The Planted Tank Forum banner

Any saltwater guys out there? A couple questions here.

1761 Views 43 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  F22
I don't know where this thread goes, so mods can move it if needed.

What is needed for a very very basic saltwater setup? I have read you can do a low tech setup with rocks rather than coral. I was just wondering what is needed, since I have a low budget, is there any sort of a plausible saltwater setup?
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
Yes. I've got a simple reef setup. Try google for some basic articles on setting up a tank.
I did a google search, but I am not very familiar with all the gear, plus I would rather get some info from the people on this forum, rather than who knows who, written who knows when.
you can do a FOWLR tank which stands for fish only with live rock. it is important to not over stock if you go with low budget simple setups
I have done FOWLR in the past and had no problems not using a skimmer. IMHO I would buy up some base live rock and crushed coral or sand and get started. If your not looking to have a coral tank then it isn't as difficult as it may seem.
I don't think I can afford a skimmer right now, so it's good to hear it's possible to do without one.

I can still get saltwater "plants" IDK what you call them, like anemones and things of that nature, without coral, correct?

I wasn't planning on having any fish because I assumed a tank this size would be too small for even one, is that correct? Also, what inverts would work if no fish would work?

Thanks for the help.
FOT is the cheapest and easiest. Basically means Fish Only Tank. You can use your canister filter for biological filtration. Put saltwater instead of freshwater, wait for the nitrogen cycle to complete, all set. The canister outlet is your powerhead and you only need minimal light because mainly is for your viewing.

You can have nothing in the tank, even gravel we called it BB (Bare Bottom).

It's quite similar to freshwater, you test for NH4, NO2, NO3 with the inclusion of Salinity.

You will need a salt mix and hydrometer, the rest like heater, thermometer, filters, you should have already.
A skimmer is mainly for reef tank, most people use canister filters for FO and FOWLR. Even for reef tank less than 20G you won't need a skimmer as long as you don't overstock.

Dont expect to have any anemones or corals in there, you will need a new light fixture for that which cost $.

You can have just inverts like snails and hermit crabs in the tank. Maybe urchin as well. But in saltwater you gotta be patience about anything, things happen slower than in freshwater. Don't expect to have the whole tank setup without 3 weeks.
i suggest a refractometer over a hydrometer. but like porsche said. it is not that hard if you just want to keep it simple
OK, here is a more specific list of what I have for this tank. (Or will have after this weekend)

5.5 gal
Hood (standard screw in bulb type)
Marina S10 HOB
Toms Mini Filter (Can stir up a little water movement. Is this plus a HOB enough?)
Heater (Am I wrong in assuming a regular freshwater heater is OK to use in SW?)

And I will have about $50 to put into it. Where would you guys start?
heater would work.

start with some salt and rodi water and let the cycling begin

go with BB and you will have even less to worry about
So BB is bare bottom, correct? Just a tank, water, and fish? No decor of any kind?
You dont have to have decor...

Only $50 you still need salt mix and hydrometer, later on fish.

BTW 5.5G will not be as easy as 20G.
Just seems strange to me. Are fish really happy swimming in an empty glass box?
5.5 will be boring without corals. if you want fish only i suggest at least a 20g so you can have like 2 fish
I'm OK without fish. I had planned on having just a few shrimp or snails.
As some one that keep reef systems, I must respectfully disagree with some of what was posted previously.

First, here is my advice to anyone considering a reef system -

DaveK's Standard Lecture #1 – Advice for people new to the hobby

The very first thing you want to do, before you spend any money on equipment or livestock, is get yourself a few good books on state of the art reef systems. Then read and study them, so you have some idea about what your are doing.

Here are two to start with -

The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner
The New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paleta <---This book has an especially good section on fish suited to someone starting off in the hobby.

This is information that you can not easily obtain from the net. While it's out there, it's all over the place, and there is a massive volume of information.

Once you get that done, plan or rethink your system. What do you want to keep? Do you have the necessary equipment? Do you have the knowledge to keep the livestock you want? Do you have the time to dedicate to keeping a system and it's livestock?

