, and even a cheap one will be much better than any swing-arm hydrometer.

If you're using store water, make sure that the store is actually using an RO unit. I've heard horror stories of stores using plain water filters (like Brita), or of them using RO units but never changing the filter. Your own unit is the safest thing you can do, but I understand that it's a big cost up-front, and if you don't plan on doing corals, it shouldn't be a big issue. I used distilled water from walmart for years and never had issues - you might look into that.

You're forgetting a clean-up crew - even a FOWLR tank needs one. I'd recommend a variety of snails to start out with. They're going to be cheap, easy to get, and won't cause issues down the road like some crabs tend to.

You are aware of the saltwater nitrogen cycle, right? AKA, you know that the filter doesn't actually hold your biological filter (or not most of it), and that your live rock does the majority of the "filtering". And, of course, normal cycle rules still apply - the rock you're getting likely isn't cured, so you'll need to be testing the tank and waiting to get livestock until it's done.
 
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Lollipop0912

Lollipop0912

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Thanks for the advice! I forgot about the clean up crew. I’ve actually already technically “gone salty”. I kept dwarf seahorses for 1/2 a year. I was pretty good. The BBS was just too much to do for me. I have a job, I can’t be hatching and feeding all day! I’ve checked with my store, they deffinately use ro water. I am aware of the Saltwater cycle and I wish Freshwater and Saltwater BB were the same, but alas, they aren’t. I’ll deffinately do a refractometer this time. So much more accurate!
Edit: I just became a well known member WOOOHOO!
 
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Lollipop0912

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With the tank stocking is 2 clowns and a few snails overstocked? Understocked?
 

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I'd say 2 clowns plus your CUC is pretty well stocked. It'll leave you with some wiggle room, and you won't have to worry about aggression from your clowns as they age.

Since you won't be doing coral (I assume), you won't have quite so much extra waste flying around in the tank, which will make things easier.
 
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Lollipop0912

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I’m steering clear form coral because it’s expensive. I’ll start with some chaeto and maybe a fake bta. #findingnemo
 

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You might want to look into some different macroalgae. A marine planted tank can be absolutely gorgeous, and things tend to be cheaper, from the lighting to the macros themselves. Plus, water quality is usually helped immensely.
 
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Ironically, I’ve already kept a few in previous tanks. My favorite is chaeto.
 

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Lollipop0912 said:
So yep. After 5 Freshwater years (and a brief Saltwater stint) I’m ready to leap into sw. Here’s the list of things I think I’ll need... (for a 10 gallon setup)
1. Tank (check)
2. Filter (check)
3. Heater (check)
4. Pump/ wave maker (check)
5. Sand (6 dollars)
6. Live rock (10 dollars)
7.RO water from store (10 dollars)
8. Clowns (40 dollars for a pair or ORA online)
9. Hydrometer (unsure on cost)
Does anybody have anything to add to my list? And is it seriously plausible to do this for under 100 dollars??? (I doubt it)
And I blame
stella1979 , Gypsy13 , Nart , and KinsKicks for the sw addiction...
You can but will be seriously limited on stocking options. I personally would not keep clowns in a 10 gallon tank, it really is too small for them (Captive breds are pretty active). These would be better choices:

Firefish
Possum/Pink Streaked Wrasse
Small Gobies

As for your list, skip the Hydrometer and go with a Refractometer (About $20-$22 shipped from Amazon). Hydrometers are really inaccurate for measuring salinity. Also has the 10 gallon tank equipment that you have been used? You will need to sanitize it and do a tap water and distilled white vinegar mix run through all the equipment and then spray out and wipe down completely and let air dry for 24 hours.

To give you an idea of how active captive bred clowns are here is how my snowflake was in my 36 gallon bowfront (keep in mind it was only 1.5-2 inches at the time):

 
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Thanks for the advice. Does anyone else want to weigh in?
 

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I have seen it done but I never actually sat and watched them long enough to see how they were acting. So I don't really know.
 

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Here are some options mentioned above (barring the Catalina Goby which is a colder water fish):






And my personal favorite:


 

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I've personally got a clown in a 10, and it's fine for the moment - although she's just around 1".

