Is Sw Possible For Me?

ystrout

HI Everyone.

I've been lurking on the Saltwater forum for a while now but finally had a question. I am on the freshwater side of the hobby with 3 tanks (75 gallon community tank, 14 gallon pea puffer tank, and 8 gallon betta tank) and have been doing it for about 4 years. Fish are my favorite animal and I absolutely love mine.

I'm not planning to get into saltwater right away, but my favorite fish is a California Sheephead due to their personality when I scuba dive with them. After learning about tuskfish which are basically just tropical sheepheads, I haven't gotten saltwater tanks out of my mind. The problem is, I don't know if my lifestyle allows saltwater. Here's why... And I apologize for the long post.

During the winter months (December to early April), I am on weekend snowboard trips basically every weekend. I leave Friday after work and get home Sunday night around midnight. Sometimes I extend it to 3 days by using a vacation day if the snow is good. Spring through fall, I'm still super active but am definitely home more. I scuba dive most weekends (which is a local hobby as I live in San Diego), and go on weekend camping trips about 5 to 6 times over the summer. Again, I'm home a lot more from late spring to early fall, but still out of the house on the weekends during most of the day in the summer. I also use my 15 vacation days on two big trips per year, a week long skI trip and week long scuba trip to the tropics. The other vacation days are scattered here and there for small things like extending my skI trips to 3 days and family stuff.

I do all of my tank maintenance during the week after work. I basically spend 1 to 3 hours a week doing water changes, cleaning filter media, etc. When I'm out of town, I have my roommate (my fiance's sister) feed everyone. She's lived with us long enough that she knows her way around an aquarium too.

Can you guys give me advice if it would be possible for me to keep saltwater with where I am in life right now? I feel it wouldn't work out, and I'm not going to if it could possibly lead to a lower quality of life for the fish. But I don't know.... I've lurked on the Saltwater forum a while and understand the equipment, but I don't understand the daily/weekly/monthly maintenance. For example, keeping freshwater is easy for my lifestyle because I only have to do maintenance once a week. So here are my questions:

1. Does Saltwater (FOWLR in a 180G to be specific) require daily maintenance and attention? RODI water top offs, checking parameters, etc? Also, I understand setting up the system will require daily attention just like in freshwater. I'm talking about once it is established.
2. If not, is maintenance once a week sufficient?
3. I understand Saltwater is less physical labor (smaller water changes) but the ecosystem is more fragile. I've mastered freshwater by just putting in the time and research, so feel like I could easily learn saltwater by doing the same. But do you think I have the time given my current lifestyle? Please be as honest as possible

I really don't understand the saltwater care schedule at all so any info is greatly appreciated.

Again, the joy I get out of aquariums is giving the fish a healthy, enjoyable life so I'm not doing this if it's even close to not being enough time. I'm 26 now and I fully expect to slow down as time goes by, we have kids, etc... So if it doesn't work now, I have something to look forward to in the future!

Thanks for the replies.
 

Rtessy

Hey there!
I'm not a saltwater person, but I do know that there are automatic top off machines (and DIY ones with soda bottes and airline tubing), so that part of the equation shouldn't be a problem.
I know people who get away with weekly (or every other week) maintence on their salt water tanks, so I doubt it's impossible, especially in a a larger tank.
 

Jesterrace

Saltwater tanks do require a bit of a commitment but they are doable. To leave a large tank unattended for a week at a time or less is no big deal if you get an ATO system (Auto Top Off) and have an auto feeder with something like new life spectrum pellets. I would recommend NOT running a filter sock during that time as they need to be changed every 3 days or so. If you are talking 2-3 weeks or more then it gets to be a bit more of a challenge.

