Thinking of taking the plunge...

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Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:15 pm

Now that I am all moved into a house in Mississippi, I've been thinking of things that I'd like to have to fill in the house. I have always wanted a saltwater tank, and now I think I may be settled enough to get one. At the moment, I'm in the pricing stage, so I'm trying to figure out what all to put in it. It's a 29 gallon. I've been going back and forth on what to get or not and these are what I'm sort of leaning towards, but not quite sure yet.

2 False Clowns
2 Fire Dartfish
1 Jawfish (Yellow-headed?)
1 Flame Angel?
1 Banded Boxer Shrimp
1 Boxer Crab?
2 Different species of Clown?
Cleaner inverts

I'd like it to be a reef tank, so there will likely be some corals in there at some point. I guess I don't know if that would be too packed. I really like the Clowns and Dartfish, so I'd definitely like to have those. And the Jawfish are pretty cool (I really like the blue-spotted, but that may not be feasible). And looking at the flame angel, I wouldn't mind having one of those. So I'm all up in the air at the moment, but I guess I want to know if that'd be too packed. I have no concept on what packed entails for a SW tank.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby ~RuSh~ » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:28 pm

Another Reefer! Yes!

Glad to hear you are 'thinking of taking the plunge' MM. If I know you like I think I know you... eventually you will be immersed in the world of corals... why? Because they are challenging. I know you enjoy a good challenge when it comes to keeping a healthy ecosystem. That being said, I would suggest stocking lightly with fish. The clowns and fire fish should go fine together but based upon my short experience, I would stay away from pairs if you want a community. My two ocellaris clowns are crazy aggressive. They have bitten me while I'm cleaning the tank and almost killed my prized fire shrimp. I would think along the lines of 3-5 small fish - not including a cuc or small inverts. Angels in general are not reef friendly. They pick at corals and could easily wipe out a colony if they've got a trigger finger. I'd stay away from the flame angel. I'd like to throw a few fish in the suggestion box as well: Green or Yellow Clown Goby, Banggai Cardinalfish, Royal Gramma, Green chromis, Watchman Goby. If I had to redo my stock I would consider 1 clown, 1 Banggai cardinal, 1 Green clown goby, and 1 Royal Gramma.

The Banded shrimp would be a nice addition to the tank - but like I said if you have a pair and they are aggressive the shrimps tentacles are easy to pick at and can stress the shrimp easily in this manner. (This is what happened to my fire shrimp.) I think Buehler has one and raves about it. Can't say much about the Boxer crab, looks interesting though.

While you are going through pricing I want to mention a few things. If you are going to set up a reef tank you will want a RODI unit. (Reverse Osmosis De-Ionization). It will pay itself off eventually and the purified water will prevent a lot of unnecessary algae blooms. The other thing I think you should invest in is a protein skimmer. I have a CPR BakPak skimmer on my 29g and it works like a charm. And lastly, you're going to need a good lighting fixture. Have you put any thought into what type of lighting you want? These three items along are going to run you some $$, so I want to mention them up front.

And lastly, I'd like you to take a look at this article, both for your benefit and I'd also like your feedback. I wrote it and I'd like to know what a well read person such as yourself thinks of it. http://www.oscarfish.com/article-home/f ... water.html
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:44 am

Thanks for the advice. I'll have to think more on it. At the moment, I want to keep it small, but I can definitely see it expanding rapidly. I may start out with the RODI unit. I've been meaning to get one for my frogs, and if it just is best for a saltwater tank, I may as well just bite the bullet and get one.

After diving and seeing the clownfish in person, I really got intrigued with their attitude. I liked finding a carpet anemone with 4 of them in it and as you got closer, they would come out and let you know it was their anemone. I was hoping to replicate this in a tank, but perhaps that is better left for a 300 gallon tank that will inevitably happen in the distant future if I start off with a 29 (sounds like carpet anemones are not easy to keep in tanks too). I guess the school of anthias will go in that 300 gallon too... Same with the fire dartfish. I don't envision them being real aggressive like the clowns can be, so maybe I'll still plan on a pair of them. I like the look of the clown gobies as well. Decisions, decisions.

