A complete newbie who needs a way to start!

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by Laz, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Laz

    Laz

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    Hi guys,

    I've basically been getting into this whole tank thing and have had a fresh water tank for a minute now, and upon my research and passionate viewing of countless videos of Saltwater tanks, it really feels like I'm playing with a house rather than a mansion!

    Over this past week, I've just felt so jealous as to how gorgeous Saltwater tanks look in comparison to freshwater tanks, and it just seems like something I really want to get into.

    The only problem is, I'm 20 and I really don't have a lot of money to spend right now and I'd like to limit myself at the moment and be as budget as possible. I was thinking of just starting a 5 gallon nano-reef but I really don't know where to start or what to buy! I was hoping some of you kind reefer's would possibly help me out with what I would require for a 5 gallon tank. I really just want to know the very basics of what I need to get going and I'd like to take it onwards and upwards from there! I hope you can help me have a little luxury of my own here, because I feel like I could watch videos of them all day!

    Thanks, and it's a pleasure to be a part of the forum.
     
    Laz, Jan 16, 2013
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  2. Laz

    chichimom79 reef junkie

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    Welcome aboard!
    What size is your freshwater tank? Could you convert it to saltwater and sell your fish to your LFS for credit in saltwater stuff? That would save you some money right there.
    I would go as big as you can afford simply because the water parameters are much more stable the bigger you go.
    One thing to think about is what you are wanting to put in the tank. Is there a fish that you have your heart set on? In a five gallon you will be severely limited on what you can put in there unless you want a coral only tank. Also keep in mind that if you want to grow coral, the light is your most important investment.
    Always do your research before purchasing anything, especially livestock. This is a great resource that we like to use for the requirements of different fish/corals... Aquarium Fish: Tropical Freshwater Fish and Saltwater Fish for Home Aquariums
    This can be a very rewarding hobby. :D
     
    chichimom79, Jan 16, 2013
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  3. Laz

    Laz

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    Hi there, and thanks.

    My freshwater tank is 10 gallons, but I plan on keeping that put. This 5 gallon tank (which I am yet to purchase) is simply something that I plan to keep in my bedroom as an experimentation to see if I can handle it, and maybe if my passion continues to grow, will I then expand to a bigger tank.

    I'd love to go bigger, of course, but unfortunately my budget is limited and I really don't have a lot of space, so it'll have to be a 5-6 gallon aquarium.

    I wouldn't say I have my eye on anything particular, I was thinking of a single clown fish and a bit of live rock and possibly some coral (I'm not sure if they're the same thing, sorry, an absolute novice here).

    Would I be able to add a single clown fish and some coral in a 5 gallon tank? That's pretty much all I would add, but of course, I'm no expert in this so I would first have to go on the advise of you guys.

    And what are the necessary pieces required for the type of set up I'm thinking about?

    Thank you.
     
    Laz, Jan 16, 2013
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  4. Laz

    FishyReef Broke Reefer!

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    An occelaris or percula clown needs at least a 10g tank. Really the only type of fish you could put in a 5g tank would be an extremely small nano goby. Given your budget constraints, I would set up a 10g tank instead of a 5g tank so that you could at least have a clown fish and 1-2 other nano fish. The 10g tank is going to cost about the same as a 5g in terms of equipment. You will want 1-2lbs of rock per gallon, and buying mostly dry rock (look at marco rocks or bulk reef supply) will be cheaper than buying live rock. You can then buy a small piece of live rock from your local LFS to seed your dry rock and cycle your tank. As far a light that would support coral, I'd recommend getting a Par38 bulb from RapidLED - they are appx $90 and are the cheapest way to go in terms of a light. You can buy a decent heater titanium heater w/ external controller for under $30 from bulk reef supply (cheapest place I've found them - and cheaper than a glass heater from petco that will likely fail within the year). Add a nano powerhead or two and you should be good to go. I do think Petco has their $1/gallon sale going on right now, but even if they don't an empty 10g runs $13 (for comparison, the 5g tank is actually more expensive - why, I have no clue!). For a 10g tank w/ Par38 bulb, I'd budget $250 to get it up and running with all necessary equipment, testing supplies, and rock/sand. A 5g is going to be almost the same, except you won't need quite as much rock. You can buy RO/DI water from the LFS (it runs anywhere from 20-50 cents per gallon) and make your own saltwater, or you can buy saltwater premade from the LFS (which will run around $1.50/g). For either a 5 or 10g tank you don't need any sort of filter other than the live rock as weekly water changes will keep your parameters in check.

