Thinking of starting a saltwater tank

jkkgron2
Member
Hi everyone! I’ve been thinking about turning my 10 gallon tank into a saltwater tank but I’m not really sure what I would need for a fish only setup. I already have the tank, lid, filter, and heater but I’m not sure what else I’ll need. I know that I will need live rock and a specific sand? but I’m a bit confused about what else I need. Could someone help explain what I need? I’m not looking to have any corals and I’m planning on keeping a pair of ocellaris clownfish (no idea if I spelled that right). Thanks!
 
AggressiveAquatics
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jkkgron2
Member
kanzekatores ?
 
Fishproblem
Member
You can replace the need for a protein skimmer with large regular water changes, though I imagine the skimmer would make things easier. In a tank that size, frequent large WCs are more doable though. Salinity and evaporation is important to watch, as evaporation in a saltwater tank causes those levels to rise - water evaporates, salt doesn't. Try reading a few build threads on here. Culprit's Journey Into The Dark Side | Saltwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 309829 is a really good one to learn from as a beginner.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
You can replace the need for a protein skimmer with large regular water changes, though I imagine the skimmer would make things easier. In a tank that size, frequent large WCs are more doable though. Salinity and evaporation is important to watch, as evaporation in a saltwater tank causes those levels to rise - water evaporates, salt doesn't. Try reading a few build threads on here. Culprit's Journey Into The Dark Side | Saltwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 309829 is a really good one to learn from as a beginner.
Thanks for the link, Just reading the first page was really informative! Do I need to use RO water? That was one thing I saw recommended a lot while researching.

So far I think I need this:
Live rock
A Powerhead
Possibly a Protein skimmer
A refractometer
And some instant ocean salt
I already have the tank, heater, and filter.
Is there anything else I need?

Also, is there a way to get seeded media so I don’t have to deal with cycling the tank, or is it safe to do a fish in cycle with salt water?
 
Jesterrace
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Hi everyone! I’ve been thinking about turning my 10 gallon tank into a saltwater tank but I’m not really sure what I would need for a fish only setup. I already have the tank, lid, filter, and heater but I’m not sure what else I’ll need. I know that I will need live rock and a specific sand? but I’m a bit confused about what else I need. Could someone help explain what I need? I’m not looking to have any corals and I’m planning on keeping a pair of ocellaris clownfish (no idea if I spelled that right). Thanks!
A 10 gallon can be a bit tricky to maintain for a beginner but for a pair of clowns and no corals it shouldn't be too bad. The first thing you will want to do is completely clean out and sanitize the equipment since nothing left over from the freshwater tank will do anything good for a saltwater setup. You will definitely want a powerhead/wavemaker of some kind and something in the 240-500gph range would be what you are looking for. When you select a powerhead make sure that it is a magnetic backed one as the suction cup ones are hit and miss with seals and you definitely don't want a powerhead breaking loose in your tank spraying saltwater/sand in every direction.

As for live rock, yes you will need some variant of live rock but there are several options there

1) regular live rock which has the most biodiversity and best filtration capabilities, BUT is also the most expensive and fairly likely to have pests

2) Dry Rock aka Dead Live Rock. Has the benefit of being much cheaper than live rock and generally pest free BUT has to be scrubbed down well aka Cured before you can use it and takes longer to establish the biofilter since you are starting from scratch with it.

3) One of the Aquacultured options (ie Caribsea Life Rock) that is Dry Rock that has been cured and covered with an inert bacteria coating that becomes live in saltwater. It's a bit cheaper than regular Live Rock and is Pest Free and of course does have a bacteria source. It is more expensive than Dry Rock.


As for sand you can use several options (ie live, fiji pink, argonite). Live Sand's benefits are marginal as any sand will eventually establish beneficial bacteria as the tank matures, but something like Caribsea Live Sand does offer a good mix of substrate for pretty much any application, fish, invert that would use it.

I strongly suggest either getting an RODI system or at least getting it from a reliable source (ie LFS) as tapwater can cause plenty of issues even in a fish only tank (ie unwanted algae growth/cyanobacteria).
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Thanks for the link, Just reading the first page was really informative! Do I need to use RO water? That was one thing I saw recommended a lot while researching.

