Saltwater curious

Willj626

I'm looking to set up my first saltwater tank. I really like the 32 gallon coral-life BioCube tank because it comes with the filter built in- is this a. good tank for beginners? My dad really wants a pair of clownfish in it so what would make them happy in the tank? What are my stocking options with clownfish (could I do invertebrates as well)? I would also like it to be a reef tank with some corals if that is possible? So in general how do I go about setting this up- what are some good tips and tricks and things to look out for? (I've been pouring over a lot of the setup and beginner threads on here but I'd still love some advice!)
 

FishGirl38

I would say it's a great saltwater beginner set-up IF you have proper restraint with stocking. The two filters most aquarists choose for saltwater are either canister filters or sump systems (aka, wet/dry filters). Essentially, you're working with the 'canister' type. The limitations with these, is that they don't provide the extra water volume or bacterial/S.W. fauna colonization space that sump systems do. The downside to this, means there is less leeway for mistakes/errors (changes in water parameters).

You absolutely can have a nano reef in the 32 BioCube, that's actually what they're made for. You'll just want to understand that you can't keep a school of 4-6 chromis, a pair of clowns, a sand sifting fish, a bigger showcase fish, and a clean up crew AND corals (or plants-for freshwater) similar to how you would be able to do in a 32G freshwater aquarium, least, it'll be much harder to stock corals and keep water parameters maintained later on if you do 'overstock'.

If you want a nano reef with a pair of clownfish and a clean up crew, absolutely, You shouldn't have many (if any) problems. But you can run into issues quickly if you add too many fish before the 4-6 month mark with a reef, actually, it's usually around this time that the tank is stabilized enough (and growing coralline algae) for your corals to thrive, so, you'd be adding corals at this point, instead of fish. You can have more than just the clowns in the 32 as well, but I would personally say a max of...4 to 5 fish? IF you're going with a reef.

If you're doing 'fish only', then you could stock a little more, but I'd still say max of maybe 8 S.W fish, you can test this after around the 6-9 month mark, if your bio-colony is strong enough, than just like in freshwater, you have more capacity, but it's always good to have some extra lee-way just in case there is some unexplainable increase in ammonia or nitrite within the reef.

How I'd set up the 32G BioCube for a nano reef:

For equipment, I'd situate my heater, the protein skimmer and a UV sterilizer into the filter of the tank. (the heater and protein skimmer don't have to be in the filter, but they all should fit.) In a S.W fish only tank, you don't NEED the UV. and the Protein skimmer (always useful though). The UV sterilizer will kill algae and potential parasites that flow through it with irradiation, the protein skimmer will skim out organics that haven't fully decomposed into nitrate and phosphates yet (things like amino acids that will eat away at your PH). You'll need a saltwater master test kit, I also recommend a reef master test kit (for when you start adding corals), you'll need a hydrometer (or refractometer), and a thermometer of course (multiples might be beneficial).

As far as cycling goes, its the same as in freshwater. You'll dose a BB supplement, ghost feed, or add ammonia to the tank for the first month until your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test 0,0, 5. The only (big) difference, is that you'll also be using RO/DI (or just RO) water, or purified/demineralized water, RO is preferred) and a reef crystal/salt mix to help buffer your alkalinity and PH.

There are 'marine salts' and there are 'reef salts', if you go with a reef, you'll want the reef salts over marine salts because they have added minerals and compounds that corals will need later on. You don't HAVE to mix your own saltwater, some companies do sell it 'pre-mixed' but, reef aquariums are usually a bit particular in terms of water parameters - so you're going to likely be altering the mix in some way anyway, I'd recommend starting with basic H20 and building your reef parameters there with your salts and buffers.

Stocking equipment and decor...I'd recommend using crushed coral or aragonite as your substrate bed. You can also use inert sand, but if you do, you may want to supplement your PH with crushed coral somewhere in your filter. You can also use stone as well, but you'll want to be sure to add a calciferous stone to the tank as your base rock [instead of an inert stone] (if you use any dry rock at all...). MOST saltwater 'base rock' is calciferous, but you'd test it by dropping vinegar on it, if it bubbles/sizzles, its calciferous. Instead of dry base rock though, the best option for the saltwater reef would be to purchase live rock. It's rock straight from the ocean (or established farms), where they're teeming with all sorts of microscopic bacteria and organisms. The downside, is that you may accidentally bring home something you didn't intend to (like the infamous bristleworm). The upside, is that you'll have a healthier cycled system, with plenty of natural food sources for potentially finicky fish (like some gobies) AND this is usually how you get coralline algae in the tank.

