Getting back into saltwater tanks after a few years

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    There's some new things I don't completely understand. For example, the last time I set up a saltwater tank there were no LED lighting systems and now they're all over.

    I have a few questions, but first let me explain my plan:

    I am thinking about getting a mid-size hexagonal tank (maybe 35 gallons) and stacking live rock in a pyramid shape in the center. My ideal setup will have relatively little equipment within view. The only things that may be attach to the tank will be a protein skimmer and a small heater.

    I plan to use LED clip-on lighting for the lights and have found some nice LED lighting for a good price that has both night and day settings which I like. My first question is what does it mean when the wattage isn't displayed? Sometimes it says it is "suitable for aquatic plants" and stuff. I'm not looking to grow coral or anemones right away. I plan to start with live rock and a couple clown fish with a bunch of inverts like a crab and a couple shrimp and some snails. Obviously, after the tank has been properly cycled.

    So to avoid hanging other things on the tank I am thinking about a 3-stage canister filter system that will sit on a shelf below the actual tank. I could use a recommendation for a good canister filter that is also cheap. So let me know if any of you have suggestions.

    Other than this stuff (tank, protein skimmer, canister filter, LED lighting) I won't be using any other equipment. Should this be sufficient for what I'm trying to do?

    I plan to use about an inch and a half of pure white live sand and then stacking approx. 40lbs of live rock in the center. Eventually I plan to add some things like anemones and soft corals but I would certainly need to upgrade the lighting for that...and clip on lighting is so hard to find for some reason.

    Anyway, a couple more questions if you don't mind:

    1. What sort of plants and other inverts can I put into the tank with a "7500k" LED light? What does that translate to? How much should I factor on spending for a good clip-on lighting system for the tank later on?
    2. I have a Petco nearby that has all the rock and sand I will need at good prices and a friend works there so he gets a discount and can toss in a little extra for me. Should i get any nice saltwater plants to start out? I was thinking some kind of green kale or something in the back of the tank just for some initial color....but will cycling the tank hurt that?
    3. What should I use for water? I have city water with flouride and other things I'm sure. Is it safe to just boil this or should I go to the store and buy some spring water by the gallon to mix up? What's the best choice for water now?
    4. Any other comments about my proposed setup?
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  2. cvcdrk

    kevdogg

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    Make sure to start a build thread! :mrgreen: Pics are always appreciated.
     
    kevdogg, Jun 5, 2012
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  3. cvcdrk

    kevdogg

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    So lime green wasn't a good idea, sorry.
     
    kevdogg, Jun 5, 2012
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  4. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    What does RODI stand for?

    If not for the canister, what do you recommend for a filter? I definitely want a 3-stage system that is easy to clean and maintain and also has good outflow (I plan to use the filter as the only circulation for at least awhile).

    I like the idea of powerheads and circulation from them but I don't want that crap all over the back of the tank. I suppose it wouldn't be too bad if I am forced to use a hanging filter anyway.
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  5. cvcdrk

    kevdogg

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    Hope blue is a better color.
     
    kevdogg, Jun 5, 2012
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  6. cvcdrk

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    You don't need a filter for a tank that size. Like Kevdogg says, as long as you have a good amount of rock (1 to 2 lbs per gallon) and you are doing 10% to 20% water changes per week, you don't need filters.

    Kevdogg also mentioned that canister and HOB filters can actually lead to poorer water quality in saltwater. He's right about that too. :)

    If you don't want so much clutter on the back of the tank, don't have any filters. They aren't needed on small tanks. One or two powerheads on the back of the tank take up a lot less space than a filter does.
     
    Bifferwine, Jun 5, 2012
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  7. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    This is the first time I've heard of not using a filter. I feel as though that would be a pretty advanced thing to do...or am I wrong?

    I think it sounds like a good idea....should I get some more live rock if I'm going to do this? I was figuring on about 40lb. in a 35ish gallon tank....should I maybe get like 50lb? Will there even be any room in the tank if I get that much, I wonder?
    haha
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  8. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    Also, how much lighting do I need? Lighting is something I am just not familiar with. Could someone link me to a good clip-on lighting system and tell me which bulbs I need? I would like to start the tank off with the amount of light I will need later on for corals (hard and soft) and anenomes even though it could be a year or more before I add those to the tank.

    I understand I need both blue and white bulbs. Are there any good clip-on lamps that I can customize the settings and stuff for?
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  9. cvcdrk

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Generally filters are not very useful in saltwater. Protein skimmers are great and are preferable to any type of filter. If you are going to get anything to clean your water, get a protein skimmer. Fish use the rocks as their habitat. They do not generally swim in open water. The more open water you have in your tank, the more that space is wasted. If you add a sufficient amount of rocks, the fish will use all that space, as they prefer to hug the rocks for protection.
     
