starting a salt water tank! whats needed to know?

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by monkeypie102, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. monkeypie102

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    I have been reading some of the threads stickied but I want to make sure i have my questions answered in full as well...

    When i first bought this tank it was from a man planning to set it up for a saltwater tank and he bought a 26g bowfront, 24" high output T5 coralife colormax 24 wats (there are currently 2 bulbs in the light thing lol forgive my naming of some items) and an aqueon hob (not sure which one but I think it is the one rated for 30g?) So so far that is all I own in a way of saltwater anything...

    Now for questions

    would it be okay to use an hob for a saltwater tank or are there special filters your suppose to use?
    Is that light okay for the tank? I just saw on the box the extra bulb is in says freshwater... do saltwater tanks need special lighting or is this one fine?
    I keep reading about power heads... the heck are those and why are they important?
    Are there any kinds of fish that can even. Go in a 26g or would I be stuck with inverts (the plan was to get a mantas shrimp or 2 so my stock I want based around it/them....if possible that is.
    My brother is going to start a saltwater in his 40g and he has this substrait that looks like large cuncks over gravel busted up and it has these tiny shells mixed in it... what kind of stuff is that? I was wanting to get live sand (is that even a word/exist?) For the bottom of mine as it looks cooler in some of your tanks i have seen on here...
    How much live rock would i need for my 26g? If it is dry will it still be concidered live rock or will it die and be useless to the tank?
    I know i have more questions but i am starting to feel dumber about this lol... freshwater I am comfertable with but saltwater is new so please forgive me ahead of time if i repeat questions or ask for a more detailed answer...
  2. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Most of your questions about equipment will be answered by this sticky:

    I wouldn't use the HOB, unless it is for mechanical filtration only.

    What sort of mantis are you looking at? (There's a few different types) With a smasher type, you could probably put a clown or 2 in there, or maybe gobies. Here's some more ideas for small fish
    With smashers, you'd probably find that inverts (snails and shrimp) are out of the question.
    If you get a spearer mantis, then fish choices are limited to non existent.

    Live sand definitely exists :) [if you've been looking at my tank, the sand is actually CaribSea Aragonite, not live sand. Though it would be live now!]

    Live Rock is only live once it colonises with beneficial bacteria. You can use dry rock (aka base rock) and let it seed. You'll probably want around 25-40lbs (1-1.5lbs per gallon), you could get a mix of say 15 lbs live rock, and the balance in dry rock.
  3. RogueAgent94

    RogueAgent94Fishlore VIPMember

    :;laughing You're funny lol. No second guessing yourself :). We all forget things like names. I usually call them "thingys" lol.

    Congrats on the new tank! As for the bulbs, plug it in and see what they look like. Most light fixtures that I've seen for SW come with one blue light and one white light. Blue is Actinic. Not essential for SW but definitely better. If you can read the label on the bulbs that'll help.

    HOBs can be used on SW tanks. I have two on mine. I don't particularly like them though but they get the job done.

    Powerheads are filters that move the water around the tank instead of filtering it. Important in a SW tank because it replicates the constant movement of the water in the ocean.

    Sure! There are lots of fish you could try in a 26g. Mantis Shrimp aren't the best idea because of their nasty claws though. But then again I'm biased against them cause I had one hit me. Stupid little thing. Yellow Watchman gobies are fun! You could try one of those. There are some kinds of Clowns you could try. Damsels are a good beginner fish but I'd suggest staying away from them cause they can get nippy when they get older. I have two Blue Yellow-tail Damsels. I also have a Coral Beauty which is a type of Dwarf Angelfish. There are a couple types of Dwarf Angels you could look into. But only one angel per tank is the general rule.

    Live sand does exist and is suggested. It helps start your cycle along with live rock. I have Aragonite live sand in my tank now but I'm going to cover it with a layer of finer live sand to give the anaerobic bacteria a better place to live. If I could, I would have started with fine sand in the first place. Much nicer IMO.

    I'm not positive on the rock:gallon ratio but you'll need a good amount. Live rock is only considered live when it has organisms and such in it. Live rock usually found in large tanks at the store. It should have purple algae and on it which will indicate hat it is live. Dry rock is not live. Dry rock isn't useless because over time it can become live rock but it isn't beneficial in the start other than for appearances. I used dry rock to create the base of my structure and then put live rock over and around it.

