My first Saltwater tank, I have a few questions

  • #1
HI everyone,

I recently started to convert my Betta tank to a FOWLR setup. But this is my first time running a saltwater tank and I want to make sure I'm currently doing things right, and if I'm not, what I will need to fix.

About 3 days ago I went out and got:

20 pounds of live sand
8 pounds of live rock
2 Koralia Nano 240s
a Penguin 150 HOB filter
a new heater to replace my old one
a hydrometer and saltwater master test kit

So I set up the tank and started the cycle with 2ppm Dr. Tim's ammonia and added Seachem marine buffer to get the PH to 8.3. The next day I tested the water and the parameters were the following:

Salinity: 1.025
PH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0.25ppm
Nitrites: 2.00ppm
Nitrates 10.00ppm

I then added more buffer and ammonia, and got the PH to 8.3 and the ammonia to 2ppm. The next day I tested it again and had a PH of 7.8, 0.25ppm ammonia, 2ppm nitrites, and 20ppm nitrates. I added more buffer to bring the PH to 8.3 again.

Today I added more ammonia, waited around an hour and tested the water again. The ammonia was 0.75ppm at the time, the PH was 8.0 so I added some more buffer. The nitrites were 0.75ppm and the nitrates were 30ppm.

I've cycled freshwater tanks numerous times, but I was wondering if the ammonia is even necessary to cycle this tank? And should I actually be using the PH buffer? It seems like it's getting closer to being stable at 8.3 but I am very used to not usually messing with the PH in my freshwater tanks.

Also do I have enough Live rock? Is the salinity good? Too much live sand? I'm really sorry for having a ton of newbie questions, I just don't have experience with a saltwater tank and I really don't want to mess up over something stupid.

I was also told by a few people to not run a protein skimmer until the tank is fully cycled, is that the case? And will I need a skimmer for this tank?

And what are my stocking options? I'm not very familiar with the different marine species and would need help on what I could consider (Preferably fish that can live their entire life in a tank this size)

I am currently using RO water for top-offs, should I buffer the RO water to 8.3 PH as well? Or should I just use it as is?
And I have a bucket of salt water I already mixed and keep a lid on, will that be fine or should I only mix the water when I'm going to use it soon? I intend on buffering that as well before adding that to the tank.

My biggest concern really is the whole buffering thing though, I don't have any experience with that sort of product and I don't know if it's even necessary or if it will harm the fish if I keep adding it.

Thanks for taking the time to address all of my beginner's concerns.

Edit: I've decided I'll strop using the buffer and seeing how well the salt buffers the tank. If the pH stays within the 8.0-8.4 range I think I'll just try to keep it there.
  • #2
I'll try to give you some quick answers First it's just as well you quit dosing the buffer, you really shouldn't have to mess with your ph as long as you have properly mixed your water ( the salt mix is made to give you the correct ph ). The only time I buffer is when I have fish in hyposalinity (1.008 )used as a treatment for ich in certain kinds of fish. You should let your mixed water sit for at least 24 hours before using it, longer is better.
Was your live rock dry, wet but fresh , wet and fully cured ? It makes a difference.

As far as stocking, you have more limited options, I will compile a list for you later, you have time to think about it. Also , I strongly recommend a QT no matter where you get your fish they should all be quarantined before adding to your main tank , and in case you need to treat them.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I definitely want to have a QT in the near. But to answer your question regarding the live rock. It was wet and I think it was fully cured but it's possible it may have been fresh. I'll remember to let the mixed water sit before using it.

Two fish that have been interesting me are the ocellaris clownfish and the firefish. Can either of the fish work? Or even both?

Edit: I also checked the parameters today. The lighting was a little bit awkward where I tested so this is what I think I have.

pH: 8.0
Ammonia: 0.0
Nitrites: 0.25 or 0.50
I didn't check nitrates but I will be as well later.
  • #4
Clown no , firefish yes. Hopefully this link will work.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Dang, I admittedly like the clowns a lot. How about a firefish and a yellow clown goby? I don't think either are at my LFS but I could order them online most likely.
  • #6
Yes those would work. I buy all my fish online, it is more expensive , but worth it for me as my Local stores leave a lot to be desired.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
My issue though is LiveAquaria has that minimum order price and those two fish won't add up to it. Are there any other good sites you'd recommend then? I'm probably going to get them off Petsolutions unless you know a better site.

I remember getting an order from them a few months back for one of my Freshwater tanks and everyone was healthy and alive.

So, other than just waiting for the cycle to finish, is there anything else I should address? I'm admittedly impatient to get the fish but I think it'd be best to wait until those nitrites touch 0.
  • #8
I'm sorry I forgot about the minimum, I usually don't have that problem. I like to order from the Divers Den part of Live Aquaria because those fish come from their facility in Wis . ,which in closer to me.
Use Petsolutions if they worked well for you in the past..

Patience is the hardest part of this hobby , but the Most important .

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