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Old 10-12-2009, 02:28 PM   #1
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Question Coming back to the hobby

Hi. I had a saltwater fish-only tank for about 10 years with various levels of success. We moved to a new house 5 years ago and I took the tank down. I am now starting over again with my 12-year-old son helping me. This time we're going with a 75G FOWLR tank that eventually we want to turn into a reef tank. I have discovered that filters and technology have changed A LOT in 5-10 years. I'm relying heavily on a friend with a 75G reef and 29G nano for help.

Here's what we have so far:

75G tank with pre-drilled overflow and homemade Durso standpipe.
Homemade 20G sump with sections for skimmer, return, and refugium.
Aqua-C EV120 skimmer with Mag 5 pump.
Mag 7 return pump.
Two Maxi-Jet 900 powerheads connected to a Natural Wave multi-cycle pump timer.
48" Nova Extreme light fixture with 2 Acitinic, 2 10000K T5 HO bulbs.

As of today (Oct 12) I have the tank and sump filled with saltwater (SG 1.025) and, a shallow sand bed. I have 50# of dry rock from Tampa Bay Saltwater arriving tomorrow that I am going to use as the base for the live rock. Once the dry rock is in I'm going to add more sand and crushed coral to get a 2" deep bed. Then, it's time to order the live rock.

Any comments on the setup so far? And any advice on where to purchase live rock (reputable, fair-priced online dealers)? Also, what do I do with the live rock when I get it? I think I need to clean it and then put it in the tank.

Thanks for your help!

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Old 10-12-2009, 03:23 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard. I`m moving this to the SW aquaria forum so much more people will see this. Not everyone comes here to the welcome wagon. This area is for saying Hi. They will give more advice in the general forums.

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Old 10-13-2009, 06:29 PM   #3
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well first, have the tank filled with water so that you can put the live rock in. the rock has to stay wet or it becomes unlive. it doesnt matter for the base rock. it would help if you rinsed the base rock before you add it to the tank. looks like your a man with a plan!
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Old 10-13-2009, 07:06 PM   #4
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Hey there Dad & Matt. It's nice to see more people coming in to or back to the SW hobby. I have only been doing this for maybe 3 months now, but i have learned a ton from this site and from messing up and having to do things over again.. :p So if you really want great advice and amazing people to provide it as well, stick around and im 100% sure you will find that this forum has all the answers to your questions. I have not been disappointed yet.. Anyways.. enough butt kissing to AA haha.

First off, yes, indeed it does sound like you know exactly what you want to do and how to do it. But as for some suggestions:

I would skip the Crushed Coral all together and just add sand. Having a mix of both is pretty pointless and if anything will cause nitrate problems down the road. The rigidity and shapes of the crushed coral allow detritus and decaying organics to get below a certain point.. and that point is when you can't even clean it up or suck it up with a gravel vacuum. So it is not the greatest of options for a tank that will be reef in the future because coral are very sensitive to high nitrates. EVEN if you have the crushed coral in the middle or bottom of the sand bed, if you have critters like pistol shrimp or nassarius snails or anything that plays with the sand.. the crushed coral will eventually make its way back up to the surface of the sand. At minuscule amounts, obviously the crushed coral won't pose a threat, but as time goes on and the crushed coral continues to build up.. it will then cause a problem. Just save yourself the headache overall and ditch the crushed coral.

Another thing.. When putting the base rock down, make sure you have it secured in the sand properly because any shifts in the sand, assuming you will have livestock that moves the sound around, will cause the rocks to tumble over, and could become a gigantic problem that involves 75G of water all over the floor. Just make sure you really dig the rocks in the sand, but be careful not to smash the glass though One thing you could have done if you didn't have the sand in there already would have been to put the rocks down first, and then pour in the sand. This way would ensure that nothing would get under the rocks and possibly cause them to fall. Although, you are in a very early stage of building the tank, so it still is possible to move some sand around and put the rocks in the way i said to if you feel it necassary.

