Newbie with questions. (of course :) )

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by MalR, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. MalR

    MalR

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    Hi All!
    I'm currently in the research phase of converting my 29 gal freshwater tank to a reef tank. The tank has been empty a couple of years (lots of moving, thank you military) so I'm basically starting with a new tank. I've done freshwater for 15 years or so but I know basically zip about saltwater. I've been researching the last couple of weeks and am thinking I'd like to do a reef with live sand and live rock to start with the cycling process. I plan on letting the tank do a longish cycle (8 weeks or so) before I start adding critters...

    I'm a little confused about the filtration required. I've heard that a biowheel filter coupled with the live sand should be fine, but then I've also heard that the biowheel can cause nitrate problems. Is the biowheel really just a preference type thing?

    Lighting is another thing I'm a little confused about. I know specialty lighting will be needed for corals, with my freshwater tank I used the lighting hood that came with the tank and just used full spectrum plant lights. Can I do the same thing with a reef tank, and just use reef specific bulbs?

    As far as rock goes. Is it better to start out with all live sand or rock, or start with some live stuff and some dry stuff? With the long cycle I plan on doing will dry rock become live?

    I appreciate whatever guidance you guys can give me, I'm excited about getting into this, but it seems like there's a lot of conflicting information out there!
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  2. MalR

    SarahSmile :)

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    Hi Mal and welcome to saltwater! You don't need filtration on 29, regular water changes will handle it so don't worry about using a biowheel.
    You will most likely have to buy a new hood, most stock hoods do not support the wattage needed for corals. You'll need leds or t-5s. Lots of nice cheaper options out there.
     
    SarahSmile, Aug 5, 2012
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  3. MalR

    MalR

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    Is there a site you would recommend ordering a light from?
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  4. MalR

    SarahSmile :)

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    I got my marineland reef leds off of ebay. Love them. Have had them about a year now. I know a lot of people recommend the odessa t-5s, cheap way to do t-5s. I found them back when I was light shopping on ebay and amazon. It's up to you what sort of look you are going for and what your budget is. You can spend $100 on lights, you can spend $700. It's all up to you.
     
    SarahSmile, Aug 5, 2012
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  5. MalR

    SarahSmile :)

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    Your cycle probably will not take 8 weeks, do you have a good liquid water testing kit? For rock, grab some good local live rock and do dry for the rest. Marco rocks and bulk reef supply both have great dry rock.
     
    SarahSmile, Aug 5, 2012
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  6. MalR

    MalR

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    If I can get decent quality for less, I'd much rather do that! I'll look into the odessa t5's....Thank you!
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  7. MalR

    MalR

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    Local live rock may not be an option here. I've been to a couple locally owned fish places and was way less than impressed. Lots of sick/dying animals and WAY spendy. I've been looking at the stuff on Drs Foster and Smith, I'm just not sure about it quality-wise.
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  8. MalR

    MalR

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    And no testing kit yet. That's another thing I need to look into.
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  9. MalR

    SarahSmile :)

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    ooooh, yeah, testing kit is the most important. Make sure you get a liquid one, not the testing strips.
    local live rock is best, less die off during shipping. But, that is totally up to you. For a 29 a couple of pieces should do it. For my 14 gallon I grabbed a couple of pieces from Petco and it turned out great. Lots of coraline algae.
     
    SarahSmile, Aug 5, 2012
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  10. MalR

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    Sarah has you covered. Welcome to the site!!
     
    ErinCahir, Aug 5, 2012
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  11. MalR

    MalR

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    Actually, I was going to ask about petco! Lol. The petco here actually has really good looking stock. Normally I prefer to shop small business but I may have to do big box or online here. So, should I get a couple pieces of live rock and then do some dry rock too?
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  12. MalR

    MalR

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    I'm so happy to have someone breaking this down for me :D I've been muddling around online and it was just confusing me lol
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  13. MalR

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    :disclaimer: I worked for Petco for a couple years a long time ago. Our store was always amazing (because I was there... haha). It really varies store to store. If it looks like they have happy, healthy stock, go for it.
     
