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Suggestions for a beginner saltwater tank and fishs

Hello. I have wanted to start a saltwater tank since I was little but now I can do it. And the only reason I am putting this up is that I do not know what tank I should get or what fish I should get. I do have experience with fresh water fish and if you have suggestions for a fish tank or fish please reply. Thank you

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Esteemed Contributor

Re: Suggestions for a beginner saltwater tank and fishs

Hi. 

You are very smart to ask questions first and act later.

Since you already want a saltwater tank, I believe you have some inkling as to what you would like to keep.  Unlike keeping the majority of freshwater fish available at PetCo, saltwater fish have very specific needs in terms of compatibility, space, diet, and tank layout.  It's best if you start out by deciding what you absolutely have to have, and then designing the tank around the needs of that fish.  When I started my marine tank eight years ago, I knew that I wanted butterflyfish and an Annularis Angel. These are big fish that love to graze, so that meant I needed to get a large tank with lots of live rock to have the best chance possible.  Eight years later, my angel is still going strong and the tangs, butterflies, monos and clowns that share the tank are doing great, too.

I have answered this question a couple times on this forum. Look up my answers regarding equipment you'll need.

Here are some basic suggestions about marine tanks in general

Larger is better. My tank is 210 gallons.  It has to be that big to accommodate my fish.  I think a 55 gallon tank is about perfect for a first timer, and I would recommend no smaller than a 29 gallon tank. Smaller than that, and you will be very limited in terms of what you can stock.  Smaller tanks are not as stable in terms of water chemistry, and stability and space are important to most marine fish.

In my experience, a fish-only-with-live-rock (FOWLR) tanks is the most straightforward way to go. Live rock acts as a form of natural biological filtration.  It provides small food items for fish.  It's a very natural way to provide shelter and hiding spots for your fish and it's visually interesting.  You need 1-2 pounds of rock per gallon arranged in a wall or in a couple large piles. Tiny fish will hide in it when frightened.  Large fish like Morays will make dens in it. Many fish will use it at night to sleep in. 

Know everything possible about the fish you intend to keep. Don't buy on impulse. Put together a "Stocking list" once you have decided how big a tank you're getting.  A stocking list is roster of all the fish your tank can reasonably support and also a sequence of introduction to the tank.  Timid fish need to be added first. More aggressive fish, later. Hyper sensitive fish can't be put in until the tank is well established and hardy fish can be placed early on. If your hope is to be able to keep invertebrates and corals eventually, consider this as you select fish and make sure what you collect will be compatible with corals.

Read a good book.  "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner is excellent.  So is "Successful Marine Aquariums" by John H Tullock-- A short book, but thorough. You will need to gather information on a more specialized level to care for marine fish.  I can tell you a lot about the fish I have kept, but not a great deal about Morays, Lionfish, Puffers and other big carnivores.  To find good info on all kinds of fish, I do a lot of reading at wetwebmedia.   It's literally thousands upon thousands of pages of advice on every aspect of fish keeping. Wear your reading glasses and plan to spend a ton of time there.

Get a quarantine tank.  It's pointless to go through all the steps of setting up a marine tank if each time you add a new fish you unintentionally introduce a disease or parasite to the tank.  Marine fish are pricey but more important than that, many of them will live for years and you won't want to risk their lives.  Wetwebmedia has a great article on the how and why of quarantine.

Be patient:   Good things happen slowly in marine aquariums and disasters can happen in an instant.  Wait until your tank is thoroughly cycled before adding fish. Quarantine your fish before adding them.  Wait to find the perfect specimens of any fish you buy.  If you have any doubts at all, don't buy yet.  


These are rambling thoughts.  As I said, there are many other places in this forum where I have given a more nuts and bolts description of what to buy.  Please ask more specific questions as they occur to you and I will be only too happy to answer them or point you to a reliable source.

Best

Randy




 

“The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on Earth, and perhaps his last chance to prove himself a rational species.”
― John L. Culliney
2 REPLIES
Esteemed Contributor

Re: Suggestions for a beginner saltwater tank and fishs

Hi. 

