View Full Version : salt water/reef aquariums

jack duren
05-31-2005, 11:12 PM
anybody have one? looking for the ups and downs of having one....jack

Dennis Peacock
06-01-2005, 12:46 AM

I've never had a salt water aquarium before but I've had several fresh water. A buddy of mine once had a salt water setup. Said it was touchy to keep the water just right so those expensive fish would stay alive. He kept it as salt water for about 1 year and then went back to fresh water.

In short, I have no personal experience with salt water setups. I opted for a less expensive way of keeping fish for a hobby....fresh water was just better for me all the way around.

Mike Tempel
06-01-2005, 1:31 AM
I had a buddy a few years back that had a big one - 200 gallons. It was the size of a sofa. I went over one day for the unveiling of 4 new fish for it. There was a moray eel, a stingray/skate of some kind, a lion fish (I think that was it I don't remember for sure but it was brown and white striped with big feathery looking fins), and a small lemon shark. The shark was no problem - went in without a problem. Next was the lion fish - again no problem as it went in and just kinda set there without a care in the world. Then went the eel - it went in and down to the bottom to hide in some rock structure. All was going well until the ray went in. It went in and swam around for about 10 seconds. Then it passed the eel - which darted out and bit the ray in half:eek: :eek: :eek: . It was the coolest thing to see but my buddy was mortified. Only one wing of the ray was left as it sank like a feather to the bottom. I forget how much he had spent getting all those fish shipped in but it was quite a sum. I will never forget the look on his face watching that wing sink to the bottom. I don't know how long he kept it but I remember that he was constantly working on that aquarium trying to keep everything just right. I don't think he ever spent the kind of money that he did on those fish and I heard that he downsized some time afterward. He ended up selling the tank to a specialty fish shop or something. He probably ended up with a dog or something. Best of luck to you - try a gold fish or a beta or something. Less expensive and they flush pretty easily when they croak.

Ian Barley
06-01-2005, 3:39 AM
I used to keep a marine tropical setup. Get a good book and read it - twice.
I never had any great problems but everything is expensive so it pays to make sure that you learn from the experience of others.

Bigger is easier. The larger the volume of water the more stable the environment you can create. Low stocking densities are important - less strain on the environment.

I used to keep a dog faced puffer - very attractive and fairly easy to keep. A Picasso triggerfish - as agressive as hell but fantastic to look at and fascinating to watch - lies down on its side at night and goes to sleep on the bed of the tank. A Leopard Moray. About as thick as your index finger and about 18-20 inches long. Tough as old boots. I once found it, dry as a strip of jerky, lying on the living room floor having made its way out of the tank. For all the world as dead as dead can be. Not knowing what else to do I picked up this leathery, inanimate object and put it back in the tank. It sank to the bottom where after about five seconds all the colour came back it shook itself once and swam back under the rock where it usually lived. Fascinating.

This is a facinating hobby and the results can be stunning. Some of the fish are ravishingly beautiful and many have interesting lifestyles. They are all pretty expensive which is as it should be. If you are gonna take a living sentient being away from its evironment you need to accept your responsibility for it. These are not goldfish with almost no brain. Most of them will show clear intelligence which is actualy what makes them fascinating - not the pretty colours.

Did I mention get a good book and read it - twice!

Jeff Sudmeier
06-01-2005, 8:28 AM

I am never one to push someone away, but there are some good Salt Water forums out there. I don't know any of them off the top of my head, but my buddy at work has a salt water tank and he is out there every day learning something!

John Lock
06-01-2005, 8:39 AM
I have a 75 gallon saltwater with an additional 30 gallon sump in the stand. I've had mine for over 5 years and I still wish I could do more. The advice to read is a great idea, I re-did my filter system 3 times in the first 6 months before I was satisifed with it. Take the time to read and plan the whole thing (including what kind of fish you want). If you want a full-blown reef, you'll have to consider lighting as well as the filter system and it can easily bring the cost way up. I easily have over $1000 in the tank setup and I stick with hardy, low-light corals. Don't forget about the maintenance either, water changes, top-off for evaporation....

http://wetwebmedia.com/ is a good resource for information as well as their user forum (linked from the above site).