Coralline algae is a calcifying algae that uses many of the same components that corals do to grow, and it won't just 'appear' in your tank. You have to introduce it from a live source somehow (whether it be from a rock, or a snails shell), and from there, you'll need to 'feed it' by keeping your water parameters ideal for the kinds of coral you're looking to keep. When this pinky, purple-y algae starts growing and multiplying on it's own, you know your tank should be ready for corals, this usually takes about 8-10 weeks.

You will, at some point, also, probably need to start dosing magnesium, calcium or other reef components (strontium, molybdenum, iodine, etc) if these components becomes depleted. I don't know enough about that side of saltwater to advise what to dose, or when, just know that may also be something you'll need to consider.

I found this video on youtube that helped explain it to me just a bit.

I don't have a saltwater tank, but I figured I'd comment my 2 cents, considering I'm the only one so far, and someday here soon I'd like to set up my own saltwater tank.

In this thread, I list out quite a few stocking options and some compatibility things that might help you pick out additional stocking with the clowns.

Fastest setup timeframe for banded cat shark? | 466265 | Saltwater Aquarium Setup
 
Upvote 0

tuggerlake26

I would also recommend searching for 52 weeks of reefing and cycling videos from BRS. Note these can get quite advanced (probably more than is needed for the type of tank you're setting up), but I found them super helpful.

It's really easy to get overwhelmed with some of the details, but once you get moving it's not too bad. The biggest part with reefing is to be patient. I would say the first four months are critical when setting up. If you're patient, and hold off on turning on the lights/adding coral, you should be able to avoid some of the algae blooms people typically see in the first year with their reef tank.

The biocube will work fine for a pair of clowns and probably 1-2 smaller fish. You could do a goby and maybe a cardinalfish or something similar. Again, less is more with reefing, and do not put everything in all at one.

There are quite a few corals that are pretty easy for beginners, such as zoas, mushrooms, and tee corals. In general, try to stick to polyps and soft corals.

I'm not sure how strong the lights are on the biocube, but do some research on PAR and see how much the lights give mid-way through your tank. To keep the corals I listed above you really should be around 100 or so PAR.

Keep in mind that if you add corals, you'll need to dose the tank with supplements because they'll take the minerals out of the water. I recommend using Red Sea supplements. You obviously should do regular water testing, but they have a menu you can use to understand what supplements you need and how much to add each day. I've found it really helpful.

The one biggest sticking point with reefing is you should really use reverse osmosis water like FIshGirl mentioned. You'll either want to buy a RODI device, or go to your LFS to pick up RO water if they offer it. I actually recommend buying a device. You can get one online for about $150. I set mine up temporarily to my bathtub when I need water.

Hope this helps a bit!
 
Upvote 0

Willj626

I would say it's a great saltwater beginner set-up IF you have proper restraint with stocking. The two filters most aquarists choose for saltwater are either canister filters or sump systems (aka, wet/dry filters). Essentially, you're working with the 'canister' type. The limitations with these, is that they don't provide the extra water volume or bacterial/S.W. fauna colonization space that sump systems do. The downside to this, means there is less leeway for mistakes/errors (changes in water parameters).

You absolutely can have a nano reef in the 32 BioCube, that's actually what they're made for. You'll just want to understand that you can't keep a school of 4-6 chromis, a pair of clowns, a sand sifting fish, a bigger showcase fish, and a clean up crew AND corals (or plants-for freshwater) similar to how you would be able to do in a 32G freshwater aquarium, least, it'll be much harder to stock corals and keep water parameters maintained later on if you do 'overstock'.

If you want a nano reef with a pair of clownfish and a clean up crew, absolutely, You shouldn't have many (if any) problems. But you can run into issues quickly if you add too many fish before the 4-6 month mark with a reef, actually, it's usually around this time that the tank is stabilized enough (and growing coralline algae) for your corals to thrive, so, you'd be adding corals at this point, instead of fish. You can have more than just the clowns in the 32 as well, but I would personally say a max of...4 to 5 fish? IF you're going with a reef.

If you're doing 'fish only', then you could stock a little more, but I'd still say max of maybe 8 S.W fish, you can test this after around the 6-9 month mark, if your bio-colony is strong enough, than just like in freshwater, you have more capacity, but it's always good to have some extra lee-way just in case there is some unexplainable increase in ammonia or nitrite within the reef.

