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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Lightbulb Need some advise

    So, I've been thinking about doing this for 3 years. I haven't had the money for a long time (no matter what, it's a serious investment) but now I do. However, I'm the type of person who feels that if I'm not getting a deal, I'm not going to buy anything.

    The store that I went to treated me like an invalid. Instead of helping me they told me that they could set me up for 500-1000 bucks...thanks. As most of you know, and I learned this from you, knowing everything about your tank is the key.

    On to the good part. I was going to build a 75g but then decided to go 30g because I don't want to have to go ALL OUT just to get into it. So, now I've decided on a 55g. Not too big, not too small. I may build it myself or if Chris gets back to me, buy a setup. Now, I'm good with building shit but my finess within a tank remains to be seen.

    Sooo, here's what I want to do. Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines!

    55g tank with live rock and sand, after cycling; a few fish. (what kind? hardy. Don't want to complicate it off the start.)
    Then some easy coral.

    Lighting: I want to do this myself with eaves-troughs (spl?) (I picked up a great lighting system off and I have a backround in electronics so this part should be easy)

    Live Rock: This is my mainstay. The one thing that I think I understand. It cycles, it grows, it looks cool...just set it up right, right?

    Live Sand; see above.

    On to Mechanical:

    A heater, a thermostat, 2 jets, measuring equipment, a mech filter? and a skimmer.

    Questions that I need answered:

    Do I need a mech filter? Right off the start?

    I get confused with all the veterans in here, is a sump really necessary or is it an addition that you can't live without anymore?

    What's the best store in the Ottawa area to set me up?

    Bottom line, I want to "test the waters" without breaking the bank. If I want a 30,000g in 6 months then so be it. I just want to make sure that I'm putting my cash in a well spent place and not throwing it down the drain.

    Although I could only come up with three questions, I hope you'll have lots of critisim for me. I'll have (alot) more in the future.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Well the best first step is to ask questions but, the hardest part is understanding what you’ve been told.

    Over all your tank style really depends on the type or care you want to give. There’s the Berlin, Jaubert, Adey, Live mud, and Live sand methods or some combination there of. Most people go Berlin with live sand but then there’s a shallow sand bed, deep sand bed, or a plenum. Most of us also have a refugium within the setup.

    Now with all those starting points for further reading, the typical setup I see around is a combination of a lot of methods. I usually see a display tank with the live rock and a 1” shallow sand bed. The tank has at least two but most people have four pumps circulating the water for a 30x turn over and an over flow giving another 10x turnover for a total of 40x/hour.

    The overflow goes to the sump where most of the equipment is hiding. First it hits some rubble to break up the downward flow and soften the current. If you’re adding ozone here is where it’d be. There the water flows to a deep sand bed 4-6” sitting on a plenum. The deep sand bed will aid in the denitrification process and the plenum will prevent H2S pockets from forming. After the DSB the water moves over to the fuge (refugium).

    I’m starting to see more Xenia fuges now at this point in the setup. Xenia is an excellent biomass for nutrient exportation. After the Xenia fuge I’d find a macroalgae fuge (usually Chaetomorpha). The macro will further the nutrient exportation. A skimmer, heater, and test probes would be next in the setup.

    Finally there is the float valve to either a ro/di or a kalk reactor (if there’s no kalk then I’d usually see a Ca reactor here in addition to the ro/di top off) and the return pump to the display tank. The sump and fuges can be one tank divided or 2/3 different tanks. Do you need a sump/fuge, no but it helps with nutrient exportation.

    On to the lighting… depending on what corals you’re keeping you might need a more powerful light than what you can keep under eves trough. I personally think eves trough is a bad idea because you can’t fit a good reflector under it, and a 55g is too big for T5 lighting. 55g’s IMO should have atleast Vho’s regardless of coral. With any size of tank lighting should be something you never skimp on.

    The mechanical filter isn’t necessary with a skimmer, you can always wet skim, but it can be nice to have when cleaning off your live rock. Be sure to clean the filter atleast bi-weekly or you could end up with high nitrate levels. Stay away from Bio wheels or Bio balls. You paid good money for live rock to denitrify and biowheels/balls don’t complete the cycle. Yes the live rock cycles, grows, looks cool but you may still need to clean it off. A simple turkey bester will do the trick.

    All in all if you want to test the waters I’d go back to the 30g. The equipment is cheaper and you can use T5’s that will fit in the eves trough. As far as the bargain, I have a 33g that I’ve spent (excluding fish, critters, and corals) about $2000. Keep in mind though you will eventually upgrade… or go nano.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003


    first off, welcome bud and ask many questions.
    this hobby isn't for the faint of heart and can be VERY frustrating to start off with. keep it super simple for your first tank. the biggest suggestion is to buy a book or 2 or keeping reef tanks. there available at BIG ALS.

    do not bother with building your own tank [if thats what you were thinking?] its not worth it and isn't that easy.

    best investment is a good batch of liverock from IVAN [here at AC] send IJO a pm.

    do not cycle a tank with hardy fish. thats frowned upon and cruel and not needed. a pinch of food here and there will do the trick.
    a sump is not need for your first tank but it helps hide all the gear and is added water volume.

    A skimmer is a VERY good idea. theres your start. don't add anything for a few weeks to a month and then you can purchase a cleaner crew from either AC or MARINESCAPE.

    think about what type of fish you like and ask questions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Ahh yes... I forgot, Welcome.

    If you like before you start cycling you could list off what you have and are about to do. We might be able too give you some hints or ideas that will be easy to do without any water in it. I know there have been many reefers that have looked and said 'I wish I did that this way instead'.

    The skimmer should be about double what you need. So if you have a 30g get one that's for 50-60g. You shouldn't use a skimmer while cycling your tank. Instead save up during the cycle and get a good skimmer.

    The cycle is a good time to plan out the tank critters, takes away from the fact that all that money has been spent and you still have just rocks to look at. Knowing what fish you'd like is a good idea, as Johnny Rock has said, but you should also plan out the coral you'd like and the critters (shrimp, crabs, ect) you're thinking of. Some things don't go very good together.

    Just remember ask questions and resist the impulse.

  5. #5
    Senior Member yellowtang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Welcome tint.
    I too was always asking questions on this never ending hobby
    not too long ago as a matter of fact.
    Many people will tell you different things,as everybody runs their hobby differently.
    I started with a 33g tank.......bought live rock off club members(cured)Got free live sand and made my own NO lights
    to start,got a prizm skimmer and 2 small powerheads.
    Now a month and a half later. I got Jebo oddesy light fixture 196 watts/skimmerless as my prizm did not work for me(need one)
    2 upgraded powerheads and 1 damsel (free)my live rock is finally beginning to take shape and my parameters are doing quite well. No fish yet..will wait another month (damsel is fine for now)
    I keep asking questions and always got different anwsers,
    So I decided to take the plunge and went ahead with all the information I gathered.
    My feeling is you are confused on how to response is
    go with what you feel is right for you.and start with seeing how much is all this going to cost you and if it is worth it for you.
    for now just think on setting up the tank and letting it cycle for a while......and as everybody said to me. **take your time*
    Just my two cents.

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