Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

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yonni
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Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:19 pm

I started a thread about keeping fish around 5 or 6 years ago. As a result we’ve had a healthy but small (55L) tropical tank. I always promised the boys that if they helped look after the fish we’d get a marine tank next. Just got home from visiting family to find our last remaining Sterbai Cory belly up.

So, onto our first marine tank. We want live coral, anemones, small starfish, shrimp etc and the obligatory (for the kids) pair of clown fish.

Questions:

Would this be easy to manage (I’ve heard that marine tanks are more tricky)?

Can we just clean out our tank and use the same one or should we get one of these tanks with all the kit already integrated?

Any other advice?

I know it takes longer to set one up and we’re happy to take our time.

Thanks

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by -DL- » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:42 pm

Image

I searched Google to see if I could help and it threw up this. Probably no good for the fish, but it'd keep any burglars away...

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:52 pm

Thanks. I think I’ll wait for Jevs

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Tue Dec 31, 2019 5:17 am

Haha

Just set a small nano reef up yesterday for a pair of yellow headed Jawfish.

Marines are as easy as you want them to be....but they are a lot less forgiving than trops are. If you get it wrong, it's likely that something will suffer.

Do your homework, work out your budget and also work out a maintenance programme.....and stick to it!!! (water testing, water changes etc)

Keeping a reef is fairly straight forward if you stick to soft corals (they don't require extra calcium to build their skeletons)

Anemones are unpredictable. They need good lighting and good water flow and will not settle unless they're happy. There's nothing more frustrating than having a perfect spot for an anemone, bringing it home and finding out that the next morning it has vanished and has wondered off to the back of the tank.
"Nemos" tend not to go into anemones either......you would be far better off going for a pair of Clarkii or tomato clowns unless you can buy the anemone with the Nemos already in it.

Do your homework and ask lots of questions....consider all options (do you want a sump, what about a plug and go tank?) and don't rush into anything. Stock the tank nice and slowly and work out a rough list of fish you want as some need to go in last as they're very terratorial.

If you need to know anything else, please ask.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by badabing » Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:01 am

Have a look on Ultimate Reef forum mate, there`s so much knowledge on there you should be able to get all the answers you need.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:54 am

Thanks for the Clarkii/anemone tip. With Marine tanks there seems to be so much conflicting advice about filtration and what live rock needs etc. I went on Ultimate reef a few times but was overwhelmed by the amount of info on there. Setting up my first tank was a fiddle compared to this in terms of knowledge needed to get going. I think I’m going to be leaning heavily on my local shop but they’re always so busy it can be hard to get time with the staff. I need to go into research mode for a few weeks.

I’m trying to keep the budget low so was hoping to use my existing tank. How would that work with pumps, filtration, skimmer etc? Can you get simple setup that attaches to the side?

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:21 am

Yeah Ultimate reef is very clicky and a lot of the decent info gets lost in among the contradicting and general crap.

Few questions. What are the dimensions of your tank (L x B x H) also, how many fish do you plan to keep?

Live rock with good circulation would be your usual primary form of biological filteration. An external canister filter or two can then provide mechanical filteration using floss or sponges to trap larger particles and chemical filteration for phosphate removal and carbon to polish the water.

If you intend keeping your fish stock low...maybe 4 fish? And do your water changes at 10% a week religiously, you can probably do without a skimmer.
You will almost certainly have to upgrade your lights....I’ve just bought a Fluval Halo LED light but it needs an open top.

It might be worth thinking that if you’re going to spend £200 on upgrading to a reef, it might be worth looking at a second hand system such as an Aquaone aqua reef 275 which would come with skimmer, sump, return pump, lights etc and are about 18” cubes. Just a thought.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:41 am

It’s a small tank: 30x28x50 cm

Not planning on many fish, three or four max. Thinking that this will be more of a reef tank with shrimp and soft coral etc. I’m taking the boys to the shop in a mo’ to get an idea of how we want it.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:20 pm

Guy in the shop reckoned my tank wasn’t big enough for clownfish, but then he also tried to sell us a bigger tank so maybe he was on a sales mission. He also said we couldn’t use the rock from the tropical tank. I wasn’t going to but I’ve just read that it can be used without problems. This is what I mean by conflicting advice. Anyone ever used tropical rock ( in this case lava) in a reef tank.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Tue Dec 31, 2019 2:10 pm