Good luck, it can be a very rewarding and addictive hobby (like woodworking)

Randy Meijer
06-01-2005, 2:09 PM
There are some deals to be had if you are patient. I found a gal who was remodeling and no longer had room for her than, Got a complete working set-up.....55 gal.....for $350!!! Even got a few fish and about 50# of live rock. It was an adventure to move, but well worth the effort. I don't find them hard to maintain......I think people go wrong in two areas. They get impatient and don't let the tank cycle properly when first set up and put too many fish in the tank which leaves you little or no margin for error if you have a problem. I figured the stocking rate for my tank and then cut in half and have never had any problems!! I agree with the earlier comment.....buy the biggest tank that you can handle.....it will be much easier to maintain. And finally, reef tanks are wonderful; but much more expensive to set up, stock and care for, Generally, reef tanks are for more experienced folks as they can be more complicated to maintain. This is not to say that first-timers can't do it, but it would be very helpful if you had a local mentor who could help you through the early stages of your education. Good luck and have fun. It is a wonderful hobby!!!

Chip Olson
06-01-2005, 2:17 PM
My brother-in-law had a saltwater reef tank for many years, but got rid of it last year, as it was too time-consuming (he's a woodworker too, so that's two expensive time-consuming hobbies). He had this huge tank in the living room of his house, with three pipes going into the floor, leading to the basement room that is also his woodshop. One entire wall of the room was fish life-support infrastructure.

Jim Barrett
06-01-2005, 4:30 PM
Sascha Gast has a saltwater/reef tanks. I am sure he will chime in....

jack duren
06-01-2005, 8:42 PM
the smallest im considering is a 125 gallon. i talked to guy today and he left me clueless to what to do but it was the smartest advise ive gotten from the venders thus far. why.... because im looking to go into too many directions(fish,reef or plant) and i cant do all. so he told me i need to decide exactly what i want and go in the one direction... makes sense to me.

reef tanks look nice but i cant put bigger fish in like "lions".

the lighting on a 200 gallon alone was $1100 :eek: for a reef setup.

plants another story.

fish but im still looking into setup (cool stuff options)

he did say without the stand i can get 125 gallon for around $350 with light and filtration but i would need the different lighting for reefs :( .

so im a bit confused and i guess ill have to search the net for pictures and as suggested look into saltwater forums.

thanks for the replies and be glad to listen to anyones thoughts :) .

seems to me a niche for large aquarium stands would be a good direction on a part time basis. the stands ive seen thus far are pretty bland.....jack

John Hemenway
06-03-2005, 10:04 PM
I've got a 60G. reef, 60G. and 30G. planted freshwater tanks. I think the reef is easier to take care of after inital 6 months. Much less work on the reef.

Planted tanks are just like gardening, just under water in your house! I actually like planted better but LOML likes the reef so I keep it to promote marital harmony - very important at tool buying time! :)

We're not supposed to refer to other forums here so if you PM me I'll point you to several good reef and plant forums. Read EVERYTHING you can, digest it and then go for it!

One more thing, getting aquarium advise from the LFS (Local Fish Store) is often like getting woodworking advise at the BORG. Most LFS have a very "just buy this bottle of magic stuff - it'll cure all your aquarium ills" attitude. Not nearly as much 'stuff' is needed to keep a healty aquarium.

I second the comment above about being patient. My favorite 'reefer' motto...
"Nothing good happens fast in a reef tank".

Bill Lewis
06-04-2005, 8:01 AM
I have a co-worker that has one. i don't know the size, but it's big, at least 6' long. Salt water tanks are expensive. He figures he has over $3000 in the tank/filter/setup alone, without what goes in to it. His Brother is a ww and built him a stand. He also complains that the equipment is noisy.
It's something he always wanted, but has said many times he'd sell it if he could. I think that was just the setup pains talking. I haven't talked to him for awhile about it, he may be happier with it now.