So far I think I need this:
Live rock
A Powerhead
Possibly a Protein skimmer
A refractometer
And some instant ocean salt
I already have the tank, heater, and filter.
Is there anything else I need?

Also, is there a way to get seeded media so I don’t have to deal with cycling the tank, or is it safe to do a fish in cycle with salt water?
Now you're getting into the good stuff! Live rock IS your media! You actually don't keep media in filters in saltwater setups. Instead, BB thrives on the very porous surfaces of live rock, and the comparatively (to freshwater) high flow rates in SW tanks ensure that the water passes over it frequently enough to keep the parameters stable. In a FOWLR system, that's where the live rock comes in. If you use fresh dry rock in a great enough amount (I think 1-2lbs per gallon, if I remember correctly - but check), you'll have an instant cycle. Just like seeding filter media in a FW tank. If you can afford a protein skimmer, I'd get one. I've never used one (I'm only just setting up my first saltwater build) but you CAN export nutrients with WC alone provided you keep your stocking low.

RODI water is best. There are a lot of places for experimentation in reefs, but this is one that's just not worth it. Tap, distilled, and even RO water can increase uour phosphate and TDS, and cause algae nightmares down the line. I don't THINK it's quite as important in a FOWLR (your worst case of having to tear down a tank and nuke everything to solve one such problem doesnt include losing tons of expensive coral), but I could be wrong. From what I've read and been told, RODI is the best option. Then distilled, then RO, than tap.

You don't want to use the filter as a filter the way you would in freshwater becasue it will hold on to nitrates and become problematic. You'll see in Culprit's thread how he converted his HOB to a refugium... I think... if it's not in his thread, it's in Stella's... I'll have to double check for you.

I'm making a nightmare for myself and attempting a Pico off the bat, which is super high maintenance and dicey as all get out. If you have the space, a 20 gallon will give you SO much more room to work with, and a lot more room for error (and an anemone, someday when your tank is well established). I think the dollar per gallon sale is on right now so...
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Wow, Thanks for all the info! I think my LFS has RODI water that I could buy so I think I’ll get some from them. Unfortunately I don’t have enough space for a 20 gallon right now but I might be able to upgrade in the future. How do I cure dry rock exactly? I’m also a bit confused, will just a bunch of dry rock instantly cycle the tank once I put it in or do I need some established live rock?
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Wow, Thanks for all the info! I think my LFS has RODI water that I could buy so I think I’ll get some from them. Unfortunately I don’t have enough space for a 20 gallon right now but I might be able to upgrade in the future. How do I cure dry rock exactly? I’m also a bit confused, will just a bunch of dry rock instantly cycle the tank once I put it in or do I need some established live rock?
If you use rock that has never been live and is devoid of organic material, you can rinse it and put it straight in your display to start the cycle. That functions much the same way as in fresh, even though the nitrifying bacterias are different types. Add ammonia, wait for the bacteria to show up, etc, etc. There are products like Dr. Tims bottled bacteria that can speed up the cycle for you.

Dry rock that was once live needs to be cured to remove the dead and decaying materials. Live rock that hasn't dried out or traveled far should be able to go straight in the tank. This article cleared up my rock questions pretty comprehensively.
 
Jesterrace
Member
Fishproblem said:
If you use rock that has never been live and is devoid of organic material, you can rinse it and put it straight in your display to start the cycle. That functions much the same way as in fresh, even though the nitrifying bacterias are different types. Add ammonia, wait for the bacteria to show up, etc, etc. There are products like Dr. Tims bottled bacteria that can speed up the cycle for you.

Dry rock that was once live needs to be cured to remove the dead and decaying materials. Live rock that hasn't dried out or traveled far should be able to go straight in the tank. This article cleared up my rock questions pretty comprehensively.
Live Rock should always be cycled unless it's established and being directly transferred from a nearby tank.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Jesterrace said:
Live Rock should always be cycled unless it's established and being directly transferred from a nearby tank.
What if I got mostly dry live rock and then added a piece of Established live rock? Would that help the other rocks become established faster?

