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Gerald L. Lohnas
New Member
Username: lohnas

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 01:21 am:       

I plan to eventually turn my 120g Malawi tank into a saltwater tank. The Malawis are nice, big, and colorful, but I find myself wanting to try something different after three years of staring at them. I have a 90g Tanganikan tank too, and find them more interesting...even if less colorful. I also have a 29g, 20g, 5g, and a 2g.

My plan is to start with a fish only tank with live rock and see how that goes for a year or two before considering a reef tank. I'm thinking of a Picasso Trigger, a Harlequin Tuskfish, and maybe one of the more aquarium friendly Morays. Mix sound OK? None are reef safe, so I would have to find them a new home if I add Inverts.

I plan on using no equipment from the 120g setup except the tank. I'm a bit confused on what filtration to use and what other gadgets I need? I have a cabinet for the 120g, and was thinking of a big sump underneath the tank, a protein skimmer, heater(s), but what else is essential or desirable? UV sterilizer?

I have very hard well water, so I would buy an RO system (RO/DI?). During droughts in my region, we try to conserve water. This has never been a problem with keeping up with water changes, but will the RO system use a great deal of water to make "clean" water? Is it 10g in and 1g out or something like that? Do people store the "clean" water in containers to prepare for water changes? Can you add salt while storing or only just before use?

The Malawi tank has white Texas Holey rock in it. This rock would look good mixed in with live rock...lots of large holes for fish to go in and out. Any problems doing this? Is my driftwood saltwater safe?

Last question: I love to travel for 1,2, or even 3 weeks vacation and usually have someone feed fish while I'm gone, but I come home to tanks that desperately need water changes. I haven't had any freshwater fish loss yet, but how long can a saltwater tank be ignored? Will I need to hire a professional to come in to take care of things? If yes, how often? Every day, twice a week, once a week, less?

This is a long term plan; likely won't happen until Jan 2007, so don't assume any advice would be too late.


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Regular Member
Username: patm

Post Number: 273
Registered: 01-2003
Posted on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 07:23 pm:       

I can't answer all of these questions, but I'll start it off, and hopefully someone can fill in the holes.

Equiptment wise, you would definately benefit from a sump, both from an asthetic and functional standpoint. I'd say invest in a good skimmer, especially if you plan to convert to a reef in the future. I'd also go with at least two heaters in the sump, as you'll need alot of wattage, and in case one dies you have a second running until you can get a replacement. You will also want several powerheads to get some water movement in the tank. If you turn it into a reef you'll need even more movement. And lighting wise, I'd use whatever you have lying around. If you turn this tank into a reef you'll need to upgrade to some EXPENSIVE lighting, so there's no use in throwing money away now on lights that will be of no use to you if you change over to keeping corals. And there is no need for a UV sterilizer IMHO.

Different people will give you different recommendations on how to run your filtration. Personally, I like taking advantage of lots of biological filtration via live rock and a deep sand bed. However, you may also want some sort of mechanical filtration to remove debris and such. This could be accomplished by a power filter with sponge or cannister filter, or something along those lines.

For you fish selection, I have no personal experience with any of them. However, I would be cautious, and make sure I saw these fish before you purchase them. Wrasses are notoriously touchy fish, and are known to be delicate, especially after being shipped. I have no idea how compatible these fish are, but size wise, I don't see a problem. But I sure as heck wouldn't put my hands into a tank these three

An RO unit is defianately helpful in the sense that it keeps the unwated algae growth down. I'm not sure how far it will bring down the hardness. But regardless, yes, you will waste ALOT of water. You can use the 'waste' water to water house plants and such, but there is indeed alot of waste water compared to the amount of filtered water. You should probably mix the salt in advance to make sure the salinity level is right when you're ready to add it to the tank. It also works well to put a pump or power head in your bucket to get everything well mixed and dissolved.

Can't help you with the holey rock, I've never used it, and honestly don't even really know what it is.

As for going away, maintenance would require feeding (not necessarily on a daily basis, but every other or third day or so), and topping off the tank with freshwater once or twice weekly. If you do a good water change before you leave, I'd say you'd have no problem going away for up to three weeks as long as you get someone to feed and top off the tank.

Hope that helps,

My tanks and vivariums--->
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Gerald L. Lohnas
New Member
Username: lohnas

Post Number: 9
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2006 - 12:53 am:       

Thanks Pat, this was helpful. I think my biggest concern was how long can I leave town and still expect live fish when I get home. A big change before I go and another when I get back is what I'm currently doing for my freshwater tanks.

I have access to RO/DI water at work, so I guess I have that as a backup if the lack of rain makes me worried about running my well dry with an RO system. It's not convenient to get it at work, and the sight of me lugging 5g of water out of the building every day would eventually get noticed, and not favorably.

I'm now thinking I might try to add a 75g for my fish only tank and leave the Malawis alone for now. I have a place for it above my 90g. I made the stand with this in mind, the 90g is only a foot above the floor, which would put the 75g at eye level when standing. I just have to show my wife that picture I just saw in TFH of a person's fish room (100 tanks) and say, "see, 7 or 8 tanks isn't alot".
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Regular Member
Username: milesteg

Post Number: 105
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 01:43 pm:       

I am using a R/O unit for my water. You can expect about 80% waste water. That is what I was told and that is about what I see from my usage.
I store my water in a 20gallon garbage can so I can prepare it for use.

I'll be starting a Mini-reef tank soon.
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