Juan C. Saavedra the new latino guy at the meeting...

Hey everyone, my name is Juan C. Saavedra and I have been breeding and keeping Central American cichlids for about 18 years now. Recently, I got involved with some clubs that sparked my interested for other fish and invertebrates in the aquarium hobby. Now I’m looking at starting some coral, so any helpful pointers with be appreciated. I have had saltwater tanks with fish before, but never coral.

I think the biggest difference between fish-only tanks and reef tanks are the lighting and water movement requirements that you need to meet. In addition, corals and inverts can be hundreds of times more sensitive to water conditions. Your cichlids might not even notice nitrates or temperature swings but the same changes could kill your corals. I’ll briefly go over some basics but you obviously want to research this on your own. I’m sure someone will post some links. Let’s talk about lights.

During our meeting, you probably overheard us talking about the new LED light technology and whether it could be viable. The reason we’re interested is because the current lights we use consume a lot of electricity and can generate tremendous amounts of heat. Bulbs have different ratings that relay the spectrum they emit and how intense they are. For example, I use a 150 watt, 14k metal halide on my 24 gallon tank. The only reason I bring up the numbers is to illustrate the point that every single person in the club knows what type of lighting they are using and what type of livestock it can support (information the LED producers are oddly keeping secret from the public.) If you give us information on how big your tank is and what you’d like to eventually keep, we can definitely recommend some lighting choices for you.

Corals depend on water movement for many of their basic biological functions. It brings them food. It takes away their waste. Stuff like that. But each species might prefer different conditions and amounts of flow. The good news is that there are some great options to generate water movement now and placing corals in the right spot can make all the difference.

As I was saying, those are the two biggest factors that I think are different. The only other major concern you will have is what type of filtration you will be using. Again, there is so much information on this I can’t begin to cover it here. But the basic idea is you can either go very light on your bioload and naturally break down the waste in the system, or use a device like a skimmer or HOB filter to remove the waste from the system all together before it even has a chance to break down.

I’m tired but hopefully this helps a bit. If you’ve got any specific questions fire away.

While RCA covered the basics of everything there is so much information and ways of doing things. Its best to do it right the first time, so i would recommend you read. There are a lot of good books out there, and im sure a lot of members in the club have books you could borrow. Also, join on Reefcentral forums as there is a wealth of knowledge. Just read all different threads about corals, and threads about reef tanks. Your first step needs to be to know everything there is to know then execute. My mistake was learning as i went along, and spent much more money than i should have. So i recommend you read as much as you can.

Hey Juan

Was nice talking to ya at the meeting. Since it’s very hard to answer every question, post some of your questions or consern etc.

Best advise I can tell ya is saltwater and more so a reef tank is a slow process, you can’t rush it. More people are doomed to failure if they try to make things happen to quick. With it being your first in saltwater I’d start with something easy ( easier fish and as far as corals maybe softies or some easy LPS’s.

With corals you will need more powerful lights, if your just doing fish the normal T5 lights will work. With fish only skimmers are needed but not as crutial as if you have a reef tank.

And one thing to remember is just because it looks fancy and it says it does all that doesn’t mean it’s a better way to go, sometimes simpler means are best as far filtration and things.

Good luck and WELCOME again.


Hi Juan

Its nice to see you on the boards. It was nice meeting you last night, and i hope we can expect to see you at future meetings.

the best advice i can give has alread been touched on a little already but here it is anyways!

1)plan and build your system right the first time. if you know what you want to potentially keep its a lot easier to build the system the first time instead of having to upgrade down the road to keep something more demanding. this hobby is expensive enough as it is, its even more expensive if you dont do something the right way the first time and end up replacing it.

2)take your time. when meeting a new hobbyiest, its usually very clear who has done their homework and who hasnt. although there are exceptions to the rules, the people that rush into the hobby and make impuslive purchases almost always end up quitting the hobby. coming to a meeting and signing up on the boards are a very good start.

like Bill mentioned, its almost impossible to give you a step by step how to guide because of the many different types of systems and even more ways to implement them. If you havent already, i would decide first what you would like to keep, and secondly the size tank you want to keep. Its important to note that the animals you want to keep will dictate the size of the tank you will need. The 75g is probably the most universal starting point for a new hobbyist for a lot of good reasons and might be worth taking a look at. Im assuming, from what ive heard, that you will likely be building your own tank so a good place to start might be the pros and cons of a non-drilled vs a drilled tank if you dont know them already.

Hey, I just wanted to say welcome. Had a long day and don’t really have energy to type much more now or read everyone elses posts. Just take your time with everything. Best of luck, I’ll try to post more soon. Glad you found us.

Hi Juan, I was glad to see you made the meeting. Like the others said, take it slow, mature the tank and the bio filter system, rock and sand and start with some soft corals. it takes a while for all the micro bugs and stuff to build up to keep hard corals happy.

Dont forget, the club has collected and filed away a ton of info, articles and websites under the LINKS tab at the top of the page. do some browsing there to get familiar with things.

If you want to go with a low energy tank with low lighting I would suggest looking into yellow polyps and mushroom corals. These are considered soft corals by hobby terms. There are some stonies you can keep, but I would get the tank up and running and cycled for at least 6 months before adding any stony corals.