I’m thinking that I’ll get some dry rock that’s already been cured and then I’ll order some Caribsea life rock frag zone rocks so I’ll have some established rock to start with. Does this sound ok?
Here are the two things I’m thinking of getting


 
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jkkgron2
Member
Just got back from visiting my LFS. They sell live rock there for a good price and they also have live sand. I’m thinking of getting live sand, 1 pound of live rock and then 9 pounds of dry rock. Does that seem like a good amount? The live sand and the pound of live rock should be enough to keep one clownfish, right?
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Just got back from visiting my LFS. They sell live rock there for a good price and they also have live sand. I’m thinking of getting live sand, 1 pound of live rock and then 9 pounds of dry rock. Does that seem like a good amount? The live sand and the pound of live rock should be enough to keep one clownfish, right?
I think you need to have established a strong bacteria presence in all the rock before adding livestock. I’ve learned that apparently, “nothing in saltwater happens fast”. I hope Jesterrace will confirm or deny, but I think with only one pound of truly live rock, you definitely won’t have a strong enough presence of BB to keep your clown healthy.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
I think you need to have established a strong bacteria presence in all the rock before adding livestock. I’ve learned that apparently, “nothing in saltwater happens fast”. I hope Jesterrace will confirm or deny, but I think with only one pound of truly live rock, you definitely won’t have a strong enough presence of BB to keep your clown healthy.
What about the live sand? Will that have any effect?
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
What about the live sand? Will that have any effect?
Oh that's right! I totally breezed past the part where you mentioned live sand - sorry for being a space cadet! I've read about live sand creating an instant cycle, but I would probably still dose with ammonia and test the water parameters for a few days before I was comfortable adding a fish.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
Oh that's right! I totally breezed past the part where you mentioned live sand - sorry for being a space cadet! I've read about live sand creating an instant cycle, but I would probably still dose with ammonia and test the water parameters for a few days before I was comfortable adding a fish.
I think what I might do is order 20lbs of sand, use 15lbs to help add more bacteria and then I’ll get 2lbs of live rock instead of 1 pound. Does that seem better? I would still wait 3 days but I think doing this will help ensure it’s safe.
 
Fishproblem
Member
I'm only in the planning stages of my build, so I don't have a good practical grasp on the nature of a saltwater cycle. I don't think I can help with that question, but I am really curious to know the answer and the mechanics behind it. If you don't get an answer on this thread, maybe post the specific question as its own thread for help?

So uhhhh... is this gonna be your build thread?(!)
 
StarGirl
Member
The question I have that may help the OP is when you do water changes, They say the water evaporates but not the salt. How do you figure how much salt to put in your change water?
 
Jesterrace
Member
jkkgron2 said:
What if I got mostly dry live rock and then added a piece of Established live rock? Would that help the other rocks become established faster?
Yes, that would work as it gives you a bacteria source, although you run the risk of pests.

StarGirl said:
When its time. Magic wouldn't like that (my female Betta)

The question I have that may help the OP is when you do water changes, They say the water evaporates but not the salt. How do you figure how much salt to put in your change water?
You use a refractometer and follow the directions on the salt crystals. You top up the tank between water changes with fresh (unsalted) RODI water and that keeps your salinity levels balanced between water changes. Here is a refractometer that works well for little cost: https://www.amazon.com/Refractomete...&qid=1604537255&sprefix=ATC+Re,aps,201&sr=8-7
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
I'm only in the planning stages of my build, so I don't have a good practical grasp on the nature of a saltwater cycle. I don't think I can help with that question, but I am really curious to know the answer and the mechanics behind it. If you don't get an answer on this thread, maybe post the specific question as its own thread for help?

So uhhhh... is this gonna be your build thread?(!)
It might end up being my build thread, it depends on how soon I end up getting the tank. If for some reason I don’t use this thread then I’ll tag you once I make a build.

Jesterrace said:
Yes, that would work as it gives you a bacteria source, although you run the risk of pests.
Are there any common pests that could kill the fish? I know my LFS keeps the live rock in a separate area away from any fish.

I think that I’ll get 2-3 pounds of live rock, then 7-8 pounds of dry rock. I’ll also be using 10-15lbs of live sand. For the other supplies I think I need a refractometer, a powerhead, and then possibly a protein skimmer.

