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The Lure and Peril of Small Marine Aqu

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The Lure and Peril of Small Marine Aquarium

Since the cartoon movie "Finding Nemo", there has been pick up of marine keeping among beginners and of course there was renewed interest among existing hobbyists. Not only has this created more supplies of marine fish and corals, but also more products and LFS due to the demand. However, that's not my topic today. It is the lure and peril of small marine aquarium.

The unfortunate part is when a newbie sees a small setup (5 to 20 gallons) by a LFS and finds the costs reasonably priced, most probably it is going to be a "cash and carry"case. Some probable have some experience keeping FW before (maybe when they were younger), some completely no idea and others - the minority.

Every fortnightly, I hang around at LFS for about 2-4 hours per shop, and chances are 8 of 10 times, the 8 walk out of the LFS empty handed. The 2 left, 1 would end up having a FW tank because the task of changing water and maintaining so many parameters is just too daunting. The 1 probably got himself 1 SW small tank. Of course my sample size is small and restricted to mostly weekends, where activities at LFS are higher compared to weekdays.

The fortunate thing here is these walk-ins are by-passers and they are usually with their girlfriends, wife or partners. Their better half (worser half) would disagree on the costs of setup and the hassle of maintaining but they all agree in the beauty.

The unfortunate or fortunate guy (depends on how u look at it, welcome to the hobby of pocket emptying) would be die-hard - must get an aquarium. However, how many would actually research before emptying pockets to get their tanks. I for 1 was like the newbie only thing I already had an existing FW 20 gallon tank which I converted into SW and killed about 4 clowns and 1 anemone before calling it quits. Even then I had John Tullock's book on Clownfish and Sea Anemones Host.

It was only after several months later I decided into getting back into the hobby. However, this time I had the book Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner which guided me. I must also give credits to John Tullock's book on Natural Reef Aquariums too. John said that the greatest likelihood of success with a first time marine aquarium is to be a 40 to 100 gallon. The stability of larger systems compensates the lack of experience and knowledge.

That was why I failed in the 20 gallon tank. I had the following problems, I did not cycle the tank long enough. After testing for ammonia and I assume the coast was clear. I did not realise about NO2 and NO3 and each time 1 clown died I added another. How would first cycle be complete when it was not given a chance!

Having realised this, my second attempt I was armed with that knowledge, books and a 75 gallon tank. I cycled until ammonia, NO2 and NO3 stablise about 4 weeks later and added slowly. Fortunate to say did not have a fish loss except for later months I lost my gobies and flame angel due to poor diets. At that time, Deep_end just carried cyclop-eeze. My flame was to depressed to eat.

There is no way to stop any newbie from getting their first tank. None of us from www.myfish.info can be there to advise these newcomers everyday, and even so LFS will probably kick us out. And if u did, would they listen? Those from other sub-forums probably can consult the pool of knowledge here before diving into the sea. 1 out of 20 after or before getting their tanks would pop into 1 of the many forums that support marine hobbyist, fortunate they found us, unfortunate we could not get the rest.

For the benefit of existing members and future guests in this forum, here are 4 suggestions by John Tullock on small marine setups.

1) Absolutely rigorous attention must be paid to maintenance chores, such as water change evaporation top up.

2) Choose appropriate invertebrate specimens,

Such as leather corals, mushrooms that are tolerant of less pristine water quality. No newbie should start with SPS under any circumstances. Spend time developing aquarium keeping skills to avoid the needless sacrifice of demand species. (Don?t lah buy the SPS, and deter others from getting their hands on them, it will only push demand and price, next time u r ready u may have paid the price hike.)

3) For best results, do not add fish into small reef tanks, as fish places greatest demand on any aquarium system. Restrict to hardy species like shrimps, fanworms and small hermit crabs.

4) Overfeeding the fish always lead to trouble. Few experienced hobbyists, much less beginners, have the patience and restraint necessary to provide several marine fish housed in a small aquarium with an adequate diet, while at the same time avoid an accumulation of excess nutrient in the water. One of the characteristics of a seasoned talent is the ability to make an inherently difficult achievement appear simple.

The author concludes with this statement: Novices would be wise to note that the most celebrated small marine reef aquariums are the creations of expert aquarists.

The least this document can do is encourage the bigger the better, arm yourself with knowledge.

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It's for the local malaysian marine scene?

It applies everywhere! Well done! I will pin this up in the Nano forum ;)

generally in the KL that's what i observe.

Thanks...there was an slightly different opinion to my above post it can be found in www.myfish.info and arofanatics.com


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  • 1 year later...

a bit discouraging though.

but good to serve as a reminder to all.

One has to start somewhere...all researching without hands on wont do either.

I hv just started a pico, omg, this is even worse! talking about 40g. Mine is only 4g.

I hv had a few years of planted FW experience. And i am a firm believer of equilibrium. When i saw, at the singapore science center when i was a boy, a sealed glass sphere about half a meter in diameter, 3/4 filled and with some shrimps and plants in it and with a bright light shining on it, i was fascinated! It is self-sustained. It is in a state of equilibirum, the fundamental law of nature.

As a aquarium hobbyist, we should try to be a scientist at the same time. I say TRY. The objective should be to achieve equilibrium. To try to create a biosphere. Avoid all the nonsense of checking parameters after parameters every day and wks, changing water relentlessly!.

The guy at Aquamarin told me the other wkend when i first visited that he has never changed any water in his display tank. Just need to top up for evaporated water.

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