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View Full Version : Setting up a simple & cheap marine tank Pt II



Fish Whisperer
02-13-2007, 09:50 PM
PART III
STOCKING THE MARINE TANK
While you are waiting on your shrimp to do its magic, do some reading on the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium.

Once your ammonia and nitrite are at zero itís time for the good stuff. In PART II I stated that nitrate should be at zero, but in reality, nitrate will probably never be zero. Nitrate is the end of the nitrogen cycle and is relatively harmless to marine fish except for in very high amounts. Just make sure ammonia and Nitrite are zero.
As is the case with freshwater fish, marine fish have a wide range of tolerances and compatibilities.
The smaller the fish, the less the bio-load. Even a medium size fish produces a huge amount of waste.
As always, patience is a must. Start with a FEW damsels and/or clowns. One of two things is going to happen.:
1. The tankís de-nitrifying bacteria will be sufficient to handle the bio-load and you will not have any surges in ammonia and therefore nitrite.
2. There will be a spike in ammonia, due to not enough bacteria. If this happens, the damsels/clown usually be tough enough to survive, as they will acclimate to the rising levels of ammon/nitrite. New bacteria will develop to accommodate the over load, and the levels will go back down to zero over the next week or two.
The most important thing to remember is to only add fish when ammonia & nitrite are at zero, and only add 1 fish at a time (assuming the 55g tank) A large tank can accommodate introduction of a bigger/more fish at a time.

There are many species available in todayís market, but I would suggest you keep to the following until you and your tank are more seasoned.-It takes a good year for a tank to be truly stable. They are listed in order of difficulty to keep.
DAMSELS are the staple of the hobby. They are very tough, able to survive just about anything you throw at them. Theyíll eat anything, are among the least expensive marine fish, and are IMHO very nice to look at. Stick with the Blue Damsels, Jewels, and Three-Stripes. Although these can be aggressive, they donít get very large like Domino damsels do. As a side note, once a damsel is in the tank, itís practically impossible to get out.

CLOWNS are attractive and usually very hardy as well. They will eat most foods and are also among the cheaper fish. My favorite is the Cinnamon Clown, but to each his own. Almost all are a good choice for beginners.

SURGEONFISH (Tangs) are my personal favorite. They require a vegetable diet that includes nori (seaweed), green algaes, and romaine lettuce, and flake food.Only one specimen per tank, unless you have a huge tank is practical, as they are very territorial, even among different species.
Yellow Tangs-The cheapest, very hardy and a very striking fish.
Purple Tangs- Relatively expensive, but hardy and beautiful
Black Tangs- Very expensive, but hardy and beautiful
Hippo or Regal Tangs- Relatively cheap but difficult to keep as the are very prone to disease-ich and hole-in-the-head disease in particular. Not for the novice.
Achillies Tangs- Absolutely stunning fish. But a picky eater and difficult to keep.
Naso Tangs- Require a big tank, as they are more open water swimmers, not all that difficult to keep, but not for the novice either.

TRIGGERFISH are great as well. They are meat eaters and do best on just about any raw seafood you can buy at the grocery-shrimp, mussels, octopus, etc. They are compatible with others as long as they are not of the same species
Niger Trigger- Very hardy, inexpensive, and just a cool fish
Picasso Trigger- Fairly hardy, relatively inexpensive
Clown Trigger- Expensive, fairly hardy, and very cool.
Undulatus Trigger- Inexpensive, very hardy, but can be very aggressive.
Several others- a variety of prices and tolerances-read before you buy.

ANGELFISH are among the most beautiful of all reef fishes. They eat a particular diet that includes most sponges in the wild- which can be feed at home through specialty Angel fish foods in the freezer section of your LFS. I prefer ďAngel FormulaĒ They also need a mix of vegetable matter and some meat (raw seafood, as in trigger food) There are essentially two classes: regular and dwarf varieties. The dwarfs are relatively inexpensive as a whole, but IMO are more difficult to maintain. I have had terrible success with coral beauties-never had one longer than a few months.
Standard angel fish, as juveniles, usually look very different from their adult counterparts, and are very enjoyable to watch transform. In my experience standard Angels are hardy, stunning specimens; and are my favorite fish-the emperator angel is IMHO the most awesome fish on the planet. They are usually not friendly toward each other, even among different species, but large tanks can usually accommodate a couple. Most Angels are relatively expensive.

