Do I Start or Don't I start

Discussion in 'Beginner Discussions' started by mytank, 13 Mar 2011.

  1. mytank

    mytank

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    Good day all,
    So I have been wanting to do this for a while and took some advice that I read on one of the forums here. Knowledge is your best friend. I have some questions though which are lurking in the back of my mind before I will pull the trigger on entering on this (what seems to be) very satisfying yet time consuming hobby :)
    So firstly I went ahead and read as much as I could around the beginners list, everything from:

    1. How to choose your type of tank Fish Only or Reef tank
    2. The size and type of tank
    3. How to cycle and the art of patience around cycling of your tank. Really enjoyed the one comment “every time I hear this I imagine a big glass tank on a bicycle”
    4. The different types of filtration, nutrients and tests one can do and should be doing

    All of which I found off one post and a different site too:
    Post: http://www.marineaquariumsa.com/showthread.php?t=17035
    Different site: http://reefmaniacs.com/hl/Starting%20with%20Marines.htm
    So the questions I have and hopefully one will forgive the fact that I am new to this hobby and might get things in the wrong order or totally sound like I am from Mars while you all are from Venus.

    Questions:

    1. Location (geographical) – Reading around all the different requirements of changing water, how important (or rather preferred) pure salt water from the sea is better than actual “man made” salt water when you are creating or changing the water in your tank. I started to think, I am in Gauteng Broadacers / Fourways area to be precise. When I checked with Google maps I am at least a few hundred KM away from the closes sea. Wanting to do the best possible for my tank how does this influence others in this area. Where does one obtain “pure sea water” what the costs are of say 20L of this “pure salt water”. Am I being naïve and can I actually be making the salt water with salt from a LFS which is close to the real thing?

    2. Does the Gauteng region have a good spread of LFS that have QUALITY stock not diseased, battered, and dying or even illegal stock? Or will I have to make trips down to the cost?

    3. I want to have this tank in my lounge and make it the center point of the lounge. Looking at members photos and setups – firstly WOW they look phenomenal – Secondly WOW it looks messy. My real question is, are these because (most of) the setups being DIY, can I buy a rig already made?

    4. Noise level’s – I appreciate that in this environment we are circulating water, skimming bio degradable matter, filtrating air and moving water around. My house is not the biggest (160 Squares) and the lounge is conveniently located next to my main bedroom. My question is how is the noise level? Will I be sleeping next to the ocean or will it be reasonably pleasant to hear the circulation of the water?

    5. A few things I am still trying to figure out:
    a. A Reef tank – You can still have one or two fish in it i.e. some clowns, prawns etc?
    b. A Fish Only tank – You can’t have any anemones live rock?

    6. The dilemma of choosing
    a. This is where I need some advice I like both (Reef only and Fish Only). I like the allure of the reef and that being the center piece but at the same time I really like some of the color and personalities of the fish that go with it.

    7. I have a three meter wall where I am planning to put this.
    a. Gets no direct sun light
    b. The tank will be against this wall
    c. How do I pick things like size and volume
    i. I don’t want an aquarium I am going to have to charge a fee to enter my house to come experience but at the same time all the articles I read, the advice of a small marine tank is to try stay away from it as it can be (or even is most definitely) more difficult to maintain and keep your fish \ LR alive.

    8. Will this hobby turn my house into a live pet shop? I understand that one has to keep things like food in the freezer, a well-kept testing cabinet with the required testing tool kits, some chemicals (where needed) for the water. But is the house going to morph into a place that I store 5L drums, spare tanks everywhere to nurse sick fish / or anemones.

    9. Electricity – this area is well known for its electricity failures and the last thing I want is a electricity failure that wipes my well cycled tank out and I have to start this all over again. How do people out there in electricity “challenged” areas take care of their tanks?
    a. What are we looking at on average electricity consumption (guestamate is fine :) just want an idea).
    b. I have just noticed - http://www.marineaquariumsa.com/forumdisplay.php?f=112 which is specifically around Power Cuts is everything I need to know there?

