My first sw tank, 90g - Thoughts/Expert Advice?


Hello everyone,

My name is Jesse and I am new to the fish keeping hobby. I am in Calgary, AB.

That being said I like it so far and am having fun with them and it.

The purpose of this thread is to get advice and opinions. Also to keep track of my gear, expensing, habits, and a full detailed list of what is going on with my saltwater tank for trouble shooting.

I bought a used tank and assorted gear, second hand from a guy who shut his tank down due to not having enough time to keep them anymore. He had already sold all his fish and live rock, two years ago, and had his hardware in the garage for 2 years sitting waiting to put it back together.
I got his hardware on Thursday, June 9 2011.

The hardware:
-DOC Skimmer 9002
-Hydor Koralia Evolution 750 gph model

-90 gallon tank with cover and standard light
-A second power head, no brand or name on the pump.
-A bag of seashell
-Nitrite test kit
-Nitrate test kit
-Container of activated carbon
-idiot's guide to saltwater aquariums
-Epo jager 200w heater
Total $300

I also knew he had no stand or salt, both of which I need.
-stand for $170 plus tax
-160 gallons worth of salt for $47 plus tax
Total $227.85

I set up the tank late that Thursday and filled with tap water to hydro test it. Looked good.

I added tap water conditioner. Let sit over night.

Friday morning, I added salt and mixed it up. I went to work left the heater and power heads running to mix up the solution.
After work the tank was at running temperature and I finished adding/adjusting salt level to proper specific gravity.

Tested saturday I have some ammonia in the tank, looks like it is from the conditioner.

Saturday meet with a fellow to buy some live rock. Very nice guy with a crazy setup. He has a 160 gallon, fowlr setup. Lots of nice looking fish, very healthy. His sump and res for his big display tank is almost the same size as the display tank. Odd positioning in his house in my opinion though. Why put a giant tank in your basement hallway?
He pointed out his 4thousand dollar lights for his fowlr tank, yikes. Quite the set up, he has R/O water treatment, 3 back up tanks. The backup tank with a sump is the one that has the live rock he wants to sell.
His live rock that he wants to sell looks great, the only problem is it has stuff on all of it, Mushrooms, snails, hermit crabs, sponges, etc and he wants more money for the extras.
I end up getting 50 pounds of live rock.
-50 pounds of live rock
-Lots of mushrooms, the good ones
-giant snail
-hermit crab
-a bubble-tip anemone
-sponge or 2
-live water
Total $300

He has a very nice looking pair of Clowns, he will hold for me. They look very healthy and are a mated pair.
Saturday, June 11 2011 added all that to the tank.

My crappy light isn't enough for the anemone and the mushrooms, the mushrooms changed to greenish blue and the anemone closed up.
I went and bought a new light and some frozen shrimp.
-Marineland Reef Capable LED Lighting Systems, the 36'-48' one

Total $418

After turning on the light the mushrooms and the anemone look better. The anemone is opening up and the mushrooms are changing back to a very light maroon color.

Then I meet with another fellow, he was tearing down his tank. 2 weeks ago his last fish had died. This fish had killed all of his other fish.
He is done with the saltwater hobby. Has a daugther, a cat, a bird, a frog, and a dog. Going to change his tank to a reptile tank.
His rock isn't as good looking. But no visible algae or other major problems. No smell to it.
I got the following from him:
-50 pounds of live rock
-Hydor Koralia Evolution 850 gph model
-rena filstar xp3 canister
-reef additives, calcuim
-half a bag of reef crystals
-a some of shells he had in his tank
-live water
Total $225

Set up his rock in the tank.

I set up his filter too.

Noticed there his rock had a feather duster on it and there is a bristle worm in there now
Ideas of catching and removing bristle worms?

Sunday, I feed that anemone the frozen shrimp. He gobbles them up.
Then bought sand.
-30 pounds of sand
-20 pounds of live sand
Total $70

Adding sand has clouded up my tank.

Read more about the canister filter and saltwater tanks. I wasn't planning on buying one, but his was super cheap. I figured I couldn't say no to that price. Online people are saying they are nitrate factories. It has ran for about 18 hours, I figured it would help make everything go live. Because it must be packed with life. I decided it needs to be gutted before it kills my tank.
When I open it up and start cleaning, sure enough it is disgusting. I toss all his media and scrub down the inside using freshwater, not soap or tap water. I will replace the media and then hook it back up on Monday.

Where I sit my tank is super cloudy from adding the sand. I rinsed the non live stuff, but it didn't seem to matter. Cloudy was unavoidable.

Lets see where I am at:
Spent $1540.85 so far... planning on another 50 bucks to replace the filter media and 35 bucks to get the pair of clowns.

Yikes what an expensive weekend, worse than when I use to go out partying.

Reducing the cloudiness after adding sand?
-I prepared 10 gallons before work this morning, planning on doing a water change tomorrow.
-Going to hook up the filter again with clean media
-Going to give it more time

Catching bristle worms?
-I saw some traps at a store are they any good?

Feather duster in your tank?
-Some say sure, others say pull them out to avoid them spreading everywhere.

My new lights have raised the temperature from 24C to now around 28C, ideas?
-Not using lightmode at night?
-Maybe due to the cloudiness?
-reducing the amount of time day mode is on?

I know my skimmer isn't really where it should be for a 90 gallon tank.
-Reading on helping it out
-saving to get better one

Any advice, thoughts, opinions are welcome and appreciated.


A water change, filters running, and some time for everything to settle will help the cloudy water.

To catch bristleworms I just bought an arrow crab. He takes care of most of mine.

I like feather dusters and have no problems with them. Although the arrow crab might eat them.

Having a protien skimmer even if it is too small will help a little. It is best to get one that is made for the size of your tank.

I also reccomend a UV sterilizer, I love mine!


Hey thanks for the input.

After doing some research, I went and grabbed a UV sterilizer and a bunch of replacement media for my canister filter. The reviews on the UV sterilizer were just too glowing.
UV filter 180
media 100(more than the guy charged for unit)
Total $280

I am feeling blue about the money output at this point. I will need to look at finding cheap activated carbon bags and such.

Upgrading the skimmer will have to wait for another paycheck.

Objective add fish on Wednesday.
I am getting some clowns, nice and healthy.
What are other good fish to get for a beginner sw? And are reef/invert safe?

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