How To Convert A Freshwater Tank To Saltwater (my Experience)

Discussion in 'Saltwater Tank Equipment' started by Esimm03, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Esimm03

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    so I just wanted to share my experience with converting my 50L freshwater planted tank to a reef as I have seen lots of posts on similar topics or starting a reef altogether. Last year I made a similar post about making a fake freshwater reef with live rock and colourful fish and plants. This was great as I wanted a reef but at the time couldn't afford one. In August 2017 I set up my first saltwater tank, with coral and sexy shrimp.... But I wanted fish. So 4 weeks ago I went into my shed and dug out my old 50L with the dead live rock in.... I decided to upgrade my reef(on a major budget) Hopefully my experiences will help someone in a similar situation.

    Firstly I made a list of everything I needed and had... This is all the equipment I am using (a link is attached if I purchased it separately:

    Heater (already had one)

    Pump to circulate water (used an old stingray filter)

    Light (already had an LED colour change light)

    Filtration ( All Pond Solutions 600-HO Aquarium Hang On Filter, 600 L/H Flow Rate

    Rock (used the dry rock and some live from my LFS)

    Sand(sand from my LFS)

    Saltwater (got from LFS)

    RO Water (got from LFS)

    Test kits (already had from my Pico tank(API))

    Refractometer (already had)

    For nutrient export Im using cheato algae, a protine skimmer is recommend but it's really expensive and I'm trying to keep this a budget system. The stuff I had to buy cost me £27.48. if you are converting from a freshwater you will probably have to get a new light which is fairly pricey.... I bought this one ages ago for my fake reef. Saltwater costs me £2.40 per 10l and RO is £1 per 10L.

    To set the tank up I took it outside and gave it a really good scrub down with the garden hose to get rid of any algae in there. I then sat it on my stand and put the filter on the back. I then scaped it with the dry rock and went to my LFS and bought the dead sand and live rock, I then added them in (it's important to add your rock first as inverts who dig into the sand might knock the rocks over if they are not touching the floor of the tank(and then you may have a cracked tank) I then filled it with water and turned everything on (it's important to fill the filter up first as it needs to be primed ) I then went on holiday for 1 week!.

    When I returned I tested the water for some reason ammonia was very high (like 8ppm!) So I did a large 50% water change and it gradually reduced. Which brings us up to now, it's been running about 4 weeks now and nitrate is at 10ppm. Hopefully in a week or so I can move All my coral over. This is my stocking plan:

    2x occolaris clownfish
    1x goby (undecided)
    3x hermet crabs
    2x sexy shrimp
    3x turbo snails
    3x sand sifting snails
    1x tube worm.

    Kenya tree
    Palyzoas (will get in the future)
    Candy cane
    Neon trumpet
    hammerhead coral
    Anemone (will get when the tank is 6 months to a year old )

    Overall this tank will have cost me £115.43 (excluding all the equipment I and and including the fish and cuc I have listed and excluding coral)

    I hope this helps anyone who wants to set a budget reef up! Any questions please ask as I'd love to help and there are lots of helpful people on this forum too!
    Attached is a pic of the tank at the moment and I will keep updating its progress on here!

    (First pic is it then and second is it now)

    If there's anything I've missed out or anyone wants to add anything please comment

    Thanks for reading,
    Ethan Screenshot_20180422-143846.jpg20180422_133830.jpg
  2. Iverg1

    Iverg1Well Known MemberMember

    Love it any fish who goes goes in there will be very happy!
  3. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    Thanks , just moved my corals over.... Wil post pics as it progresses, I'm curious on how easy it is to reef on a budget
  4. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    Fish added.... IMG_20180426_214813_816.jpg
  5. Lorekeeper

    LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    Looking good!

    Saltwater is definitely expensive, but people don't realize how budget-oriented you can be.

    I've got around $300 into my current 5.5, but that's including all of my equipment, whether I'm currently using it or not, my salt, and all of my livestock, living or dead. I'd have spent around that much in freshwater with planted tank lighting and live plants anyway. Even with a non-planted set up, you're still looking at around $75-100 to get a tank cycling, so if you're committed to the idea of saltwater, that extra $200 isn't going to matter all that much. It's a lot of cash, but it's doable for most people, as long as you set limits and budget accordingly.

    Those are some really good looking clowns, btw. Hope to see them start eating soon!
  6. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    My Pico tank ate about £500, but it was a gift so I can't complain . I've spent most of my money on fish and livestock, I've bought so far:

    2x clownfish (£30)
    1x tail spot blenny (£20)
    1x neon goby (freebie)

    The guy gave me the neon goby (worth £29!) For fee as he's really nice and wanted to help me out a bit.

    The clowns seemed interested when I fed my coral and I saw them eat bits of shrimp and it stayed in, but they didnt take much. I tried the flakes again and they only seem to go for the red pellets, which is strange. Is that meat?

