Newbie looking for all the help he can get

Discussion in 'New Members' started by Greenius, 8 Apr 2008.

  1. Greenius


    7 Apr 2008
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    Hello all.

    First of all let me just say that i was shocked to find out that there was actually such a nice forum on marine aquariums for South African people. I though that when I started looking around i'll end up on a UK forum (since this is where i learned everything i needed to know about freshwater tropical aquariums)

    Now. Let me introduce myself. Im living in Pretoria and have been playing around with Freshwater Aquariums on and off for many years. I have only set up my own Tropical Tank in my home office in December last year after a 10 year break. At the moment my tanks are running without any problems for the last couple of months and although they are beautiful to look at and fun to maintain, i would like to get into the the marine side of things.

    Just a bit of background. Many years ago, when I was a small boy, my dad and two of his friends set up a 3m(L) x 1.2m(H) x 1.2(D) custom tank in our house in Port Elizabeth. It took them the best part of a year to get everything sorted and installed and after filling the tank and battling to get the aquascaping and water quality just right, my dad had a heart attack and we moved to Pretoria. We never had the chance to really get into the whole thing and having said that, I was very young and did not really understand what they were doing.

    Since that time, one of my dreams is to set up a marine tank. When staring with the Freshwater Tropics I basically knew nothing about the whole setup procedure and learned everything I know today off the internet and forums like this. One thing I have found is that Pet shops should not be trusted with advice I have not had any useful advice from any of them (with the exception of one particular guy)

    The reason I joined here is to gain as much knowledge about the working of a Marine tank as possible before I even start to think of buying anything. I jumped into the Freshwater Tropical scene without doing proper research and I promised myself this time I will first get all the info, then plan what I would like to end up with and then start putting it together, with the guidance of people who have the knowledge and don't just tell you things to make a quick sale.

    Like I said I don't know anything about tank size, filtration, water quality etc. and would like to ask you guys if you can point me in some kind of direction on the net where newbies like myself can read up about this. I know tropics and marine have some common ground but I also know marine biology is much more involved that the run-of-the-mill tropic tank.

    I would really love some info and feedback and I hope have a long and educational stay here on your forum.

    Regards :thumbup:

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  3. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

    6 May 2007
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    Welcome. You have come to the right place. With your approach you are already half way there.... Don't feel shy to ask questions, no matter how stupid or insignificant they may seem..... Remember: You are taking direct responsibility of living organisms, and those small, yet seemingly insignificant things, is what makes the difference between a stunning reef and an algae cesspool.

    The very first decision you need to make is budget... What disposable income do you have available for setting uo and what is your monthly budget for this hobby?

    Next decision would be to ask what type of setupp you are after? If not sure about the terminolgy such as fowlr, reef or sps tank etc. do some net surfing, and decide on a system which you like the look of and post a link to it here. Remember, the cheapest part of a sucessfull reef is the tank, stand, sump and initial livestock.

    Once those those two starting variables are in place, we can help you learn and save you a fortune (more like help you spend a fortune correctly)
  4. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

    7 May 2007
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    In the Koeberg blast radius
    Greenius Welcome to MASA Like Irie Ivan said, with your approach of research first then then take the plunge, you have already won half the battle.

    Here are some things that might give you a bit of food for thought

    Starting with Marines - Marine Aquariums of South Africa - wiki
    DSB vs Bio Balls - Marine Aquariums of South Africa - wiki
    Deep Sand Bed - Marine Aquariums of South Africa - wiki
    DSB-H. Landman - Marine Aquariums of South Africa - wiki

    That should give you the basic idea of filtration in a modern marine aquarium, of course there is still lighting and flow which are 2 very important factors as well. Another thing is try and look at as many systems as possible as well.

    Please ask all the questions you like and how about some pics of those Freshwater tanks, we love pics:D
  5. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

    29 May 2007
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    Cape Town
    a VERY WARM WELCOME to MASA Greenius! Great to have you on-board! So glad that you found us, and are doing the right thing to learn as much as possible, BEFORE starting....
    Hope you have the patience - then you can get the correct equipment, even if you have to wait two months to buy a certain piece of equipment (to save up)...

    Here's a basic list of the things that you should be looking at when you start out - in no particular order:
    - tank (decide on having one built for you, buying a "off-the-shelf" on, buy second hand, buying a pre-built one from a LFS)
    = also decide on the size of the tank (nano, mid-size, bigger, huge)
    - lighting - T5 seems to be the way to go - also look at/think of Metal halide lighting
    = this includes HOW you want to fit the lights over your tank (this will include thinking of heat issues, water splatter/salt creep, etc)
    - water flow on the inside of the tank - for corals generically (not always for all corals though) you would want to have the highest/most turbulent flow that you CAN put in your tank
    - filtration: using a sump and DSB (deep sand bed) as well as an algae scrubber (macro algae/sea plants), and a skimmer (the biggest you can afford)
    - testing kits for nitrates, phosphates, alkalinity, calcium (if you decide to keep corals), salinity/SG, etc - you cannot use your fresh-water testing kits - they do not work
    - decide whether you have to MIX salt-water from synthetic salt (and what brand of synthetic salt you going to use) or get NSW (natural sea water)
    - decide on substrate (sand - preferably a sugar-fine grain-size - NOT CRUSHED CORAL as most LFS' sell to reefers that JUST start out)
    - sump design
    - plumbing
    - over-flow from tank (look at durso stand-pipes)
    - timers for lights (to create dawn/daylight effect)
    - stand you going to use
    - cladding for the stand

    That's basically most of what you need to look at in the beginning....
    I might have left some stuff out - but I think that it will be the biggest part of what you research should be about....

    Any questions - please ask!
  6. dogshow446


    18 Feb 2008
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    welcome to MASA Greenius def at the right place for help the guys and girls on this forum are great and alwasy willing to help were they can. hope you enjoy your stay and remember take things slow
  7. Mike

    Mike Retired Moderator

    12 May 2007
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    the Motherland
    Welcome to the forum Greenius, just keep reading up and firing the questions, we will help you along the way.
  8. Greenius

    Greenius Thread Starter

    7 Apr 2008
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    Hey guys and thank you so much for the warm welcome.

    Thank you for all the input / suggestions / help so far. I will post some pics of my Two tropical tanks tonight. Just need to charge the digicam to get the pics off there. I will be spending some time researching all the issues you have posted tonight and fire any questions i might have.

    Taking it slow is what this exercise is all about for me at the moment. The first thing i'll need to do is to sell the whole idea of having another tank in the house to my wife, but i think I have that sorted. The next thing i'll need to do i to find a suitable spot for in the house, since it's quite small. I'm also looking at moving some time so I dont want to set up and then move the whole thing disturbing the setup. The location of the tank will determine the size as well.

    Thus, Im only doing research regarding setups and costs and then decide how i want to approach this.

    My way of of thinking is to buy the parts for the setup over time and assemble everything when i have what i need. I will plan the whole process after i know what i'm suppose to know.

    I will chat to you again later though. Keep well for now and than you again for you input this far.

    Enjoy your day.

  9. Anemone


    19 Jan 2008
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    USA - Chicago Area
    Welcome to the site Greenius! Don't be afraid to ask questions. We were all newbies at one time.

    If you haven't already, visit
  10. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

    4 May 2007
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    Welcome Greenius, the nice thing about a site like this is that our very knowledgeable members will give you all the info you need to make your tank a roaring success. :)

    99% of us have been there, done that, messed it up and learned by our mistakes (except for Crispin who doesn't seem to learn :lol:). Have patience, ask questions and you'll enjoy a lovely hobby.
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