Jan Cavalieri

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I've only been keeping freashwater fish for about 3 years and have learned a lot Ie., the nitrogen cycle, testing, disease management etc. So I thought I would give saltwater a try. I may be sorry I started so small but the cost of all things related to saltwater and reef and fishkeeping seems to be equal to the size of what you're purchasing, on the other hand, most of the advice I've seen on youtube has been that keeping a larger saltwater tank is actually easier than keeping a small tank - if that's the case I may have already made my first mistake. I'll put down a list of what I've purchased so far and if you could please add any comments to what I've got - plus list the most common "first-timer mistakes" and I would appreciate it. My biggest problem with my freshwater tanks here in Topeka Kansas is dealing with the water. Our city average PH is 9.4 and that's exactly what I have. In general - we're a little closer to having harder water than soft.
Our city range of GH is is 110-282 ppm - mine is 190 ppm (or 5.14-15,8 with mine being 10.6.
Our KH (Alkalinity CaCO3) is 47-138 with mine being 95 ppm. or 2.6-7.7 with mine being 6.3
Our PH range citywide is 8.5-9.9 with mine being 9,4

I've been using a product to neutalize my PH to exactly 7.0 since there aren't any freshwater fish I'm aware of that live in a PH of 9.4. It tends to drift down during the week to about 6.5 but I do weekly water changes of 70% or so and that seems to keep everything in line, I've NEVER had any disease on any of my fish that I was aware of - most that die, seem seem to just be found dead, sometimes partially eaten (but all my tanks have only peaceful fish), or they die of swim bladder disease. I haver Rainbow fish, Dwarf Gourami, Six Loaches ( 5 of which are very BIG DoJo's) and about 6 yellow bristle placo's - all fairly tiny right now. The Rainbow males are probably the most aggressive, the Gourami the most passive. I currently have one 50 gallon tank (soon to be upgraded to 90 gallons) for all the loaches since they have outgrown the 50 gallon. At that point I'll move all the other fish into the 50 gallon tank and I think Rainbow and Gourami will be fine. If the pleco's get to big - I had an 8" one once, then I'll more them in with the loachs and they can "argue" over all the food on the bottom. They got along well together before so I think they'll be fine in the future. I think the Pleco's are the only ones that can put up with the antics of the DoJo crowd. The new 90 gallon tank is being made - it is acrylic, as is my 50 gallon tank. The 29 gallon tank the smaller fish are living in now is glass and I have another empty glass and empty acrylic 29 gallon tanks. Oh I also have a snail only tank of 6 gallons that once contained a betta. I keep it cycled just incase I need a "hospital" or decide to purchase another Betta. So that's where I am now. I am also totally out of space for any more tanks and I'm out of electrical connections. Even my own landlord's maintenance staff say I need to be moved to 200 amp service from 100. The duplex was build solidly in the early 1960's and I have 100% Hardwood and tile floors. I have an empty basement but no access to water down there. So to add a new aquarium, especially the 90 gallon one and the saltwater one is of concern due to all the new electrical connections for the saltwater gadgets and the risk of catastrophe with a 90 gallon tank. These go two to the outer edge of the room and the third tank (the 32 gallon saltwater) will go on the wall between the two duplexes. Hard to tell for sure but everybody that's looked at it thinks it's a load bearing wall - especially being the dividing wall between between the two units makes it more likely.

Here is where I am:

