Diving in.

Discussion in 'New Members' started by CheshireCat, 10 Apr 2009.

  1. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat

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    Hi to everyone at MASA

    Firstly I'd like to say thanks to Crispin for the welcome and second to tell every body out there in the land of MASA that you guys have an awesome (and very informative ) forum. So thanks very much.

    Let me first tell out about myself. I'm 25 and live in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town. I'm currently a Masters student at UCT, in the Computer Science Department. I have had freshwater tanks when I was younger and currently maintain a 1.8m x 55cm x 50cm freshwater tank at the College of Magic. Its a very new tank, only been up and running for about a month. I volunteer in teaching magic, mime and clowning at the College of Magic so I've been there for years, since I was 11 1/2. I've really enjoyed the process and the tank and its occupants tremendously. I've always been fascinated with saltwater tanks and would love to start one myself.

    I have a few questuons about the setup of a saltwater. I would like to purchase a 1.8m to 2m tank. I'm guessing that the overall dimensions would make it about 500L to 600L. I've heard that many reef keepers use either sumps, canister filters, and power heads, or all combined. What is the best for the size tank I've mentioned, also what do you think of the Fluval FX5 as a main filter?
    • The other quesions I have are. Is it best to use argonite as a substrate, or crushed fine coral, or sea sand?
    • Where can I get argonite, if its recommended, tufa rock, and live rock, at a farily decent price? (I've notice that settng up a tank this size is going to cost a hell-of-a-lot of cash) Could I go to a clean beach and use the sand from there?
    I've already read up about the setup of a new tank and also the time needed for the process of 'live culturaling' and such to 'settle down' I've read I should leave it for 9 months to a year, I'm willing to do this becaise I know the water quality has to be just about absolutely perfect fro any sort of fish, invetebrates, soft and hard corals. So for the time being I just want to get the basic setup of tank done and wait the process out before adding anything else.

    So do you have any pearls of wisdom for the start-up and where to get these items, live rock, substrate etc. in the Cape Town area, without costing the heaven and earth; some fish shops are ridicuously expensive eg. R175 per/kg for live rock, jeez.

    Hi to all and thanks for a great site.

    CheshireCat
     
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  3. THE ANIMAL

    THE ANIMAL

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    WELCOM TO MASA CheshireCat!!!!:thumbup:

    First ask the guys as much question as you can before you buy anaything. I'm not the expert as sum off the other members but as I had sum of the same questions and have read alot aboat the sand thing. I now know that sea sand is the best if you can get it but you cant just take it from the beach. You have to wait till low tide and then get sum as deep as possible, and take it straight to your tank.
     
  4. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Welcome to MASA!!
     
  5. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Thread Starter

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    Pollution in the water, even the supposedly clean water, bothers me and makes me want to rather get a ready packed batch by a reputable company. This however is expensive. But I may try nearer Melkbos where the human traffic is far lower than say at Blouberg or Campsbay.
     
  6. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    Hi CheshireCat, and WELCOME to MASA, and (hopefully) to this fantastic hobby :thumbup:

    If you get a tank of (say) 1.8m x 0.7m x 0.7m you will be closer to 800 liters. If possible, try and make the tank as wide as possible, it looks MUCH better, and allows for more creative sea-scaping.

    A sump as large as you can (practically) make it. Don't even consider canister filters, or any "filter" attached to power heads (power heads are quite necessary in most cases for water circulation, but are not used as filters).

    A waste of good money. Rather spend that money on more live rock.

    Sea sand, IMHO. Aragonite is extremely expensive, and not worth the money.


    Try any of the sponsors on MASa - most do mail order, so do shop around before you buy.

    Yes, just make sure that it's a few km away from any popular beach, and that there are no rivers close by (upstream squatter camps...)

    Yes, PATIENCE is really a virtue in this hobby. Having said that, you will notice TONS of fascinating life forms emerging from the live rock within a few weeks, so it will not be boring, even without any fish. IF you could wait 9 months that would be really great, but you could start to stock your tank before then - just take it very slow, and be extremely selective in what you stock.

    Good luck with your new life style - yes, it's MUCH more than a mere hobby :whistling:

    Hennie
     
  7. werner5

    werner5

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    :welcometomasa: welcome to masa
     
  8. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Thread Starter

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    Again thanks for the welcomes and great advice, it really appreciated.
     