I do have a question about the live rock though. If I were to get the Caribsea live rock which is man made would it have the same effect as normal live rock, just without the risk of pests? My LFS sells them for the same price as normal live rock so if it wouldn’t have a big impact on the bacteria I may want to go that route.
 
Jesterrace
Member
jkkgron2 said:
It might end up being my build thread, it depends on how soon I end up getting the tank. If for some reason I don’t use this thread then I’ll tag you once I make a build.


Are there any common pests that could kill the fish? I know my LFS keeps the live rock in a separate area away from any fish.

I think that I’ll get 2-3 pounds of live rock, then 7-8 pounds of dry rock. I’ll also be using 10-15lbs of live sand. For the other supplies I think I need a refractometer, a powerhead, and then possibly a protein skimmer.

I do have a question about the live rock though. If I were to get the Caribsea live rock which is man made would it have the same effect as normal live rock, just without the risk of pests? My LFS sells them for the same price as normal live rock so if it wouldn’t have a big impact on the bacteria I may want to go that route.
It is possible for ich or velvet eggs to be on live rock but it's not super common. Caribsea Life Rock is actually only man made in terms of what it is coated with. Beyond that it's just cured dry rock. I've used it exclusively in both of my tanks and other than dry rock I wouldn't go with anything else. I know some people like bristleworms for clean up crew but I find them repulsive and every time I turn around it seems that someone is doing tank maintenance and ends up getting stung by one in the process. I like the fact that if I need to move or rearrange my rockwork that I'm not going to get stung by a lurking bristleworm. Dry Rock and Caribsea Life Rock are Bristleworm free and don't have the variety of other fun things (ie aiptasia, vermatid snails, <antis shrimp, Gorilla or other Xanthid type crabs, Mojano Anemones). There are some beneficial things (ie brittle stars, feather dusters) but these are things you can add if you really want them. The biggest advantage is that it goes a long way to you controlling what goes in your tank, instead of just taking a roll on the roulette wheel and seeing what you get.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
great! I think I’ll get Caribsea Life rock instead of live rock. Thanks!
 
kanzekatores
Member
Looks like I'm a bit late; I haven't been active for a few weeks. But thanks for the tag. Remember to get a good test kit and keep in mind that periodically buying ro/di adds to the budget.

Stargirl what comes to mind for a 5g saltwater is a clown goby. Might be kind of cool
 
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jkkgron2
Member
What are some common saltwater diseases that I could identify when I get my clownfish?
 
carloz209
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Hi everyone! I’ve been thinking about turning my 10 gallon tank into a saltwater tank but I’m not really sure what I would need for a fish only setup. I already have the tank, lid, filter, and heater but I’m not sure what else I’ll need. I know that I will need live rock and a specific sand? but I’m a bit confused about what else I need. Could someone help explain what I need? I’m not looking to have any corals and I’m planning on keeping a pair of ocellaris clownfish (no idea if I spelled that right). Thanks!
the bottom line is that saltwater is nothing like freshwater. I would strongly suggest if you want to start SW to not start with a tank so small because your parameters will shift drastically and you wont know what to do. You needs lots of research and patience with SW otherwise your in for a really rough and disappointing experience.
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
What are some common saltwater diseases that I could identify when I get my clownfish?
I'd probably start there by googling saltwater fish disease, honestly. they're as many and varied as freshwater, though my understanding is that parasites are much more common because so few saltwater fish are aquacultured.

carloz209 said:
the bottom line is that saltwater is nothing like freshwater. I would strongly suggest if you want to start SW to not start with a tank so small because your parameters will shift drastically and you wont know what to do. You needs lots of research and patience with SW otherwise your in for a really rough and disappointing experience.
Good advice! I'm finding that every step I take with my first SW build has come with days of research, during which I have to also look up ten other related things because there's just so much I don't know. And I don't even have water in the tank yet lol
 
carloz209
Member
Fishproblem said:
I'd probably start there by googling saltwater fish disease, honestly. they're as many and varied as freshwater, though my understanding is that parasites are much more common because so few saltwater fish are aquacultured.


