37 Gallon freshwater to saltwater...PLEASE HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by InsideEdge33, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. InsideEdge33

    InsideEdge33

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    Ok here it goes...From the beginning
    There are only 2 saltwater stores in my area for around 30-40 miles so I hope you guys can help me out here.
    I've been researching, reading books, checking things online, visiting local saltwater stores and I'm still a little confused. Everyone has something different to say. First off, I have decided for the time being I am gonna change out my 37 gallon freshwater tank into a saltwater setup. (I originally was gonna do a 75 gallon setup which I still plan on doing but living situation at the moment isn't right for a 75G.) But I do plan on it so some of my questions regard fish and certain ones that would grow slow that I could house in a 37 gallon tank right now for a while (maybe 6-12 months) then I would convert them to a 75 gallon.

    First...water. What is the best water to fill the tank? I have heard R/O, tap is ok, distilled? (I am on a water well where I live with very hard water so I think tap is out for me.) One store near me wants to charge 39 cents a gallon for water and I thought there has to be a way I can do it for free or at least cheaper? Any help?

    So I have a few things but wondering if I need more. The filters I plan on using are a Fluval FX5 canister filter that I got for a great deal (and also plan on using in the 75 gallon when I set it up) and my regular hang on the back filter that I'm using in my freshwater tank currently. For the Fluval FX5 I plan on using 2 parts bio media and not sure on 3rd media. Any suggestions? Is that sufficient or no?

    I will be using live rock but how many lbs. should I use? Also what's a reasonable $ per pound, and should I get a mixture of different types?
    I wanna use live sand with crushed coral as my bottom. I have heard that I don't need to use live sand because once I put in the live rock the sand will become live also. Is that true? And how would I mix the sand and coral...half the tank sand and the other coral, mixed 50-50 or ?? And I'd like to use a mix of black and tan sand. Any suggestions or thoughts?

    I know I need a heater. I plan on purchasing one new..How many watts should I get for a 37 gallon?
    Is a protein skimmer necessary or no? I have a used one and can't get it clean so just wondering if I have to purchase a new one and what's a good price for one.

    I guess that is it for now...until I get those questions answered and get set up. I have an idea of some fish I want but that was with the 75 gallon tank in mind. So I need to narrow that down a bit for now and also wonder if anyone knows of any fish that I could get that will grow slow in the beginning but get to 7-8 inches or larger later on. And I am thinking of going with an semi, mod. and aggressive tank. The main fish I want to build my tank around is a Harlequin Tuskfish and I've heard they grow slow. If I get a young one could I house him in the 37 gallon tank for maybe up to a year at the longest?

    I look forward to hearing from everyone here!
    Ryan
     

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    InsideEdge33, Mar 9, 2011
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  2. InsideEdge33

    Cathic Fish Wrangler

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    Well a few starting things, RO/DI is the only water to use that will ensure the fewest problems (distilled is essentially the same) tap is out of the question for you. 39c a gallon isnt terrible but if you want to stomach the inital cost and make free RO there after you would need to invest into an RO/DI unit to filter your water, these run from $100 to over 300 something in the $140 range will do just fine assuming its 4-6 stages. Next the only filters you will need will be the rock and protein skimmer they run around $150+ for a decent one, canister filters and HOB filters become disasters for saltwater aquariums. They trap all sorts of debris which will put nitrates into your tank causing nasty algae to grow everywhere. In the nicest terms possible id get rid of them or return them if possible (if the only plan was to use them for the saltwater aquarium). Next the crushed coral sand mix is also a bad idea, the smaller sand particles will sift to the bottom over time leaving you with wonderful pockets for debris and other things to collect in. This will also cause bad water quality and will essentially shut your tank down before you can even get it to going. Next you will need roughly 1-2 pds of liverock per gallon, you can mix different kinds but essentially it will all do the same thing, id look into rock from tbsaltwater.com Richard has excellent service and some of the best rock out there. Lastly lights will not be measured in watts per gallon instead look a nice 4 or 6 bulb T5 setup or a metal halide system. Largely the decision will be based off of what you can spend. Either will work perfect for a reef system T5's will be cheaper to start with, and 6 bulbs would be a preference for me. for a heater having two smaller ones rated for around 30 gallons will keep your tank at even temperatures and ensure it doesnt leave that temperature should one of them fail.

