Aloha! I'm new to saltwater aquariums AND this site. :)


friend to the fish
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Hi there! My name is Laura, and I'm new to salt water aquariums. I've only ever had freshwater in the past, and I was always fascinated by the different kinds of species and corals you can have in a saltwater tank versus freshwater creatures/plants. So I'm finally on my way to having my own miniature reef.

A little about myself: I'm a freshman in college, I have two rats whom I love, I'm rather addicted to picking up new hobbies, and my favorite color is purple. I'm rather shallow when it comes to pets...if it isn't "cute", I'm not really very interested. Thus a mated pair of clown fish will be my first foray in to the saltwater world. They're adorable.

I've been cycling my tank for a week, and today I purchased a tiny horseshoe crab, a fiddler crab, and a plain ol little hermit crab, as well as a tiny blue/yellow damsel. I don't expect the damsel to be a regular in my tank... my buddy at the reef store suggested just getting something cheap so to create wastes to better help my tank cycle. I have a mated pair of clowns waiting for me at my reef store that I bought yesterday. I'm going to get them on Wednesday probably. And if the damsel is still alive I'll might bring him back to the fish store; they get territorial, right? As of this moment he is hiding behind my rock formation, and he hasn't moved from there since I put him in the tank about three hours ago. Sooo maybe I'll keep him if he intends on just hiding all the time, and if he promises to not bug my clowns. :P

I hope everyone is having a great holiday, and I'm excited to get to know some new fish-minded friends here.

I've learned a lot from poking around on this forum, and I look forward to learning even more as I start my undersea adventure. :)
Aloha Ahiahi, Laura!
Glad you're starting off here, I've found this place to be a great site with lots of good info and very friendly, helpful people. Yeah, the Damsels get pretty territorial. The adding fish to cycle technique is somewhat outdated and frowned upon - I was 'tricked' by my local fish store into doing it - and my 2 damsels were nightmares. I caught one, and the other has been impossible to catch, but has mellowed out a bit.

What kind of filtration do you have on that tank? I'd wait a little bit before adding those clowns, 1 week is a lot, and having 3 fish in the tank might be too much too soon and restart your cycle. I'd hold off about 2 more weeks before adding the clowns. 3 fish total is also a lot for a 10 gal.

How much live rock do you have?

Ask any questions, everyone here loves to help!
Hello and welcome! There is no need to cycle the tank with a fish -- it's unfortunate that these fish are wild-caught and people think of them as throwaways. You should catch the damsel and return it to the store. Your tank will cycle just as well if you put a little bit of fish food in the tank. Plus, a 10 gallon tank will be too small for a damsel and a pair of clowns. Damsels are very aggressive and territorial, as are clowns (which are a type of damsel). They would have a really hard time co-existing in a small tank, and one or two of the fish would probably end up dead. Just take the damsel back... Cycling using live fish is cruel and outdated.

It's going to take your tank several weeks to cycle. During that time, your tank is not safe for animals, especially inverts. Inverts like your crabs are more sensitive to water parameters than fish are, and they will have a hard time surviving in a cycling tank. It's best to not add any animals until the cycle is complete -- which usually takes 3 to 4 weeks.
Also, it's kind of early for those crabs, which usually scavenge on fish waste or algae - they might be looking for food. You can get some shrimp pellets to feed them in the meantime. With a 10 gal, it's really tricky managing the bioload, so you have to be extra diligent to balance your little ecosystem.

The horseshoe crab will def outgrow your tank!!
lastly, don't feel too bad or alienated if we sound a little harsh. This is a really hard hobby to get a good grasp of, and a lot of conflicting info. The fish stores are profit driven and don't always give great advice. It's very common to see very full, overcrowded tank and think that that's the norm and is a safe bioload.

Number one tip I have is a to good a good, up to date book on marine tanks, and use that to get a strong base of info that we can supplement!
About the damsel: stupid fish guy. -___- I asked him like 20000 times ARE YOU SURE HE'S SUPPOSED TO DIE and he said yeah. That's annoying.

I had my water tested today and everything was good except the nitrites were off by just a tiny bit, so they said to go ahead with the inverts. I wish I had known that the horseshoe crabs got huge and were difficult to keep in a new tank, though... Anyone live in orange county and want a free crab...? I'd hate to see him die. When I go back tomorrow I'll ask the one good fish guy (he was busy today when I went in, so I talked to someone else) what to do about that. He cleans a lot of tanks around the area so maybe he knows someone who would like him.

I hope adding the damsel didn't screw up what I had going, because everything was perfecttt....oh well, it's a learning experience. If anyone here started off with a perfect tank and no wrong choices as far as fish, they're either lying, or something short of a marine biologist. :P I keep a positive outlook on these things.

I'll wait on adding my clowns. They're fine at the reef store for now.
Here's a picture of my tank. Everyone is hiding, it looks like I'm showcasing some rock. haha.

Do you have a powerhead to move water around? You will need to get a powerhead ASAP or your animals won't have any oxygen. You cannot have a tank with still water.
I have a filter that cycles 200 gal an hour, it's for up to 50 gal tanks and has a biowheel. I think that should be enough for a ten gallon tank...but should I get a powerhead as well? I've read that clowns like to swim in the currents so I did plan on getting one when I got my clowns.
Oh okay. If you have a filter moving the water around, that should be okay. Sorry, I didn't see anything in the picture -- the background hides it well!!

You will be okay without a powerhead with that filter -- that's enough flow, I think.
Yeah I realized that when I took the picture :P It's a cheesy background but it's better than staring back at cords and plugs and ugly things.

Here's the filter without the lid on and with my hand for comparison:

patience. wait until tank is cycled before adding more fish. You will have dead fish otherwise. Like Biff said you can use fish food to cycle the tank, more live rock and live sand can help speed up the process by introducing existing bacteria from an established tank. I remember my 40 gal took like 5 weeks to cycle. Afterwards, you want to test your water to make sure the water params are no longer toxic before finally adding fish. I cycled my first 40 gal with lots of live rock and sand and some fish food for about 3 weeks then introduced a clownfish, which I have to this very day, he's a very hardy fish.
Hello Laura, and welcome to my fellow Cali person. First off, as a newbie, feel free to ask anything you like here on the forums. People love to help, and love it even more when you succeed. Second, get some more live rock in that tank, and if it was me, I'd get a power head as well. You don't need anything big, a small Rio, or Maxi Jet would work fine. Let your tank cycle. To help it you can put one whole raw shrimp in it (from the butcher). It will rot and decay thus helping your tank to thrive and the bio load to get into the correct perameters. Lastly, have fun with it, and come back and post pics for all of us to see.:Cheers:
Second, get some more live rock in that tank, and if it was me, I'd get a power head as well. You don't need anything big, a small Rio, or Maxi Jet would work fine. Let your tank cycle. To help it you can put one whole raw shrimp in it (from the butcher). It will rot and decay thus helping your tank to thrive and the bio load to get into the correct perameters.

This is a really good tip!!! Thank you very much! I'll keep you guys updated on how my tank goes. :)
i would find a new place to buy things from if they tell you, you can add inverts to a tank with nirtitesup at all. sorry but they are there for just money and not the care of the animals.

and welcome to living reefs
Welcome aboard Laura.
You've got some great information so far.So for now all I can suggest,is to think about getting a couple of the small Koralia Nano powerheads for your tank.They help keep waste in suspension long enough for your filter to catch it.
Welcome Laura! I just got my first two fish for my marine setup. Two tomato clowns.:mrgreen: My favorite color is green though. haha