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Marine Tank Project of Doom
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Saiyaness
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009

PostPosted: 2009.01.11(Sun)9:22    Post subject: Marine Tank Project of Doom Reply with quote

Hi, I work in a petshop in Australia and although I'm a total cichlid nut, and consider myself fairly well-read when it comes to fish, my marine knowledge isn't up to scratch.

I know full well the value of a large environment, especially for something not forgiving of instability like a marine tank, but I have a few queries.

Next week we are getting a quote at work for a monster marine tank, and we have new bosses that I know are keen on corals, invertebrates and lovely unusual fish - and we have only ever kept the bare basic fish in a too-small-tank. I have enough knowledge to help people set up basic saltwater tanks, and am being tested regularly on my knowledge with new marine customers. Anyway, so I've been researching like mad again this weekend, and have made a few 'O' sounds at things we're doing wrong at present. All very eye-opening.

I am now terrified of this tank to be. lol. A living, growing reef set-up seems disastrous and I just want as much info as possible before they go too crazy. This site has been great so far and I loved floridaboys post on Myths.

I have this thing where the best way for ME to learn is to have said critters, ie; cichlids, so I can learn at home, and use that knowledge at work. So I'm gonna set-up a really basic marine tank at home before el-sumpo monstro is built in the future.

We have two tanks at work with excellent filtration and lighting built in. (For sale) They're based on the nano-tank. One is a 35 and the other is an 80 litre. Thats only a 10 and roughly 20 gallon tank. But I just want a few fish, maybe some live rock, (because we don't stock it and have only just learned of this pre-cured business) and anything else that'll force me to understand parameters more in the marine tanks.

I already get protein skimmer - we stock those - but all other testing, and marine supplements, other than the usual ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH testing is beyond me.

So is this a good idea? I'd love to have a biiiiig proper marine tank at work, but don't want to go into it blindly. Because I dare say I'll be maintaining it initially. Help? Smile
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Osprey
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Location: Okotoks, AB

PostPosted: 2009.01.11(Sun)17:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to Marine fishkeeping!
It's refreshing to see someone thoroughly research before jumping into the salt. There is rather a lot to know, but the rewards are worth it.
The best book for beginning salties is "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner- anyone who's read it will recommend it. Get your hands on a copy as soon as possible, he'll simplify things in a no-nonsense sort of way.

Are you thinking of keeping corals? And if so, what kind?
In a FOWLR tank, or a reef tank without stony corals, you don't need to worry too much about balancing Ca, Mg and KH... but if you want to keep stonies, you're going to have to learn about those three and how they inter-relate, so that you can meet the increased needs of your stonies.
A lot of other marine supplements are more optional than anything else... most supplements are rather unnecessary as long as you keep up your water changes. But if you dose anything, then you need to make sure you're checking it.
You will need to learn to check salinity, and keep it constant. You can use either a hydrometer (cheap, but they can be inaccurate; get it calibrated if you can) or a refractometer to monitor salinity. I have a refractometer; I find them easier to use and well worth the investment. But the choice is up to you. Wink
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Saiyaness
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009

PostPosted: 2009.01.11(Sun)18:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah! I saw that book going through the Aquasonic product book at work the other day! I was helping do an order, perused the book section, and snorted at the name title. Bugger. :p I'll see if I can add the book onto the order, if it hasn't been sent.

I think for my practice tank at home, it will be a fish and life rock only until I get it established. Then I will dabble in a minute amount of corals/invertebrates in which further supplementing and testing will be required. Maintaining pH, carbonate hardness and salinity is fine (although we only have the standard glass hydrometers - can you get anything that can stay in the tank all the time?)
It's all the rest. According to one book, other than that list; Strontium, iodine, phosphates (maybe) and copper (maybe) are necessary.

I just really want to know my stuff before the Marine Tank of Imminent Doom is built at work. I have lists of 'easy' corals but they're still coral.

After reading floridaboys Myths, I'm terrified of this coral warfare now. lol. That'd be all I need.
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Osprey
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Location: Okotoks, AB

PostPosted: 2009.01.11(Sun)21:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like a good plan. Starting with FOWLR will give you a lot of flexibility later on.
You have a glass hydrometer? One of the ones that floats...? That's going to be a pain in the neck. The ones with the swinging arms are a bit easier to use.
You don't need something that will stay in the tank all the time; that would actually be a detriment, since you need to be able to test the water you mix for water changes, as well, and salinity doesn't swing dramatically in the tank, unless you allow too much water to evaporate before topping it off.
There are corals that I would consider 'bulletproof'; about as easy to maintain as plants in a FW aquarium. Mushrooms and GSP are exceptionally hardy. They grow like mad, too.
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Saiyaness
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009

PostPosted: 2009.01.11(Sun)22:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have been so helpful. Thankyou so much. I'm glad you haven't turned me off it, and have instead encouraged me. I shall look up this mushroom and GSP in the coral section of this website. I don't work today, but tomorrow I'm going to start planning the very basics of my tank and the work tank with the bosses. I can't wait!

I'll also take your advice on the hydrometer. I know the glass ones can't remain in the water, but I shall find alternative measures.

We actually keep a ready-made-salt barrel at work, kept aerated. Do I really need to do this at home, or can it be something I prepare the day before. I'm sure my mum wouldn't approve of a salt-encrusted garbage bin sitting around.

I'm sorry for annoying you. Further education will provide me with the rest of my set-up knowledge. Trial and error (which I'd like to keep to a bare minimum) shall teach me the rest. Thanks again. Smile
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2009.01.11(Sun)23:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saiyaness wrote:

It's all the rest. According to one book, other than that list; Strontium, iodine, phosphates (maybe) and copper (maybe) are necessary.


Welcome to you, Osprey is giving you good advice, the Fenner book will help you. I would stick with soft corals or maybe even a fish-only set up for a while until you get the hang of things. Stony corals, especially small polyp stony (SPS) are a challenge even for veterans. Also I just wanted to add, I have never seen an invertebrate that likes copper---it's deadly to them. Your research will help you, and best wishes for your success. Wink
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Osprey
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Location: Okotoks, AB

PostPosted: 2009.01.12(Mon)17:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saiyaness wrote:
We actually keep a ready-made-salt barrel at work, kept aerated. Do I really need to do this at home, or can it be something I prepare the day before. I'm sure my mum wouldn't approve of a salt-encrusted garbage bin sitting around.

That's convenient! I'm a little jealous, I have to mix my salt water in an old aquarium in my bedroom. You may get tired of lugging it home with you, though. It doesn't have to age for too long, but you should mix it at least a day in advance, heat it to tank temp and aerate it. I used to use food-safe rubbermaid containers until my tank got too big for them.
Quote:

I'm sorry for annoying you. Further education will provide me with the rest of my set-up knowledge. Trial and error (which I'd like to keep to a bare minimum) shall teach me the rest. Thanks again. Smile

Heheh... I wouldn't be here if I didn't enjoy helping people and learning from others. No annoyance at all!
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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia, Australia

PostPosted: 2009.01.13(Tue)21:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Saiyaness,

seeing as you are in aus and just starting out with marine tanks I highly recommend you check out you're local MASA group (marine aquarium societies of Australia) and their website and forum rtaw: http://www.masa.asn.au/masa/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/ .

I also completely agree with what has been said by osprey and FloridayBoy. However with getting your saltwater you may find it easier to simply get NSW or natural sea water. I have roughly 100 litres of the stuff sitting in screw top 25lt containers in my garage. I then use a jerry can to take the water into my room for water changes. Makes it really easy to do water changes and you always have saltwater ready in case of emergencies!

As to practically bullet proof corals I
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