Me: I am a 60 yr old petite white female with a desire to feed the world, hence the need to do weekly water changes on my often overfed fish. I am VERY disabled, as in end stage COPD (smoking and too much chemical exposure in graduate school). They've been telling me I'm going to die in 5 yrs for the last 20 yrs. That said, while I CAN do my own water changes it is hard, very hard, for me. I'm on high doses of oxygen 24/7. I rarely leave the house. I have a young man that comes in every Friday and does water changes on two of my tanks. I will be water changing the third tank because it's pretty expensive to pay somebody weekly for that activity and I have a feeling the care of this tank will be a little beyond his skill level and not too difficult for me to maintain so I'm not paying for more tank cleaning. . I also have an elderly cat that is sure to have some high medical expenses as she ages. I am very much a dog person, but don't have the energy to devote to a dog and meet their needs of long walks - plus I want to make sure I always have a rehoming plan in place for my pets. My dear African Grey Parrot I had to move to a sanctuary (it's a really cool one though) because I could no longer keep him from destroying my house because he required constant supervision. I also feed a number of stray or just lazy outdoor cats that can cost a small fortune - especially when I have to cover their medical expenses (shots, worm, spay/neuter) and I have some heated cat shelters and heated water dishes because of the cold winters in Kansas. I don't know how my little house manages all the electrical use. So even though I have 3 extra 29 gallon tanks don't anybody suggest that I actually USE them LOL. I get my groceries and medications delivered but struggle in the extreme temperature and humidity levels. I struggled so hard last week to get to a Doctor's appointment (it was hot and humid and even though many of our medical buildings have valet parking you still have to walk in the building - so I ended up in the hospital for two days. Now my other doctors want "follow-up" visits to get a piece of the medical insurance payment and my new rule has become, if it's not a video appointment and you're not the doctor that originally worked on me then the appointment will be by VIDEO. That's worked out great. I use DoorDash and other services fairly frequently. To be this sick in this century is the only reason I'm still alive or that life isn't even more of a struggle. Even with all the new conveniences I have a huge appreciation for what handicapped people go through - and how stressful just getting through the basics of living can become, much less still have an option to have an actual HOBBY that you can enjoy with others.

I'm waiting for the 90 gallon acrylic tank to be built for the DoJo's - It will be "Tank A". It has a nice heavy cabinet below. I currently am using a HOB filter but just purchased a Fluval 407 canister - I've heard they are some of the best - I hope it's sized correctly. I've never used a canister filter. I you don't think that one is big enough for a 90 gallon PLEASE let me know ASAP because I can always use it for the 50 gallon tank and buy a bigger sized one for the 90 gallon. When I move the fish to the new space I'll either steal the media from their current tank or (depending on plug ins) just transfer the HOB over for a couple of months to get the new tank quickly cycled. I'll pour in a little bacteria while I'm at it. I'll put all the little fish in the 50 gallon, moving their HOB filter to their already cycled tank but unless I hate the first canister filter for some reason I will be converting it to a canister filter for them as well. I NEVER want to use another HOB filter again. I uae AquaClear 70's and the intake tube has to be cleaned 2-3 times a day and the acrylic has slowly warped over time so while they came highly recommended, they have not functioned well for me. For that matter, heaters have been problematic as well. DoJo's for examples live longer in 70 degree water than 80 degree like most fresh water fish and none of the thermometers are accurate and while I buy only top of the line thermometers and controllers they have the highest % of dying. As far as access to fishstores - we have the two major chain petstores and Walmart and one single own fish store. I do not get along with him nor to I respect his treatment of his customers or his pets. Fish are his specialty but there are only about 20 tanks total so not a big selection. Because I don't easily leave the house I purchase nearly everything on the Internet. The number of sources are endless as are the number of products sold. Prices are generally higher for some things, on the other hand it's hard to consider them higher priced when you can't find anything you want locally. I don't PLAN to purchase an $1,899 coral but I can find them easily online. I can also find $19.99 ones. Of course cost of shipping is the biggest difference. I pay close attention when I watch youtube videos for some of the online stores they casually mention as breeders for their stores and try to find which are the best.

Here are what I have for the Saltwater tank so far: (I believe I'm lacking only in heaters and filter media but I have several heaters not in use and tons of different filter media that can be cut up and bagged as needed:

1. One 32 gallon Biocube. and the matching stand which doesn't give you any extra space. Disappointedly, there doesn't appear to have a sump or room for one, but it looks like the sump is just built into the back of the tank but for sure you couldn't get a Refugium (I seem to have purchased some parts for a Refugium but no where to use it - I'll come back to that.
Here is how it is described:
  • Dimensions: 20.25" long X 21.875" Wide X 21.5" High
  • Sleek modern hood with vibrant LED Lighting. Includes bright white LEDs for the daytime, sparkling blue Moon Glows for the nighttime and color enhancing LEDs for maximum beauty. Adequate light for freshwater plants and soft corals. PAR=53 @ 12". Peak LUX=3430.
  • Integrated 24-hour timer with three independent channels. Automatic 30 minute sunrise/sunset and 60 minute moonrise/moonset functions.
  • Cooling Fan: 50mm, 15.3 CFM, 25.5 Db
  • Pump: 264 GPH
  • Filtration: Dual intakes, sponge filter pad & bio balls
On Amazon (where I bought the tank and stand combo) : it also adds this:
  • Just like older BioCubes, it has a compact and customizable filtration chamber, hinge-top canopy design, quiet submersible pump, dual intakes, adjustable return nozzle and clear glass back panel for easy refugium set-up.
It has exceptionally good ratings on Amazon, but I've become increasingly concerned about the sturdiness of this "new and improved" stand - on my floor the entire thing is too tall for the width of the top of the stand. I'm not sure even how you could get enough stints around that stand to hold it still. While the back of the stand can be easily accessed from the two doors in the front I still think there are times where you need some space in back - and pulled away from the wall to allow for that seems to make it very unstable. My male friends/relatives all seem to be unconcerned and think that having that much water on top will help balance the whole thing. I hope they don't mean like the Tower of Pisa!

I have a lovely portable RO/RI water purifier with the converter for a waterhose. It takes the same kind of adapter as the Phython (which I hated to no end since there wasn't any way to get the chemicals onboard the tank AS the tank was filling. And getting the leftover water in the tube was impossible to clean out and could easily grow algae inside it within a week.

What we do instead for water changes is the following:

I have 4 - 20 gallon Rubbermaid trashcans (the only one on the the market that doesn't leach harmful chemicals in the water. The first one is to be used to drain any of the aquariums and each trash can sits upon it's own set of sturdy holders. We siphon and clean out the water of a dirty tank into this trash can. If the tank wasn't too dirty you could get two or three siphons going at the same time. Next my idea was to roll it out the front or back door and pour it off the front stoop or the back deck but it will not go over those tall door stoops without tipping over - so we just roll it to the nearest toiled and bail it out with smaller buckets. It very fast to do and lifting 3 lb buckets much faster and easier on your back than trying to carry 5 lbs of water over and over at a time across your house. I keep thinking I'll come up with some kind of material to cover the door exits to turn it into a gradual sloop. It would have to be plastic thick, but not too thick. We'll filgure that out eventually. So Trash can 2 is the "fresh water clean container" and we run a short 5 ft hose attached to the kitchen sink over to bucket two and fill it with tap water and water conditioners and the product I use to adjust ph for the freshwater tanks. It would be lovely to have several of these ready and waiting the day before water change day but think about how many 20 gallon totes there would be - I'd have a house full of trashcans everywhere filled with water - but tapwater fills them fast - so we move those containers back to one of the freshwater tanks and empty it by siphon or bucket. Then the other two trashcans are for me since I need RO/DI water that's going to take sometime to fill and needs to be done ahead of time. All the SALT and addititves etc added.. The 4th bucket is also full of RO/DI water but is without SALT and other chemicals and will be used to hold water for topoff (since salt doesn't evaporate you just need to rehydrate). So thats as fast as I could figure out to move a lot of water. Temperature will be a problem, I may have to use a heater in the RO/DI saltwater tank to keep the water heated at the right temperature for water changes.

Next I've got my Life Rock (not exactly live rock) My understanding is that it's rock of some kind that has been buried in a reef area some company owns and after a few months they putt it out and it contains a lot of little organisms like real live rock/ In my case it was alsp painted purple but white will show in all the areas I'll have to break it. I have 40 lbs of the stuff (the video said 1.5 x the number of gallons of tank - but looking at it now it seems really excessive and most of the pieces with have to be broken into smaller pieces because the tank is so small. Maybe somebody else can explain to me what I bought - it cost about $168 for 40 lbs. That part scares me but I guess hammer and chisel outside (even though my oxygen hose doesn't stretch clear to the grass - it goes far enough) - then I call my daughter who has an amazing creative 3-d mind - at age 3 she was building things I couldn't imagine - of course now she has a 1 yr old so that may not be a possibility.