    10. Weather conditions: I am not sure about other parts of the country but here in Gauteng when it’s summer it get extremely hot, the fact I have almost every gadget under the sun doesn’t help with the heat in the house either. When it’s winter in Gauteng it gets mighty cold. Is this something that is solved with having to have a chiller and a heater at the same time? Is it not really an issue?

    I know these are a lot of questions, but one of the themes that kept on being imprinted in my brain, from the articles I read was – be sure you have the time to do this, the budget and know what you are doing.

    I don’t want to be unfair on the life forms in the environment I will be creating and want to make sure I am capable of dealing with this hobby before embarking on something that will only result in me killing off the entire tank and losing interest because I was not prepared.

    The reasoning behind the questions is to make sure that this is the right fit; I have a good understanding and if there are things I have missed out please point them out. If this isn’t a good fit maybe I will look at fresh water tanks or none at all.

    Thank you for your time and this great forum where I have had the time to read a lot and learn a lot. Looking forward to your answers.
    New tank.
     
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  3. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    wow, all your questions with your introduction.

    Anyway, welcome, at least its obvious that you did some homework already.

    artificial salt is "better" than NSW. OK, not cheaper,but the chemical balance is known with enough trace elements as needed. One of the older members on this forum had an iodene problem, until he found out that his NSW got no iodene. (I think that was Mudshark about a year ago) . Some big public aquarums do use artificial salt instead of NSW, like Lisbon aquarium.

    Yes, and sponsors of this forum, Like Dorry Pets, Idol Marine, Pet Stop SA, Exotic Pets. then others out to Fourways (but I never been there).

    , yes and no, Take into account that you will run between 15 to 25 electrical appliances on your tank. A lot of multiplugs, wires, timers just on electrical. Plumbing can be simple, or complex, Pipes everywhere with ballvalves and T-pieces. (My plumbing is more to the complex side) So yes, either hide it in the cabinet, or do it neatly.

    Fit a durso, else you got that running toilet sound. Humming from pumps etc, is an issue, normally internal pumps more silent due to being in the water. Other stuff can be inside the cabinet.

    The rest later.
     
  4. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    hmmm, well, you see, hmmm, not really, but,

    YES.

    You will have some spare 25L drums, that needs space. Depending on tank size you want, you might end up getting your own RO system, with RO drum and mixing drum. Plus the space outside somewhere to keep it. Quarantine tank, yes, you need it, and good place is the garage (with certain limitations like fumes). space in freezer for some frozen food. Space in some cupboard for test kits and other "things"

    It all depends on size of your system, and what you do.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Mar 2011
    maxisoft likes this.
  5. KeeganP

    KeeganP

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    Welcome
     
  6. mytank

    mytank Thread Starter

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    Thank you all for the time you took to respond.

    So let’s cover some area’s and put that to bed:
    1. Location – Doesn’t seem to be an issue. Good LFS around Gauteng to get some quality items from. I am glad to hear that I can mix the water and get good quality water out of that and won’t need to make a trip to a coastal region to get some NSW :)
    2. Noise – Seems to have a solution with submerged pumps, cabinets and that item (Durso) to curb the noise element.
    3. Messy or Organization – I understand there are going to be a lot of wires (in fact I am looking at items from www.draquarium.com (has anyone used these to monitor and automatically manage your tank – Please note I am not saying there won’t be any intervention from my side).
    4. What is a
    ?

    Additional questions:
    1. Are there cabinet, tank and stand builders out there that I can spec my system and get them to build it for me?
    2. What about the heat emitted from all these electric items running? Do they generate a lot of heat, how do the members out there deal with the heat.
    3. How sensitive are the animals to sound. I have my theater right next to my lounge and the house is pretty much open plan, so when I am watching let’s say Iron Man and there is some sound in the background am I going to frighten the living daylights out of the animals in the tank?
    4. Two of my biggest questions:
    a. HOW do I choose my tank size? I have no idea of the size I want neither do I know what is practical. I am not trying to emulate the Maldives but am trying to have a nice balance and spectacle in the lounge.
    b. How and What do I choose, reef only or fish only or can I have both what are the limitations or how do I choose.
    5. Automation and monitoring of the environment. Does anyone do this in SA?