I will look into the hardware, I suppose at this point and start accumulating that. I have thought about the lighting aspect, and I think ideally, for longevity and electric usage, I'd want LEDs, which are not on the cheap end of things. We'll see how long I can hold out on starting to accumulate equipment. It may be such that I get the basics (protein skimmer, RO unit, etc) and I start out as a FO or FOWLR tank which progresses into a reef tank so that I have something to look at as the progression happens. The lights are going to be a large chunk of money, so I may start off with stuff that would be fine with a regular T5 before I start moving up to the stuff that will need high light like the corals (or even clams, perhaps?). It would be nice to start getting corals that I could frag to get some costs back.

In regards to filters, skimmers, and all, is it in general, better to get one that can handle a larger capacity than the tank actually is (i.e., a protein skimmer that can be used for up to 60 gallons)? I know for FW, the general recommendation is to get more filtration than the tank size needs. I assume that it's the same for SW?

I did go through the article, and it was very informative! I will say that I finished it, and had a "and then what?" sort of moment. You get to the point of set up, but care and maintenance would be really great, especially given that SW is such an investment, knowing what you're in for before you take the dive would be great!
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Buehler » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:47 am

I think if you really wanted to do a pair of clownfish your best bet would be a pair of true percs. They are the least aggressive species of clownfish. I would also recommend the bangaii cardinalfish, I use to have a couple and they are just cool fish to own.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Kmuda » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:07 pm

MonarchzMan wrote: I did go through the article, and it was very informative! I will say that I finished it, and had a "and then what?" sort of moment. You get to the point of set up, but care and maintenance would be really great, especially given that SW is such an investment, knowing what you're in for before you take the dive would be great!


Sounds like Rush has another article to write. :mrgreen:

Very good idea MM. We tell everyone how to get there without telling them what they have to do once they get there. Which is certainly part of the equation. An article on this subject, from the point of view of a freshwater hobbyist making them move, allows for a good base of prior knowlege (something to compare against).

As an example, in freshwater we try and maintain nitrates below 20ppm but if they bump up to 40ppm for a short amount of time we don't get overly concerned. In a reef tank, I'd get freaked if nitrates exceeded 10ppm.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby ~RuSh~ » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:42 pm

MonarchzMan wrote:I will look into the hardware, I suppose at this point and start accumulating that. I have thought about the lighting aspect, and I think ideally, for longevity and electric usage, I'd want LEDs, which are not on the cheap end of things. We'll see how long I can hold out on starting to accumulate equipment. It may be such that I get the basics (protein skimmer, RO unit, etc) and I start out as a FO or FOWLR tank which progresses into a reef tank so that I have something to look at as the progression happens. The lights are going to be a large chunk of money, so I may start off with stuff that would be fine with a regular T5 before I start moving up to the stuff that will need high light like the corals (or even clams, perhaps?). It would be nice to start getting corals that I could frag to get some costs back.


That sounds like a good plan to me. Lighting is expensive, there is no two ways about it. You can save money with LED's if you make a fixture yourself. I think I remember you looking into building your own LED fixture... are you still thinking about that? One thing I want to mention about LED's... they are permanent... and by that I mean you can't swap out bulbs (unless you built the fixture yourself) if you are not happy with the color output. So be sure that are happy with the light before you buy it. I know you can't do this online, but my LFS will definitely put a light on a tank to show me what it looks like before I buy. I'm happy with my T5HO light fixture. I get good growth out of corals and good color as well. I do have a LED fixture as well and although I'm getting growth I don't love the color, and there's not much I can really do about it. I am looking into supplemental lighting.

You can definitely keep certain types of clams but as far as I know they do require intense lighting. I know that HFFF has one so maybe he could tell you more about them and which type would be a good fit for a 29g. Some that I've seen pics of can get very large.

