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The Lounge>Any fishkeepers here? Saltwater or freshwater
Silock 04:02 AM 11-16-2011
I'm looking at starting up a saltwater tank. Is there a good fish store in the KC area without driving out to Lawrence?
[Reply]
The Bunk 02:36 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by Detoxing:
Saltwater tanks are the biggest pain in the ass.

Sure, the fish look cool.....when they're alive. An owner of a hotel I worked at decided to put an aquarium flush in the wall in the lobby. He and I took care if it.

JFC....I would never own one of those things. Keeping the PH balance right is a hige pain in the ass....and even if you do that right, they still die.

IIRC, we've killed Tangs, Angel Fish, Puffer fish (at least 2 of those i think). There were a lot more that I can't remember right now.

We had a good sized Lionfish too. He was hardy and all, but he made it no fun trying to clean the tank.
If all you were checking was PH, that was your problem. That actually matters least of the harmful stuff that can be in a saltwater tank. Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Phosphate are all much more critcal. Keep those in check and your problems will be minimal.

Also, if you have a good clean up crew of snails and the right bottom feeders, cleaning is a minimal task also. I rarely touch the inside glass of mine, unless it's to remove a smudge or something. The snails keep it looking almost completely clean.
[Reply]
Holladay 02:40 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by :
My best piece of advice to you if you're just starting out: use craigslist. There are a ton of tanks out out there that people are just trying to unload because they want out. You can get them for a fraction of what you can in the store. I bought a 120 gal off there a few months ago, it's my latest project.

Agreed with one MAJOR exception. Scratchs. I bought my 120g used. I didnt realize how many small scratchs it had until a few months later the algae started to build up. The first place it grows is in those darn scratchs:-)

20/20 hindsight, I should popped for a new one. But at the time, saving $500 was huge. Now 14 yrs later.....am I gonna break down a nice tank, move a 6 foot long sucker...nah. I'll just live with the scratchs and get more pleco's.
[Reply]
Holladay 02:43 PM 11-16-2011
Lumpy,

nice set ups. I have a 10 and a 30g that are almost as fun as the big tank. In the 10, i had some cichlid shellies. Those lil idiots would drag their shells all over the tank!
[Reply]
The Bunk 02:43 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by Holladay:
Agreed with one MAJOR exception. Scratchs. I bought my 120g used. I didnt realize how many small scratchs it had until a few months later the algae started to build up. The first place it grows is in those darn scratchs:-)

20/20 hindsight, I should popped for a new one. But at the time, saving $500 was huge. Now 14 yrs later.....am I gonna break down a nice tank, move a 6 foot long sucker...nah. I'll just live with the scratchs and get more pleco's.
I've been pretty luck in that regard. Usually if that's a major problem, they are visibile. But I can understand the concern. For a person just starting out, it doesnt make a lot of sense to spend more than 2x as much on a new tank though, IMO.
[Reply]
Holladay 02:46 PM 11-16-2011
true dat
[Reply]
Lumpy 02:51 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by Holladay:
Lumpy,

nice set ups. I have a 10 and a 30g that are almost as fun as the big tank. In the 10, i had some cichlid shellies. Those lil idiots would drag their shells all over the tank!
Thanks! I have a 10g too, but it's currently setup as a quarantine/hospital tank. Got any pics of your tanks?
[Reply]
Lumpy 03:24 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by The Bunk:
If all you were checking was PH, that was your problem. That actually matters least of the harmful stuff that can be in a saltwater tank. Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Phosphate are all much more critcal. Keep those in check and your problems will be minimal.

Also, if you have a good clean up crew of snails and the right bottom feeders, cleaning is a minimal task also. I rarely touch the inside glass of mine, unless it's to remove a smudge or something. The snails keep it looking almost completely clean.
Very good points... especially about the parameters! :-)

Ammonia and Nitrites should read at 0ppm and Nitrates should be >40ppm. As far as your pH, as long as it stays constant, there's no need to try to adjust it. A lot of people purchase the crap that increases or decreases pH only to find their stock dead shortly after dosing the tank.

