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Beginner's Questions


  1. Re: Starting a saltwater aquarium
    by bsaitow-at-biker.East.Sun.COM (Bob Saitow - USCS Supervisor) (8 Apr 92)

Re: Starting a saltwater aquarium

by bsaitow-at-biker.East.Sun.COM (Bob Saitow - USCS Supervisor)
Date: 8 Apr 92
Newsgroup: sci.aquaria

A few people requested I post any responses to my query on the
trials of starting a SW tank.  It is very clear that: 1) It is 
VERY expensive, 2) it can be very frustrating to establish, 
3) be willing to spend a lot of time with it, but the payoff is 
in the beauty and, 4) do some reading.  Anyway, the responses
are within. 

Thank you to those that took the time [and energy] to reply.


>Hi all,
>I am a newcomer to aquaria, and just started my freshwater tank
>a couple of months ago.  I finally got the ph stabilized and good
>bacteria support, so it appears my fish are finally going to live
>long lives.
>I'm considering starting a saltwater tank in a few months and would
>like to hear your experiences with it (things to avoid, costs, easiest
>life to start with, etc.).  I've heard they're easier to maintain, but
>some have said they are a pain in the #!%, stay away.  What do you
>think?  Also, is it more difficult to find dealers for marine life?

>From ap932-at-cwns2.INS.CWRU.Edu Wed Apr  8 00:06:05 1992
~From: ap932-at-cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Larry Cuy)
To: bsaitow-at-biker.East.Sun.COM
~Subject: Re: Starting a saltwater aquarium
~Reply-To: ap932-at-cleveland.Freenet.Edu

To gain a good understanding of it; which is somewhat critical if
you are going to go into any fish store read Moe's Reference book
which costs from $15-25. It is well worth it.

I would not consider starting without a trickle-dry; cheap ones
available from DLS in Toledo that you simply place in a 10-20 gal
sump tank; a pump that circulates about 200 gallons per hour; and
later on a protein skimmer. They always tell you to start with
damsel (Blue Devils) but these are generally really aggressive
and you will hope they die at some point.  I would have started
without them and still added clownfish; some crabs; and maybe even
an anemone. Don't let them tell you it is premature to add this
stuff; it worked fine for me on a 75 tank.  Also, it helps to add
matured Bio-Beads and Chemi-Pure when you first start out.

There are plenty of jerks they will steer you wrong in the stores
and in fact some people on here will tell you something will 
never work which does.

If you want to start out really cheap just use a Skilter 250 on
a small tank, i.e.10 or 20 gallon.  I have had a clownfish, live
rock and seahorse living in one of these for about 2.5 months.
Some say it could never have been done.  Also, in every case 
change 10-15 % of the water once per month.

Stay away from wrasses; they eat anemones and destroy smaller
fish; angelfish are delicate; tangs are great (Yellow is hardy
but sometimes aggressive); Naso tangs are hardy.

Good luck; write back with any questions.


>From Tue Apr  7 20:25:24 1992
~From: (Mike Deliman)
To: bsaitow-at-biker.East.Sun.COM
~Subject: Re: Starting a saltwater aquarium
~Newsgroups: sci.aquaria
In-Reply-To: <rs3tlINN45f-at-seven-up.East.Sun.COM>


I did FW tanks for about 10 years before starting a saltwater tank. I had
major difficulties, and that was with:
      net.wisdom from (aquaria)
      help of a friend who is a fish-professoinal and has done FW & SW tanks
      for over 15 years.
      about $500 in NEW equipment, a new tank, ....

I've been doing SW now for three years, and have learned:

    you can't skimp on quality
     "   "      "   on time
    AND you can't skimp on MONEY! Even doing the cheapest DIY lighting,
    filters, skimmers, pumps, ...., you're still going to end up with about
    $1000 in equipment, and a 3 to 6 month wait while the tank slowly cycles.

But... if you can afford the TIME, MONEY, STRESS, and FRUSTRATOIN, in about 6
months you'll have something truely to behold. But you'll probably kill $10
to $50 worth of fish, first...

To be truthfull, wait for a few years. Experiment with different kinds of FW
fish. Cichlids (esp. africans) are near bullet-proof; beautiful, but very
hearty. BUT if you can keep a pair of Discus alive, and happy, for more than
6 months, then you've got a clue into the ammount of trouble it is to keep a
SW tank in condition...

So shoot for the top of FW before you shoot your wad on SW.

(Just my own money & animal conscious opinion. Note: I STILL have my reef

Ohhh, by the way, the 2 most important things for a reef tank (or SW in
general) are 1) filtration - PLENTY OF IT, and 2) ballanced lighting
spectrum... and PLENTY of that, too!

(Sorry about the negative tone. I'd rather scare off someone who's a novice -
saving them the time, frustration, and money (not to mention the poor fish)
than have someone discover too late that they realy don't want to deal with
that much maintenance and expense. I'd guess that if you're a compentant
die-hard you'll do it any ways. I did!)

     -Mike, fishhead of 15 years....

P.S. If you do want some real pointers and decide to go for it, I'll be glad
to send you email of all of the pointers & tips I can offer. Nothing can help
like experience, though, and sometimes that's not enough!

| inet:   | uunet: [sun,uunet]!wrs!miked |

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>From Tue Apr  7 20:32:19 1992
~From: ( Jon Edwards )
To: bsaitow-at-biker.East.Sun.COM
~Subject: Re: Starting a saltwater aquarium
~Newsgroups: rec.aquaria
In-Reply-To: <rs3tlINN45f-at-seven-up.East.Sun.COM>

Almost all pet shops that sell fish sell both FW and marine fish.  
(except for the Woolworths and Walmarts, but those aren't really pet shops
now are they :)

Anyway,  as far as any aquariums go, stay away from UGFs.  Reverse flow UGFs
are OK, though.  Normal ones accumulate too much crude underneath the plates
for all but the most fanatical of aquarium cleaners (which does not include

Yes, marine tanks are harder to keep, but they are worth it.  Maybe it's just
taste, but I find more pleasure looking at a few brilliantly colored 
fish, than a whole tank full of platies, gouramis, guppies, plecos, etc...

You must regulary check the nitrate levels (and phosphate if you are using 
tap water), they should always stay low.  Filtration is a bit more tricky,
protein skimmers are used.  You'll spend between $50 and $300 dollars on 
that alone.  Luckily they aren't needed until after about 2 months.

You have to add water to make up for evaporation (the salinity of the water
must stay fairly constant).  Crude must be cleaned out more often.  Food can
be tricky.  I only use frozen shrimp and frozen brine shrimp.  

BUT, like I said, it is worth it.  Most people say something like "WOW, aren't
those really hard to keep?" and  "Those are 'cool' looking fish!"  

Fish to get.  I would suggest only damsel fish and maybe a clown/anemone fish.
These are hardy little guys, and cheap too.  After you've mastered the basics
and have a cycled tank, wrasses are cool, so are tangs.  I'd stay away from
angels until you have more experience, and stay away from butterflys all 
together.  Both of mine have died within two months because they wouldn't

I would suggest _The Marine Aquarium_ by Dick Mills.  This book contains good
beginner info, although the filtration section is out dated a little bit.
It is the book I started on.

Anyway, I hope  this will help some.  Please write back if you have any 


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