    Thank you once again for the time you take to answer my questions I really appreciate it.
     
  7. Tremayn

    Tremayn

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    With regards with tank size, go as big as you can but also consider, how long is your arm? Whats the point of getting a deep tank if you cant reach the bottom.. 4ft is a nice beginner size :) .. Look in the for sale section here for tanks, you can get amazing deals. You want a wide tank, like 120cm long 60wide and 60high. T5's only penetrate 60cm's so you have to consider the water depth. If you want corals then I suggest keeping soft corals such as zoas and mushrooms as they are easy to care for and do not require intense light
     
  8. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Post: http://www.marineaquariumsa.com/showthread.php?t=17035
    Different site: http://reefmaniacs.com/hl/Starting%20with%20Marines.htm
    So the questions I have and hopefully one will forgive the fact that I am new to this hobby and might get things in the wrong order or totally sound like I am from Mars while you all are from Venus.
    Great post to get you on the right track

    There are some awesome tanks with salt, just make sure you get good R/O water to mix it with Some say NSW is better and visa versa, but both work, and both have their own issues

    Yeah sure they do, check out the Sponsors and speak to members in the area.
    Plan it properly and it can look stunning with no mess. Yes you can buy ready made but post pics and specs here before buying there are good and bad

    Make sure the pumps are in the cabinet, all suspended on rubbers and it should be fine, yeah and use a durso or the ladies in your life will be spending a lot of time in the bathroom.

    Personally go reef, if you go Fish Only, you will want to upgrade later With Reef you can have fish, shrimp etc just check that they are Reef Safe, there are enough that are

    Some fish arent reef safe, but their are so much that is and that are absolutely stunning

    Larger is better, lets say you have 1500L vs 150L
    1) and the weather changes, the 150L heats up much faster
    2) Your kid adds some milkshake to feed the fishies(it happens) 200ml in 1500L is better than in 150L
    3) more swimming space
    4)changes happen slower in a larger tank
    5) many more
    6) Of course Bigger is better but it sure aint cheaper



    Doesnt have to be, keep a neat cabinet with your requirements and 2 x 25L drums of R/O and you should be fine
    Sorted then :)

    Evaporative cooling helps, a chiller helps even more, some chiller can even turn of the heater when it runs. Again proper planning and this is less of an issue
    Plan, discuss, learn what advise to take and you will be fine. Patience is a seriously handy virtue in this hobby, only the bad things happens fast
    The fact that you are asking the questions is a hell of a good start

    Enjoy the ride:peroni:
     
  9. ziyaadb

    ziyaadb

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    hi and welcome. i am on my phone so cant answer u appropraitly on all ur questions, my system is setup really simple and can house anything that i could care to put in(barring huge fish). click on my thread in my signiture to see what it looks like.
     
  10. mytank

    mytank Thread Starter

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    1. Thank you for your response, looking forward to more responses once you off the phone :)

    2. Wow really nice tank, great aquascaping!! Like the Rocks I can't make out maybe its my noobie glasses are those LR or just dead rock?


    3. What size is that tank? Length, Width depth? Wait -130*70W*55H right? So thats 1.3 meters and 70cm width right? I like that type of lenght nice not to small not to big :)


    4. Did you build the cabinet or did you get it built for you?

    Thank you once again
     
  11. mytank

    mytank Thread Starter

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    Ok.... So looking at this and I really like the size tank that ziyaadb has, at 1.3m and 70cm wide it looks manageable to me! I like his cabinet too!

    So let’s look at a bill of materials (so I can start getting an idea of suppliers, price and timelines):

    What I know I need to get (don’t laugh as this list is short :) )

    1. Tank 1.3m x 70cm W by 50cm deep (ziyaadb style)
    2. Cabinet – This would probably be custom to my needs I would want different compartments including rubber (don’t want noise) and an electronic section that is completely separate from the main filtration water tanks. I am SERIOUSLY considering the automated monitoring tools from www.draquarium.com anyone have experience with electronic sensors and data logging of those?)