    ErinCahir, Aug 5, 2012
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  14. MalR

    Waddi Shenanigans? VIP Member

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    Yep, you ca split it half and half, being dry rock is cheaper, its better than getting most Dry instead of dishing out the full LR price. Everyone has you covered.

    But just to add something else, its not really good to use tap water, you wanna look into RO/DI unit, or even your local store that sells those blue water bottles, or the filler for that, if ya know what I mean.
     
    Waddi, Aug 5, 2012
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  15. MalR

    MalR

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    Erin, I've noticed that about petco. There are some that I would NEVER buy animals from, and some that look like they really take care of their critters. I guess it's like that with every other store too though :)

    Waddi, yup, I know what you're talking about! We live on base and the water here sucks, to put it bluntly. I was thinking about buying filtered water, I just need to find out where to get it here. We've only been in state a few months. It's a bummer, 'cause if we were back in my home state I'd know EXACTLY where to go to get everything I need.

    For (yet) another question, what type of power head should I look into. Like with everything else it seems there's lots of options.....
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  16. MalR

    Waddi Shenanigans? VIP Member

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    I would go for a Koralia Evo 750 and a 450 for your tank. In my 32 I had a 750gph + 1050gph. IMO it was just a little too much, causing sandstorms until I got the placement right.
    You want roughly 30-60 times your volume turnover an hour.


    As for a RO/DI unit, I cant remember the good sites for America, due to me not living there! :p
    This is the only one I know people from here have recommended:

    The Filter Guys
     
    Waddi, Aug 5, 2012
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  17. MalR

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Hello!
    Like the others, I agree to pass on the biowheel. They are more work than they are worth, since you have to keep them clean in order to prevent your nitrates from going up. Why give yourself more to do? With a 29 gallon tank, regular water changes of 10% to 20% of the tank's volume weekly should do the trick.

    If you do not buy your own RODI unit, you can buy water at any grocery store or Walmart. Get RO (reverse osmosis) or distilled water. Buying your own RODI unit will cost you around $140, and although it pays for itself eventually, that's a pretty big upfront cost for a small tank.

    Sarah is also right about the lighting -- your standard freshwater hood will not be sufficient to keep a reef tank. You will have to buy a marine specific lighting fixture for corals.
     
    Bifferwine, Aug 5, 2012
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  18. MalR

    MalR

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    Thanks Waddi, I was actually eyeing up that power head on drs foster and smith.... I going to go ahead and order it I think, since they're doing a sale....

    Hi Bifferwine :)
    I think I'm just going to buy water. If I was doing a big set up I'd get a RODI but I don't see much sense in that for a smaller tank. I'm actually toying with buying pre-mixed salt water for the initial set up, then start mixing my own when I start doing water changes....Or keep buying pre-mixed depending on cost...decisions,decisions....
    Thanks again everybody for your input, it's much appreciated!
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  19. MalR

    MalR

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    Oh, and what type of liquid testing kit would be recommended? I've seen some master kits out there, would one of those suffice?
     
    MalR, Aug 5, 2012
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  20. MalR

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    The API test kits are good to start with -- they are affordable and decently accurate (meaning, there are easier and more accurate test kits out there, but you will spend more on them, and I think that's more than what you need in the beginning).

    The basics you will be testing for are:

    pH
    ammonia
    nitrite
    nitrate

    You will also need a thermometer (I prefer the old fashioned kind with the red alcohol in them vs. the digital or temp sensitive plastic strip ones) and a refractometer (for measuring salinity). Refractometers are more expensive than hydrometers (the plastic swing-arm types) but hydrometers are not accurate and need to be replaced every 6 months or so. You will save money on the refractometer in the end (they cost about $30 to $40).
     
    Bifferwine, Aug 5, 2012
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