New to SW, I Want a Reef Tank!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by istrahd, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. istrahd

    istrahd

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    I bought a 125g Tank & stand from a friend for $150. It has a *can't think of the name* DooHickey to create a current in the water, a Filstar XP4 (which I just bought new filter media for ($103), I didn't want to use old stuff that was in it despite his assurances that it would be ok... The tank has been dry for months & the filter media were damp). It has an LED lighting system and what looks like a top-water skimmer that might be missing something, not sure... :frustrat:. I bought a used Oceanic Aquarium Chiller (Model 01501) from a LFS for $190.

    I want a Reef Tank I want to populate it with Corals & EVENTUALLY an Anenome to host a Clown fish or two. I have been told I should have the tank running with live critters for a minimum of 6 months before adding the anemone.

    Now for the stupid noob questions because I have gotten a different answer from every LFS employee I have met.

    I want to start my tank correctly as I have read countless horror stories of what happens when people rush into stocking a tank, don't cycle it completely or use inappropriate materials in setting up the tank. I want to do it right, from the start.

    I want fish that are :^: & :sfish:, NOT :death: and floating at the top or sitting on the bottom waiting to be lunch for the CUC...

    Can I use Any type of sand? :dunno: I have been told that I HAVE to or can use the following
    • Live Sand
    • "Dead Sand" by Caribsea (I think) ... almost as expensive as Live Sand and the only sand they had besides Live Sand
    • Regular sand you would use for a child's sand box
    • Sand from a Concrete company that I use for leveling where I set up my above ground pool
    What types of water Can I use?

    • Distilled Water in the one gallon jugs from Wal-Mart
    • Water that you buy in 5 gallon jugs for a Water Cooler
    • The water produced by RO & UV filtration from the Culligan Water machines at Wal-Mart to refill the 5 gallon jugs above
    • Well Water
    I know I am supposed to have 1lb of rock per gallon of water, Live Rock is $7/lb and Dry Rock is $4/lb. So, out of 125 lbs of needed rock, how much should be Live Rock? Would using Live Sand decrease the ratio of Live Rock to Dry Rock to start a tank cycling?


    I want to have an arch or two in my rocks and I am worried about stacking rocks as they may eventually slide and injure/kill some of my critters, or even worse shatter my tank! Can I use Gorilla Glue or some other adhesive to keep the rocks permanently attached to each other? I was told to use Clear Silicone but like the Gorilla Glue, I am afraid that it will leech out chemicals into the tank.


    After the tank has cycled, which I am reading all the different methods of cycling ATM, what would be a good & attractive 1st fish to put in the tank? I have been told to stay away from damsels as they will harass later tank-mates.


    What type of crabs won't eat the corals I want to put in the tank? LOL ARE there ANY crabs that won't eat the corals?


    What sort of tank cleaning critters should I start out with? How soon after the tank cycles should I add them?


    I want to get my sand, water & rock in the tank asap so I can get the tank cycling... The sooner I get it cycling, the sooner I can blow my budget stocking the tank... but I need answers to the probably moronic questions above.


    Thanks in advance! :bowdown:
     
    istrahd, Jun 29, 2013
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  2. istrahd

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    Answers are above in red. Welcome to the site!
     
    ErinCahir, Jun 29, 2013
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  3. istrahd

    chichimom79 reef junkie

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    Welcome aboard! Lots of great questions!
    The chiller might come in handy but since you are going to be running LED, it may have been unnecessary. What type of LED lighting is it?
    As far as I know, you want to stay away from play sand and commercial use sand. It can be full of silicates which will cause an algae bloom. Stick to the bagged sand made for reef tanks. Dry or live is fine. If you get dry, make sure you rinse it until the water runs clear. Adding live sand will not decrease your need for live rock. You want 1-2 lbs. of live rock per gallon. You can add all dry rock and it will all become live rock. For a tank as large as yours I'd add at least 25 lbs or so of good live rock to help along the dry rock. Rinse dry rock well before putting it in the tank. There are a lot of products people use to hold their live rock and corals in place. There is a reef safe putty type stuff, or you can use regular gel super glue. It will not leach anything into your water. Put your rock in the way you want and then add the sand around it to make the rock-work even more secure. Then start your cycle off by adding a raw piece of table shrimp.
    The most cost effective(eventually) water is to buy your own RO/DI unit and make it yourself. Well water and city tap water can have a lot of pollutants. I wouldn't use it. Distilled water from walmart is fine and most LFS sell water. I prefer to make my own. Hauling water is a pain and if you ever need to do an emergency water change, you have the means to do that at home. I got my unit from Bulk Reef Supply.
    Fish stocking is something you'll have to think about, but we can help. Do you have your heart set on any specific fish? Sometimes you have to stock according to your specific wants/needs. For example, I bought my tank used and it already had a pair of Maroon Clownfish in it, which are notoriously aggressive. I put them in a ten gallon temporarily so I could stock the tank and add them back last. You want to add the most aggressive on your list last so that the other fish have established territories and don't get bullied. When I put the clowns in the tank, they bullied two fish to death and were friendly with the other two fish. It doesn't always work. Aggressive fish are a risk.
    For clean up crew, I prefer mostly astraea, cerith and nassarius snails. I also have two brittlestars, a few emerald crabs and a skunk cleaner shrimp. I'm not a fan of hermits. They like to kill snails and each other it seems, though they don't bother corals.
    Good luck with your new hobby and good for you for doing all of this research before going head first into setting up the tank! :Cheers:
     
