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Old 10-03-2005, 02:47 PM   #1
littlemutt
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i'm in the process of setting up a saltwater tank(s) and would be grateful if someone could just go over the basics (ie) salt content, ph, etc, have ordered a book - saltwater for dummies but it has yet to arrive and as i have already set up the tanks would appreciate any help with the basics. thanks
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Old 10-03-2005, 03:44 PM   #2
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Hello littlemutt and welcome to FragOutpost.com.
What size tank do you have?
What type of aquarium are you setting up? - fish only, reef tank?
What type af animals do you plan on keeping? - hard corals, soft corals, zoanthids, fish, etc.

Are you familiar with the process of cycling a tank?

Your basic water parameters should be in the neighborhood of -
ph - 8.0-8.3
Alkalinity - 8-9dKH
Specific Gravity - 1.023-1.025
Temperature - 78-82 degrees Farenheit - slightly lower or higher is acceptable as well
Calcium - 350-450ppm - less is acceptable if keeping fish only or mostly non-calcium consumers like soft corals
Ammonia - < 0.1 - optimally 0
Nitrite - < 0.1 - optimally 0
Nitrates - < 0.1 - optimally 0
Phosphorus - optimally 0 - the less the better

Hope this Helps!
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Old 10-03-2005, 03:50 PM   #3
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Another important question - What is your choice of substrate?
Deep Sand Bed
Shallow Sand Bed
Bare Bottom
Crushed coral
Sugar Sand

Your choice of substrate will have an impact on the animals you decide to keep as many animals need to be able to burrow.

Have you already purchased live rock? Do you plan on making your own live rock, aka aragocrete, and seeding it? Many people swear by the method of cooking their rock when setting up a new tank so this is something to think about as well.

The more time you spend planning now, the more you will enjoy your tank later and the less hair you will pull out trying to solve problems.
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Old 10-03-2005, 03:52 PM   #4
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Identification Images - this might be useful to you as well.
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:14 PM   #5
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Default new set-up

thanks helps alot! may seem like stupid questions, as i should have gotten the book first but have always had freshwater so it's all new to me.

tanks - 1 - 24 gal nanocube
1 - 20 gal plexi ( 17X17X17 ) homemade
1 - 18 gal - sump/refigium ( 32"l x 18"h x 7"wide) divided into 4 compartments (feed, skimmer/heater,refigium and return) homemade

the 24 nano and the 20 plexi are side by side with the 18 gal sump directly behind them all at the same level. i have them connected with 1 1/4" u-tubes -2 per tank. i have a quiet one pump (1140gph) located in the sump attached to a scsd wavemaker which i have plumbed to feed both tanks. i have a remora c skimmer located in the sump also as well as a 250 watt heater. lighting is a 64w 50/50 compact flour. over the nano, 96w compact flour. over the 20 gal and a small compact flour over the refigium.

would greatly appreciate your opinion on my set-up and any suggestions you might have to make it better. thanks again for the help
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:21 PM   #6
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substrate is 40lbs of live sand for both, not sure if that's enough but will see, have odered 50 lbs of live rock which will be arriving shortly - also not sure if that's enough, hoping it is as i have limited funds.
have a million questions but don't want to ask to much, thanks again
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:31 PM   #7
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Hello and welcome to the fourms before i give any advise i would like to see a pic of what you have working with and how you want stuff set up and laid out. please.
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:35 PM   #8
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Please feel free to ask any questions you might have as there are some very knowledgable people on this forum.

40 lbs of sand would probably give you a shallow sandbed in both the tanks. If you add sand to your fuge too then you might find yourself needing more. If you do need more then you can save some $$ by getting some aragonite based dry sand, as in due time it will all be live (same goes for the rock too).

Sounds like you are off to a pretty good start. Since you are familiar with keeping freshwater tanks I will assume you are familiar with the cycling process. It is virtually the same as freshwater just be sure to take things slow in the begining.

