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Shelley
Regular Member
Username: mostby8365

Post Number: 144
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 03:28 pm:       

My son wants Nemo. I have FW tanks but would like to now convert one 29g to SW. I want to start out slow and as simply (inexpensively) as possible.

I have been reading on "Best of Badman's" about fishless cycling for both FW and SW. I have also gotten some information from the LFS (but keeping in mind that they also told me not to do a fishless cycle) I want to check out the other things they have told me. Here's my top ten question list:

1. I have been told to get crushed coral for the substrate. How much for a 29g tank?

2. Can I use a 200 Penguin biowheel filter?

3. What kind/brand of ammonia should I use?

4. What temperature does a salt water tank need to be at? Is it like a FW or do I have to have a chiller?

5. Is a skimmer necessary?

6. What is a sump? And does the aquarium have to be drilled for one?

7. I know I need a thing to test the salinity of the water. What other equipment do I need for start up?

8. I understand that stocking a SW tank is not like stocking a FW tank. I can't put as many fish in one. What kind of stocking level do I need to work towards if I'm looking at fish like damsels and clowns?

9. Any more questions I should be asking but am too ignorant to know about?

10. Should this step from FW to SW be as scary as I feel it is?

Thank you,
Shelley
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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Laura
Regular Member
Username: roseh

Post Number: 817
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 09:14 pm:       

First lets answer #10 :-). Nope, calm down, lol.

1. crushed coral is actually NOT a good substrate, but if you can find a smaller grain, it's ok. Although, if you're used to cleaning sand or can handle it, go with a fine grade of aragonite.

2. Bio-wheels should work fine, but many call them nitrate factories, simply because they dont remove the nitrate. Larger water changes (larger than what is normal for salt anyways), ime, are enough to fix that though. I've got two reefs, one with a bio-wheel, one with bio-balls. Both are considered nitrate factories - I dont have a problem and neither should you if you stay on top of water changes (and if you can, add a refugium and grow macro algae - it'll help plenty).

3. ammonia isnt needed. Just use live rock to cycle it. The die-off of the organisms on the rock with be enough.

4. For your average tropicals, same temperature as freshwater.

5. A skimmer isnt necessary at all, but it helps a lot and makes things easier.

6. Hmm.. well, a sump is another "tank" connected to the display tank that is where more filtration takes place, for the most part. It also adds water volume and should generally be at minimum 1/4 the size of the display. The aquarium has to be drilled, or you can drill it yourself. Again, you dont need one.

7. For testing salt, stay away from hydrometers, and go for a refractometer. Hydro's are not reliable at all and the refracts are well worth the money. I'll never go back to a hydrometer after having my refractometer. You'll need marine salt, a source of RO water (whether you buy a unit or know of a place that sells it for cheap), and if you arent going to have corals and things like that, that's about all you'll need aside from a gravel vac.

8. Stay away from damels!! They're evil in the flesh - just dont get one... But clowns, although closely related, are good and hardy too. Clowns do worlds better when kept in a pair, so a pair of ocellaris clowns (Nemo, often sold as true perculas, but arent. One sure difference is that the eyes of a percula are clear and bright orange, while the eyes of an ocellaris are murky and dark.) would do well in a 29 gallon. You can also add one or two more small fish with them too. A small wrasse and a goby would be attractive and most are very hardy. You can look at the nano section at www.liveaquaria.com for more ideas.

9. You'll need about 30 pounds of live rock in there. Never top off the tank with saltwater, only fresh (RO) since salt doesnt evaporate. Look into setting up a refugium to grow macro algaes to take out excess nutrients. A refugium is something like a sump, but is filled with things like macro algae, live rock, live sand, etc and has a light over it to grow the algae. The algae is grown for nutrient export.


It sounds like a lot if you hear it all at once, so take it slow and research tons :-).
That's not how you spell CHEESE!
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Shelley
Regular Member
Username: mostby8365

Post Number: 146
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 10:58 pm:       

Laura,
Thanks for answering my questions! I will have to go google a refugium to get a better idea about what that is.

So, damsels are not good fish! That must be why everyone is willing to kill them off during the cycling process, right? I have noticed two different "Nemo" looking fish at the LFS. Maybe they were the two different kinds you told me about. I'll have to check that out.

