Starting a salt tank

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James95

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Hi everyone!

So I'm in the research stage of starting a salt tank. I've kept freshwater for years since I was a kid but have NO experience keeping a marine tank going. So I'm hoping you can help me out!

I have an empty 10 gallon tank that I was going to try and use. I also have a bunch of freshwater equipment but I'm not sure how much of it can be used for salt. I can't decide between a FOWLR or Fish-only setup.

Growing up my dad had a marine tank... It was a 55 gallon with crushed coral and a UGF. I consulted my dad on setting up my marine tank and he's insisting that I use a UGF. I have an extra one but needed a second opinion. If I were to use the UGF I guess sand would be out of the question for substrate. Any thoughts? I run them in my fresh tanks but wasn't sure if they're still used for saltwater.

Do I need a power filter? I've been reading that most people don't use a 3 stage filter on their salt tanks. I have an extra eheim power filter that I could use. I was also thinking I could also run it empty just for circulation.

My LFS sells pre made RO/DI saltwater so I'm set in that department. Phew!

What kind of lighting do I need? If I do FOWLR would a standard T5 hood be sufficient? Because I already have one and I would like to try and keep the cost down as much as possible.

In terms of stock, will there be enough room for a pair of clownfish? If not I still think an invert only tank would be okay with me.

If there's anything else that you think would be helpful to a complete salt newbie, please do share!

Thanks in advance :)
 

Butterfly

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Good Morning!

I don't know a lot about saltwater tanks but at the top of the forum page is an excellent stickie


Maybe it will help answer some of your questions.
Carol
 

utkgreg

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Morning James!

As someone who has been around the forum for a while, I'm sure you know about the free e-books on here. I definitely suggest downloading it... it was a huge benefit to me as I started my first saltwater tank.

So, first off, I recommend a FOWLR tank over a fish only. The live rock serves as your biological filter, making your maintenance a lot easier. It also provides a more natural environment for your inhabitants. And, if you eventually decide to add any corals, you're one step closer already.

I definitely do not recommend using a ugf with your system. The benefits that they would add are greatly outweighed by disadvantages. Same thing for the canister filter or hob. The only thing I would use those for is to run carbon occasionally as needed. Otherwise, they will trap detritus and become a nitrate factory, and low nitrates are important in the marine aquarium.

For a FOWLR tank your lighting will be fine. Lighting becomes really important when we start talking about corals.

Unfortunately a 10 gallon is just too small to keep a pair of clowns, they actually get pretty big. Personally I think they need bare minimum of 20+ for a pair. That doesn't mean you're out of options, however. As you mentioned, you can do inverts. You can also look at damsels, which can bring a lot of color. There are a few others that are viable as well.

I do recommend getting a small protein skimmer. Some people say that it is not needed for a 10 gallon; just do frequent water changes. That's up to you. Personally I think it's worth the investment even on smaller tanks.

You would also do well to have a small powerhead in there. You only need to have about 10x flow for a FOWLR. AquaClear makes some smaller ones. The goal is to get water movement at all levels of the tank, so the water is flowing all over that live rock. That way the beneficial bacteria etc on the LR has a chance to do its job.

Alright, hope that helps! I'm sure others will be along to share their opinions as well.
 
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James95

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Hi all! Thanks for the advice and sorry for taking so long to respond! So, I decided I wanted to postpone this project and use a slightly larger tank, a 29 gallon. I'm still into FOWLR and don't want to get into corals and a reef tank quite yet.

I'm still trying to do this project on the cheap since I'm a beginner and also because I just dumped a buttload of money into a new 65 gallon for my new world cichlids.

I would like to use an eheim canister since that's what I have and don't want to spend anymore money than necessary. I also have an Aquaclear 201 powerhead that I hope I can use
 

utkgreg

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A 29 gallon is getting to be a much better size! You can definitely hold a pair of clowns (and a few other fish) in one that size.
 
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James95

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Awesome! I'm so happy to hear that! Do all clowns need an anemone or are there some that do well with just live rock?
 
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James95

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Also, if anyone could give me some names of fish to research that would do well in this set up that would be amazing! I have no idea where to even start. Butterflies look cool, but I think my tank would be too small for them.
 

utkgreg

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James95 said:
Awesome! I'm so happy to hear that! Do all clowns need an anemone or are there some that do well with just live rock?
James95 said:
Also, if anyone could give me some names of fish to research that would do well in this set up that would be amazing! I have no idea where to even start. Butterflies look cool, but I think my tank would be too small for them.
Nope, clowns do not need an anemone. It's an interesting relationship they share, but you can have clowns without anemones and anemones without clowns. I have four clowns amidst two tanks, and they are perfectly happy without anemones.

Unfortunately you're right - butterflies get too big. You still do have other options though. Look in to gobies, damsels and cardinals to start.
I personally don't recommend damsels as they can be real bullies, but many people like them.

Banngai cardinals are really cool looking, but there's also pajamas and silvers. Firefish gobies are really nice. I also have a Hector's goby that's pretty neat with its yellow and black stripes.

You can also look in to a clean up crew... maybe an emerald crab, some blue hermits, redfoot snail, cerith snails, nassarius snails etc. If you are not going to be doing any corals, you can also look at something like a chocolate chip star. Brittle stars and sea serpents are intriguing. Rock flower anemones, while not one that will build a relationship with clowns, are still very pretty, hardy and inexpensive.

Whew, ok, so that should be a decent list to start with. And if it's not, check out this link. LiveAquaria has a section specifically for nano fish --- tanks right around 29 gallons and under!
 

1971roadrunner

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I really like the sound of the 29 gallon. It will be WELL worth the wait. Absolutely do a salt tank and research it carefully-they're a real milestone to have accomplished!
 
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James95

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Oh my, thank you so much utkgreg! You've been a tremendous help! I will start doing some research and try to put a stock list together and post back sometime.

This whole process is so exciting. Don't get me wrong, I still love my freshwater fish. It's just kind of cool to have to learn everything all over again for saltwater. Reminds me of when I started my first freshwater tank over 10 years ago and didn't know a thing

So do I, I just felt the 10 gallon wouldn't really be worth bothering with. If I'm going to do this, I want to do it right
 
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