    We're glad to have you aboard, and just keep in mind that in this hobby (1) always do your research before buying anything, (2) nothing good happens fast, and (3) going with cheap equipment in the beginning will end up costing you more down the road (that doesn't mean you have to get top of the line, but spending an extra $15 for a titanium heater can be the difference between a tank boil and loss of all livestock and a healthy thriving tank :) )
     
    FishyReef, Jan 16, 2013
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  5. Laz

    Laz

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    Hey Fishy, thanks for the reply.

    Sure, I understand. There isn't much of a difference so I'm sure I can probably suffice.

    So, what I would require is:

    * 10 Gallon Tank
    * 10-15 lbs of rock
    * Titanium Heater w/ external controller (I do actually have a glass heater I don't use)
    * Nano powerhead
    * 10 Gallons of RO/DI water

    If there is anything else I'm missing, if you could mention it, I'd appreciate it.

    I have a few questions if you don't mind.

    1) Is there any special sand I need to purchase or is it normal play sand? Also, would it require washing out before I add it into the tank?

    2) Should I add the rocks before I add the sand?

    3) Is there a place wish you could point me to as to where I can purchase cheap 10 gallon tanks? I live in the UK, so it may have to be an online store.

    4) Is it important for the tank not to have a cover? I ask this because where I will have my tank, can get quite dusty. I worry that this could enter the tank and contaminate it. Also, being it shall be in my bedroom, I sometimes spray deodorant and others sometime come in and use cologne or hairspray. I wouldn't like to risk contaminating it so is it possible I could use a cover for it?

    5) For lighting, I really require something that could be attached to the tank as opposed to a bulb which would hang from the ceiling. I'm not sure what to do about that, especially if I was to use a cover. I guess that would be based on what tank I purchase?

    6) As you mention I will have to do water changes weekly, does that mean I will have to make regular trips to the LFS or can I just purchase a whole load of water and change it when required?

    Thanks a lot for your help, I hope you don't mind the questions.
     
    Laz, Jan 16, 2013
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  6. Laz

    chichimom79 reef junkie

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    1. Do not under any circumstances use play sand. Use aragonite sand. You can opt for the cheaper dry sand though, and it will need to be rinsed.. Live sand is not necessary. You could also do a bare bottom tank with no sand if you wanted.
    2. Yes, place your rock before adding sand to make the rock more stable. 15 lbs. of dry rock would be good and then add a few lbs. of live.
    3. In the States, a ten gallon tank can be found at any pet retailer or Wal-Mart even. They don't carry ten gallon tanks anywhere in the UK?
    4. Do not spray anything like that in the same room. Go to a different room. An airtight cover will give you a lack of oxygen exchange, which your tank needs. People do use vented covers for fish that are prone to jumping. You will have to do a weekly water change anyway so do not worry about a normal amount of dust. We all have dust and some of us have pet dander in the air too!
    5. You could buy a gooseneck bulb fixture if you want to go with a PAR38. There are other options besides hanging it from the ceiling.
    Don't hesitate to ask questions. That's what we're here for!
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
    chichimom79, Jan 16, 2013
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  7. Laz

    Laz

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    Thanks for the reply, Chichi.

    Right, should I wash the sand before I add it in to remove the silt from it?

    To be honest, I'm not sure. LFS probably have them but they come at a dear price that's really not worth it when I could probably get it cheaper elsewhere. I was thinking I could probably get a good deal online somewhere.

    What sort of nano-head may I require for a 10 gallon tank? I'd prefer to have one to be honest. Are there certain one's that are more powerful, and would you reccomend a place to purchase them by any chance?

    I read through your 10 gallon tank thread, it was brilliant to see the progress by the way! Definitely provided some inspiration. ;)

    Thanks.
     
    Laz, Jan 16, 2013
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  8. Laz

    chichimom79 reef junkie

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    I actually edited my post to advise the rinsing of the dry sand. If you did get the live sand it doesn't require the rinsing, though some people still do.
    I would recommend buying the tank locally if you can. Have you looked for a used one that's in good shape by any chance? Shipping can be expensive and risky if it isn't packaged or handled properly.
    I have two Koralia nanos in my ten gallon. They were a bit too much at first. You can get away with just one, but they do decrease in power as they age/get dirty. Do a search for Koralia powerhead online and see what you come up with. Im not sure where would be the best for you since I am buying from within the States. I bought one of them local and one at Bulk Reef Supply online.
    Thank you for the compliment! Lately I have been way more focused on my cube, and I am anxious to get everything from the ten into the cube very soon. I then plan to turn the ten gallon into a frag tank.
     
    chichimom79, Jan 16, 2013
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  9. Laz

    little_fish Moderator

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    +1 to the girls
     
    little_fish, Jan 16, 2013
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  10. Laz

    Laz

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    Oh, I see. Another few q's:

    I've heard that there's a certain depth your sand beds should be.. either deep sand beds or shallow, and not in-between. Is there any truth to this and if so, what would you recommend? I noticed your 10 gallon tank had a deep bed of (not sure what it is), but I thought that it may be taking away from the amount of water volume I can add into the tank. Is there any real beneficial differences if you have that or the other?