Bigger is always better, but false percs are usually said to be okay in 10 gallons. Some will disagree, and they have fair points. I may feel completely differently once my clown reaches 3", who knows. Look up some 10 gallons with full-grown clowns in them, and see if that's something you're all good with - personally, I do think a full-grown pair usually looks a little bit cramped in a 10. For that reason, I've stuck with a single clown, and I do plan to upgrade as soon as I'm not restricted by dorm rules.
 

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One of the things I am guilty of is that I never recommend a fish that can't comfortably live out it's life in a tank of a given size. Yes, people re-home (I actually did it with my Melanurus Wrasse as it just happened to coincide with an upgrade I was doing anyways) but in general I am not a fan of the practice as it adds stress to both the fish and owner (as catching and re-homing fish IS NOT an exact science). Hence my recommendation above. For some odd reason Firefish have been bumped up to a 20 gallon minimum on live aquaria. Not sure why that is as Firefish generally don't move around a ton. They tend to hang out outside their den/burrow by only 5-6 inches and just sit there in case they sense danger so they can dart back in very quickly.
 

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I'm brand new to SW, but I'm keeping a pair of Ocellaris Clowns in a 20g. I don't think I'd keep them in anything less than a 15g. If you want a low budget tank, I would suggest a pair of standard Firefish for a 10g. The pair will probably run you $20-$30.
 

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I wouldn't do pairs with Firefish. They aren't aggressive to other fish, but they hate each other with a passion once they get established. The only way I would do a pair of firefish is if they were a male and female mated pair, which is hard to do since there are no distinguishing characteristics between male and female. A regular Firefish and a Small Goby would be the best choice for a 10 gallon without breaking the bank.
 

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An ATO is not absolutely necessary but should be considered an early upgrade option. A salt tank of that size will have a lot of evaporation so you'll be topping off a few times a day which can cause salinity swings.
 
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Lollipop0912

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Thanks! As previously mentioned, I’ve had a 10 gallon saltwater tank before and am framilliar with the danger of salinity swings and the need to top off water.
 

stella1979

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Hey Lollipop. Congrats on the new salty tank! Great info above, so I don't have anything to add at the moment, but I'm here, subbed, and am glad to help however I can.
 
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Thanks! I’ll keep everyone posted.
 

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I actually got a pair of Clowns and a BTA today! I love them!
 
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Sounds awesome! Any pictures??? What size tank???
 

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Lollipop0912 said:
Sounds awesome! Any pictures??? What size tank???
It’s a 20H. I need to get a FTS, but here’s what I have
 

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Looks great! For now, the plan is to start with the 10 and have 2 clowns, then upgrade to a twenty in the next year or so...
 
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In the course of a day, I’ve decided corals might not be al, that bad.
What grow lights do you guys use?
Will this one work?
Any suggestions?
In terms of coral, I really like green star polyps and BTA’s . (Come on, clownfish + anemone...) is there anything I should know about them? (Other than basic care which I’ve been researching.)
Even wkth my reaserch, I don’t seem to know how to acclimate coral and what trace elements should be....
 

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Lollipop0912 said:
In the course of a day, I’ve decided corals might not be al, that bad.
What grow lights do you guys use?
Will this one work?
Any suggestions?
In terms of coral, I really like green star polyps and BTA’s . (Come on, clownfish + anemone...) is there anything I should know about them? (Other than basic care meh in I’ve been reaserching)
I have an Aquatic Life T5HO Marquis Marine Light. It is incredible! My LFS sells them for $145. I got mine 50% off, so I paid $72.50. I've been beyond impressed with it!
 
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That sounds like a pretty good deal. What size tank do you use it on? How many wats is it? What is a good What per gallon ratio for the corals mentioned above?
 

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Lollipop0912 said:
That sounds like a pretty good deal. What size tank do you use it on? How many wats is it? What is a good What per gallon ratio for the corals mentioned above?
It's on my 24" 20H. I wanna say it's 18w. I just sat down, so I don't wanna go dig out the box right now. I'll check it here in a few minutes. It should be good for your choices.
 

