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Thread: reefing equals easy?? nah.
06-19-2012, 12:56 PM #1
reefing equals easy?? nah.
Not trying to be a snot here folks but I got some points to put out there about the perceived "easiness" of reef keeping over fw. I will put my points proven from my experiance with both fw and sw and you should all feel free to add yours as well. I won't try and debunk what you add to this thread and you should not try to debunk mine either because I will write nothing that was not directly observed by me in my tanks. I will also use examples from the posts and threads of trusted members of this site to prove my points. I'm no proffesional writer or analyist so please offer me some slack on my methodoligy.
Fw,tap water,well water,city water its all good to go usually. Add declor if its city water,keep fish that do well in your water type. If it has ammo in it from tap just use a bit more conditioner.equipment needs are std water test kit
Sw,rodi machine is in your future no matter what either that or your stuck standing at grocery store machine once a week with 5 gallon buckets. If your water isn't perfect you will have problems.equipment needs are,tds meter,refractometer or hydrometer as well as reef water test kit.
Fw,remove 20% weekly,add declor to tank,adjust to proper temp plu minus 2 deg f using hot cold mix,refill tank. Your done.
Sw,day before mix your salt to water,turn on power head and let mix til next day.check salinity and ph and temp to plus or minus 1 degf . This is tough for me in winter and hot summer as I must use a heater or chill the water somehow. After I know its all good I remove proper % water while blowing rocks with turkey baster,clean sand bed. Add water change water back in.
Fw have a good hob,canister or sponge filter that's realistically rated to your size tank and your golden. Clean it once a month in the corect way. It will keep your nitrates low and your water clear,no carbon,phosban or any other chem media needed.
Sw . If you use a canister you must clean it once a week miniumu or trates will build. Hobs are worthless for anything but chem media. Large amounts of live rock and multiple powerheads are needed to filter a small amount of waste and tiny fishload. A skimmer in either hob or one in a sump are all but required [ime they are a must]. Instead of the one can filter in fw I have 3 powerheads and a skimmer which all suck the watts.
Cooling and heating
Fw any good heater,no chiller needed as temps can go as high as mid eightys ime.
Sw good heater same as fw. Cooling is another matter. Temps should not swing more the 2 or 3 deg in a day with less being better. Sw should be kept between 77 and 80 deg and in my home without central air that's tough to do and I'm close to needing a chiller unless I run window ac full bore all day along with a cooling fan on surface of water [more watts].
I'm not through but I'm doing this on an android so before I lose the whole post in gonna put this out there too you all.
06-19-2012, 01:25 PM #2
I agree that sw is much more complicated at first, it can be very overwhelming to someone only used to the relative simplicity of fw. But I think sw is easier if it is setup right. For example the live rock itself is 80% of your filtration, and it never needs maintaining. Add a couple powerheads for flow (which also need no maintaining) and you are done (in a small tank that has no sump). I had absolutely no mechanical filtration in my entire system. I wanted that debris to keep moving until the filter feeders ate it. I didn't want to trap it here and create work and nitrate just to have to feed more which also created more nitrate. My system ran with no detectable nitrate or phosphate. In general you shouldn't have to go at the live rock with a turkey baster or clean the sand, but if you do that is an amazing free food for all your filter feeders.
There is no way around the hassle of water changes, but keeping it as automated as possible goes a long way. I have five gallon buckets running all the time keeping my water mixed, which I mix right after a water change. This way if anything goes wrong and the tank needs a water change before the next scheduled one I am ready to go. A water change is always the best thing to do if anything is off.
I only worry about the salinity for water changes. The temp should be about right all the time, and a few degrees off is alright. You should only be doing 10% at a time. I have done water changes on reefs plenty of times where I noticed the water was warmer or cooler than I would have wanted it, but have yet to see any issues with the livestock as a result, presumably because it is only a 10% water change. The pumps I use in my five gallon buckets keep the temp right on their own. And the pH should not usually be an issue since you are using salt which has its own buffering capacity.
There is also the option of simply buying premixed saltwater from the LFS. For around $1.25 per gallon you buy premixed saltwater of the perfect salinity made with RO/DI water and a high quality salt. You can also buy just plain RO/DI water for about $0.50 per gallon and mix it with your choice of salt at home. Most people do one of the these options on tanks up to 55-75 gallons or so. At 75 gallons and up it is usually cheaper and easier to just buy your own RO/DI system.
I would say fw is 25%+ water change weekly whereas sw is only 10%, but the extra work of sw water changes balances that out, but overall still pretty simple.
