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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first time using the salt-water section of the forum, so go easy on me guys. *#3

OK! Currently, I only do fresh water set-ups, but I am looking to expand more into saltwater. I have an empty 2.5g tank, and I want to try to make it a salt water tank; just to get my feet wet into salt-water aquariums.

The thing is this,- I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SALT WATER AQUARIUMS. What could I put in the 2.5g tank? What equiptment will I need? What fish/corals could I stock it with? What are the similaraties and differences between fresh water aquariums, and salt water aquariums?

Please, I need all of your help.

THANKYOU IN ADVANCE!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
 

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Im no saltwater expert either (they will be along shortly) But im thinkin as much rock as you can jam in there, and a couple of small fish that stay that way. Maybe Tobacco basslets.
 

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A lot of the filters are actually the same, although you can add some more to saltwater. Whatever works on fresh will work on salt, for the most part. Although most salt systems will also have a protein skimmer. The biggest concern now for your tank will not only be the filter, but you really need to stay on top of evaporation, as the salinity can swing drastically in a tank that size. When water evaporates, whats left gets saltier, till you top off with fresh water, of course.
What lighting do you plan to put on the tank? Something full spectrum and fairly bright?
I would consider a chunk of live rock with some brown or yellow polyps and maybe a green chromis or two. That will get you started and the hang of things, then you can venture to more delicate stuff. Best wishes with your new tank, will be a lot of enjoyment once you get it all right.
 

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I would consider a chunk of live rock with some brown or yellow polyps and maybe a green chromis or two. That will get you started and the hang of things, then you can venture to more delicate stuff. Best wishes with your new tank, will be a lot of enjoyment once you get it all right.
would that not be too much bioload for the system?
 

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A system like this should be easy to slap together on the cheap, except for the lighting and even that wouldnt be bad. On a system like this I think fish should be a fore gone conclusion. A Citron/Geen Banded Goby or better yet a Yasha White Ray Goby with a matching shrimp might be small enough and make for a cool display. I think your best bet would be corals though such as Ricordia, Zoanthids, Palys and such would be the best bet.

For equipment I favor something like the AquaClear 20/100 for a small but flexible HOB filter thats some what adjustable flow wise. For lighting, on everything short of SPS corals or Clams a Mini Aqua light which is about 34.00 and gives 2 x 9 watts for a total of 18 watts should fill the bill nicely. About 5 lbs of sand and about 2-3 lbs of live rock should round things out. A hermit or two and a couple of snails should make for a decent CUC.

Some of the most impressive SW tanks I have seen have been made using these small little tanks!
 

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Starting small is the hardest way to go, but give it a try. Several lbs of aragonite as substrate and a similar amount of live rock. AquaClear filters are great. Make sure you let your talk cycle without any livestock. A pistol shrimp/goby pair would be PERFECT for that size tank. I'd wait at least a month after the tank is cycled before you add any corals. Star polyps are very hardy and colorful and there are lots of zoanthid and palythoa species that are just gorgeous. Biggest thing to do: water change, water change, water change. I would do a gallon WC every other day or every 3 days at most; top off with fresh water every day. A system that small needs some serious help from you to keep the water nice enough to grow corals.

Sounds exciting though. Keep us posted. And welcome to the world of saltwater! You'll have a bigger set up in no time....
 

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Fairly pristine water quality and most corals that should be attempted by non experts, will get by fine on just light alone. Unlike a freshwater planted tank though the lighting on a reef tank is a bit more complicated issue. There are specifically designed SW bulbs that need to be used. The light that I suggested should be quiet suffcient for such a tank with soft corals and LPS corals. Its these types of corals that are most adaptable to the aquarium and more suitable for those new to the hobby or with a average skill level. Most SPS corals are best left to the more experienced level reefer as they are pretty demanding. Non-Photosythetic corals should be avoided for the most part as most are difficult to keep. Sun Polyps are an exception, however in such a small tank trying to maintian water quality would be difficult.

There are a number of appropriate corals are available for a tank like this. Mushrooms, Zoanthids, Palys, GSP, Yellow Polyps, Kenya Tree corals, Xenia, just to name a few soft corals. If given a little room a small frag of Candy Cane, Torch, Hammer or Frog Spawn would also make for a great addition to such a tank.

Unlike fish, corals are of minimal bio-load for a tank like this and can be filled pretty much to capacity. Its just suggested that you use small frags and starter colonies. This will allow you to place more corals in the tank and have a wide variety of colors and many different corals for a nice look to your tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
sorry to sound like a noobie in salt water... but um... what is a frag? *#3
So basically, corals only need a good source of lighting?
Also, can someone give me a rough estimate on how much this should all cost? Pretend that money is not a factor. :)

What fish are compatable to put in this tank?