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Lollipop0912 said:
That sounds like a pretty good deal. What size tank do you use it on? How many wats is it? What is a good What per gallon ratio for the corals mentioned above?
There is no such thing as a watt per gallon ratio for corals. Some corals are more demanding for light and some are less so. T5s tend to consume more juice than LEDs, especially with the bigger fixtures, so there is that as well. The thing for you will be planning ahead with your lighting since you will be upgrading within the next year (you don't want to be re-buying a light within a year). Are you planning on a regular 20 gallon or a 20 Long?

On the standard 24 inch tank for LED you have the following options:

The Chinese Black Box:



Ocean Revive Arctic T247B:




AI Prime HD (no other fixture offers the coral growth AND programming features of this fixture right out of the box):




For T5 fixtures (if you don't mind paying for bulb replacements every 12-18 months or so) the one Katie has will work well
 

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Jesterrace the T5 I have only needs replacements every 2.5-3 years. I've got a friend that just had to replace his for the first time on his 3 year old tank/light.
 

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Lollipop0912 said:
In the course of a day, I’ve decided corals might not be al, that bad.
What grow lights do you guys use?
Will this one work?
Any suggestions?
In terms of coral, I really like green star polyps and BTA’s . (Come on, clownfish + anemone...) is there anything I should know about them? (Other than basic care which I’ve been researching.)
Even wkth my reaserch, I don’t seem to know how to acclimate coral and what trace elements should be....
Some use those with good success on tanks of 10 gallons or less, but they use the higher powered bulb version. Personally I would just buy the light that you plan on for the upgrade so you aren't having yet another piece of equipment to rebuy. Keep in mind much of the equipment that worked on the 10 gallon will be insufficient for a 20 gallon (ie power filter, tank heater, more rock).
 

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Katie13 said:
Jesterrace the T5 I have only needs replacements every 2.5-3 years. I've got a friend that just had to replace his for the first time on his 3 year old tank/light.
Nice, I was not aware of that.
 
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Do you think the light I had linked would work for the ten gallon (temporarily?) the upgrade would take some time so I haven’t thought very far ahead. The upgrade may not even happen though because when I read about false pecs, every other trusted source on the internet says 10 minimum.(as well as most people on fishlore) (Even with their activity level)
 

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Personally, I would go ahead and just get a 15 or 20g. PetCo is currently running the DPG sale. A 10 gallon is going to be a pretty rough start. The bigger the tank, the easier it's gonna be. I stand firm on a 15 gallon minimum for Clowns.
 

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On my 10 gallon, I went not-so-elegant, but cheap an effective.

LEDs are the way to go, no matter what you do. T5's work fine, but the look and easiness of LEDs really do make them worth the price.

I use two desk lamps over my tank, and I use a PAR 30 and a PAR 38 to light the tank. I'm getting ready to switch stuff around, and just use one more powerful PAR 38, but still, it's cheap and gives good results.

Here's the bulb I use:



I use the 23W version. You can plug it into any regular E27 (household) socket, as long as the bulb will fit. I'll be hanging the one I ordered from the ceiling to avoid any more incidents - I've seen people use two of the 12W bulbs in order to get a more even spread across the tank, but a 23W around 1' above the water line should give you an intense light in the center of the tank with a less-intense shimmer on the sides.

Not exactly elegant, but it's cheap and it works well. Do some Googling to see if it's something you're interested in!
 
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That’s the exact one I was looking at. Thanks. Would you do a mesh screen or a full lid?
stella1979 when did you become a moderator? When I started with dwarf seahorses you weren’t.....
 

stella1979

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It's a bit early and the brain power isn't fully on yet, lol, but I think it was last Sept. or Oct. that I was welcomed to the team here.

Okay guys, so as far as T5's go, I spent the better part of a year studying and using them over a reef. Here's the dealio...

