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Atkinson

Advice on starting a salt water tank

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Hi all I'm new to this, I'm looking at starting a salt water tank.

i won't a tank with fish and coral.

I'm just after any advice and a brake down on a set up.

I won't to get a 6 foot tank just a bit Nervous on it all.

Thanks

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Firstly,can you do anything with glass and are you prepared to work the glass your self for the exits and pre filters and external bio filter-sump.This will save you a lot of money!

Things to buy, if you have the aquarium already then these costs are around what you would-be looking at.

· The following are the bulk of what you need to have all marine life forms exist easily. After what follows, the rest are bio media, pipes, filter wools, tubes,algae and silicon and so and so on.

Okay you need-

· Specific gravity tester. Some will say to get a refractometry and why not if you want one, but it is not necessary, if your waters are between 23c to 27c the specific gravity tester is always accurate to half a point.

· Test kits for nitrite during cycling, nitrate for down the track, phosphate, PH, alkalinity for always and testing for ammonia is useless if you make up or buy or collect your water correctly and your bio filter is done right.

· A chiller that can handle at least a six foot tank, there is the sump water as well to cool.

· Two high wattage heaters.

· LED lighting of a simple on off 80 degree blue and white 3 watt diode type from china maybe, three panels $500 to $600 all up will sustain all types of corals for a six by two by two-foot tank.

· Circulation pumps and return pump, age of aquariums would be best suited to answer that. You will need wave maker style propeller pumps of at least two, one each end and best to have another, possibly one dead centre on always in the aquarium and one return pump of no less then 3 thousand litres per hour.

· A small but highly functional internal protein skimmer,( I would put at the end of your sump) they would be around $200 to $300 at the cheapest.

· Oh and a generator, the way things are going with global warming, this will be essential one day.

It’s a very easy hobby to get going really well and have none of these silly parasite problems.

Just remember, lots of surface area to house biological communities to keep fish healthy and lots of algae out side of the aquarium keep phosphorus and live rock toxins at near zero.

You see a phosphate test kit, tests for phosphorus and if you have abundant phosphorus that tests as phosphates, you are wasting your time with corals or trying to keep colour in your anemones.

Edited by liquidg

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Donny is right, they are not cheap, but don't bother with a marine aquarium with out a chiller or at least air con in summer!

When the saltwater with an aquarium gets to 26c,the water-soluble waste products become more toxic as the temps rise, by 29c there are problems that will show sometimes with in a day to as long away as a year.

Also bacteria and protists in a fish only aquarium that condition the waters to enable fish to exist there over the long term, will be affected in many different ways. As these water conditioners adjust to changes, the aquariums PH will suffer and if that happens every thing is at risk!

Marine fish have a problem existing in saltwater, the waters that they swim in is continually trying to enter them osmoticly, this takes in the salt and they are at risk of death.

For this they drink immense amounts of the water they swim in to off set the possible problem.

When they drink they expel the salt on an ionic level via two organs so it’s of no concern. What is the concern is that most of what is in the water gets into their blood stream from this. Nitrate in their blood causes the slow death of brown blood disease or cortisol poisoning from their adreno gland production. This also comes from stress from what ever and that can mean a thousand other reasons they died from cortisol poisoning.

Cortisol weakens the immune system and that’s why your fish get white spot and or velvet, no other reason!

All our pet fish that were not predated on or jumped out will die from cortisol poisoning in a day to several years, if you don’t do it right.

It sounds a bit much mate, but it is very easy really to sit back and watch your marine life age and thrive.

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Atkinson

I have just finished converting my 6 ft display to Salt, Donny is right, when all things considered, if you want coral and fish, have at least $5000 ready and a few mare 100's each month for the next few months to stock it and keep it alive, BUT WELL WORTH IT (I alsoready had the tank, stand, pumps and heaters)

all in all the advice this forum and Donny has given me is right on the money,

the only advise I will give you, if you want to do it right, forget doing it on the cheap, buy mid to best qualty,

also foget trying to do it too quickly, slow and steady, if you are told to cycle your tank (highly recomended) do so, this can take 4-8 weeks,

watching the shows currently on tv where the tank is set and full of fish in 1 day are missleading, they use natural sea waters, sumps that have been cyclying for months even years in the factory.

forget the additives the pet shops want to sell you, they only want to sell you the fish quicly then too,

just wait the result will be better.

