Fresh vs. Salt vs. Brackish..

Calappidae

Harlequin Shrimp
In a way, this is a reef topic as I'm trying to compare how difficult reef tanks really are compared to freshwater setups and brackish setups.

In your opinion, which is easiest to you? fresh, salt, or brackish water aquariums?

IMO I think it depends on mainly what you have... If you setup a 125 gallon full of basic fish... what maintaining really is there compared to a freshwater tank? Your either doing a huge, painful, water change every month to few months that you do not look forward to... or just small less annoying waters every week or so that you completely don't mind doing... The work is more common in saltwater, but more relaxing to do.. the work in freshwater is less often but a huge pain to deal with whenever done.. testing the water is done with brackish, fresh, AND, salt water so that maintence is already no big deal... brackish and salt may have a few extra things to test.. but if you don't have corals.. then what big deal is it to just fill up a hydrometer and test the salt? Heck, some of us have digital test kits we just leave in the tank and look at like thermometers. I can never keep a freshwater fish alive.. but saltwater... seems to last longer... people say they are more sensitive and such but I had anemones living longer in the worst conditions than a guppy or tetra or even a goldfish in the best conditions. Brackish IMO is the hardest.. mainly due to lack of help or info on brackish water. You buy a bucket of sea salt.. how much do you use? It usually only says how much for saltwater, but never for brackish.


Your thoughts, Opinions, feel free to post! :celeb3:
 

Dissy

New member
IMO, fresh water is 100x easier to deal with. Hook the python up to the kitchen sink, drain about 50 gallons, flip a switch, put back about 50 gallons. End of story. That was a 125 gallon tank. The same held true for a 60 gallon tank, a 30 gallon tank, a 20 gallon tank, and a 5 gallon tank. I could have maintenance on all of my FW tanks done in 4 hours on a Sunday.

My tiny lil 29 gallon tank takes me about an hour twice a week, plus about 10 mins a day. Then there's the measuring salt, mixing water, aerating water, blah blah blah..

:D

So, FW easier - SW prettier.
 

robert s b.

Active member
Obviously you never tried a flourishing planted freshwater tank, I have been in the hobby for 30 years, 17 yrs in reef. I just started a mr aqua 12 gallon long and did an amano style planted tank, bought best ADA supplements, soil and equipment you can buy. And I couldn't keep the plants alive. Half was dead in a month. Chemistry of the water has to be on point just as much as a reef and I believe it's just hard in the beginning. I'm still trying to dial it in, but once I do it should be ok. Try it and you'll see what I'm talking about. Planted tanks are on the rise. YouTube planted tanks and you'll see some amazing aquascaping.
 

Calappidae

Harlequin Shrimp
Obviously you never tried a flourishing planted freshwater tank, I have been in the hobby for 30 years, 17 yrs in reef. I just started a mr aqua 12 gallon long and did an amano style planted tank, bought best ADA supplements, soil and equipment you can buy. And I couldn't keep the plants alive. Half was dead in a month. Chemistry of the water has to be on point just as much as a reef and I believe it's just hard in the beginning. I'm still trying to dial it in, but once I do it should be ok. Try it and you'll see what I'm talking about. Planted tanks are on the rise. YouTube planted tanks and you'll see some amazing aquascaping.

I have had success with a couple plants. But along with the plants.. came the hitchhikers... and the snails would not stop breeding...
 

discocarp

New member
My 65g low tech planted tank in my office is the easiest tank I've ever run - by a huge margin. I feed the fish, fertilize the plants every couple weeks when I think about it, and do a water change every 18 months whether it needs it or not.

Its a bad pic, but here it is:

picture.php


(edit: made pic smaller)
 
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Calappidae

Harlequin Shrimp
My 65g low tech planted tank in my office is the easiest tank I've ever run - by a huge margin. I feed the fish, fertilize the plants every couple weeks when I think about it, and do a water change every 18 months whether it needs it or not.