Good advice! I'm finding that every step I take with my first SW build has come with days of research, during which I have to also look up ten other related things because there's just so much I don't know. And I don't even have water in the tank yet lol
id suggest if you really want to get into SW to start the biggest the better. At the very least a 55 gallon tank. start only with the water, rock, heater, filter. Get your salinity at the level it should be dep. on what kind of tank it will be. and start the cycle let it cycle for about 3 months so you get the hang of doing WC. do weekly WC and mix the water outside the tank with 5 gallons buckets you should never mix or add salt directly to the display tank when you have fish in there. track your progress so your temp and salinity are stable for the 3 months so you get into the habit of doing WC and knowing the parameters.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
I think that I’ll be able to do a 20 long instead of a 10 gallon. However, this will be on a budget and I’m not sure how expensive this will get. Right now I’m thinking of doing 20 pounds of live sand, 4 pounds of Caribsea life rock and then 16 pounds of dry rock. Does this seem ok for just one clownfish? I don’t plan on getting any other fish. The other supplies I’ll get are:
Refractometer
Power head (How many gph?)
And a Protein skimmer

Does this sound ok?
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
I think that I’ll be able to do a 20 long instead of a 10 gallon. However, this will be on a budget and I’m not sure how expensive this will get. Right now I’m thinking of doing 20 pounds of live sand, 4 pounds of Caribsea life rock and then 16 pounds of dry rock. Does this seem ok for just one clownfish? I don’t plan on getting any other fish. The other supplies I’ll get are:
Refractometer
Power head (How many gph?)
And a Protein skimmer

Does this sound ok?
a heater, and you'll need a second pump or powerhead + heater to mix salt in case you aren't buying premade from your lfs. even if you do have premade saltwater, you need to heat it to the same temp as the tank water before replacing. i think that sounds like enough rock for a future clown but again, i'm far from an expert or even experienced. you need a test kit, though i believe the freshwater api kit works too. the colors are just a bit different, so you'll need to look that up.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
a heater, and you'll need a second pump or powerhead + heater to mix salt in case you aren't buying premade from your lfs. even if you do have premade saltwater, you need to heat it to the same temp as the tank water before replacing. i think that sounds like enough rock for a future clown but again, i'm far from an expert or even experienced. you need a test kit, though i believe the freshwater api kit works too. the colors are just a bit different, so you'll need to look that up.
Great! I actually already have the tank (just had to figure out where to put it) along with the heater so that part is covered. I’ll make sure to get another powerhead too. I already have the freshwater master kit so maybe I’ll be able to use that (if not I’ll get saltwater). Definitely will get a heater for the new saltwater. Thanks!
 
carloz209
Member
jkkgron2 said:
I think that I’ll be able to do a 20 long instead of a 10 gallon. However, this will be on a budget and I’m not sure how expensive this will get. Right now I’m thinking of doing 20 pounds of live sand, 4 pounds of Caribsea life rock and then 16 pounds of dry rock. Does this seem ok for just one clownfish? I don’t plan on getting any other fish. The other supplies I’ll get are:
Refractometer
Power head (How many gph?)
And a Protein skimmer

Does this sound ok?
Protein skimmers are tricky the best ones are the ones that you ideally place in a sump. HOB skimmers ive heard suck and have many issues so if your going this small a skimmer is not necessary you can supplement it with a better filter. I personally have a 29 cube and no skimmer.
20 pounds of rock is perfect its recommended 1 pound per gallon. if you wanted you could have a pair of clowns.
For testing yes a refractometer to test the salinity. a test kit that tests the PH for starters if your taking my advice and starting slow with a 3 month cycle and no fish till after 3 months than you really dont need to test for much more at the beginning. slowly accumulate more test kits as your budget permits. In my case i strongly recommend getting a kit to test for Alkalinity, Phosphate and if you wanted get the reef api test kit since it has Phosphate, nitrate calcium and hardness. Unless you dont plan on having corals. Ask yourself if you want corals in your tank later down the road if so then you need to look into reef tank.

