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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Making a list and checking it twice

    Hey all, I do not have a SW tank as of yet but I have a fresh water that I am going to, at some point, turn into a salt water... I made a little list of all the things I need to get started with a salt water tank... here is my list

    lighting- NO florescent (because there cheap)

    home made live rock (clam shells, oyster shells, scallop shells, ect)

    test kits

    trace element additives?

    (home made) hang on back refugium(filled with local mud flat mud) 36x22x8 filled halfway up with the mud to make a anorobic? area at the bottom (totally experimental)

    local marine snails (also experimental) trying to cut down on all costs

    couple local hermit crabs

    starter live rock to seed my home made live rock.

    I realize I do not have a skimmer in the list which is intentional. This tank is going to be an experiment for a little while to see if it can be done without a skimmer.... I know I know I will prolly need one but I am going to try this... so other then a skimmer am I missing anything? what else should go on my list.... all this I know won;t go into the tank at the same time... but I want to know if this will get me to the cleaning crew setup... ? anything else I need for a tank up to the point where I have a cleaning crew?

    thnx all for the help!!

  2. #2
    MCC is offline
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    wat u mean by homemade liverock??

    and what substrate u planning?
    u cant use the gravel u have now in ur fw tank...

    when u say u mean straight from teh sea???

    mmm..i dont think tat is good idea....might be horrible for ur tank later away so many diesease that might came from the snials...killin things off...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    by home made live rock I mean made with portland cement and oystershells and other mollusc shells. I know they have to cure for a long time so don;t worry there

    I was thinking of using like aragonite stuff from the lfs...or maybe just get some live sand from the ocean.

    and yes when I say local I mean straight from the sea. I am not worried about getting deseases from the snails... were you afraid the snails you bout for your tank were full of deseases?.... didn;t they come from the sea? I know it's a risk but I's no riskyer then getting natural salt water instead of mixing salt water.... or purchasing livestock from online ect... if anything livestock that I get from the ocean around here might be better then if I bought some.... almost no stress from shipping or long periods in not good water conditions... and if it doesn;t work, no biggy... I didn;t spend a penny.....

    so if anyone has anything else to add to my LIST please let me know I know all this straight from the ocean thing is contriversial maybe but... I have heard people using fresh substrate right from the ocean and not having any trouble so..

    oh and how do you know what kind of substrate I have in my FW setup? I have cichlids so I have playsand mixed with ocean gravel/shell.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Zookeeper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Well, I'll qualify all comments below with: "there is more than one way to skin a cat, but....."

    "lighting- NO florescent (because there cheap)"

    Not as cheap as you think. If you are going to go this route, I don't suggest you use the regular "strip lights" from your local hardware store. Use the balasts (you can get these at Home Depot), but buy the good water-proof endcaps. Don't bother with the cheap end-caps and metal frames that come with "strip lights", the frames will rust, and the open endcaps are dangerous over a salt water tank. This is the bare minimum, and don't skimp beyond this. If you can't afford even this, don't convert to salt water.

    "home made live rock (clam shells, oyster shells, scallop shells, ect)"

    This is a fine idea, and you can get a big bag of crushed oyster shells (used in chicken farming) from your local feed store for like $15.00. Do some reasearch on the net with regards to making live rock and the right type of cement to use. The big key, is patience, as the rock needs to cure for something like a couple of months otherwise it will cause a PH spike.


    You can pick up Bomix sand from Rona. Ask others here, (I think Johnny Rock has used it). It is calcium based, and goes for about $5.00 for a big bag. I'd clean it, and use it for both the substrate in the main tank, and, in the refugium. You can seed it all by bumming a couple of cups of sand from another reefer. I'd be really wary of using sand/mud from the local bay, and it really isn't necessary, since you will have lots of time waiting for the home-made rock to cure .

    "(home made) hang on back refugium"

    A great idea, but see above for comments on the subsrate. In addition, I doubt you could get a large enough HOB refugium to have a large enough anorobic area to do any good. For that, you would need a sump sized refugium. It isn't so much the subsrate in a refugium anyway, it is the macro (you can also usually get this from other reefers).

