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Freshwater vs Saltwater

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This could start a huge debate but I'm willing to try!

I've always been fascinated by corals and I decided to join the fishkeeping hobby with a Freshwater tank because it's cheaper and supposedly easier. Now that I've got experience... I'm looking towards a coral tank.

So, I'm calling on you fellow PlantedTankians to share your experiences with coral tanks...

Which is best... Saltwater or Freshwater?
Pros and cons of each?

I look forward to seeing what you all think!

Rad91
 

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Well if I was only going to have 1 tank I'd say saltwater but knowing me and how many tanks I have, I opt for freshwater I could never imagine having only 1 tank and wouldn't want the hassle of multiable saltwater tanks with all that comes with them and the exspense that goes along with saltwater but that's just me I too am interested in what others think
 

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I too started with freshwater, had a couple tanks. Then I went over to saltwater and had two saltwater tanks and tore down all my freshwater tanks. After about a year, I tore down my 15 gal. Cube and converted it to freshwater. So now I have a 15 cube freshwater and a 55 gallon saltwater. Saltwater is fun and very interesting, but the stakes are higher. When you loose, you loose big. I forgot how much cheaper freshwater is, I went to the lfs for my freshwater stock and was amazed at the prices. £2 - £3 for non tetra fish, £1 each for tetras. For saltwater I am paying £60 for a pair of clowns. Plus freshwater is just soo much more relaxing, I am back to enjoying the hobby. Don't get me wrong, I still love my saltwater reef, but I think I just slightly prefer freshwater.
 

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34 years all FW

13 years neck deep in SW

3 years ago I saw the light (no, not LED's) and switched back.

The SW side of the hobby has changed. Corals get bought by anybody who can get a wholesaler's license and chopped up into itty-bitty frags get sold by the square inch because somebody gave it a goofy name or some guru somehow got the right to put his name in front of it. It's a money pit......meant to take the money of the person who just HAS to have that designer frag. Fragging started as a way for hobbyists to simply exchange livestock. It turned in to an industry. 20 years ago Fiji PomPom xenia was incredibly rare, exotic, and expensive. Bright red Monti Cap slabs cost a bundle. Now both are garbage corals most consider a scourge or an amateur's coral.

If you add the elitist nature it's taken on to the fact that being away from the tank for more than a few days is a sure bet to come home to a disaster and it ceases to become fun too. After the second day away, you find yourself worrying about the tank and forget you're on vacation.

I went through all the lighting platforms before quitting at LED's. There are LED fixtures out there that should come with payment plans. Some protein skimmers aren't far behind. Did I mention it's a money pit?

Sounds like I really soured on it , eh?

About 80% dedicated to breeding angels, and got my first trio of guppies a few months back. I haven't had a guppy in a tank in almost 50 years. They call that coming full circle I think.
 

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34 years all FW

13 years neck deep in SW

3 years ago I saw the light (no, not LED's) and switched back.

The SW side of the hobby has changed. Corals get bought by anybody who can get a wholesaler's license and chopped up into itty-bitty frags get sold by the square inch because somebody gave it a goofy name or some guru somehow got the right to put his name in front of it. It's a money pit......meant to take the money of the person who just HAS to have that designer frag. Fragging started as a way for hobbyists to simply exchange livestock. It turned in to an industry. 20 years ago Fiji PomPom xenia was incredibly rare, exotic, and expensive. Bright red Monti Cap slabs cost a bundle. Now both are garbage corals most consider a scourge or an amateur's coral.

If you add the elitist nature it's taken on to the fact that being away from the tank for more than a few days is a sure bet to come home to a disaster and it ceases to become fun too. After the second day away, you find yourself worrying about the tank and forget you're on vacation.

I went through all the lighting platforms before quitting at LED's. There are LED fixtures out there that should come with payment plans. Some protein skimmers aren't far behind. Did I mention it's a money pit?

Sounds like I really soured on it , eh?

About 80% dedicated to breeding angels, and got my first trio of guppies a few months back. I haven't had a guppy in a tank in almost 50 years. They call that coming full circle I think.
Thats a pretty interesting outlook form someone with some real life experience right there. While I've never dabbled in saltwater tanks, this is exactly my concern. Makes me even more confident in sticking to freshwater tanks for the time being!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Interesting points people!

The SW side of the hobby has changed. Corals get bought by anybody who can get a wholesaler's license and chopped up into itty-bitty frags get sold by the square inch because somebody gave it a goofy name or some guru somehow got the right to put his name in front of it. It's a money pit......meant to take the money of the person who just HAS to have that designer frag. Fragging started as a way for hobbyists to simply exchange livestock. It turned in to an industry. 20 years ago Fiji PomPom xenia was incredibly rare, exotic, and expensive. Bright red Monti Cap slabs cost a bundle. Now both are garbage corals most consider a scourge or an amateur's coral.

