Setting up a simple & cheap marine tank Pt II
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 it’s 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 tank’s 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 today’s 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. They’ll 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 don’t get very large like Domino damsels do. As a side note, once a damsel is in the tank, it’s 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 “Angel Formula” 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.
Is it just me, or does this article make EVERYone wish they had a marine tank? I sure wish i do!
Money can't buy happiness, but it sure can pay the rent.
i'd reboot my marine tank if it wasnt so much work. lol
yeah, damsels are dam good fish. Theyll tank anything
My heart screams yes. My bank account screams no :(
Originally Posted by Drumachine09
55 Gallon tank + stand + lighting = 300
UFG + powerheads = 150
Substrate + salt = 50
Misc = 20
Fish = at least 50
dont forget protein skimmer. That cost me 80$
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.
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
Is the skimmer only a requirement for live rock or reefs?
Originally Posted by Fish Whisperer
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.
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.
Protein skimmers are needed for more sensitive inverts. They can be very helpful in FOWLR or fish only tanks though.
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