    I hope that answered most questions and if you have anymore feel free to ask away! Thats what were here for. Also, Welcome to the hobby and to the reefs!

    Cathic
     
    Cathic, Mar 9, 2011
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  3. InsideEdge33

    Waddi Shenanigans? VIP Member

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    The start is always expensive! ;) But you will become addicted and never let go! :D
    And welcome to the Reef!!
     
    Waddi, Mar 9, 2011
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  4. InsideEdge33

    Smitty

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    Hello and welcome to the site...glad to have you. Cathic has you covered.
    What suburb of sw chicago are you from? I know of a few lfs in that general area.
     
    Smitty, Mar 9, 2011
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  5. InsideEdge33

    little_fish Moderator

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    Hello and Welcome!

    Cathic has you covered, but i might add that you can buy mostly dry rock (waaaay cheaper) and just a couple lbs of live rock and the rest will turn live over time.

    Also, those tuskfish are mean and evil, and they will outgrow the 37 and 75. They really need a 125 or bigger. You really need to respect the tank sizing options with the aggressive fish because the smaller the tank they are in, the worse their behavior.

    I would start up with a nice community tank, it much easier to learn to ropes on
     
    little_fish, Mar 9, 2011
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  6. InsideEdge33

    sen5241b

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    Use only RO, DI or distilled (pricey) water. Even carbon filtered water will cause algae growth.

    It is a common myth in our hobby that canister filters are useless and much less a disaster. They can be a life saver for saltwater tanks. Do NOT ditch you canister filter. The reason canister filters may cause problems is becuase detritus can buld up in them to dangerous levels IF they are not cleaned out every several days or even daily. Most people tire quickly of cleaning them out --in the end they can clean the water well but they are not worth the effort. However if you ever get in a bad situation where your water gets polluted with deadly ammonia, nitrities, nitrates, copper or something else then you can fill your canister filter with some media and floss and run it for 24 to 48 hours and get your water back to very good quality.

    I would stay away form crushed coral. Use of dry rock can save you a lot of money.

    Heaters: I have a 29G and use a 150 watt heater. Lower wattage heaters caused downward temp spikes.

    I suggest 150 watt MG lights. Additional blue actinic will give you greater coralline growth.
     
    sen5241b, Mar 9, 2011
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  7. InsideEdge33

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    Welcome to the site!

    I would like the add that the stocking rules are different for freshwater versus saltwater.
    One small fish per every ten gallons is the basic rule of thumb for saltwater.
     
    ErinCahir, Mar 9, 2011
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  8. InsideEdge33

    AmberSunrise

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    39 cents a gallon!! Jeez I pay 1.25 a gallon for salt and 1.00 for fresh RO/DI

    Oh welcome to the forums!

    Yes the initial cost is usually the biggest at least you already have the tank!
     
    AmberSunrise, Mar 9, 2011
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  9. InsideEdge33

    little_fish Moderator

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    I might be wrong about this, but i really dont think that the activated carbon found in those filters is capable of removing ammonia, nitrites, nitrates or copper from an aquarium. I really think the only things that they are capable of removing is large organic particles. But one large organic particle it can remove are some toxins, so its a good idea to keep on on hand if your tank accidentally gets exposed to some.
     
    little_fish, Mar 9, 2011
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  10. InsideEdge33

    sen5241b

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    Carbon does remove copper and other heavy metals. If you want to remove ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phosphates or other toxins then -of course- you would have to use the right media. They make an absorption (and adsorption) media for just about all of the better known toxins.
     
    sen5241b, Mar 9, 2011
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  11. InsideEdge33

    little_fish Moderator

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    You are right, carbon can remove copper and heavy metals from the water column. But that carbon cant remove it from the rocks to save a tank that has been dosed with copper. And if you are treating copper for ich for excample, you probably arent going to want to use carbon to remove the copper, so not much use there.

    And if running those different media really did effectively remove the ammonia, nitrites or nitrates we would probably be telling people to run those on their systems if they had a mini cycle or high nitrates. But we dont because those arent great methods of removal. Instead, we tell people to do water changes, reduce feeding, get a skimmer, have a fuge etc as ways of addressing those issues.

    But i do think that those phosphate reactors do a great job of removing phosphate.