    "local marine snails" and "local hermit crabs".

    Probably not a good idea. You are keeping a "tropical" biotope, and the creatures you are picking up at the beach in Halifax, are not tropical. They probably will not do well. Besides, the cleanup crew are not the expensive creatures in this hobby. Again, if the budget is this tight, going salt is probably not a good idea. However, there are others on this board that live in your area and can give better input than me (I know momrules uses natural seawater).


    Don't forgo it. These can be made fairly cheaply (if you are going to make your own HOB fuge, then presumably you have enough skills working with acrylic, and therefore could make your own skimmer). Contact Harley on this board if you can't make your own. Forget the "experimental" stuff. It has been tried, and my understanding is the only way you can get away without it, is to have a LARGE refugium (which will probably cost you more than a skimmer). There are lots of DIY skimmer plans on the net.

    Off the top of my head, you have not addressed circulation.

    Lastly, you can save a lot of money in this hobby if you are patient and can spend a lot of time (ie: on the home-made liverock).

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    How about two heaters? I never use one large heater but 2 smaller ones because they fail and usually fail in the on position. Having two small heaters will prevent one large heater from cooking your tank and everything in it. By the same token if one fails off, then the other one will prevent your temp from dropping as far as it would if you had no heat in the tank.

    For test kits, I recommend (as a minimum) ammonia, nitrites, phosphates, calcium and Alk. Nitrates, pH and magnesium come next to mind. Get a good test kit - Salifert is a brand that many use.

    How about something to measure salinity? I use a refractometer and would never go back to a swing arm. Others are happy with their swing arms.

    If you use a good salt mix (Instant Ocean is one) you won't need additives to begin with. If you use natural sea water, then you may need additives. While I think of it, never use an additive that you have not tested for. Many of the additives are easy to overdose which can result in a dead tank.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Zookeeper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Actually, in addition to what I posted above, I realized that we have had this discussion before in this thread:

    And there, you were told by three people that trying to go without a skimmer, is a no-go. Now what exactly will the "experiment" be? How many things you can kill before you go out and get a skimmer?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Haha... I know I was told before zoo, I am not trying to kill all kinds of stuff... I am most likely not going to be putting a salt tank together in the next little while... but when I do I want to try a couple things just to see.... I know why skimmers are important... and I will most likely need to purchase one and probably will... I have read alot on the subject.... and still have a whole bunch left to read... I have been looking into this for the last year... so I am by no means just jumping into this hobby... as for the local snails, I know they are not tropical snails... and I wouldn't get them in halifax... I would get them at the lower end of Nova Scotia where I grew up, where I know for a fact that these snails can withstand temps of at least 80 degrees.... "walkin" around on the ocean floor in 4 inches of water in the middle of the day.... anyway I don;t wanna make anyone mad or anything.... I am not gonna go and get a whole bunch of livestock and try and kill it or anything like that.... I just figured if I can use those snails then why bother getting some from other places where they are probably more depleted ect ect...

    as for the substrate for the refugium, it is going to be local marine tidal mud flats.... I read somewhere that the smell of rotten eggs is a sign of anorobic bacteria ect... this mud I am talking about when the tide goes down releases this smell... it is just an "experiment" I want to try and see if it works... if not no biggy.... I won;t have any fish in the tank when I try this out.... just a couple snails and a rotting piece of shrimp? I heard that works good to start the cycle up good...

    as for the lights I was thinking of doing up a diy NO florescent setup.... I can get the equipment from the LFS for cheap I think... well cheap to me

    oh and as for circulation I have 1 302 powerhead and I will most likely purchase another more powerfull one... I also saw tonight on the diy section for a hang on the back closed loop system.... that looked intriging... I might look into that.... drilling my aquarium does not seem like such a good idea to me... what if you decide you don;t want to have a marine setup anymore.... I just wouldn't feel right drilling my tank... anyway thnx for the advice even if I didn't really need all that info I already knew but glad to see your keepin an eye on newbies like me whenever I start my tank I'll let you know how it goes

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