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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2004
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starter things to get for a salt tank.

im currently tanking a class on salt water, & very interested in it.. i didnt know if anyone could tell me a list of things you need to start your set up. also any good books like salt water tanks for dummies?? all the help i can get will be great!!! thanks a lot!!!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 06:47 AM
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there is a saltwater aquariums for dummies book out. I haven't read it, but some of the "for dummies" books are fairly good.

For your set up ....

tank 30gal or more
crushed coral (instead of the pretty colored gravel)
sea salt (instant ocean)
undergravel filter
backflow filter
power heads
test kits (for ph and salinity)
special aquarium light
saltwater safe decorations

when you go to set up the tank after you've ran it for a good few days you can use black mollies to establish the needed bacteria in your tank. They can live in salt water and are far cheaper than the blue damsels.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 04:09 PM
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Lightbulb Re: starter things to get for a salt tank.

Here's some info I got offline awhile ago (don't remember the source though) Hope it helps

Many people wish to start a marine aquarium. Cost seems to be the prohibitive factor. Understandable when you consider the higher costs to begin with, Then you factor in poor planning, bad information, and mistakes. Gets expensive fast.

Instead of generalities with this article, I am going to be specific. I am not going to give any magic advice on how to save money. It can't be done. You can further your budget with some good DIY work, but you can't cut corners. There are bare essentials that must be included for the average Reefer. Yes, I said Reefer. We are going to build a nice little reef tank, step by step. If you are impatient, or faint at the thought of spending money, you can quit reading now. But let me tell you, the satisfaction is worth the money and patience.

What size tank. Our Dream tank will be a 30gal, 36" long 16" high, and 12" deep. Long and shallow is better than narrow and tall. This fact is in consideration of lighting. Lighting is the key factor in marine tanks. Ideally, three foot bulbs should fit over your tank. Likewise, a tank that is not overly tall will have better light penetration. You will also need a stand, and a canopy. Here is where DIY skills, and a little cunning will save you some money. A stand is a necessity. When you have your system looking good, you aren't gonna want to move it unless you absolutely have to. Besides, after a few years, you will easily have thousands of dollars worth of livestock in it. You don't want to proudly display this on an old TV stand, do you? Besides, you will need the stand to hide your sump and all the other equipment that goes with keeping marines.

So, the order I would do it in. Plan where the tank will go. Reef tanks require power like you have never seen. Our tank will have 300 watts of light, two powerheads, a return pump, heater and skimmer. This is minimum.

Now we are going to research. We are going to dream of all the different types of life we will keep while we are researching. And while we are researching, we are going to buy our stuff piece by piece. Here is where the patience comes in. This step will encompass a year or more to the financially frugal.

The tank is the obvious first choice. Followed next by the stand. On the stand, here is an opportunity to go custom. And I would build my stand at least 30" tall. Then I would build my canopy and lighting. Big DIY savings here. Total cost so far is not too much different than a typical freshwater system. Once at this point, you can even use your system for tropicals until you have gathered the rest of your equipment
Now I would get the biggest heavy duty plastic tub that I could get in my stand for a sump. Next I would get an overflow box for the back. This siphons water off the main tank, and sends it to the sump. Now you need pumps. Two nice moderate, (100-200gph), powerheads will work. We will place these in opposing corners. Now we need a larger pump for the main return from the sump. Lets say around 750gph give or take a little. Now that you have all your tanks and pumps, hard plumb them. It is fairly cheap to do, and well worth the effort. You are still running tropicals, Now you can place a DIY filter in your sump, and lose whatever you were running previously for the tropicals. Here is also where I would spring for the submersible heater for your sump, and get it out of the tank.

OK. A little summary here. You are now running a high tech tropical tank. This has helped keep you from being impatient. You really don't have much more money into it at this point than you would if it was a tropical fish tank

Now gather together this stuff, and put it in a closet till you have it all. First, buy a good quality plastic trash can. You will use this to mix saltwater and can store your further purchases in it, and later, your extra equipment.

Now we are getting to the most debated piece of hardware in a reef system. The skimmer. You can have a well planned DIY skimmer for under a hundred dollars, or spend easily, 400 bucks on a new high tech model. Recently gurus have gone to great lengths to prove that you can't overskim a tank. So get or build the largest one practical. That way, when you upgrade your tank,(trust me), you will be ok in this department.

You will want enough substrate to cover the bottom of the tank to about a four inch depth. I would purchase crushed arogonite for this. A 25lb bag should be close.

Next, I would get enough instant ocean sea salt to make at least 50 gallons of seawater.

Test kits. Get a master test kit, along with a good hygrometer.