    chichimom79, Jun 29, 2013
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  4. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Thanks for all of the great answers, if anyone else wants to throw in their opinions, I will be checking & rechecking for updates to this post as I get ready to buy equipment and decorations.

    I was wrong, the lighting is not LED, It has some sort of fluorescent looking bulbs but I do NOT think they are fluorescent. The lights are white & blue. After thinking about the lights for a while, I remembered the seller telling me he had wanted LEDs and bought these instead. They are supposed to cycle from daylight to moonlight. As to what type they are I am not sure I could not find a model or part #. I do know he went on and on about "Top of the line... $1200 light system... blah blah, buy this please!!)

    I set the lights up on top of the tank and turned them on for a few minutes. One of the white & one of the blue turned on. It was pretty darn bright. They are supposed to have a light sensor that cycles the moonlight on and the daylights off. It had 2 120 volt plugs & a small transformer connected to the light hood. When I find my phone I will take pics of them running & off, I am sure one of you can tell me what they are, exactly *Or close to it, lol.

    As for buying the chiller/heater, my Living Room tends to get Very hot as I do not run the AC in the Kitchen & Living Room very often. I hang out in my "Man Cave" most of the time where my Recliner, "Hospital Bed" with a gel-infused Memory Foam Mattress, computers & flat screens & 47" 3D TV are... I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis & Osteoarthrits among other problems. One of my medications is a low-dose chemotherapy, so I stick to the Man Cave where its always chilly.

    I am not sure how much of what I was told about the tank & equipment was true and what was just a sales pitch... I got it from a friend of my brother who was in need of cash. Even if the equipment doesn't work, I feel like I got my money's worth in just the tank & stand! Not to mention having it delivered and not having to move it myself. Lifting something that heavy would have messed me up for days! Because of my health problems, I am under some pretty strict physical prohibitions against Lifting, pulling, bending, squatting, etc... Basically, I am lucky I can walk most days. But that is off-topic..
     
    istrahd, Jun 30, 2013
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  5. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Another stupid question or two...

    What does the DI in RO/DI stand for? I get the RO=Reverse Osmosis part. How important is the DI part of RO/DI.

    Would any of the 3, 4 or 5 stage RO filters be suitable? I have found a couple of 3-5 stage RO filters at Lowe's & of course, Wal-Mart for $150-250 that you run in-line with your tap (well in my case) water. I would rather not have to lug 125 One Gallon jugs home from the store!! Even if I used 5 gallon jugs, it would take 25 of them. More of a hassle than I care for...

    I would rather just buy a RO filter. Buying water by the gallon is about 90cents per gallon, so after taxes I would pay about $125 to fill the tank once... Why not buy the RO filter now, if that will be sufficient (as I said, I have no idea what the DI stands for). It just seems to make sense, money, time & gas wise to buy an RO Filter now...

    Oh, I went out to take a pic of the tank lights, both the white lights are now running and one of the blues... I will see if they change as ambient lighting changes. My phone's battery was too weak to turn the camera on so I will take some pics of what equipment I have in the morning.
     
    istrahd, Jun 30, 2013
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  6. istrahd

    chichimom79 reef junkie

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    The RO filtration gives you good drinking water but it is not at 0 TDS or Total Dissolved Solids. DI stands for Deionization. It is so pure that it is unsafe to drink after this stage. It is recommended to use this stage for the purposes we need. This is the unit I got. Most bang for the buck IMO. The inline TDS meter is indispensable. :)
    BRS 5 Stage PLUS RO/DI System - 75GPD - Bulk Reef Supply

    Oh! Also, since your lights are not LED, the chiller was a wise investment. They are probably T5 bulbs. Remember to get on a good schedule for bulb replacement to keep corals healthy and avoid algae blooms.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
    chichimom79, Jun 30, 2013
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  7. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Thanks for the link that is about the same price I was looking at for just a RO system.