Also, API makes a great liquid kit to test your parameters. When we were cycling our tank, we screwed up and bought the strips that you dip in the tank. Never trust those damn things! The parameters were reading wrong and we thought our tank was cycled. Then, when we added our first batch of fish, they were getting Ammonia burns and many of them jumped out of the tank.
[Reply]
HemiEd 03:37 PM 11-16-2011
Lots of great advice, and information in this thread that stokes some good, and not so good memories.

I didn't ever get into the salt water, but went whole hog on the fresh water for several years. Had a vertical 80, and several 20s.

Was going to get rich selling angel fish to the aquarium shops! :-)

They were charging a lot for them, so I took in a couple hundred of my nurtured pride and joy baby angels in to them. They offered me 15 cents each.
I kind of lost interest after that.
[Reply]
The Bunk 04:32 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by Lumpy:
Very good points... especially about the parameters! :-)

Ammonia and Nitrites should read at 0ppm and Nitrates should be >40ppm. As far as your pH, as long as it stays constant, there's no need to try to adjust it. A lot of people purchase the crap that increases or decreases pH only to find their stock dead shortly after dosing the tank.

Also, API makes a great liquid kit to test your parameters. When we were cycling our tank, we screwed up and bought the strips that you dip in the tank. Never trust those damn things! The parameters were reading wrong and we thought our tank was cycled. Then, when we added our first batch of fish, they were getting Ammonia burns and many of them jumped out of the tank.
The API kit is the best one I've used.

If you want to browse different types of fish, check out this site. Really cool stuff on there. I just got underway with my new tank after moving a few months back. So far, I've got a black and white clown, a kole yellow eye tank, diamond goby, and lawnmower blenny. I'm trying to go for more original stuff than the standard blue tank, orange clown, etc. It's hard to do though, as some of the really cool looking fish will tear up your coral.

http://www.saltwaterfish.com/
[Reply]
Fish 04:53 PM 11-16-2011
A few of my freshwater fish:

German Red Peacock:


Yellow Lab:


Gold Nugget Pleco:


Jack Dempsey:



And here's a video of one of my snails pushing a golf ball around my tank:


You can see my big green Severum in the video too..
[Reply]
Fish 05:01 PM 11-16-2011
FYI... I order the majority of my fish through here: http://www.livefishdirect.com/

I really recommend them. They have a great selection of fish you'd never see in stores around KC. I've had great results with very few deaths due to shipping.
[Reply]
Pants 05:11 PM 11-16-2011
I like how there's an expert on CP for every possible field.
[Reply]
DJ's left nut 05:25 PM 11-16-2011
Lots of strange information in this thread, IMO.

I've had tanks of various fashions and forms for about 15 years now. I presently have a 90 gallon freshwater community tank and a 130 gallon saltwater reef. I've done cichlids (the pictures above), piranha, livebreeders, fish-only saltwater, and lord knows what else. I've settled on the reef as the best looking and easily the highest 'work/reward' ratio.

Some misconceptions, IMO:

A) Freshwater is easier than salt. I strongly disagree. Freshwater is cheaper than salt, but you'll never get as strong a biological filtration system in a freshwater tank. As a consequence, you need to change the water out to get the waste out well. In a saltwater setup, most of the waste will break down through your biological setup and eventually evacuate as a gas after the ammonia cycle finishes up.

B) Start small with a saltwater tank. NO! No no no, 1000 times no. A smaller saltwater tank is significantly harder to deal with because a change in the water chemistry can be quick and catastrophic. If you're running a 20 gallon setup and a fish dies, it could create enough bio-load on its own to run up your ammonia levels, converting to nitrite then nitrates. The ammonia/nitrite spike would kill your fish and the nitrate spike would cause an algae bloom. With a large tank, however, that dead fish simply won't register. There's so much water that changes in water chemistry are significantly more gradual.

