Ok to use live rock and sand in freshwater tank?

  • #1
HI everyone! Newbie here. Need a quick answer if you don't mind...I am becoming overwhelmed (and running out of money). I am/was in the process of setting up my 33 gallon tank for saltwater but after much reading I doubt it will succeed. I have 28 lbs of live rock and live sand. No fish yet. Can I just take the water out and refill and go back to freshwater? Can I keep the rock and sand since it cost me $300?
  • #2
Hello PKMiller and welcome to fishlore...
Hopefully someone with saltwater knowledge will stop by and give you some advice, or maybe one of the moderators can move this thread over to the salt water section where there are others that have the live rock and sand and can tell you whether you can use them in the freshwater tank.
Wish I could help.. but personally I have no idea about those things..
Good luck with your tank.

~ kate
  • #3
There's no way you could sell it, eh? Not even for half price? Really, sand isn't the best idea to use in any aquarium. I understand live sands purpose in SW, but sand has a tendency to condense and not allow circulation, which contributes to the formation of nitrogen or sulfur gas pockets, which can very easily be deadly to fish.

I can say that you will have to rinse all of it quite well before filling your tank up with Freshwater because of the salt residue. That stinks.
  • #4
You have sand and live rock, all you need is a powerhead. Why do you want to quit ? Maybe I can change your mind ! ;D
  • #5
Really...you've got the basics in place for a nice FOWLR tank there. Keep the faith!
  • #6
HI everyone! Newbie here. Need a quick answer if you don't mind...I am becoming overwhelmed (and running out of money). I am/was in the process of setting up my 33 gallon tank for saltwater but after much reading I doubt it will succeed. I have 28 lbs of live rock and live sand. No fish yet. Can I just take the water out and refill and go back to freshwater? Can I keep the rock and sand since it cost me $300?


Before you go through with switching from Saltwater to FW, read the sections here on Fishlore about Saltwater tanks, and the nitrogen cycle, they are in the headings at the top of this page.....

There is a whole GROUP of fellow Saltwater inthrsiests here at fishlore that would love to help you through all the headaches of setting up your tank, and if you HAVE to switch, I'm sure they would fight over that live rock and sand!!! Actually it is still worth $300, but only as "LIVE rock and sand", so you could sell it, and recoop some of your investment..... But I hope you don't give up on SW. Best of Luck, and Happy New Year....
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Thank you everyone. I was so excited setting up the tank. I am now in the sit and wait stage so I thought I would start reading the books I bought. The more I read the more things I need...or so they say. The salt corrosion bothers me (I have an old tank), it is smaller than what is recommended (looks big enough to me), I don't have room for another tank or sump. The books recommended an underground filter plus a power filter...I only have the power filter. I still need a skimmer. I am concerned about temperature...I don't have a fan. I guess I am just overwhelmed right now. I guess I will just sit here and look at my expensive water for a while. It just seems like when I had a fresh water tank, I didn't really have to do anything but after reading at a few threads here, you guys treat them much the same...maybe I was just lucky.
  • #8
The list of what you truly NEED actually depends a great deal on what kind of Saltwater tank you want to keep. For fish only tanks, or even fish only with live rock, you already have most of what you need. I would suggest adding a couple of power heads (they are cheap), and a protein skimmer. Between your live rock and your power filter, you should not need more filtration...many of us don't really care for undergravel filters anymore anyway. With FO or FOWLR, there is no need for expensive lighting. While sumps have some advantages, you by no means NEED one. A protein skimmer would be a good idea, but if you are diligent about your routine maintenance and keep your bioload light, you could do without for a short time while you save some money. You can get a decent one for half of what you paid for the live rock. You mention thinking you need a fan? Are you located in a very warm climate? What is your water temp?
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
sgould: I live in Tulsa, OK. I've noticed that in the morning the water is cool but soon after turning on the light, it gets quite warm. My thermometer is broken but I will be getting a new one today. I have one power head. The protein skimmer is a bit pricey (after paying for everything else). One store told me I didn't need it now...another says I do need it now, which leads to some of my confusion...I never get the same answer twice. I know I have to get one though. Thought about having a service come out and take care of it for me but the cost of that is $100 a month. I think that is a little high. Anyone here live in Tulsa? hee.

As for what I want...I really just wanted a clown fish, an anemone, something blue, something yellow, a shrimp, maybe a crab, a seahorse, starfish.

One more question. I understand I am supposed to premix water a week in advance for water changes. How much salt do you put in per gallon? I bought a kit that had salt and test kits, etc in it but it does not say what ratio to mix the salt. The store just told me to use half of it.
  • #10
Just re-iterating what sgould and agsansoo mentioned... You don't need a power filter. You also don't absolutely need a protein skimmer if you're willing to do partial water changes on a regular basis. Water movement is vital though and a powerhead or two will be needed to keeping the water aerated and flowing through and around the rock.
Many years ago, Lee Chin Eng (spelling?) was the pioneer in this type of saltwater tank keeping and actually most of the tank setups today are based on his method.

You don't have to wait a whole week, a day or so should be fine for your freshly mixed saltwater. The bag or bucket should have directions on how much to add. Check the manufacturers website for instructions. You do need a hydrometer though to make sure your specific gravity is in the right range (1.020 to 1.024).

Seahorses really need a species only tank in my opinion. They are slow feeders and fish will out compete them for food. They also need a high quality diet of usually live foods to do well long-term. If you can even get them to eat anything but live foods, that is.

Wait until you get some experience with caring for saltwater tanks and read up as much as possible on anemones before you get one. They can be quite demanding (foods and lighting) and need optimal water quality. They can be difficult to keep for even the seasoned keepers.

The best advice I can give is to research the inverts and fish as much as possible beforehand to determine their needs and then go from there. But if you just want a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) tank, the addition of a powerhead or two and regular partial water changes should work fine. There are several smaller fish species like some clownfish species (they don't need anemones to survive), chromis, damselfish and cardinalfish species that will do nicely in a tank that size.

A protein skimmer is definitely recommended too for when you can afford it. I know I said earlier that you don't need one, but once you see what they pull out of the water on a regular basis...

Don't do what I did and buy a cheap skimmer. Get a good one (that may be more expensive) from the start. Otherwise you'll just be wasting money getting the cheap ones, find out they don't work very well and then you'll go buy a good one anyway.
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Thanks Mike, you've really been helpful!

Kind of figures...can't have what I want. LOL!

Found the instructions for the salt...says 1.4 lbs to 5 gal water. How in the heck do you figure out what 1.4 lbs is?

Well (can I say that here?) I ordered a Visi-Jet Protein Skimmer at Drs. Foster and Smith because it was only $33.99. It had great reviews though. Hope it is okay...I guess something right now is better than nothing. Oh, and I DO have a powerhead.

Another question...I've been reading my book ;rocker)...does it really take 2-4 hours to acclimate new fish?

Thanks again!
  • #12
does it really take 2-4 hours to acclimate new fish?

Acclimation depends on the individual species and how hardy they are. Most of mine I have acclimated by floating their bag in my tank to equalize temperature, while adding 1/2 cup of tank water in with them every 10 minutes for an hour. After that I net them out of the bag and release. For those that are more sensitive, you can drip acclimate them, which you can continue for an hour or two. In drip acclimation, you use a small piece of air tubing to start a syphon of water from your tank into the fish&water from the store. By knotting the tube, you can restrict the flow of water down to a very slow trickle or even to a drip (hence the name). This allows for a more gradual introduction for your fish to your tank's water conditions.

How in the heck do you figure out what 1.4 lbs is?

I use my wife's kitchen scale. She really likes that.

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