Power heads and flow is tricky me personally in my 29 i have two powerhead of 480gph each and i find that is enough so it should do for yours i got them at amazon the aquaneat pumps they come in pair.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
carloz209 said:
Protein skimmers are tricky the best ones are the ones that you ideally place in a sump. HOB skimmers ive heard suck and have many issues so if your going this small a skimmer is not necessary you can supplement it with a better filter. I personally have a 29 cube and no skimmer.
20 pounds of rock is perfect its recommended 1 pound per gallon. if you wanted you could have a pair of clowns.
For testing yes a refractometer to test the salinity. a test kit that tests the PH for starters if your taking my advice and starting slow with a 3 month cycle and no fish till after 3 months than you really dont need to test for much more at the beginning. slowly accumulate more test kits as your budget permits. In my case i strongly recommend getting a kit to test for Alkalinity, Phosphate and if you wanted get the reef api test kit since it has Phosphate, nitrate calcium and hardness. Unless you dont plan on having corals. Ask yourself if you want corals in your tank later down the road if so then you need to look into reef tank.

Power heads and flow is tricky me personally in my 29 i have two powerhead of 480gph each and i find that is enough so it should do for yours i got them at amazon the aquaneat pumps they come in pair.
Ok, sounds good. I don’t think I will do the 3 month cycle but the reason I was thinking one clown is because it wouldn’t have a huge bio load so it might be easier to add and not have a ammonia spike vs. two clowns. I feel like 20 pounds of live sand and 4 pounds of live rock plus 16 pounds of dry rock would be able to support a clown but I definitely could be wrong. How much live rock do you think I should start with if I were to add the clown after a few days?
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Ok, sounds good. I don’t think I will do the 3 month cycle but the reason I was thinking one clown is because it wouldn’t have a huge bio load so it might be easier to add and not have a ammonia spike vs. two clowns. I feel like 20 pounds of live sand and 4 pounds of live rock plus 16 pounds of dry rock would be able to support a clown but I definitely could be wrong. How much live rock do you think I should start with if I were to add the clown after a few days?
I actually wouldn't add the clown right away either, as you're going to need to get used to topping off and maintaining the salinity. You might already have one from freshwater, but do you have a lid? Gotta make sure the fish doesn't jump!
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
I actually wouldn't add the clown right away either, as you're going to need to get used to topping off and maintaining the salinity. You might already have one from freshwater, but do you have a lid? Gotta make sure the fish doesn't jump!
Yup! It has a lid along with lighting that came with the lid. How long do you recommend I wait?
 
kanzekatores
Member
My clowns don't have huge bioload, so you shouldn't worry too much about if it will get out of control with 2 rather than 1. I think a pair is always a better choice, and clowns add a lot of personality to the tank. Plus that was you could get two different kinds.
 
Jesterrace
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Just got back from visiting my LFS. They sell live rock there for a good price and they also have live sand. I’m thinking of getting live sand, 1 pound of live rock and then 9 pounds of dry rock. Does that seem like a good amount? The live sand and the pound of live rock should be enough to keep one clownfish, right?
You can do it with 1lb of live rock, it just might take a bit longer for the biofilter to establish. Personally though I would go with caribsea life rock over actual live rock. That way you get bacteria benefits without the potential to introduce pests to the tank and it tends to be a hair cheaper than Live Rock anyways. Also make sure you cure that dry rock well (ie scrub down well in RODI Water) or you will have phosphate leeching problems. You will see how bad it can be once you put it in RODI for the first time (water goes super cloudy with all the residue).
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Yup! It has a lid along with lighting that came with the lid. How long do you recommend I wait?
Personally, I'm going to take my time letting my tank cycle and use that time (probably a full month at least) to get used to the evaporation rate and keeping up on top-offs. If the cycle is faster than that, I'll still dose ammonia or whatever and keep practicing if I can muster the patience. I'd hate to lose a coral just because I didn't wait until I was ready to care for it. I'm not sure what the process looks like for you with live rock, but I wouldn't want to hit new fish with a bunch of salinity swings because of inexperience. Remember! Nothing good ever happens fast!
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
Personally, I'm going to take my time letting my tank cycle and use that time (probably a full month at least) to get used to the evaporation rate and keeping up on top-offs. If the cycle is faster than that, I'll still dose ammonia or whatever and keep practicing if I can muster the patience. I'd hate to lose a coral just because I didn't wait until I was ready to care for it. I'm not sure what the process looks like for you with live rock, but I wouldn't want to hit new fish with a bunch of salinity swings because of inexperience. Remember! Nothing good ever happens fast!
Im curious, as long as I keep the salinity levels the same each time i do a water change (my LFS sells saltwater and the salinity levels are almost always the same each time they make the saltwater. I’m also getting a refractometer) and only use RODI for top offs wouldn’t that prevent any swings?

