Totally new

Discussion in 'New Members' started by lauracrom, 1 Nov 2007.

  1. lauracrom

    lauracrom

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    Hello everyone,
    I have just joined this amazing site in the hope I might get some help as an absolute beginner. My boyfriend knows much about tropical aquariums but would like to start his own marine tank. He wants to start obviously by gaining as much information as he can about them so I thought I would buy him a book on it but I can't find any. I live in Cape Town, can anyone please recommend where I might go to find books on this subject? I am looking forward to joining you all soon, thanks! Laura C.
     
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  3. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    Hi Laura

    Welcome to MASA. :)

    Books is a great first step. Part one of what we always say, "research, research, research". I'm having trouble thinking of a good book for beginners though that covers enough info to be useful. I haven't seen many reef aquarium related books in CT so I would suggest you look at loot.co.za and kalahari.net for books. I have recently ordered "The Reef Aquarium Volume Three: Science, Art, and Technology" from kalahari. That might be a bit out of your budget, not sure... The price there is pretty good though, usually it's closer to R800 :( (but it's that good so I hear)
     
  4. palmerc

    palmerc

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    Welcome to what can be a very rewarding hobby.

    My recommendation:

    Try get hold of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner. I ordered mine through Exclusive Books for around R320. Nice all round introduction.

    Also look at online sources like the forums and I also found www.wetwebmedia.com to be an excellent source of reliable information (Robert Fenner, Anthony Calfo and others are the persons that provide the information)

    Clinton
     
  5. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    [​IMG]

    Welcome LauraCrom to an amazing hobby and an awesome forum as well.
    Youll find a lot of the people on here started out with Freshwater and progressed to marines.

    good luck enjoy and ask all the questions you need

     
  6. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Hi Laura (and Clinton/Rory)... and others!

    I am still a "newby" (Nearly 3 years later) ;-) in the Marine aquarium hobby, and I still ask a LOT of questions....

    So, I would firstly like to say good show that you found this site, and wanting to learn a LOT by reading, before you really make a start....

    I was not so lucky when I started - I did not know of any sites like these....

    OK - where to start - I agree with the suggestions by Clinton/Rory....
    I know of a shop in Cape Town CBD that sells a Marine/Fresh water aquarium book that would assist you as well (Bargain Books in Waterkant Street mall)....

    Here's a very short summary of the most likely steps you would be taking (and the equipment I would suggest you get along the way - BUT, try and figure out WHAT you want to do in the hobby, and how much you can afford - as there are a few ways of doing this.... I'll explain)...
    Step 1:
    - You would MOST likely start off with a FOWLR tank (Fish Only With Live Rock)
    = meaning, that you would have a tank, where there is not a HUGE requirement for the best lighting, and the strongest lighting, filtration is definitely necessary, BUT the type of filtration required is not as stringent as for example a SPS (short polyped stony coral) aquarium....
    = you could get away with i.e. NO (Normal Output) T8 ("normal" type of flourescent) globes - the most common you might see at the Local Fish Shops (LFS) for a Fish Only system
    = you could get away with either a small skimmer, or perhaps even an external canister filter, or perhaps even an "in-tank" filtration system (not the best though - BUT you could get away with it with a FOWLR tank)
    = what you would need for such a system, is:
    * glass or acrylic tank
    * lights (any type)
    * filter (any type, as long as some filtration occurs)
    * salt-water (either from the Two Oceans Aquarium, or salt mixed with RO (Reverse Osmosis filtered) water
    * some substrate (sand)
    * at least a third worth of live rock (e.g. if you have a 100 litre tank, you should have +-30kgs of live-rock) is the internationally stated standard for decent filtration - as live rock is very expensive some times, you can do with less, but try to get as much as possible - assists in filtration
    * with a FOWLR system, you can get away without a sump, BUT, in the end it is always better to have a sump for filtration
    * power-heads/pumps IN the tank for water movement (the more the better - most sea fish and corals prefer much faster water flow that fresh water tropical fish)

