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I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

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I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Wed 19 Jan 2011, 3:05 am

Im just looking on what i should do to get started im pretty aware of everything, I really would like to establish a large tank but start relatively small like 20 or 30 gallons with maybe some clown fish and what not just kinda open to any and all advice at this point thanks.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by matt_longview on Wed 19 Jan 2011, 5:42 am

My best advise is to start to read. You can choose the easy way (a book, bob fenner's Consciousness Marine Aquarist) that goes from start to finish, building on knowledge that you learn throughout reading the book. Or.... you can go the cheap way and read bunches and bunches of online articles. Each article will be written with an assumption of some basic knowledge and some things may not make much since at first.

If you go with articles... check wetwebmedia.com and begin reading through their marine section. If you've ever kept freshwater before know this... you don't know anything extra about saltwater because of freshwater knowledge.

I wouldn't plan a tank size, fish or corals until you feel comfortable of your knowledge on running a saltwater tank and checked out plenty of other's tanks. One thing that makes this hobby so expensive is that we set up something when we're young in the hobby that we quickly grow out of and want something different/bigger. Seeing and posting in this forum is a big step in the right direction. A lot of great people with knowledge here to help!
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Yuma on Wed 19 Jan 2011, 10:24 am

I'd concur with with Matt has said. Take some time and read up on what all is involved. Keeping saltwater is not terribly different as far as difficulty than freshwater, but there are definitely some things that have to remain in check.

Matt's right, don't sell yourself short on deciding right now what tank size and what fish you want to keep as you will limit yourself from the very beginning. There are endless possibilities and combinations out there.

My one piece of advice for right here at the beginning is bigger is better. I don't say that in jest necessarily, because it is kind of a running joke in the hobby about always wanting something bigger, but what I can say is that the more water volume you have, either display tank or sump or combination thereof, the more stable your system will be. A stable system is very important in saltwater...you don't want to have big fluctuations of things like nitrates or salinity, so the more volume of water that you have, the less small things impact the overall stability.

There are bunches of forums and online articles, and the book mentioned by Matt is excellent as well. Take your time....that's rule #2 for saltwater, nothing good happens in saltwater quickly. Patience is the key to a happy ecosystem.

Feel free to ask questions as you have them, lots of knowledge and real-life experience in the people on the forum.

All that to say, don't be scared off by the warnings, it truly is fascinating and enjoyable to watch the livestock, rock, and many other things associated with saltwater fishkeeping.

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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by BigBlue on Wed 19 Jan 2011, 5:16 pm

I completely agree Yuma; "All that to say, don't be scared off by the warnings, it truly is fascinating and enjoyable to watch the livestock, rock, and many other things associated with saltwater fishkeeping."

Saltwater tanks can be a bit overwhelming but it is well worth the time and effort. I like the fact that you really never stop learning. Just when you think you got it figured out there is something else that comes up. Then you are back to researching once again.

Mistermint51,
My Rules for me:
Research first then buy
More water = less headache
Ask lots of questions but realize that not all ecosystems are the same.
Research more!
Ask more questions
Do things slowly! Don't add too much at one time.
Change slowly! Never get in a hurry to correct parameters.

Good luck!
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by matt_longview on Wed 19 Jan 2011, 5:35 pm

Case in point on the bigger is better concept.

I have a 29 gallon saltwater. I added a new filter media called chemi-pure elite into a reactor I made. That new filter media dropped my pH enough to freak out my fish and cause them to lose color. I yanked them out of the tank and into different water while I checked parameters. I had to acclimate them back into my tank that they had already been in the next day... because of filter media! Things that are supposed to stabilize water parameters!

That little bit I told you right there is likely something you'll never read in a book or article. Just experience. And for the record... I should have turned my reactor on for a few minutes then let it stay off for awhile. Then on for a few minutes again and off for awhile... slowly increasing the amount of time that I kept it on until I kept it on all the time.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 2:24 am

Thank everyone very much for the input i wanna do this but i wanna do it right i will use everyones advice and i will start my reading now, thanks a bunch guys and gals
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by DonnieP on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 10:07 am

Welcome to the board and the hobby! You will enjoy the saltwater a lot and any time you have questions just post them here. As Matt said, lots of things you don't read about that come from experience, just go slow and if you do a reef tank just remember the old reefer saying. "Nothing good ever happens fast in a reef tank" Take your time.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Tim on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 10:51 am

And then you will hear about someone like me who has a plain old 10 gal tank with a pair of tomato clowns in it...for 7 years. I never check the water perameters. more salt on the outside of the tank than in (can you say salt creep?). Nothing but a cheap Tetra filter on it.
Yet in spite of it all...these two fish thrive. They were "hand me downs" from a person I had bought a tank from.
Go figure.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by J.Davis on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 11:09 am

