Help Switching From Fw To Sw. How Doable And Affordable Is Fowlr ?

Steven777

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Hello guys, for the backstory I'm from the Freshwater clan and recently I've felt like giving up my planted tank hobby. I have no problem keeping fish, but for plants I just can't get the hang of it. Despite having put a lot of effort into them I still can't keep them alive (see my old posts if you wanna know why but it's a wall of texts).

So I've been thinking about switching to saltwater (specifically FOWLR). I don't wanna mess with corals or at least not yet. I'm just gonna keep easy fish. Prob a few Clowns, Green Chromis, Damsels and some Firefish.

My questions are, how affordable and possible is it for a freshwater guy like me? I know about water paramerers that a planted tank hobbyist needs to know. I've 5 years experience of keeping FW fish. Is that enough for the basics?

For equipment and financial source my budget is about $600. If I went for it my 75gal tank is ready with a canister filter, lighting and heater.

Also do you guys think a Fowlr setup is boring and lasts long term?

Thanks for all the help!.
 

stella1979

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First of all, I think this is a great idea. No, I would never call salty fish boring and as much as I want to be impartial, I have to say that I find marine fish to be more interesting in their behaviors and attitudes.

Also, keeping a marine tank isn't as hard as it's thought to be but there are quite a few things to forget about with freshwater and relearn for saltwater. For example, no one is getting hurt if the waterline drops a little bit between water changes on a fw tank. This is normal due to evaporation of course... however, when a salty tank evaporates, the salt content in the water (aka, salinity) rises. You won't find that critters appreciate fluctuations in salinity even a little bit so, salty tanks must be topped off every day. It's not hard to do, but it is something not to forget, and this is why most of us will eventually invest in an ATO (automatic top off unit.) And here's why saltwater is harder... it's more expensive.

This isn't to say that I think marine keeping can't be done on a budget. I am, in fact, a proud budget reefer myself.

Another thing to unlearn is that canister filters are of good use. Because canisters are not as easily cleaned as other types of filtration... well, when detritus breaks down, it becomes nitrates and phosphates, which are also the favored foods of algae, leading to nasty outbreaks. The simple fix is, keep the canister clean, but the question is, do you want to clean a canister every week? The good news is, marine tanks don't need a ton of biomedia because the very rocks in the tank are what hold beneficial bacteria. So the true simple fix for canisters on marine tanks is... don't use them. You'd still want some mechanical and possibly chemical (like GFO or carbon) filtration going on so.... eek! Is there a possibility that you could sump the 75g? Sumps truly offer the best way to filter a marine tank of that size AND have the benefit of hiding equipment so the display looks clean.

Again, I don't think marine tanks are hard but there is a steep learning curve on setting one up, just like there is for larger fw aquariums and the reason salt setups are seen as 'harder', in my mind, has to do with the cost of equipment.

I'm happy to help all I can but this post is already getting a little long so I think I'll leave it for now, but please feel free to ask any questions and also, please do read the stickies in the Saltwater Beginner's Forum. I know you're looking to do a FOWLR and this is easier care than a reef tank but as far as setup and equipment goes, the major difference between the two is the intense lighting a reef tank needs. You, of course, can skip reef lighting as well as any guidance regarding 'dosing' of reef tanks. Otherwise, FOWLR's are pretty much the same.
 

Mrfister1116

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Damsels are jerks haha
Be careful with them I got one with my first salt tank and it literally chased fish out of it

I was super intimidated by saltwater at first but honestly it really isn’t much harder than fresh once you get past the salinity checking.

The biggest expenses I can see is slimmer, ro water, and power heads. You don’t necessarily need power heads for just fish depending o. Your filter set up but the chromis definitely seem to like to swim into the current in my tank.
I would suggest, either using lights you already have or going on and getting a coral worthy light. I’m having great success with the current USA marine orbit lights on 2 tanks and they’re not crazy expensive.
Reason being coral and anemones are so cool, especially with a clown, that you’ll end up wanting them and then just be buying another light.
 

Jesterrace

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Hello guys, for the backstory I'm from the Freshwater clan and recently I've felt like giving up my planted tank hobby. I have no problem keeping fish, but for plants I just can't get the hang of it. Despite having put a lot of effort into them I still can't keep them alive (see my old posts if you wanna know why but it's a wall of texts).

So I've been thinking about switching to saltwater (specifically FOWLR). I don't wanna mess with corals or at least not yet. I'm just gonna keep easy fish. Prob a few Clowns, Green Chromis, Damsels and some Firefish. Clownfish of the Ocellaris or Percular variety and a MAX of a pair. Clownfish don't do well in tanks of under 100 gallons in more than a pair as the dominant clownfish(s) tend to kill off the competiton. Saltwater fish rarely school in captivity the way freshwater fish do. I would also add the clownfish last as even the Occ and Percula varieties can turn pretty aggressive/territorial once established.

My questions are, how affordable and possible is it for a freshwater guy like me? I know about water parameters that a planted tank hobbyist needs to know. I've 5 years experience of keeping FW fish. Is that enough for the basics?

For equipment and financial source my budget is about $600. If I went for it my 75gal tank is ready with a canister filter, lighting and heater.

Also do you guys think a Fowlr setup is boring and lasts long term?

