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RFI: Saltwater Fish Tanks

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Anyone here keep saltwater tanks?

My son just turned 11 and all he wanted for his birthday was a saltwater tank.

We got him a Biocube 16 - research said it was a good tank to start with, and we can use it as a quarantine tank if we decide to go bigger in the future.

Liverock is coming today with Nature’s Ocean Sand and Nutrisea water to follow.

I don’t even know what I don’t now about this stuff yet - so any tips and tricks and lessons learned appreciated!

We are in no rush and are starting slowly. We are not planning to add fish for a month or so.

Step one is to get the tank up and water stable. Trying to absorb what we can with books and online content.

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A neighbor does this - it seemed that power outages - were critical problems for him - he went to a whole house generator for his fish...

 

Not sure of any other particulars other than the fish seem to be very sensitive and need constant power sources

 

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And you thought firearms was an expensive hobby? You ain't seen nothin' yet!

But with today's prices, you may just be able to afford this by selling off some ammo.  

I finally decided it was cheaper to just go get my SCUBA cert and go diving.

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Salt water tanks are great, but require a lot of attention to detail.  It's not just feed and forget.  It's imperative that you don't overpopulate or they will die in their own filth.  I was only able to get five fish at a time into a 20 gallon tank and have it be stable.  You are creating an ecosystem, once you have a good balance, LEAVE IT ALONE!  A properly set up tank will practically run it's self.

I had clown fish, anemone, box fish, some kind of algae eater, a long bill, and various butterfly fish.  You need to be aware of compatibility and that some fish are better if you have just one and others are better off when there are two or more.  The aquarium where I got my stuff went out of business long ago, but man, the woman there was super knowledgeable.

The only place I know of is in Ocean Twp.  Tropaquarium I think.  Have not been there in decades.

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Tropaquarium closed last spring/summer. Reportedly a victim of COVID restrictions early on.

There is a new place, across 35 from Wegmans, called Aquarium Care Center that is all saltwater. We stopped by there last night just to look around and ask a few questions.

The plan right now is to end with a mini reef tank. We will see how well that plan holds up as we progress.

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It’s been 30 years or more since I had saltwater tanks, but, the bigger the better. They are more stable than a smaller tank, and overall easier to maintain. 
 

I had biomass filters that I made, and they worked extremely well. However, these days I imagine they sell better products that are easy to set up. 
 

Power losses can be fatal to your tank. 
 

It was a fun hobby, maybe I’ll get back into it again after we move (I can hear Mrs Tex telling me to pack sand now). 

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https://www.njreefers.org/

 

Check them out. Local club and I’m sure they’d be willing to help you out with info. Keep an open mind and don’t believe everything you hear, otherwise you’ll be buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need. They used to have monthly meeting at peoples house so it’s a good way to check out other people’s system. It’s a hobby you and your son will have to do together, IMHO he is to young to do it by himself.

I had a few tanks the past 15 yrs with my last being a custom 8’ long full reef. Your tank is small and you need to keep it very simple. Only 2-3 fish... hardy ones.( clowns, damsel). Soft corals if you want reef. Again ones that are easy to keep, which are still tough unless parameters are perfect. You have a very small tank. Good protein skimmer, research it and get a good one, the best you can afford. You have a small tank..did I say that before? If you can and have a cabinet it sits on put the biggest sump you can under it. The more volume of water the better.

 It’s a cool hobby. I used to say the hardest part is resisting the urge to buy the pretty stuff you see at the pet store that your tank is not capable of keeping alive.  

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At one time I had a 125 gallon tank in the living room, a 55 gallon in the bed room and a 20 gallon reef going, the bigger the tank the easier it is to maintain. Reef tanks are a whole other ball game, don’t start out with a reef, start with a fish tank. My set up for the 125 cost me 5k, trickle filter, UV steralizer, top of the line protein skimmer, 300lbs of live rock at $8.99-$15.99 a pound, dosing pump, because ya know I wanted that pretty colored calcium to grow on the rock, ph monitors, calcium monitors, oxygen monitors and I am sure I’m forgetting a bunch of other stuff, oh, a $700 pump for circulation.

I did a mini reef, with a 20 gallon long display tank, with another 20 gallon long sump underneath had about $500 worth of coral in it, tank was beautiful, small cleaner fish and the rest coral, loved it, wife and I went away for a few days, power went out, tank died, I was sick. 
 

Salt tanks are a lot of work, you will tinker with it every day, check this check that, change some water, adjust the protein skimmer, adjust water flow, scrub some algae, clean prefilters, check and adjust salinity. Are they worth it, heck yea, be prepared to put in some serious effort to keep it healthy.

Dont over populate the tank, remember fish grow, that cute one inch fish will grow, keep that in mind, don’t over feed, worst thing you can do, if the food falls to the bottom before grabbed by the fish and you do not have any sifters in there to clean the substrate it will rot, which means more maintenance required on your end.

The fish, lol... This fish isn’t compatible with that fish, yellow tangs do better when you have 3 or more, one yellow tang is fine, two in one tank will just fight to the death, oh and be prepared to watch that $120 fish you just put in there 3 days ago die, happens. 
 

But, they are worth it, very relaxing, the fish come to greet you when you come home, had a snowflake eel I would feed by hand.

Check where the fish you are buying come from, some pacific islands use cyanide to stun the fish to make it easier to collect, eventually the succumb to the cyanide and die. 

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27 minutes ago, Redeye65 said:

oh and be prepared to watch that $120 fish you just put in there 3 days ago die, happens. 

@High Exposure  Yanno, they make some really REALLY convincing fish tank screen savers man.  Bubbler sounds and everything.

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