If possible, visit others Tanks. Nothing compares to visual, up front and personal. Check out there "Set-ups", see how they work. Ask questions. Take away from the visit ideas and designs that you might incorperate into designing your set-up. There are so many ways to run a Saltwater tank, each one different. I find we usally wind up building to suit our own needs and wants. Saltwater can be done cheaply or exspenvisly... and have success both ways. The #1 thing that ALL sucessful saltwater tanks have.... is Water Quality! Starting off with good water can and will save you heartache and headaches. Best saltwater equiptment investment? R/O DI filtration unit! 2nd piece of advise, be sceptical of anyone giving advise that is trying to sell you something. I can't stress that enough. Fish stores included. Not all sellers are bad... but, there are those that are simply in this for promoting themselves. Before you spend $20 bucks on something, make sure someone else isn't "Giving" away the same for free or it be priced around $5. All depends on where you want to take your hobby to.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Yuma on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 11:36 am

Agreed with Jason, especially the be skeptical of advise part. Plenty easy to get an unbiased opinion and then go back to the seller if you are still interested.

One other big mistake I've seen is someone going down to the fish store, seeing a coral or fish that they just love and bringing it home not knowing what it's needs are or how to care for it. I have seen quite a few people that bring home something that isn't suitable for their tank, or eats everything in their tank, or destroys their aquascape, etc. all because they thought it "looked pretty" at the store. Case in point.....on two separate occasions I watched a mandarin goby being sold, in a local store, to folks with new or almost new tanks, that had NO idea about how to keep them, what to feed them, or that they even needed any special care. They both thought they could just "throw them in" with the other fish and be no problem. I managed to talk to both "new owners" (neither of which was too interested in what I had to say) but I doubt seriously that either of those guys have survived to this day. Kinda sad really.

Anyway, I digress. Guess at this point you just have to be sort of like a sponge and just soak it all in. Smile Smile

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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 4:50 pm

Thanks alot yuma and yes see this everyday as well i am a zookeeper so i know every aspect of mammals and reptiles but none at all when it comes to Marine wildlife i've learned so much already thanks to all of yall and thank you very much and good luck on your new 40 gallon tank
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 4:52 pm

i guess my real question is what is a good size starter tank to begin with, my ultimate goal which sounds stupid is to have a 120 or bigger gallon tank and let an octopus thrive
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by BigBlue on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 5:05 pm

My advice, start with at least a 75g if you can afford it. The footprint of the tank gives it enough water surface area for efficient gas exchange. Plus, it will take a few years to outgrow it. If your like most of us, you will wind up with a 75g or larger eventually anyway. Laughing
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Yuma on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 5:12 pm

120....mmmmmm.....not stupid at all....my goal is to go AT LEAST that big some day. Smile

In my opinion the two largest factors in determining tank size is what you want to keep and how much you want to spend. I would think that an octo tank is going to be either species specific or very near it....and CERTAINLY you are going to want to have every nook and cranny covered, sealed, and locked down.

I'm curious what others have to say here as well. If you're looking at Tangs, and some of the other larger species, I've seen it recommended that they need a minimum of 4 foot of swimming space so you're looking at probably a 60-75 gal at minimum. Certainly an exit plan for as they grow if you're going to put them in something smaller. If you're looking at clowns, wrasses, goby's, inverts, some corals, you can definitely do a smaller tank.

My personal opinion, with the VERY limited experience I have and all that I've been reading, is that you would do better with more water volume than less as a starter. My 60 is VERY stable and I'm the first to admit I don't take care of it as good as I should. If I had space to add a sump and increase the water volume even more, it would only be that much more stable. 60-75 gal seems to be a very common size for a good, stable, good looking reef tank and allows you the flexibility in your stocking options as well as some room to grow.

That being said, it's gonna cost more for live rock, sand, equipment, etc. to do that size tank, but keep your eyes open for used gear. Lots of good gear about that you don't have to pay full retail for. Smile

On the other hand, there are LOTS and LOTS of folks that put together nano reef tanks of varying sizes (matter of fact I'm picking up a 14g tonight myself) that have great success in them. As long as you realize that they take consistent maintenance to keep water quality in check and you know the limitations of what you can stock in them, you really can't go wrong with any size.

So, I guess I didn't really answer your questions....maybe I've given you some more things to think about though.

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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by matt_longview on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 5:32 pm

If that's your ultimate goal... that's where I would go right off the bat.

If you're wanting to start small because of money and you just can't wait for the dough to roll in because you have this itch that just won't go away... I completely understand. :-D
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by BigBlue on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 6:05 pm

Yuma,
You touched on another excellent point. A lot of the Tangs, butterflies, dottybacks, wrasses and gobies require a 75g or larger. At least for long term health.

I have tried a nano a couple of times and that's just not my thing. I believe they require 3 X's more work than my 125g. My hats off to those you that successfully keep nanos!!