If you add the elitist nature it's taken on to the fact that being away from the tank for more than a few days is a sure bet to come home to a disaster and it ceases to become fun too. After the second day away, you find yourself worrying about the tank and forget you're on vacation
I find your comments fascinating!

If people didn't strive for the rare and exotic corals and instead focussed on the corals that they "just like the look of" instead then would that change your perception of the hobby? Well... if they weren't bein sold for such ridiculous prices!

For example, some of my favourite corals are actually the cheaper ones. (maybe cheaper should be replaced with less expensive :hihi:). Perhaps when I get a tank and start to build a collection of corals then I will start to fit the description you've mentioned and look for rarer ones but at this point I don't know :)

Also, I completely agree with your view on worrying about your tank. It's a serious investment depending on what's in the tank! I've seen a lot of reviews on the aquarium controllers which automatically kept everything stable and notified you via text if anything goes wrong. That would solve your problem! Although it's about £500+ to get that installed :confused1: Again, if you had one of these would you think differently about the hobby?

The price is a big killer really huh? :icon_frow
 

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I love both. I started as a kid with freshwater tanks. I was on the road a long time and in my twenties I got back into tanks and started a 55g salt tank. After a number of years I was on the road again and had to tear down my tank and sell everything.

A few years back I started back in and I went with freshwater because I had limited space and was on the road still. Currently I'm breeding apistogramma and happy as can be but I can't wait to get back into breeding clownfish again.

I love freshwater and saltwater. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Salt is much more expensive but has a lot more colors. Freshwater is cheaper and has a beautiful natural feeling to it.

I don't prefer one over the other I love them both for what they bring to the table. I know they are both fish tanks and are so similar on the outside, but, to me trying to compare the two is like trying to compare apples to oranges. They are so different there isn't really a comparison.

Therefore I am withholding my vote untill there is a third party!
 

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I keep both still.
I have [email protected] 120g,[email protected] and [email protected] salt.
1 of the 120s is a reef along with the 75 and 29.
The other 120 is a fowlr.
That's 350g of my almost 1,000g.
Like Angelo said corals are more common and tech is outrageous!
I got the second 120 for free(from another site ) along with all the goodies and receipts that added up to 15K!'
FREE!
I enjoy breeding in my freshwater tanks and (myself) actually prefer my 180 in my living room be a FW planted community.
Best tank I ever had!
My wife might want my 120 fowlr!
The 2 lion fish,morrey eel and minautus grouper are some of the most interesting and beautiful fish going.
I would keep fresh if I had to choose one.
You can blow way too much money on either!
 

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Yes its a debate between the two. Has been for years. Considering this i a FW forum, SW will play second fiddle. I have never done a SW but I am very intrigued by them. Someday I will though. My 90 long that I am currently working on now as my main display tank was going to be that dive into SW. I joined reef central and was learning up on it last fall. I was almost convinced that was my direction......Then the same switch that got turned on years ago, clicked back on. The expense. The larger gorgeous SW tanks that are out there cost an arm and a leg. I only have finger nails to give, lol. I priced the live sand bed and live rock that I wanted and my total with just those two was 700-800 bucks. That doesn't even include lights or equipment. I can get MGOPM and a cap substrate for under 100 bucks easily. I can fully load up on plants for 100-200 bucks. The list goes on and on, lol. SW is definitely heavy on the wallet so one must be prepared. I was getting there until I pulled the chain harder.

Most SW tanks I see look very similar. You just can not beat a well planned out planted FW tank. AGA contest tanks do it for me over SW.
 

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Most SW tanks I see look very similar. You just can not beat a well planned out planted FW tank. AGA contest tanks do it for me over SW.
^ This ^

In contests you see the same corals in the same arrangements with the same rock formations over and over, its changes very little. In the FW contests I am blown away by peoples creativity and aquascaping skills!

I need to stop bashing SW before my anemone decides it wants to go for a run, into a powerhead.
 

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^ This ^

I need to stop bashing SW before my anemone decides it wants to go for a run, into a powerhead.
There's my good laugh for the day! Thanks!

I think I made my point, but it's just my won experience and view of it. I got in at the very cusp of the SW craze and kind of rode the wave farther than most did. People left the hobby in droves in '08/'09. but I hung in and just watched it evolve into a "boutique" sort of hobby.

Having gotten in at the time that I did, I saw what was once common, meat-and-potatoes corals all of a sudden become fodder for side-cutters, band saws, and dremel tools. What was once just a bunch of zoanthids all of a sudden became "Gorilla Nipples" and "Armor of God". And somehow a guy by the name of Leng Si got his name attached to a green plating monti with purple lip. Fragging and swapping corals as it was originally conceived was awesome. But doing it and slapping a name on it to make newcomers think they have the latest and greatest just got under my skin. Zoanthids by the polyp, and echinos by the square inch. Meh!