  9. FransSny

    FransSny

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    :welcometomasa2:
    enjoy & dont be afraid to ask
     
  10. Tony

    Tony

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    Welcome to MASA
     
  11. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Welcome to MASA CheshireCat! :)
     
  12. crispin

    crispin

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    hello again chesirecat, great that you are off on your postings :)

    it sounds like you have read up a fair amount, now the best thing you can do is ask about all the little details that you arent quite sure of :)

    I started with a 1.8m tank and thats been about the persfect size for me personally. You want one thats going to give you a decent volume (around 750-800l) and as you have that length in mind its the WIDTH you need to pay attention to. Depth of a tank can be restrictive in that light penertration is seriously limited by water and thus if your tank is too deep you have to up your lights, often going to metal Hallides. MH are great lights, but can lead to heat issues and a slightly higher electricity bill. The width is important as it gives you great variety and space to play with when it comes to aquascaping. mine is 700 wide and if i were really critical i would have prefered a tank around 800-900 wide simply for the ease of pump placement with regards to aquascaping. Please look carefully for a second hand tank, take your time. there are some really great tanks that come up in the classifieds section and you really can save yourself alot of $$. Indeed look to the classifieds sections of forums for harsware and Live stock. LR for example can drop to R65/kg on rare occations :)

    Your choice of substrate (even bare bottom)....*thought it might be rude to be discussion bare bottoms with lady's on here* is very personal, but needs good consideration. Personally I dont like sea sand as a substrate for a number of reasons, most of them purely asthetic. I went for as thick a layer of aragonite as i could afford, and as hennie says its expensive stuff. But its bracingly white and gives a great environment for critters to live in, and allows a fair degree of light reflection if you want to take photographs (which was one of the reasons I choose it....but seriously THATS just me!!! :)) You will read alot about reggies play sand as a cheap alternative and there are some great tanks on here that use it.

    What sort of systems to you dream of creating? do you have a "goal tank in mind yet?"
     
  13. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Thread Starter

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    I've been putting a lot of thought to the design and general feel of the tank I would like. In the end of all things my ideal tank would be a mixed fish and coral tank, with one or two invertebrates (but i realised that some fish species and even some coral would appreciate the inverts a bit to much :)) but I'll make this decision when get there. With tanks I appreciate the value of having patience with a new setup, and to rather allow the tank to become mature before adding any stock of sorts. Equipment needed for fish and corals, eg. better lighting, will have to come later for me, as being a student money comes in bigger packets rather than being continous.

    About the look and feel of the tank, I realise Argonite is expensive, but I really like that extra white Aquafresh smile :biggrin: that the Argonite gives, so i may just get a couple of bags of that. I know a fish shop owner who'll probably give me a decent discount on anything i need (this is the same guy who supplied the equipment for the freshwater tank I setup and maintain for the College of Magic). I've seen other tanks with Argonite and plain sea sand, and must admit I do prefer the Argonite. Reggies play sand, really?!! I've heard about some people putting play sand into their tanks, I'll have to look at a few tank to see what it looks like.

    What do you think of crushed fine coral seperated by a gauze film with Argonite on the top? A pure Argonite substrate feel would look better. Its all personal taste in the end I suppose.

    For the layout I'm thinking of having two main rock formations one on either side of the tank, which slopes towards the middle into the substrate. Now for the middle I may have a bridge of sorts out of some larger pieces of rock, or a complete dissapation of the rock landscape. This I will decide when I get my tank and determine by its dimensions what would look the best.

    For now I'm trying to find a god sump design, and reading up on how best to design an efficient sump. Any tips here, I've seen a few. Here's a site you may have seen before that shows a guy and his designs: Marc's Hidden Treasure

    I renewed my membership at the Two Oceans aquarium today. You gotta love their fish, also they're a great place to get mature sea water and such.

    Anyway cheers for now
     
  14. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    So, what are you studying (and where...).

    OK, if you have the money then go for it. Just realize that in a year or two the sand would have become covered with a "bio film" of bacteria, micro algae and coralline algae (amongst others), and that "look" will be less white than the advertised smile...