Because the clownfish has such a small bioload for a 20 gallon tank I feel like waiting a week or two might be sufficient because I’m already using 20 pounds of live sand, 16 pounds of dry rock, and 4 pounds of live rock. If that’s not the case then I can wait longer. I definitely don’t want to hurt any fish!
 
Fishproblem
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Im curious, as long as I keep the salinity levels the same each time i do a water change (my LFS sells saltwater and the salinity levels are almost always the same each time they make the saltwater. I’m also getting a refractometer) and only use RODI for top offs wouldn’t that prevent any swings?

Because the clownfish has such a small bioload for a 20 gallon tank I feel like waiting a week or two might be sufficient because I’m already using 20 pounds of live sand, 16 pounds of dry rock, and 4 pounds of live rock. If that’s not the case then I can wait longer. I definitely don’t want to hurt any fish!
It should! But you have to get to know how frequently to top off to avoid a bigger swing, you know?
I'm sure there are people who have done it the way you want to. I'm just cautious.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Fishproblem said:
It should! But you have to get to know how frequently to top off to avoid a bigger swing, you know?
I'm sure there are people who have done it the way you want to. I'm just cautious.
This tank is going to be in a place where people will see it really often so I’ll be topping it off a ton (not just once a week. Basically whenever it goes below where the rim is) to both prevent swings and also just for its appearance. Do I need a mesh lid? Right now I have one of those plastic lids that came with a 20 long kit. I’m not sure if it’d work for saltwater but if it would then I feel like there wouldn’t be too much evaporation.
 
Rcslade124
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Im curious, as long as I keep the salinity levels the same each time i do a water change (my LFS sells saltwater and the salinity levels are almost always the same each time they make the saltwater. I’m also getting a refractometer) and only use RODI for top offs wouldn’t that prevent any swings?

Because the clownfish has such a small bioload for a 20 gallon tank I feel like waiting a week or two might be sufficient because I’m already using 20 pounds of live sand, 16 pounds of dry rock, and 4 pounds of live rock. If that’s not the case then I can wait longer. I definitely don’t want to hurt any fish!
Your plan for top off works. An ato is an amazing thing. Most tanks evaporate 1-3% a day. I spent 3 months filling one gallon a day. Winter evaporation is worse because heaters work a little more. 4lbs of live rock if it's from the ocean will support 2 clownfish from the start. Welcome to the salty side
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Rcslade124 said:
Your plan for top off works. An ato is an amazing thing. Most tanks evaporate 1-3% a day. I spent 3 months filling one gallon a day. Winter evaporation is worse because heaters work a little more. 4lbs of live rock if it's from the ocean will support 2 clownfish from the start. Welcome to the salty side
Thanks! Its actually Caribsea life rock (to prevent pests) but I think that along with the sand it should still work.
 
Rcslade124
Member
If it's life rock and sand yes I would add ammonia and do fishless cycle. On a 20 g you can load the rock with bacteria and do a large water change just like freshwater. For me I had to sparingly add ammonia to try to mitigate the amount of nitrates. 140g total it would have cost me over 100$ to change 75%. So great it like freshwater add ammonia. Once ammonia is depleted in 24 hrs it is safe to add fish. Nitrites are non toxic from the sodium bicarbonate. They are still harmful but the saltwater neutralize it. 1ppm ammonia in 24 hrs large water change and you can add clowns. Then just monitor
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Rcslade124 said:
If it's life rock and sand yes I would add ammonia and do fishless cycle. On a 20 g you can load the rock with bacteria and do a large water change just like freshwater. For me I had to sparingly add ammonia to try to mitigate the amount of nitrates. 140g total it would have cost me over 100$ to change 75%. So great it like freshwater add ammonia. Once ammonia is depleted in 24 hrs it is safe to add fish. Nitrites are non toxic from the sodium bicarbonate. They are still harmful but the saltwater neutralize it. 1ppm ammonia in 24 hrs large water change and you can add clowns. Then just monitor
Sounds good. How long do you think it’d take? Also, is Dr. Tim’s Ammonium chloride still good for saltwater? I know people use it for freshwater but I’m not sure if there would be a difference or something. Thanks!