OTHER fish are out there but DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU BUY>
Puffers are usually cheap and easy to keep
Butterflies are practically impossible without live rock for them to feed on.
Wrasses are fairly difficult, as are gobies.

Snails, shrimp and crabs are usually good to have as a clean-up crew to eat detritus and algae, and create a very low amount of waste, so numbers are not a problem.

Next thread will discuss maintenance.
Good luck and BE PATIENT.
FW

Drumachine09
02-13-2007, 09:53 PM
Is it just me, or does this article make EVERYone wish they had a marine tank? I sure wish i do!

cocoa_pleco
02-13-2007, 10:56 PM
i'd reboot my marine tank if it wasnt so much work. lol

yeah, damsels are dam good fish. Theyll tank anything

Chrona
02-13-2007, 11:44 PM
Is it just me, or does this article make EVERYone wish they had a marine tank? I sure wish i do!

My heart screams yes. My bank account screams no :(

55 Gallon tank + stand + lighting = 300
UFG + powerheads = 150
Substrate + salt = 50
Misc = 20
Fish = at least 50

T.T

cocoa_pleco
02-14-2007, 12:01 AM
dont forget protein skimmer. That cost me 80$

Fish Whisperer
02-14-2007, 12:05 AM
You can buy a used 55 for $100
You don't need a skimmer for a fish only tank.

Search the local trader mags and classified ads. You can get a tank from some doofus who kept a snake in it for practically nothing sometimes.

cocoa_pleco
02-14-2007, 12:15 AM
yeah, one of my old tanks was a guy who had it for a lizard and it was a 25g for 10 bucks.

My skimmer was new, and a good brand. Thats why it was pricey. wish i bought a used one

Chrona
02-14-2007, 12:52 AM
You can buy a used 55 for $100
You don't need a skimmer for a fish only tank.

Search the local trader mags and classified ads. You can get a tank from some doofus who kept a snake in it for practically nothing sometimes.

Is the skimmer only a requirement for live rock or reefs?

This may be worth looking into then, since I can get a used 55 (just the tank) for like 50-70. Unfortunately, I've checked craigslist every day for like a month now, and the big tanks packages with the stands also happen to come with a bunch of other junk I don't want or want to pay for, so I may make a stand and a hanging light fixture myself.

Also, live sand won't work with UFG's right? I may have to get a canister or a wet/dry filter because I definetly plan on getting live rocks and live sand in the future.

Fish Whisperer
02-14-2007, 01:09 AM
Sand cannot be used on a UG, but you don't have to have sand to have Live rock either, nor do you HAVE to have a skimmer
I've said before, there are many ways to skin a cat (or filter a tank).
My 125 FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) is just that.
A 125 with NO filter, No skimmer, No nothing. It's 100% natural. It has a 6-8" live sand bed 200 lbs of Fiji Rock and 5 powerheads for water movement.
It has been in operation for three years without a single water change-only top off water.
I COULD put a skimmer on it, but I don't need one. About once every 3-4 weeks I hook up a magnum to it to polish the water, but the only true "filtration" it gets.

Buy the used tank, build a 2x4 stand and get started.

Fishguy2727
02-14-2007, 01:10 AM
Protein skimmers are needed for more sensitive inverts. They can be very helpful in FOWLR or fish only tanks though.

Chrona
02-14-2007, 01:17 AM
Thanks very much!

