Where to begin......

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by 613ReefGuy, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. 613ReefGuy

    613ReefGuy

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    Hi everyone, My girlfriend and I have decided that we both really enjoy the look of a salt water tank. I am more about the coral and rock, while she enjoys the fish (I am not that boring, I do enjoy the fish also, I just really like the look of a tank filled with everything).

    So it was boxing day when we made the decision that we were going to attempt a 120 gallon tank. We dropped this heavily after realizing the costs involved with getting started, and I didnt want to risk the money without being confident we could do it.

    We started with some live rock in a 15 gallon tank. We didnt have a glass top, and the salt levels were through the roof......we killed all but one hermit crab, and none of our turbo snails lived :( We began to get discouraged as we have both been reading all kinds of different information and we cant seem to get a set answer from our LFS. This past weekend I asked her if she wanted to keep moving forward, and if so we should step it up to her 65 gallon tank that she had, and we would learn how to use the 15 gallon as a sump.

    The 65 is now set up on a metal stand, and we have added some additional live rock (approx.25 lbs now).

    I am really torn right now after doing some reading tonight. Should I just go all out and go buy the 120 Gallon before I get to dedicated to this 65 Gallon (Oh by the way, she says its 65, but I swear I only measured 50 when adding the water.) From what I read the 65 (50?) would be a sufficient tank for a sump, and I have now seen some much cheaper DYI stands that I could easily turn into something nice as I come from hardwood flooring sanding.

    What are your guys thoughts? Should I not get carried away and keep things simple, or just go all out for the 120 Gallon?

    Before I make that final decision, has anyone here had to break down their tank to move. How did that go? I picture us getting a 120 tank finally set up and building it up over a year and a half to only turn around and move somewhere else. Can this be a relatively painless procedure, or do I risk killing everything?

    If at all possible I would like to use this thread for all of my problems and questions. My first question would be.....What the heck is a Fuge?

    I can use the old 15 gallon and turn that into a sump should you all advise that i stick with the 65(50?). I plan on buying a Coralife super skimmer, but the rest of the sump makes no sense to me at all. I do know from readings that I dont want to mess around with bio balls, but I would like to include a U.V sterilizer. I was thinking of Coralife turbo-twist 9w. Could someone please post a link that you may know of that will help me come up with a proper design, while explaining what individual compartments do? If I use the tank that is full right now I unfortunately cannot do a nice plumbing set up that I saw someone named lilreefgirl do. I could do this on the 120 tank though, but in the meantime I guess I need to focus on a HOB or something like that?

    Would really appreciate all of your knowledge guys and gals. I am ready to build the sump any day, so that we can confidently continue add some more live rock, and eventually be able to send in the cleaning crew.

    Thank you very much everyone
     
    613ReefGuy, Feb 8, 2011
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  2. 613ReefGuy

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    Welcome to the site (again).

    A fuge is basically a place for you to grow macro algae like chaeto, which would remove nitrates and phosphates from your water. It is also a place for pods (copepods and amphipods) to reproduce, which would provide food to many inhabitants of your tank.
     
    ErinCahir, Feb 8, 2011
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  3. 613ReefGuy

    Ulta REEFER

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    First, you should decide 120 or 50/60g...

    The main difference is going to be start up costs... adequate lights for a 55g are from $150-200 while adequate lights for a 120g are gonna be $300-500 prolly. (assuming you want corals)

    Same kinda deal with a skimmer.

    and live rock & Sand, gonna need 2x as much.

    etc etc...

    The difference in Livestock is: You can't have some of the larger reef safe fish such as Tangs in the 55g, but you can have most any of the larger fish in a 120g.

    Once you decide what way to go we can help you further :)
     
    Ulta, Feb 8, 2011
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  4. 613ReefGuy

    PRC Stop Quoting Me!

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    The part of your post that is sticking with me is the possibility of moving...It's much easier to use a 50-65g tank than it is a 120g. If there's a possibility that you may move, I'd start with the 50-65g tank.