You are very smart to ask questions first and act later.

Since you already want a saltwater tank, I believe you have some inkling as to what you would like to keep.  Unlike keeping the majority of freshwater fish available at PetCo, saltwater fish have very specific needs in terms of compatibility, space, diet, and tank layout.  It's best if you start out by deciding what you absolutely have to have, and then designing the tank around the needs of that fish.  When I started my marine tank eight years ago, I knew that I wanted butterflyfish and an Annularis Angel. These are big fish that love to graze, so that meant I needed to get a large tank with lots of live rock to have the best chance possible.  Eight years later, my angel is still going strong and the tangs, butterflies, monos and clowns that share the tank are doing great, too.

I have answered this question a couple times on this forum. Look up my answers regarding equipment you'll need.

Here are some basic suggestions about marine tanks in general

Larger is better. My tank is 210 gallons.  It has to be that big to accommodate my fish.  I think a 55 gallon tank is about perfect for a first timer, and I would recommend no smaller than a 29 gallon tank. Smaller than that, and you will be very limited in terms of what you can stock.  Smaller tanks are not as stable in terms of water chemistry, and stability and space are important to most marine fish.

In my experience, a fish-only-with-live-rock (FOWLR) tanks is the most straightforward way to go. Live rock acts as a form of natural biological filtration.  It provides small food items for fish.  It's a very natural way to provide shelter and hiding spots for your fish and it's visually interesting.  You need 1-2 pounds of rock per gallon arranged in a wall or in a couple large piles. Tiny fish will hide in it when frightened.  Large fish like Morays will make dens in it. Many fish will use it at night to sleep in. 

Know everything possible about the fish you intend to keep. Don't buy on impulse. Put together a "Stocking list" once you have decided how big a tank you're getting.  A stocking list is roster of all the fish your tank can reasonably support and also a sequence of introduction to the tank.  Timid fish need to be added first. More aggressive fish, later. Hyper sensitive fish can't be put in until the tank is well established and hardy fish can be placed early on. If your hope is to be able to keep invertebrates and corals eventually, consider this as you select fish and make sure what you collect will be compatible with corals.

Read a good book.  "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner is excellent.  So is "Successful Marine Aquariums" by John H Tullock-- A short book, but thorough. You will need to gather information on a more specialized level to care for marine fish.  I can tell you a lot about the fish I have kept, but not a great deal about Morays, Lionfish, Puffers and other big carnivores.  To find good info on all kinds of fish, I do a lot of reading at wetwebmedia.   It's literally thousands upon thousands of pages of advice on every aspect of fish keeping. Wear your reading glasses and plan to spend a ton of time there.

Get a quarantine tank.  It's pointless to go through all the steps of setting up a marine tank if each time you add a new fish you unintentionally introduce a disease or parasite to the tank.  Marine fish are pricey but more important than that, many of them will live for years and you won't want to risk their lives.  Wetwebmedia has a great article on the how and why of quarantine.

Be patient:   Good things happen slowly in marine aquariums and disasters can happen in an instant.  Wait until your tank is thoroughly cycled before adding fish. Quarantine your fish before adding them.  Wait to find the perfect specimens of any fish you buy.  If you have any doubts at all, don't buy yet.  


These are rambling thoughts.  As I said, there are many other places in this forum where I have given a more nuts and bolts description of what to buy.  Please ask more specific questions as they occur to you and I will be only too happy to answer them or point you to a reliable source.

Best

Randy




 

“The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on Earth, and perhaps his last chance to prove himself a rational species.”
― John L. Culliney
New Contributor

Re: Suggestions for a beginner saltwater tank and fishs

Thank Randy for replying I was thinking about a 55 gallon tank to begin with but I wanted to make sure if it was good. I would get a bigger one if I had enough space in my room. I will be getting a notebook to keep what filters and mechanical stuff I need for the tank and also for the fish I want.

Thanks -Alex

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