Call is fate, call it a disaster but my freshwater aquarium is no more. Last night whilst cleaning up the study with my wife, I managed to move the table the ~1 metre (3 foot) tank sat on, just enough to crack it right down the back. A few expletives were uttered, towels flew around my study like a tornado in hotel laundry and the fish went to swim with ducks in the pond out back. More likely, the fish made an exotic treat for one of the many eels or tortises living in the pond. But I digress; the fate of the fish was sealed when the tank cracked, sucks to be them.
Consequently, today I went out and hunted down a good price on a new 1.2 metre (4 foot) tank and stand to replace the broken one. It will live in the lounge room, not the study from now on. So with no fish stock to keep, and a box full of good tank gear, such as heaters, power heads, timers and canister filters (1200L/hr!) and lights I've made a decision. The next tank will contain my first attempt at keeping a marine (salt water) ecosystem. I've considered this a number of times in the past, but never been in a situation where I could justify the sacrifice of all the fresh water fish I already had. Every time the tank was nearly depleted of fresh-water fish, I'd chicken out and restock with more fish...thus perpetuating the cycle.
After all the reading I've done the plan going forward is a simple one that according to the literature will result in a simple, stable and visually appealing tank.
- Get new tank (done) and clean all bio-matter from the old equipment (yuck...but necessary).
- Assemble the canister filter, protein skimmer and power heads etc.
- Put in a sand bed about 4-5cm thick and fill with salt water.
- Add live rock once the salt and pH are right.
- Watch the NH3/NO2/NO3 levels until the NO3 is close to or equal zero and the NO2 and NH3 levels are zero ( this can take weeks to months)
- Add some soft corals and maybe upgrade the lighting to accommodate it.
- Again, watch the NH3/NO2/NO3 levels like a hawk and if all is good, add 2-3 crustacians ( Lysmata amboinensis) and a small algae eating fish (Salarias fasciatus)
- All going well, after a week or two, I should be able to introduce some more exotic fish like a pair of clowns and maybe a blue tang.
All things being equal, this process will probably take 4-5 months. But as they say in the field of marine tanks: nothing good happens quickly! So, expect some photos, and a few updates in the coming weeks as I put all this together. According to the best advice I can find, the new tank will be about 90 USGallons, and should be able to accommodate 4.5 inches of fish stock. So that's either one fish 4.5in long, or 4 1in fish with a pygmy 0.5in fish. Not a lot of fish for a "fish tank" but in a marine tank, the corals, invertebrates and other organisms are almost as interesting, if not more so, than the fish alone. Stay tuned!