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  1. #1
    ijo
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    A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    Thanks to Daniel from MASK(Marine Aquarium Society of Kitchener) for letting us post this great beginner guide.  
    I will format this a bit and post it on the Aquaria FAQ

    Mouse was the one who got him started... hehe thanks mouse.  ;D

    A refuguim would also help greatly to maintain good water quality. Lighting is also very important. You need to first try to establish what types of animals you wish to keep.

    Below are described some basic ingredients/considerations in setting-up up a good salt-water aquarium.

    Before setting out on your quest. You need to establish some groundwork. You need to consider what type marine inhabitants you wish to have.

    1. What types of corals you want to keep?
    2. Do you want to house any other inhabitants such as clams?
    3. What types of fish do you want to keep?
    4. How large of a tank would you like?
    5. Do you have a physical location of the tank, with sufficient (GFI) power outlets?
    6. Determine what budget you have, and are comfortable with? (Unfortunately this hobby is not cheap)
    7. What type of time do you want to invest into this hobby?
    * Daily
    * Weekly
    * Monthly
    *. Determine what monthly running costs you are comfortable with: consider
    * Added electricity costs
    * Additives, Calcium, iodine, salt etc.
    * Bulb replacements (1-1˝-2 years depending on lighting selected)
    * Food (Corals & fish)


    Lighting:
    Probably one of the most controversy subjects in the aquarium hobby. Type of lighting used depends on numerous factors
    * Type of animals to be housed
    * The depth of your tank.
    * Your own colour preferences. Some bulbs provide more of a bluish tint, others yellow, some are whiter.
    * Growth rate of corals


    Kelvin degrees the colour of the light, when purchase bulbs they must be at least 6,500K, below 6,500 usually causes algae problems.
    Common colour temperatures are:
    6,500 (6.5K) – slightly yellowish
    10,000 (10K) – whitish – blue
    12,000 (12K0 – bluish
    20,000 (20K radium’s) – blue

    CRI – Colour rendering index, a measure comparing artificial light to natural sunlight.

    Rule of thumb:

    Metal Halide: Hard corals, clams and deep tanks (> 24 inches)

    VHO: Soft coral such as leathers or polyps, shallow tanks (usually 1200 ma)

    HO High Output (usually 800 ma)

    NO: Fish only tanks (usually 400 milliamps)


    Aquarium/Tank:
    Ensure the tank is reef ready, avoid at all cost the external overflow boxes they are a pain in the ass. (A big mistake I made). .

    The external overflow is not as reliable as the internal corner overflows since it requires a U-tube and uses the siphon principal. If air bubbles collect in the U-tube it could lose the siphon and fail. Luckily I have never completely lost the siphon since I use two U-tubes, however I have lost in one or the other. The other problem is that algae and coral grows inside the tube and if you don't clean them regular again you can lose the siphon. A reef ready tank uses internal overflow boxes and a hole at the bottom of the tank. This is far safer system, easier to maintain and less likelihood of a flood.

    Acrylic: Pro’s Light, clearer. Con’s scratches easy

    Glass: Pro’s harder to scratch, Con’s Heavy, has a greenish tint (Unless you get the clear starphire glass).

    Rule of thumb: The bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain, the more forgiving it is since the volume (mass) can forgive small mistakes

    Aquarium/Tank Cover:
    The best is to use no cover at all. A glass cover will cut down on the light penetrating the tank (The amount of light depends on the glass type). Acrylic would probably be the best is one is absolutely needed. If the tank contains fish that may jump then using an egg crate would be the best solution. The cover would also reduce the amount of gasses exchanged between the air and water.

    Aquarium/Tank furniture:
    Aquarium furniture comes in a variety of flavours from steel tube stands to furniture like cabinets and caps. Personnel preference, decor and costs usually determine the selection.

    Rule of thumb:
    Wooden cabinets: Stay away from particleboard constructed cabinets; the salt will
    creep into the particleboard which will balloon and wreck the
    cabinet.

    Steel stands: Stainless steel is preferable.

