Editor: Eric V. Van Der Hope
From the Desk of Eric V. Van Der Hope
Sunday, May 9th, 2004 ~ 2:37 p.m. (PST)
Re: Volume 1, Issue #2
By subscription only! Welcome to your issue of "The Reef &
Fish Keeping Cheat Sheet" - A Newsletter For The
Serious Reef Keep-
ing and Saltwater Fish Hobbyist.
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1 - EDITOR'S RECOMMENDATION ~ Planning and Research
It's never too much to plan and research your
aquarium set-up. As a matter
of fact - I strongly encourage everyone to
continue to ask questions even if
you have the slightest doubt of something. So I encourage your continued
education on all aspects of this hobby - for it will help you in the long term.
This leads me to the benefit of this section of the
This section of the newsletter will be dedicated to a recommendation from
me to you. I will only do this if I've personally
used the product or book my-
self and am completely satisfied with the outcome. I will not recommend to
you something I haven't personally experienced myself and if I'm not 100%
satisfied with it!
It is your choice to decide if what I recommend is something that could be
of benefit to you.
In future contributions here you will find a variety of
excellent books for
reading and education purposes and maybe even certain types of tank
ponents that will add to the success of your enjoyment in this hobby.
2 - IN THIS ISSUE
==> 1 - Editor's Recommendation
~ Planning and Research
==> 2 - In This Issue
==> 3 - Comments from the Editor
==> 4 - Feature Article ~ by Eric
V. Van Der Hope
==> 5 - This Month's Tip ~ Problem
With Algae . . . ?
==> 6 - Ask Us
==> 7 - Disclaimer
==> 9 - Contact Information
==> 10 - Subscribe and Unsubscribe
3 - COMMENTS FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome to all our new readers as well as a gracious thanks to my loyal
readers who have supported me from the start. We now have 42 active
I have taken the time to write an article that is geared
towards our new
hobbyists. However - it can also be of benefit to
anyone reading the material.
I encourage all to read it.
If you haven't already visited the Fish Forum - you should.
It's getting off to
a splendid start. I encourage you guys to use
it. It a great community where
we can all come together to ask questions or to add your contribution of
You can access it via my webpage or simply by using the url below:
I hope you all the success in your endeavor to have and maintain a
ful saltwater/reef environment. More importantly, I hope that you will benefit
from the advice given through
this newsletter and website.
Remember, if you have questions or concerns or would like to contribute in
one way or another - I encourage you to use the Forum to get 'the word out'.
I hope you've had a productive weekend but relaxing!
I'll talk to you later and hopefully meet up with you in the
My warm and gracious thanks . . .
Eric V. Van Der Hope
Publisher and Author
P.S. A copy of the latest ezine will be available online
after each printing.
Click on the url below to access the ezine.
or Comments, send your feedback to address below:
4 - FEATURE ARTICLE ~ by Eric V. Van Der Hope
Planning Is Necessary Before You Take The Plunge
by Eric V. Van Der Hope
Copyright © 2004 Saltwaterfishpets.com
You cannot underestimate the value of planning when it comes to starting a
Saltwater Fish / Reef Environment as a hobby . . .
There is simply nothing more important than that!
It's so easy to get excited about this wonderful hobby after seeing all the
beautiful fish and corals at your LFS (Local Fish Store). So it's no surprise
that many people, without any thought of taking one step at-a-time,
chase what they see. There are fish enthusiasts that found their way into
this hobby exactly this way . . . However, many of them discovered that
they could have spent less Money, less Time and less Effort if they simply
After the initial purchase is made, it's taken home and set up.
After a bit of
time has passed and more thought has been put into it, it's discovered that
there is inadequate lighting for the system. The filtration system would not
be large enough to sustain the specific marine environment preferred.
cause of inaccurate advice from a LFS employee, some expensive fish
were purchased, resulting in their dying almost immediately after being
troduced into the tank (so obviously the proper time for the tank to be
cled was not thought through).
Because of Poor Planning, this new fish hobbyist was doomed from the
There is a definite plan of action that has to be implemented
in this hobby.
First and foremost - how much money can you afford to put into
This one decision alone could be the deciding factor to start or not . . .
Anyone involved in this hobby must be well informed of what's
one opinion should be investigated from a good source but a couple. Getting
the same advice from reliable sources could be a start of a good decision
Do not be afraid to ask questions as the more you learn the more you can
put to good use.
Once enough thought is put into the size of the tank wished for,
where it should go. The location of the tank is very
important as some may
not fully realize . . .
The tank should be close to a water source. It also should not be
in the middle of a room if on a second floor or above (depending on size of
tank, saltwater is more dense than plain
water and with all the base rock,
live rock, sand, etc that's placed in the tank - it's very, very heavy). Proper
support is needed to withstand this. Placing a tank along a wall would be
a recommended if there is not proper support underneath the center of a
room or apartment.
Since there will be a need for energy to power filters, pumps,
etc, a proper power source is needed nearby. Also - the tank should not be
in direct sunlight.