    Bifferwine, Jun 5, 2012
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  10. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    Interesting info. Thanks!

    Do you have any insight on where I could get reverse osmosis water? Is that something I order online? What kind of salt do you recommend?
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  11. cvcdrk

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    The cheapest and easiest way is to buy your own RODI unit. It hooks up underneath your kitchen sink. They cost around $125 and up. Bulk Reef Supply is a good place to get them.

    You can also buy RODI water from the grocery store or Walmart, but that will cost you more than making your own and you will have to lug it home.

    Fish stores also sell it, but that's probably going to be the most expensive option.

    I like Oceanic salt the best, but you can really use any kind.
     
    Bifferwine, Jun 5, 2012
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  12. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    Another question....may be a stupid one:

    As I said I had a saltwater tank at my parents a few years ago that went pretty well. It was a 55gal tank but only had like 25lbs of live rock in it and about 30lb of live sand. When I took the tank down and threw it out I put the rock into an old 10 gal tank from the basement. It's been there ever since.
    Obviously this rock is completely dead but would it be safe to use it by scrubbing it well and soaking it overnight and then putting it in with some live rock I purchase? That would save me some dollars for sure.
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  13. cvcdrk

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Yep, you can re-use it. I would scrub it like you said and hose it off. I don't think soaking it is necessary, though.

    One thing though -- if you ever used any copper based medications in the old tank, the rock is not re-usable. Copper will soak into the rocks and is fatal to inverts when it leaches out over time after it has been put back in water.
     
    Bifferwine, Jun 5, 2012
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  14. cvcdrk

    kevdogg

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    Another thing to consider is buying more dry rock. Then seeding it with a piece of live, this will reduce your cost further. I would also buy dry, dead sand. The live sand is a wast of money, the live rock (LR) will provide the initial bacteria and turn it live pretty quickly!
     
    kevdogg, Jun 5, 2012
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  15. cvcdrk

    Smitty

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    They've got you covered...welcome to the site.
     
    Smitty, Jun 5, 2012
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  16. cvcdrk

    little_fish Moderator

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    Hello and Welcome

    +1 everyone
     
    little_fish, Jun 5, 2012
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  17. cvcdrk

    first_time_reefer

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    One question I saw know one clearly answered. The recommended amount of LR is 1.5-2 pounds per gallon. Depending on how porous the rock is.
     
    first_time_reefer, Jun 5, 2012
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  18. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    I read your whole topic with your 29gal reef tank and am duely impressed! i hope in a couple of years this tank will be half as nice.
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  19. cvcdrk

    cvcdrk

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    Ok so I plan to go to my LFS tonight and pick up the following supplies to get started:
    Approx. 50lbs of live rock
    Approx. 30lbs of regular sand.
    Tank - Either 29gal or 35gal depending on what I like. I would prefer a tank without a frame because I think they look nicer but if they don't have it I'll settle for a black frame and just clean it a lot.
    Protein Skimmer - Everything I've read has said this is crucial even in the beginning.

    I'll set the tank up tonight (and post pictures of course...plan on starting a new topic for that) and let it start its cycle. The LFS keeps their live rock in an established aquarium and it is within wlaking distance (although I will drive the one minute to get there) to my apartment, so I think the tank should cycle quickly with little die off.

    I am figuring on the initial cost to be about $350, but am hoping to get out for less.

    Because during the cycling process I don't want an algea bloom I won't be using any lighting for awhile so I figured I'll wait to purchase a good clip on lamp......still searching for one if anyone has any idea. I would prefer a 6-bulb setup where the blue lights can stay on all the time and the white can be put on a timer...but i don't know if this sort of fixture exists. If I have to mount one above the tank on some L-brackets I will do so but I'm not crazy about the idea.
     
    cvcdrk, Jun 5, 2012
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  20. cvcdrk

    little_fish Moderator

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    If you want to save money, you can buy dry rock and then just once piece of live rock. This will keep a whole lot more money in your pocket for the fun stuff. I suggest checking out MarcoRocks Aquarium Products that is my favorite place to buy dry rocks. You will have a longer cycle, but that will give you more time to do research which is always a good thing.

    I have only once ever seen a quality skimmer for sale at a LFS and the markup was just crazy. So I would do some research on them and then find a good, cheaper one online. But, do keep in mind that a small tank can run just fine without one.

    For a small tank like you are looking for, i suggest checking out the marineland reef capable lights. They are a great LED fixture for small tanks.
     
    little_fish, Jun 5, 2012
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