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Salt Water Fish Tank [2014]

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rosebud5

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Here we go again. Years back we had a fresh water tank. What a mess to clean all the time. Then about ten years ago we bought two small turtles that grew and grew till we had to release them in the wild. Anybody ever clean a turtle tank? It's nasty. Now the wife wants to fill the 55 gallon tank with salt water and fish.

Anybody have any direct experience with salt water tanks and fish? How much work is this going to be?
 

sjsharkie

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It is way more work to maintain a salt water tank. Besides the normal cleaning with any tank, you need to test the water regularly to ensure proper balance and also clean up the salt crust that cakes on the tank. You also need to do 20% water changes every week or so.

Believe me, you should research how much effort that goes into having a clear salt water tank in your home. On the flip side, the fish are generally much more colorful to look at.

Good luck.
Ryan

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I have always kept goldfish in my 55g tank, vibrant colors and relatively easy to care for. The other somewhat easy to care for are Zebra Cichlids (SICK-lids), but they require high pH. They are also bright colors. But, a saltwater tank requires monitoring salt levels, pH levels, temperature, and foods.

TS
 

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I've been a fresh water aquarist most of my life, and have wanted to get into salt water for many years. It happens every time I SCUBA, and see that wonderful sea life :)

Then I start doing the research, and get turned off. First, to have a 55 gall. salt water tank, you do know that you need a secondary tank, correct? So, it's not maintaining 1 tank, it's maintaining 2 tanks. Then there is the continuous water management. Daily. Then, the water changes, requiring conditioned, correct salinity and pH water. Where to keep all that water?

I'll probably get into it, but when I'm retired, and have more time to dedicate to it. The reef aquariums in particular are absolutely beautiful, when properly maintained. And costly too ;)
 

Phydeaux

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Here we go again. Years back we had a fresh water tank. What a mess to clean all the time. Then about ten years ago we bought two small turtles that grew and grew till we had to release them in the wild. Anybody ever clean a turtle tank? It's nasty. Now the wife wants to fill the 55 gallon tank with salt water and fish.

Anybody have any direct experience with salt water tanks and fish? How much work is this going to be?
You cleaned it all the time? How so? What did your cleaning consist of?

A properly maintained aquarium requires very little cleaning, in my experience, other than cleaning/replacing the filter media (simple & quick) and scraping the algae off the glass. Also simple, and rather quick.
 

Kal

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Don't even THINK about a salt water tank!! :eek:

I have had a salt water live reef tank for MANY years then finally shut it down. This is not something you just sit back and enjoy especially if you travel. Mine was a 65 gallon tank with all kinds of beautiful fish, invertebrates and high-tech hardware. The water MUST be very, very good and maintained at a narrow range of parameters. It requires almost daily maintenance otherwise the contents will definitely suffer. We have very high quality drinking water, but that water is not acceptable in a reef tank without pre-treatment. How's the water where you live?? :confused:

I used a series of activated carbon canisters and reverse osmosis filtration system to prepare the water additions to the tank. Even then, you can't just add cold water to the tank, it has to be preheated. Moreover, the salinity and pH has to be adjusted and allowed to equilibrate before adding water to the tank. Think about how and where you would store this water.

What about power outages? You have to keep the tank at about 80 F so the heaters and lights need to continue to operate. Then again, what about hot summer days? If you don't have appropriate air conditioning, how will you keep the water in the correct temperature range? Lighting is designed for the tank so you have to use special bulbs and those contribute heat to the system.

The tank also has an internal system of filters and biological treatment to continuously clean the water. Those filters must be changed almost every other day. Think about who will perform that maintenance while you are away from your home.

Needless to say, tropical fish are expensive and so is the equipment. The price of a 40 lb container of marine salt is also spendy.

Also, be aware that not all fish will get along. It's sad to introduce a really nice, expensive new fish to the tank then see it immediately eaten by one of the occupants! :eek:
 
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Kal

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There is a natural progression with fish. That first little bowl with a gold fish or Betta inspires more fish and a larger bowl. Then you move to a small "aquarium" with bubblers. The more fish, the need for a bigger container.