One last thing. I recall reading somewhere that 3 gallons per inch of fish is a good rule of thumb (at least for smaller, skinnier fish) Does that sound about right for peaceful fish? And is that assuming a good wet/dry filter, or will large amounts of live rock and live sand suffice for biological filtration? A filter free aquarium would definetly be my end goal, even though, as an engineer, protein skimmers, uv sterilizers, wet dry filtrations, etc, etc make me drool...lol

cocoa_pleco
02-14-2007, 01:21 AM
for beginners, its reccomended you use a filter also, but if you have a 100g and tons of live rock, go for it once you get a bit more experienced

Drumachine09
02-14-2007, 01:22 AM
I was under the impression that UGFs were incompatible with sand as a substrate. Is this correct?

cocoa_pleco
02-14-2007, 01:31 AM
ugf's are. sand clogs up the ugf and make it useless

Drumachine09
02-14-2007, 01:32 AM
ugf's are. sand clogs up the ugf and make it useless

I thought he said to use a UGF though?

Chrona
02-14-2007, 01:34 AM
I thought he said to use a UGF though?

"SUBSTRATE
The gravel is responsible for trapping detritus, and for buffering the waterís pH.
In marine youíll need to either buy dolomite (crushed limestone), crushed coral, or crushed shells. Dolomite & crushed coral are usually half as much as crushed shells. Yes, you can crush you own shells-just get it down to bits of about ľ inch
Get enough to cover the UG with about 2 inches of substrate."

Sand was something I brought up. :P

Fishguy2727
02-14-2007, 01:46 AM
There are no stocking rules. The closest thing to a rule is 'ask someone with experience'. It really depends on the setup you are going for (top predators, nano-reef, assorted fish only, etc.) and your filtration.

For wet/dry you should really look into Marineland's Bio-Wheel sump. It has a huge Bio-Wheel and trays for other media. Easy to deal with and no need ot take out and maintenance the bioballs, something you have to do with generic wet/dry setups to prevent debris build-up and subsequent nitrate spikes.

I would use sand, that's my plan. It is much more natural and there are other ways to keep it buffered.

Drumachine09
02-14-2007, 01:48 AM
"SUBSTRATE
The gravel is responsible for trapping detritus, and for buffering the waterís pH.
In marine youíll need to either buy dolomite (crushed limestone), crushed coral, or crushed shells. Dolomite & crushed coral are usually half as much as crushed shells. Yes, you can crush you own shells-just get it down to bits of about ľ inch
Get enough to cover the UG with about 2 inches of substrate."

Sand was something I brought up. :P

Oops, wires got crossed. Now i get it.

Glasstapper
02-15-2007, 02:20 AM
FW, these are amazing threads! I really like that you use simple terms and don't delve so much into detail. Other articles I've read tend to be too much info at once, and I end up getting lost somewhere in the middle.


Ok, one question, though. You said your 125 has been up for three years with only top off water and no water changes. Is this something a beginner can do, or do you only suggest that for those with experience? Water changes on those large tanks are the only things that keep me hesitant on my dream 200 gallon.

Fishguy2727
02-15-2007, 02:35 AM
If you do a lot of reading and ease into it a beginner can do it. However, just about all the books and articles recommend at least doing small water changes (even if it's only 5 gallons per month) to at least replace trace elements that will inevitably be drained in a closed system.

Chrona
02-15-2007, 02:46 AM
If you do a lot of reading and ease into it a beginner can do it. However, just about all the books and articles recommend at least doing small water changes (even if it's only 5 gallons per month) to at least replace trace elements that will inevitably be drained in a closed system.

A 125 gallon tank will lose that much water in a month due to evaporation, and the top off water would contain said trace elements. Or you could always get the stuff in a bottle.

Also, here's an article detailing how even weekly 10% water changes does not do much in a saltwater aquarium, and how you mostly need to rely on additives to restore calcium, etc.

http://www.reefs.org/library/article/t_brightbill_wc.html

Fish Whisperer
02-15-2007, 03:17 AM
Actually I top-off with distilled water-devoid of ANYTHING other than good ol' pure H2O. I add Kalkwasser, magnesium, manganese, iron, strontium, molybdenum, and trace elements.
My local tap water has phospates which has lead to algea issues for me.

Chrona
02-15-2007, 03:22 AM
Actually I top-off with distilled water-devoid of ANYTHING other than good ol' pure H2O. I add Kalkwasser, magnesium, manganese, iron, strontium, molybdenum, and trace elements.
My local tap water has phospates which has lead to algea issues for me.

Well there you go lol, "stuff in a bottle"