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Coral reef aquariums were made for us

Discussion in 'Obsessions and Interests' started by stratozyck, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. stratozyck

    stratozyck New Member

    Apr 4, 2017
    I have had a lot of hobbies over the years:
    - coin collecting (medieval England and anything Russian are my favs)
    - programming
    - assortment of nonfiction subjects
    - drones (awesome fun! but also expensive as they wear out even if you are a great pilot)
    - and now...

    Coral reef aquariums. This is the hobby to end all hobbies. Let me count the ways...

    Like a routine? Oh man... this is for you. Every day I check the salinity and add fresh water to replace the evaporation. I do water changes every 1-2 weeks of about 10-15% and I follow a process that begins 24 hours before (the time is mostly to heat the water up to 78F). The water taken out gets cascaded down to two "support tanks" that don't require as good water quality. One tank is an "exile tank" that I send bad actors, such as a specific shrimp (there were 3 others of the same species) that was bothering one of my corals. The other is a quarantine/mysis shrimp breeding tank.

    Like to geek out and learn pointless facts? I am learning so much about biology and species. I can now tell you from memory the full classification of most of the creatures in my tank. I have a microscope to keep track of the diversity of the smaller creatures as well and I identify them. I have spent about $200 on some advanced books on aquarium/reef keeping as well and I am deeply saddened that there aren't any more books that would be relevant. I am struggling not to talk about this stuff with anyone and everyone.

    Like delayed gratification and reward for said routine and knowledge of pointless facts? Oh man! When you first start seeing corals grow, it will be the best day of your life. I got so excited after seeing a tiny branch slowly grow out of one of my corals that I must have bored everyone I knew with pictures of it.

    Like being a hermit? Get hermit crabs! Hah but seriously I put my tanks in a lower area of our house and its dark and relaxing. I voluntarily spend about half my weekend watching the tanks and want more so badly.

    Want something to talk about and show off to people that come over? I did something I rarely do - I invited a coworker over to show off my tank. I had put a lot of work into it and the idea of having someone over to show it off excites me. I still have issues when about 15 minutes into it they are like, "so about the weather" or whatever small talk that everyone likes to talk about. Still, I can get a solid 15 minutes of pointing out all the little things that you have to really watch the tank for a long time to notice and understand.

    The expense can make a lot of people think twice. But, from what I know now, a 20-30 Gallon reef tank can be set up for around $200-$300. You would just have to think carefully about what you put in it. Everyone starts out with fish but stays for the corals. Having fish in a tank roughly doubles the cost because they pee in it, which requires more expensive filtering methods. A zoa or button polyp only tank with live rock and live sand would be under $300. You'd be surprised at how much goes on in a tank like that.
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  2. toothless

    toothless this is mr shadow,my support cat V.I.P Member

    Jul 26, 2014
    stratozyck,i absolutely love coral reef tanks,im always lost in a trance by the coral reefs in the specialist aqauatic shop i go constantly.
    however,i love tropical fish to [heck i love marine fish to but the complexity of looking after them is to much for me as i have a mild intellectual disability on top of moderate classic autism]i have a 400 litre tank with everything from a large ghost knife fish [my new boy,casper] to my 2 upside down cat fish;kit & kat,to bronze & albino corydoras,to a largeish clown loach;krusty and then theres my albino senegal birchir;thomas.

    i do have a spare tank i could make into a project of some sort,i had wanted to make it into a guppy and rummy nose tetra tank but it needs a new filter,plus it is hard to choose a place in my bedroom where the sun light wont reach it [and thus grow algae everywhere].
    my big tank has two UV bacteria killing pipes on and a huge external filter,and a whole lot of pipe work has been done by my aspie dad, he loves working on it,perphaps he would like a coral reef tank.
  3. stratozyck

    stratozyck New Member

    Apr 4, 2017
    I don't think salt water fish or corals are that hard - but they are more difficult if you keep BOTH. The hobby gets a lot easier if the tank is not overstocked.

    Freshwater fish have the general "1 inch of fish per gallon" rule which is a good rule. But, saltwater tanks have the "1 inch per 2 gallons" rule which if followed, can work well.

    With algae growth - the biggest thing that most people don't do is get an RO/DO filter system. I used tap water for years that was treated. Tap water usually has phosphates and sillicates in them that will cause algae to explode, particularly in a saltwater tank.

    You could do it, if you wanted to. It gets a lot easier if you follow a "1 inch per 10 gallons" rule, or even better, no fish at all.

    Just do this exactly:
    1) Get a tank in the 10-40 gallon range ($20-$60).
    2) Get a hang on LED light ($30-$60)
    3) Get 20lbs of live sand per 10 gallons (~$40)
    4) Get some small pieces of "live rock" (~$20-$30)
    5) You can use treated tap water and standard ocean salt (its about $20 for a few months worth). You can even have the fish store sell it pre mixed. To mix it you will need a good tool to measure it though, those are about $50 and for a small setup it might be best to buy it from the store.
    Replace any evaporation with treated tap water.

    6) Get an airstone - ($20)

    This is a basic setup that needs no additional filter, as is. After a few days you would notice small creatures everywhere. Usually there are tiny star fish on the live rock. The airstone will keep oxygen in the water.

    With this setup, you could add zoas and palys (button polyps) if you added an in tank propeller pump (about $30-70 depending on quality). At most, I would put a shrimp and shrimp goby pair in there but thats it.

    As you add more fish to that setup, the filtering requirements go up a lot and the expense goes up.

    With that setup, all you would need to do is replace evaporated water with fresh water every few days. Maybe a 1-2 gallon water exchange with saltwater every month. The live sand and live rock are the filters. Because this set up is "understocked" the maintenance is very low. With no fish you won't be feeding anything so the water will stay good for a lot longer.
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  4. Grenade

    Grenade Member

    Oct 25, 2016
    Your coral sounds marvelous, marvelous, marvelous!
  5. Reeferon

    Reeferon New Member

    May 1, 2017
    I totally agree with you. I have kept saltwater reef aquariums for 12+ years and I have said for years that I know way more information about reef aquariums than I know what to do with. They have brought me a great deal of pleasure, but unfortunately it is a pretty lonely hobby. At the same time, the fact that it is a lonely hobby is probably why I have been able to consistently keep up with it for so many years.

    I've recently came across the realization that I could very well have aspergers and so many things have made sense, including my fascination with reef tanks. My favorite part of the corals is the texture. The movement and colors are pretty mesmerizing too.