    Hopefully Jessi or Ryan will pop in to help out.

    EDIT: Haha ryan beat me to the punch line.
  4. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    Okay so mantis shrimp though amazingly cool are so out now :( I want some inverts mixed with fish and they seem to want to eat them lol... though if they weren't hiders I would so get one :)

    Anyways it seems one of the 2 lights are a blueish color... if i could get a picture of it I would lol... gave me a headache looking right at it though (not reccomemded xD) however I am debating adding live corals and stuff like that right now...

    The salinity reactor you have linked in the sticky (Ryan) has a bunch of bad reviews... is this one you have?

    Rogue though your using hob is a sump/refugim required? I can make one from a 10g if it is needed but I would like to try and avoid that if possible...

    For the sand could one use something like PFS as one would with freshwater? I plan to look into the Caribsea stuff regardless I am just curious.

    And to be random... would nerites breed in saltwater and their eggs hatch? I know they can live in all water types so i would love to have a few horned nerites and if they breed all the better lol...

    Edit: my biggest question... why can't you use tap water? And how the heck does one make RO water?
  5. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Yep, mantis are very cool, but can be quite destructive :(

    Do you mean Refractometer? That product link is from a forum add-in that highlights words and finds amazon links. I actually use a Reef Octopus Refractometer. Though I'm not sure how a refractometer can have bad reviews :;dk They're pretty simple devices.

    A sump is a great addition, but not necessary. The link I provided explains (lists) some of the advantages. In the case of a 26G display, another 10G would be good for greater stability, plus a good place to hide everything and dose or add top-up water.

    You can use PFS if you wish. The aragonite based sand is a good addition as it can help maintain alkalinity/calcium and pH.

    Nerites I have no idea about.

    And your big question - water source!
    You can use tap water, but it is generally recommended that RO/DI, RO, Distilled (in that order of preference) be used. Tap water often contains many elements we don't want in our SW tanks. Unlike FW fish that are bred in tap water tanks, a lot of SW fish are hand-caught from the reefs, and as such, have never been exposed to many of the elements in tap water.
    Also with evaporation, only the water evaporates, all the other elements stay in the water. Using RO/DI for top off means you are only adding pure water back in.
    RO is made using a Reverse Osmosis filter system.
  6. RogueAgent94

    RogueAgent94Fishlore VIPMember

    I don't have my HOBs on the sump. I have them straight on the back of the tank lol. I'll get a picture for you if you want. I have an AC 110 and an AC 50.

    I wouldn't use PFS. As Ryan said, aragonite helps buffer the water. I would use aragonite as a base layer and then use a finer live sand (should be able to find that at a pet shop if you have one that carries SW) as a top layer.

    Nerites don't breed in SW. Well... okay the nerites you think about don't breed in SW. They breed in brackish water. SW nerites breed in SW lol.

    In addition to what Ryan said about tap water, RODI usually has 0 TDS in it which is great for SW tanks. I do know some people that use tap water but that's because theirs is really really good quality. Mine isn't :(. I have four 5g jugs of water that I fill up at the supermarket at one of those glacier machines. Mine has a TDS of 13 which isn't too bad. I also have an RO at home which has TDS of around 35 which is, again, not terrible. It's just easier for me to have 20g of water ready just in case something goes wrong.
  7. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    Okay so i will see if i can find some ro units or figure out how to test my tap... but I doubt i could use it...

    Rogue i was saying you used your hob on your tanks not sump lol and asking if you used a sump though you had some HOBs...

    Refractometer yeah that's what I ment lol... how do I measure how much salt I need or if i have added to much? Is there some kind of tool for that? I didn't see anything in your stickys about that Ryan...