I agree that canisters and HOBs have no place in sw, not any more. One of the best things about sw is the natural filtration methods that are much more complete and balanced (something only comparable to a very well planted and lightly stocked fw tank). The live rock is 80% of your filtration. The rest is a refugium (also natural and almost no maintenance) and a protein skimmer (not natural but very effective and minimal maintenance).
IME chillers are usually only needed on halide tanks, and even half of them are okay if you have an open top and a sump, but then you will definitely want an auto top off.
I think this is a great idea for a thread. Some people, myself included, probably make sw and reefing seem too easy at times. It is complicated and can be difficult to understand. But IME it is easy overall if the tank is setup properly and the weekly water changes are done which prevent problems. The problem is that the tank is setup in the beginning, when the aquarist knows the least. This means it is rarely setup properly to create a truly balanced and easy system. Even if people try to research like crazy for months they still end up with a thousand conflicting ideas about what is best. I have dealt with it for years not only with my own system but with the tanks of many clients and customers who have gone through the process. I have learned what works well, what creates extra work, and the mistakes the average aquarist is likely to make at one point or another.Aquarist since 1995
Biologist and Published Author in Multiple Aquarium Magazines
Owner: Aquarium Maintenance Company
Advanced Aquarium Concepts: Articles about many aspects of aquarium care.
06-19-2012, 01:36 PM #3
You offered lots of good info! All of which goes to prove my point that sw is far more work and nowhere near as easy as a fw tank.
06-19-2012, 01:52 PM #4
You are certainly not alone in your experiences Smaug. My experiences have been a little different tho
The biggest difference for me is that there are a lot more subtleties to SW than compared to FW. Nothing harder, just more details to get into. More parameters to keep an eye one and a heck of a lot more initial planning of your set-up. So far, the only issue that I have had with either of my two reef tanks are with some SPS eating crabs and some flatworms in my 90 gallon due to the fact I used uncured rock (freshly taken from the ocean) and I did not cure it in a QT tank BEFORE adding it to my tank to cycle it (one of those pesky little details).
My reef tanks were a lot more work to get set-up and stable as compared to my FW planted tank. IMO, it did take around 6 months before my reef tanks were stabilized or at least well on their way. But now that everything is stabilized and the tanks have matured, I do not spend more time on my reef tanks than I do my FW planted tank. Perhaps my perceptions are a little skewed by the fact I will do a little more maintenance on my FW tanks that some people do, like weekly gravel cleanings, cleaning one of the two canister filters every second week and no less than one very very large water change each week.If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
"Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info [URL="http://saltwater.aquaticcommunity.com/"]
06-19-2012, 02:06 PM #5
great post smaug. being a fw vet and a sw noob I can certainly say that sw takes alot more research and is much more indepth than fw. all your points are spot on.
one more difficulty of sw is the various hitchhikers your tank will get. most you might get in fw is some snails on your plants. in sw, you can end up with alot of different nasties that can stay undetected for a long time.
while a stable, clean environment is best for both worlds, I see sw as a much bigger challenge for me.your friendly neighbourhood arowanaman!
06-19-2012, 02:07 PM #6
Cliff I think you've had one of the smoothest rides of all of us lol that said there may be a reason for that haha
Anyways my only gripe is temperature keeping, the rest I can deal with since personally I run a pretty low tech tank with a lighter bio load and it's doing ok... but just ok :/
So like I said the hardest part for me is something you had mentioned smaug, temp regulating, tropical tank I've had mine go up to mid 80's no problem, I had one swing in sw up to 82 and it almost killed my entire tank
Other than that I haven't had any significant issues. Yes there is a very very steep learning curve compared to FW but once you get it going I don't think it's too much harder honestly, but the start up research makes it seem daunting but once you have that under your belt and some experience it gets easier... at least that's been my ride55g Long --> After 18mo of doing well the tank crashed during moving. Most likely cause: Flatworm Die-off... won't start another until after moving... Likely not until late 2013
20g Long --> currently concoting a build plan
Check out the journal to follow my 20g SW tank
"Take a chance, because you never know how perfect some things can turn out" -- unknown
06-19-2012, 02:09 PM #7
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of reefing for someone just getting into sw? I have been planning on taking the plunge for a while now, but the cost of equipment and even ro water here is very prohibitive.
06-19-2012, 02:18 PM #8
I'm thinking my point isn't clear. I'm not saying the tasks are difficult,I am saying that there are more tasks to do as well as more to take into consideration. I am also stating that the tasks and considerations for sw vs fw go beyond just getting the sw established.
06-19-2012, 02:24 PM #9
I understand. What I'm asking is, in your opinion, what you think the most challenging part of reefing is for a beginner.
06-19-2012, 02:32 PM #10
0Originally Posted by Aeonflame