A 180 gallon FOWLR will be pretty expensive to setup (even with buying a used reef ready setup) and don't be surprised if it sets you back around at least $2K to get it ready for fish. With a 180 gallon a pre-drilled tank with dual overflows, sump, protein skimmer, etc. is pretty much A MUST. As for the California Sheephead, you will be hard pressed to find them in the hobby. They get 3 feet in length when fully grown and would need much bigger than 180 gallons. Truth be told the vast majority of the hobby is Tropical Reef Fish and there isn't much available outside of that for fish. Probably the only thing I can think of offhand that that is fairly available from that area (which is a bit colder in temp than a reef) is the Catalina Goby:




If you are content with the standard fare for reef fish (ie Triggers, Tangs, Angels, Foxface) then a 180 gallon will give you lots of options.

Not sure how familiar you are with sump systems but this is the basic setup for a saltwater setup. This is only a 90 gallon so it only has a single overflow, but it will give you the basic idea of how it is setup and runs:

 

ystrout

Saltwater tanks do require a bit of a commitment but they are doable. To leave a large tank unattended for a week at a time or less is no big deal if you get an ATO system (Auto Top Off) and have an auto feeder with something like new life spectrum pellets. I would recommend NOT running a filter sock during that time as they need to be changed every 3 days or so. If you are talking 2-3 weeks or more then it gets to be a bit more of a challenge.

A 180 gallon FOWLR will be pretty expensive to setup (even with buying a used reef ready setup) and don't be surprised if it sets you back around at least $2K to get it ready for fish. With a 180 gallon a pre-drilled tank with dual overflows, sump, protein skimmer, etc. is pretty much A MUST. As for the California Sheephead, you will be hard pressed to find them in the hobby. They get 3 feet in length when fully grown and would need much bigger than 180 gallons. Truth be told the vast majority of the hobby is Tropical Reef Fish and there isn't much available outside of that for fish. Probably the only thing I can think of offhand that that is fairly available from that area (which is a bit colder in temp than a reef) is the Catalina Goby:




If you are content with the standard fare for reef fish (ie Triggers, Tangs, Angels, Foxface) then a 180 gallon will give you lots of options.

Not sure how familiar you are with sump systems but this is the basic setup for a saltwater setup. This is only a 90 gallon so it only has a single overflow, but it will give you the basic idea of how it is setup and runs:

Thanks for the reply!

The longest I ever go out of town is a week, and only do that twice a year. The rest of my trips are just a couple days. So I'm really excited that that's not a big deal!

Oh I think you misunderstood. I don't want a calI sheephead. I meant they're my favorite fish because they're so friendly when I scuba dive with them. Tuskfish are super similar to sheephead so having a tuskfish is my dream saltwater aquarium fish.

I'm pretty familiar with all of the equipment but just didn't know if I needed to service it or do maintenance every day. It sounds like all I need to do is top offs which can be automated, and of course feed them. Then I could do my maintenance during the week in the winter since I'm always home then.

And yaa, I understand it isn't cheap.... I also have plenty of time to save as since I wouldn't do this until I own a house, and we don't plan to buy for at least a year. Probably two years.
 

Jesterrace

So I assume you are planning on one of these then?



Not a ton of folks I know have them (because they require a sizeable tank and are questionable with corals and inverts), but the ones that do love them.


Yes, it is possible to not do daily maintenance on the tank. Usually the protein skimmer is once or twice a week once it settles in for cleaning out the collection cup and if it overflows in the sump it's not a big deal. The filter sock as mentioned should be removed while you are gone and you can decide if you want to use one at all. Glass should probably be cleaned weekly once the tank has been established (ie running for 6 months or more).
 

ystrout

So I assume you are planning on one of these then?



Not a ton of folks I know have them (because they require a sizeable tank and are questionable with corals and inverts, but the ones that do love them.


Yes, it is possible to not do daily maintenance on the tank. Usually the protein skimmer is once or twice a week once it settles in for cleaning out the collection cup and if it overflows in the sump it's not a big deal. The filter sock as mentioned should be removed while you are gone and you can decide if you want to use one at all. Glass should probably be cleaned weekly once the tank has been established (ie running for 6 months or more).
Yup, that's the fish I'm looking at! I like the orange dotted tuskfish the best but they get way to big in my opinion.

Thanks for the tips!
 

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