EDIT: If I were to use real live rock, would it have a different effect and make it so there would be more bacteria? If so, how do I avoid any unwanted pests?
 
carloz209
Member
jkkgron2 said:
Yup! It has a lid along with lighting that came with the lid. How long do you recommend I wait?
You need to wait till the nitrogen cycle has completed at the very least. SW fish are far more sensitive to ammonia and nitrites than FW fish are. you can either speed up the cycle by doing ghost feedings or chemically with the Dr Tims products thats suppose to start the cycle and add the beneficial bacteria. im sure you know what the nitrogen cycle entails and how it works so as soon as you have that beneficial bacteria in the filter you can effectively add fish if you wanted to.
 
  • Thread Starter
jkkgron2
Member
Rcslade124 said:
If it's life rock and sand yes I would add ammonia and do fishless cycle. On a 20 g you can load the rock with bacteria and do a large water change just like freshwater. For me I had to sparingly add ammonia to try to mitigate the amount of nitrates. 140g total it would have cost me over 100$ to change 75%. So great it like freshwater add ammonia. Once ammonia is depleted in 24 hrs it is safe to add fish. Nitrites are non toxic from the sodium bicarbonate. They are still harmful but the saltwater neutralize it. 1ppm ammonia in 24 hrs large water change and you can add clowns. Then just monitor
Sorry for posting again, but I think I need to specific what I meant. I noticed you had said that live rock will be able to support the fish from the start and that life rock will take a lot more time. I have access to both so if the live rock will be able to support the fish better then should I get that instead? If so, how do I prevent unwanted pests?
carloz209 said:
You need to wait till the nitrogen cycle has completed at the very least. SW fish are far more sensitive to ammonia and nitrites than FW fish are. you can either speed up the cycle by doing ghost feedings or chemically with the Dr Tims products thats suppose to start the cycle and add the beneficial bacteria. im sure you know what the nitrogen cycle entails and how it works so as soon as you have that beneficial bacteria in the filter you can effectively add fish if you wanted to.
I thought that the live rock and live sand was the filter? If so then wouldn’t I just need to get established live rock? Sorry for all the questions. I want to make sure I understand everything before I actually start getting the stuff.
 
Rcslade124
Member
Life rock has painted bacteria. It will release slowly in time. Live rock from the ocean will have bacteria in it and all kinds of life to support a tank. Cycled rock from a fish tank is about the same as live rock from the ocean but not teaming with actual ocean bacteria. So live rock from the ocean or cycled rock from a holding bin can support life. Life rock will need cycled.
 
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jkkgron2
Member
Rcslade124 said:
Life rock has painted bacteria. It will release slowly in time. Live rock from the ocean will have bacteria in it and all kinds of life to support a tank. Cycled rock from a fish tank is about the same as live rock from the ocean but not teaming with actual ocean bacteria. So live rock from the ocean or cycled rock from a holding bin can support life. Life rock will need cycled.
My LFS has a TON of live rock for sale so I think I’ll be able to get about 4 pounds of it. The main issue is the pests. I keep reading about people who got aiptasia, mantis shrimp, or some other pest because of live rock. Is there some way I can remove the pests but not kill the bacteria on the rock?
 
Rcslade124
Member
Qt the rock for a few weeks. But if it's in a lfs then it's most likely apista you will have to worry about. You can also just run a cycle it's much faster in saltwater about 30 days.
 
  • Thread Starter
jkkgron2
Member
Rcslade124 said:
Qt the rock for a few weeks. But if it's in a lfs then it's most likely apista you will have to worry about. You can also just run a cycle it's much faster in saltwater about 30 days.
Wow, that really is faster! I did however find someone selling a huge live rock for only $40. I think if I got it then I’d have more than enough for the 20 gallon. It would come with a coral attached but I think I could remove the coral? Either way I would have more than enough and I didn’t see any aptasia on it. It seemed like the tank didn’t have any fish in it and was a coral grow out tank (had lots of coral frags and just didn’t seem like a display tank) so that would help rule out some fish diseases. Do you think I should get it? It looked huge so it’d solve my problem of getting live rock.
 

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