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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2003
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    1

    Please Expalin HELP

    Hello,
    I am new to reef keeping and have been reading my brains out trying to learn how to do this right. I under stand that there are many ways to handle a tank.

    Right now I am trying to figure out how to layout the thank. I have read about Ecosystems, Deep Sand Beds (DBS), Berlin systems. I am really confused right now.
    I understand that a Berlin system is Live Rock (LR) on a bare bottom tank using a large skimmer and a sump. Then I read that adding a Refugium can help with that. A Refugium was a portion of your sump or another tank where you grow algae. Then reading some of the forums everyone is talking about a 3" to 6" DSB along with the 1 to 1.5 lbs. of LR also in the tank. Following some more research I found an article about DSB it was saying you don't want any Critters that will sift through the sand and eat all the micro-organisms that will help the system. On the boards it seems that a lot of people are using these sand sifting critters in their DSB. So I started to read some more and ran into Ecosystems which seems to be a lot like the Berlin system without a skimmer and uses a "Mud" Refugium.

    So If someone can explain what is the differences between these systems are I would be forever thankful! ? I think I have it, a lot of people are using a combination of all three. If they are using a DSB they use a Ecosystem to grow the micro-organisms that are beneficial to the tank and can keep sand sifting critters in the main. An Ecosystem and a refugium are they Technically the same thing? I have read that refugiums are suppose to have a low to moderate flow through them and the ecosystems states the higher the flow the better. The ecosystem says the you don't want to run a skimmer because it removes all the nutrients that the ecosystem puts in the tank.

    I have read a couple of books and the they say different things. I have read "The New Marine Aquarium" and "Simplified Reefkeeping".

    I currently have a 90 gallon main and a 30 gallon I am going to use as a sump, Refugium, Ecosystem.....what ever it should to called. I have not put in the baffles in the 30 gallon yet still trying to understand which way to set it up. I have built a hang on the back overflow which is running great. I have purchased a Rio 2500 pump for my return. I am still purchasing parts for lighting I am aiming for 4-6 watts per gallon right now.

    I know I have rambled here but I am fustrusted eveytime I thought I understood it the rules changed.

    Please Help I am really confused, They all seem to have their points

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    7

    Re: Please Expalin HELP

    I think we've all been there!  

    Basically, what you gotta do (and it seems you're doing it already!) is just read read read, and be as informed as you possibly can. Then, decide what the best course of action is FOR YOU.

    Opinions are like... well, we won't go there, but you know that everyone's got one!  

    Anyhow, what you will get here, probably, is people's personal experiences, and setups. And probably lots of these setups will differ.

    Personally, I decided to go with a DSB. I have a 72g display tank, with a 72g sump/refugium. I have the sump in 3 sections. First section is where the overflow from the main tank goes to. Second section is my refugium. And third section is where the water is pumped back into the main tank. Also, we have our skimmer taking water out of the first compartment, and returning it into the 3rd compartment.

    The refugium has a 3-4" DSB, about 25 lbs of LR, caulerpa and tons of bugs & worms.  

    My main tank has a 4-5" DSB, about 75 lbs of LR, and tons of assorted caulerpa (unintentional - I feed my tank too much, so it's my fault. &nbsp

    The ecosystem (Miracle Mud), from what I have heard, works well. But it is a very controversial subject because of 2 things - first, nobody knows exactly what the mud is comprised of, and second, because of the price.

    People that have used it, though, will swear by it.

    I decided to pass and go with the DSB myself.

    Anyhow, I hope this helps some, as I'm just jotting down things that come to mind quickly since I'm at work. Hopefully you'll get lots of responses here.

    Welcome to AQUARIA ! ! !

    Dick
    To Reef or Not To Reef, That is the question

  3. #3
    ijo
    ijo is offline
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    Re: Please Expalin HELP

    Sorry for the confusion. What works for someone is THE way for YOU to set up your tank.

    In all liklihood, there are numerous ways to set up a tank. I was a lurker (someone who reads others posts but doesn't contribute) for quite a while before I purchased a used 75g RR AGA. I wasn't being selfish---I didn't yet have the knowledge to post.