    Test Kits:
    As a minimum you will require to test Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrites, Ph.
    Calcium and Alkalinity are required when keeping hard corals or for coralline algae growth

    Protein Skimmer:
    Don’t skip on a skimmer. Buy a proper skimmer the first time. Note: most skimmers are over-rated by the manufacturer. Buy one that is twice the size you need just to be safe. Skimmers remove organic waste before they decomposes. There are various methods.

    Venture:
    Uses a venture to suck in the air. A large pump is required
    Examples: Klaes Junior, Precision Marine CV426, CV626

    Counter Current:
    Uses a wooden stone and air pump to generate the bubbles. A small pump is used re-circulate the water.
    Examples: Saline Solutions – all, Marine Technical Concepts (MTC) TM-3000

    Beckett Injected:
    Examples: MTC HSA 250, HSA1000


    Sump:
    I’d get the biggest sump that you can possible house. The sump will most likely house your skimmer, heater, ground probe. I’d also consider sectioning a piece to add a refugium. This will help your excessive nutrient exports and help control any algae problems in the main tank.

    Sump design considerations:
    * Has enough surplus volume to allow the water to flow back from the main tank in case of a power failure.
    * Has sufficient number of baffles to eliminate micro bubbles to be pump back to the main tank.
    * Provides amble space for maintenance of your skimmer (for in sump skimmers).
    * Provides amble space to add a refugium

    Deep Sand Bed:
    Consider adding a deep sand bed to either your refugium or main tank. A DSB will also help control the nasties. This is at least 4” of very fine sand such as Carib Sea Aragamax Oolitic, or Home depot Southdown tropical play sand. The DSB will create a de-nitrification bed which will help control the Nitrates and Nitrites.

    Live rock:
    Live rock is used as the main filter media; it contains various micro organs and other small creatures that are used to control the environment.

    R0/DI water:
    Reverse Osmosis / (Optional De-ionized) water filtration system is a must in keeping either a Reef or Fish only set-up. RO and R0/DI removes impurities found in ordinary city/well water.

    Failure to do so will result in algae problems, the health of the aquarium inhabitants

    Refugium:
    A separate area to allow critters shrimp, worms and various other critters to grow without being disturb by fish, crabs. This will also provide live food source to the main tank and provide additional de-nitrification. There are two main types of refugiums.
    * Hang-on external type like the CPR or Ecosystems which provide a little pump to bring aquarium water into the refugium and then use gravity to re-circulate the excess water (along with some critters) back into the tank.
    * An area separated in your sump that performs the same function as described above

    Heaters/Chillers:
    The marine environment is one of the most stable environments on earth. The water chemistry and temperature stay’s very consistent. Thus the inhabitants have not developed any immune system to compensate for large temperature variations.

    Electronic controlled heaters are required to maintain the aquarium at steady 79-82 degrees Fahrenheit. The marine inhabitants cannot tolerate large temperature fluctuations.

    Chillers (optional) but may also be required if the tank temperature raises above the desired levels. Fans may be used to blow air over the water causing evaporation, which will aid in cooling the water.


    Thermometer:
    Used to measure the temperature within the aquarium. Various types of thermometers exist. They range from external stick-on type to Digital read-out.

    Power Heads:
    Used to create water movement within the aquarium. Having high water movement is critical maintaining a reef tank. It keeps detritus (waste) suspend in the water allowing the filtration to remove it more easily. I

    Wave maker:
    Used in conjunction with power heads to create a more natural environment by creating alternate water current within the aquarium. This helps reduce dead spots (stagnant water) areas, which can create problems within the tank. Additionally it stimulates live coral by providing a more realistic environment.

    Patience:
    Key factor to a successful reef tank. Remember add things slowly. Let the environment slowly adjust to anything that you may want to add

    Also future considerations:

    You may want to add a calcium reactor as you coral load increase. A calcium reactor uses CO2 to breakdown Aragonite which is basically calcium .

    Don’ts:

    Stay away from trickle filters (Out dated no longer required).
    Stay away from fluidised sand filters.
    The only filter required is the live rock and protein skimmer

    Corals:
    Lighting level and water flow is very important when keeping corals. Research the light and flow requirements before purchasing any corals. Be aware that some fish will eat polyps ensure that all fish purchased are reef friendly. Additionally some corals do not require lighting, they need to be feed daily such as sun corals.