If you choose not to cook your rock then I would suggest placing the rock in a container with some saltwater and take a powerhead and try to blow out as much deterious as you can before placing into your tank. This should also remove some of the stuff that did not survive shipping.
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:07 PM   #9
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still trying to figure out how to get pics and post them - i'm not much above computer illiterate. will work on it.
as far as layout all 3 tanks are next to each other, the 24 nano and the 20 plexi are side by side with the sump/refigium directly behind, they are interconnected with u-tubes and have been up and running for a couple of weeks with freshwater ( mainly just to see if setup would work and also to check for leaks ) everything seems to be working ok and yesterday i added salt. today i'm adding 40 lbs of live sand ( i hope that's the right way to do it ) 50 lbs of live rock is on the way.

the 20 gal is on the left side and i hope to have some coral, mushrooms,etc and 3 or 4 fish in it. 1 clown, 1 dwarf flame angel, 1 fridman pseudochromis and maybe a lawnmower blennie. does that sound like a good mix? would appreciate any ideas for coral,polyp's etc - this tank has a 96 watt 50/50 compact flour. lighting. is that enough light for coral? have thought about adding a metal halide at a later date when my buget allows.

the 24 gal nano is on the right side and i hope to have maybe a yellow watchman gody, a red velvet wrasse, citroen clown goby and lots of snails, hermits and shrimp. would like some ideas on coral, mushrooms, etc for lower lighting conditions as the tank came with 64 watts of 50/50 compact flour. lighting and seems like it would be hard to upgrade.

the 18 gal sump/refigium is located behind the other 2 and houses a protein skimmer(remora c) and a heater in 1 compartment, in the next compartment an 7 gal refigium which i have i have put 6lbs of kents marine biosediment and plan to plant some type of marine plants to help with filtration. not sure what would be appropiate and would welcome your imput.the last compartment houses a quiet one 1140 gph pump which powers an scsd wavemaker plumbed to both tanks. this works but does not seem to produce enough of a current. got the largest pump i could fit into sump but not sure if it's enough.

hope i've explained my setup so that you at least get a general idea - any help, comments, suggestions will be greatly appreciated - thanks
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemutt
still trying to figure out how to get pics and post them - i'm not much above computer illiterate. will work on it.

You can use the JPEG compression utility to compress or resize the dimensions of your photos and to post them in a thread click on the "Manage Attachments" button and browse to where your photos are.

Maybe I misunderstood you but I just want to make sure that you know that it is not a good idea to mix salt and freshwater inside the tank with animals in it. It is ok to do when setting up a tank and it has no sand or rocks yet like yours. When making saltwater it is a good idea to mix the salt and water together with a powerhead in some sort of a container for at least an hour or two to let the salt come to an equilibrium. I usually try and make saltwater a day or two in advance and let it mix with a powerhead.

What kind of clown fish are you thinking about getting? I would recommend against a maroon because they will grow too big and most likely be aggressive. You should be ok with a percula, clarkii, or other small clowns. The flame angels are very nice fish but will probably outgrow a 20 gallon pretty quickly. You should have no problems with keeping various gobies or blennies or firefish though.

Most mushrooms, zoanthids, sun coral, and some soft corals, including kenya tree, sinularia, star polyps, toadstools, leathers, and even xenia if placed close to the light source, should adapt well under power compacts.

For your refugium I would highly recommend chaetomorpha. You could also try caulerpa racesoma or caulerpa prolifera, but should be aware of the potential hazards when they attempt to sexually reproduce.
Check out FloridaPets for a good source of macro algae.
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Old 10-03-2005, 07:33 PM   #11
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First off....




Second.... Seems like you're off to a good start. But you prob have a while before you will be able to place any fish or livestock in the tanks. Is there any reason why you chose to setup you system like this? If you DIY the tanks why did you create a larger tank? Also if you want to go ahead and start cycling the tank you can use 1 - 3 cocktail shrimps and throw it in the water once you get the live rock, as when it starts to decay it'll release ammonia and start the cycling process. You will eventually see a massive ammonia spike, followed by a nitrite spike, followed by a nitrate spike similar to a freshwater cycle. Please wait till all the above mentioned return to 0 before placing any livestock in the tank. But other than that looks like your one your way.
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Old 10-04-2005, 05:45 PM   #12
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thanks again for the help

i had seen (maybe here) where someone said to put cocktail shrimp into a new tank to help cycle it rather than scrafice a few live fish, when i mentioned this to my lfs he looked at me like i was insane. he said no way it will pollute your tank, normally i might have believed him but have learned over the years that many lfs people know less than i do but feel they have to give an expert opinion regardless of wether they know what there talking about or not. my question is how long would i have to leave them in the tank and how long should my tanks take to cylce? also would just the LS and the live rock cylce them eventually? have planned on taking my time before introducing any livestock. does that also apply to live plants or can they be added now or shortly?

