I went to a Pet store in Marysville, WA that has a lot of Salt Water aquariums and asked for advice. The article (referenced yesterday) mentioned that he had first tried 17 ppm salt- which is brackish at the high end with no survivors. Then in a different batch tried full salinity, and had survivors. He also talked about having “green water” with plankton to feed them. Clearly that is going to be required no matter what level of salinity is going to be used.
The woman at the Pet Store, who, I was told, was the most knowledgeable of all the employees talked with me almost an hour. She said that like in freshwater, things like algae just manage to start growing in salt water, but that it would be completely different species. I asked about using regular gravel (I was thinking about avoiding cycling issues), and in the course of the conversation, she told me that the bacterial base for salt water, again, like algae, is a completely different set of species.
It occurred to me that this may be one key ingredient that has prevented successful attempts.
She also said that regular gravel would not do- that it really needed to be a regular salt water media, like crushed coral, in order to buffer the pH properly. It occurred to me that this, too, might be an important consideration.
So some $70 later, I left the store with:
- 15 lbs of Florida crushed coral (smallest bag available- but at least 3 times what I needed)
- Instant Ocean- enough for 10 gals
- Hydrometer for measuring salinity
- Instant Ocean Bio-Spira bacteria- enough for 30 gals, but again, smallest amount available
- Brine Shrimp eggs (just in case these prove to be small enough for food.)
They had no live plankton of any kind. There were both phyto and zoo plankton products available, but all were dead.
I spent the better part of the evening trying to figure out a process and space arrangement. Finally I decided not to sacrifice the System 3 to salt. It was a hard decision, but in the end, I realized that if I had any success with these eggs, they will need a place to live… if I allow the bio-wheel to acclimate to the salt, then there will be a period of time when it is re-cycling to fresh.
The Pet Store woman suggest I email some aquariums to see if I could find anyone with information, so I spent 2-3 hours with a google listing of aquariums, and emailed 34 (+ about 5 that had web forms) aquariums throughout the United States asking if anyone had any information.
So this is the set up (next day-Feb 22, 2009)
- A small world 2 gal- with actually 2 gal-2 cups- totally salt- 30 ppm
- A jar that holds 10 cups- brackish*
- A small, small work that holds 7 cups- fresh water.
The next tank is brackish. I looked on the web for appropriate substrate, and found a nice site that said well washed play sand is appropriate. That felt right, and I had some left over from the goldfish ponds, so I rinsed it well, and it ends up being just under an inch.
The filtration is just a little trick I learned (more on this later) with a piece of pvc, a small portion of a bio sponge, and an airstone.
I tried to make this about 17 ppm, but am having some issues in measuring this- more on this later too.
Finally, this last one, a tiny- tiny small worls ($2.99 at a thrift sotre) holds 7 cups. This is just fresh water, with some live plant taken from the parent shrimp's tank today. It has a nice algal growth. This, my intention anyway, will be where I move Mom just before she sheds the eggs. I'm using another pvc filter. The wood you see is another piece of the same root that a larger portion of is in her home now. These shrimp love to have a perch where they can take advantage of the water flow. The gravel is from a recently dismanteled 10 gal, and should have a healthy bed of bacteria.