    That will give you enough time to make sure the hobby is right for you. If you still enjoy it in a year. You can upgrade the tank when you move.

    To answer your question, I just moved a 180g tank. It's not terribly difficult if done properly. But it can be stressful.

    In regard to a 15g sump...I don't know if it would be big enough to hold all of your equipment.

    As far as the skimmer, take a look at the Reef Octopus brand...They have a much better reputation for a quality skimmer.

    You question about what does a sump do? It essentially gives you an area to "house" all of the necessary equipment to run the display tank. Heaters, skimmers, etc.

    A sump is divided into 3 sections typically. 1 Section holds the skimmer, the middle section can hold anything from live rock, miracle mud, chaeto, and it provides a "calming area" for the water before it gets to the return pump....because the water comes into the sump at a X gph...it can cause "microbubbles" to go into the tank...Microbubbles are annoying....it keeps the water from looking crystal clear.

    Then the water moves through the middled section, and into the "return area" where the return pump sends it back to the display tank.

    And the whole process starts over. It's the most common form of filtration used in keeping reefs.
     
    PRC, Feb 8, 2011
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    little_fish Moderator

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    Hi!

    Also you are going to need more rock than you have in there currently, you want 1-2 lbs per gallon. But dont freak out, you dont have to buy all live rock. You can add dry base rock which is much cheaper and it will become live in no time.

    I also suggest that you stick with the 65 until you know you want to stay in the hobby, and then ugrade when you move.

    Also the sump doesnt need to be a glass tank, you can use a rubber tub as well, which would give you a little more room for "stuff" than a 15 gal tank.


    Also it sounds like we need to talk through some of your older issues with the 15 gal. Do you want to share them so we can help you avoid those common mistakes?

    Also LFS are notorious being unhelpful or giving misleading information.
     
    little_fish, Feb 8, 2011
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  6. 613ReefGuy

    dcantucson

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    Go with the 120 gallon if you are serious about doing this. It will give you more room to grow and will be less confining.

    You are wise to think about adding a UV Light, but a 9 watt won't be near enough for that size of tank.
     
    dcantucson, Feb 8, 2011
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    Pwny

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    look at what fish you want (about 1 fish per 10 gal) and how much you want to spend. look at diy fourm, a sump/fuge cobmbo is amazing for saltwater tanks
     
    Pwny, Feb 8, 2011
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  8. 613ReefGuy

    coolhandgoose

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    Don't forget the most important investment, an RO/DI unit.

    Also you said your salt levels went through the roof because you didn't have a lid???? Most of us don't use lids because we want to keep gas exchange levels, but when you lose water due to evaporation, you need to top it off with FRESH water not salt water, that could be why your levels got so high.
     
    coolhandgoose, Feb 8, 2011
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  9. 613ReefGuy

    613ReefGuy

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    Wow, thank you for all the replies everyone. I really like that this forum is this active, especially for a noob like myself, so thank you for taking the time. I appreciate that very much.

    I finally took the actual measurements and low and behold.....she won the battle and it is in fact a 65 gallon tank.

    You have all raised some very good points, and I believe that we will test things out with the 65 gallon for now. Should we buy a home, I will just make it a slow move and set up a 120 or larger tank immediately upon possesion. This way I have a tank that will be ready in a few weeks to properly transfer everything into. As much as I like the go big or go home attitude.....the bigger budget might sting a little right now.

    So I guess my first questions would be, would a 15 gallon tank be sufficient to use as a sump? And is there a basic design I should follow? I have seen different setups, and I think I prefer the setup where the water runs from the "Fuge"? into the return pump area at a low level to prevent the micro bubbles.

    The information I have read says that the 9w UV sterillizer I had listed would be sufficient for a 65 gallon, is that not correct? Thoughts on using equipment sufficient for a 120 Gallon, on this 65 so that I dont have to buy things all over again?