I suggest the following 4 placesto buy your stuff from, they have givem me the support and prices are fair

online

Ben and Donny (AOA) forum sponsor

Clint at the coralshop.com.au

thereefshop.com.au (online)

Shop front

fur and fins burpengary

there would be many more out there, but make sure you shop arround and ask questions from other members

last advise, a few cheap corals and fish <$100 for the fist few weeks after the cycle, see if they live then start spending the money

the main difference between salt and fresh, is you need to build the eco system in your tank, you need the fish, coral, cleaners, snails, shrimp, crabs, cucumbers, (brittle) star fish etc to keep it clean

if you make your own salt, buy the RO DI filter yourself, don't use tap water or rain water

Ben

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Thanks Ben, lol now I got a big head!

I like this thread, lots of good advice indeed.

In my experience its the people who learn the most about how the technology works that have the best success, rather than those with the latest toys.

Although the latest toys surely do make it all a lot easier!

Like any aquarium I break it all down into 3 areas........ chemistry, nutrition and compatability.

The key to perfecting all 3 is to work out what you want to achieve after 6 months BEFORE you start buying equipment, and certainly before you start buying livestock.

Match the environment you are creating in the tank, with the environment the livestock inhabit in the wild and it will be an easy tank!

if you do that, you just have to focus on getting the little things right.

Solving problems is exhausting, preventing them patience and research is rewarding. You often dont know what you did right as it just wont be an issue.......... but you will certainly know when you make a mistake and things go pear shaped!

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Hey guys,

After watching nemo for almost 4 days straight (my boy is 2) my wife (shock horror) said we should get a marine tank with nemo's dories and others like that lol

I was like, it is expensive and i would have to remove my 4ft fresh water tank. she is kinda ok with that.

current fresh water tank is a 4ft 200 litre thing (havent measured the size of the tank for ages) has a ehime 2213 filter, 300w heater and a standard t5/t8 light.

If i was to update this tank to be marine, would i need to replace the filter with something else and get a chiller and better light, (i know a chiller is more for coral than marine fish)

also i am very into the whole mini ecosystem of fish tanks. atm in my tank i have plants and different fish to do different jobs in the tank, i was testing the water every week with all the tests (nitrates, ammonia, nitrites and PH) and they where all stable for like months and months so i have stopped that lol. and i havent had to add anything for months and not even clean the tank very happy how it is all going atm

anyway, what i am concerned about (if and when i do go marine) is to mix my own salt water. I am a person that likes to do it on the cheap, and with 2 young children costs do need to be low. I thought it was just as simple as getting town or rain water and mixing in the right amount of salt for the water to be correct. but Ben said to get a RO DI and then add the salt? is that how it is done? or does the RO DI adds the salt automatically? and with freshwater i know if u have issues with water quality u can do a 50% water change, does this apply with marine, or if u need that much of water change u are doing something wrong?

Thanks

and i know there is a few questions in there (kinda go onto a tangent lol) but thanks for trying to answer

Gareth

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I have had a 40litre saltwater for 4 years. It has 2 clowns and a dwarf angel and basic corals. Just an all in one with overhead filter. The first thing I done was remove the lid and buy aqualina lighting. Apart from that it's stock no skimmer, no chiller, no sump and no problems but its in an aircon room. I do weekly water changes with seawater and it has around 15kg of live rock. Saltwater is fairly simple BUT water parameters and research are key. I was supposed to upgrade the 5x2x2 but that will be full reef so around $5000 to convert that over.

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Yeah, maybe i will just do a small 2ft or 3ft tank. just with my experience with smaller tanks is that it can be harder to control water parameters with a smaller tank. although that was with my work tank which we over stocked and did cycle the tank (the guys where a bit keen to get it going and i was not as wise as i am now with cycling tanks etc)

just had a look at the all in ones

http://www.aquariumproducts.com.au/catalogue_products.php?prodID=6417&catID=115

looks like an awesome little setup.

how many fish with corals could i have in there. like 2 nemos and a Blue Tang and a starfish and a puffer fish :P

correct me if i have too much or if they are compatible or not. i am using ur knowledge a bit without researching fish but meh :)

Edited by Yoshi

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Hi mate thats an awesome tank. Mine was $50 lol. A blue tang would get to big and dont know alot about the puffer and starfish but I would limit it to 3 fish tops. As you said small tanks do crash quickly which is why I figured if I could keep this one alive the big one would be no trouble. Sort of dipping my feet in saltwater without killing the credit card lol.