THANKS SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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a frag is a small piece of coral, you get frags when you "fragment" larger colonies. i cant really tell you much about how much it will cost because i don't know the equipment you are looking towards. I like you could do it for under 200 but that is just a guess, someone correct me if i am wrong
 

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would that not be too much bioload for the system?
Some polyps and a fish or two?
Depends on a number of factors of course, but probably can be done without a problem. Question is how well taking care of the tank and not overfeeding, etc. would be executed.

That said, though.. I've always subscribed to the mantra that the bigger the tank, the easier it is to care for.
 

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Some polyps and a fish or two?
Depends on a number of factors of course, but probably can be done without a problem. Question is how well taking care of the tank and not overfeeding, etc. would be executed.

That said, though.. I've always subscribed to the mantra that the bigger the tank, the easier it is to care for.
i agree with the bigger tank theory, IME a small problem can become a big one in a little tank because things can change so fast with such little water
 

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i have kept a 2.5g fresh water fry tank before. it is the basic thing with a larger tank, EXCEPT you have to be VERY carefull of what you put in the tank. Evaporation is a bigger issue too, so you have to top off the water daily. Can someone explain to me reef and coral care?
 

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Question is how well taking care of the tank and not overfeeding, etc. would be executed.
Yes this is very true. I have seen some pretty serious bio-loads in these tanks, that being said they were pulled off by experienced reefers who were pretty hardcore when it comes to water quality and being stingy with the food and were religous about small frequent water changes. But there are some very small suitable fish, that are quiet doable.

No problem when it comes to asking questions. Thats what were here for and sometimes we assume that you already know a lot of things, and we take it for granted sometimes. If your not sure please ask questions!!! If you fail at this then we too have failed to a degree.

Also, can someone give me a rough estimate on how much this should all cost? Pretend that money is not a factor.
This is kinda like asking how longs a piece of string...its hard to say. I set up a tank that I did as a feature article at another forum using a typical 10 gallon tank to show potentially how cheap one could get started in this hobby. I spent initially about 105.00 on equipment. If I wasnt already into the SW thing I would have spent about another 100.00 maybe less depending on how frugal you are and what FW equipment you already have on things such as Nets, Buckets, Salt, SW Test Kits ect. After the initial set up of the tank and cycling the tank I spent another 53.00 on a Nove Extreme T-5 light fixture. This allowed me to move from the most basic of corals such as Mushrooms to high end colorful Zoanthids, Ricordia and several other soft and LPS corals. Once I had adequate lighting for this and the tank was ready to move to the next level I ordered the 16 Corals on 8 Frag rocks from GARF on thier special which was 100.00 dollars plus what ever they charged for shipping. This is how I got the GARF Grunge for the tank as 2 lbs of this is offered for free as a bonus when you order from them. The Frags are admitedly small but this did a pretty good job of filling out the bare spots in a 10 gallon tank in a couple of months. Thats just one example. getting a dozen coral frags in a 2.5 shouldnt be too hard to do. If you willing tto spend a couple of hundred bucks one of our forum sponsors Reefgardener had a decent special they were offering just before the 4th July holiday. They have some pretty spectacular corals and at what seems to be pretty fair prices. I havent done an order through them yet but will later this week and I will post about the results as soon as I do. Just remember you got a small tank and you are better off getting small frags and letting them blossom a bit instead of buying colonies. This will let you get a lot more variety of corlas in your tank, more colors and more texture. If you were to go all out you could easily spend a good 200.00 on just a 70 watt halide/bulb and spend several hundred more just on a few small collector grade SPS colonies if money is no object, I mean the sky is the limit...how long are your arms and how deep are your pockets? But for 300 or so fun dollars over a period of a year you could do a pretty awsome looking 2.5 that would likley rival much larger and far more expensive tanks. Just plan it well, shop long and hard, choose carefully and I doubt youll break the bank and in the end have a nice tank worthy of showing off. In fact, it was a 2.5 gallon reef done by Sugar Magnolia that got me to ditch my larger tanks and start concentrating on smaller tanks like Nanos.

HTH's and answers some of your questions...
 

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Can you explain to me coral care?
I would love to, but that could constitute a novel easily. There are a couple of sources of info as far as books go. The pocket guide I use is pretty basic and covers most things your likely to see. There in another book I used to have that I have long forgotten the name and author that is excellent as well. I also believe Anthony Califro (sp?) that is also an excellent source of information. Your best best is extensive research for each of the species of corals you want to keep. Instead of looking at the brief descriptions posted on online retailer write ups, I would suggest going to sources that are actual articles and research papers. These give a lot more accurate and detialed info as opposed to the very vauge and basic write ups you will find on online. retailers sites. You need to pay attention to information regarding placement in the aquarium to closely replicate where they would be found on the reef. Lighting requirements will be important as well as water flow requirements. These things are especially true for SPS corals.

These are the general water parameters I try to maintian in my tanks. Some of these my be a little high in areas so other may recommend different levels.

PH 8.2-8.4
Ammonia 0
Nirtites 0
Nitrates less than 5
Alk 7-8 dkh
Cal. 400-480 mg/l
Mag 1200-1300 ppm
Phos. if you can even detect it it is too high!


