Freshwater to Saltwater, Should I turn to the Dark Side?
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:32 AM   #1
Jonnywhoop
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Freshwater to Saltwater, Should I turn to the Dark Side?


Hey everyone, I just acquired a great deal on a Mini M in which I have no idea what to do with it. I was thinking of doing an Iwagumi, taiwan bee tank but this would be my third planted tank (literally) next to a 40br and 20g long. I already have a brand new 2213, an extra co2 outlet, yadadada, everything ready for a planted tank. but...

how cool would a nano reef be? I never kept a SW tank before, but they look damn cool...I know they would be a lot harder to maintence, but HOW much harder? hows the water maintenance? Should I venture to the... dark side .... or should I just stick to what I know.

Its really a dumb thread to post, but I would hope people can chime in if they have had experience with SW tanks?
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:34 AM   #2
Sean W.
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How many gallons is it?
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:54 AM   #3
Jonnywhoop
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5.5g ADA Mini M. its pretty small, and I could definitely see how water changes need to be super consistent. Don't really care for fish, I would focus more on corals.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:06 AM   #4
Sean W.
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do you have an RO/DI setup?
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:39 AM   #5
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Nano tanks are a breeze actually and at only 5.5 G would be even easier and a lot easier to maintain than you think. Actually easier than a planted tank. Dose you cal and phosphate maintain salinity add some good lights and you can keep any SPS/LPS.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:54 AM   #6
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I would just pick up sea water from the LFS. Dosing cal and phosphate? kind of like dry fertz? I just figured weekly 50% WC? It does sound easy.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:54 AM   #7
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You don't need to buy sea water. You can mix your own saltwater. It is what I do for my 100G and my daughters 30G nano and pretty much what everyone does. Any LFS sales refractometer and salt which will last you longer since you will be doing weekly water changes. Otherwise it will get expensive buying premixed water.

There isn't any dry ferts that I know of for saltwater. You don't dose like you do for plants. Depending on your water parameters you will have to dose for Ca, Alk and Phosphate. On a tank that size you my not even have to do that with weekly water changes. 25% per week and just mix up a new batch of saltwater and you are good to go. You do the same thing as you would do for a freshwater tank except you're adding salt.

Basically just keep good salinity which you will always be topping off. One thing about evaporation on salt and fresh is when water evaps on a saltwater tank you're salinity is going to change so you will have to stay on top of that. Which is why you hear so much about ATO (Auto top off) in the reefer community. Get good lighting, depending on the coral you plan to keep if it is soft corals/LPS you can get away with 1 watt LEDs ether 10K-14K just depends on if you like white or that yellow/white. You want SPS might need to go up to 3 watt LEDS and really watch your water. Does the tank you have come with a built in overflow and return? You will need good flow, like really good flow. Corals need go flow and you need to keep the detritus from settling. Filter just needs filter floss, purigen and chemi-pure and that's about it. If you had room you could do a small fuge with some chato moss for more bio or rock rumble but on that size it isn't needed. That size really will be very low maintenance. Mainly just water changes and you're good and you can go longer without them if need be as long as your water parameters are in check. Just top off and you're good.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:38 AM   #8
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Well i've been keeping reefs for about fifteen years and say you should give it a try. I just recently got into planted tanks and find my 20 gal. nano reef easier to maintain than the planted tank but there is certainly a learning curve. You can dose calcium to boost growth but it is certainly not necessary. Most nano users don't for that size of tank considering almost everything you need is provided in the salt mix (no need for a calc. reactor like I use in my larger setups). I have never heard of anyone dosing for alkalinity or phosphates as both should be zero initially before adding salt mix (phosphates always zero). The live rock provide all the ph buffer you should need, but you can always use a buffer if needed to get ph to 8.2. A good protein skimmer is a must however. Between the protein skimmer and live rock/sand that is all the filtration you will need. Also I would recommend a hydor 240 power head or a nice return if your using a sump so that you have good water movement. The more the better for saltwater and especially a reef. You should have no dead spots. The lights should be anywhere between 2-7 watts per gallon. (5-7 for clams only, 2-4 for softies and LPS, 4-5 for SPS, I wouldn't recommend any NPS) WPG isn't the best rule of thumb for light requirements but will get you started. i've personally never had luck at 1 wpg expect for maybe a button polyp, mushroom, or feather duster. Use a 50/50 (10,000K/Actinic blue) setup for lighting and moon light leds are nice and cheap for that small of a setup. The water changes/maintenance is something you would have to stay on top of however as water parameters can easily change if under looked in that small of a tank vs. a large tank that can absorb a "hiccup". If you have any additional questions feel free to ask. Also auto top off is nice, but topping off every few days with RODI water accomplished the same thing. Have fun
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Old 12-12-2013, 01:19 PM   #9
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I maintained SW tanks for the better part of 13 years. Early last year, I went back to breeding angels and planted tanks. I saw that side of the hobby go through all its' fundamental changes. 4 different lighting platforms, monster skimmers, wave pumps, etc. etc. Even the crazy-named chopped up coral frag craze.

If you're going to do it, I have to agree nanos are the way to get started. The investment still isn't small by any means. I've kicked the idea of a nano around for a while now. I'll simply offer a few things to ponder before you decide:

Like any hobby, it can border on addiction. If this will be your third tank, will you stop there, or do you think you'll keep expanding? A very personal and individual question. It has to be asked, because once you get beyond a nano, the investment goes up exponentially and so does the price of the cool-named frags you'll want that sell for more than caviar by the square inch.

