With the transparency, its pretty straightforward. In your Attributes editor under 'lambert' (or whatever shader you choose) set the transparency to 3 qtrs (near white).
As for fluids. Go to 3daliens.com.
They have a cool plugin for Maya, that creates realistic fluids. Check it out. They have a demo version, which means the fluid wont show up when you batch render but still will when you render images.
Im using it. I want the full version but its like 400 something and has a few bugs. Coz its built for 3DSMAX. For Maya, its not as good or indepth.
those who succeed are only the failures that never gave up.