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Dearth
11-08-2012, 08:02 AM
Hello all,

Just wanted to post a quick basic not quite tutorial about nano salt water aquariums I will deal with nano only because its what I know and larger tanks require different setups and equipment. I am by no means an expert nor am I very knowledgable however there are many people on this forum who are and there are many helpful links in the reference library at the bottom of the forum page. The following may not apply or be fully correct but will do the best I can and take no offense if I am corrected. I fully recommend looking through the links provided on the forum and asking on the forum if your not sure about what to do or get.

First off let me say that having a SW aquarium is a joy and it is very appeasing and appealing to look at moreso than looking at fresh water setups IMO.

Once you have decided to get a nano aquarium (nano aquariums are considered generally to be 40 gallons and smaller) the very first thing to do is to talk to your spouse, BF/GF, roommate or commonlaw and explain what you want to get and the approx. costs involved always plan for more than you expect to spend which can run up to $2-3000 for a nano system nothing worse than not having their understanding or co-operation. Next is size of tank and what you want in said tank (FOWLER-fish only with live rock) or a reef tank (Has rock/coral/fish and/or reef custodians) where you want to place tank is also a factor and will the floor your putting the tank support the load a fully loaded 40 gallon can weigh in excess of 375 lbs. It is best to place tank in a shaded corner away from direct sunlight but if not possible buy dark curtains or place a filtered window cover over the windows that will most likely affect the tank for brightness.

Next is aquiring the basic hardware for your tank the list is short but all items are needed: Heater(s), lighting, Timer(s) Protein skimmer, powerhead(s), aquarium salt, Rock and/or sand/substrate, hydrometer and basic testing kit and Reverse osmosis water filtration system (RO and RO/DI). There are several vendors listed on the site that sell all the above mentioned and all will ship or they may be close to you. Additionally if there are any SW aquarists close by you may be able to get some of their older stuff and expertise.

Heater(s)-to keep water at a constant temp unlike fresh water SW habitats generally don't handle temperature swings too well best one to get is fully submersable type

Lighting-there are many choices out there Metal halide, Flourescent, LED all have their pluses and minuses and it is your choice as what to use cost is also a big factor LEDs are very expensive but let off virtually no heat whereas metal halides throw off a lot of heat and cost a lot to run

Timer(s)-this is to turn on and off your lights and your powerheads if you are running multiple powerheads

Protein skimmer-there are many types out there suffice it to say there are 2 basic styles one that hangs off the back of the tank and one that goes into a sump system again its your choice but reguardless which style you get always go for a higher rating than base rating IE: get one that is rated for 75 gallons instead of one rated for 40 gallons

aquarium salt/sand- Get a 5 gallon pail of aquarium salt. Sand/substrate if you get this get enough to cover at least the bottom 3 inches of the tank you don't want so little as to offer no protection to falling items but you don't want so much that it causes issues

Rock-Rock is the best filtration to use in a fresh setup there is Live Rock and dead rock live rock has bateria on it dead rock is just that dead rock

Hydrometer and basic test kit-the hydrometer tests for water salinity you want salinity between 1.021-1.026 this is ideal fish habitat too low salinity will kill your tank and too high salinity will have same effect. Basic test kit tests for PH, Nitrates, Calcium and hardness

RO-RO/DI filtration system- this is nessecary because most tap water contains metals and chemicals that can and will kill your tank maybe not right away but it will happen. These are not cheap and cost from $150-500 depending on what you get but well worth the money. Alternatively you can also use the bottled 5 gallon water you can buy from stores and water companies but tends to be more labour intensive.

Optional equipment

Egg crate-this is a hot topic with many aquarists but basically you put it on the bottom of tour tank before adding sand/substrate it gives you an added layer of protection in case a rock or heavy object falls and is readily available at most building supply stores

Chiller-this regulates your water temp during the summer months especially if you have the tank in a room that gets very hot again there are many types out there nano-chillers, full blown chillers, fans and cooling pads(don't recommend the pads)

Controllers-These serve many functions and I am not very familiar with them but many serious aquarists use them

Back up power supply-power outtages are relatively rare these days but highly recommended that you get one readily available at any computer store if your water isn't being filtered or circulated for any length of time your tank will start to die

auto fish feeder-depending on what fish you get may need to feed only once a day or several timers a day its a worthy investment

Food Grade garbage cans and pails-the garbage cans are for storing fresh and salt water and the pails for water changes both readily available at Canadian tire/Home Depot

There are probably many other items that are optional or needed but the above list is a general basic guideline.

Ok now that you have everything its time to put the hardware on and put the sand/substrate in and initial placement of the rocks. Then place the water in and wait about 12-24 hrs for water to clear up then start moving rocks around to your liking making sure you have openings, crevaces and caves for your fish and other critters and to make sure that they are stable even a fall of 2 inches could be hazardous to your tank. Once your happy and if you haven't gotten rock or sand with biological agents then now is the time to add it to start the cycle for your diatom bloom. This is normal the bloom will be a dark brown algae growth and this is needed the bloom can take as little as a week to appear or it can take a month the most important thing is to be patient once the bloom appears test for nitrates every 2nd or 3rd day till nitrates are at zero.

