I have a 150G Saltwater tank that is currently FOWLR
. The tank has been going strong for about a year and a half, and it's currently in a stable state -- I haven't added fish in several months, and I haven't had any casualties in even longer.
Here's a page on my tank specs: Tank Specs | Adam's Flog
Here's a page on the livestock in the tank: Roll Call | Adam's Flog
From the time I first started saltwater, I wanted this tank to be a reef tank, but I wanted to get a FOWLR
tank well-established before I attempted to put any corals in there. I've come up with a goal that I want to have my first coral/anemone in the tank (and surviving) by the end of the year.
The purpose of this thread is to document my journey during the process of getting my tank reef-ready. Hopefully I can get some pointers from some experienced people, and hopefully other people who are doing similar things can use this as a resource.
At this point, I have done very little research on how to care for corals. I know that I need to consistently keep my nitrates at zero in order for corals to survive, but past that I know pretty much nothing about caring for corals.
I realize that the things I need to look out for in my tank are very dependent on what corals I choose to have. I know this because I've asked the following question before: "What do I need to do to my tank to keep corals?" and the response I got was "It depends entirely on what corals you want to have." While this answer may be accurate, it doesn't help give me a starting point for what kinds of test kits I need to get, or where to start my research.
I don't have my heart set on any specific type of corals. I probably want to start with some corals that are easier to care for, but I don't know what those are, and I don't know what levels have to be where to keep those corals healthy.
Perhaps it would be useful for some people with established reefs to tell me what test kits they have and where they keep their levels, so I have a baseline for a couple of the important ones I'll need to start with...
Anyways, I'm still in the planning stages of this transition, but there are a few things I'll most likely do before corals ever go into the tank:
- Switch to RO/DI water:
I've been using tap water ever since I started this tank. For fish this is fine, and I'm sure it's not fine for a reef. I own an RO
unit and a booster pump for it, but my membranes are old and I've moved since I last attempted to use it. My goal is to be able to get 20 gallons of RO
water in at most two hours, not having any of my components outside (I live in Ohio, it gets cold in the winter here).
I'm having some plumbing work done on my house in the near future, so hopefully I'll be able to get a hose spigot or something I can hook my RO
up to on the inside of my house in the process.
I'm hoping that with the large PWCs that I'll end up doing as part of lowering my nitrates, just switching to RO
water for water changes will be enough for a good reef tank...
- Get a protein skimmer:
I'm using my live rock for biological filtration, so from what I've read, a protein skimmer fits very nicely into my setup, especially for a reef setup. I have a place in my sump where I want the skimmer to be, but I don't know much about what kind of skimmer I want. Also, I don't know if this will be a problem or not, but I'm a little concerned about physically getting the skimmer where I want it to go, since the sump is in the bottom of my tank stand at the moment.
Perhaps it would help if I learned what types of skimmers people with established reefs use...
- Get more of a Clean-up Crew:
I have maybe 10 Nassarius snails in the tank right now, though I haven't really seen any of them in a while. I think I need more than this. I'm not sure if this is related to changing over to a reef.
- Replace the bulbs in my lighting system:
I've been using the same lights for over two years now. The fish like having a day/night cycle, but I've never bothered to replace the bulbs, so they probably aren't adequate for keeping corals. Should I replace all of my bulbs? The light is a Nova Extreme Pro T5, which I think should be good for basically any type of coral I would want, right?
- Get my nitrates down to zero:
This is something I actually know a little bit about. My nitrate reading is somewhere between the 40 ppm
color and the 80 ppm
color. I haven't had any big problems with algae in a while, and the fish seem to be doing OK, but I know I need to sustain a zero nitrate reading for corals. I know to get it down there, I'll have to do a LOT of PWCs, but keeping it there is a little different. My normal maintenance for the tank is a 10% PWC
every other week. I think this will have to be increased when I have a reef.
The other thing I have is a ball of chaeto in my refugium. It isn't really growing all that much, probably because I just have a desk lamp with a boring CF
light bulb on it. I imagine that I'll have to make my lighting setup a little better down there for the chaeto to really help export nitrates.
So, I'm not quite sure what my priorities should be at the moment. I think the things I want to do shortly are to get my RO
system working, get a protein skimmer, and improve my refugium lighting. I plan to order RO
membranes soon and try to get a setup working, but I'll probably want a little bit of advice on the other two before I go spending money on them.
Any advice would be appreciated, of course. I'll provide as much detail about my setup as I can if it's necessary. Thanks in advance for your help, and I hope I can create a nice-looking reef setup so I can take pretty pictures and post them in this thread!