    How fast are they on shipping? It is killing me staring at an empty tank, lol.

    I am about to upload the pics of what equipment came with it and the filtration media I picked up for the Filstar XP4.
     
    istrahd, Jun 30, 2013
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  8. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Okay here are the pics I have...
     

    Attached Files:

    istrahd, Jun 30, 2013
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  9. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Yes, the tank is sitting in front of a window. Bad for algae, I know. I am going to block the light coming in the bottom half of the window with a piece of styrofoam insulation and or put up "BlackOut" Curtains before I add anything to the tank.

    The 3rd & 4th pic are what I am assuming is a skimmer. I am going to take it with me to the LFS when I go to buy my rocks & sand.

    Unfortunately, there are NO hoses included in the filter box, and no screens or skimmers to attach them to, so I will have to purchase those as well. ROFL I know better than to just attach an inlet/outlet hose & shove them in the tank but I do not know what exactly should be on the ends. I don't want to suck crtitters through the pump/filter/chiller.

    The crusty looking current pump sitting next to the equally crusty hydrometer says it is a 1200 GPH flow rate. but it does not have the base to attach it to the side of the tank... Live & Learn. Don't trust the old, "It's all in the box." line...

    Can you tell what kind of lights I have? Bad Pic, I know... the glass covering them is rather crusty with salt as well. My Samsung Galaxy didn't like taking the pics pointed right at those lights...

    I will be ordering the RODI that Chichimom linked from BRS in the next day or so. Going to "window shop" there site and try to order everything I need at once to get the free shipping... and so I don't waste too many days waiting on the delivery of separate orders.

    Any recommendations on other equipment that I should acquire in the immediate future? near future? wishlist items... All suggestions & recommendations will be appreciated. Any suggestions on chemicals, testers, water conditioners, etc as in what brands NOT to use, which brands you use yourself, etc.

    Thanks.
     
    istrahd, Jun 30, 2013
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  10. istrahd

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    Alright... here's what I would do if it was me.

    The skimmer you have isn't a great one and canister filters aren't very good for saltwater. So I would sell those and the chiller (you really shouldn't need one) to your LFS and get yourself a quality skimmer. Reef Octopus makes some great ones.

    Do you have a sump?
     
    ErinCahir, Jun 30, 2013
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  11. istrahd

    istrahd

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    No, I don't have a sump. Honestly, not completely sure what its for & what to put into it.

    As far as the chiller goes, I do not run the AC in the Kitchen & LR, only in my Bedroom & Bathroom. It gets pretty hot out there in the Living Room where the tank is. I will check out the octopus skimmers on BRS, I am about to order the RO/DI that Chichi recommended...

    Thanks for the suggestions! LOL you want to explain the purpose & function of sumps?
     
    istrahd, Jul 1, 2013
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  12. istrahd

    salt_for_brains Alabama Reefer VIP Member

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    salt_for_brains, Jul 1, 2013
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  13. istrahd

    Greenman

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    That's where me and erin and others bump heads. I think using a Canister Filter is great! I do not use it the same way I would with fresh water though. I like to take a few bags and fill them with Carbon/Phosguard or PhosSorb and place them into the canister. Its a good way to get your water to cycle through the media.


    A Sump is really an advanced filter. Usually people use them to house the heaters/skimmers to make the display tank more appealing. You would usually put some kind of sand media and a macro algae inside the sump to eat the nitrates and improve overall water quality. It adds volume to your water so change in chems have a lower effect on your overall system. Another good thing is some of the critters you may want for a clean up crew will not play nice with corals. So putting them in the sump can make it so you can keep these guys and they help clean up stuff that comes passing by. People make them outa old aquariums. For example I have a 55g tank with a 20g sump (Made from a 20 gallon aquarium) you can find plans for them all over the internet and even this site has quite a few.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013
    Greenman, Jul 1, 2013
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  14. istrahd

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    I disagree with the sump being like a filter, but that's being very picky about wording.

