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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I am new to SW tanks although I have had FW tanks for years. I eventually want to convert one of my 55G to a SW but for now, due to money and other pets, I want to start out with a 10G. I posted on another forum and got some good advice but I figure the more advice from different people the better. I have been doing alot of reading and started planning the setup. I have tons of tanks and tons of stuff like heaters and power heads so I am going to use one of my 10G with a HOB filter and a florecent tank light. I am starting out with sand and 8-10 lbs of live rock then once its cycled I want maybe 2 small clowns and the cleaning crew.

From reading online I guess all live rock needs to be added first then let the cycling end then add the cleaning crew then fish. I am not planning on any type of coral at this time, maybe in the future. in a 10g tank about how much water evaporates a day? Do I need to top it off daily? or when it drops below a certain amount. The LPS sell water and they are really close to the house so getting RO water isnt hard at all.

A lot of people say for newbies NOT to start out with a small tank but I want a SW and dont want to spend the money converting my 55g yet. Other than patients and lots of research does anyone have good advice for me just getting started with a 10G tank?
 

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10 gallons is pretty small, but since u plan to include LR u should be ok with bi-weekly to weekly water changes. a good idea is to use an HOB (preferably an aquaclear) and make it into a refugium. than use an HOB protein skimmer. for that tank, tunze nano protein skimmer and sapphire nanoskimmers are good but expensive.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the input. I know a 10G is going to be harder to maintain because its smaller but I cant afford to buy all the stuff for the 55G and I figure if I can handle a 10G then I can handle a 55g next year or sooner. I am prepared for the extra work I will need to do for maintenance. I know I will have to do weekly-biweekly changes of about 2G each time and top off with RO water but how often do I top it off? Does that need to be done daily?

I have a whisper 20 that was on my 20g long that I was planning on using for this setup. I dont know if its big enough to use as a refugium or even how to set one up lol. Time for some more research. The only other HOB I have that I can use is a Whisper 3 and its huge and on my 55G. It may be too big.

I havent looked into protien skimmers yet but that no big deal since so far all I have to buy is water and LR. I read somewhere that you dont use the protien skimmer till after it's cycled so I have plenty of time to get one.

Also I have a top-light that holds a florencent bulb and two screw in bulbs facing each other. Its the width of my 10G and covers all but 1-1.5 inches of the back, just enough room for my HOB and wires. Would that work for a reef system if I decide to do that in the future? Maybe I just need to post a pick if you dont know what I am talking about.
 

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Hi,
You would need to watch the evaporation like a hawk . Losing just two liters of water can make the SG raise much higher than your fish can handle. I strongly advise getting a auto top off system when running such a small setup.
As for your lighting it all depends on what you want to keep in the tank. some corals and inverts have there own needs as far as lighting go's. so research research research lol.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
ok nevermind about the light fixture I mentioned, its for a terrarium. I have all my reptile and fish stuff in the same room. If I decide to get anything other than fish I will look into new lighting.

As far as evaporation I can imagine that 1/2 a gallon would make a huge difference. I was just wondering about how much can evaporate in a day. I dont have a problem with topping it off every day. Maybe I will set it up with tap water for a week or two and see how much evapoation I get. That way I can mark my levels to know how much to remove when doing water changes also.
 

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You could try that however fresh water isn't as dense as salt water. so saltwater evaporates much faster. also you should take temperature into account. room temperature fluctuates up and down all the time so the effect that has on your aquarium water will be almost impossible to judge. that's why a auto top-off is a must for saltwater aquariums and even moor so when the aquarium is so small. Its a common opinion that a nano or aquarium lass than 55gallon is far harder to maintain good water chemistry than in a larger system.
I purchased a float switch that activates a pump in a receptacle containing RO/DI water and have rid myself of this problem all together
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I set my tank up this weekend with tap water to test for leaks, shorts and evaporation amounts. I also went to the LFS and talked to the "expert" that works there to get her opinion also. She was suprisingly patient with me when i told her what I wanted to do. I told her what I already read online and she filled in the blanks and gave her opinion in some areas. She did say that the Whisper 20 is not near big enough, probably for the reason you said that saltwater is more dense, and I needed a bigger one. I have an Emperor 280 that was on my 55g and she said that would be fine. They also had cured live rock for $7/lb and thats almost half the price of the other LFS a lttle farther away (not to mention the other LFS doesnt look like it knows how to take care of their animals). She also said on a tank that small to do 4g/week changes which seemed a little extreme to me but I also know that a 10g needs more maintenance.

I got home yesterday and put the Emperor 280 on and I have a line marked on my tank where the water level was as of 5 PM yesterday and I will see at 5 PM today how much evaporated. I think 1 gallon in that tank is about 1 & 1/8 inch so I will measure today and see what hapened.

Hopefully in two weeks I will get the LR and sand then start cycling my tank. She said once it is cycled then I can put the cleaning crew and two small clowns in there.

Billythefish, can you show me a pic of what you have for top-offs? This tank may become a permanent fixture in our living room until we buy our new house so anything to help would be nice. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks for the link. I may look into that. The only problem I see is I cant get my stupid suction cups on the power head to stick to the tank, how can I trust that suction cup on the float?
 