    The salt levels were through the roof on the old 15 gallon tank, this was primarily my fault, as I assumed that all water top ups should be mixed with more salt. We did say the heck with it and started toping up with just fresh water....So one crab appears to have lived :( Knowing this now, I will not top up with mixed water again, thank you.



    Quick temporary question. Our filter is gathering a lot of crap on it.......because we didnt rinse our Aragonite? All the little pieces are getting clogged at the filters intake.....how can I disconnect this to rinse it, without losing the suction and just having everything loose in the tank again. Very noob, I am sorry.

    Thank you once again everyone. You all have some amazing pictures, and I hope that my girlfriend and I can get our tank there sometime.

    All the best
     
    613ReefGuy, Feb 8, 2011
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  10. 613ReefGuy

    Pwny

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    a 15 sould be alright ive seen people do it in a 10 just make sure to draw out plans first to make sure evrything fits.

    as far as a uv staralizer make sure its right for the setup you want. They kill Good things with the bad in saltwater. if you plan on puting pods in your fuge and you put a uv on the return your just going to kill the pods befor they get into your tank. but just somthing for you to think about, some people use them outhers dont.
     
    Pwny, Feb 8, 2011
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  11. 613ReefGuy

    Aquatic

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    If you want to save some money, go with the 65 gallon setup. Make sure you ask tons of questions and do some research online, with the lfs, by reading books, so you're up to date on taking care of an enclosed system like this.

    You will want about 1-2 lbs of live rock per gallon. If you really want to save money, you can buy a small amount of live rock and put the rest in as dry rock. The dry rock will eventually become seeded and turn live.

    Make sure that your PH stays at around 8 with your Salinity being around 1.025. Keep the temperature at a nice 80 degrees but even if the tank was 81/82 degrees, it wouldn't kill the tank. Just make sure the temperature doesn't fluctuate in high ammounts.

    Your filter is going to be the live sand/live rock that you use. You can also save money on sand by buying dry sand as well. The sand will eventually turn live as it gets seeded.

    Do some research into Reef Octopus skimmers as i've heard they are a really good brand to use! They have hang on back versions as well.

    You have to make sure to keep an eye on your salinity. If it gets too high, add some fresh water (Not Tap). If it gets too low, add more salt. Make sure to use RODI water and or Distilled water. Tap water is filled with impurities and will cause all sorts of algae blooms in your tank. Trying to use a conditioner for tap water is a no go either.

    Also to consider if you were to move in the future, having a smaller tank will take a little bit of the hassle out of trying to move everything so that's one thing to keep in mind.

    As far as plumbing from the tank to the sump goes, i've seen some cool HOB fixtures that has plumbing that goes straight down which you can hook it up to your sump so it would rid the hassle of drilling into the tank to get some plumbing done.

    Hope any of this helps!

    By the way, I posted this then noticed you had another post already up. What kind of filter do you use?
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
    Aquatic, Feb 8, 2011
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  12. 613ReefGuy

    Ulta REEFER

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    I don't know what kind of filter you have on there but its prolly gonna take a while to clear up your water >_<!
    (Take it apart rinse it out well and get it running again)

    Yeah I did the same thing in my Aquapod when I started (didn't rinse the sand) it was cloudy for days and I had corals in there! >_<
    What I did was hook up my canister filter to it and ran that for a few hours and the water cleared right up!

    Oh and btw,
    You DON'T NEED a UV Sterilizer... My tank(s) has been running for a year and has never seen a UV sterilizer.
    I would just do with what you have for now that should be the least of your worries ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
    Ulta, Feb 8, 2011
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  13. 613ReefGuy

    613ReefGuy

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    Ok, so this is all conditioned tap water......LFS said it would be fine, damn it!

    The filter we are running right now is a Marineland Penguin 350 BioWheel.

    I am off work for the next couple of days, so if anyone knows a thread to an efficient HOB sump set up, I wouldnt mind getting started on that to keep me busy.

    As for dry rock vs. live rock....I called my LFS and they only sell live rock, can dry rock be shipped, and with the weight of it is the extra shipping cost really worth it?