Its a bad pic, but here it is:

picture.php

Nice setup!
 

discocarp

New member
Its due for the 18 month water change next month. I haven't even scraped the glass since the last water change.
 

discocarp

New member
Bringing this back to reefs, my 109 reef at home is pretty low maintenence, but nothing like that freshwater setup.

I've gone back to barebottom. I clean the skimmer, add topoff with kalk (automated via dosing pump), change a bucket of water most weekends (siphoning detritus from the bottom), check the ca/alk/magnesium occasionally, feed the fish and corals, and scrape the glass. A lot more work than the freshwater, but I've got it pretty low maintenence for a reef anyway.
 

Green Chromis

New member
:fish1: For me a reef tank is about the same as a well set up planted freshwater tank when it comes to maintenance. Freshwater planted tank if done right are really an amazing thing to view, but I still love my reef tank and fish a little better. :fish1:
 

discocarp

New member
Well there are 2 flavors of planted tank - low tech and high tech. The high tech can be nearly (but not quite) as complex as a reef. I've run full CO2 setups, etc. They can be amazing, but they don't count as low maintenance.

Now I favor the low tech tank since i only run freshwater at my office and don't want to spend my weekends doing tank maintenance at work. You can't keep the same sort of plant variety (not all plants like low-tech), and one species tends to dominate. Look at my pic - the java fern is dwarfed and the crypt wendtiis are amazing (almost 18" tall!). One species tends to out compete the others. The java fern still grows very, very well - just dwarfed. If you're fine with those sorts of limitations, a low tech planted tank is, imo, the absolute easiest tank you can possibly keep. It is even less maintenance than fish only freshwater setups, as you don't need the same amount of water changes since the plants are a good filter.
 

MondoBongo

Obligate Feeder Obsessed
Well there are 2 flavors of planted tank - low tech and high tech. The high tech can be nearly (but not quite) as complex as a reef. I've run full CO2 setups, etc. They can be amazing, but they don't count as low maintenance.

Now I favor the low tech tank since i only run freshwater at my office and don't want to spend my weekends doing tank maintenance at work. You can't keep the same sort of plant variety (not all plants like low-tech), and one species tends to dominate. Look at my pic - the java fern is dwarfed and the crypt wendtiis are amazing (almost 18" tall!). One species tends to out compete the others. The java fern still grows very, very well - just dwarfed. If you're fine with those sorts of limitations, a low tech planted tank is, imo, the absolute easiest tank you can possibly keep. It is even less maintenance than fish only freshwater setups, as you don't need the same amount of water changes since the plants are a good filter.

+1

freshwater can be as complicated or as simple as you decide to make it.

i've seen some insane high tech, co2 injected freshwater tanks with custom sumps and automated everything.

i personally maintain two low tech planted tanks. a 2.3 gallon on my desk at work, and a 10 gallon in my home office. both of which i like because they are relatively low fuss.

the 2.3 gallon is great for work because it holds so little water i can do my water changes with gallons of spring water. it doesn't hold anything crazy, just one D. Dario and a few red cherry shrimp with a bunch of random low to mid light plants, but it is great to watch for a minute or two here or throughout the day.

i fertilize about once a week with less than an mL of each micro nutrient, and do about a 2 liter weekly water change. other than that i just watch it grow.

the 10 gallon at home is very similar. change about 3 - 5 gallons every two weeks. low ferts, low feeding. even the light on it is an old LED i had left over from the reef. :)

neither of them will ever look as stunning as some of the high tech planted tanks i've seen, but i enjoy them just the same.
 

Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
One of my few failures over the years was trying to keep 300 neon tetras in a 150 gallon tank. Everything was fine for about 6 months then a massive dieoff and any subsequent additions died as well. (System had a 30 watt UV.)
 

FTDelta

New member
I currently have 2 FW tanks - 3 gallon in my son's room with a Dwarf Pufferfish and a heavily planted (silk plants) 10 gallon tank in my den (5 neon tetras, 4 peppered corycats & 1 German Blue Ram.

