Salt Beginner Questions

lovetuv
  • #1
HI everyone!

I'm a freshwater person and I've been wanting to start saltwater for years now. I always dismissed the idea as being too expensive and decided to focus on my five freshwater tanks.

Recently, I found an ad listing for a 47 gallon bowfront tank, stand, hood, T5 reef lighting, powerhead, skimmer, and 10 gal. sump with equipment all for $50. So I pounced, because I don't think I'll ever see another deal like that in my life (lol). I brought everything home and did some research.

I know some of the basic things. Until I get more experience, I just want to have a FOWLR setup. I know about the nitrogen cycle. I know that I need to buy the saltwater API test kit along with a few others. I know that I need RO/DI water for my tank. Obviously, I also need to get salt mix. I know that I need at least one pound of live rock per gallon of water. I understand what a skimmer does. But there are still A TON more things I need help with.

1. For the life of me, I can't find what my parameters should be. I'm assuming that my usual parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates) are the same as what freshwater needs. What about salt, calcium, phosphates, pH, or any others I need to keep a FOWLR setup?

2. I know that live rock is good for keeping beneficial bacteria. But when I cycle, can I use old sponge filters from my freshwater tanks to kickstart the tank? I would rather start out with dry rock and let it work itself out instead of buying it and risking getting something I don't want.

3. This is a horrible question, but can someone help me understand the reason for a sump? I've tried to grasp the concept and I have tried multiple times to research it, but for some reason I just don't understand.

4. I'm sure there's many many more things that I need to know. What do you suggest that I look into more? I've looked through the stickies for beginners on here, but if you guys have suggestions for other things I should research, PLEASE let me know. I don't plan on setting up this tank for at least six months or so, because I know there is so much to learn. That's why I haven't even mentioned stocking yet.

I know I have a lot of questions, so I thank you all so much in advance for all of your help!
 
Mike
  • #2
1. For the life of me, I can't find what my parameters should be. I'm assuming that my usual parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates) are the same as what freshwater needs. What about salt, calcium, phosphates, pH, or any others I need to keep a FOWLR setup?

2. I know that live rock is good for keeping beneficial bacteria. But when I cycle, can I use old sponge filters from my freshwater tanks to kickstart the tank? I would rather start out with dry rock and let it work itself out instead of buying it and risking getting something I don't want.

3. This is a horrible question, but can someone help me understand the reason for a sump? I've tried to grasp the concept and I have tried multiple times to research it, but for some reason I just don't understand.

4. I'm sure there's many many more things that I need to know. What do you suggest that I look into more? I've looked through the stickies for beginners on here, but if you guys have suggestions for other things I should research, PLEASE let me know. I don't plan on setting up this tank for at least six months or so, because I know there is so much to learn. That's why I haven't even mentioned stocking yet.

HI - Check out Ryan's Salt water Stickies here in the beginner's forum and this too: Saltwater Aquarium Setup - Marine Aquarium Setup

For your questions:
1. Parameters for a FOWLR:
  • temperature: 75°F - 80°F (24°C - 27°C)
  • specific gravity: 1.020 - 1.024
  • pH: 8.0 - 8.4
  • ammonia: 0
  • nitrite: 0
  • nitrate: 20 ppm or less (especially for invertebrates)
  • carbonate hardness: 7-10 dKH
2. I would use live rock to cycle and keep in the tank. Freshwater bacteria won't work.

3. A sump is a great way to add water volume (since it is plumbed into the display tank) and allows you to use and hide additional equipment like reactors, protein skimmer, heaters, probes, etc.

4. Read the stickies and the articles here too: Saltwater Aquarium Tank Setup Guide which links to other articles you might want to read.
 
dragon10monster
  • #3
i'm no saltwater expert ( I don't have a saltwater tank but I have been doing research and thinking of getting one) so trust more experienxed members ahead of me

2. from what I have learned the BB in our Freshwater tanks can't survive in Saltwater conditions
3. from what I understand the sump is a place to put filtration and grow stuff that you don't want in the main tank (like algae and copepods)

here's an article I found that may help
 
lovetuv
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
HI - Check out Ryan's Salt water Stickies here in the beginner's forum and this too: Saltwater Aquarium Setup - Marine Aquarium Setup

For your questions:
1. Parameters for a FOWLR:
  • temperature: 75°F - 80°F (24°C - 27°C)
  • specific gravity: 1.020 - 1.024
  • pH: 8.0 - 8.4
  • ammonia: 0
  • nitrite: 0
  • nitrate: 20 ppm or less (especially for invertebrates)
  • carbonate hardness: 7-10 dKH
2. I would use live rock to cycle and keep in the tank. Freshwater bacteria won't work.

