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My Dad and I have always wanted one,and my Dad has LOTS of experience with freshwater fish. He once had 2 5-gallon tanks,3 10-gallon tanks,3 50-gallon tanks,and 2 100-gallon tanks. But they were all freshwater. So we were wondering about how much the initial up-front cost of the tank,fish,food,plants,ect. would cost,and about what would it cost after that?
 

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Hi :). I've kept saltwater tanks for several years but it's hard to estimate costs because they vary so much. For example, would you guys be doing a reef aquarium with live corals and invertebrates? Or would you be sticking to just fish and live rock? I would decide that first, along with the size of the tank. Then you can start looking up equipment prices :).
 

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We would probably be doing a reef aquarium,and i'm not sure what size tank yet. Thanks for the reply
Ok, so next you'll also need to decide what route you're going with coral. The main "categories" that hobbyists use are LPS (large polyp stony coral), SPS (small polyp stony coral), soft coral, zoanthids, and mushrooms. There are also the NPS (non photosynthetic) coral but they aren't really beginner-friendly. Other popular invertebrates are clams, feather duster worms, anemones (I wouldn't suggest them for beginners but there are a few "easy" species), gorgonians (sea fans, which are really soft coral but are often listed separately), etc. plus crabs, hermits, snails, sea stars, etc. There are also a number of macroalgae (seaweeds) available in the trade :). Basically, just start looking up various animals and figure out which ones you guys really want. Build the tank around them.

Good books are a must, I'd recommend:

http://www.amazon.com/Conscientious...sr=1-1&keywords=conscientious+marine+aquarist (must have!)

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Marin...344408769&sr=8-1&keywords=new+marine+aquarium (easy read, good tips for setting up and stocking)

http://www.amazon.com/Reef-Inverteb...&ie=UTF8&qid=1344408796&sr=1-2&keywords=calfo (must have for a reef tank!)

http://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Cora...id=1344408830&sr=1-1&keywords=aquarium+corals (must have for coral!)

http://www.amazon.com/PocketExpert-...=1344408870&sr=1-2&keywords=pocket+guide+fish (bring this one to pet stores when looking at fish)

http://www.amazon.com/PocketExpert-...00&sr=1-1&keywords=pocket+guide+invertebrates (same as above but for invertebrates)

That should last you a while but there are tons of great books out there. Starting a reef tank takes a lot of research but it can also be a lot of fun to figure out what animals you want and how to care for them :).

As for websites, read through the articles and FAQs here at your leisure: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm

The site takes some getting used to but it's an invaluable resource, especially when deciding on species to get (because you can do a search and look up info on just that species).

Another good resource is here: http://www.liveaquaria.com

The above website sells fish and invertebrates like coral so it will help you estimate prices and get an idea of what's out there. They also have basic info for every type of animal they sell and articles about various aquarium topics.

The best advice I can give:

-Don't rush. Take your time to research, take your time to shop around for good supplies, take your time when setting up the tank (let it stabilize), and take your time when stocking (don't add too many animals at once).

-No clams, anemones, fish that only eat algae, or dragonets (such as mandarins) in the first year the tank is running. Would it be possible to keep them? Yeah, but there's also a good chance of heartbreak.

-Don't go nuts buying a huge cleaning crew. Stores will try to convince you that you need, say, 20 turbo snails for a 30-gallon tank. This isn't true, most will end up starving. Slowly stock them as needed.

-Never, ever buy an animal unless you've looked up care info ahead of time. Don't trust the store, many just want to make the sale or honestly don't know. Not only can this be upsetting when the animal dies but you could also end up with something very aggressive, large, predatory, venomous, or poisonous.

-Don't skimp on equipment. Get the best stuff you can afford or you'll regret it. Make sure you get an excellent protein skimmer. If you do coral, get the best lights you can. I've known people who saved $5 buying a cheaper heater only to have it break and kill everything. Saving a few bucks makes no sense if you could end up losing thousands of dollars worth of fish and coral.

-Never dose the tank with anything you can't test. Dosing Calcium is great, you can test for it. Using a buffer is a great, you can test for it. Dosing Strontium makes no sense unless you have a test (and know what level you need) AND have a reason for dosing it in the first place. Stores will try to get you to buy additives you don't need and they can give you more problems than you started with. Especially avoid bottles of "trace elements", your salt mix should already contain these anyway.

-Have fun and get creative, there are so many cool things you can do with a reef set-up :). Check out aquariums on Reef Central to get ideas.
 
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