You can do a saltwater tank cheap, or you can do it well. You can't really do both. If you want to start with a 'cheaper' alternative, get a large setup and work slowly into it. Keep the tank 1/2 empty for awhile if need be. Do not, however, start small. I would only recommend Nano setups and the 'desktop' tanks to people that are much more involved with the tank. If you want an easier tank to deal with, especially saltwater, go with 90 gallons or better.

As for setup advice:

1) Go to Craigslist and try to find someone getting out. This is huge in that they will already have live-rock or other biological media that has gone through the ammonia cycle. This will mean that you won't have that 'be prepared for dead fish' beginning suggested. What that is is simply your tank building up its biological bacteria to process the waste appropriately. With 'used' liverock that will already be there and will greatly improve your initial success. It will also be about 1/5 as expensive.

If you don't have that biological setup running through used rock, it'll be a couple of months before the tank has 'cycled' and you won't want any fish in it until afterwards. You can do this by putting some regular ol' eating shrimp in the tank immediately after setup, letting it rot and the bacteria that takes care if it will cycle the tank and the bacteria will populate the rock. Change the water and you're ready to go.

2) Build your tank around your light. If you have the means or if you get lucky, go with one of the new LED setups or a Metal Halide/Power Compact combo. These will make a tank look better than you will ever imagine. I'm particularly fond of the MH setups; the point-source effect created by the light creates a literal 'shimmer' effect in the water. It really can't be duplicated by any other light setup and it's really incredible. I have found that the light is more important to the overall feel of the tank than anything else, including the fish or corals you add to it. A bad light will make beautiful fish look bland.

3) Protein skimmer. The expensive filters are only necessary if your biological setup is insufficient. More critical than filtration is actually water movement. This will keep algae down as well as oxygenate the water well (critical for healthy fish; especially tangs and a few others). A protein skimmer will get the small particulates in the water that won't settle and break down on the bottom of the tank. These help a great deal. I have a Precision Marine Bullet; I don't recommend them. It's a beckett injector system and frankly it sucks a little bit. Look for a good cone skimmer. These are the most important 'filter' mechanism. If you decide you need another supplemental filter, a Magnum cannister filter will be sufficient to run carbon or something like that. I use a Fluval 350 (I think), it's overkill.

4) Maintenance is simple. Do a 10% water change every couple of weeks and you'll be fine. Some people do more, some people never do any. I have found that my corals are healthier with periodic water changes, but I think that's because they need the nutrients in the salt as I don't have a calcium reactor and don't dose with coral nutrients. I really use the water changes as my sole additives. It's not going to get me a show tank, but it works well enough. If you can get a Reverse osmosis setup, I'd suggest it. They're a couple hundred bucks but they'll keep the phosphates out of your tank and greatly reduce algae problems (as algae feeds on phosphates).

There's a ton of other stuff, but that's why they write books on the subject. If you have a question, just ask. I can tell you what I've learned through my own myriad of failures at this point.
[Reply]
Detoxing 05:35 PM 11-16-2011
Originally Posted by DJ's left nut:
Lots of strange information in this thread, IMO.

I've had tanks of various fashions and forms for about 15 years now. I presently have a 90 gallon freshwater community tank and a 130 gallon saltwater reef. I've done cichlids (the pictures above), piranha, livebreeders, fish-only saltwater, and lord knows what else. I've settled on the reef as the best looking and easily the highest 'work/reward' ratio.

Some misconceptions, IMO:

A) Freshwater is easier than salt. I strongly disagree. Freshwater is cheaper than salt, but you'll never get as strong a biological filtration system in a freshwater tank. As a consequence, you need to change the water out to get the waste out well. In a saltwater setup, most of the waste will break down through your biological setup and eventually evacuate as a gas after the ammonia cycle finishes up.

B) Start small with a saltwater tank. NO! No no no, 1000 times no. A smaller saltwater tank is significantly harder to deal with because a change in the water chemistry can be quick and catastrophic. If you're running a 20 gallon setup and a fish dies, it could create enough bio-load on its own to run up your ammonia levels, converting to nitrite then nitrates. The ammonia/nitrite spike would kill your fish and the nitrate spike would cause an algae bloom. With a large tank, however, that dead fish simply won't register. There's so much water that changes in water chemistry are significantly more gradual.