    I also found a brand new filter called Hailea H-12 which I've never used. It says it can work on Sea-water tanks. Would it be of any use to this tank? Here's a link of it: H-12

    I think I really would require a cover, but I may consider one that has a hood which has a slide that opens and closes. I heard some have also added small fans that are used on computer CPU's which blow air. I think that would work. Another thing I'm worried about is, the room I plan to put this in really does vary in temperatures at time. It can become absolutely freezing and at other times be very hot if the heating is on. Is there any way/or machine that can do anything about this in terms of cooling/heating the water when needed?

    I saw your 60 gallon thread, too, Chichi. It really is phenomenal. Hopefully I can have one like that some day. I think what really scares people about getting into this hobby is the price. I went to my LFS last week and they quoted me a price to get started with the most basic, smallest of set-ups at a price of £550 (880$), which must really put people off, but when I think about it in other ways, you can get a set-up going and looking good for a lot less.

    Well here's to a hobby that will hopefully go onwards and upwards from here! And as always, thanks for the continued help guys.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
    Laz, Jan 17, 2013
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  11. Laz

    chichimom79 reef junkie

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    You don't need to run a canister filter and in fact they can deteriorate your water quality if not cleaned weekly. Don't bother. With enough live rock and water changes you will be fine.
    Temp stability is an important thing. It is best to not fluctuate more than a dgree or so throughout the day, which can be hard to do depending on the equipment running and lights which both give off heat. Some people run chillers on their systems to avoid overheating and gives that stability to the system.
    The sand bed in the ten gallon is a few inches deep, which does look pretty deep in a ten gallon tank. A true deep sand bed is at least six inches in depth and incorporates finer sand. After I get all of the livestock moved over, I am going to siphon out sections of the sandbed and slowly transfer it to the cube as well. I need more sand in that tank. However I have to do this very carefully so I don't cause a problem in my cube. Whole other story....
    I am glad you like my tanks! I love them too :D
     
    chichimom79, Jan 17, 2013
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  12. Laz

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    In a small tank like a 10 gallon, I would stick with 1" or so of sand. Any more and it's just taking up space that otherwise would be filled with water, rock or fish.
     
    Bifferwine, Jan 17, 2013
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  13. Laz

    Smitty

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    Hello and welcome to the site...glad to have you aboard.
     
    Smitty, Jan 17, 2013
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  14. Laz

    FishyReef Broke Reefer!

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    Sounds like Chichi has you covered on most of the stuff! The thing with glass heaters is that they break easily, and when they do they often break in the "on" position meaning they overheat your tank. I recommended the titanium heater just because I think it will help keep your temp more stable and will last longer in the long run. The ones with external controllers have a better chance of not getting stuck in the "on position." Finnex makes one that isn't very expensive, but I don't know what availability is like in the UK. If you can't afford one or can't find a decent one, then go with a glass heater. If you have to, then I'd go ahead and start with the glass heater you have and switch it out when you have the money to do so.

    As for temp stability, a good heater will help keep the temp up even if air temp gets cold. A clip on fan like you mentioned will do just fine cooling the tank if you aim it to blow across the top of the tank (as long as you don't have a top on the tank - a top prevents evaporation which otherwise aids in cooling). You can buy a small controller called a Reef Keeper Lite (they run around $120 here in the US) and plug your fan and heater in to it and then use the controller to turn on/off your fan/heater depending on temperature. I had a hard time keeping my 10g stable last summer and will definitely be adding a controller to it this coming summer.

    Like Chichi, I also have 2 hydor koralia nano powerheads in my 10g and it seems to be just the right amount of flow. I suggested the Par38 bulb just because its much cheaper than other fixtures and you don't have to replace bulbs. Given that your budget is tight I'd look into a clip on light and screw the par 38 bulb into it if you can find one. I didn't initially realize you're in the UK though so I'm not sure if the companies here like RapidLED ship over there. We do have a few UK members, perhaps one of them can chime in!

    I'm surprised there isn't any sort of big box store that sells empty small aquariums that are literally just the tank - no filters or anything with them. Here several places have them and they are really inexpensive. I'd check out some pet stores and see if they have anything that is literally just the tank. Again maybe one of our UK members can chime in and help out!
     
    FishyReef, Jan 17, 2013
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  15. Laz

    Laz

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    Thank you guys, your help is really appreciated. It's actually 4AM here and I'm about to go off but I thought I'd just check the thread again.