    What I don’t know:

    1. All that electronic stuff – wow what do I need and how or what should the bottom of the cabinet look like, I see some with two filtration tanks some with three filtration tanks, some with big rocket looking things (I am assuming that’s a skimmer).
    2. What pumps, filters, skimmers, chillers, heaters, aerators etc etc do I need?
    3. Is there a formula one has i.e. a tank of the size I am looking at will be X amount of water. For X amount of water you can have Y amount of LR, B amount of fish / prawns etc I don’t want to risk over loading the environment.
    4. Lights – I want to look at the LED lighting since it is less heat and less electricity but will it penetrate where I need to get to given the dimensions that I am mentioning? If so what should I be looking at?


    Let’s say we designing this as an IDEAL design, yes there is a limited budget but lets make sure we take all best practices into consideration i.e. buy a skimmer that is rated for x2 the amount of water you have etc etc.

    Would like to get your guys thoughts and comments around this.

    Thank you once again.
     
  12. Tremayn

    Tremayn

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    mytank, firstly I would say slow down and plan things slowly. I planned and planned and it took about a year to get to where I am now. Look at members systems, look at the simple systems, don;t worry about sps corals, calcium reactors and np pellets just yet. Go for simplicity. Ziyaads tank size is very nice, if you can get one that size but remember it is a custom build so if you buy 2nd hand you may not get one exactly the same. The most important thing is patience! Just wait it out and look at the for sale threads, an awesome deal will come up!
    1st get your tank. After you have been reading for a while you can decide what you want to stock the tank with. Get yourself a RO unit. Your protein skimmer should be rated about twice the system volume (so get a skimmer after you get a tank).. LED lights are very very expensive in SA but you will save money in the long run (over a few years)... Just read alot, look at peoples systems and then design your own simple system and run it by us. Only bad things happen fast with marines so take your time :) ... Get used to being patient now otherwise the month it takes to cycle the tank will kill u :p ..
     
  13. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    My opinion, for a beginner setup, somewhere between 240L and 350L is a nice starting point. Big enough to be a bit more stable than 100L. And cheap enough to use smaller skimmers etc. Best option to complete your learning curve, and believe me, that is one hell of a ride. If you can go bigger, why not. 500L is nice. But from 1000L upwards all the costs justs double up with every extra 500L. (about)

    Again, look at the for sale section. Can get an idea of what is available, and you might pick u a bargain. Marine second hand stuff got a worst resale value than cars. (mostly)

    Anyway within one year, you will know what you actually want and the livestock you want to keep. Almost everybody who stick to this hobby upgrades at some point.


    RO
    it is reverse osmosis water, not the same as is used for human consumption, marine RO got nothing in it, where human RO got some trace elements re-introduced into the water.


    Most important thing is, you need to know BEFORE you start up your tank, what it is you want to achieve. More in line of what livestock, more specific what type of corals you want. SPS want good light, metal halides, LPS can get away with T5, cheaper (normally). Softies like leathers and mushrooms, T5 more than enough. Your coral choice is the limiting factor to how deep your tank can be. And the depth of your tank is the factor that defines your lighting units requirements. Corals also influences your tank water flow, and your water parameters. SPS needs very good water, where softies prefer dirtier water. SPS needs CO2 systems. Fish stocking is not that important on the equipment, but some fish likes deeper water (more blue) or less turnover.

    So your tank setup, depends on what you want inside. Specifically what corals. My point here is if you want to start off with a 1000L, and you do not know what corals you want, then you do not know what you are getting yourself into. Experience count. And gaining that on a smaller and cheaper system is a lot more friendly on your wallet.

    I suggest taking a day of and visit either Idol Marine (Midrand) or Dorry Pets (Centurion). Those are the 2 I support that is accessible for you. There are other in North Western Joburg, but I do not know them. You want to spend a lot of money, so one day spend on investigation is not wasted. Just gather as much information, go home, google, and make your own "better" inform decision. Do not waste money on things you do not need.