Starting and then maintaining a stable saltwater fish/reef
a good amount of time, dedication and more importantly it will take patience.
You cannot haphazardly throw stuff together thinking everything
will be o.k
Without the proper steps, without the proper
investigation and research,
without the proper patience - will prevent the enjoyment of getting the
wards of a beautiful and colorful marine environment.
Once a decision is made on the setup that is desired - purchase the
sary components. Through investigation, research, and much thought - you
should have a good idea of where to 'shop'. In most cases you may already
know that you can probably get a better deal for a particular component from
a different dealer. That fine . . . This is important - do not
buy your supplies
without first finding out from the dealer if he
will agree to discounting the pur-
chase. In most cases, the LFS will agree to a substantial discount due in
part to acquire you as
a customer. So if you are going to buy a whole setup,
there should be a considerable mark-down . . . The dealer is benefiting from
your purchase no matter what - so barter and get
the price down! Also, look
for 'starter' packages that have
already been marked down. Never buy the
Now that everything has been purchased, assembling everything is next.
The next few mini-steps are essential to guarantee a successful start. Make
sure tank is level on the stand.
Install all your filters and pumps after rinsing
components. Prepare the water with the salt-mix you purchased. A good
thumb in mixing water/salt would be approx. 1.5 pounds of salt-mix
to 5 gallons of freshwater. Your specific gravity should be
around 1.022 to
1.025 (Don't try measuring the water until
everything is completely dissol-
ved). Start turning your pumps and filters
on to help circulate the saltwater
you've mixed once the
proper level has been reached in the aquarium (Do
not fill water to
the top level of tank since the sand, base rock, live rock or
other aqua-scaping still has not be put into the tank).
Add your substrate - sand, base rock, live rock, etc. The tank
water will be
cloudy, this is normal. Give it time to settle
down. The guidelines to the a-
mount of rock you chose to put into the tank can be generally said as being
1 to 2 pounds of live rock per gallon of aquarium capacity. However, much
base rock should be used to build a good foundation for the live rock to
on. Probably, the tank should be filled about a third of
the way with enough
space between for circulation of water currents.
Now 'seed' your tank. You've actually done this by putting
live rock into the
tank. However, to speed this process up, you can use other alternatives
such as live sand, other sources of bacterial growth such as filter media
from established tanks or anything else that has beneficial microbes in it
(The goal is to obtain this from healthy, long-established aquariums). Then
you may start using your lights to help promote growth. In order
to feed this
bacteria - you need a source of food or other
sources of ammonia . . .
You can use a couple of hardy damsels to provide a more lively
your tank instead of looking into an 'empty' tank.
The damsels are hardy fish
and should be the only fish you use to
get the tank 'seeded' and to begin
your tank 'cycle'. These fish
will help produce the needed ammonia from
their waste products. There are other ways to 'seed' the tank such as
ducing a raw shrimp or other scrap of raw fish. All of these will add
'cycle' of the tank by producing larger amounts of ammonia
into the system.
It's very important to wait for the 'cycle' of the tank to
complete before any-
thing else is added to your tank in the form of fish
or corals. Unnecessary
death to your fish pets could be
eliminated if you take time to wait for the
complete nitrogen cycle. This could take as fast as 3 weeks or up to 8
weeks to get established properly.
Once you have established your tank, slowly stock your tank and never add
too much at one time. Every time you introduce a new tank-mate - you've
begun another cycle where more ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are
duced which have effect on all fish and corals at different levels.
Once the tank is established, then there are steps necessary to
'Maintain' a balanced home for your fish pets which includes regular water
changes, the adding of nutrients and trace elements, the constant cleaning
of skimmer, regular cleaning of algae and so forth. Much of what you do
here, if taken care of regularly, will make the viewing of this beautiful marine
environment most enjoyable and also guarantee a high success rate of
keeping a high quality tank.
In summary, the following is strongly encouraged to help guarantee a
cessful and fulfilling start to this marine hobby.
It's important to know that these are just guidelines and not 'written in stone'.
There are variations to these steps - but if put into practice, these steps will
be an excellent stepping stool towards success.
1. Do your homework - Learn, investigate and implement
(Invest in some
good saltwater fish/reef keeping reference
books to get yourself educa-
ted with a proper foundation).
2. Affordability - How much are you willing to spend on this
need to project some figures so that you can
realistically know if this
is a good or bad idea to start in the
first place. There is the
of the tank setup and then
there will be costs on a regular
maintain your tank.
3. Develop a Plan of Action.
4. Decide on the type of setup you wish to take care of (Fish
and Invertebrate, Reef only, Reef/Fish
combination). The cost of the
system will vary depending on the
system that is chosen. For example,
the extreme lighting
needed for reef setups would be
unnecessary for a
Fish Only system (buying proper lights for a reef
tank is necessary for
the growth and survival of corals and tends
to be more expensive). Fil-
tration as well as other factors will set
the standards for how extensive
your setup will be and how much
planning ahead you will need to think
5. Placement/location of the tank (Once a tank is full - you
think of moving it! The tank, as well as tank
stand, will experience un-
stress and could easily crack, break or loose it's
- Tank should be near power source, water supply and out of
- It's also very important that if the tank is on a 2nd story or
proper support should be investigated. Do not
put a fish tank directly in
the middle of the room. It's
recommended that since there is more sup-
port along the walls of a room - this is the safest place for the tank to
be placed unless proper support is below.