The purpose of this article is to answer mostly financial, and equipment questions, Therefore, I will leave out the chemistry part of it. That doesn't cost you anything but a little sanity.

Now that you have gathered everything you ned for a fish only system, it is time to switch over.

Clean out your tank really well.

Fill your trash can with acceptable water. put a powerhead in it to circulate the water. Start adding salt. This is where you will be amazed. I was at the amount of salt there is in seawater. It will take a while for all the salt to dissolve. You may have to stir the can occasionally. A note here. Mix it on the light side. It is easier to add more salt later, than to try to thin it out.

Whike this is happening, add your substrate to your cleaned tank. 4" remember.

Now start adding your mixed water to the tank. Get it full, get all the pumps working properly, and turn your heater/s on. Once your tank is up to 78 degrees, and is crystal clear, check your salinity, adjust as necessary. Once your salinity and ph are good, you can add fish.

Here is where it is best to deal with a lfs that will let you return your fish after cycling. Among the best/hardiest fish to cycle with are Damsels. The are also inexpensive. I would get two for a tank this size.

Cycling is much the same as for tropical fish. The harmful waste to harmless waste conversion is the same.

I haven't run the skimmer yet because I want the beneficial bacteria to get a good foothold. Once all the tests show good, I can take my Damsels back, and get the fish I adore. Now is the time to start your skimmer.

You are now the proud owner of a Fish Only,(FO), system!

Now, you can add more lighting to your hood, and get some live rock. A pound here and a pound there. Just the good looking quality stuff.

You are now the proud owner of a Fish Only with Live Rock,(FOWL), tank.

Now you are starting to accumulate a lot of live rock. You may need another lighting upgrade, depending on how far you went the last two times. Once you get over a pound per gallon of live rock, you can remove all filter media. The live rock will harbor all the beneficial bacteria you need, and the skimmer will remove the excess organic compounds. Also, if your live rock has not successfully seeded your deep sand bed,(DSB), you will want to get a bag of live sand. This will introduce "critters" into your system. You are shooting for an ecological balance. You will need crabs, snails, sea cucombers, brittle stars, etc. Normally called a clean-up crew. You can get good package deals on these

You now are the proud owner of a Reef tank.

You can now start spending you childs college tuition on corals and many other cool things. But now chemistry really rears its ugly head. There are many parameters to keep up on when you get a full blown reef system with all the corals. But it is worth it.

This is a real basic set-up. Meant to be easily understood. Your research that I strongly advise you do will bring forth as many questions as answers. But there are many good places around ready with good advice. And reefers seem to be the most dedicated bunch there is.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-12-2004, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2004
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yup yup, we arent starting anything until after we have reaserched & reasearched!! i have seen too many bad cases of people impluse buy something & kill it, & like everyone has said its an expensive hobby. i am currently taking a class for it, & am learning a lot. i just want to know if anyone has any tricks or what have you.
we are planning on the tank being our 45 gallon. (so yes, it will be expensive) but thats what we will be happy with. we arent planning to move it our ourselves so hopefully we will not come accross that problem, & when & if we do, we will take a step slowly when we have to.. ( we have a canopy, & stand & all that..) so we will be ready to get our salt & extras soon.. although i have heard you dont need an underwater gravel system, is this true? even with a bigger tank such as 45?
well anywho, i need to get my boyfriend on this so we can figure out what will be going on.. =] i will keep updating though! =]
anyone have a list of all the stuff we would need to go buy.. i know i already asked, but more of a just a list you would send me to the store with? like what filters are best,i know the salt we are getting, live sand/rock. ect ect ect!
i didnt mean to make it sound like we dont want to spend money on the tank because we do, we just dont want to get over priced for something that will break soon after, or something that doesnt work the BEST... we were talking last night & he said we arent cheaping out, we will get the best we can! *if we are going to do it we will be doing it right* (maybe the best is too much though, but we want not really the most expensive, but the best working.. *in a better way to put it*)

thanks for all the info, & it was a lot, thanks a lot!
thanks again!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-12-2004, 09:26 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 3,971
You don't need an undergravel filter, but I would strongly encourage it.

For my freshwater tanks I won't use them, they only create more problem, but from my experience they are way more beneficial with saltwater. I've done it both ways.

For backflow filters I love anything with a biowheel. I used Penguin before. They would be good for you to consider. I can't think of the name of the power head i used off hand, i'll try to look it up for you. If you have to skimp on something, don't let it be the heater they are too crucial.

I can't think of anything else at this moment... but I'll keep thinking.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-13-2004, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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yeah, i was thinking since its a big tank we should have to have an under gravel filter.. what does the temp. need to be in the tank? our room gets warm, so maybe that will change my mind on where to put it..
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bigger tank, fish tank, tropical fish

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