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Is this new set-up OK?
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sandsage
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Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Location: Savannah, GA

PostPosted: 2009.04.23(Thu)22:33    Post subject: Is this new set-up OK? Reply with quote

Hi everyone, I'm a total newbie, but have been reading for a while now and feel ready to at least ask a question. This is what I'm thinking about setting up - please let me know what you think:

Fish Only with Live Rock
29 gallon rectangular tank
100 watt heater (is 50 watt OK? - that is coming free with the tank)
under 1 inch live sand (dry from fish store)
30lbs rock - (how much has to be live? I would like to use filler as much as possible to save money, but I'm saving a lot on the tank so might do all live if it's worth it)
lighting - whatever is coming with the tank, it seems it doesn't matter much and I should actually keep it to a minimum.
and of course, hydrometer and the special salt and dechlorinator and some buckets

Now, here's where I get more confused
Filter - do I need one? Powerheads?
Protein Skimmer - Fishboy is very big on these, and it sounds like it will save me some water changes, so I'm leaning towards getting one
UV Sterilizer - ditto
Or is this fancy stuff going overboard?

My plan is to keep a pair of captive-bred fake clownfish (nemo), plus one damselfish that I will use to cycle the tank and then keep on assuming it survives me.

If I get the skimmer and sterilizer, will that cut down on the need for water changes? How much? Do these items, plus the live rock and sand, make a filter unnecessary?

Also, with the clownfish and damselfish, which everyone describes as "hardy", do I really need to bring new water up to temp with a separate heater before adding to the tank? My LFS recommended just pouring tap water, dechlorinator, and salt straight into the tank... Irresponsible, or practical?

Thank you all so much for your help. My 3yo has his heart set on this, and it's not even related to the movie, he just absolutely loves fish and has for two years, since way before we let him watch TV.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)8:12    Post subject: Re: Is this new set-up OK? Reply with quote

sandsage wrote:
Hi everyone, I'm a total newbie, but have been reading for a while now and feel ready to at least ask a question.


Welcome to the forum.

sandsage wrote:

100 watt heater (is 50 watt OK? - that is coming free with the tank)


I prefer 100 watts, but it depends on the average temperature of your room, some people keep their homes in the low 70's with AC, or if you lived in Alaska you would need more power, see here for a guide to heater size:
http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/tipsandtables/l/blheatersize.htm

sandsage wrote:
30lbs rock - (how much has to be live? I would like to use filler as much as possible to save money, but I'm saving a lot on the tank so might do all live if it's worth it)


The more the better. Most authors suggest a minimum of 1 pound to a maximum of 1.75 pounds per gallon of water. You also need to research live rock and understand how to achieve and maintain the correct water chemistry required to keep the corallines growing. Most hobbyists do not understand how important this is, and they lose the rock over time as it declines and becomes dead rock.

sandsage wrote:
Now, here's where I get more confused
Filter - do I need one? Powerheads?


Your live rock will serve as a biological filter, however many authors agree that you will need chemical and particulate filtration eventually, this can be added a few weeks later if you prefer. Powerheads are handy for keeping the detritus out of your rocks, you don't want detritus settling on and smothering your expensive live rock, you want lots of water movement and detritus to be suspended until it is removed by the particulate filter.

sandsage wrote:
Protein Skimmer - Fishboy is very big on these, and it sounds like it will save me some water changes, so I'm leaning towards getting one
UV Sterilizer - ditto
Or is this fancy stuff going overboard?


A well designed skimmer is pretty much required in your case, because you have no other filtration for removing dissolved organics. Choose wisely, lots of worthless junk on the market that will not function. UV sterilizers have their pros and cons, some hobbyists love them. Personally I have never employed them and they are certainly not required for success.

sandsage wrote:
If I get the skimmer and sterilizer, will that cut down on the need for water changes? How much? Do these items, plus the live rock and sand, make a filter unnecessary?


Filtration is defined in three types; Biological, Chemical and Particulate (a.k.a. mechanical). Well-maintained live rock that is growing and free of detritus can reduce or eliminate the need for a BIOLOGICAL filter. However, see my earlier comments on your need for other types of filtration. Skimmer WILL reduce dissolved organics, and reduce need for water changes, however they are still going to be needed for optimum health of your animals. Many authors suggest monthly 20-25 percent water changes for established marine systems, it should be part of your maintenance routine.

sandsage wrote:
Also, with the clownfish and damselfish, which everyone describes as "hardy", do I really need to bring new water up to temp with a separate heater before adding to the tank? My LFS recommended just pouring tap water, dechlorinator, and salt straight into the tank... Irresponsible, or practical?


Find another LFS. New batches of salt/water should be dissolved, aerated with a pump or powerhead and temp adjusted for several hours, preferably 24 hours. In tank with delicate inverts and crustaceans, RO water is the normal route to avoid poisons like copper and nitrates which can be quite high in tap water and can prove fatal to certain types of livestock.

sandsage wrote:
Thank you all so much for your help. My 3yo has his heart set on this...


My pleasure, that's probably not the best reason to get a marine aquarium but I do wish you the best of success... please understand the biological nitrogen cycle before you proceed, and make this book your first purchase, it will save you a lot of money and heartache:
http://catalog.ebay.com/The-Conscientious-Marine-Aquarist_ISBN-10_1890087025_ISBN-13_9781890087029_W0QQ_fclsZ1QQ_pcatidZQQ_pidZ415334QQ_tabZ2
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Last edited by FloridaBoy on 2009.04.24(Fri)8:31; edited 1 time in total
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sandsage
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Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Location: Savannah, GA

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)8:31    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thank you FloridaBoy - it's reassuring that a well-balanced tank should only need water changes once a month - I was afraid it would be once a week. But is it more often while I'm getting it going?