    Clams:
    Lighting level is very important when keeping clams. Research the light and flow requirements before purchasing any clams. Be aware that some fish, snails will eat clams so again fish select becomes more limited when clams are introduced.

    Fish:
    Marine fish are very territorial; you should never over stock a tank. Also be aware that some species need to be kept singularly or in large groups. Do research on housing requirements, food requirements before purchasing any fish.

    __________________
    Daniel
    M.A.S.K.
    Marine Aquarium Society of Kitchener

  2. #2
    Senior Member mouse6196's Avatar
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    Daniel has helped me over and over with my tanks...every LFS needs a Daniel.  Well Daniel, my new tank is almost ready....so I'll be needing more advice, but I'll get it in person as usual....hahahaha!

    ;D
    The only thing two reef keepers will agree on, is what the third reef keeper is doing wrong!

  3. #3
    Senior Member nbreau's Avatar
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria


    Hi,

    I noticed that the following was listed under dont 's  and was wondering if someone could  elaborate....

    "the only filter needed is live rock and a protein skimmer"

    thanks,
    Nick.
    ======================
    sold the 77gallon back in 2005, looking to setup a nano

  4. #4
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

     Nick, what Daniel means by that statement is that a modern reef tank requires no mechanical filtration. Using mechanical filtration causes nitrate spikes which is something you do not want.
     Any food added to the tank is processed by vertabrates, invertabrates and bacteria. Typically a reef tank stays very clear. The skimmer removes disolved proteins from the water column and helps to give you a margin of error. The most important part of reef filtration is a lot of patience to let the denitrifying cycle mature.
    True Perc

  5. #5
    Senior Member nbreau's Avatar
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    okay, thanks.   Is nitrate spikes as much of a concern for fowlr tanks as it is for reef tanks ? I read somewhere online that using canister filters was not as much of an issue for fowlr tanks as it is for a reef tank. Is this true ?

    ======================
    sold the 77gallon back in 2005, looking to setup a nano

  6. #6
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    That is correct true perc. That's exactly what I was trying to say. This is still a draft so any feedback would help. I did send IJO an update. I've included a lot more new information and reordered the equipment

    IJO nice to see another Canadian board
    Daniel
    M.A.S.K.
    Marine Aquarium Society of Kitchener
    www.maskcanada.org

  7. #7
    ijo
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    Ahhh look who's here
    Welcome to the board Daniel_Schubert  ;D

    After reading your guide I just had to ask you for permission to past it here for the aquaria users to read.   Great job

    Were also in the process of moving this guide to a more permanent location... the Aquaria FAQ.

    Thanks again

    IJO

  8. #8
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    Thanks IJO

     If it helps just a couple of people then it was worth writing. I wanted to get into saltwater fish when I was younger but all the negative press shyed me away. It's actually not that much more difficult then a planted fresh water setup
    Daniel
    M.A.S.K.
    Marine Aquarium Society of Kitchener
    www.maskcanada.org

  9. #9
    ijo
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    I agree Daniel... When I first got into the hobby, I went with a plastic plants and tropical fish.  

    Everyone was saying saltwater was to time consuming(test your water every second day for the first 6 months, one wrong move and you lose everything in the aquarium).  I wanted an aquarium, not another child. hehehe

    Its not actually that tough... the key is to take your time, let your aquarium mature, be aware of whats going on in your setup, catch and solve the problems before they become an issue, and READ!!!  There is so much information out there.

    IJO

  10. #10
    Senior Member mouse6196's Avatar
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    Re: A beginners Guide to Marine Aquaria

    I read your draft agin Daniel....I think it's perfect the way it is.  When is the intermediate and advance guide coming....hahahaha

    Oh yeah Daniel, the tank went in the car esier than it came out.  I should ahve put all you guys in the trunk and taken you all home to unload it.  It's all in and getting hooked up as we speak.  See ya soon I'm sure.  HAHAHA.  

    ;D
    The only thing two reef keepers will agree on, is what the third reef keeper is doing wrong!

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