Planted or saltwater? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2015, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Planted or saltwater?

Hi all, I don't post much here but have been greatly enjoying the small planted tank this community helped me set up. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I recently decided that I wanted to set up a larger tank. That lead me to craigslist where I was able to pick up a very nice starfire 40g breeder for a good price. I was planning on another low tech planted tank (trying a sump) with primarily dwarf rainbows and peacock gudgeon, but realized that with the powerhead and T5 lights that came with the tank that I have many of the ingredients needed for a saltwater tank. I've always wanted to try saltwater but have been turned off the cost and complexity (or so I believed). If I do go saltwater I'm thinking FOWLR with some macroalgae in the display and sump and potentially some "idiot proof" species of soft coral. Any thoughts? My biggest concern is maintenance and complexity. My current low tech planted tank is super easy to care for with just occasional trims, water top-offs, and maybe monthly water changes. Thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2015, 01:25 AM
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I've had more salt water tanks than anything else. Probably a dozen or so setups through the years.

Honestly you could do a simple salt water setup with nothing but a whisper backpack filter and a mildly upgraded light. As soon as you add coral it's a game changer and really a domino affect.

It starts with a few soft corals or mushrooms. Then you add the extra light to make their color pop. The T5's add a good amount of heat. now you're constantly having to watch it in the summer. Temperature spikes to 90+ degrees in the tank. Your dropping frozen milk jugs full of ice into your sump trying to keep the temp down.

Next you figure you may as well invest in a good chiller. Well now your halfway there. You upgrade your lights to a metal halide setup. Get the refugium going. dip your big toe in the big boy pool with a few bubble coral.( $125 each) and now your really cooking. Oooh it looks so nice.

Salt creep.
Refractometers
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mail order coral DOA
Mix the salt for the water change
Sorry coral is not guaranteed
poisonous little anemone's sprouting up everywhere
When the heck did I buy a mantis shrimp?!
Mix more salt water for the next water change
Change out the latest set of filters for the RO/DI
I'm gonna start mixing my water in trash cans. This is a pain.
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Stick with a planted tank if you want mellow.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2015, 04:01 AM
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I just tore down my saltwater after almost 8 years for a planted tank. Although I'm pretty new with planted tanks, it's definitely a lot easier.
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2015, 05:07 AM
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FOWLR won't be as nice and one fish can cost a fortune.
Another thing with saltwater is that it's better not to go cheap with equipments.
And trust me, you probably won't settle for those easy/ugly corals and will want to get nicer looking ones (another $$$).
Also when you have corals, you have to monitor the water quality almost daily to prevent a crash which can kill off all livestocks.

I recently broke down my saltwater pico reef (around 4 gallons), which cost me over $2000 including livestocks.
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses. They're more one sided than I expected so I'm definitely reconsidering and looking into the costs more closely. I see how coral could add up really fast, especially if I got into a "connect them all" mindset. The fish don't seem too bad, at least for more common types, considering that the number needed is so much lower.
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 12:57 PM
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You may be happy with a simple fowlr with a couple clowns. But previous comments are on point. If you like planted tanks, you automatically favor aquascape over all, otherwise you'd just have a fish tank. Its inevitable you'll want corals, and few people are happy long term with the hideous brown soft corals that seem to be the beginner's plague. You think you want lots of movement so you buy chreap leather corals, only to see other tanks on forums decked out with lots of acropora and then you say "man, I don't have those colors in my tank". I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I think it's wonderful. I love my reef tank, but yes. They're infinitely more expensive. On the same level that in our hobby, discus, bucs, erios, and blood vomit seem to be the expensive things right now. The prices you pay for those are on the mid to lower end what you'll pay for small small small good looking corals and fish, which grow 1/100 as fast. I digress. Saltwater tanks are nice, reef tanks are where it's at though. If you feel up for it. There's ALOT of equipment involved. And the salt and water mixing is the least of it. I water change my reef way less than my planted tank. On my 90 gallon reef I do maybe 5-10 gallons every two weeks maybe, and that's a pretty aggressive water change regiment by reef standards. On my 75 gallon planted I'm at a 40 gallon per week water change regiment.

If you decide to turn your tank into saltwater, there are three things you should purchase before you do anything else. Rodi filter, large box of salt (200 gallon mix capacity), and a refractometer (with calibration fluid). Hope that helps


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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 02:45 PM
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For me the salt creep and having to mix water was enough to keep me to the fresh water side of keeping a tank. What makes me look at salt water is the fish. Just love some of the angles and other fish. How about buying another tank and having both?
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 03:52 PM
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When we moved to this house, I sectioned off a small corner for a fish room. It was all fresh water and I bred Angels for the most part. This goes back to when email was the big thing, lol! Life got crazy and I shut it all down for a couple of years. My nephew put the SW bug in my ear one day and I started simple, but just kept adding on. Had 600G of display running at one point. After the third flood I caused in the basement, I finally threw in the towel after 13 years of SW. I now have 1,100G of FW to care for and it takes me less time to care for with far less stress. I can finally go away for a weekend without stressing over topping off,equipment working properly, and feeding, etc., etc.!

If you're not big on chemistry and your lifestyle has you away from home even a few times a year, stick to the planted tank. You'll sleep better, enjoy short trips away from home, and your wallet will be a lot "plumper".

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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 04:55 PM
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Freshwater is cheaper (I'll challenge anyone on this), easier, more relaxing, and extremely pretty if done right.

Problems are easier to fix in fresh water, and water changes are more simple to do. It also requires less tech and gadgets.

I'll never go salt reef again.
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 05:50 PM
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I'll counter what a lot of folks have said, and say that in my experience, having a teeming and healthy reef tank with stony corals is far more rewarding in the long run. Expenses aside. The skill level and patience needed to achieve a packed sps reef is very high and if you can pull it off it's quite rewarding


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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpb View Post
The skill level and patience needed to achieve a packed sps reef is very high and if you can pull it off it's quite rewarding


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The same can be said about high tech planted tanks. Just look at some amano designs.
The thing with Lps/sps reef tank is that it will take years for it to grow,specially for a big tank, compared to a planted tank.
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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 08:33 PM
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I don't know if I'd go that far. We are skating into personal preference here though and one can't really say which is "better". Amanos tanks are a works of art, but at the same time put together and grown in quickly, generally with easier types of plants. The real achievement with those nature style tanks lies more in meticulous hardscape placement. Requires tremendous skill, patience, and creativity...but at the same time, if you make one serious mistake, you don't destroy years of work overnight, like you may do with an acro dominant tank. Lps corals don't really apply, those are generally as easy and undemanding as softies. I find sps a blanket statement as well. I literally cannot kill some of the larger montipora in my tank. They'd grow in toilet water. Acros are where the real challenge and reward is. They're not for everyone though and if you're not interested in Acros in particular...and lack sw experience, you may find it a tedious, messy, and expensive experiment


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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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What about heavily "planting" with macroalgae in the display and refugium? Does that help maintain parameters and reduce the need for water changes like it does in FW? I've seen some pictures of "planted" SW tanks with little to no coral that looked amazing and would check the boxes for color and movement.
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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 08:55 PM
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Macro heavy lagoon tanks are an option. An often forgotten seleomly attempted style. Tom Barr had an awesome maco only saltwater tank some time ago


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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 09:11 PM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=salt...27gQtj#imgrc=_


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