6. Once you decide on your system - you know what
is needed to meet
of your tank. Purchase the necessary equipment ta-
considerable measures to make sure you get the best
price on all components.
7. Assemble tank, stand, components and other
8. Mix freshwater/salt-mix together. Turn on
pumps and filters to aide in
circulation and dissolving of salt-mix as well as the introduction of
oxygen into the water.
9. Add substrate - the sand, base rock, live
rock, etc. to the tank (This is
assuming that it's 'cured' live rock).
10. Begin the 'seeding' of your tank (Assuming that the
previous step did
include live sand or live rock, you must now introduce something
into the tank that will begin 'cycling' your
tank such as filter
an established tank. This will
beneficial microbes that will
help in the 'cycle' of your tank.
11. Add a source for the microbes to begin their 'job'.
Add a few hardy dam-
or a raw shrimp or other scrap of raw fish to introduce
monia into the tank.
12. Completion of a cycle can take up to 3 to 8 weeks to
finish. Only then
you think of introducing more fish or corals into your tank.
member, that each time you introduce a
new tank-mate -
sentially started another nitrogen
cycle. High level
of ammonia and Ni-
trites can be deadly for less hardy fish
13. After the tank is properly set up and is running smoothly, it's
cessity to test the water regularly until you have cycled
Even after the tank has been cycled - regular
testing must be imple-
mented. In order to do this properly you
must have the proper test
kits (Make sure the test kits are
not out of date!). Maintaining proper
levels of Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, pH, the Calcium levels and
Phosphate levels cannot be underestimated.
14. Once a decision is made on the type of system to maintain,
choosing of the inhabitants
of your future tank is most important. Not
all fish, Invertebrate and coral live in
harmony! Investigate what lives well
together and what does not. Then, proper steps can be implemented
introducing to a system even on what order the fish or corals are
introduced into the tank. Success of the tank also comes
down to the
of the inhabitants.
15. Setting up a tank is a large part of this hobby. However, it's
taining of this environment at
acceptable levels that will require regular
work and patience.
Maintenance does vary between systems, however
this one principle does not
differ in that all systems need a
to-speak. In other words, a regular
schedule of maintaining the tank
system should be and is the
16. Now that the tank is up and running - the easiest
part of this hobby
comes to fruition . . . Enjoying the splendor and
beauty of a tranquil
Eric V. Van Der Hope is the Publisher and Author of "The Reef & Saltwater
Fish Keeping Cheat Sheet" - A Newsletter For The Serious Reef Keeping
Saltwater Fish Hobbyist. His website is: http://www.saltwaterfishpets.com
and you can receive his Free Newsletter valued at $79.00
if you sign up now.
Discover Exactly How to Build A Perfect Aquatic Life Environment For
Marine Fish Pets . . . Without Having to Do It the Hard Way!" The latest
ject he is working on is a book entitled: "A
Practical Guide to Saltwater Reef
Keeping . . . Including Saltwater Fish Only Systems. Follow the steps to
sure proper planning of your fish pet home - from choosing the right
ium, placement of your tank to researching the potential cost in
a complete setup. Visit http://www.saltwaterfishpets.com
for further inform-
5 - THIS MONTH'S TIP ~ Problem With Algae . . . ?
Common sources of Algae growth can be . . .
1. Your lights - Make sure that you have fresh lights - you will see
able change in algae growth if you have old
lights that need replacement.
3. Your source water - Do not use non-purified tap water.
4. Inadequate skimming.
5. Nitrate problem? If there is unusual amounts of algae growth,
usually large amounts of nitrates in the water. If this
is the case - check
your filter media. There is a
variety of filter media that contributes to high
6. A good source of live rock should bring down your Nitrate levels and slow
down algae growth.
6 - ASK US
Do you have any questions about fish keeping? Contact me and
will do my
best to help you.
Send your email to:
7 - DISCLAIMER
Saltwaterfishpets disclaims any liability for the use of
any contributed infor-
mation contained in this newsletter. While I
will not knowingly publish ads
for questionable information, I
no responsibility for the legality or
accuracy of advertisements
or articles submitted and reprinted by permis-
Please use your own judgment and check out those that interest
you. It is
the contributor's and/or advertiser's
responsibility to abide by all pertinent
and regulations pertaining to their advertisements.
My subscriber list is confidential. You are a valued
and your legitimately private details will
never be sold,
rented or otherwise
made available to any other entity.
9 - CONTACT INFORMATION
Eric V. Van Der Hope
Publisher and Editor - 'The Reef &
Saltwater Fish Keeping Cheat Sheet'
Corporate Website: http://www.saltwaterfishpets.com
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