    Anyway, starting here on MASA, before you spend any money, is already a start into the right direction.
     
    Last edited: 13 Mar 2011
  14. maxisoft

    maxisoft

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    :welcome6:

    Hey Bud. I live in your area, and theres a few of us around you.... I also started a few months ago with a million questions... you have the added advantage that you havent spent a cent yet... I spent a fortune first, then spent another, and now am spending another stocking my reef... BUT........ Its the best hobby ever. You welcome to pop around, join us at the Gauteng Reef meetings once a month, etc... As far as LFS in our area... quite a few. Weekends are generally spent visiting these, but most of my purchases have been right here on MASA... there's a good bunch of guys here who arent out to make a fast buck....

    Enjoy bud...

    PS: get your lady assist in making the decisions you want to make... it makes life a heck of a lot easier... hehe ;)
     
  15. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Now, that is good advice....
     
  16. mytank

    mytank Thread Starter

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    Thank you for the advice. Yes I am enthusiastic about this but I can see from everyone that doing a lot of research and understanding all the different things is definitely required in this sport.

    I guess I need to understand a tank setup (the hardware bits), not the cycling etc (not yet) but what constitutes a tank or tank design. I can at least start there.

    Do you know of any good links?
     
  17. mytank

    mytank Thread Starter

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    Excellent a starting point. Is there a formula for calculating weight on a tank made out of Glass and / or Acrilic with that amount of water?

    My main aim for the tank is for the focal point of the lounge. I want the vibrant colors and features that the marine tank gives you vs. fresh water. I remember seeing my brother’s tank a good ten years ago and the best thing was the anemone with the clown fish. But most def want a lot of color and things people look at and go wow that looks beautiful. I am not really into breading etc just want it to be simple and beautiful :)

    I am hoping with that (broad) aspect someone can guide me into what I should be looking at, hard or soft corals, which fish etc --- Do I need to get more specific in my aim for the tank?

    I will most def go there this weekend to both, I will pack my passport and drive out that area to go look. I have to warn you my nature is to just buy stuff :)
     
  18. mytank

    mytank Thread Starter

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    Thank you! Which stores are there around us?

    I think I will lurk here first asking questions to find out what I need to do. It seems like everyone that rushes into the hobby wastes alot of money and kills fish :tt2:

    Would be great to have a look at your setup. Where are the meets for the MASA Gauteng?
     
  19. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Just remember, as a general rule, do not keep anemones in a tank younger than 8 months from completely cycled. It is just one of those things. Tank needs to be matured.
    Also anemones need better light. But more important your pumps need to be anemone proof. You do not want to come home, and find your anemone sucked into a powerhead. It could kill all your fish as well.

    bad habit in this hobby. Leave your wallet and credit cards at home.
     
  20. wouterloosman

    wouterloosman

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  21. Easy Tiger

    Easy Tiger Day Dreamer Deluxe

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    Wecome to MASA and this amazing hobby !

    Take your time on the planning side to avoid problems down the line, and be patient. It all takes time, several years, to get a tank looking as good as some of the Tanks of the Month.
    Don't overlook the Live Rock story. Good quality Live Rock, and lots of it, is essential to start up a healthy system - all the little microscopic critters that live and breed in there can be THE most important "pets" you have, even if you can't even see them with the naked eye.
    Personally, I'd start with corals after cycling the tank ( maybe use one cheap little fishy to help it cycle ) and add fish later - just my opinion. Fish ( for me ) are iffy and can suffer in a new system.

    NO ANEMONES for at least a year or you will learn all about Nemmie Soup...what a special smell!

    Just a word of warning about large tanks in a lounge - depends on how you want to light it. If you use MH lights it can raise the temp in your lounge to a point that you need to install aircon for the summer months, unless you want a sauna effect while you watch TV.

    Good luck and enjoy your new obsession!
     
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