Sand: Bahama Aragonite (to either go on the entire floor bed or after I add the Reef and pack it in around it (there seems to be two schools of logic on which is better to do) I have a ton of it. After many sand vs course coral etc, I decided on the sand, figuring I can always add coral chips later
Marine Conditioner
Purit Filltration Media
Fluva Clearmax (to go into little mesh bags)
Ammonium Chloride Solution (no idea what that is for)
Spectrophotometer
Hydrometer
A number of various wattages of heaters
A couple of underwater fans - I think to control the flow but I'm clueless about how to wire stuff
Medichoral Dipping Solution
Reed Roids
Assorted extra filtering media that I have from my freshwater tanks
Oceanmagic
Some kind of expensive salt LOL (don't remember the name of it)
Some superbig squares of filter cubes (I think this may have been purchased to make a Refugium)
Cleaned Sea Lettuce (no idea except to feed it to something - I think most corals mouths are too small)

So I suspect I'm missing some odds and ends and that I have 3 different brands of glue, I kink of planned this at a macro level so now I need to get down to putting all these parts together.

So again, what I'm looking for is somebody to look through what I have and see what I may have missing and somebody to look at the logic of everything and I'd appreciate any stories of your mistakes and you successes

Then at some point I'll start putting this mess all together. I really wish that I could have had the 90 gallon tank by now so I could get my freshwater fish all taken care of and all the boxes for their stuff hauled away - The way amazon pack and ships -with strange things together. Like some of the Reef glue came in the same box of Mickey Mouse shaped cheddar fish for the 1 yr old. I don't even know if 1 yr olds can things that big and crunchy - it's been a long time since I've taken care of a baby. The shopping is done (well probably almost) now the work needs to begin. Then I'm going to want advice on Corals and fish. From the description of the lights it sounds like the type of lights are best for the "soft corals"" = and I just learned last week there are different kinds. I REALLY love those Zoa type of corals and their amazing patterns. There were some $20 ones that I loved ant some $1,000 once I thought were very ugly and I'm not going to be into the "see how cool and rare my corals are). I just want something amazing and colorful - my family and friends won't know the difference anyway.

So thanks in advance for your help.
 

Colin_T

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Live rock is simply limestone rock that has been in the water for a few months. If you get dry limestone rocks, it will become live rock after a few months in the tank.

You can use any sand on the bottom of the tank. A calcium based sand is best to help keep the pH high. Marine tanks have a pH of 8.5.

Marine Conditioner
Purit Filltration Media
Fluva Clearmax (to go into little mesh bags)
Ammonium Chloride Solution (no idea what that is for)
Spectrophotometer
Hydrometer
A number of various wattages of heaters
A couple of underwater fans - I think to control the flow but I'm clueless about how to wire stuff
Medichoral Dipping Solution
Reed Roids
Assorted extra filtering media that I have from my freshwater tanks
Oceanmagic
Some kind of expensive salt LOL (don't remember the name of it)
Some superbig squares of filter cubes (I think this may have been purchased to make a Refugium)
Cleaned Sea Lettuce (no idea except to feed it to something - I think most corals mouths are too small)
I have no idea what half this stuff is and most of it looks like crap you don't need.
No Idea what marine conditioner is.
No idea what purit or fluva is
What the hell is a spectrophotometer?
A hydrometer is used to measure the salinity (salt level) and is useful.
I assume the underwater fans are powerheads used to circulate the water.
No idea what medichoral or reed roids are.
What is ocean magic?
Corals don't eat plant matter. They get most of their nutrients from light.

Ammonium Chloride is probably used to cycle the marine tank. Due to the high pH of se water, you need to get the filter cycled before adding any livestock, otherwise they die from ammonia poisoning.

Stop buying crap you don't need :)
Get a tank and put some sand on the bottom, add some limestone rocks. Fill it with salt water. Add a source of ammonia and let the filters develop. Use any type of filter you like. When the tank has cycled, add some fish and see how they do. If they are good for a month or so, add some corals. Do regular water changes. Keep the salinity correct. Enjoy the fish.
 
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Jan Cavalieri

Jan Cavalieri

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How do you maintain the PH? When I run our local water through the RO/DI system will the RO/DI water change PH? To me it makes sense that it would - but to what to expect would be impossible to know unless you have some idea of what that system is removing, how much it is removing then you could calculate an expected PH, but wouldn't GH and KH now be zero? Or do the ingredients in the salt you add back to the pure water reset hardness and pH to what it needs tp be?
 