do i keep lights and protein skimmer on or off during cyling ? i do have freshwater mollies which can live in saltwater, would that be an alternative if i added a few of those for awhile?
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Old 10-04-2005, 06:01 PM   #13
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You could use anything that would decay and produce ammonia. This would include fish poo, meaty seafood, fish food, almost anything really. I believe the point of the shrimp is to kick start the cycling process. I have never attempted the shrimp method before but I would assume that you would remove what was left of the shrimp once it got funky. You can use live rock and live sand too. If you do not cook your rock then there will be plenty of nasty to start the cycle. There is no need to keep the lights on during this period because you shouldn't have anything photosynthetic in there yet. I would run the skimmer at this time but others may disagree. The mollys would generate fish poo so that is another option for you too just make sure to aclimate them. Whatever method you choose just make sure to be patient and before you know it your nutrient spikes will pass and you will be ready for livestock.
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Old 10-04-2005, 07:01 PM   #14
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thanks D12monkey and others for the welcome, am looking foward to many pleasant experiences with this new hobby. all your help is appreciated and this seems like a great forum, you guys make someone feel right at home - thanks again

the reason for the setup i have is the limited research i have done so far. i started by buying a 24 gal nanocube which i had hoped to setup and start out in saltwater in a small way. figured i could learn from that and go larger when i had some experience. but the more i read the more i realized that small is not always good, that the more water you have the easier it is to maintain a stable system. i then saw a site where a guy built his own sumps and refigiums, it looked like fun so i gave it a try. since the spot i had for the tanks is not that big i had to keep things small. first i built an 18 gal sump/refugium, it was fairly easy and a lot of fun and when i finished it i realized that i had just enough room for an additional tank which is a 17" cube and holds 20 gals, both turned out great and i would recommend that anyone interested give it a try, it was a very rewarding experience.

i was afraid of putting a sump under my tanks in case of pump failure or power outages so i decided to keep them all on one level interconnected with u-tubes and so far this has worked out well. if there should be a power failure the water levels remain the same and there would be no flooding. i also liked the idea of having 2 seperate tanks because it allows me to have different types of fish and inverts without the risks of one eating some of the others and the work of maintaining them is about the same as 1 bigger tank but i have the benifit of 2 different reefs.
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Old 10-04-2005, 07:32 PM   #15
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Hey I figured you were wanting to add different types of fish in the systems. I Have used the shrimp method with live rock and yes I removed the shrimp once it got really funky. The "live rock" you are getting will also work as you have die off during shipment. Just make sure that you have cleared the spikes. This usually can take from 4 - 6 weeks and I have heard it take longer.
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Old 10-04-2005, 07:35 PM   #16
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Ohh and for the smaller tanks. You are correct the smaller the more difficult to maintain. I have a 2.5 gal reef tank which has about 1.75 gals of water in it. Displacement of live rock. I'm constantly adding water to the system and attempting to maintain the water parameters as steasy as possible. That's along with my 55 gal FOWLR and my 29 gal reef.
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Old 10-05-2005, 06:05 AM   #17
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i am getting live rock froma place called aquarium arts and they claim that they have done all the curing for me (a 3 step process which sounded complete) they also claim that when they ship all die off is over and that new growth has already begun. it's packaged in plastic with water then boxed and shipped. they also say it can go right into an established tank without any worries and on a new setup livestock can be added imediately as long as tank has cylced before adding the live rock. has anyone heard of or had any dealings with this company? there site " prime cured live rock" looked and sounded real good, lots of photos and testimonials. also had lots of useful information so i took a chance and ordered 50m lbs which i hope is enough for both tanks. will still hold off adding any livestock til everything is stable.

