Forum > Marines.

Tip-toeing down the beach

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I've got a number of tropical freshwater tanks (mostly soft / blackwater), and having some success breeding catfish species.

But when my friends come round, the first question I get asked is 'where is Nemo?' Or 'why don't you have Nemo?'. My personal pride and joy tank of baby twiglets doesn't look much cop next to the beautiful marine tanks they have visualised in their minds.

My LFS has a strong marine section too, which is always tempting. I have a good relationship with them.

Then I look on this forum and see what some of you are achieving in salty tanks that look quite a manageable size.

So I start being tempted by a marine tank.

I've read the excellent sticky at the top of this forum. One of the cautionary notes in it is to beware of outdated advice regarding equipment. The sticky is 7 years old! So I hope I'm not out of place in asking some questions again.

So, here's the brief, how best to achieve it?:

- Nemo
- Colourful reefy things - I'm not an expert on the different types of coral, sponge, mushroom, anemone etc and I'm slightly bemused by the abbreviations used (zoas?)

Constraints and facilities:
- I don't have a car, my LFS is just over a mile away which is an easy walk but not with a big drum of water.
- I have a space in the hallway about 3' x 18" footprint, could be a little flexible on the length dimension.
- I have very soft water (KH 0.6, GH 1), but I'm on a water meter. I have an HMA filter plumbed in for the freshwater fish. My tapwater has no nitrates but 5-10ppm phosphates. TDS is 40.
- I'm quite familiar with water testing and maintaining parameters in freshwater tanks.
- My tropical tanks probably take about an hour a week (each) on average for maintenance. The biggest 450L tank is the easiest as I have set it up with a continuous auto water-change facility. If there are similar opportunities with a marine tank to spend more money to reduce maintenance time then those would be appealing.
- I am frequently away from home for 1-2 days, and for a week or more several times a year. This can limit opportunities for maintenance / feeding etc.
- I'd rather buy quality than 'buy cheap, buy twice'.
- I'm not on Facebook and I don't want to be.

So, what should I do?

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Zoas are Zoanthids, a button type coral contains a toxin called palytoxin ( ok so mainly paly's do! )

Paly's, Zoanthids and mushroom are easy corals to keep, more forgiving than SPS,LPS - Hard corals.

Auto top ups are a brilliant idea on marine tanks, but ovc you top up with RO water and not salt water ( water evaporates, salt doesn't )

If you have a RO filter, then make your own salt water :) not being on a meter is deffo a bonus!

I'd say a couple of days should be ok without feeding ( Feed before you go, feed when you get back )

If you stick with easy corals then again, should be alright without feeding every day ( do the research on the coral you want/have )

good idea with buying quality!

The bigger the tank, the easier to keep stable. So go with the biggest you can fit in.

I'm unlucky in the fact i don't drive and on a meter, so i have to rely on someone to help me grab water when i can lol.

Thanks :)
I've got an HMA filter but not RO. I guess I could add a tee piece to feed an extra stage.
Thanks for the clarification on the corals. So yours are all 'easy' ones?

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Drunken horse:
Isnt it funny that a film about fish being happier in the sea than a tank led to a massive increase in interest of keeping them in a tank!

I'd love a marine tank  but still have a lot to learn about freshwater still.

I think an RO/DI unit is pretty much essential, more so if you can't transport water. As the water is pretty soft anyway, the "waste" should still be pretty soft and you can save that for reuse on freshwater aquaria. One good part is that HMA is half an RO filter anyway, you can just add a membrane and flow restrictor to convert it to RO. Then add a DI unit after that. If low water pressure you can improve efficiency with a booster pump. I believe water companies add phosphate to very soft water to prevent the leeching of metals.

I have a similar sized tank to that stated, mine is about 180L, plus sump. On that note, I would sugget a sump if budget allows as it increases the options and hides kit. There are off the shelf tanks, as well as DIY conversions.

For low maintenance, fish and live rock with softies is about as easy as it gets. Water auto-top-up (sometimes top-off) is important as you can get quite a lot of evaporation over even a week, and salinity will vary with it. A closed like system might help reduce that.

Easy corals include mushrooms, the more common zoas, palys, leather/finger corals, cabbage, kenya tree, star polyps and likely more. These aren't particularly demanding of light. As a rough guide, if it is cheap, it is easy to grow and keep. These are also relatively unfussy on light so you don't need to go for high end, high intensity, high power consumption units. My tank M3 replacement is using a ~£200 mid range LED unit I had left over, but I've set it to 10%! I need to update the thread.

Water changes you can argue about, but I only do them if I feel like it, which would be far less than once a month, and even then, they're relatively small. I do test weekly and dose as appropriate. For a lower light softie tank, consumption isn't really significant, and if you don't overstock/overfeed you don't get nutrient buildup problems. In a sumped system you can use algae to complement denitrification bacteria in the rocks. Protein skimmers also help remove some compounds.

My test routine is now KH and Calcium weekly, and magnesium monthly. Dosing can be done by own brew (lowest cost) using sodium bicarbonate and calcium chloride. Magnesium shouldn't be a problem. I also throw in some commercial trace and iodine occasionally, but this is guessing as home test kits aren't really effective on those. For a low consumption tanks you could skip dosing and rely on water changes only.

And on Nemo himself, believe the character is an ocellaris clownfish, which are commonly available. This is a smaller species. You could also look at slightly bigger ones, like percula clownfish. I have to admit I did previously contemplate if a tank could be done with the other cast members of Finding Nemo, but many of the others grow big so set expectations accordingly! I've not had a good experience with keeping a anemone and they are not considered to be a requirement for clownfish, so to be on the safe side you can skip them.

I need to update photos on my tanks...


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