    One further thing to consider - make sure that whatever type of sand you get, the particles must be well rounded (like sea sand, or river sand). any "crushed" sand will have sharp edges, and will be quite bad for whatever life that tries to live in it. Also, consider the optimum grading of the sand, if you want it to perform as a biological filter (check out this thread)

    Hennie
     
  15. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Thread Starter

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    Hi

    I'm studying a masters in Computer Science and Psychology (a combination of both).

    I've heard that the sand particles should be fine and well rounded I will definitely keep a look out then. Maybe some crushed fine rounded coral would do the trick.
     
  16. Tobes

    Tobes Retired Moderator

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    Welcome to MASA, enjoy your stay with us. See you got some great advice form the guys already. You can also read the link in my signature for some suger coating ;)

    Good luck with your project and don't be shy to bug us with questions :)
     
  17. keyaam

    keyaam

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    Welcome to MASA
     
  18. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    The problem with any "crushed" sand is that the process of crushing leaves it with sharp edges. These sharp edges can cut/injure the "sand eating" animals such as turd cucumbers which actually "chew" the sand to temove detritus and algae, and can also cause damage to the bodies of e.g. bristle worms which actually crawl through the sand bed. IME it is *much* better to use a naturally rounded sand, such as sea sand which has been ground smooth by the wave action of the sea, or river sand which has been ground smooth by being washed downstream in the river.

    Of course, crushed sand won't be absolutely deadly to every organism, it is just not the optimum substrate for the small creatures to live in...

    Hennie
     
  19. CheshireCat

    CheshireCat Thread Starter

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    A bit of an update on my tank. I've ordered my tank and stand and sump. I'll post the pics when I get my equipment. So far these are the stats (in mm):

    Tank: 1500 x 600 x 600 (10mm glass)
    Stand: 1500 x 600 x 800 (using 38mm steel , galvanised)
    Sump: 1200 x 450 x 450 (3 compartments: 1st: bubble chamber, sump; 350mm, 2nd: refugium with DSB; approx. 500mm, 3rd: pump outlet, heaters etc.)(This sump will be modified from an existing 1200mm tank, so getting a good price for it)

    Price: R3940 includes everything and delivery. This is from Northern Aquatics, the guy there was knowlegable and helpful. I went to Panorama Petshop orginally and although they knew what was potting they were slow with their quote only got it after I paid my deposit and went on Monday to ask them. Their quote was R5000 for the tank and sump but the stand was extra. Sam's aquarium was an experience, the guy seems busy. Although he has a good range of stock, his pushy nature put me off. I had specific designs for my sump that I couldn't seem to get in. He was also piling on the costs. R4400 fort the similar quote that NA gave but delivery was R400 extra and a polystyrene sheet was R100!!!!!! I thought if I stayed any longer in that shop I'd lose a limb. He is well stocked with fish and equipment so I'll probably go back for that.

    Anyway cheers, let me know what you think of this initial setup.
     
  20. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    Why is the stand wider than the tank? It is good engineering to have the weight of the tank transferred straight down onto the legs of the stand, rather than having the tank "hanging" between the legs. Also, the extra width could be a problem if it is in the way of your plumbing. Neither "problem: is too serious, though, and could be over come - I just wanted to point them out so you can keep them in mind.

    I dealt with Northern Aquatics when I lived in the Cape some years ago, and I was quite impressed with their hardware pricing (although they did not have much knowledge about marines...). They also built good tanks, so it sounds like you're on the right track :thumbup:

    Hennie
     
  21. Giepie

    Giepie

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    Firstly, welcome to MASA... Your one-and-only stop for help with marines... These guys her are very helpfull, friendly and funny at times... But they do take pride in their advice...


    I know them - They are great & very helpfull... So far I'm finding it difficult to find another LFS that can make you feel like a pet owner and not just somwe sort of source for income...

    Dude, you mentioned that you have a FW system... Do you want to have the best of both worlds (2 set ups) or do you want to convert your current FW system to Marines. There's a reason to my question - I'm looking for a good home for my FW systwem occupants... I specialised in a live-breader community (i.e. Guppies, Mollies, Swords, Platties). I have 3 x pleco's of which one is +-20cm, another +- 10cm and the small one is 5cm. The 3 of them are very sdpecial to me and I don't want to give them away to some one who will not look after them... If you're interrested in taking them over, you can email me.
     
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