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The switch I got seems fine. but you could glue it with silicon to be safe
 
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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Ok since Petlover mentioned a ref and I have been reading alot more on reef systems I started looking into making one. I found alot of info on making my own sump with ref in it from an old 10G tank. My stand will hold 2 10G tanks, one up top and one down near the floor. I was going to have the front part be the ref and the back part be for the protien skimmer and return pump. I have read about either a refugium/sump or a wet/dry sump but seen very little of both a wet/dry and refugium sump. Is this because there is just no room in the tank for both? If I do this I would build an attachment on top for the bio-balls then it would drain into the ref then into the skimmer chamber then the return pump.

If I had this setup would I still need the HOB filter?

If I build the ref/sump and added it to an existing tank would the cycle process start all over?

Is this a good skimmer? CPR Bak-Pak Protein Skimmer

Keep in mind I am just researching and getting ideas for the future. I will be establishing my FOWLR first and constantly learning more. Oppinions are encouraged please.
 

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Hay.
I'm also embarking on my first full marine system, And after 3years of constant research I've come to the conclusion that wet-dry filters are fine for fish only systems but are somewhat redundant when using live rock, However I have included a wet-dry on my sump just to help lesson the amount of micro bubbles that the drain line from the main displays overflow produces ''And it dose help alot''.
In my opinion FOWLR systems run just fine along with a protein skimmer and regular cleaning of the sand, because the magic is all in the live rock.
I also have at present a small fluval 2 plus with active carbon in it to help remove discolouration that my uncured live rock is producing, I will remove it when the ammonia test result hits 0, I think this small carbon filter will come in handy from time to time and would advise having something like this to hand yourself.
Refugiums are a place for you to grow micro algae and things that would get eaten by your fish and can be very good at filtering your water, but I don't think you would need one for a small system with live rock, Plus you would have to light the sump so your refugiums inhabitants can grow.
Adding a refugium/sump to a existing setup wont restart the cycle but the refugium part will take time to grow and thus be effective.
Ive never heard of that protein skimmer but it would appear to have been given good feed back on that site.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks. I was thinking alot about it and different people say different things. Some say have the protien skimmer first then the refugium then the return and others say have the ref and skimmer on opposite sides of the return pump with a split pvc pipe sending water to both sides from the display tank. I think I have an idea to feed water to the skimmer then have it drain in two dirrections. It will drain half to the ref and half to a smaller wet/dry then from both of those it will drain to the return pump where the top-off float will be. I will have a light on it for the micro algae.

I am doing FOWLR now but I do want to do anemones and coral later so thats why I am looking into the ref/sump. Plus I love to build stuff and make it work so this seemed like a great benificial project. Let me get some drawings up and then let me know what you think.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What I plan is for it to drain from the tank to the intake on the top right then split off to the refugium and wet/dry. Then both the refugium and wet/dry will drain into the return pump chamber. I will have a HOB skimmer sucking out of the intake chamber and returning to the wet/dry. I am not sure how big exactly the wet/dry will be or how many bio-balls I will use but I will have some sort of filter on top to catch larger particals and help the water spread evenly accross the wet/dry. I dont know how big it should be but I figure this is better than no wet/dry at all.

For my 10G display tank how many GPH will I need and what pump can I use that will fit in the 4"x8" area for the pump?

I have spent hours upon hours reading and researching these things to come up with this idea. Any other opinions are more than welcome, in fact they are encouraged. Thanks!

 

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if u plan on splitting the sections up using glass dividers, be sure to make the 1 on the wet/dry shorter than the one before it. using the pic as a reesource, u should make the divide to the right higher. this way the water trickles down, thus oxygenating the water very well. actually the last 2 sketches are a little confusing, im not sure if u have already planned this. for the refugium, i recomend macroalgae, not microalgae. macroalgae and seaweed are pretty much the same thing. in fact, i believe seaweed is a type of macroalgae.
 
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Discussion Starter #18
I am planning on using macroalgae. If I put micro somewhere else it was a mistake. I am planning on putting Chaetomorpha in the ref for now and maybe something else but I am not sure.

The bottom right image is looking at the tank from the rear. I updated the picture to show the wet/dry on the rear view. The water enters from the display tank on the left side where it says intake. It then goes out to the ref and also over the edge to the wet/dry. It does not look like it is low enough but the HOB skimmer will also be dumping from the intake chamber to the wet/dry. The top of the wet/dry is angled down to the right so the water flows downward as well as through holes on the wet/dry. I will probably cut the devider lower between the intake and wet/dry and have some means of blocking flow if there is too much. Either that or I will cut slits in the devider until flow is accurate. I just want to make sure the ref gets enough flow also.
 

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I like what you have come up with for your design, Just a one thing that could be a problem, sealing the individual chambers will prove somewhat difficult given the size of the sump, what I'm saying is you may have trouble getting your hand in to seal it all.

Other than that just keep in mined you may need room in the future for reactors like co2, calcium, alk reactor etc when you change to a full reef system.

I went for a far more simple sump but still have room to move and improve as my needs change.

 

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TRUST ME when I say start off bigger than a 10 gallon nano, I did http://www.aquariumforum.com/f13/saltwater-n00b-1947.html and I've wished since the beginning that I had started off larger. It started as a FOWLR, then it gained a polyp, that was the end of it, I've spent countless dollars on testing equipment just to make sure that small amount of water doesnt fluctuate too much and destroy my zoa's and other softies. Your in for a fun ride either way, just watch the parameters and enjoy yourself...

I'm currently building a 40 breeder with a 29 gallon sump, 10 wasnt enough...
 
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