Water testing reef tanks

Stacey1990

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Feb 10, 2020
Messages
102
Reaction score
31
Location
Uk
Hi I'm looking for some advice. Im hoping sometime in the not too far future to start my own reef tank. I've been doing hours of research before I even buy anything so I can get my head around everything I need to know.
One thing I'm getting really stuck with is the water testing and I'm getting different answers everywhere I look. When starting my fw tank I always read that testing for amonia, nitrite and nitrate were so important. While researching reef tanks, amonia and nitrite are bearly even mentioned beyond the cycling stage? Is this not something that needs to be checked regularly?
Also, can anyone advise on the other tests that are crucial and what there results should be.
It will only be a nano tank and reef wise I am not going to try and keep anything too difficult.
Thanks for any help.
 

Colin_T

Fish Guru
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
24,491
Reaction score
8,670
Location
Perth, WA
Marine tanks fall into two main categories. Fish and corals.
If you have a fish only tank, you monitor ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, salinity (salt level) and temperature.

If you have a coral tank, then you monitor these as well as calcium, GH, & KH. Calcium is more important for hard corals like staghorns, brains and other corals that make a hard calcium based skeleton. Calcium is less of an issue if you keep soft corals like leather corals.

You can have some fish in coral tanks but generally you don't have many fish in coral tanks. Coral tanks are set up specifically for corals and a few fish are added after to pick up algae and add some movement.

Fish only tanks can have fish, live rock and shrimp or crabs if you want them. A lot of people go half and half and have a few corals in with their fish, and they add things like starfish, sea urchins, shrimp and hermit crabs.

---------------------
If you do a regular water change (every 2-4 weeks) on the marine tank, that is pretty much it. However, if you don't want to do water changes on a coral tank, then you have to monitor the minerals and trace elements and add supplements regularly to keep everything stable.

In a coral tank, there is usually a lot of live rock. This is simply rock that has been in the water for 6 month or longer. If you have decent sized pieces of live rock that is limestone or sandstone, you get anaerobic bacteria inside the rock and these break down nitrates and remove them from the water. A lot of people also have a sump/ refugium under the main tank and they grow marine algae in the sump. The marine algae use up nutrients like ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and phosphate.

On the outside of the live rock is aerobic bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrite and nitrate. The live rock can actually do the job of the filter when it comes to removing ammonia and nitrite. However, live rock does not get rid of fish food or waste from the aquarium and you need some form of mechanical filtration for this. A normal aquarium filter with some sponge in will do the job.

---------------------
A lot of marine tanks have protein skimmers on/ in them and these help to remove protein from the water and keep the water in better shape for longer. Less protein means less ammonia and subsequently less nitrite and nitrate. There are numerous different models and some are better than others. They remove protein but many will also remove plankton from the water and this can be an issue if you are keeping live corals because many of the corals like to catch plankton to eat. You can supplement plankton with liquid invertebrate food or newly hatched brineshrimp.

---------------------
When I had marine tanks I did a 90-95% water change once a month using natural sea water from the beach. I monitored the salinity and didn't really bother about much else. The big water change each month removed any nutrients that were building up and replaced all the minerals and trace elements the corals had used.

I had marine algae (Caulerpa species) in the tanks and these sucked up nutrients, and I didn't have many fish in each tank.
 
OP
S

Stacey1990

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Feb 10, 2020
Messages
102
Reaction score
31
Location
Uk
Thanks so much all of that info. So I basically want to start with fish and live rock. Literally just a couple of small fish as the tank will only be a nano.
Eventually I would like to add some coral, probably once im happy and comfortable with the sw tank. I believe I've read that soft corals are easier to care for so I will probably go that route.
I've seen a nice little tank called the fluval evo 52 l which comes with most of what I would need to get started. Would this be suitable for 2 small fish? Is so which kind?
Obviously, in an ideal world I would buy the biggest and best tank I could manage, but in the real world, I just don't have that kind of money lol.
 

Colin_T

Fish Guru
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
24,491
Reaction score
8,670
Location
Perth, WA
I don't know if that tank has a heater. You need to check that.

I'm not sure what is in the filter but that should be checked, and you need to be able to get into the filter easily. A lot of tanks like this, have built in filters that are a pain in the azz to clean and maintain. If you are buying one from the local pet shop, ask if you can take the filter apart and put it back together so you know if you can do it easily, or if it's gonna annoy the hell out of you every time you need to clean it.

-------------------
The lighting has a 14000K (K is for Kelvin) rating, which isn't necessary. Lights with a 6500-8000K rating is heaps. Natural sunlight is around 5500-6500K.

If the light is adjustable and you can have it at 6500K during the day, that is fine. But if it's always 14000K, that doesn't provide the proper wavelengths of light for the fish or corals.

-------------------
I'm not sure on the dimensions of the tank but possibly a pair of Amphiprion ocellaris clownfish might be ok. Or you could keep a blenny and a few small gobies. Some fire gobies (Nemateleotris decora, magnifica or helfrichi). Maybe some small shrimp.
 
OP
S

Stacey1990

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Feb 10, 2020
Messages
102
Reaction score
31
Location
Uk
Thanks for the reply. So I've watched a few YouTube videos of the tank and as far as I can gather its basically 3 compartments at the side of the tank. 1 can fit the protein skimmer, 1 for mechanical and biological filtration and 1 which the return pump sits in. Sorry im probably not explaining it very well. There's also space there to add the heater.
 

Colin_T

Fish Guru
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
24,491
Reaction score
8,670
Location
Perth, WA
Yeah my concern is how easy is it to get the stuff in and out of the filter. The last tank filter combo I saw, I could barely put my hand in the filter section to get the parts out to clean. That's why you really need to see one in person, so you can stick your hand in the filter section and see how hard it's going to be to clean.
 
Top