i may still be able to cancel the order if anyone has heard anything negative about them. would appreciate any comments - thanks
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:36 AM   #18
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I have not dealt with this company but if they are sending the rock in water and sealed then once you get it do a egg smell test if the rock smells funky then its not cured and if it smells like saltwater then your good to go. I use to ship rock over to missouri all the time and that is how i did it. But if you are still having problems posting pics then email them to me at karl.peters@comcast.net and i will post them for you.
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:36 AM   #19
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Below quote taken from aquariumarts -

Quote:
We then proceed to "cure" the rock, a process often referred to as "cycling". This means that the rock inhabitants continue the process of death and decomposition, and the pollutants produced by the decomposition are removed. The rock is rinsed in synthetic sea water and placed in an unlighted tank with a high rate of water flow from a closed circulation system. A biological filtration system supplied by a second pump, along with frequent water changes and a protein skimmer, removes the breakdown materials produced by the decomposing organic matter. At the same time, bacteria living in and on the rock increases and effectively becomes a "biological filter" which breaks down toxic pollutants, especially nitrates. Once the smell is gone from the rock in Aquarium Arts' curing tank, the rock is transferred to racks in another tank where it is exposed to high intensity light and vigorous water movement. A very efficient protein skimmer cleans the water. Sediment that accumulates in the tank is regularly vacuumed out and frequent water changes are made. Soon colonies of rich velvety red-purple, coralline algae (often several shades of color) begin to develop on the surface of the rock. Tiny invertebrates - worms, crabs, molluscs, bryozoans, sponges, coelenterates, and tunicates as well as coral polyps - that have survived the long trip from tropical ocean to our aquarium shop, begin to emerge on the surface, adding to the diversity and improving the filtration effect of "live rock". Individuals spread from one rock to another, establishing new colonies or populations. This is known as "seeding". Soon the rock is "cured" and "seeded", that is, there is no dead tissue in the cracks and crevices, and a healthy growth of invertebrates is invading the crevices and surfaces. But we give it more time. The rock is moved into a third tank for "polishing."

Finally, after 30-60 days this "live rock" is "cured"! All the dead material has been removed, new colonies of coralline algae cover the surface, and countless micro-organisms are emerging on the rock. At this point it can be put into an aquarium with no further cycling! If the temperature and salinity of the tank are stable, livestock can be added immediately. The rock will continue to improve in color and variety of plants and animals.


Let me start by saying that I have never purchased from aquarium arts before so I can not speak from experience here.

The above quote is taken from their website describing their "curing" process.

Excerpt from above - Tiny invertebrates - worms, crabs, molluscs, bryozoans, sponges, coelenterates, and tunicates as well as coral polyps - that have survived the long trip from tropical ocean to our aquarium shop, begin to emerge on the surface, adding to the diversity and improving the filtration effect of "live rock".

This is the kind of stuff that will die off during shipping, Not to say that all will die during shipping but a small percentage will, so I would still recommend a thorough rinsing with saltwater before placing in your tank.

Also remember that just because the rock arrives teaming with life doesn't necessarily mean that it will all survive in your tank. Your tank will balance itself out and stuff will die along the way.

I wouldn't equate their "curing" process with "cooking". Regardless I'm sure you will most likely be very happy with your order.

Also another thing to point out, when people refer to "filtration of live rock" it means the anaerobic bacteria that lives deep within the rock and its ability to process nitrates.

Don't be confused that - worms, crabs, molluscs, bryozoans, sponges, coelenterates, and tunicates as well as coral polyps - will contribute very much to filtration.

I have no doubt that you will be happy with your order. If you find yourself needing more rock then check out hirocks.com for base rock. There is no point in spending $$$ for more liverock, when you can buy base rock and place it underneath your 50lbs. of liverock.

Hope this helps!
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Old 10-06-2005, 01:48 AM   #20
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thanks for the hirock.com site will definately use them if i need more rock, the price is right.

checked ph for the first time it's 7.8 - i know that's low but should i worry about it right now being that nothing but LS is in the tank? i was thinking maybe it will go up if i leave everything running. if i need to raise it what is the best way? haven't even bothered with ammonia yet figure there is none being there's nothing in the tank. when should i start taking that reading ? what else should i be looking at at this point? live rock will be here on tuesday so i guess that might make testing more important. hope i am doing the right thing.
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