Did / does everyone fall for the hype? Certainly not. But so many did that folks that had become successful at it couldn't get anyone to take things like Zenia, Anthelia, green zoanthids, or even Monti. Cap. of any color.

Certainly the cost was a constant source of "tension" with my wife. my signature is a carryover from the SW days. With bulb changes costing almost as much as the fixture and LEDs that would just take food off my table, it became clear it was becoming a different hobby and time to cut bait.

So now I'll be able to drive to North Carolina in the spring to watch my son play baseball for a weekend without breaking into a cold sweat worrying about the tanks after one day.

Right now I'm really glad I just came full circle and the only thing I'm sweating about is the temperatures next week while my new All-Red Albino guppy trios are in transit.
 

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Can I vote Yes/Maybe? I really like both sides of the hobby. Yes, freshwater is easier, but there's always the hard to keep fish, like newly discovered imports. At the same time, saltwater is harder, with sometimes easy to keep fish, like the staples of the hobby. I enjoy all aquariums, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A lot of the pros and cons reside in how people think our tanks should look like. But where's the variety in that? If we all had Iwagumis, Dutch, or some other type of tank, where would the spice of life be? This is also present in the saltwater hobby, where SPS (small polyped stony) corals cost a house and a half for a frag because people say that you "want" this coral. Personally, I've never listened to what people tell me to get (with moderation), because if I did that, then they would be other people's tanks, not mine. My dad loves goldfish, and my mom loves dottybacks, but I like tiny nano fish in giant planted aquariums, and drab striped fish in reefs.

There's also been a lot of specializing. Sure, I can have an all carpet tank, or SPS filled tank, but where's the fun in that? I like experimenting, from sticking "background" plants front and center, to making mixed reefs (LPS, softies, and macroalgaes). If the "experts" say that I need this plant for "X" reason, I question, and if I'm not satisfied, I find different ideas from other "experts." The gist of this, is that we may just need to listen to ourselves more, rather than the experts. Sure that SPS/carpet tank is beautiful, but which is prettier, the tank you made to satisfy your preferences, or the one you made to emulate this or that experts tank?

Also, we haven't taken time into consideration yet. I remember reading Dick Mills' 'You and Your Aquarium." As a 5 year old in 2001, that was my bible, because what other books on aquarium keeping were available at my public library...none. I don't know whether this statement is true, but take a look at the freshwater hobby a few years after aquariums were invented. I wonder if they all looked the same because people knew that sticklebacks and sunfish were easy to keep, while tetras and gouramis were impossible. They probably would have looked similar on a regional basis, because if there were even any planted tanks back then, they were probably collected in the local region, not shipped in from south america, southeast asia, or any other exotic places. I bet if we give the saltwater hobby time, then creativity will eventually replace the "keep them alive at all costs" mentality that some people have. Back during the Victorian era (according to Mills), they had very crude oil lamp heaters (or something similar). When modern day heaters first came out, were they not super expensive? I believe the same is happening in the saltwater hobby, as lighting moves from what we knew then (single light fixtures) to what we know now (LED's).

The same with breeding. Back then, did we know how to breed neons, cardinals, and discus? NO! Have we created commercial hatcheries that easily keep pace with our current demand? YES! For now, the saltwater hobby's in trouble, because we haven't been able to propagate fish in captivity. When neons and discus came in, I bet that nobody knew how to breed them. In time, I again, believe that we will find better ways to breed saltwater fish, and who knows? Clownfish may cost .99 USD eventually!
 

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Both. It's like asking whether beer or wine is better.

Most SW tanks I see look very similar. You just can not beat a well planned out planted FW tank. AGA contest tanks do it for me over SW.
That's a funny statement to read on a board where words like "clean look," "carpet," "iguwami," and "Amano" are more frequent than "a," "the," and "and." :wink:
 

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The same with breeding. Back then, did we know how to breed neons, cardinals, and discus? NO! Have we created commercial hatcheries that easily keep pace with our current demand? YES! For now, the saltwater hobby's in trouble, because we haven't been able to propagate fish in captivity. When neons and discus came in, I bet that nobody knew how to breed them. In time, I again, believe that we will find better ways to breed saltwater fish, and who knows? Clownfish may cost .99 USD eventually!
Honestly, this is one area the SW side of the hobby has made HUGE strides. But it really came from all the experience there was in the FW side of the hobby in rearing captive-bred fish.