    I do think its a good idea to use carbon filters to polish the water every once in a while, or use other filters remove a variety of things, but to say that they can save your tank, or return you to perfect water quality is a bit missleading
     
    little_fish, Mar 10, 2011
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  12. InsideEdge33

    InsideEdge33

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    Thanks everyone for the feedback and the warm welcome...I guess I should of clarified here. I thought I put it in the post but I am looking to do just a fish only tank with live rock. I would like the rock to grow things out of it though and get some anemones as well. What type of lighting is good for just that? I know the site is called livingreefs but thought it was for all of the saltwater setups.
    cathic-I have heard both sides of the canister filter for a saltwater tank. Even in the replies sens5241b says it's ok. I can't return the filter. I actually got it as a package. I bought a 55 gallon tank, stand, protein skimmer thats filthy, and the Fluval FX5 for $100 so I thought it was a great deal. I am looking to sell the 55 gallon because I eventually wanna get a 75 gallon tank. I planned on putting 2 levels of biological media in the FX5. And most people said the live rock would take care of the rest of the filtration.

    ErinCahir-appreciate the comment, I know that the amount of fish is less but I guess my question is a little more specific. What I'm thinking is to get the 37 gallon up and running, get some fish that will stay small for about a year but reach a maximum size of 6-10 inches and transfer them into a 75 gallon tank and add other fish to that. Because of that I am willing to only house 2-4 fish total in the 37 gallon tank. Would it be better to get more smaller fish now because most fish will outgrow that tank quickly? Any advice as to how many small fish or large fish I could house in the 37 gallon tank?

    Sen5241b-My question to you is what kind of media should I use in the FX5 or what works best for a fish only with live rock tank? If you read above I was gonna use 2 parts bio and not sure of the 3rd.

    little _ fish-Dry rock? You mean regular live rock thats just dried out or ???. Someone today just told me to use base rock and then live rock on top of that because the light cant get to the underneath ones anyway?

    And finally does anyone know anything about a saltwater fern plant? It says it reduces nitrates and takes the place of a protein skimmer?

    Thanks everyone again for responding and feedback. There's just so many options out there. I wanna be smart about this and get input of what I can and should do. But at the same time not make any unnecessary purchases. Like the fern plant. That's a huge difference in price between that and a protein skimmer.
     
    InsideEdge33, Mar 10, 2011
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  13. InsideEdge33

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    You could house four small fish in a 37 gallon tank. With saltwater a lot of times the minimum recommended tank size is not so much how big the fish is, it is how the fish behaves. Tangs, for example, require a lot of swimming space. Most will be unhappy in any tank less than six feet long. I think a good plan for you would be get some small community fish for your 37 gallon, and when you are ready to upgrade then get the bigger fish.
    This is an excellent site for researching fish and their requirements
    Saltwater Fish: Marine Aquarium Fish for Saltwater Aquariums
    Also, keep in mind that LFS exist to make money. A lot of them will not be straightforward with your when it comes to livestock and their requirements.

    EDIT: If you are really looking to save money, you can always go with a scrubber over a skimmer. I don't personally run one, but there are quite a few people on this site who do. Check out PRC and BL1's build threads. Also, this: https://www.livingreefs.com/mega-powerful-nitrate-and-phosphate-remover-diy-t16734.html

    And this is what little_fish was talking about http://www.marcorocks.com/

    As far as the "fern"... I'm going to say that's calaupera. It will not replace a protein skimmer. Most people who run a refugium use chaeto over calaupera, however.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
    ErinCahir, Mar 10, 2011
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  14. InsideEdge33

    little_fish Moderator

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    If you want the rocks to grow things - you are doing a reef tank. But you are going to have to add the corals, they wont just pop out of the rocks. Also anemones are probably the hardest animal to keep in this hobby. They require lots of lights and perfect water conditions. Any swing in parameters, or nitrates or copper in your water will kill them - and then they will kill everything else in the tank because of the toxins they release.

    Also saltwater fish really dont do well in tanks that are too small for their adult sized, plus many people fail to upgrade in time. Also any fish that has an adult size of 6+ inches is going to need a tank much larger than 75 gals.

    Stick with the small community fish, you will have a much better time with it, and if you dont get around to doing the upgrade, they will live fine in the tank that you have.
     
    little_fish, Mar 10, 2011
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