    Quick tip if you can, How the heck can I get my blue backing to stick on properly with no bubbles. You guys all paint your tanks dont you? Is there a good way to make this stick? I had it nice and perfectly smooth using a old debit card, before I added water to the tank so that I could rest it in place before filling it with water. Once I filled it it just started to let go and start to bubble. Minor thing, but it does bug me.

    My main thing right now is a good design for the sump. I want to get the water right, and then add the lights and live rock if possible.


    As to someone mentioning UV sterilizer, can this be attached as the water comes down, then into skimmer, so that Fuge water stabilizes and stays the same going back into the tank without anything being killed by UV?
     
    613ReefGuy, Feb 8, 2011
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  14. 613ReefGuy

    Aquatic

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    Hopefully some other people can chime in with some good sites but there are some websites that sell dry rock.

    As far as your filter, I wouldn't use it. Keep it for if your tank gets all sort of gunk floating around. The filter will help clear that gunk. Other than that, I think the filter will be a detritus trap which could break down and turn into harmful chemicals. If you do use it, make sure to clean it often!

    I can't find any HOB fixtures that lead to a sump but it could very well be a cool DIY project. I just saw a picture of it before. It was a HOB fixture with a vertical pvp pipe going down from it and into the guys stand to where his sump was. I thought it was genius.
     
    Aquatic, Feb 8, 2011
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  15. 613ReefGuy

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    ErinCahir, Feb 8, 2011
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  16. 613ReefGuy

    little_fish Moderator

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    Another place to get dry rocks is:

    Live Rock - Tampa Bay Saltwater Aquacultured Live Rock


    And i think you are going to save yourself a TON of money by ordering dry, even with shipping costs. Plus most of these places have free shipping.



    Also ditch the filter, its going to cause more heart ache then its worth if you dont clean it every 3 or 4 days.

    Also, i would switch to RO/DI water immediatly. Using tap can cause all sort of algae blooms, and it contains metals, like copper, that are deadly to inverts. That might be what killed all your inverts earlier, not just the high salt content.

    I think you should read this:
    https://www.livingreefs.com/water-chemistry-t31270.html

    I think it will answer a lot of the questions you have.
     
    little_fish, Feb 8, 2011
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  17. 613ReefGuy

    613ReefGuy

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    Hey guys, thanks for the responses.

    I think I have made a decision on moving forward with the 65 Gallon, but I am going to go buy a 120 to start setting it up. I want to give myself some time to work on plumbing on the bigger tank, and after doing reading on dry rock, and seeing some of the aquascapes people can create.......Well now I am wanting to become more of an enthusiast, and go all out. I'd like to get the 65 Gallon stable, while setting up my aquascape on the larger tank. I have seen some walls, shelves and boxes that you can make from rubble dry rock and the right adhesive. I really like the way it looks.

    As for the 65 Gallon, I should kill the filter completely? As in never turn it on? How long does this give me to get the sump ready, or at this point does it really not matter at all?

    Thank you
     
    613ReefGuy, Feb 8, 2011
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  18. 613ReefGuy

    613ReefGuy

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    This is the tank right now. As you can see the blue background is full of bubbles right now. It is on the outside, not the inside. Just wanted to give you all an idea of what it is right now, there is a heater at the top of the tank as well.

    Thank you
     

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  19. 613ReefGuy

    little_fish Moderator

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    I would totally kill the filter and just do regular water changes, and then set up the sump when you can. If you keep stocking low you should have no issues.

    And i just have mine tapped to the tank really tight, it has worked well so far.
     
    little_fish, Feb 8, 2011
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  20. 613ReefGuy

    613ReefGuy

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    No clue what happened with the pictures, sorry about the triple threat.

    Doing water changes...can I introduce the RO water at that time? Or do I have to completely empty and re-start? So far I have only been topping up evaporated water, so you are suggesting, I siphon out about 6 Gallons, and put in 6 new gallons of RO water. Will that work for me for now?
     
    613ReefGuy, Feb 8, 2011
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