If you are really new...

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
...stop.
...do not pass go.
...do not set up before you read the sticky notes marked *** in the list above.

It's not like you see on television. There are some initial decisions that need to be made that will affect what kind of tank you have...and what you can and can't keep alive. Ideally, read those before you lay money on the counter. Remember that someone who sells equipment and fish would like you to buy the equipment and fish and chemicals he/she has in stock. BUT that may not be the best decision.

1. Reefs use a totally different kind of filtration than fish-onlies. A reef can keep fish nicely; but a fish-only can't keep every kind of coral if there's a sudden yen for corals.

2. Corals and clams are very particular about their lighting. Some corals are madly particular about their lighting and filtration.

3. You're buying extremely baby fish. They grow--fast. And large. Don't plan a tank by what you see in the tank at the store. Plan it for what they will become. Kittens become cats. Puppies become Rottweilers. And baby tangs grow to be a foot long.

4. little corals become big corals if happy---my 3-head hammer now fills my 54 gallon tank and I've fragged off half of it this year. You do not buy huge specimens: if it's going to do well in your tank, it will grow. If it won't grow, you have a lighting or water quality issue.

5. 5 pounds of live rock can seed 500 lbs of dry rock, given time and gentle treatment. You do not have to have all live rock. All-live sets up in about 4 weeks; mostly-dry with a little live rock sets up in about 12. If you have patience, you can save yourself enough money to afford the lights you need. Seeding potions in bottles are generally a waste. You cannot hurry the process. Happy bacteria breed like mad, but getting into the rock pores and getting set up properly---that takes time and you're not going to hurry it by pouring magic potions into your tank.

6. You should not have ANY fish in the tank during cycling. There will be plenty of things to watch that come in with your live rock: worms, small snails, funny tubes that develop tentacles, and finally algae. Even with no fish in the tank, you will likely find it worthwhile sitting and watching your tank develop during its cycling process. If you just let nature take its course, these hardy species will very likely survive cycling and reproduce in your tank. You may even find small bits of coral. I had a piece of bubble coral survive the cycle---which does not need to be rendered into a toxic soup to be effective. Run your system during cycling and make it behave as nicely as possible, with a steady salinity. Your bacteria will be quite happy with that situation.

HTH. Remember: when you don't know what you're doing, pick a cohesive, modest plan with instructions that will get you all the way through the early stages. After you have a year's experience, you'll find there are some alternate ways to do things safely; but when you're starting, find a sensible plan and stick with it. READ THOSE FILES! and take notes.
 
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bellis31

New member
Great post as usual Sk8r.. I have learned so much reading just about every topic on this forum for months now, I feel very confident that my tank will prosper due to the knowledge contained in these forums... I think for sure patience is the key, it's been 4 months since I started my project tank and I have at least 2 more months before I can add fish.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
There are old reefers and bold reefers, but no old, bold reefers. Care, precision, and patience will serve you well.
 

unfamous

New member
I whole heartedly agree. I'm new and those stickies are full of great info. However, a lot of that info is above a new persons head. Yeah, you will say read more and wait until you know more before starting. Well, that may be true, but how about simplifying things a bit? Pictures shot by a vet may have absolutely no meaning to a newcomer. An article may well have THE answer someone is looking for, but it's dang near impossible to sort out the crap from the answer.

Don't get me wrong, I have learned a ton from the stickies. I still have stupid questions as do others. An example: I am a pretty handy fellow. Car, trucks, bikes, woodworking, woodturning and most things mechanical come natural to me. Heck, I collect WWII aircraft tools so I know my way around tools. I still have no idea, even after reading tons, on how to quiet down my overflow! Okay, I have some idea, but now that the tank is full, I have no idea how to modify it. Is the answer out there in a sticky? Probably so, but finding it is a PITA.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Our search function is overloaded and balky, but if you use it late at night you can sometimes get through.
In answer to your question re quieting your overflow, it depends on what type of overflow, but at least in mine the basic answer is not to let the water fall so far. You can add some small rocks to raise the water level closer to the outflow, which will immediately lower the noise level. There is also a new system, besides the Durso, that bids to be quieter---the word Herbie leaps to mind, but I haven't seen it. I have a Durso.

Sometimes your answer is in water leaving too fast. You can slow down a mismatched water flow by inserting a valve. I have a return pump way overpowered for my needs, so I cut the ascending line (to the tank) and inserted a 1" valve in the line. It doesn't hurt a pump to choke it back a little---to the pump, it's just as if it had to lift the load five feet more. No big deal. If I didn't have that valve in there, the water from my outflow would rocket across the room and hit the living room windows. With it, I have a tame, manageable flow.