Also, do I need inverts? And if so, what would you recommend for a tank this size? I read a recommendation elsewhere for a cleaner shrimp, a hermit crab, and some snails, I think. Do I think of the inverts as little cleaners that help my fish, or as additional delicate livestock?

And just to review, it sounds like I need a chemical and particulate filter, and a protein skimmer. I don't know much about the filter I'm getting - I guess I'll see what it is when it comes and I may need to replace. When someone talks about a "pump" is that the same as the filter or something different? I can't find any reference to that on here...

I will get the book you recommend, but I'm hoping to start cycling the tank sooner rather than later...

Thank you so much!,
Michelle
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)8:42    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

sandsage wrote:
Thank you FloridaBoy - it's reassuring that a well-balanced tank should only need water changes once a month - I was afraid it would be once a week. But is it more often while I'm getting it going?


Not really. Water changes and skimmers can interfere with the cycling process in some cases.

sandsage wrote:
Also, do I need inverts? And if so, what would you recommend for a tank this size? I read a recommendation elsewhere for a cleaner shrimp, a hermit crab, and some snails, I think. Do I think of the inverts as little cleaners that help my fish, or as additional delicate livestock?


No you do not need inverts, I would avoid them for a year. In fact, I would consider going with a simple undergravel filter, crushed coral and maybe a couple live rocks and forego the expense of all that live rock in your case, (for the reasons in my first post) this would be fine for a year or so and offer you an education with hardy fish species, and after that you could upgrade your system if you decide this is for you, but that is only my opinion. See my 2 articles here with respect to inverts and beginners:
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=17688
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=24970

sandsage wrote:
I will get the book you recommend, but I'm hoping to start cycling the tank sooner rather than later...


Get the book now. Make the book your first purchase.
Trust me on this.
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Jisty Morelove
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Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Location: Cornwall,UK

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)9:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all..

Quote:
plus one damselfish that I will use to cycle the tank and then keep on assuming it survives me.


So it's accepted to livecycle a SW tank is it?

Poor Poor fish, not what I'd do myself.

If all you need is an ammonium source, then 2-3 med size frozen prawns are all you need. then a few more as the weeks go buy.

Jisty Morelove
P.S. supprised you have not picked up on that floridaboy
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)12:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jisty Morelove wrote:
Hi all..

Quote:
plus one damselfish that I will use to cycle the tank and then keep on assuming it survives me.


So it's accepted to livecycle a SW tank is it?

Poor Poor fish, not what I'd do myself.

If all you need is an ammonium source, then 2-3 med size frozen prawns are all you need. then a few more as the weeks go buy.

Jisty Morelove
P.S. supprised you have not picked up on that floridaboy


Well Jisty, that's why we have you around, to remind me of all the important things! Wink
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Jisty Morelove
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Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Location: Cornwall,UK

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)13:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi all..

Very Happy Glad to be of use Very Happy

Good luck with the tank Sandsage, One day I'd like a go at SW myself, so I'm reading with interest and gaining good knowledge myself .

Have fun
Jisty Morelove
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nes999
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Joined: 10 Mar 2009
Location: Peoria IL

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)15:26    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

FloridaBoy wrote:
sandsage wrote:
Thank you FloridaBoy - it's reassuring that a well-balanced tank should only need water changes once a month - I was afraid it would be once a week. But is it more often while I'm getting it going?


Not really. Water changes and skimmers can interfere with the cycling process in some cases.

sandsage wrote:
Also, do I need inverts? And if so, what would you recommend for a tank this size? I read a recommendation elsewhere for a cleaner shrimp, a hermit crab, and some snails, I think. Do I think of the inverts as little cleaners that help my fish, or as additional delicate livestock?


No you do not need inverts, I would avoid them for a year. In fact, I would consider going with a simple undergravel filter, crushed coral and maybe a couple live rocks and forego the expense of all that live rock in your case, (for the reasons in my first post) this would be fine for a year or so and offer you an education with hardy fish species, and after that you could upgrade your system if you decide this is for you, but that is only my opinion. See my 2 articles here with respect to inverts and beginners:
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=17688
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=24970

sandsage wrote:
I will get the book you recommend, but I'm hoping to start cycling the tank sooner rather than later...


Get the book now. Make the book your first purchase.
Trust me on this.


honestly I didn't know that u could use a ugf filter with saltwater.... this got ideas going through my head
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nes999
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Joined: 10 Mar 2009
Location: Peoria IL

PostPosted: 2009.04.24(Fri)15:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldnt buy that book new it could between 40-50 I got mine through ebay new in box for 5 dollars with free shipping....what a steal.
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FloridaBoy
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PostPosted: 2009.04.25(Sat)0:10    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

nes999 wrote:

honestly I didn't know that u could use a ugf filter with saltwater.... this got ideas going through my head


Well, it's not the best solution long term but for a basic hardy species fish system it will work fine for a year or two with small bio loads, and it can provide a good economical launching point for a total newbie who may not get in the hobby at all if things become too complicated or cost prohibitive.

I have had good success over the years with them when I needed a simple, low cost method, but unfortunately the UGF is self destructive; as the crushed coral eventually becomes heavily impacted with detritus and turns into a nutirent sink. Even with regular vacuuming, this will be a problem long term. Truth is, there are several types of filters that can be used successfully (I have employed most of them over the years) and making the best filtration choices for a particular need is part of what Fenner covers in the book I am always recommending here. Wink
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Last edited by FloridaBoy on 2009.04.25(Sat)16:29; edited 1 time in total
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