Once you have confirmed your tank paramiters then you can add your Clean up Crew (CuC) which usually consists of a combination of hermit crabs and snails these will eat up the brown algae and once everything else is added(fish/coral) they will help to keep the tank clean.

Once those are added wait for the next diatom bloom to cycle again because while they are eating the algae they are making new biological for diatom blooms. Once nitrates are again at zero then you can start adding your fish then let the tank cycle diatoms again once it cycles you can add your coral the fish and coral diatom blooms generally are relatively short lasting 1-2 weeks.

It is important to read up on what corals you are getting as placement in the tank can mean the difference between coral opening or not opening living or dying. Some require lots of light but minimal flow while others require little light but lots of flow and finding a happy medium in a nano aquarium can be challenging so be prepared to move the coral around a few times and it may also require rearranging your rock and/or your powerhead(s). Once your happy you can then sit back and start enjoying the fruits of your labour.

This is by no means a fast process from the time you setup your tank till you add everything it can take up to 2-4 months in between and patience is everything you don't want to move too fast and risk killing your tank resist the urge to start stocking your tank to fast. Also during this time you also want to do weekly water changes of 10-20% it is recommended even after your tank matures to continue with the weekly water changes to provide fresh salt water and replace needed calcium for coral growth and health(in bigger tanks calcium reactors are used)

Again this is by no means a complete list nor may I be correct on what I posted above but again there are many good links and knowledgable people on the forums

Thank you

Mike-fish
11-08-2012, 09:23 AM
just a correction as to the weight a 40g tank will weigh in excess of 500 pounds. there's 400lb of water alone plus the rock, sand, stand, lights, pumps, and skimmer. also during the cycling of the tank monitor for ammonia and nitrite in addition to nitrate

Arok3000
11-08-2012, 04:03 PM
the very first thing to do is talk to your spouse and explain what you want to get

This made me laugh a little.

reefwars
11-08-2012, 04:10 PM
i appearntly followed none of these things lol guess im screwed:mrgreen:

reefwars
11-08-2012, 04:13 PM
ill prob get hell for it but i also dont agree with zero nitrates before fish or ever really....not sure what nitrates have to do with fish unless they are off the chart??

mrhasan
11-08-2012, 05:22 PM
Till nitrates are like 100ppm+, fishes will be like WTH are you talking about :lol:

wmcinnes
11-08-2012, 08:06 PM
just a correction as to the weight a 40g tank will weigh in excess of 500 pounds. there's 400lb of water alone plus the rock, sand, stand, lights, pumps, and skimmer. also during the cycling of the tank monitor for ammonia and nitrite in addition to nitrate

There is 8.556lbs per US gallon of saltwater, therefore weight of water alone is 340lbs and thats not including what gets displaced by the rock you put in. :mrgreen:

But I do agree that when all is said and done you'll be around 500lbs, not 375 like the OP said.


ill prob get hell for it but i also dont agree with zero nitrates before fish or ever really....not sure what nitrates have to do with fish unless they are off the chart??

Zero nitrates is ridiculously hard to obtain. As long as ammonia is 0, nitrite is very low, and nitrates are below lets say a 100, you should be good.
Nitrite an the Reef Aquarium: (http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/rhf/index.php) This article explains how nitrite poisoning is diminished in saltwater aquaria over freshwater.

Caine
11-08-2012, 08:10 PM
Totally unrelated: ZOMG I just realized what "OP" stands for... talk about me being slow.

doppelganger
11-12-2012, 05:41 PM
Hello all,
aquarium salt/sand- Get a 5 gallon pail of aquarium salt. Sand/substrate if you get this get enough to cover at least the bottom 3 inches of the tank you don't want so little as to offer no protection to falling items but you don't want so much that it causes issues


That's alot of sand. A nano can be as small as 10 gallons or less (depending on what your personal definition of a pico is). 3 inches of sand can take up alot of room. It's totally tank dependant but many people in the nano community prefer running even more shallow sand beds. As little as 1 inch for most of them. With such a small foot print, a deeper sand beds will just add to problems and you just don't get enough benefit out of it to justify having it. Many people will even go bare bottom for ease of cleaning. But if you want sand it's going to be purely based on aesthetics and any livestock. 1-2 inches is usually good enough for some typically burrowing snails etc. But OP is right in that, if you expect rock slides... then u better have some more protection. If not, then I'd advise a shallow sand bed.

One extra thing to add, an ATO is important in a nano. The smaller your tank gets, the faster the evap will have an affect on it. Unless your really religious on topping off using RO/DI water, it's a good idea to invest in an ATO to make your life easier.