    I think i will figure out how to build a sump lol... I think your right that it will help keep water params in check :)

    As for what else I found this thread on a different site where they did a salt water tank in the 26g bf it looks awesome so I figured I would follow their lead some what just different stock... though I definatly want a firefish or 2
    I was also wondering if there are any starfish that don't get huge that would fit inside of the 26g... I don't think i will upgrade for a few years so the inhabitance will need to be able to be confertable... also thinking of getting sea urchins ( ) that one in specific :) also if an anenome(sp?) Would fit and grow I would love to get a pair of clowns! Just keep in mind I am still new so stock will adjust alot...
  8. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    I posted a thread in the diy section for the sump... also do yu guys have a reccomended protein skimmer? I am on a budget so please keep this in mind but i don't want to skimp out on anything important... I just want to hav everything bought before i start getting live rock/sand
  9. RogueAgent94

    RogueAgent94Fishlore VIPMember

    :) I use my HOBs on the back of my tank. I don't have a sump on the tank. I'm in the process of setting up a wet/dry filter but I doubt I'll put a sump on there. If I do that then I'd probably just make a refugium. .

    Refractometers are what measure the salt in the water. Or rather they measure the Salinity of the water.

    You don't wanna get a sea urchin until your tank is really well established. I made that mistake and had to rehome him.

    Yes, I would recommend a protein skimmer. There are plenty of options for protein skimmers. Jessi has one that she said was really good. I'll go look for the link.
  10. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    I thought sumps and refugiums were the same thing :/ what's the difference?

    So with sea salt whats the amount typically needed per gallon?

    Well I definatly want to get a sea urchin at somepoint maybe after the tanks been up fo 6 months :) I am going t see if i can talk my brother into selling me his 40g that he isn't using! So I may have a 40g to use but time will tell...

    Well yeah I know you'd reccomened a protein Skimmer xD the question is what brand you would reccomended :)
  11. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Linking in your thread about your sump:

    With mixing salt, generally about 33g per litre will give a salinity of 33ppt - But this is a loose guide. Here's a decent calculator one of our members posted yesterday:

    Always add some of the salt, then check salinity. Then add a bit more if you need to. It's much easier to add salt than to try and dilute.
  12. JessiNoel21

    JessiNoel21Well Known MemberMember

  13. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    *_* I knew saltwater was expensive but...ummm.yikes...
  14. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Not really. Yes the equipment is relatively expensive, but it's also a one-off purchase, that you hope you don't need to replace any time soon.

    A lot of reefers go for the cheap option, and after buying three or four cheap skimmers, end up with a quality skimmer, and they've spent double/triple what they would have if they'd just gone the quality unit to start with.

    Oh, and if you think Jessi's equipment is expensive, here's mine, Tunze 9011 :giggle:
  15. Tigress Hill

    Tigress HillWell Known MemberMember

  16. JessiNoel21

    JessiNoel21Well Known MemberMember

    I got both off of craigslist

    My dream skimmer Ryan :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2013
  17. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Second hand is always a good option if possible.

    Tigress - that's not the half of it, price up all the equipment in my member spotlight (link in sig) :)
    I "think" I've spent roughly $3000 AUD on equipment (I honestly have no idea anymore), plus the custom built tank, sump and stand (another $1700 odd).......
    Then there's the livestock :rolleyes:
  18. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    Wicked... I will be one that starts cheap xD
  19. OP

    monkeypie102Well Known MemberMember

    Okay so my brother was convinsed by his future husband that they need to start a saltwater tank in their 40g so i will be helping them out little by little as i get mine going as well!! At least if i didn't get the tank it will be used for the power of saltwater haha!

    Anyways I have been Googling a bit and decided on a protein Skimmer and a refractometer until I can save up enough to get the ones Jessi though it is just a 26g not one of your monster tanks ;).
    So the protein skimmer

    And the meter

    Though they are cheap they are also in budget...

    Now i just need to find a power head and I think i will be set to start up this tank... I don't think i will get a sump/refugim(or however it is spelled) just yet... i will get one but there is alot of debate going around and while I know it is important it just isn't detramental just yet, this is just my opinion though.

    Edit: I lied... I also need to find a place that sells RO water if my lfs doesn't sell it... none of the grocery places around here sell purified water that you can fill up at those stations...
  20. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    They look like decent pieces of equipment. Eshopps make some good stuff!

    For your RO, your local marine shop will probably sell RO/DI, many of them do. Though, consider buying your own RO/DI filter when you can, they cost a bit up front, but they do pay for themselves over time vs buying RO/DI. I think Eienna just got one for Christmas, and it was under $70 US for a 3 stage with DI ;)

    And no problem not going with a sump straight away, they're great to have, but not "required" as such.