That doesn't last long as you will always want BRIGHTLY colored fish. Since fresh water fish are mostly dull, the only solution is a salt water tank. So you make a MAJOR shift from fresh water to a marine tank. Then before long you step up to a larger tank to accommodate the desire for more fish.

Finally, you want invertebrates in addition to salt water fish. Again, need more critters, therefore it's a bigger tank.

All the while, tank maintenance increases and you realize water quality is extremely important. This is a costly next step because you will need all kinds of special equipment and water management practices to keep all the fish and invertebrates alive and well. It's a never ending costly adventure.
 

Phydeaux

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There is a natural progression with fish. That first little bowl with a gold fish or Betta inspires more fish and a larger bowl. Then you move to a small "aquarium" with bubblers. The more fish, the need for a bigger container.

That doesn't last long as you will always want BRIGHTLY colored fish. Since fresh water fish are mostly dull, the only solution is a salt water tank. So you make a MAJOR shift from fresh water to a marine tank. Then before long you step up to a larger tank to accommodate the desire for more fish.

Finally, you want invertebrates in addition to salt water fish. Again, need more critters, therefore it's a bigger tank.

All the while, tank maintenance increases and you realize water quality is extremely important. This is a costly next step because you will need all kinds of special equipment and water management practices to keep all the fish and invertebrates alive and well. It's a never ending costly adventure.


Familiar with discus, killifish, blue rams, and peacock cichlids?
 

DaveNW

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Familiar with discus, killifish, blue rams, and peacock cichlids?
Or most any of the African (Lake Malawi & such) Cichlids. Relatively easy, very colorful freshwater fish. If only their shapes were more varied. ;)

My 2¢: Aquariums of any sort can be great, if you're invested enough in the right setup and technology to be able to keep it to a standard that makes it successful. Salt water tanks have their own long list of requirements, but if you're interested enough, it can be very rewarding to keep one. But only if you can devote the time and attention it will require. Anything less equals failure.

Food for thought: When was the last time you went to a larger garage/yard sale and didn't see at least one empty aquarium of some size/shape for sale? There's a reason for that.

It's a lot like going to Jurassic Park. At first it's all "Oohs" and "Aahs." And then the screaming starts. :D

Dave
 

theo

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It's a lot like going to Jurassic Park. At first it's all "Oohs" and "Aahs." And then the screaming starts. :D
I don't know a thing about aquariums --- fresh, salt or brackish --- but I love this analogy just the same. :hysterical:
 

DaveNW

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I don't know a thing about aquariums --- fresh, salt or brackish --- but I love this analogy just the same. :hysterical:
I made that up. :)

Dave
 

Egret1986

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Convinced yet?

Here we go again. Years back we had a fresh water tank. What a mess to clean all the time. Then about ten years ago we bought two small turtles that grew and grew till we had to release them in the wild. Anybody ever clean a turtle tank? It's nasty. Now the wife wants to fill the 55 gallon tank with salt water and fish.

Anybody have any direct experience with salt water tanks and fish? How much work is this going to be?
Is the wife up for and committed to all it will require? Sounds like vacations will have to be stopped or a qualified fish sitter will need to be found.

Yikes! :eek:
 

Kal

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... a qualified fish sitter will need to be found.

Yikes! :eek:
What do you say to the "qualified" fish sitter when you return home and learn 30 gallons of salt water overflowed onto your carpet? :mad:

A person has to be qualified on a specific aquarium since there are so many variables with all the hardware. Make a meaningful change to the pH, salinity, temp etc. and the occupants may not survive.
 

Egret1986

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Just kidding about fish sitter, but sounds like it would put an end to going away.

OP hasn't been back, but I think those that have posted with their personal knowledge about the maintenance of salt water aquariums would be enough to put an end to that conversation. :rolleyes:
 

Don

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I got a five gal. aquarium for Christmas when I was 14. Two weeks later I got a 10 gal. for my b'day. I have had Fresh water aquariums off and on (mostly on) ever since. About 25 yrs. ago, I looked into and rejected setting up a salt water tank because of the work involved to keep it properly balanced.

The OP said he was constantly cleaning his tank. I can see mainly two reasons for this. It was set up in a sunny area and had a major algae build up or he was over feeding them.
 

DaveNW

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