Colin_T

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When water is passed through a reverse osmosis (R/O) unit, the filters and membranes should remove most if not all of the minerals in the water and the pH should come down to 7.0, or close to it. The GH and KH should also come down to 0ppm or close to that.

The limestone and substrate usually keep the pH of sea water at 8.5.

The bag of marine salt has calcium, sodium and other minerals in and will raise the pH, GH, KH and salinity to the correct levels for sea water.
 

PheonixKingZ

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Good news is, you don’t need to do water changes on a saltwater tank as often as you would a freshwater tank.

—-

The biocube series is excellent for beginners, as it already has a filtration system.


Sand: Bahama Aragonite (to either go on the entire floor bed or after I add the Reef and pack it in around it (there seems to be two schools of logic on which is better to do) I have a ton of it. After many sand vs course coral etc, I decided on the sand, figuring I can always add coral chips later
Marine Conditioner
Purit Filltration Media
Fluva Clearmax (to go into little mesh bags)
Ammonium Chloride Solution (no idea what that is for)
Spectrophotometer
Hydrometer
A number of various wattages of heaters
A couple of underwater fans - I think to control the flow but I'm clueless about how to wire stuff
Medichoral Dipping Solution
Reed Roids
Assorted extra filtering media that I have from my freshwater tanks
Oceanmagic
Some kind of expensive salt LOL (don't remember the name of it)
Some superbig squares of filter cubes (I think this may have been purchased to make a Refugium)
Cleaned Sea Lettuce (no idea except to feed it to something - I think most corals mouths are too small)
Your list is extremely complicated - half of that stuff I dont even recognize.

This is literally all you need to start a tank:


  • Hydrometer/Refractometer ($16-$20 - I suggest getting the refractometer)
  • Salt ($50 Instant Ocean - treats 160 gallons of water and will last you a really long time)
  • Bottled Bacteria ($16)
  • Sand ($20)
  • Powerhead ($15)
  • Heater ($20)
  • Food ($17)
  • Rock - you will need both dry and live rock. You should only need 3 piece of live rock and 6-12 pieces of dry rock, depending on how you want your scape to look. Price of rock varies, but you can expect to spend at least $60.
  • Light (this one is really optional at this point and there are a TON of options out there)
  • RO/DI system ($60)
All of those chemicals you mentioned, you don’t need whatsoever. I assume some are meant to control your levels of alkalinity, but those levels are pointless to control at this point, as you don’t have any coral.

—-

Do you already have the tank?

First step would be to get the tank, sand, rock (live and dry), bottled bacteria, powerhead, heater, and light.
 
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Jan Cavalieri

Jan Cavalieri

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Most of the excess stuff is food, meant to be diluted and fed occassionally to the corals, some of the stuff is used to make a Refugium = must have watched a specific video about it because I wrote it down altogether. Not sure what "Ocean Magic" but somebody from a video must have recommended it and using whatever logic they used it made sense at the time. I do have all the other things you mentioned but I have 40 lbs of dry/life rock - I'm not sure if I should rinse it off before I put it in the aquarium to get rid of all the dust or little broken pieces. I have 40lbs of live argonite sand. I have so many heaters from 100-300 watts - wish I had labeled them now - most run too cold but I should have written down by how much they run cold. I'd really like to have a Refugium and I've seen videos where they've added one to this tank but I'll have to go back and watch the videos again to see how they do it since there is no extra room on the stand. I'm not much of a plumber -all my dad ever said was that all you need to know is "sh$t doesnt run uphil. I guess he'd never seen 6 foot long Dojo loaches all trying to swim a ballet in a tank too small - their sh$t runs in all directions.

The tank comes with lights and it appears that they are "moderate" in strength (PAR 53 at 12") - I get what that means but wouldn't know what fish or corals would do well with that kind of lighting. The better coral growers seem to list the needs of each type of coral they sell. Disapointingly, the info on the tank suggests this tank is best for soft coral only - not hard - which I love the colors of soft coral but by themselves they won't give the reef much dimension, Colin - I don't just want this thing to work, I want it to be beautiful and I also want a well planned beginning to hopefully reduce the amount of maintenance necessary. I have a portable RO/DI water system that hooks to my kitchen sink like a python does and while the Hefty non-leaching food safe garbage can is 20 gallons it doesn't specify a 20 gallon mark on the bin - I have a 1 gallon measuring cup and will just fill it with Ro/DI water and mark off various levels - 5 gallons, 10 gallons, 15 gallons and 20 gallons - the fuller it is the harder it is to move, but whatever water is in there I'll know how much salt to put in. I know I get really over-obsessed with process but I want to do everything right.