3. A sump is a great way to add water volume (since it is plumbed into the display tank) and allows you to use and hide additional equipment like reactors, protein skimmer, heaters, probes, etc.

4. Read the stickies and the articles here too: Saltwater Aquarium Tank Setup Guide which links to other articles you might want to read.

Okay, thank you so much. Does an RO/DI system change the levels that are usually in your tap water (I'm assuming they do)? Also, would I have to buy already established live rock and just hope it doesn't come with any hitchhikers? That's something I'm kind of concerned about. I don't want to pick up anything that can cause the tank to get messed up.
Another thing, if I do have to buy the live rock, can I get about 10 pounds of established live rock and then put dry rock for the rest in there? Will the dry rock become established? Live rock here is pretty expensive ($5.99/lb )and I know a guy who sells dry rock for $1 a pound.

Thanks again!!
 
kaz1961
  • #5
RO/DI will remove all the inpurities and give you pure water to mix your salt with. You can definitely use dry rock with some live rock to seed it. Eventually it will all be live rock.
 
lovetuv
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
RO/DI will remove all the inpurities and give you pure water to mix your salt with. You can definitely use dry rock with some live rock to seed it. Eventually it will all be live rock.

Awesome. Thank you Would using lace rock work as "dry rock"? To me it looks very similar and the supplier I usually go to has very porous pieces. Is there something specific that makes dry rock different?
Also, do you know if I have to start with established live rock from someone else? I don't know how I can avoid bringing home hitchhikers. I'm thinking about buying it online or finding another hobbyist instead of going to a store.
 
kaz1961
  • #7
I used mostly dry rock from Reef Cleaners:
https://www.reefcleaners.org/aquarium-store/rock
I also made a cave out of some lace rock. The main difference in the lace I bought and the reef cleaners rock is the shape and density, the lace was heavier and seemed less porous than the reef rock. They are both growing coraline algae really nicely, so I think either would give the same results in the long run. I got some established live rock from other hobbyists tanks and also some from the LFS and I didnt have any problem with bad hitch hikers. Its fun seeing what grows on and crawls out of it!
 
lovetuv
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I used mostly dry rock from Reef Cleaners:
https://www.reefcleaners.org/aquarium-store/rock
I also made a cave out of some lace rock. The main difference in the lace I bought and the reef cleaners rock is the shape and density, the lace was heavier and seemed less porous than the reef rock. They are both growing coraline algae really nicely, so I think either would give the same results in the long run. I got some established live rock from other hobbyists tanks and also some from the LFS and I didnt have any problem with bad hitch hikers. Its fun seeing what grows on and crawls out of it!

Awesome. I think I'm going to go with the lace rock. I may also get some dry rock but I'll get more lace than dry. Will that be okay?

Also, thank you for the advice about the established live rock! That makes me a lot less nervous.
 
kaz1961
  • #9
Yeah that should be fine. Good luck!
 
lovetuv
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Is the pound per gallon rule still relevant for lace rock? I bought 40 pounds of lace rock and I'm going to buy 10 pounds of established live rock. It just doesn't look like enough, haha.
 
kaz1961
  • #11
Lace rock is definitely heavier than reef rock so 50 lbs probably doesn't seem like much. Maybe pick up some dry reef rock to mix it up a bit.
 
lovetuv
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Lace rock is definitely heavier than reef rock so 50 lbs probably doesn't seem like much. Maybe pick up some dry reef rock to mix it up a bit.

Awesome, I will probably do that How much do you think I should get? Like another 10 pounds or so of dry rock?

Edit: Also, I've been thinking about my cycling. From what I've read, if your live rock is really established, you can put fish in there almost right away. I'm not going to have all established rock in my tank. Only about 20% of it will be. How long will it be before the dry rock and lace rock cure? Will I have to do any extra cycling, like adding ammonia? I also plan to add live sand to the tank.
 
aaron0g
  • #13
Monitor ammonia and nitrite
levels and after a few weeks they should be 0, when this happens leave another week and add ammonia or a raw prawn to keep bacteria going strong to start with die off from the rocks will be the ammonia source, after a few weeks ammonia will be dealt with quickly and the tank will be ready for fish. Good luck and remember pacience is key (mine was over 5 weeks before fish added and that was with 50/50 fully cycled and partially live rock)
 
lovetuv
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Monitor ammonia and nitrite
levels and after a few weeks they should be 0, when this happens leave another week and add ammonia or a raw prawn to keep bacteria going strong to start with die off from the rocks will be the ammonia source, after a few weeks ammonia will be dealt with quickly and the tank will be ready for fish. Good luck and remember pacience is key (mine was over 5 weeks before fish added and that was with 50/50 fully cycled and partially live rock)

Awesome Thank you so much for your help.
 

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