Off topic - Even though I've been doing a lot of reading and researching these last 6 years, I have yet have a SW tank up and running, this will be my ultimate challenge down the road. My first tank will be a Innovative Marine 16 gallon Nuvo tank with either a Fiji Barberi Clownfish pair or Occeleris Clownfish pair (regular and a B&W), CUC of hermits and a Skunk Cleaner Shrimp.
 

discocarp

New member
Go with the oscellaris pair, especially if its your first saltwater tank. IMO the clowns from the tomato family get a bit too big for a 16g.
 

sirreal63

Go Spurs Go!!!
Premium Member
Well there are 2 flavors of planted tank - low tech and high tech. The high tech can be nearly (but not quite) as complex as a reef. I've run full CO2 setups, etc. They can be amazing, but they don't count as low maintenance.

I would completely agree but find that my reef is a lot easier than the high tech planted was, but a lot of that comes from experience on knowing what the reef needs. High tech planted is also a lot easier now than it was 10 years ago, better equipment and nutrient management. When I started with corals my planted tanks slowly went away, I just did not have time for both.

Low tech planted 29, basically water changes and pruning were all that was required. Every few water changes I would pull the water from the dosed 75 and put it in the 29.
29number1.jpg



Higher tech 75, co2 and higher light. Keeping the co2 correct, the ferts consistent and algae at bay is a lot harder, plus once you get into higher light requiring plants it all got a lot harder to maintain. It took almost daily tinkering. It was my favorite planted but along with a reef and working 60 hours a week, it was too much. It was a never ending work in progress.
7512-22.jpg

DSCF1455.jpg

DSCF1546.jpg


FW is by far the easiest way to have a tank, but it is a little boring. I skipped brackish completely.
 

Codski

New member
I have yet to set up my saltwater tank so I can't comment on that, but my FW setup didn't take a whole lot of time. I would do a 60% water change every week or two weeks depending on how busy I was and I only did a water change because I had a lot of drift wood in my tank and the water turned pretty brown. I had some plants in the tank but nothing special. Just enough to look good. I tore that tank down though to make room for my new SW setup. Here are a couple of pictures.

<a href="http://s1280.photobucket.com/user/cczaikowski95/media/20130922_142245_zpsf3c1d08b.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1280.photobucket.com/albums/a500/cczaikowski95/20130922_142245_zpsf3c1d08b.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo 20130922_142245_zpsf3c1d08b.jpg"/></a>

<a href="http://s1280.photobucket.com/user/cczaikowski95/media/20130922_142002_zps65819c64.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1280.photobucket.com/albums/a500/cczaikowski95/20130922_142002_zps65819c64.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo 20130922_142002_zps65819c64.jpg"/></a>

This was my pride and joy, a true wild caught altum angel

<a href="http://s1280.photobucket.com/user/cczaikowski95/media/20130922_141704_zps1ffa13ee.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1280.photobucket.com/albums/a500/cczaikowski95/20130922_141704_zps1ffa13ee.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo 20130922_141704_zps1ffa13ee.jpg"/></a>

I also had a smokey angel that was about 12" from top fin to bottom fin.

<a href="http://s1280.photobucket.com/user/cczaikowski95/media/20130922_142041_zps3f025c7a.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1280.photobucket.com/albums/a500/cczaikowski95/20130922_142041_zps3f025c7a.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo 20130922_142041_zps3f025c7a.jpg"/></a>
 

Roachant

New member
I have been keeping many types of ecosystem tanks over the years (freshwater, planted, brackish, blackwater swamp, stream) and I still find reef keeping to be the most challenging and time consuming.
However, I also find it to be one of the most interesting, but I guess that is relative.
 

HumbleFish

Dr. Fish
Premium Member
I have had success with a couple plants. But along with the plants.. came the hitchhikers... and the snails would not stop breeding...

If we're talking small snails, sometimes a Striped Raphael catfish (Platydoras costatus) will eat them. And if memory serves... they sell a dip you can use to eradicate snails eggs on a plant before putting it in your tank.
 
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