A bulb's ability to provide sufficient light for corals does last longer than the common myth saying that they need to be replaced every 9 - 12 months. The only way to measure the output of a light, and thus, know if a particular T5 unit is outputting less than it previously was, and needs replacing... is with a PAR meter. Unless we want to just go with it for however long we may and look to the corals to tell us when that time is. The trouble is, by that time, the corals will be suffering. Due to the slow reaction and recovery times for corals, they would be set back as far as happiness and growth are concerned. In that time that the corals are receiving insufficient light, there is a chance that some of them will be set on a downward path that they will never recover from. Please trust me on this... I've been there. I put a green slimer acro (acro=Acropora, a family of highly sensitive and light demanding SPS corals), under insufficient lighting for only a couple of months before a light upgrade. He looked okay the whole time under those lights, and for some time under the proper lighting, but the damage had been done. He developed STN, (slow tissue necrosis), and though he's still hanging in there almost a year later, he has never grown, the necrosis has ever-so-slowly spread, and he will die eventually. All this while a much less hardy/more light demanding acro (species name unknown) sits and thrives just a few inches away. The difference is, the unknown was never subjected to insufficient lighting.

Not all of us can just borrow a PAR meter and most newer reefers do not want to invest in this pricey piece of equipment. Luckily, there's BulkReefSupply, (BRS), who puts equipment through rigorous testing and shares results on YouTube. Now, I am not one to completely trust a seller, because after all, their end goal is the mighty dollar. However, these guys have been one of my best sources of knowledge for the last few years... since well before starting my reef, and they haven't steered me wrong yet. So, without a PAR meter, here's how I know that T5's last longer than a year.

Here's one of many resources that told me that fluorescent lighting is great for reefs... (and by the way, this video is part of the 52 Weeks of Reefing playlist, which is great, and along with stickies here, one of the resources we used while researching and building our tank)
and the only reason I don't have my 4-bulb fixture over the 20 gallon long reef is due to a personal problem/the structure and size of my home, lol. Plainly put, I am unable to mount the T5 fixture in a way where it is both close enough, and centered over my reef tank. For the year I was using that T5, it was close enough, but not centered from front to back. The corals did okay, but... the back of my rockscape was receiving the brightest light, not the front where the corals are. Derp! Not okay, so a slim, long LED was the answer to my problems, but since that was so expensive, the tank survived, (not thrived), for a year under the T5's, while I saved for the light I needed.

Last thing on T5 lighting... there are the standard bulbs that we are usually introduced to first, 10,000K and actinic, and they will work... but they do not provide the same spectrum that is used at the LFS or in pics of other people's tanks. What this means is, you might buy some bright green zoas, bring them home, put them under those bulbs, and they look brown. Nobody wants that! And again, it happened to me, as I started my tank under two 10,000K and 2 actinics, and put the first dozen or so corals under them. It was highly disappointing to buy pricey corals and for them to not look as great in my tank as they had online or at the store. Soooo, here are some more videos that taught me what I wanted to know while using T5's. If you want your coral's colors to pop, go with ATI or Giesemann brand bulbs. I went with ATI... two Blue Plus, one Purple Plus, and one Coral Plus, and this gave me the look I was after.


Now, I am totally with Blue and Jester where lighting is concerned. If you can, get the light that will last through your upgrade, and if you can't, go as cheap as you can so it doesn't hurt as much when you have to buy lighting again. I'm asking you to trust me here too, as I have been there. With the T5 fixture, the 4 original Coralife 10,000K, and actinic bulbs, then the 4 ATI bulbs to replace the Coralifes, I spent nearly $250 on that first light... and couldn't make it work for my tank, so eventually dropped nearly $500 on a light that would work for me. That's $750 in the first year to light a 20 gallon long. Yeah, you can shake your head, tease, and call me crazy, but perhaps my goals are different and after all, experience is the best teacher. My new light will grow any coral I want, and it will last me through an upgrade to a 40B or more. When we finally accepted that we had to buy lighting again, one requirement was that this light would not leave us wanting in any way... or in other words, no more lighting upgrades!! Hopefully forever. I'm lucky in that my husband is an electrician, and if this light breaks, he can fix it.

Anyway, don't be like me. Either save for the best lighting you can afford and buy that first, or totally cheap out on lighting, and go with a FOWLR until you can provide the best light for your particular setup. Now, you don't have to have a light like mine, one that provides more than you need. If you go with a soft coral dominated tank, lower lighting will suffice, but if you want a mixed reef and hope to grow light demanding SPS in there, then you can't cheap out. I'm only one reefer, and our experiences will differ, just please know that I have been through the wringer with lighting and have learned the hard way. Do what you want, just don't make the same mistakes I did.
 

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