You can do a saltwater tank cheap, or you can do it well. You can't really do both. If you want to start with a 'cheaper' alternative, get a large setup and work slowly into it. Keep the tank 1/2 empty for awhile if need be. Do not, however, start small. I would only recommend Nano setups and the 'desktop' tanks to people that are much more involved with the tank. If you want an easier tank to deal with, especially saltwater, go with 90 gallons or better.

As for setup advice:

1) Go to Craigslist and try to find someone getting out. This is huge in that they will already have live-rock or other biological media that has gone through the ammonia cycle. This will mean that you won't have that 'be prepared for dead fish' beginning suggested. What that is is simply your tank building up its biological bacteria to process the waste appropriately. With 'used' liverock that will already be there and will greatly improve your initial success. It will also be about 1/5 as expensive.

If you don't have that biological setup running through used rock, it'll be a couple of months before the tank has 'cycled' and you won't want any fish in it until afterwards. You can do this by putting some regular ol' eating shrimp in the tank immediately after setup, letting it rot and the bacteria that takes care if it will cycle the tank and the bacteria will populate the rock. Change the water and you're ready to go.

2) Build your tank around your light. If you have the means or if you get lucky, go with one of the new LED setups or a Metal Halide/Power Compact combo. These will make a tank look better than you will ever imagine. I'm particularly fond of the MH setups; the point-source effect created by the light creates a literal 'shimmer' effect in the water. It really can't be duplicated by any other light setup and it's really incredible. I have found that the light is more important to the overall feel of the tank than anything else, including the fish or corals you add to it. A bad light will make beautiful fish look bland.

3) Protein skimmer. The expensive filters are only necessary if your biological setup is insufficient. More critical than filtration is actually water movement. This will keep algae down as well as oxygenate the water well (critical for healthy fish; especially tangs and a few others). A protein skimmer will get the small particulates in the water that won't settle and break down on the bottom of the tank. These help a great deal. I have a Precision Marine Bullet; I don't recommend them. It's a beckett injector system and frankly it sucks a little bit. Look for a good cone skimmer. These are the most important 'filter' mechanism. If you decide you need another supplemental filter, a Magnum cannister filter will be sufficient to run carbon or something like that. I use a Fluval 350 (I think), it's overkill.

4) Maintenance is simple. Do a 10% water change every couple of weeks and you'll be fine. Some people do more, some people never do any. I have found that my corals are healthier with periodic water changes, but I think that's because they need the nutrients in the salt as I don't have a calcium reactor and don't dose with coral nutrients. I really use the water changes as my sole additives. It's not going to get me a show tank, but it works well enough. If you can get a Reverse osmosis setup, I'd suggest it. They're a couple hundred bucks but they'll keep the phosphates out of your tank and greatly reduce algae problems (as algae feeds on phosphates).

There's a ton of other stuff, but that's why they write books on the subject. If you have a question, just ask. I can tell you what I've learned through my own myriad of failures at this point.
This post alone proves that Saltwater is harder to maintain than freshwater.
[Reply]
DJ's left nut 05:41 PM 11-16-2011
Oh yeah - other questions:

Online resources: Marinedepot.com and Drsfostersmith.com are where I get most of my food/supplies. Some swear by Big Als as well. Aquacon has some great specials, but I've never bought from them as the shipping is prohibitive.

Aquarium Wholesale at the great mall is an incredible fish store, though the staff will annoy me on occasion (they're simply understaffed). They have the best prices on coral frags and generally the best fish selection. The owner (Pat) is a nice guy and generally means well, but can be a bit much at times. I try to run by there whenever I'm in town just to see what they have. I've found things like a Mystery Wrasse there for $45 when the only other places I could find them were selling them for $200. He'll also get Achilles tangs, Black tangs and all kinds of stuff that you're otherwise just not going to find.
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