MonarchzMan wrote:In regards to filters, skimmers, and all, is it in general, better to get one that can handle a larger capacity than the tank actually is (i.e., a protein skimmer that can be used for up to 60 gallons)? I know for FW, the general recommendation is to get more filtration than the tank size needs. I assume that it's the same for SW?


Definitely. The skimmer I have is 'up to 50 gallons'. Plus if or when you upgrade then your skimmer isn't completely useless. As far as filtration is concerned live rock is responsible for the bioload. So you do want a good amount of live rock for your tank, probably 30-40lbs. I wouldn't recommend running a HOB type filter if you have live rock. It's not necessary IMO.

MonarchzMan wrote:I did go through the article, and it was very informative! I will say that I finished it, and had a "and then what?" sort of moment. You get to the point of set up, but care and maintenance would be really great, especially given that SW is such an investment, knowing what you're in for before you take the dive would be great!


Thanks for the feedback. It is appreciated.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Buehler » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:44 pm

I would say the skimmer isn't entirely needed. I don't have one on my 55 gallon reef tank. I will get one when I move to my 150 just cause I am going to have a ton of corals. I think the first chunk of money should go towards the LR, sand, and powerheads. And the get a skimmer when you start getting some corals. As for lights you could pick up a dual t5 strip for probably 100 bucks of less new. With a dual t5 on a 29 you could do several different corals when the time came. I keep 3 anemones, many zoos, green star polyps and will probably get some frogspawns and other LPS soon.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby OLroy » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:02 pm

Great to hear we're going to be getting another reefer. It's also nice to see you doing research before hand. IMO the most important part of your FOWL or REEF is your LiveRock, like Buehler said Skimmers and all the fancy equipment isn't necessary. I have seen a few really big systems with ONLY LiveRock and Powerheads. This is actually how I started out and worked great. Let me see if I can find a picture of one of the tanks I'm talking about. Image - Approx. 50 lbs of Live Rock
- 2 small powerheads
- 2 Canadian-Tire ballasts with 4 T8 bulbs, 2 actinic and 2 marine glow
- 2 small fish, lots of corals and inverts
- Seawater changes:
25% every 6 months
- No filters of any kind, no protein skimmer, no sump
That is off the site EcoLiverock.org which is where I bought about half of the rock I have in my tank. They have 4 tanks like it that only run on powerheads and rock.

The RODI unit is a great investment, I really want to pick one up but have to stick to buying it 5 gallons at a time...

As for your Protien Skimmer I would def get something rated for the next 'upgrade' tank I wouldn't go too much bigger as there is different opinions on over skimming and you will need some of the nutrients in the water for your corals etc. that an over kill skimmer would take out. The biggest difference I find from Freshwater keeping to salt is the amount of time everything takes in salt water. Everything is a lot bigger wait and things grow slowly.
Your fish list is too big for the size of tank your getting. Like rush suggested I'd stick to around 3-5 smaller fish. A pair of clowns are going to rule your tank but if you get a Gramma or Dotty back they can fend for themselves those 2 kinds of fish have huge personalities. I'd also look into a Jaw fish, and maybe a Manderin Goby or something along the lines of it.

Lastly good luck and keep us posted :D
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:46 pm

Not needing the filter and skimmer immediately is good news as that will save some money initially. How would this be a revised stocking list:

1 False Clown
2 Fire Dartfish
1 Mandarinfish
1 Jawfish
1 Banded Boxer Shrimp
1 Boxer Crab
Inverts?

That better for a 29?
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Buehler » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:40 am

I would not recommend the boxer shrimp in such a small tank. These guys are highly territorial, I have one in my 55 and he goes after my tang and my clowns anytime they are near his rock. I think the rest of the list looks pretty good to me. :lthumb:
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby OLroy » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:00 pm

