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Saltwater Aquarium/Attempting to begin a salt water aquarium


QUESTION: I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank carrying a 2 foot rescued Koi fish. Unfortunately, it seems as though she will not live for long. I am thinking about transforming the tank into a salt water aquarium, but I have not a clue of what I have to do. What kind of equipment do I need(heater, power head, hydrometer, lighting,  etc.), is it necessary to setup a sump system(I prefer not to), how would I manage to maintain live sand and rock, how is it that I need to cycle the water, should I rinse the live sand and rock(with what kind of water), how would I clean the tank after everything is completed, are there any websites you would recommend that sell these materials(I am only willing to spend $200 on beginning equipment). I have researched a bit, but I'm still kind of confused of what all it is I need to do. Thank you.

ANSWER: well David,$200 is a very limited budget, the saltwater aquarium hobby is a very expensive hobby. many people spend over $200 on lighting alone for their tank.

but there are cheaper alternatives, a sump, although undoubtedly the best form of reef filtration by far is not entirely necessary to have a reef tank. i have run tanks on a budget with canister filters, or hang on the back power filters. or so metimes simply using live rock and a protein skimmer. the last way is one i highly suggest, i believe it is called the "berlin method" because the combination of live rock and the skimmer. canister and power filters tend to be nitrite factories.

having freshwater before you should already know how to cycle a tank, its actually a little eas-ier with saltwater because you simply add salt to the water, throw in the live rock and live sand which need no maintenance at all aside from simply being submerged in saltwater,and then just wait until your levels are sufficient for live stock. start out with hardy livestock. this could take weeks or even months.

if you rinse the live rock and sand make sure you do it with saltwater, but if you get pre-cured live rock you shouldnt need to rinse, and it is unnecessary to rinse live sand.

some good sites to get stuff from including aquarium live stock are these.

hope that helps you out a bit.


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QUESTION: I limited myself to only $200 because i believed that it was more than enough. Money isn't really an issue. In my FW tank I have a canister filter and a hang on the back filter. I plan on getting live rock and a protein skimmer, but I'm not too sure on how it is I'm supposed to setup the skimmer. Is a sump necessary to do so? And after everything is done, how is it that I am supposed to clean the aquarium? Am I supposed to do water changes? Also, could you tell me the difference between a reef tank and a fish and rock only tank. Thanks again.

ANSWER: well thats good to hear, because purchasing a good skimmer that will already take up more than half your budget. a sump is not needed for a skimmer. although in the long run a sump makes reefing much easier it is not necessary like i said, they have many protein skimmers that sit in the tank or hang on the back. water changes are a must in a tank, i would say 1-2 times a week 10-20 percent water changes. and to keep algae in control purchase yourself a good clean up cew from

as for the difference between a reef and a FOWLR, a reef tank includes numerous inverts as well as corals and other sessile inverts such as clams and anemones. a FOWLR is simply that,just fish in the tank with live rock. many times these are for fish that often prey on many inverts you would find in a reef tank or just fish that are too large or aggressive for a reef tank. hope that helps


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QUESTION: Alright, so would I be able to setup a FOWLR tank with live sand, live rock, fish, and invertebrates? Or are the invertebrates part of the reef tank and require a different setup than the FOWLR? I plan on beginning with a FOWLR tank and then upgrading to a reef tank with a sump. Thanks.

they dont require a different setup, technically the inverts would automatically classify the tank as a reef tank but really the only difference between a reef tank and the fowlr is that many inverts are much more difficult to care for than fish. reef tanks are quite complicated in the aspect that they contain coral much of the time, coral will require a very bright expensive light fixture and some intense filtration for pristine water conditions. fish alone are rather hardy, they allow you a little leeway as far as tank maintenance goes because many fish dont really need "perfect" water condions.  

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i have about 15 years of experience in the reefing hobby but have been keeping aquariums for about 20, i am up to date on all the latest equipment such as led lighting, dosers, the new tanks available such as the red sea max and i can help you with many creatures that most other people have never even kept before such as sehorses, cephs, and sharks and rays.


15 years in the reefing hobby and it has come to my attention this site needs some more informed experts.


masters degree in marine biology

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