    Many of us store our equipment in the sump (like Greenman said; heaters, skimmers) so they're not an eyesore in the display tank. You can also add a fuge section to your sump with macro algae and more rock (because more rock is always a good thing) to combat nitrates and phosphates. Also (like Greenman said) your sump can be used to hold critters that aren't playing nice with their tankmates.

    To the OP, I stand by my not using a canister. They're a lot of work to be useful in saltwater, and if you're not entirely mobile I wouldn't mess with it.
     
    ErinCahir, Jul 1, 2013
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  15. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Pretty good posts about sumps but it still doesn't answer my question as to what in the world you put IN the sump... Gave me pretty good idea of how to Build one, just not how to actually use it.

    What type of filtration media?

    What type of MacroAlgae?

    How small of a sump would be acceptable for a 125g tank? What would be recommended? What would be overkill?

    What the heck are BioBalls that he mentioned... I'm going to venture a guess that it is sort of Large Surface Area Filtration media like the "stars" that I have for my canister filter. (Trying not to be a smart@$$ or be a perv on that answer, lol)

    Anyone care to point me to a good thread or two on Refugiums that does a good job explaining them in detail? I have no clue what it is... I have read a few posts that mention some people place them in their sumps. Yet, I have no idea what it is for, what it does, what you put inside of it...

    I love to read & learn about things, I just hate sifting through all of the garbage posts and "Flame Wars" that have nothing to do with the topic of interest. If you know of one that helped you or would be good for a noob, please slap a link in a reply.
     
    istrahd, Jul 2, 2013
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  16. istrahd

    emmett0122

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    i will look around abd see what i can find for you
     
    emmett0122, Jul 2, 2013
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  17. istrahd

    emmett0122

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  18. istrahd

    istrahd

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    I just ordered my BRS 5 Stage PLUS RO/DI System - 75GPD - Bulk Reef Supply with a set of replacement filters. I am terrible about procrastinating, especially when it comes to spending money, LOL. So, I went ahead and ordered the replacement filters now so I do not wind up in an emergency run to the LFS for a truck load of Bottled RODI.

    As far as the Canister filter goes, seeing as I already spent $103 on filter media, I am going to use it for a while at least. Buying a new filter would cost me quite a bit at the moment and I've already spent $550+ and have yet to add a drop of water, grain of sand or salt or anything else yet, I'll put the money towards my live sand, live rock & dry rock so I can at least get the tank started cycling as soon as my RO/DI filter comes in.

    If I don't like the Canister Filter, I will upgrade later. I can already see all of my "disposable income" going to the tank as it is, so I will spare myself that expense for the moment.

    I have an idea or three about building a skimmer into a sump when I figure out what all else will go into it. Again, for now I will use the el cheapo that I have in hand and save up for a quality one from BRS, craigslist or Local Paper, etc.

    I've been working on designs for heat exchangers for solar water heating to heat the floors of my house, roofing etc, and to preheat/reheat water in my hot water tank. Would running my sump water through a copper coil affect my water quality? If not I can heat & chill my water for practically no electrical usage.

    I would like to thank EVERYONE who has replied so far and will reply for your help & suggestions. This has to be the most Noob-Friendly Board I have ever used on ANY TOPIC!! All of you have been kind and offered helpful advice or points to ponder. It is greatly appreciated on my part!

    :bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown:
    :bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown:
     
    istrahd, Jul 2, 2013
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  19. istrahd

    emmett0122

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    copper is a big no no as copper will kill inverts and corals
     
    emmett0122, Jul 2, 2013
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  20. istrahd

    istrahd

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    Okay, thanks! I am trying to figure out how NOT to kill my critters. Much better to figure it out beforehand than try to figure out why everything went belly up...

    I can make a heat exchanger out of the tubing used for the other stuff in the tank, but copper has a much higher heat exchange ratio. Glad I asked first. Not only would it have killed critters, it is also expensive.

    I had a sneaking suspicion that it may leech things into or out of the water or been dangerous in some other way.

    Also, that link on Fuges was helpful. I like the idea of using mangroves, as well.

    What other live plants besides can be used in a reef tank?

    Something else that I was wondering about and have not seen mentioned anywhere, what about oxygenation of the water? I haven't seen the old Freshwater style air pump & bubble stones in any SW tanks.

    I have seen something about C02 being added to tanks... anyone care to share their thoughts on Oxygenation or the use of C02?
     
    istrahd, Jul 2, 2013
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