The issue of evaporation's been brought up here already. There are ways to automate the process of adding make-up water. It can be a little difficult with nanos simply because of space restrictions, but not impossible. If you can't automate, you have to look inward again and ask if you can manually top it off daily, depending on your settup. If there's one golden rule in the hobby in general that has VERY special meaning on the SW side, it is that bad things happen quickly; good things just take time; and recovering from bad things takes even longer. Evaporation during winter heating season is a totally different animal than summer and can bring a nano down quickly.

If you've never had a SW tank before, lots of things will be familiar and lots will be VERY new and VERY different. While nanos are small, they have the same basic needs as any SW system, so think about whether you really have the time and resources to maintain it and keep it running properly. The biggest appeal for nanos, is the cost and space factors, there are others to be sure, but they still require the same upkeep regimen that any SW system does. In other words, a Ca / Alk test takes the same time regardless of the size of the tank or how much you paid for it.

Just food for thought.
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Old 12-12-2013, 02:35 PM   #10
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I just turned my other tank from saltwater to planted. First off, you need to know what you want to do, if you want to do a reef or just fish only with live rock (FOWLR) and what type of corals you want to keep. This will will determine what type of set up and equipment you need to be successful. For 20g or less, you can get by with no sump or skimmer and just rely on 10%-15% weekly water change. As far as dosing, that depends on what you corals you have. Most of the time you don't need to dose anything, saltwater provides the calcium/alk/magnesium, mix your own saltwater but choose the salt correctly. RO/DI is a must, you can't use tap water or even RO, you need all level at zero or as close to zero, nitrates, phosphates and whatever chemicals coming out of the tap. That's just the basics, its not cheap.
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Old 12-12-2013, 06:29 PM   #11
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Thanks for the comments everyone, it definitely helped. I do not have an RO/DI at home which definitely seems to be a problem for at home pre-mixing. Would I get away with using an Eheim 2213, using filter floss, purigen and chemi-pure? Would I need to drill some holes and make a whole sump with a skimmer? I would definitely want to do some pretty intense corals, with just inverts. no fish for a tank this big. As for balancing evaporated water, I just top off with 1.025, pre made water? or top off with RO/DI water? wouldn't the salt that remains in the tank raise my salinity?

any good links to where to I can read up on specifically nano reefs? I see info about larger reefs but I want to learn how to balance such a small tank.

Thanks for the help everyone! Definitely thought this forum would be a bit biased about this topic.
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Old 12-12-2013, 06:48 PM   #12
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after owning a 12g nano cube reef tank for 2 years, and spending around 1k for everything over that time... I'm taking a big hit this weekend selling off the contents in bulk because I just can't stand it any more. i'm tired of the maintenance, tired of the RO water, tired of mixing salt water up.

for topping off due to evaporation you use RO water. if you use salt water you're actually going to increase the salinity because when water evaporates it leaves the minerals behind.

here is a good nano forum http://www.nano-reef.com/
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:48 PM   #13
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I think Scapegoat was a little more "blunt" about the dark side of nanos than I was, lol!

And he also referred you to an excellent nano forum.

Like I said, there are similarities and yet big differences. Join Nano-Reefs and even ReefCentral to get a better feel for what it will entail. The investment, though less than with a full-blown reef or FOWLR is still not one you want to have to bail out on.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:05 PM   #14
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If you have the time and the money for it, go for it. Nano reefs are fun, the only down side I found to salt was the money I put into it, and the time it took to maintain everything to keep it looking nice. Time and money I no longer have

reef central is a great site and is where I got all my info for my nano build.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushkill View Post
I think Scapegoat was a little more "blunt" about the dark side of nanos than I was, lol!

And he also referred you to an excellent nano forum.

Like I said, there are similarities and yet big differences. Join Nano-Reefs and even ReefCentral to get a better feel for what it will entail. The investment, though less than with a full-blown reef or FOWLR is still not one you want to have to bail out on.
dude, i effing hate the thing. all it is is work to me. It was a learning experience though, and I'd absolutely consider doing a 20g long reef if I had an RO unit, and all the equipment already.

if you don't keep up on water changes, it turns into an algae farm real quick. at least without fish you're probably going to be able to let them go longer than I do.

They're really cool because there is always something new to find; like the pin head sized bodied brittle starfish i saw one time. I have/had a bristle worm in there somewhere... maybe still.

i've grown coral real well. I've turned 3 rasta zoa polyps into at least 2 dozen. they're worth about $15-$20/polyp. I'm letting the entire contents go for $200. I'm just over it. it was cool... but it's not my thing.

Hell, i originally wanted an Edge to do a cool shrimp tank. wifey thought it was boring, so we spent more money to get the nano cube and crap to get a reef tank going. I've had moments where I want to throw it out the window. I can't wait to get that stuff out of the tank and bring it to the office and have a nice little low tech planted tank here.

a thousand bucks on this sucker... coral thrown out, fish dying, shrimp disappearing. and don't put clowns in a nano... they crap up the place If I was a smart man i'd just get rid of them, redo the tank, and start cutting up the rastas to sell to get some cash back, then break it down. I will miss my duncan.

I'm pretty much sick of running to get RO every week, or every other (i do a full 5g bucket water change) then mixing up salt. I don't feel like investing the cash or time in setting up an RO system.

don't let me steer you away though... they're really freaking cool. they just take work to keep going well. it's not like a planted tank. if you miss a water change, crap gets unhappy, algae starts to grow in crevices you can't possibly clean. be prepared to work on it, to scrap coraline algae off the glass.
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