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Some Starting Off Questions

Discussion in 'Marine and Reef Chit Chat' started by Rorie, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Rorie

    Rorie Member

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    I went down to my LFS today to look at tanks/fish/corals to try and streamline my thoughts. I have also done a load of reading online but  I still have the following questions...
     
    1) the guy in the LFS said i can buy any 'plug in and play' aquarium and i just need to add a skimmer and change the bulbs to make it suitable (equipment wise) for marine.  Is that true?
     
    2) I suggested the options i was aware of for a set up were "fish and live rock", softies, hard corals, or 'full reef'.  He said 'full reef' is artificial?  And he said hard corals are harder work, but the equipment needed is the same.  If thats the case, i think i will go for softies as they still look cool.  Why would i want hard corals? anenamies etc are classed as soft?
     
    3) Why is marine so expensive?  Other than the initial costs, there isn't much else in a basic set up that ramps up the cost?  Once fish and corals have been purchased of course
     
    4) I was looking at a THIS kind of tank.  He suggested i would need to upgrade all the equipment.  If i am just looking at a basic marine tank which i can take it slowly setting up, is that true?  Surly it can't be that crp that i need to replace it all within the year?
     
    5) how long can i leave a tank for with no maintenance.  My freshwater tanks would often go a week without any problems.  If i went on a 2 week holiday i would get someone in through the middle to feed once.  Can i do similar with my marine tank?

     
  2. DevotedToDiscus

    DevotedToDiscus Fish Herder

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    Rorie, I know your fish keeping knowledge is vast, as I followed your fish house blog before. 
     
    I have a small marine tank after years of freshwater, and thought the same as you before I set it up. It is actually quite easy! A lot of hype about nothing. The only difference in my mind, between keeping fresh or salt, is you add salt to the water! I know you kept Discus before, and they are more maintenance heavy than basic marines, so it will be easy for you.
     
    On my marine tank I do 30% water changes 2-3 times a week, run a hang off particle filter, small internal skimmer, and a couple of wave makers. I started with a combo of live and dead rock, and now(8 months on) my tank is full of anemones I never put in there! They were hitchhikers.
     
    I keep the guppies of the marine world, 2 Clowns, 2 Damsels and a Blenny.
     
    Is easy mate! And the great thing is that everyday I see some new creature growing in there. You never get that with freshwater.
     
    Hope that's of use.
     
  3. Rorie

    Rorie Member

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    Of great use!  Thanks!  I am struggling to see what all the hype is about….for example the guy in the LFS today told me over and over that this would cost me thousand and thousands…it wasn't easy and i would have to wait about 7 years before i had a tank looking any good.  he went on to tell me  that the small tanks they had (basic 90L tanks) were crp!  Not a great sales pitch and put my other half off the idea of ME buying one! haha
     
    While i had my 90L, 500L, then my fish room, i enjoyed the 90L one best!  Hence i want just a small tank for marine - a tank for the retirement….despite not being 30 yet haha.
     
    How small is your marine? 
     
    I like the look of the Fluval reef aquarium which has a  'integrated water change system' which sounds great for keeping the newly renovated house dry and spillage free!
     
  4. Donya

    Donya Crazy Crab Lady
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    I'm not familiar with the particular tank you were recommended, so I'm not sure what it has by default. The bulbs must be at least as good as T5 and there must be sufficiently many bulbs. 2xT5 is minimal in a lot of tanks and will only support less demanding corals. Some smaller tanks get away with PC lighting, for which marine bulbs do exist, but again it tends to be on the minimal side. 
     
    Skimmers are also problematic on some PnP tanks. Some will only accept trivially small skimmers that aren't really worth using, while others can take decent skimmers.
     
     
     
     
     
    I have a feeling the guy you were talking to is not very experienced in marine...either that or he gave you a very garbled set of answers. See here:
    http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?/topic/421015-common-marine-tank-equipment/
     
    Anemones are NOT in the same ballpark as soft corals. They are generally much more demanding in terms of both water quality and lighting. "Pest" anemones (Majano anemones and species in Aiptasiidae) are an exception, but most people do not want these as they can overrun a tank and sting corals to death. Anemones can also move rather quickly compared to even soft corals that creep, which means you have to add extra protection on pumps/intakes or risk having the tank turn into anemone soup (which can nuke a whole tank if not caught immediately).
     