About cycling with the live rock. Do you mean that I don't have to have fish or ammonia or dead shrimp or anything else besides the live rock??? Wow! Do I just put it in and leave it until the tank is cycled? How long does that take?

As for the R/O water. I'm clueless on that too. I can't just use tap water like in my FW tanks, huh? Is the R/O water something I can buy at Walmart or do I have to find a special source like the LFS or purchase R/O equipment for that?

I told you I was ignorant! Answers to my questions always brings more questions. Thanks again.
Shelley
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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Laura
Regular Member
Username: roseh

Post Number: 818
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 11:12 pm:       

Damsels are for cycling because they're one of the hardiest fish.. like ever, lol. And yes, the two Nemo species are percula and ocellaris. But the Nemo in the movie was an ocellaris, however, if you like perculas better (they have their differences), your son probably wont see the difference.

Yup, just 30 pounds of live rock (you can find it in many places, even Petco if you cant find it elsewhere). Just leave it in, and you'll have to do a huge water change after it's cycled as nitrates will likely be very high. When I've done this, it took about 3 weeks, but with every cycle, the time varies.

RO = reverse osmosis. There seems to be plenty of junk in the water that actually makes a difference in saltwater vs freshwater. I had algae problems in my reefs I've never had to deal with in my freshwater tanks, and others have experienced it even harming their corals. When I switched to RO water, everything looked up immediately! You can buy RO water, maybe even ready to go saltwater, from Petco and some better LFS, for only $1 per gallon. Very much worth it!

Do a lot of reading over a www.reefcentral.com. It's a great place with tons of info and you'll also get a very good idea of what a rufugium is :-).
That's not how you spell CHEESE!
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Shelley
Regular Member
Username: mostby8365

Post Number: 158
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 11:55 pm:       

I couldn't afford the refugerium at this time or 30 lbs of live rock at $8.00 per pound! I did get 15 lbs and live sand. The cycling is going well and I am getting some interesting critters in the rocks! I only wish I knew what they were!

The ammonia is almost gone (.25), Nitrite is .50 and nitrate is somewhere between 80 to 160. Since the nitrates are so high should I be doing a water change? I understand things are different with the nitrates than with fresh water.

Thanks,
Shelley
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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Laura
Regular Member
Username: roseh

Post Number: 826
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 02:18 pm:       

Sorry for responding so late, I was out of state for two weeks with no computer. The tank might be cycled by now, but yes, you need to do water changes before adding anything after the cycle. Get those nitrates to 0 to a trace with water changes.

A refugium isnt nessecary, but eventually you'll want to get 30 pounds of live rock. However, once you add livestock, dont add new rock to the tank. Cure it in another container (like a garbage can) with an air pump, while changing half the water out every day or every other day. Once the rocks dont smell anymore and only smell like regular saltwater, then you can add them to your tank.

Here's a great ID page for many things you'll find on the rocks and other things as well.

http://www.melevsreef.com/id/
That's not how you spell CHEESE!
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Shelley
Regular Member
Username: mostby8365

Post Number: 170
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 11:56 pm:       

Laura,
That was a great page. Yikes! I admit that I have already blown it on most of your suggestions. The tank was cycled (i.e. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites) but the nitrates were not gone before I put live stuff in it and I did not do the water change until after I put the live stuff in it, either. Not only that, I put another live rock in that the LFS said wouldn't cause a problem in the tank (unfortunately, my ammonia and nitrites are both up now).

I have been dosing with amquel and will do another water change. I guess I am making the same mistake I have been warned about and moving too fast.

The sand bed is about 2". Will the nitrates really go to 0 without water changes???? That is such a change from FW!

Thanks,
Shelley
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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Laura
Regular Member
Username: roseh

Post Number: 828
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 05:42 am:       

To help with nitrates, the sand bed would have to be more than 4". To be really effective it should be somewhere around 6". However, in some cases after a few years or so it can "go bad" and cause big problems for the tank, so shallower is, imo, better. 2" sounds good as you'll be able to keep a small wrasse with that in your tank (pretty and hardy fishes that sleep in the sand) and avoid a rotting sand bed. With your tank, stick to frequent water changes to take care of nitrates though.

Also, what is the "live stuff"? Most things are very sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. You should do frequent water changes asap, and keep in mind the new rock is making the tank go through a mini-cycle.
That's not how you spell CHEESE!
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