Based on what you are saying though - it sounds like by the time you get the correct mixture of salt you will also be at the correct PH - if not how do you alter the PH in a saltwater tank? I would love to forget all about hardness, PH etc, I have kit for a half a zillion things, but it sounds like I can use my regular API kit while cycling - comparing the results to the saltwater card. Not sure when I'd need to use the other kit with the zillion different substances - I think like potassium, magnesium, etc

Water changes - used to doing 70% water changes on my freshwater tanks each week. Lately I've been having to clean the filters 2x per week so much gunk gets loading in them. Everything I've read on saltwater suggests about a 20% weekly water change which sounds kind of small.

Oh, and the live argonite sand - about have the reef designers state that you put in the reef 1st then pack the sand around it - that way it is less likely to slip around. The other half don't even debate it but pour in the sand and set the reef on top (or build it on top) of the sand. No idea who to follow on this.
 

Colin_T

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All dry rocks and ornaments should be rinsed off under tap water before being added to an aquarium.

-------------------
If you have sand on the bottom of the tank, you can put down some of that, then put the rocks on top and wiggle the rocks a bit to get them partially pushed into the sand.

If you just rest the rocks on the bottom of the tank so they are in direct contact with the glass, you can scratch the base and potentially weaken it.

Some people use plastic egg crate on the base of the tank and put the rock on top of that to prevent the rock scratching the glass.

-------------------
If you use R/O water with marine salts, the pH, GH & KH will all go up to the correct level by themselves when you add the salt to the water. As long as you don't add too much salt, you will have the correct water chemistry for sea water. I prefer to add a bit less salt than is recommended and let it aerate and dissolve in water for at least 12 hours, then measure the salinity and add a bit more salt if needed. The salt water solution needs to mix for at least 24 hours before it is added to a tank with livestock in.

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You can buy prefilter/ surface skimmers with auto syphons, that hang on the tank and get connected to a sump via a plastic hose. These are simply hung over the back or side of the tank and fill with water, then the water flows down a hose and into a sump. This is how you add a trickle filter or sump to a tank without drilling holes in the tank.

If you want a refugium, you will have to get a tank for the sump and the prefilter surface skimmer with auto syphon, and connect them with some plastic hose. Then you have the tank underneath the main coral tank, and use a powerhead/ water pump to pump the water from the sump back up into the main tank. You add rock and macro algae to the sump and it becomes a refugium. You have a light on the refugium for the macro algae.

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I used to do a huge (80-90%) water change once a month on my marine tanks. I simply drained them down so there was enough water in the bottom for the fish, then filled them back up with natural sea water I got from the beach. If you want to do smaller water changes you can, but I only went to the beach once a month and that was the water change schedule for the marine tanks.

As long as you don't overfeed the tanks, you can do a monthly water change. However, if you put too much food in, you will probably wipe everything out.
 

PheonixKingZ

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Water changes - used to doing 70% water changes on my freshwater tanks each week. Lately I've been having to clean the filters 2x per week so much gunk gets loading in them. Everything I've read on saltwater suggests about a 20% weekly water change which sounds kind of small.
You don’t need to do weekly water changes in a saltwater tank, unless you’re trying to get your parameters under control.


I'm not sure if I should rinse it off before I put it in the aquarium to get rid of all the dust or little broken pieces.
If it’s dry rock, rinse it off. If it’s live rock, don’t rinse it off.


Oh, and the live argonite sand - about have the reef designers state that you put in the reef 1st then pack the sand around it - that way it is less likely to slip around. The other half don't even debate it but pour in the sand and set the reef on top (or build it on top) of the sand. No idea who to follow on this.
I poured my sand in first, so the rocks would have more support. You can do it however you please.

Do you plan to cement your rocks together?
 
