Questions on beginning saltwater

sirdarksol
  • #1
Me getting a saltwater aquarium is far off in the future, but I want to start getting information now.
Never one to take the proper route with anything, I'm going to be diving into saltwater with a tank that will eventually be destined to be a reef tank.
So far, what I've learned says that, because of this, I'm going to want to include live rock, and it seems that it would be easier to do this from the beginning, since the live rock can then be cured right in the tank, before adding any fish, and since live rock is provides excellent filtration.

One thing I'm wondering about is lights. I know that many corals need strong lights, but not all of them. Are there any fairly hardy corals that don't require such strong lighting? During the summer, the basement of my house (where the tank will end up being set up) reaches 72 or so degrees, and I can't afford a chiller for a tank, nor can I afford expensive lighting (or the electricity bill for either), so I'm going to be limited to the higher output fluorescent bulbs for a multitude of reasons. I have found a couple of corals that seem to fit this bill on liveaquaria, but I'd like to hear the opinion of "real people" in addition to what commercial sites say (no matter how much I trust those sites).

I'm also going to be starting with a smaller tank. I know that 50 gallon plus is the best to start with, but once again, it's just more expense than I will be able to handle for several years. I'm thinking of going with something between 20 and 30 gallons to start with. For stocking, I'm thinking mostly of invertebrates, with perhaps a single pair of small fish, such as blue neon gobies. Any suggestions on decent groupings of critters for such a small tank? (I know, it won't be much, but even if I get two inverts and two fish, I want to be sure that I'm not putting fish in with an invert that will pick at it as it swims past)

I'm sure I'm going to develop more questions as people answer and make comments on my choices here. Thank you in advance for any help.

(BTW, yes, I do plan on reading a lot before getting started. I just find that there is stuff that is much easier to learn from people posting it here than when I read it in a book)
 
bhcaaron
  • #2
As for the lighting, have in mind that fluorescent lights usually do not give off much heat, if any. The ones that do get hotter, and are considered better, are the Metal Halide bulbs. However, if you are thinking of going with fluorescent lights, you will have a great selections of corals. I just read a little on lights. Turns out that the lower you go in the sea the greater the Kelvin measurement of the light. This is why the blues are more noticeable and get darker as you go deeper. Who knew that blue was hot and red was cold lol (in K measurements and science talk)?

Since many corals and fish are from a bit deeper waters than just the shallows, there are actually many more that need the higher K rated bulbs. And guess what! Fluorescent bulbs do a much better job at this than the Metal Halides, HOWEVER, have in mind that the Metal Halides still do provide light that SOME corals and anemones very much need. To better understand this try to focus on measurements of lights (Kelvin and Nanometers).

As for curing the live rock in your main tank, this is actually not advisable since this adds a lot of ammonia to your tank in the die off process. However, if you do this, just make sure to clean the tank of ALL fallen debris, to keep up with good water changes and to measure water quality to make sure that the water is within exemplary parameters before fish, inverts, corals or anemones are added. Also make sure to add the sand AFTER the curing process and before cycling.
 
agsansoo
  • #3
OK ... Where do I start !

bhcaaron - Kelvin is a color rating not intensity rating ! The deep water is blue because there's less light intensity. There is a trade off between the color temperature of the lamp and the intensity of the light it produces. The rule is, the higher the color temperature of the lamp, the lower the intensity of its light output. A 250W 6500K lamp will tend to have more light intensity than a 250W 10K lamp for instance.

sirdarksol - 72 degrees is not a heat problem, over 86 degrees is. Also try looking into T5 lighting, there are so many different color bulbs to choose from. Plus they are cheaper then Metal Halide light fixtures. I do recommend Metal Halide or T5 lights if your going to do LPS and SPS corals. I have Metal Halide with PC fluorescent actinic lights.
 
bhcaaron
  • #4
Agsansoo, Is that, basically, because the higher the K rating the bluer the light? The bluer the light the darker the color?
 
sirdarksol
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks for the info so far.

As for the lighting, have in mind that fluorescent lights usually do not give off much heat, if any. The ones that do get hotter, and are considered better, are the Metal Halide bulbs.

The compact fluorescent bulbs put off enough heat for the unit to become painful to the touch, the metal halide can sear skin instantly. This is why I need to go with fluorescent (more on this after the next quote)

sirdarksol - 72 degrees is not a heat problem, over 86 degrees is. Also try looking into T5 lighting, there are so many different color bulbs to choose from. Plus they are cheaper then Metal Halide light fixtures. I do recommend Metal Halide or T5 lights if your going to do LPS and SPS corals. I have Metal Halide with PC fluorescent actinic lights.

I understand that 72 is not a problem. What I was getting at is that the water in my tank, sans lighting, will reach about 72 in the summer. However, when you add metal halide lights, the temperature can leap, and I can't afford any way to mitigate this. I also can't hang the lights over the tank, as I have cats that like standing on the glass tops of aquariums to "play" with the fishies, so enclosed systems are a necessity for me.

As for curing the live rock in your main tank, this is actually not advisable since this adds a lot of ammonia to your tank in the die off process.

This is why I want to start with it. Removing ammonia after the die-off is easy, and since I'm not going to start with anything other than the live rock, I don't have to worry about anything else being affected. This also has the added advantage of cycling the tank, since the ammonia feeds the nitrification colonies. (I have done some research already)

So, further questions:
Does T5 lighting produce a lot of heat? How efficient is it? (Another reason I am going with fluorescent is that it is much more efficient. I can't afford the electricity bills for metal halide)

Does anybody else have experience with specific types of coral? Most of the hard corals require the high light of the metal halide lamps, but I know not all of them do. Just wondering what people have had that has worked, or that hasn't. Likewise, there are soft corals that require more light than their brethren, and I'd like to know to avoid those, too.
 
bhcaaron
  • #6
LoL, now I'm going to have to go grab a fluorescent light bulb lol I gotta feel the difference lol ahahahaha
 
sirdarksol
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Not the normal ones that come with the tanks, though.
It's got to be one of the compact units, where there are a bunch of bulbs in a small space. (I've got one on one of my tanks, and it's actually burned me.
Oh, and don't forget that, as a control, you've got to touch a Metal Halide lamp so you can compare the amount of heat
 
bhcaaron
  • #8
Ah!

Makes sense now... Thanks!
 
Wolfgang8810
  • #9
what about led lighting? isn't that an option too?
 

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