Other trace element levels should be suffcient if frequent water changes are done using RO water and a quality salt mix. If you cant test for it do yourself a favor and dont be adding it. With many trace elements there is a very fine line between whats acceptable limits of these compounds and what will be an over dose in your tank. Be advised that the use of a skimmer can lower some of these trace elements as awell, so watch for this. In your case its doubtful you will be using a skimmer and instead will opt for small frequent water changes so this shouldnt be an issue.
 

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SUBSCRIBED !!!! LOL I was coming in, to ask about the same question. I have a aqualight, and I have a 2.5 that it fits on . now all I need is everything else. LOL ~~ I too have been a avid planted tank enthusist for YEARS now .... and I want to set up this nano reef' just because I have the bones' already here to start .

I am hoping in the few SW forums I am in, that I can find someone who has alot of sw tanks, or atleast alot of xtras' . and starter samples, like of the frags, rock, live sand (only need the 5lbs ...... and any other macro algea if any , I shoudl start my cycle with, maybye some of that purple stuff ?? like I said I am a noobie as well .. and I have been reading up, doing my research .. But I cant buy this stuff at the lfs or I would have 15lbs atleast of everything too much ..LOL ~~ so I am looking for small starter kits, and HELP in knowing what I should start with, THIS thread has helped ALOT !!! I DEF want the rock, frags, and the shrimp & goby. Now would the soft coral also go into this or no >? anyway I will be watching and taking notes !!! thanxs to ANYONE who will pm me with any help and advice, and ANY left over live sand, or rock, or anything else I may need to start . :) I have the lighting it is 18 watts over the 2.5 I am not sure if that is limiting of certain items, But I can always add in a cf bulb here or thier IF' needed. lol ~~~ thanxs to you SW guru , I am reading on.. please advise. thanxs to any & all who can help out in ANy way .
 

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Unfortunately in a tank this small finding nice shaped live rock that is small enough is going to be challenging. I can only offer you a couple of options. You can exercise extreme patience and keep checking out the live rock tank at the LFS until you find a small piece or two that fits the bill. You can also buy a rock thats a bit too big and take a screw driver and hammer to it and with some skill break it in two and end up with a smaller piece that will work for you. Or if your the DIYer type you could make some "agrocrete" and have a rock shaped just like you want. Then after "curing it" to leach out all the lime (this takes 4-6 weeks) in it you could just seed it with a few nuggets of live rock rubble with coralline algae on it purchased at the LFS. Additionally any corals that are mounted on rock could also be used for the same purpose as the live rock rubble nuggets. There really is a lot of avenues here you could go down.

For live sand, this too is a bit challenging. A 10 lbs bag which is the smallest commerically packed live sand will be way too much. You can buy a bag anyway and use what you need and set the rest off to be used as dry sand in another tank if you set one up later. The option I would likely go especially if I was using live rock would be to go to Home Depot and buy a 50 lbs bag of Pavestone Pulverized Limestone for 6-7 bucks. put about 10 lbs in a bucket and rinse it out thoroughly and then just scoop out what I needed to give me the depth of sand I wanted. The Live Rock will colonize the sand for you making it live after a few weeks and only you will know the difference!

As mentioned in an earlier reply to this thread, #5, 18 watts of light in the proper spectrum should be plenty of light for most things. Adding more would do very little for you unless your going to put a 20,000K 70 watt halide over this and attempt SPS corals but thats a little extreme to say the least and something that should be attempted by the more experienced reefer due to the difficulty in keeping SPS corals being a bit more than most new to the hobby can deal with when starting out. Stick with the 18 watt light, some soft corals maybe an LPS coral frag or two and get some time in the saddle prefecting things. Then if you want a bigger challenge you can take that next step with confidence and the experience you will need.
 

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Well, there are a lot of ways to do this, most of which sound crazy, depending on the type of coral. It is much easier to attach corals to smaller pieces of live rock that can easily be lifted out of the tank or moved around. A lot of people use aragonite "plugs" which work really well as an attachment base. For my soft coral (e.g. xenia, leather corals, mushrooms, etc.) I use rubber bands and/or a needle and thread. Rubber bands work great for leathers; just take a piece of your coral and band it on to LR or a plug for a week or two and it will attach itself just fine. For my xenia and mushrooms, I knot a piece of thread around the LR rubble piece and sew the coral down with a loop or two going through the base of the coral perpendicular to each other. Those usually attach in a week or less. For hard corals, super glue gel or aquarium epoxy seems to work great. Take the piece of coral you want, dry off the part where you want to attach it as well as the surface you're attaching it to, and put a blob of super glue or epoxy between the two surfaces, and wait until it's all dry. I know all of this sounds like it would do some serious damage to the corals, especially the fact that they're usually out of the water for a few minutes (minimize time out of the water for softies of course), but they're actually very resilient and these methods all seem to work well.
 
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