  7. Lorekeeper

    LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    That's around $600, isn't it? Not terrible, actually. Good prices on the fish, too. A false perc at my LFS (around 1 1/2") will run about $20 a piece. I got my Pink Skunk for $12, but he's barely off of brine.

    As long as they are taking food, you're good. Honestly, it may just take them a few days to really get an appetite. My damsel decided it was going to pig out on the first day, and every time I fed after that. My Skunk clown ate some on the first day, but hasn't really shown a great appetite yet. Then again, he won't need to eat a whole lot.

    If they're taking pellets, feed the pellets. I avoid flakes with all my fish, but that's a personal thing. Check the ingredients on the back of the pellet bottle. If there's a lot of meaty ingredients, and probably something like Nori or Spirulina, it's fine as a staple.
  8. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    It's about $680, which is alot compared to the £72 ($99) I've spend on this tank. The reef hobby does get expensive quick.

    It's interesting how the blenny goes white when he's stressed, he has still got white patches all over, but it's better than yesterday. Any idea how long until he turns back to a solid brown colour? @Lchi87 did blenjamin do this when you added him, and how long until he became active and eating?

    I priced up for a large red sea reefer 250 for a future plan and it came to just over £3000, which is insane , luckaly I have live sand now and live rock that will cut the price down a bit.

    Ethan 20180429_082417.jpg
  9. Lchi87

    Lchi87ModeratorModerator Member

    Yay so happy you got a tailspot!! :D

    Blenjamin was shy for the first few days but he had no trouble eating once I figured out he preferred his seaweed as soggy as possible lol. I wasn’t soaking them long enough for the first few days. Those white patches do come along when they’re stressed but also when they’re sleeping. It only took a day or so for him to relax a bit and resume his normal coloration :)

    I’d say it took about a week for him to stop flinching when I approached the tank. After that he’s been cruising in the flow and nibbling the algae on my rock like a good blenny :D.
  10. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    Ok, he's definitely got less white now and I've noticed him kissing the rocks but darting back to his hole when I approach the tank.
    I need to find a name for him, I though blenadict cumberbatch , Terrance or Bruce.

    Will he be ok if I added another goby or scooter blenny of some sort?

    Also, is it just seaweed on a clip you feed him? I'm considering getting somefor mine. Will clownfish eat the seaweed too?

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  11. Lchi87

    Lchi87ModeratorModerator Member

    I can't advise on stocking confidently but perhaps a bottom dwelling species might be most safe since they won't share the same space..? But again, I'd seek a second opinion as I don't know enough IMO.

    I take the nori and cut it up into tiny pieces and soak it in tank water and then just dump it into the tank. I haven't owned clowns so I can't speak to what they'd eat but all the clowns I know are pigs so far!
  12. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    Ok, Ill see what my lfs sells in terms of bottom dwelling things.

    Also, I thought my tube worm had died but I just saw a mini plume so I guess he just shed!!!.

    My clowns are very picky, only eating brine shrimp but they finish it all in a few seconds

    @grantm91 @stella1979 @thesoalpatch @Nart @Nanologist
    Any ideas if my clowns would like nori seeweed?

    I tried algae wafers and it disappeared soon after being added, I wonder if it was eaten or blown under a rock somewhere.


    P.s he's alot more confident now .
  13. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Yay! Congrats on the tailspot! I love those little guys. :) I'm glad to hear your tube worm is ok. :)

    As far as I know, clowns will eat anything you put in front of them. They are omnivores so shouldn't eat greens all the time, but the blenny is an herbivore so shouldn't eat very much protein if any at all. If I were you I would try to feed them separately but at the same So, have the foods ready to deliver, but feed the piggy clown whatever food he's eating for the day and while he's busy drop the blenny some greens. :)
  14. Lorekeeper

    LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    One thing you might try feeding is a blend of Nori, Spirulina, and scallops or shrimp. I actually just blend a bunch of seafood and marine fish-safe veggies together with some mashed baby food (Pea flavored), and it makes a pretty thick goop that freezes easily. You can put it in a bag, freeze it, and break off chunks to feed as you need it. The damsel I had went crazy for it, and the clown seems to enjoy it as well.
  15. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

  16. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hey Ethan... So, maybe you know this but brine shrimp actually have very little nutrition. They contain little protein and are heavy on fat. I feed brine sometimes, but feed protein rich mysis much more often.

    Also, perhaps you could get gut loaded mysis. If you can find mysis with spirulina you'll be feeding protein and greens at the same time. Otherwise, you might look for a good frozen mix for omnivores, or make your own like Lorekeeper mentioned above.
  17. OP

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    Ok, my lfs has a huge freezer with all sorts of food and mice (for the reptiles) I'll see if there's anything with spirulina in or a blend with greens or something. Otherwise I'll try to locate the ingredients to make what @Lorekeeper mentioned.