Thanks for all the help!.
Stella covered the concerns quite well with the Canister filters and I concur. Seen many a newbie pull their hair out trying to run a canister filter on a marine tank. Freshwater setups tend to do well with things that get trapped but for marine tanks they just cause problems and a closed system by nature is more prone to trapping things. Open filtration systems (ie Aquaclear or Seachem Tidal HOB Filters or a Sump) make for much easier care overall and a generally healthier tank.

Stella also did a great job covering the fish. Damsels are notorious nasty little jerks, some people have better luck with some more than others but I would personally avoid them in a tank as they can not only be nasty but a pain to catch and get rid of if needed.

Firefish are very timid and easily bullied and can spend quite a bit of time hiding with more assertive fish around. Personally I would go with a Royal Gramma Basslet or Black Cap Basslet over them as you will generally see them more often and if a fish does get territorial they will generally hold their own.

Unfortunately precious little from the freshwater side transfers to the salty side: I recommend taking a look at this vid as it covers the "bad habits" many folks pick up when going from freshwater to saltwater. Research is far more useful than freshwater experience when it comes to a saltwater tank:

 
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Steven777

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First of all, I think this is a great idea. No, I would never call salty fish boring and as much as I want to be impartial, I have to say that I find marine fish to be more interesting in their behaviors and attitudes.

Also, keeping a marine tank isn't as hard as it's thought to be but there are quite a few things to forget about with freshwater and relearn for saltwater. For example, no one is getting hurt if the waterline drops a little bit between water changes on a fw tank. This is normal due to evaporation of course... however, when a salty tank evaporates, the salt content in the water (aka, salinity) rises. You won't find that critters appreciate fluctuations in salinity even a little bit so, salty tanks must be topped off every day. It's not hard to do, but it is something not to forget, and this is why most of us will eventually invest in an ATO (automatic top off unit.) And here's why saltwater is harder... it's more expensive.

This isn't to say that I think marine keeping can't be done on a budget. I am, in fact, a proud budget reefer myself.

Another thing to unlearn is that canister filters are of good use. Because canisters are not as easily cleaned as other types of filtration... well, when detritus breaks down, it becomes nitrates and phosphates, which are also the favored foods of algae, leading to nasty outbreaks. The simple fix is, keep the canister clean, but the question is, do you want to clean a canister every week? The good news is, marine tanks don't need a ton of biomedia because the very rocks in the tank are what hold beneficial bacteria. So the true simple fix for canisters on marine tanks is... don't use them. You'd still want some mechanical and possibly chemical (like GFO or carbon) filtration going on so.... eek! Is there a possibility that you could sump the 75g? Sumps truly offer the best way to filter a marine tank of that size AND have the benefit of hiding equipment so the display looks clean.

Again, I don't think marine tanks are hard but there is a steep learning curve on setting one up, just like there is for larger fw aquariums and the reason salt setups are seen as 'harder', in my mind, has to do with the cost of equipment.

I'm happy to help all I can but this post is already getting a little long so I think I'll leave it for now, but please feel free to ask any questions and also, please do read the stickies in the Saltwater Beginner's Forum. I know you're looking to do a FOWLR and this is easier care than a reef tank but as far as setup and equipment goes, the major difference between the two is the intense lighting a reef tank needs. You, of course, can skip reef lighting as well as any guidance regarding 'dosing' of reef tanks. Otherwise, FOWLR's are pretty much the same.
Thank you very much boss. Very helpful advice. I apologize for being so late because my email didn't notify for some reasons so I thought my thread was dead. :/

Damsels are jerks haha
Be careful with them I got one with my first salt tank and it literally chased fish out of it

I was super intimidated by saltwater at first but honestly it really isn’t much harder than fresh once you get past the salinity checking.

The biggest expenses I can see is slimmer, ro water, and power heads. You don’t necessarily need power heads for just fish depending o. Your filter set up but the chromis definitely seem to like to swim into the current in my tank.
I would suggest, either using lights you already have or going on and getting a coral worthy light. I’m having great success with the current USA marine orbit lights on 2 tanks and they’re not crazy expensive.
Reason being coral and anemones are so cool, especially with a clown, that you’ll end up wanting them and then just be buying another light.
Valuable comment for sure! I'm getting the Current usa too!

Yes you r right maybe I will want corals in the future. But what about softies? I heard they are not hard to care for and they dont need much light. I think I might add some of them.

Stella covered the concerns quite well with the Canister filters and I concur. Seen many a newbie pull their hair out trying to run a canister filter on a marine tank. Freshwater setups tend to do well with things that get trapped but for marine tanks they just cause problems and a closed system by nature is more prone to trapping things. Open filtration systems (ie Aquaclear or Seachem Tidal HOB Filters or a Sump) make for much easier care overall and a generally healthier tank.

Stella also did a great job covering the fish. Damsels are notorious nasty little jerks, some people have better luck with some more than others but I would personally avoid them in a tank as they can not only be nasty but a pain to catch and get rid of if needed.

Firefish are very timid and easily bullied and can spend quite a bit of time hiding with more assertive fish around. Personally I would go with a Royal Gramma Basslet or Black Cap Basslet over them as you will generally see them more often and if a fish does get territorial they will generally hold their own.

Unfortunately precious little from the freshwater side transfers to the salty side: I recommend taking a look at this vid as it covers the "bad habits" many folks pick up when going from freshwater to saltwater. Research is far more useful than freshwater experience when it comes to a saltwater tank:

Thank you! I think I'll skip the Damsel then will look into those fish you recommended. I also have the AQ HOB so I'll def use it.
 
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