Looking for the basic info on starting a SW tank.

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by capekate, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. capekateFishlore VIPMember

    Hi Folks,
    I have only kept FW tanks up til now and my husband and I are thinking of starting a SW tank. We have a new 55g tank that is ready to go. There is not a whole lot about saltwater fish keeping that I know of. So I am a total newbie in this dept.
    Im looking for info on the basic set up equipment needed.. and a little info on LR or reef set ups? And anything else any one would like to add. This is still in the research faze of the project so Im just looking for basic info to start with and can go from there..
    Thanks all and have a great evening! :)
  2. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    hi kate!!!!!!!!! I hope you get the info you need :)
    nice to see you around!

  3. capekateFishlore VIPMember

    Hi Shawnie..
    Thanks! :) ohh btw, I apologies for having been logged on for days on end.. Last time I was here, I thought I had logged out. jeesh..:rolleyes:
    Ive been researching the forum and the SW beginner's sections..
    Ohh boy... its like reading a foreign language! yikes!...
    This is going to take awhile... a LOOOONg while lol..

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2010
  4. zeeterWell Known MemberMember

    I bought a book called Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies and it really helped a lot. You can pick up a lot of things from here and other sites, but I found it easier to read about the basics first, and then use that to get advice from the folks on here.

    Basic equipment:
    Filter: you'll need biological and mechanical, and most people use chemical, as well. Live rock can be used as your biological filter. More later...
    Protein Skimmer: helps get rid of a lot of the fish excrement and other things.
    Live Rock: Fish like live rock to hide in. It also is the perfect place for beneficial bacteria to build up - thus providing you with biological filtration. For a 55 gallon you'll need around 80 lbs or so.
    Thermometer, hydrometer, and test kits.
    Lighting: this depends on what kind of tank you want. If you want reef then you should shell out the $$ for a good one. For fish only with live rock (FOWLR) you can get away with something cheaper, but keep in mind that light is not only beneficial to the fish, but it provides a nice display for you.

    I can't think of anything else off the top of my head. Just research before you do anything. I bought quite a few things that I didn't need or were just wrong for my tank. And don't be afraid to mess up. Everyone loses a fish or two due to ignorance. It's a learning experience.

  5. capekateFishlore VIPMember

    Hi Zeeter
    Thank you so much for the info and advice, its all appreciated. :)
    Ive seen that book around.. I may have to invest in it for sure. Im learning the functions at the moment of the SW tank. I know whats needed for up keep in a FW tank, but learning what is entailed to keep a SW tank up and running. About the only thing clear so far is that I do plan on using LR.. more the better right? I have been going thru Dr F & S's catalog seeing what is out there, and how much the equipment is going to run. Things like sumps and refrugiums <sp?> and protein skimmers and their functionality are confusing at best at this time. But like all hobbies, it will take awhile before this is a familiar language to me. Im hoping that I will have enough knowledge on which equipment is needed, and best products of each by the end of the summer so that I can get the tank up and running by then.
    Thanks again for your help and anything you may add will be very welcome..
    Have a great day! :)
  6. zeeterWell Known MemberMember

    Good luck. A good rule of thumb that I use is to never buy the cheapest thing and never buy the most expensive thing unless you really know what you're looking for.
    That book I mentioned is good because it gets you right into the fish descriptions and then moves onto explaining your basic equipment. It doesn't bog down in minutia. That's what you get when you come here. The minutia!
  7. ViridiosExoticsValued MemberMember

  8. Stang ManWell Known MemberMember

    Books are books and all to be said in this subject is experiance! I have read alot on this for many years and does not make since I can give you info to start a reef and be very suceessful at this hobby! when you are ready let me know I will gladly help you and it is a total joy when all said and done. I started out with a 5.5 gallon fresh when I was 7 years old and had fresh for along time till I decided to go salties and believe me it is way to cool !!! It is a challenge yes but if you do it right in the beginning it's all down hill!!! I build sumps and refuge's for a hobby and would really like to talk to you about this if interested with out a doubt. I do acrylic builds and love to build them. Go to my post and check it out!! I built a 30 gallon cube and just started it today!!
  9. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    There's this book I have which gives a lot of info. Equipment needed, unnecesary but helpful equipments, how live rock works, reccomended and unreccomended reef species and their habitats, aquascaping, invertebrates, disease and treatments, and tons of others. It's called Natral Reef Aquariums Simplified Approaches to Creating Living Saltwater Micocosms.

    I got started using only this book :)
  10. zeeterWell Known MemberMember

    Stang is right in that nothing replaces experience. However when you come for help on a subject in a forum it does help to have an idea what you're talking about. That's what the basics books are good for. They generally steer you in the right direction, then when you have a question about a protein skimmer you won't be baffled if someone asks if it's a venturi or air stone skimmer.
  11. ibiaquariumsValued MemberMember

    Hi their... im far from a pro at the moment, but had even less experience then you, ive never actually owned a fish tank... well that was solely mine lol! It was a basic tank, with 2 gold fish, A long long time ago.