Many salt water fish, corals and inverts often have very specific requirements. Some are extremely difficult to keep alive, even if you do everything right. Before you get anything, research it, and be sure it will work out in your system.

Lastly, you will find that most LFS people are clueless when it comes to SW systems. Verify their advice, until they prove otherwise.

Now as to some of the specifics related to reef systems and previous posts -

First, there really is no such thing as a budget SW system. Yes, you can save some money with DIY projects, buying used equipment and so on. Even so your going to invest a lot of money. Most desirable fish are about $20 up, most corals start higher. You can not casually afford to loose livestock. If your going to acquire everything from scratch, expect to spend about $25 to $50 and up per gallon of water in the main display tank by the time your more or less complete. Figure that a 30 gal tank, completly set up costing about $750 to $1500, and think toward the higher end.

While not an absolute requirement, if you plan oh having fish, I would highly recommend a skimmer. Yes, people do systems without them, but a skimmer is highly desirable to a point where you should have one on any system that you plan to keep fish in.

On FO (fish only) systems - Yes people do set these up. IMHO they are a disaster waiting to happen. Most people are far better off doing a FOWLR since they will maintain a much higher water quality. I don't know anyone in the SW hobby any length of time that keeps a true FO system, but I'm sure there are still some.

The not to overstock point made by several previous posters is extremely important. SW fish need space. The typical rule of thumb for SW is 1 inch of fish per 5 gals of actual water. When you compute this you should use the adult size of the fish. So a 30 gal tank should have about 3 or 4 small fish.

Anemones come in all sorts and sizes. In a small tank you want to restrict yourself to what are known as Zoas (Zoanthids) and mushrooms. The larger predatory anemones, like the ones you see clowfish hosting in, are out of the question in a small system.

Most other inverts on an individual basis are ok as well, but some will go after each other. I'd avoid crabs, except for hermits, and predators like mantis shrimp. Other shrimp are generally ok.

On - This is the largest reef site on the net. Read it for advice, but be forewarned that they have, IMHO justified, reputation for being really harsh to new people in the hobby. Before you post anything make sure you read the sticky threads and FAQs, otherwise you'll just get referred to them. You might want to consider which is a lot easier on beginners.

The last important point I want to make is that lots of experience in FW systems, even with planted tanks, give you some basics, but the way you do things in SW is completely different. For example in a planted tank we love canister filters, and we add ferts to get plant growth, and we restrict lighting. In SW systems, canisters filters are almost considered evil, and often the recommendation is to replace it with a sump. Adding ferts is never done, since the goals are to keep nitrate and phosphate extremely low. Lighting over corals or similar inverts is extreme. What is considered way too much in a planted tank is considered minimal in a reef with corals.

Now with all that I hope I have not scared you off. SW systems can be very rewarding, but you have to put a lot into one to get something out. Note the number of "retired reefkeepers" we have here, with some of them looking for a much easier system to keep.

Happy reefing.
See less See more
OK, here is a more specific list of what I have for this tank. (Or will have after this weekend)

5.5 gal
Hood (standard screw in bulb type)
Marina S10 HOB
Toms Mini Filter (Can stir up a little water movement. Is this plus a HOB enough?)
Heater (Am I wrong in assuming a regular freshwater heater is OK to use in SW?)

And I will have about $50 to put into it. Where would you guys start?
I didn't see this post until I made my previous post.

I'm not trying to beat up on you, but if your budget is $50 and you don't have anywhere near what you need equipment wise yet, I recommend you forget about it for the time being. Don't spend any money on equipment. Get the books I recommended in my previous post, and find out what your getting involved with. Even the basic test kits your going to need are going to eat up $50 immediately.
Haha. Thanks for the great post. Very informative.

You didn't scare me away yet, but I am starting to lean that way. Lol. Until I have a more disposable income (not in college) I am thinking I may have to stick to FW tanks. Lol.

I am still reading up, but I just don't think I will be able to find the resources to keep a SW tank up and running. I am trying to track down the FW Tank Journal on here that mimicked a SW tank. Anyone remember it?
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.