I would take the Dartfish out as they are a schooling fish and 2 is a small number for them. They are awesome looking fish. How about a list like this:
2 False Clowns
1 Mandarin
1 Jawfish
1 Fighting Conch
2 Emerald Crabs
20 Blue Leg Hermits
5 margarita Snails, or I just ran into what my lfs called them 'mini' Conches they're 5$ a pop I grabbed 3 and they are awesome so far. Do a better job than the margarita and if they fall off they can flip over on their own and have better defenses against the hermit crabs.
5 Nassarius Snails
If you really like the colours of the fire fish you can get a CocoWorm or Feather Duster to add similar colours.
And a Cleaner shrimp if you want a shrimp in your tank.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:35 pm

Fire Dartfish (Nemateleotris magnifica) is a schooling fish? When I dove in Borneo, I've only ever seen them in pairs, nothing more than that.

I think I'll be setting it up in the next couple weeks, so I'll get live rock and all and let it settle before I add the inverts and then finally the fish.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby OLroy » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:14 pm

You are probably right, I've been misinformed by my lfs I apologize.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:02 pm

No worries :)

Tank situations are probably different than wild situations. It's possible that when rearing them, they do better is schools. I'll admit that when I saw them in the wild, they were much larger than the ones I saw at the LFS. It's possible that, as juveniles, they like larger groups.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby OLroy » Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:46 pm

Make sure you try and get your rock from anywhere but a lfs as you'll be paying 5-12$ a lbs from them. Kijiji or Craigslist you can normally find for anywhere from 2.80-4$. Also don't make the mistake I did and trust your lfs if you do buy 'cured' rock as theirs wasn't and I lost my Yellow tang to an ammonia spike. At least that's what I believe happend although I'm not 100% sure. It's like freshwater cycling same for salt. I can't wait to see some pictures.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Buehler » Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:36 pm

How is the tank progressing
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:14 pm

I have all of the equipment, but just waiting on someone to offer up some good priced live rock and sand. It may just get to the point where i say screw it and just order the stuff, but I'd rather save pennies if I can.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby ~RuSh~ » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:51 pm

Awesome.

Are you looking for cured live rock? If so, the only place to find it will be a LFS, (which is a gamble) or from someone breaking down their tank. If you are just looking for dry rock, I've always wanted to try Marco Rocks. Check out this deal - http://www.marcorocks.com/40poundboxkey ... ymail.aspx

You can also buy a large majority of dry rock, and say 10 lbs or cured live rock and really speed up the cycle.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby ~RuSh~ » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:16 pm

Hit us with an update when you get a chance JP. 8-)
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:55 pm

Still working out finances, but I think I'll order that combo package after I return from Costa Rica at the beginning of January. I'd get it now, but I'd rather be here while it is cycling. It'll be my Christmas gift to myself :D
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby ~RuSh~ » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:30 pm

Sounds good man! Have fun in costa rica and take lots of pics for us up here in the frozen north! :lthumb:
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Herefishyfishyfishy » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:37 am

MonarchzMan wrote:Still working out finances, but I think I'll order that combo package after I return from Costa Rica at the beginning of January. I'd get it now, but I'd rather be here while it is cycling. It'll be my Christmas gift to myself :D

Solid plan. Can't wait to see this thing get started!
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:00 am

Alright, back from Costa Rica and going to order the sand/dry rock package (and then probably 10 pounds of live rock as well as a RODI unit). And suggestions on coarse vs. fine sand? I am kinda leaning towards coarse as that is what I remember seeing on the reefs, but I didn't know if one was better than the other. Especially if I plan on getting a jawfish.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby Buehler » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:06 pm

When you say coarse do you mean crushed coral? If so I would recommend doing fine sand. If you mean just a larger grain sand then it comes to preference, I believe a jawfish will be able to get around no matter what.
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Re: Thinking of taking the plunge...

Postby MonarchzMan » Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:06 pm

The site says that it is either fine or coarse Aragonite sand, if that changes anything? I don't think that it'd be crushed coral...
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