    Going for hard or soft corals is up to you (provided lighting is sufficient for either). Hard/stoney corals have a very different look about them.
     
     
     
     
     
    Several reasons for expense with livestock:
    - Less hardy and more likely to die in transit or shortly after arrival.
    - Wild caught...lots of shipping expense. With some animals, that is actually most of the price.
    - Captive bred species exist, but they can even be MORE expensive than wild caught individuals because they are not produced on a large enough scale. 
     
    For equipment startup costs being expensive:
    - Lighting usually has to be better. Equivalent fw lighting is actually roughly the same cost, people just don't need it on most tanks.
    - Additional, specialized equipment like skimmers and reactors (although some fw does too, particularly with planted tanks)
     
    Recurring, maintenance costs to calculate that differ from fw:
    - Salt
    - RO water if you're not making it yourself, or occasional filter replacements if you are making it.
    - Test kits; mainly pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, Ca, and KH, sometimes others depending on the tank
     
     
     
     
     
    Stable, mature tanks can go for a while with minimal care. You can automate feeding (if you have hardy, good-eaters...not all marine fish are and feeding can be a pain then), lighting, and top-offs. It would be wise to have someone check once or twice while you're gone. I've had to leave my tanks for about the same length of time and left my husband to manage them. The main daily things he had to do were feeding and top-offs, but that's because I don't have either automated. 
     
     
     
     
     
    This is rather misleading. Yes, you add salt, but there is a lot more to it than that. Even "easy" marine animals are on par with more difficult freshwater animals for the type of care they require to thrive. For hobbists who have tackled difficult freshwater tanks (it sounds like you have), marine tanks with hardier animals can seem easy, but the majority of freshwater hobbyists with standard community tanks find it to be the other way around. Those who leap in assuming otherwise often kill a lot of animals in the process.
     
  5. DevotedToDiscus

    DevotedToDiscus Fish Herder

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    Rory, I have a little 2 footer in my kitchen. I already had the tank and light unit. Just switched out the bulbs for marine ones, paid about 20 quid for the skimmer, and about the same again for the HOB filter. I think the wave makers were around a tenner each. Give, I don't have exotic fish in there, but it is really easy to run compared to my Discus tank!
     
    You will be able to do it in your sleep mate!!!
     
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  6. Rorie

    Rorie Member

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    Its something similar to that which i am looking for!  Nice tank.
     
    Do you get a lot of evaporation if your tank is open top?
     
    I guess i should look at buying a bare tank and getting the equipment online… the reason i wanted to get a plug in tank is that the equipment would be suitable, then its easy to upgrade when i work out what i need.  But if i have a bare tank i won't really know what to buy…what size etc.
     
    I have a 2ft tank sitting empty in the garage, but its only about 60L in size, so i think its a bit small for a starter tank.
     
    What is the silver thing hanging on the back of your tank?  I guess the skimmer is on the left, hang on filter on the right?  What is the syringe for?
     
  7. CezzaXV

    CezzaXV Member

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    I've got a cover on most of my 155L tank, and I get about 8-10L of evaporation a week, this being winter at the moment. If it were open top I would expect it to be more.

    The problem with plug and play tanks are exactly the same as in the freshwater world. Expect them to charge you a lot for equipment that is only just adequate. In my opinion you'd be best off researching and buying your equipment individually. The only additional thing you need is a wavemaker(s) and a protein skimmer, and the protein skimmer is the one one of those two you need to do any real research on, although there are a few good brands out there depending on how much you're willing to spend. I have a Bubble Magus skimmer that I'm happy with, although I hear Deltec is the brand to go for if you're willing to splash the cash.
     
  8. DevotedToDiscus

    DevotedToDiscus Fish Herder

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    I get around a litre a day evaporate. Top up with freshwater, as the salt obviously does not evaporate. That silver thing is a cooling fan. It is connected to the light timer, so that when the light is on the fan is on. Without that fan the light radiates too much heat and the water gets hot. You wouldn't have that problem in Scotland!!!

    The syringe was laying there as I had just feed the tank(fish and invertebrates) newly hatched brine shrimp. I have a little bottle hatchery and suck the little shrimp up in the syringe. I don't think the brine shrimp are needed, but the fish love them and the anemones and things eat them.
     

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