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Jan Cavalieri

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Great responses - thanks. Can you believe that that little bit of knowledge regarding PH and saltwater is nowhere to be found on youtube videos or the books I've read. In fact all the books I've read go into great detail about the importance of PH without mentioning that it's unlikely you'll have to adjust it if you add the right amount of salt mixture. Great news about water changes. My plan is to always have nearly 20 gallons of RO/DI water on hand - depending on how long it ties up my sink between water changes. The thought of only doing monthly water changes would be amazing. I think I'm pretty good about judging the amount of food in the two freshwater tanks I'm running now - but the tank with the 6 DoJo's just gets immensely dirty after the 5th day and we do 1 large water change a week, while I usually have to clean the HOB filter intensely twice a week - while my other tank with just "regular" fish doesn't require a lot of extra care and always looks great. I think the DoJo's just are very big very dirty fish. I'm hoping that once they are in a 90 gallon tank with some extra filtration I won't have this problem any more - there is never a piece of food left after feeding time but the tank gets filthy anyway.

Back to the saltwater tank - as a money saver and just "sticking my toe in the saltwater arena" I purchased a 32 gallon Biocube - because there is no true sump - there is just a huge amount of space built into the back for various types of filter material. There is space for a Biocube protein skimmer which has to be on the smaller size. The Refugium is mentioned as possible in youtube videos and Biocube PR but they never say exactly how you can achieve that - I think you would just have to pull the biocube out further from the wall and set a Refugium filter behind it all - not really kosher or practical (as far as I can tell I'll have to keep the Biocube about 3-6" away from the wall just to do media changes. In the third chamber of the Biocube is space for a Biocube UV light in the last chamber before the water goes up the return hose = so I've ordered one of those in addition to the protein skimmer. Given the small size I'm not sure I'll need all this filtering but I want to be familiar with it in case I decide to do a saltwater tank from scratch.

Being in Kansas USA there are no nearby oceans - I don't think we ever have an Oceans of Fun nearby so I'll be mixing my own saltwater and storing it in Hefty garbage cans (the only plastic garbage can that is food safe and doesn't leach plastic residue - It's funny in a lot of youtube video's I often see a few Hefty garbage cans in the background so I guess I didn't think of this myself.

I'll think about the sand before or after the rocks. I do plan to glue my rocks together in places where they need to be glued and have the proper glue as well as putty that matches the color of the rocks. As soon as the skimmer and UV light arrives and I decide that - besides bioballs and the multiple places for sponges I think I can add two or three more media - like carbon or something similar to clear the water, floss as a water polisher and something else = this little aquarium seems to have a large number of places to put filter materials, then I can get started on building the reef and filling my Hefty cans with water and mixing my salt water. One can will be for saltwater, the other for just pure water for evaporation loss. There also is no heater in the tank but it looks like they recommend you put one in the water in the back of the aquarium - some claim the lights keep the water warm enough but others use a 100 - 150 watt heater should the temperature go down below 78 degrees which it surely will in my air-conditioned house. I have a number of leftover heaters to choose from - because there are a lot of them I don't care for but I'm finding out more and more there isn't a heater built that will get a 5 star rating from me.

Thanks again for all your help!
 

PheonixKingZ

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I do plan to glue my rocks together in places where they need to be glued and have the proper glue as well as putty that matches the color of the rocks.
The putty (or concrete) works much better than glue. While it is drying, you can throw some sand on it, so it looks more natural.


besides bioballs and the multiple places for sponges I think I can add two or three more media - like carbon or something similar to clear the water, floss as a water polisher and something else = this little aquarium seems to have a large number of places to put filter materials
You don’t need carbon in a saltwater tank. The floss, sponge, bio-balls, and course media are all a good idea.


There also is no heater in the tank but it looks like they recommend you put one in the water in the back of the aquarium - some claim the lights keep the water warm enough but others use a 100 - 150 watt heater should the temperature go down below 78 degrees which it surely will in my air-conditioned house.
I would suggest adding a heater - I have not experienced any temperature increase with the use of lights.


The Refugium is mentioned as possible in youtube videos and Biocube PR but they never say exactly how you can achieve that - I think you would just have to pull the biocube out further from the wall and set a Refugium filter behind it all - not really kosher or practical (as far as I can tell I'll have to keep the Biocube about 3-6" away from the wall just to do media changes.
I would assume you would have to do that, although it’s not very smooth. Refugiums are usually in the sump, but you don’t have one. :/
 

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