    Now, that would be for a start only.... below is the requirements if you want to start keeping ANY types of corals (soft-corals, and some LPS (long polyped stony corals)).....
    - As much lighting of the highest intensity you can afford - options are: T5 HO flourescents, and Metal Halides (either single ended or double ended)
    - the biggest protein skimmer you can afford (to export DOC's - Dissolved Organic Compounds) before it's broken down into e.g. ammonia, nitrates/nitrites, phosphates, etc, etc, etc)
    - the MOST water-flow you can afford
    - a sump (a MUST)
    - a DSB (stands for: Deep Sand Bed - usually between 10 and 18 centimeters deep - nice to have - assists with denitrification)
    - calcium reactor (nice-to-have - can use kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide mixed with vinegar and/or water), and other powder form calcium additives instead of a calcium reactor
    - phosphate reactor (nice-to-have - especially if you are having problems with macro algae plant material in the tank)
    - test kits: nitrate/nitrite/ammonia/calcium/pH/magnesium/etc/etc/etc
    - heater (same for corals as for FOWLR system)
    - perhaps a fan/chiller

    The same applies for soft-corals (most) as for LPS corals as for SPS corals - BUT, SPS corals require the MOST between the above - the BEST water quality (NO ammonia, NO nitrites, NO nitrates, high calcium, high magnesium, high alkalinity, high pH, NO or very little Phosphates, the highest possible water-flow, the highest possible amount of light in wattage - and quite a bit of experience...

    So, GOOD LUCK with the hobby!

    Hope that the above helps... It is not meant to be a complete guide, but at least a summary of what to expect...

    Jacques
     
  7. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    welcome
     
  8. Galibore

    Galibore Retired Moderator

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    Welcome Lauracrom!

    Well the first couple of steps you guys took were already very good steps. By registering here and deciding to buy a book. This hobby is all about research because there are so many aspects to it.

    But be warned, it's very addictive...;-)
     
  9. Mike

    Mike Retired Moderator

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    In the UK we tend to favour a book called "the conscientious Marine aquarist" by Robert Fenner available at amazon.com considered to be one of the most informed reef keepers, either that or books by Antony Calfo.

    But as above, the more research you do, and ask as many "dumb" questions as you can think of, the more chance of success in this, often tricky but well rewarding mental illness, err sorry i mean hobby. :D
     
  10. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Quote: "mental illness".... I think that you start out sane.... then, with all the different types of advice one might receive, and all the "toys n gadgets" that you are told you should use.....
    THEN you go mental ;-)
     
  11. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    welcome to MASA!
    i cant rememer where i got this article from,but hopefully it will help

    • How do I make saltwater ?
    If you are not going to use Natural Sea Water, then you will need to buy Synthetic Salt. This comes in either a bag, box or bucket. There are many different salts to choose from, some of the more popular brands are Tropic Marin, Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, Aquamedic etc.

    The salt comes in a dry form and needs to be mixed with water, ideally RO water, this is water that has been specially filtered and had all the nasties removed from it. By using RO water, you can prevent a lot of algae related problems in your tank. Try not to use just normal tap water as this may cause many problems in the tank as it is full of chemicals that you do not want in your tank.

    You can either premix the salt in a bucket before adding it to the tank or if there is nothing in the tank then you can mix the salt in the tank itself.

    You will need to mix your salt and water until it reaches roughly 1.024 -1.026. This is what salt water is measured as. You can use a cheap floating hydrometer to give you a rough guide as to when your salt mix is within these limits.

    This newly mixed salt water will now have to be left to cycle, but this will be discussed later on.

    • filtration mechanisms - what is the best thing to use as a filter for a marine tank?
    This is a very broad question and subject but the basics are...
    • Live Rock
    Live rock is special rock that has come from the oceans around the world. This rock is very porous and is very benefical to your tank. It allows all sorts of critters and bacteria to grow and these are a great help to filtering the water in your tank.