How I'd set up the 32G BioCube for a nano reef:

For equipment, I'd situate my heater, the protein skimmer and a UV sterilizer into the filter of the tank. (the heater and protein skimmer don't have to be in the filter, but they all should fit.) In a S.W fish only tank, you don't NEED the UV. and the Protein skimmer (always useful though). The UV sterilizer will kill algae and potential parasites that flow through it with irradiation, the protein skimmer will skim out organics that haven't fully decomposed into nitrate and phosphates yet (things like amino acids that will eat away at your PH). You'll need a saltwater master test kit, I also recommend a reef master test kit (for when you start adding corals), you'll need a hydrometer (or refractometer), and a thermometer of course (multiples might be beneficial).

As far as cycling goes, its the same as in freshwater. You'll dose a BB supplement, ghost feed, or add ammonia to the tank for the first month until your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test 0,0, 5. The only (big) difference, is that you'll also be using RO/DI (or just RO) water, or purified/demineralized water, RO is preferred) and a reef crystal/salt mix to help buffer your alkalinity and PH.

There are 'marine salts' and there are 'reef salts', if you go with a reef, you'll want the reef salts over marine salts because they have added minerals and compounds that corals will need later on. You don't HAVE to mix your own saltwater, some companies do sell it 'pre-mixed' but, reef aquariums are usually a bit particular in terms of water parameters - so you're going to likely be altering the mix in some way anyway, I'd recommend starting with basic H20 and building your reef parameters there with your salts and buffers.

Stocking equipment and decor...I'd recommend using crushed coral or aragonite as your substrate bed. You can also use inert sand, but if you do, you may want to supplement your PH with crushed coral somewhere in your filter. You can also use stone as well, but you'll want to be sure to add a calciferous stone to the tank as your base rock [instead of an inert stone] (if you use any dry rock at all...). MOST saltwater 'base rock' is calciferous, but you'd test it by dropping vinegar on it, if it bubbles/sizzles, its calciferous. Instead of dry base rock though, the best option for the saltwater reef would be to purchase live rock. It's rock straight from the ocean (or established farms), where they're teeming with all sorts of microscopic bacteria and organisms. The downside, is that you may accidentally bring home something you didn't intend to (like the infamous bristleworm). The upside, is that you'll have a healthier cycled system, with plenty of natural food sources for potentially finicky fish (like some gobies) AND this is usually how you get coralline algae in the tank.

Coralline algae is a calcifying algae that uses many of the same components that corals do to grow, and it won't just 'appear' in your tank. You have to introduce it from a live source somehow (whether it be from a rock, or a snails shell), and from there, you'll need to 'feed it' by keeping your water parameters ideal for the kinds of coral you're looking to keep. When this pinky, purple-y algae starts growing and multiplying on it's own, you know your tank should be ready for corals, this usually takes about 8-10 weeks.

You will, at some point, also, probably need to start dosing magnesium, calcium or other reef components (strontium, molybdenum, iodine, etc) if these components becomes depleted. I don't know enough about that side of saltwater to advise what to dose, or when, just know that may also be something you'll need to consider.

I found this video on youtube that helped explain it to me just a bit.

I don't have a saltwater tank, but I figured I'd comment my 2 cents, considering I'm the only one so far, and someday here soon I'd like to set up my own saltwater tank.

In this thread, I list out quite a few stocking options and some compatibility things that might help you pick out additional stocking with the clowns.

Fastest setup timeframe for banded cat shark? | 466265 | Saltwater Aquarium Setup
Thank you so much for this wonderfully detailed response!!! This information was super helpful and actually answered most all my follow up questions! Thank you again!
 
Upvote 0

Willj626

I would also recommend searching for 52 weeks of reefing and cycling videos from BRS. Note these can get quite advanced (probably more than is needed for the type of tank you're setting up), but I found them super helpful.

It's really easy to get overwhelmed with some of the details, but once you get moving it's not too bad. The biggest part with reefing is to be patient. I would say the first four months are critical when setting up. If you're patient, and hold off on turning on the lights/adding coral, you should be able to avoid some of the algae blooms people typically see in the first year with their reef tank.

The biocube will work fine for a pair of clowns and probably 1-2 smaller fish. You could do a goby and maybe a cardinalfish or something similar. Again, less is more with reefing, and do not put everything in all at one.

There are quite a few corals that are pretty easy for beginners, such as zoas, mushrooms, and tee corals. In general, try to stick to polyps and soft corals.

I'm not sure how strong the lights are on the biocube, but do some research on PAR and see how much the lights give mid-way through your tank. To keep the corals I listed above you really should be around 100 or so PAR.