    I was watching this fella's video and he got me a little worried. He really makes it seem like it's a death wish waiting to happen, although he does sound very knowledgeable.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA_4CY5V-ro

    While I do expect there shall be downs in the process of it all, how hard will it be to maintain it? From your experience, do you have the need to do daily water changes? And is it possible I'm able to purchase water and keep it instead of running to the LFS every so often to get some?

    Bar the water changes, are there any other things you are having to frequently do with the tank in terms of general maintenance? I don't mind putting in the work with it but if it means serious water changes daily, and adding various things to the tank, then I may have to re-consider.

    Another thing is, I understand I won't need a protein skimmer or a filter of any sort due to it's size, but I must ask, how does the tank cycle as with freshwater tanks it's all about getting the filter used to the load that will be put onto it, but with no filter, there wouldn't be anything to cycle, am I wrong?

    There should be some shops in the UK, I'm sure. Thanks for your help Fishy, it's great to get the help you guys are giving me here.
     
    Laz, Jan 17, 2013
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  16. Laz

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    There is absolutely no need to do daily water changes. Most people do water changes once a week or every other week.

    You can store water at your house in containers. You can also purchase an RODI unit that hooks up to your sink and make your own water at home.

    Most people do not use additives in the tank. Doing regular water changes (every 1 to 2 weeks) will keep most of your levels where they need to be.

    In saltwater, the main source of filtration is your live rock. Live rock will be the surface on which bacteria will colonize (comparable to the filter media in a freshwater system). This is why you need sufficient rock (1 to 2 lbs per gallon -- needs to be converted to kg and liters for you, I suppose ;)).

    I don't know why anyone would be doing regular daily water changes. That's just crazy. These tanks are definitely not that work-intensive.
     
    Bifferwine, Jan 17, 2013
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  17. Laz

    FishyReef Broke Reefer!

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    In saltwater, the rock is your biological filter, and the nitrifying bacteria that processes waste will populate your rock during the cycle - thats why having a decent amount of good porous rock is important. A protein skimmer acts as a mechanical filter to remove undissolved particles (but again you really don't need one for a small tank). As far as daily water changes, no. With a 10g you definitely need to do weekly water changes, and I'd do about 2g at a time (which is a little higher than the recommended 10% weekly). The thing about a small tank is that water parameters can get out of whack more quickly so they are in fact harder to maintain then larger tanks. But it is entirely possible to start with a small tank and be successful if that's all your budget allows (check out Dixiegirl's tiny tank threads - she has a beautiful 10g and 3g tank which were her first forays into saltwater). But no, you don't need daily water changes. In the beginning (after the cycle is complete) I'd test the water a few times a week just to get a sense of what is going on in your tank. After awhile you'll notice that your parameters are pretty stable at which point you can back off testing as often. Things like using RO/Di water and feeding a quality frozen food every other day will help with parameters (if you wanted to feed flake food daily, then yes you'd need to do far more frequent water changes). As for water, yes you can buy a lot at a time and store it in food grade storage containers (check out farm and garden shops). If you do that, I'd recommend just buying the RO/Di water and then mixing your own saltwater. I think RO/Di will hold better in storage over long periods of time more than saltwater.
     
    FishyReef, Jan 17, 2013
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  18. Laz

    Laz

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    Thanks guys, I plan on getting the things together this weekend, hopefully!

    A few q's:

    If I was to buy a titanium heater, would I have to turn it on/off manually once I see the temperature is appropriate, or does it turn off when I have set it to a particular temperature like the glass ones and turn on when it's gone below the allocated temperature level?

    How shall I go about rinsing the sand? I'm not sure how to do that.

    Another thing, how important is it for me to have a Hydrometer right now?

    Thanks!
     
    Laz, Jan 18, 2013
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  19. Laz

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    The heater has an internal thermostat. It will turn on when the water gets below a certain temperature, and it will turn off when the water reaches the temperature you set it to.

    You can rinse the sand in a bucket. Just use a hose outside. Swish it around in the water, dump it out, and repeat a couple times until the water starts to run clearer (it won't be completely clear no matter how many times you do it).

    You should get a refractometer instead of a hydrometer. It doesn't cost much ($20 to $30) and is much more accurate than a hydrometer. Plus, hydrometers need to be replaced often. You will need to measure your salinity as soon as you set your tank up.
     
    Bifferwine, Jan 18, 2013
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  20. Laz

    Laz

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    Thanks, Biffer.

    Would you happen to know any cheap Refractometer's on E-bay? As well as a Nano power-head?

    That's my questions for today. I'll keep you guys updated with how I go. Thank you, as always.
     
    Laz, Jan 18, 2013
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