    After reading a whole bunch of info, here is what I set up. A 75g tank with 88 lbs of Marshall Island rock. A 29g long fuge with Miracle mud, plus a 4"DSB in the tank. I used the expensive stuff (aragalive) vs southdown. I also purchased 1 bag of nasty, dirty live sand and a clean up crew from 2 LFS's.

    I run a Prizm skimmer 1 week per month. I run carbon 1 week per month. I have only been up and running since labor day yet I have (new) coralline algae growing on my sump, magnet glass cleaner, several of my LR, all of my powerheads, and the plastic portion of my overflow. Just this week, I noted that I now had it growing on my glass in shady areas.The owner of my LFS (who has been a great source of info) cannot believe that this has happened so quickly. I lost a yellow Watchman Goby to a very nasty stone crab. Other than that, my tank has done very well. Even though I used ro/di water from the start, I had some phosphate issues which I'm now fixing with ROWA phos po4 absorber.

    Does this mean that my setup is best---I'm sure not. Has it worked for me---so far. Am I lucky, you bet. After reading all of the posts that I have read over the last year, I don't know why everything I take care of isn't dead.

    Don't be anxious. Dont' be confused.....there is more than one way to skin a cat. Do start slowly...Do read....you might be the one who figures out THE way to setup a reef tank.


  4. #4
    Senior Member mouse6196's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
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    672

    Re: Please Expalin HELP

    Keep this in mind with everyone you talk to.....

    The only two things two reef keepers will agree on, is what the third reef keeper is doing wrong!"

    Good Luck and Have fun!
    The only thing two reef keepers will agree on, is what the third reef keeper is doing wrong!

  5. #5
    Senior Member GoSUV's Avatar
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    Re: Please Expalin HELP

    I agree with what's said above: read, read and read.

    Gather as much information as you can. It's all in the design and planning stage which will dictate how beautiful and easy-to-keep your tank will be.

    For me, a system as close to the natural environment and with as little man-made equipment as possible is the best, in terms of a stable place for your livestock and less-headache for their keeper (you).

    IMHO, the only man-made equipment you absolutely need are the tank, the plumbing including water pumps and/or powerheads for water movement inside the tank, lighting, timers, heaters, and a protein skimmer. Some people say a skimmer is not absolutely needed but if you look at how much gunk a skimmer pulls out in two days you wouldn't dare imagine how your fish will live in that water with that gunk dissolved. For me I will always have a skimmer running 24/7.

    Of course there are lots of other "support" hardware that makes the job of the keeper a lot easier, and some people swear by these products too. But I don't consider them essential for keeping your fish/corals alive. Such hardware includes auto freshwater topoff device, calcium reactors, UV sterilizer, ozone, wavemaker etc.

    What makes systems easy-to-keep and provides a natural environment, is the use of live rock, and more recently, live sand. And these make undergravel filters, wet/dry filters, canister filters, hang-on-the-back power filters etc. not suitable for reef tank use as they don't remove nitrate as well as live rock and live sand could.

    Invest in good quality live rock. The organisms in the live rock should seed your sand bed. It is very expensive to buy 100% live sand. Just get a cup of sand from someone's established tank and you are set.

    It is also important and easier to address your problems early in the design stage, than to fix things later on. If your tank isn't drilled, get it drilled. Depending on where it is drilled, get it drilled in more than one place, for redundancy. A piece of seaweed getting plugged in your overflow and having 30 gallons of saltwater on your floor is not a very good thing. : Also read how you can eliminate gurgling noise of your plumbing. You don't want your reef tank to sound like a flushing toilet  ;D Also address micro-bubble issues early on. These can be a real PITA. Micro-bubbles irritate corals and can often be traced to leaked air in your plumbing and/or the bubbles from your skimmer getting into your return pump. Design your sump in such a way to minimize your bubbles returning to the tank. Design your water return nozzles so that you can eliminate as many powerheads in your tank as you can, for aesthetics and other reasons.

    See, there are many issues in setting up your tank properly, and read as much as you can to minimize problem later on.
    If the authors of "Finding Nemo" knew anything about Clownfishes, Marlin would turn into a female and Nemo would become her new husband.

  6. #6
    ijo
    ijo is offline
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    Re: Please Expalin HELP

    great post GoSUV....  

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