Saltwater Tank Questions !!!

Isabella

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I am completely inexperienced with, and know nothing of, saltwater tanks. All I know is the fact that they're beautiful. I have a couple of questions about saltwater tanks. I often hear that they are far more difficult (and far more expensive) to maintain than freshwater tanks. Can someone explain to me the main differences between a saltwater and a freshwater tank? Are there any similarities between the two as well? All I know is that, obviously, saltwater tanks have to have salt in them. But how much? Why are saltwater tanks so difficult and so expensive to maintain? Do saltwater tanks need heaters as freshwater tanks do?

I recently went to a large fish store with saltwater tanks. Needless to mention, I was fascinated by what I saw. The beauty of a saltwater tank is indescribable. I was so amazed and surprised to find out that there are actually live corals in a saltwater tank - they look so cool! (I always thought they were fake on pictures.) How do you get corals to grow in your tank? Do you buy them just like fish, or what? They're so strange because they're animals and yet they're not like animals because they grow over surfaces. Don't fish in a saltwater tank pick on the corals thereby destroying them?

Lastly, is it difficult to set up a saltwater tank? How do you create such beautiful display? How do you put (or grow) corals in there? What are the other essential components of a saltwater tank? That is, what things/creatures besides corals go in a saltwater tank?

Whoever can answer my questions, or at least some of them, THANKS A LOT!
 

Marc

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Well, the main difference is that saltwater fish are nowhere near as hardy - the ocean is so vast that there is extremely small change if any to the various aspects - salinity, temp, etc. They are much less used to any change. They are also more expensive because they are harder/more expensive to breed.
 
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Isabella

Isabella

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Thanks Marc. Then I can only imagine how hard it must be to maintain the perfect water quality that saltwater fish need. And they also probably need very specific salinity levels?
 
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Isabella

Isabella

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Does anyone know how people get corals to grow in their tanks? Do you buy them just like fish, or what? They're so strange because they're animals and yet they're not like animals because they grow over surfaces. Don't fish in a saltwater tank pick on the corals, thereby destroying them?
 

Mike

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If you do the research before you introduce anything into your tank, I think you'll find it not that difficult.  Just takes time, money and patience.

There are many variables involved, but the main things you need for successful coral growth is very high lighting levels, high water movement (powerheads), excellent water parameters and occasionally you'll have to replace trace elements that have been used up or removed via the protein skimmer.  The excellent water parameters comes from frequent testing, frequent water changes, copious amounts of live rock, low nutrient load (few or no fish), etc.

Some fish species do indeed pick at various corals and invertebrates, which is why you need to reseach all inhabitants before introduction.  These fish are usually deemed "not reef safe".

To me, a nicely set-up reef tank is the ultimate accomplishment in this hobby.  You need a lot of funds to get one setup and running. The equipment - lighting, skimmer, live rock etc. can get ridiculously expensive.  The corals, fish and inverts cost some serious jack too.
 

Mike

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Also, you do buy them just like fish, that is if you're lucky enough to have a fish store that carries live corals. You may have to look online and have them overnighted to you.
 
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Isabella

Isabella

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Thank you Mike. I am not planning to get a saltwater tank (or at least not anytime soon) - I am just curious about it. The reason I posted this message is precisely because I have recently been to a saltwater store, quite near me, and was amazed by what I saw. This experience prompted me to ask various questions. They DID have live corals! And many of them. Which is also why I asked about corals. Then I suppose I would be very lucky if I wanted to set up a saltwater tank? If I ever want to set up a saltwater tank, I definitely will do my research and set aside all the necessary funds that a proper setup will require. I wouldn't start such an undertaking without being prepared. And yes, I agree - it has to be the ultimate accomplishment for a serious fish hobbyist.
 

Mike

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Isabella, you could easily set up a saltwater tank because I know you do your homework beforehand.

You're definitely lucky if you have a good saltwater shop near you. You can usually save money on shipping costs but sometimes local shop prices are higher than online. But then again, buying locally, you don't have to worry about the livestock perishing during shipment.
 
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Isabella

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Thanks again. I actually prefer buying locally when it comes to fish or plants, or live corals for that matter - even if they're more expensive. I wouldn't want to take the risk of them dying during a delivery trip. Besides, I like to see directly what I am buying. I wouldn't like the hassle of sending a product back - especially if it's a live one - in case I wouldn't like it.
 

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I have a problem. I plan on going on vacation for a few days and my Mom will be feeding the fish. Problem is they are hand fed and my Mom won't put her hands in the water to feed the 2 eels and lionfish. Is there a way to feed them using tweezers and if so, what would the cost be for a saltwater tank?
Thanks, blyon
 

Mike

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Bylon - check these out:
 

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