    You can buy live rock that is either "cured", "semi-cured" or "uncured". Ideally you want to buy cured rock, this basically means that the rock is ready to go straight into your tank and begin performing its job of filtration.

    • Deep Sand Bed (DSB)
    This is basically a bed of sand either in your tank or in your sump (a sump is a separate tank normally underneath your main tank). This sand bed must be between 10-15cm deep and as long and wide as possible. There are many different "sands" you can use to make up your Deep Sand Bed, you can use sea sand, silica sand (sand from a swimming pool filter) aragonite etc. Ideally you want to use a sand that has a very small grain size (about the same size as white sugar grains). These different sands have been discussed in detail on the forum and are worth a read.

    Now you need a heater or 2 and some pumps to circulate the water. Ideal temperature for a marine tank is around 26 degrees celsius.

    ok, so now you have your new water circulating in your tank.

    Now what do I do ?

    Now you have to wait for the newly mixed water to go through a "cycle", this is basically a cycle whereby the water in your tank will go through an Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate cycle. Generally a safe period to wait is about 4 weeks.

    During this waiting period would be a good time to decide on the following items...

    1. Am I keeping Fish only
    2. Am I going to keep corals
    3. What lighting will I need (highly dependant on whether or not you are going to have corals)
    4. What am I going to use as a substrate on the bottom of the tank

    From here is where all the questions will come in as each and every tank differs.

    Please bear in mind that what I have said in these last couple of posts are the absolute basics to getting started. There are many many different opinions, ideas, methods etc. which is where the forum comes in and where you will get answers to all your questions.

    So basically (and I mean basically) that is it.

    You have your main display tank, preferably a sump, you have your salt water and your live rock.

    After the water has cycled for about 8 weeks, you are ready to start thinking about what fish and corals you want to keep.

    Now it starts getting more involved with regards to equipment.

    A few of the most important needs of any marine tank are:
    1. Lighting
    2. Protein Skimmer
    3. Water flow

    • Lighting
    If you are keeping only fish and live rock in your tank then your lighting needs will be minimal and more for aesthetic reasons, but if you want to keep corals then you need to consider much more intense lighting, like T5 fluorescent tubes or Metal Halide lights.
    • Protein Skimmer
    There are many different protein skimmers available at very different prices, do not try and buy a cheap skimmer, you will regret it in the long run, research the available skimmers and get different opinions on them before you buy one. A protein skimmer is also a part of the filtration on your tank, it removes a lot of gunk from the water.
    • Water Flow
    Basically you need good water flow in the tank, especially if you have got corals. You can achieve this by either placing powerheads in the tank or building Closed Loop Manifolds etc. This is another topic that will need to be researched depending on what corals you will be keeping.
    __________________
     
  12. Tridan

    Tridan

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    welcome to MASA see the right steps and you already getting great advice.
     
  13. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    If anything doesnt even almost make sense just ask these guys are eager to answer
     
  14. DragonReef

    DragonReef

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    Welcome Laura, nice to have you here.

    Don't be shy with the questions ;)
     
  15. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    :welcometomasa:
     
  16. sunburst

    sunburst

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    Welcome to the hobby Laura.
    I love the reading part as much as the hobby itself. The bible of the hobby (sorry Mek. Koran) is the volume mentioned by Rory. Written by J Charles Deelbeck and Julian Sprung. There will be very few; if any who argue this. Not to say that there are no other superb professional references, this book gives you the full Monty and a blow dry
     
  17. Alan

    Alan Admin MASA Contributor

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    Hi, Laura C welcome to MASA, you off to a gr8 start.
     
  18. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    My full monty and a blow dry is hopefully arriving tomorrow morning by courier :) :)
     
  19. Hill

    Hill

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    Welcome to MASA
     
  20. Copperband

    Copperband

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    Welcome to MASA. There more than enough information on this site to start and keep marines. Read Read Read !!!
     
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