Cheers mick

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Hey guys,

After watching nemo for almost 4 days straight (my boy is 2) my wife (shock horror) said we should get a marine tank with nemo's dories and others like that lol

I was like, it is expensive and i would have to remove my 4ft fresh water tank. she is kinda ok with that.

current fresh water tank is a 4ft 200 litre thing (havent measured the size of the tank for ages) has a ehime 2213 filter, 300w heater and a standard t5/t8 light.

If i was to update this tank to be marine, would i need to replace the filter with something else and get a chiller and better light, (i know a chiller is more for coral than marine fish)

also i am very into the whole mini ecosystem of fish tanks. atm in my tank i have plants and different fish to do different jobs in the tank, i was testing the water every week with all the tests (nitrates, ammonia, nitrites and PH) and they where all stable for like months and months so i have stopped that lol. and i havent had to add anything for months and not even clean the tank very happy how it is all going atm

anyway, what i am concerned about (if and when i do go marine) is to mix my own salt water. I am a person that likes to do it on the cheap, and with 2 young children costs do need to be low. I thought it was just as simple as getting town or rain water and mixing in the right amount of salt for the water to be correct. but Ben said to get a RO DI and then add the salt? is that how it is done? or does the RO DI adds the salt automatically? and with freshwater i know if u have issues with water quality u can do a 50% water change, does this apply with marine, or if u need that much of water change u are doing something wrong?

Thanks

and i know there is a few questions in there (kinda go onto a tangent lol) but thanks for trying to answer

Gareth

The mini eco system is how I do it as well; of the self-sustaining type, it is so i can do away with water changes that way, but it will not work with out temperature control!

You can mix just salt with tap water or rain water to a salinity level of 1.024, but with that you can not keep symbiotic life at all, that includes hard corals, soft corals, anemones and more.

For water changes you could buy some buckets from bunnings and take the kids and wife for a picnic at places like Cleveland point for when you need a water change.

It’s in this link and there are more sites of good quality waters to come.

Best water change sites in south east Queensland!

Salt water needs to be well understood to achieve a self sustaining marine eco system at home, on the other hand a marine eco system that requires vigilance as most have, needs to be done right or it will cost you more and more over time. When you take on symbiotic life forms as part of your marine pets, it is not simple or cheap any more.

RO water is filtered to the degree of being 99.9.9.9.9 free of all elements added to tap water, as many of these elements will kill symbiotic life.RO-reverse osmosis takes out the salt and much more leaving near pure hydrogen and oxygen.

50 percent water changes are fine if you want to do them that large and yes water changes are needed some times when mistakes are made or just a normal water change regime is in place.

You need to understand why you do water changes and how this affects life in salt water as well.

Small tanks are not hard to control parameters, if you put in place the needed forms of biological control of your waters and have 100 percent temperature control, its very easy! Another thing, don’t loose power for to long, that is crises time for marine life at home.

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Another thing, don’t loose power for to long, that is crises time for marine life at home.

yeah, throughout everything that has happened over the past 4 years in Brisbane we have never lost power. (touch wood)

It looks like it is a bit more work than my community tropical tank at home. it is like a lazy mans tank where i really dont do anything to it now, I just top it up with tap water and maybe trim back some java moss. but other than that it just handles its self.

I have no problem spending some money on like a marine setup to be a self sustaining, but it seems a bit more complicated than tropical fresh water. (plants + fish + canister filter = fish Seaciety (get the joke :P) )

so is marine, soft coral + hard coral + fish + light = mini eco system?

oooohhhhh Just read what live rock is used for.... its the biological filter, does that mean u still need biological filtering in a trickle sump like in that aquarium which i linked above? or is the sump more of a fail safe?

Edited by Yoshi

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Hi liquidg. Mate I could pick your brains for hours lol, so the way I read that is if I run a chiller, uv and skimmer I could lessen my water changes and just do evaporation top ups with ro water? Is doing a water change every week a bad thing as I am messing with it to much? I only have morphs in the tank but they are multiplying and I have a good coverage of red coralline algae that has little corals starting to come up. I stopped using my skimmer after 3 months as it never collected anything. I love how their is so much more to learn.

Cheers mick

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I'm really impressed with this thread - I've been toying with the idea of doing a little 2 foot tank in salt with just a lone stonefish that keeps eyeing me off at my lfs - the idea of all the extras puts me off but if he can live without coral sounds much easier to manage especially if I can can mix up my own salt water

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Yoshi

so is marine, soft coral + hard coral + fish + light = mini eco system?