    11 years on... 4 months ago (xmas) i started a SW tank as a xmas present for my mother... but what i didnt realise was i would be unable to put fish in it on XMAS day lol... as obviously it required cycling... so had it hidden (basically didnt let her in my room lol) while it was in cycling process lol... then moved it into the living room where it would actually be situated and presented to her as her xmas present (what a struggle) lol! basically had to drain it (storing the water obviously) then move it.. then re-fill it, and it just about worked out fine!

    Now its sits beautifully in the living room... with two hitch hiker crabs and a turbo snail, i dont use a skimmer as ive read it eats vital neutrients and minerals required for reefs to feed off and i plan on having corals. I do have a external filter.. fluval 404 (with media) which is very annoying when it has to be stopped to be cleaned then reconnected i hate it, my arm is just dead afterwards lol.

    Ive also recently built/constructed my very own refugium containing a big piece of live rock & live sand along with beneficial algae (calaupa seaweed - think its spelt like that) and strong lighting.. as im now trying to increase my population of copepods and mysids (to use as livefood for fish when they arrive) in it, the beneficial algae also helps control my "nitrate" level as this seems to be the hardest toxin to conquer, however i have produced my "OWN" home made algae scrubber (similar to a u.v sterilizer, which im also going to get) to eliminate or keep prosphates and nitrate at very low levels.

    Ammonia and Nitrite levels never seem to trouble me, and my PH levels have always been between 8.1 & 8.3 at its highiest, generally around the 8.16-8.25 mark! I use a PH pen.. electronic device (worth every penny if you ask me - research into them).

    Ive not lost any living creature to date! I also dont plan too.. this is probably impossible, but i never do things by halfs or rush things!

    Im now starting on 'MY' tank lol... which is about 5-6 ft in length 2-3ft in height, which apparently is going to be easier as its "bigger" and i cant wait to get it moving... at the moment im designing my DIY background for it.. im getting very very creative, ill be sure to upload photos once its done!!!

    What i will say is my research has been very extreme... the all nighters when im not working lol, day times or after work, but obviously fitted around other day to day requirements, i even did recorded notes, for example on my mobile ill voice recored the info down when i find interesting peices/articles or just copy and paste then save to file as reference material.

    Id say the hardest part for me was learning about "your water"... what its made from... how to control it, as such. KH & GH, but GH mainly i find a lil confusing lol! The way oxygen and water work in-tandem also not too forget carbon dioxide too. People, beg and pro's.. suggest i use RO water... i havent, and ive raised a hatchling crab, contained loads of mysids, bristleworms (not by choice.. but are interesting to watch), snails and noticed tiny tiny snails growing, and my turbo snail gets round my tank quicker then usain bolt lol.. i rekon this was because i researched into what my TAP water was exactly all about and treated it accordingly, also tested for any copper iodine and the rest of the not so required chemicals... as some places countries probably or may lack in quality in its distribution im guessing, but who knows.

    So hat was my toughest part for me to understand i think! GOOD LUCK!

    Once you've got to grips... its allot of fun... because then you start learning about what creatures eat, their behaviour types, what can be a tank mate with what etc etc and then watching them in your actual tank is awesome!!! Time flys lol.

    WELL ENJOY!!! ;)
  12. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    A little off topic, but what's the width of the new tank??? Are you going to use a skimmer for that tank? Some coral are best when they have a skimmer. IMO, they are required for reefs. They remove more bad than good in my opinion, but thats just my opinion.
  13. Stang ManWell Known MemberMember

    That is good that you made it thus far but the problem that you are facing is due to your canister filter with no skimmer and not using R/O water so get with it!! Do the things I'm writing to you Get a skimmer and use R/O or D/I sumps are the best or refuge, Try it you will see a big difference! Trust me!!
  14. lanlesneeWell Known MemberMember

    With too much LR you can have dead spots. I would go with 30 or so pounds of base rock and 50 or so pounds of LR on top of the base rock.

    With my tank I didn't use base rock, but 200 plus pounds of LR. I did make little "tunnels" and put 4 powerheads to keep a good current though my LR.
  15. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    true, but there's a solution;) What I did was for the loc line on the water outlet from the sump, I extended one of the outlets and made it go under the rocks to prevent dead spots. The problem is that when the pump fails, all the water will be siphoned down so you'll have to drill a few holes at the top of the locline. Where the locline is at the connection thing at your overflow or tank. So air will get in at the top and prevent water at the bottom from siphoning.
  16. lanlesneeWell Known MemberMember

    I thought about doing something like that before I did the powerheads. I also thought about using a small pump I had and some hose with a couple of tee's spread thoughout my LR.

    I only have my powerheads run with my lights are on. It's a lot of current and my fish hide in the rocks at night, so I thought I'd have them off.
    What do you think about this idea?
    When the powerhead kicks on you can see the tank being stirred up, but clears up fairly quick.
  17. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    I just leave them on.

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