You touched on another point, bigger tanks require more expensive equipment. For example, 75g is the cut off between a decent $100 skimmer and the $400 plus skimmers needed for a 125g.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Win on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 9:57 am

J.Davis wrote:If possible, visit others Tanks. Nothing compares to visual, up front and personal. Check out there "Set-ups", see how they work. Ask questions. Take away from the visit ideas and designs that you might incorperate into designing your set-up. There are so many ways to run a Saltwater tank, each one different. I find we usally wind up building to suit our own needs and wants. Saltwater can be done cheaply or exspenvisly... and have success both ways. The #1 thing that ALL sucessful saltwater tanks have.... is Water Quality! Starting off with good water can and will save you heartache and headaches. Best saltwater equiptment investment? R/O DI filtration unit! 2nd piece of advise, be sceptical of anyone giving advise that is trying to sell you something. I can't stress that enough. Fish stores included. Not all sellers are bad... but, there are those that are simply in this for promoting themselves. Before you spend $20 bucks on something, make sure someone else isn't "Giving" away the same for free or it be priced around $5. All depends on where you want to take your hobby to.
Jason

^^^^ well said! definatly go look at other people tanks... i kept freshwater for 2 decades, and got into salt thinking i had it goin on... then i saw some tanks, and realized i was doing it all wrong. a lil more homework, some good R/O water, and its amazing, all those problems i was having are gone now.

bigger is definatly better, more stable.


i wanna point out, if your going to be keeping cephalopods, from what i have researched is their temperature and water parameters are precise. you will likely need a chiller on your tank. and you will need superb filtration with carbon. if they "INK" your going to have to do a BIG water change, or have one hell of a filter on the setup. all in all... it basically takes a dedicated system. and they will eat any crabs, shrimp, snails, basically anything they might think is tastey.... and they are extremely smart, so a virtually airtight lid will be required because they can crawl straight up a piece of glass with those suckers (octopi i mean, prolly not a squid or cuttlefish) and squeeze thru any hole bigger than the size of their eye. they definatly prefer colder than your average reef tank (hense the chiller) as many of these species available come from deeper water. be wary of buying cuttlefish eggs online as well, as many of the ones for sale, are NOT a cuttlefish you would ideally be keeping in an aquarium, they are usually the ones that get fairly large, like 2 feet... so, yeah lol. be sure you definatly research your goal thoroughly before you go impulse buyin, even if you have a system set up and running, it may not be an ideal home for your new houseguest, not to mention the fact that if you got an octopus or cuttlefish, i will be extremly jealous and want to come see it in person! Very Happy goodluck and research research research!!!!

and by smart... i meant... like... really really really smart.... like... smarter than your dog smart!



check out that octopus opening a jar to get at a crab inside!
not bad for a super evolved slug huh? Smile
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by matt_longview on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 10:16 am

I'll have an octopus tank some day. I might be older than dirt when I get it setup...but I'll have one.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Win on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 10:43 am

hehehe matt, i just want a flamboyant cuttlefish!
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by matt_longview on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 10:48 am

Those things are ridiculous! One of those things that is amazing that it's even real.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 2:54 pm

i KNEW I WOULD SPARK UP ANOTHER CONVERSATION IS THE FACT OF EVEN HAVING AN OCTOPUS IN A TANK I CONSIDER THEM THE OCEANS WONDER OF THE WORLD, BUT HOW AWESOME TO HAVE ONE, IMAGINE FRIENDS COMING OVER FOR A SUPERBOWL PARTY AND SEE A HUGE BEAUTIFUL TANK WHICH LOOKS FULL OF NOTHING AND PUT SOME FOOD IN IT AND WATCH IT COME OUT AND CHALLENGE THE FOOD I THINK PEOPLES JAWS WOULD DROP, THAT IS MY WISH ONE DAY, ALONG WITH ABOUT TWO OR THREE OTHER TANKS, I AM VERY INTERESTED IN LIONFISH AND CUTTLEFISH AS WELLL EVEN SEAHORSES AND JELLYFISH BUT I KNOW THESE ARE ALL VERY DELICATE SPECIES AND I AM WILLING TO LEARN BEFORE I JUST WREAK HAVOC ON THESE POOR CREATURES. KEEP THE POSTS COMING GUYS I REALLY AM TAKING ALL OF YOUR ADVICE TO HEART. THANKS
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by Win on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 7:29 pm

lionfish are pretty robust actually.
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 11:23 pm

Yea sorry i wasnt really meaning the lionfish more of the other ones, another new fad i see hitting the market that looks awesome is jellyfish with nice LED lighting, any one have any yes or no's or do's or donts about this?
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Re: I'm a beginner and i need professional help getting started? You've all been there!

Post by mistermint51 on Fri 21 Jan 2011, 11:45 pm

WOW I found live jellyfish and tank relatively cheap i found i can get 4 jellyfish and a tank for around 300 bucks, does anyone know about jellies and how hard or easy they are to maintain they seem like they would be relatively easy. Traveling to Dallas for my birthday this weekend also any advice on good saltwater fish stores?
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