No its not, they just call it that, but its not ecologically sound at all, it needs many forms of support to condition waters and its not always enough!

So most throw away polluted waters, as a water changes rather then have something in the water absorbing, converting and using these substances. The using,is reproducing their own kind, as in reproduction. So the new algae, you cut out and throw away and you throw away the phosphorus, orthophsphates, which is used to make their flesh. One draw back to using algae, they have a strong calcium carbonate content, that means you have to add some of what they take out, back in.

Yoshi

it is like a lazy mans tank where i really dont do anything to it now, I just top it up with tap water and maybe trim back some java moss. but other than that it just handles its self.

This is how mine is done. I do have to clean pre filters each day and trim algae each 7 to 9 days and add some home made elements that the algae takes out.It can all be very easy.

A sump is very important and yes it is sort of a fail safe and you will need it!!

Edited by liquidg

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Hi liquidg. Mate I could pick your brains for hours lol, so the way I read that is if I run a chiller, uv and skimmer I could lessen my water changes and just do evaporation top ups with ro water? Is doing a water change every week a bad thing as I am messing with it to much? I only have morphs in the tank but they are multiplying and I have a good coverage of red coralline algae that has little corals starting to come up. I stopped using my skimmer after 3 months as it never collected anything. I love how their is so much more to learn.

Cheers mick

Encrusting corallines,zoas and morphs are very easy to keep,infact if you can keep sps easily, these do not do quite as good normally.Its a good start though,your elemental levels must be okay to get ubundant encrusting coraline.They are the true calcium suckers in reef tanks.

The only way to do with out water changes for the long term is to provide what nature does for all of life’s waste on the planet, plant life! This is how nature does it combined with bacterial and protist control. We already have aerobe life which includes protists and anaerobe life in the anoxic and anaerobic zones helping to run our aquariums water to the end result of nitrogen. The problem is they do everything reaching the stages of in organics. Once the organics are removed you are left with phosphorus, orthophosphates to name a few that are classed as inorganic. Orthophosphates give you cyano and hair algae in particular and ortho can not be tested for with any test kits available to us hobbyists.

Plant life is the only natural way to import-absorb and convert all of what a bio filter in your aquarium leaves behind.

Plant life, especially single celled bulbus algae forms with in the ocean that really on exact temperatures, are the best way to try and copy what phytoplankton achieves in the ocean.

This is the conversion or the 60 percent of earths CO2 back before we started killing off phytoplankton and it was providing most of earths oxygen as a bi product of conversion using photosynthesis

.UV sterilises do very little for the aquarium, in fact they are detrimental to symbiotic life and bacterial stability!

Bacteriophages are essential in controlling bacteria issues in all waters, not just salt water and the sterilisers disrupt their DNA as well as anything else that pass on the light. That includes planktonic life in your waters that does some feeding of corals. The protists white spot and velvet are not the only things to be hit with the intense radiation from sterilises! There are simple ways to control them with natural measures any way.

With skimmers, I did away with them many years ago, but if it is not gathering gunk, it is not set up right. I replaced my water skimming after around 6 years of making and using them, with algae, which took many years to perfect and it was not easy to get it right, to have nature looking after my water. To this day most don’t believe it is possible to do it that way! Which is quite funny, it is happening around them each and every day.

Edited by liquidg

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Yeah, maybe i will just do a small 2ft or 3ft tank. just with my experience with smaller tanks is that it can be harder to control water parameters with a smaller tank. although that was with my work tank which we over stocked and did cycle the tank (the guys where a bit keen to get it going and i was not as wise as i am now with cycling tanks etc)

just had a look at the all in ones

Age of Aquariums - Aquatic Style Nano Marine Cube Set - White

looks like an awesome little setup.

how many fish with corals could i have in there. like 2 nemos and a Blue Tang and a starfish and a puffer fish :P

correct me if i have too much or if they are compatible or not. i am using ur knowledge a bit without researching fish but meh :)

These are very nice setups, and I will be setting one up at AOA over the next few weeks.

Drop in and have a chat if you like.

I am going for a very simple but I hope impressive setup.

As already mentioned dory needs a larger tank. Puffers are also a potential problem, but even the chilled out ones like saddleback toby need heavy feeding........ something I am going to avoid.

A starfish is certainly an option. I am planning on an orange one, and maybe even a cool stripey brittlestar as well.

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