ORA is one company that's made some incredible advances in captive-breeding SW fish species. I'll take a pretty uneducated guess here and simply say that there aren't very many wild-caught clownfish coming into the hobby these days or at least far, far fewer. It's not the easiest process, but they've proven that it can be done. And to be sure, there are LOTS of folks breeding clownfish in their basements now. By the same token, ORA simply perpetuates the marketing hype by adding silly common names to corals that they commercially propagate and sell. Captive-bred seahorses have experienced the same process.

Here's my point: An ORA Pearlberry is a color variant of A. Hyacinthus. If you don't give it the exact same conditions that ORA gives it (not an easy task), you may very well end up with an ORA Pooberry. Folks new to the hobby need to know the species, it's needs and tendencies, rather than make a decision based on a hyped name. And ORA certainly had nothing to do with developing it. They certainly did perfect the process of providing an ideal habitat where it thrives. The FW side of the hobby certainly had the same issues with common names, etc. but not at this level.

A guppy is a guppy, an angelfish is an angelfish, a neon is a neon. Go ahead and call them something flashy, but you're still dealing with guppies, angelfish and neons. You know what you're buying. Do you have any idea that an ORA Red planet is a red A. Hyacynthus and does the fact that they can get it to thrive well enough to frag and sell it give them the right to hang a name on it? Meh.

So even in the success stories, there's silly hype that take the new-comers down a road that's geared to just take their money.

OK, I'll step down from my soapbox now..............honest!
 

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I've had and enjoyed both. SW is more expensive as noted above, and more trouble. And too, saltwater is nasty stuff, leaving crusty deposits on your equipment that has to be dealt with. I'm not a rabid environmentalist, but I also wonder how long mother nature can sustain collecting of some SW fish and critters like LPS corals.

Bill
 

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A guppy is a guppy, an angelfish is an angelfish, a neon is a neon. Go ahead and call them something flashy, but you're still dealing with guppies, angelfish and neons. You know what you're buying. Do you have any idea that an ORA Red planet is a red A. Hyacynthus and does the fact that they can get it to thrive well enough to frag and sell it give them the right to hang a name on it? Meh.

So even in the success stories, there's silly hype that take the new-comers down a road that's geared to just take their money.

OK, I'll step down from my soapbox now..............honest!
Actually freshwater does have a lot of these same tendencies. Take discus for example. They are the exact same as clownfish in saltwater. Go on aquabid and check for yourself. "Tony tan's" discus are like $500 for a fish that looks almost the same as any other of the same color strain. Wild discus look nothing like the discus we have now, they have been bred into many amazing color strains now just like clownfish.

Personally even since I was a child and had breeding colonies of guppies and mollies I've always loved the breeding side of things. When I got into tanks as an adult I went with SW and when my niece forced me to buy some clownfish for the tank, which I hated, I feel in love. I immediately began pairing and breeding clowns they are just amazing little fish. Then I fell for funny and grumpy little gobies. Before I could get into breeding them I was forced to sstep away from the hobby.

A while back I was able to get back into keeping fish on a much smaller scale and chose(reluctantly under duress from the girlfriend) to go with FW. Thank god because now I am keeping and breeding apistogramma and loving it.

When we move into a house and I finally get my basement I will start by expanding my apistogramma breeding tanks, and I MAY add in a pair of discus. Then I will be working towards setting up some SW tanks and getting a few pairs of clowns and hoping working towards finding a breeding pair of yasha gobies (I LOVE yasha gobies) and maybe I can even be successful in getting some pistol shrimps to breed as well. Of course I'll have to setup frag racks but it won't be a main concern at all.

In this hobby there is one thing I am passionate about above all other things. Breeding my fish and spreading the love of the species I love while keeping their wild population in tact. FW or SW is irrelevant, I just love my fish!
 

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Actually freshwater does have a lot of these same tendencies. Take discus for example. They are the exact same as clownfish in saltwater. Go on aquabid and check for yourself. "Tony tan's" discus are like $500 for a fish that looks almost the same as any other of the same color strain. Wild discus look nothing like the discus we have now, they have been bred into many amazing color strains now just like clownfish.
But you missed my point. Tony Tan's discus are the product of years of selective breeding and in the end still called discus. ORA didn't discover A. Hiacynthus and calls it Red Planet to help it sell better. Lots of resources and knowledge went into both for sure, but I've yet to see anyone breed corals; SPS, LPS or soft. But having applied the same selective breeding process to clowns, I don't have any issue with an ORA Picasso clown. Who developed the nomenclature associated with Palythoa? Who named it "Darth Maul"? Just hype. Meh.

One of the things that made it easy for me to give up SW is the fact that we have a 120G reef in the lobby where I work. I get to pick out the livestock and we pay somebody to do the maintenance. Nice, eh! But when something's up with the tank, or we lose a fish I get a dozen or so people in the office asking me what happened. I can't win.
 
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