Lava rock is fine because it’s non porous. However, that kinda doesn’t help because you need proper seeded live rock, which is incredibly porous.
Your tank is fine for a pair of clowns. Because they don’t venture far from their anemone, they don’t need much room to swim. If you had said you want to put an Angelfish or Tang in their, he’d have a point.
However, I would only keep to a pair of clowns and nothing else.
Do you live by the sea? I’m using natural sea water in my tank....yep, the stuff taken out of the English Channel. It’s perfect and it’s free.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:42 pm

That’s good to know. We live about 400m from the Firth of Forth as the crow flies and I take the boys to Portabello beach every Sunday for there swimming lessons. I’ll take the 10 litre container with me from now on. First filling will be easy as it can warm up slowly but how do you warm the sea water up before you top the tank up?

Would 2 of the smaller clowns plus a Royal Dottyback be too much?

Is there any starfish small enough for our tank?

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by Johnny Byrne's Boots » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:53 pm

I kept a marine tank many years ago in the early eighties, but like many I was too ambitious. I did all the tests the books said, but every now and then came down the stairs in the morning to see fifty quid (at 1980s prices) floating belly up. I suppose my (and many others) error was trying to make a domestic tank look like an Attenborough documentary.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Wed Jan 01, 2020 8:18 am

Pair of clowns plus the dotty should be fine although some dottys can be quite aggressive. Maybe a Royal Gramma would be a better choice.
Collecting sea water is easy but there’s a few rules.
Always collect at high tide and from an area that doesn’t have too much shipping around. Get it home, leave it to settle for a day and literally chuck it in.
I don’t bother heating it, just room temperature is fine.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Thu Jan 02, 2020 5:43 pm

I’ve cleaned the tank and substrate. Added some rick (not live). I’ve got Rowa phos and carbon to add to my filter and an additional circulation pump. I’ve got ready mixed water from the fish shop and I’m ready to cycle. Any advice on water testing kits? After that it would be good to know the best order for adding soft corals etc.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:06 am

Hi mate.
I usually go for Salifert kits. You’ll need a minimum of Nitrite, pH and Nitrate.

I don’t usually go through a “cycle”. As I have live rock as my main filteration, you should be able to add livestock straight away as the rock already has the beneficial bacteria needed to support life.

For example, on Monday this week, I put around 40 litres of salted RO water in. Tuesday I put in 7kgs of second hand live rock in which had been stored in heated, circulated salt water and yesterday I added 6 hermit crabs, 2 small soft corals and some small Zoas.

There’s no real stocking order for corals and the clean up crew (hermits etc) as they produce very little waste.

If you can, have a look in line to see if there’s anyone local to you selling frags. These are basically coral cuttings that are attached to a small plug or piece of rock and are usually much cheaper than shop bought corals. Stick with the softies at the moment, stay away from LPS (large polyp stony) and SPS (small polyp stony) corals. For too tricky for the moment.

Have a look on Facebook for local groups or there’s a section in ultimate reefs for local clubs.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:17 pm

Thanks. I’ve got the API 5 in 1 test strips. PH, No2, No all look good but KH is 180. I’m guessing the cycling will take care of that?

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:49 pm

Never tested for Kh in 30 years of keeping marines.

Do you plan to use live rock for your filteration? If so, it really needs to go in pretty soon.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:55 pm

I was going to but the guy in the shop put me off by saying it was best not too as a beginner.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by jevs » Sat Jan 04, 2020 12:23 pm

yonni wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:55 pm
I was going to but the guy in the shop put me off by saying it was best not too as a beginner.
That's a real shame as i'd recommend anyone who is starting a reef aquarium to use it. So what are you using as your main biological filteration?

I added 7kgs of LR on Tuesday. It looked totally devoid of life. Within 3 days, ive seen a bristle worm, numerous spaghetti worms and some little flea like critters running around on the rocks....and that's with the light on. Gawd knows what comes out at night.

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Re: Keeping Fish part three - the marine tank years

Post by yonni » Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:03 pm

Yeah, I feel like he made the decision for me. He’d thrown so much language at me that I didn’t understand and I had the kids with me who were running around. So now I’m planning on using Seachem Stability and phantom feeding.

On the plus side the eco reef rock looks good.

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