Keep in mind that if you add corals, you'll need to dose the tank with supplements because they'll take the minerals out of the water. I recommend using Red Sea supplements. You obviously should do regular water testing, but they have a menu you can use to understand what supplements you need and how much to add each day. I've found it really helpful.

The one biggest sticking point with reefing is you should really use reverse osmosis water like FIshGirl mentioned. You'll either want to buy a RODI device, or go to your LFS to pick up RO water if they offer it. I actually recommend buying a device. You can get one online for about $150. I set mine up temporarily to my bathtub when I need water.

Hope this helps a bit!
Thank you for the advice! I'm definitely going to be looking into getting an RODI device (I should probably have it for my freshwater tanks anyway). I had no idea about PAR so thank you for pointing that out. I am curious to know if corals or certain corals would inhibit my ability to have invertebrates like hermit crabs, emerald crabs, and a starfish- would these animals damage the corals? Also will corals be beneficial for the clownfish, will having them make them happier/ healthier like plants do for freshwater fish?
 
Upvote 0

FishGirl38

Def. look into those 52 Weeks of reefing video's Tuggerlake had mentioned as well! lots of good info there too! I'm learning things too. .
 
Upvote 0

Jesterrace

Thank you for the advice! I'm definitely going to be looking into getting an RODI device (I should probably have it for my freshwater tanks anyway). I had no idea about PAR so thank you for pointing that out. I am curious to know if corals or certain corals would inhibit my ability to have invertebrates like hermit crabs, emerald crabs, and a starfish- would these animals damage the corals? Also will corals be beneficial for the clownfish, will having them make them happier/ healthier like plants do for freshwater fish?

In general saltwater fish are in a take it or leave it sort of situation for corals. Corals do provide some nutrient consumption for the tank but keep in mind they are invertebrate animals and not plants, as many people think, so it is different. As for crabs and starfish there is a lot of variation on how they interact with corals. Emerald Crabs are a gamble and even well fed ones can turn on certain types of corals since all crabs are opportunists. Personally I am not a fan of them for this very reason. As for hermits I have never had a single issue with any coral I have kept (Frogspawns, Hammers, Trachyphillia, Dunacan, Zoanthids with no issues with Red Legged, Blue Legged or even some good sized left handed hermit crabs). Smaller Red Legged hermits are arguably the best if you just want something to help clean up around the tank without bothering much. Many starfish are not reef safe and honestly a Biocube isn't well suited to them as most get too big for one. They are also very sensitive to water parameters and generally do best with well established tanks. So I would recommend skipping Starfish. If you are dead set on having one though, a Red Tiled Starfish would probably be your best bet. I would also recommend looking at this vid as it addresses many of the newbie mistakes that people make when converting over from freshwater to saltwater:

 
Upvote 0

Willj626

In general saltwater fish are in a take it or leave it sort of situation for corals. Corals do provide some nutrient consumption for the tank but keep in mind they are invertebrate animals and not plants, as many people think, so it is different. As for crabs and starfish there is a lot of variation on how they interact with corals. Emerald Crabs are a gamble and even well fed ones can turn on certain types of corals since all crabs are opportunists. Personally I am not a fan of them for this very reason. As for hermits I have never had a single issue with any coral I have kept (Frogspawns, Hammers, Trachyphillia, Dunacan, Zoanthids with no issues with Red Legged, Blue Legged or even some good sized left handed hermit crabs). Smaller Red Legged hermits are arguably the best if you just want something to help clean up around the tank without bothering much. Many starfish are not reef safe and honestly a Biocube isn't well suited to them as most get too big for one. They are also very sensitive to water parameters and generally do best with well established tanks. So I would recommend skipping Starfish. If you are dead set on having one though, a Red Tiled Starfish would probably be your best bet. I would also recommend looking at this vid as it addresses many of the newbie mistakes that people make when converting over from freshwater to saltwater:

That's good to know about the invertebrates- especially crabs and starfish, when I'm ready for them I will have to do a lot of research into which ones will be reef safe. I will definitely be foregoing a starfish, I don't want it to die and or suffer in my tank. I also will be checking out those videos tonight- thank you all for introducing me to them!
 
Upvote 0

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Question
Replies
6
Views
441
Jesterrace
Replies
12
Views
891
Jesterrace
  • Question
Replies
6
Views
427
Jesterrace
  • Question
20 Gallon Tank Saltwater Setup
Replies
1
Views
419
PeteStevers
  • Question
Replies
1
Views
425
fish 321

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom