New to salt water tank setup --need help

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New member
Feb 16, 2005

My name is John and I just setup my first saltwater tank. I have been going by what the employees in the stores have been telling me for the most part. I have a 30 gallon tank setup right now. I have crushed coral on the bottom and 4lbs. of live rock and one fired coral peice. I have five yellow tail damsel fish to start my tank with. I do not know all whats going on just yet I'm still in the learning process... I have the temp at 75, PH is around a 8.0-8.4, Salinity 25, Gravity 1.018, Ammonia 0, and Nitrite 0.3. I think that is all I'm supposed to check, but not 100% posistive... I was told to waite for 6-8 weeks before I can remove the yellow tail damsel fish and start to introduce the fish I want in the tank. How often do I check these levels? How often do I do water changes and how much? How do I clean the tank? I see food left over that the fish are not eating do I need to remove it?? I have had the tank for about a week and a half and the five fish are still alive! Like I siad before I know bits and peices but not the full scope. I really want to know the full scope so this can be a rewarding and possitive experience.

Thank you in advance for your help,




always kidding
Sep 1, 2003
La mesa CA
remove all the extra food you can.

specific gravity is ok if you only have fish but for a reef tank get it over .23

not a big fan on crushed coral and it only belongs in a fish only tank. siphon it with water changes.

get more live rock. maybe 20 lbs more.


Ignorant and Oblivious
Sep 19, 2004
I really do suggest buying a book or two. There are tons of great books that easily explain how to deal with a new aquarium (nitrogen cycle, what equipment does what, what fish are best suited to your preferences). I bought the The New Marine Aquarium: Step-By-Step Setup & Stocking Guide. Its decent for a first read. Its like $13 on amazon. Or you could step it up a notch and buy The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists, which is like $27 on amazon (hardcover is $7 more). If you have a friend in the hobby, you could always mooch.

Also, dont believe everything people say at the local fish store. Which store are you going to? The fish store on roosevelt doesnt give great advice, but the others are generally competent. You can also refer to reefcentral.com. They have a larger message board with some better newbie guides.


Active member
Dec 20, 2004
i agree with johnehr get a book the marine aquarium is the best newbie guide it helped many of us out ther and it will sure help you .

good luck and enjoy this wonder ful hobby.


Reef Keeper
Jul 5, 2003
Also check in our online library we have a ton of stuff for folks just starting out in the hobby. It will make things easier for us to relay to you and for you to understand what we are talking about.



Import Fish
Jul 30, 2004
Ettrick, VA
I don't think your tank has even begun to cycle yet though you don't have a lot of live rock. The crushed coral will give you problems in the future if you don't keep it cleaned by siphoning and as you add more rock it will get harder to clean. Really should add all of your rock at one time so you don't go through multiple cycles and possibly kill off your fish. And any store that tells you to put fish in your tank to start a cycle is one store you should be weary of IMO. Temp should be a little higher around 77-79 degrees is what I have seen in most tanks and so that's where my tank is. I agree with buying books and doing your research before adding anything else to your tank. You have definitely come to the right place to get answers.


Well-known member
Jan 25, 2004
Welcome to Reef Frontiers!!!

Here is a link to the Startup, tank moving, and general research portion of the resource library. Hopefully, this will get you started. I really like the book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Bob Fenner....it really covers a number of topics.

What will you eventually want to keep? Any specific type of corals, or fish you have in mind?

Do you have a skimmer on this tank? Are you using RO/DI water?

Keep following your water parameters until the ammonia and nitrites are zero. I checked mine daily when I was cycling my tank, just to make sure I could see the levels drop. Slowly bring your salinity up if you are interested in keeping invertebrates.

Hopefully, we'll be able to help you get off to a good start for a successful tank. This hobby can be frustrating, so hang in there during the rough times, and ask questions as they come!
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