My skimmer---couldn't get the thing 'tuned', ie, performing in a stable way, so I decided rather than go shopping for a pump a little smaller than the Mag 5 now driving it, I'd get a valve into the line. Works like a charm. The slower flow behaves much better and my skimmer doesn't go out of 'tune' by having a galloping flow pushed through it.

Plumbing is a learning curve, but remember you can fit several little pieces together to create the type of reduction or joint, say, that works for you. Teflon tape is safe for saltwater. Copper, or any metal---no. Use hose barbs rather than metal hose clamps for connections.

Never feel that you 'ought to know' various things: if you come up against a thing you don't immediately get, ask. I'm a Latin major with a background in languages. Plumbing is not my thing. But y'know, it's a good thing to learn. With a fish tank, you're generally not dealing with high pressure and the city water supply, so you can just tinker til it works...though in my case, a floor drain is an occasional asset. What I've learned doing my tank plumbing taught me how to install a sink in the kitchen and repair a faucet, so it's relatable to regular plumbing, and that's saved me a few pennies. Wiring---same deal.

I rather get that you're a person who likes to know 'why'. I'm the same way. And if you want a more detailed explanation, those of us long-time reefers who patrol the new-to-the-hobby area are happy to provide it if you just ask. I'm not a chemist, not a plumber, not an electrician, so I generally defer to those who are---but hey, you need an answer, we'll take a stab at it.
 

bellis31

New member
I read all the stickies and yes sometimes it feels like information is missing to the beginner, the way I found to gain insight and learn the more uncommon things is to read build threads, there are tons of those on here and they all provide insight as to the great many ways to do things and NOT to do things.

As for searching here on RC, I generally have good luck but I have to be very general don't be to specific, also Google helps a ton and often finds an RC thread that I could not find otherwise.
 

rovster

New member
The longer I read on here, the more I realize how much misinformation there is out there. Holy crap, the horror stories that are posted on a daily basis are aweful. Makes my tang-blennie drama seem trivial, LOL! Sk8r, you may want to add if you are new, do not rely on the LFS for your information. The garbage that the employees there have told me is astounding, especially after I have some hands on experience and many months reading on here. All the LFS employess pretend to be experts, and say this coral is easy, or just dose that, or you should feed this, or, sure you can add another fish to your little cube. And don't for get this snake oil I have here, its the greatest, I use it on all my tanks, and it happens to be on sale today, LOL!
 

Michael

NTTH Rookie Help
Premium Member
Great post yet again sk8r, can you talk the admins into putting the thanks "plug in" into the software, I think it would be great for us mortals to thank you guys and gals with clicking on a thanks button, great info as ever, the new to the hobby is great again due to you and the other team members here, However I still think the majority of the stickies should be named after Waterkeeper, tom tom where are you buddy?

mike
 

sponger0

New member
The longer I read on here, the more I realize how much misinformation there is out there. Holy crap, the horror stories that are posted on a daily basis are aweful. Makes my tang-blennie drama seem trivial, LOL! Sk8r, you may want to add if you are new, do not rely on the LFS for your information. The garbage that the employees there have told me is astounding, especially after I have some hands on experience and many months reading on here. All the LFS employess pretend to be experts, and say this coral is easy, or just dose that, or you should feed this, or, sure you can add another fish to your little cube. And don't for get this snake oil I have here, its the greatest, I use it on all my tanks, and it happens to be on sale today, LOL!

Yes, Sk8tr does provide alot of good information. But on your comment about LFS is people forget that businesses are exactly that. A business. Ive learned after my dealing with freshwater that they actually know nothing....and just work there. Granted, businesses do what they can to offer good customer service but fact is they still want your money. Ive even tested them to see what they know, and after that I learned they are still the same as going to a car dealership. I would usually ask them if they have a tank and asks specifics. Like whats in it, what kind of equipment, how long they have had it. Its fun to probe them when you catch them lying.
 

Dave & Monica

New member
100% agree with sk8r -- it's incredible how much you have to learn fast, but so worth the effort. I just passed 6yrs with my reef, still love this hobby.
 

Reefing Newbie

New member
May I say, sk8r is a huge help with this site!!! I happen to like finding out why as opposed to do this and don't do that, just the way I was raised. I would advise most new to the hobby people to ask why and how, not just get the answer and be satisified. The reasons why may connect points to other areas, it has for me. One example is finding out why that small blue hippo tang won't actually fit in your 75 gallon tank(swimming room and gets to be 1ft long), this applies to some of those smaller fish as well; some wrasses and definantly anthias because the open swimmers need their room! The stickys here go along way to get you up and running. When problems come up that you don't know the answer to, ask and you will get all the help you need. Just remember the only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask!
 

snorvich

Team RC member
Team RC
By the way, as for searching, you can also use google. [ "subject", site:reefcentral.com] is not dependent on RC loading.
 
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