Also, you said you wanted to have this FOWLR turn in to a reef in the future correct? If so, i have a couple things you may want to think about. One thing is the livestock you buy now. Be very selective as to what animals you choose now, because if you want to have coral you can't have fish or inverts that have coral on their dinner menu. It would put stress on you and the fish, to have to take the fish from the tank and give it away all because it eats coral.. and you want a reef. I've seen it happen too many times and it's pretty sad.. for both coral and fish. The second thing is your lighting situation. For now, since all you have is a FOWLR, that light fixture will do excellent. But the 75G tanks are pretty deep.. 21-22 inches i believe right? Unfortunately, having a 4-bulb fixture won't be enough to support a wide variety of coral. You MIGHT be able to get away with some softies.. but that is still a maybe.. not a yes. If i may make a suggestion as for what to buy as far as lighting goes.. look for the Nova Extreme Pro version of the fixture you already have. The 48" Nova Extreme Pro fixture is somewhere in the ballpark of $330-380.. It is expensive.. but with this fixture you will be able to have just about any coral you want, including an anemone furthur down the road when your tank is mature if you like those. I have this "NEP" fixture right now and it is a pretty amazing light. It has 6 bulbs and each bulb is 54Watts.. so you can imagine that's a good amount of light. My 55G and your 75G are around the same hieght, so i would definitely reccomend that fixture.

About the live rock, i would definitely suggest cleaning it off and ridding the rock of any loose decaying matter. This was one of those mistakes i was talking about in the beginning of this ridiculously long post(sorry :s). I did not clean off the live rock i was shipped AT ALL. Threw it in to my tank and i still suffer for it to this very day. My tank was unbelievably disgusting for weeks.. and is only showing signs of getting better now. That's over 3 months.. The rocks just had so much junk of them that it pretty much filled my tank and the sand.. and any time that the sand moved it expelled great amounts of the decaying matter from the rocks.. all over my tank. So.. basically it just was not fun at all. So.. yeah.. definitely clean them off.

Before you recieve the rocks, make sure you have a nice sized container to accomodate all of the rocks, and make sure the Salinity of the water is anywhere from 1.022-1.025 and the temperature is from 78-82 degrees farenheit. This will ensure that whatever is alive on your rock, will not die. This will also put you in an excellent position to clean the rocks however and however thoroughly you choose. Remember that you don't want to like power wash the rocks haha.. because you still want some organics and you don't want to kill anything living inside.

Well, i won't be mad if you don't read all this. But if you do, thanks.

Remember to come here anytime you need answers to your questions!

Good luck my freind!
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:28 PM   #5
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zero, you could write a book on this stuff. im serious. "Zer0's Guide to Saltwater Aquariums" what do you think?
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the info! (And, yes, I did read through it all .)

My reasoning for crushed coral is because the sand seems to get stirred up really easy. I'm letting the tank sit for a few days, and I cleaned out the sump, so maybe that will help. I was thinking that adding some heavier crushed coral to the top of the sand bed would also help. Maybe I'll just look for "grainier" sand.

I added the dry rock last night (see pic). I put egg crate on the bottom of the tank before adding the sand, to keep the direct weight of the rocks off the tank. I'm going to add more sand tonight. I've pushed the rocks down into the sand as far as they'll go. They seem stable.

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Still doing research on the livestock but I'll definitely be careful regarding livestock that eats corals. I'll look into the lighting, too. Not too thrilled about having to replace the fixture, but you gotta do what you gotta do . My tank is only 18" deep but I would like an anemone at some point so maybe new lights are needed.

My plan for the LR is to swish it around in some SW and maybe squirt it off with SW in a squirt bottle to try to get everything off before I put it in the tank.

BTW: I started another thread in the "Saltwater and Reef - Getting Started" forum ("75G Reef Build") because I hadn't gotten any responses here (and because I think it fits better there). You can either look at that thread or keep responding here, doesn't matter to me.

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:06 PM   #7
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The sand is likely stirring since the power head in the pic is so close to it. Raise it higher and point it at the front glass. One on each side.

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Old 10-14-2009, 02:23 PM   #8
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Yea, I moved it higher last night after I took the pics. When I get the rocks set up I'm going to add another power head and adjust them to get good movement throughout the tank.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:52 PM   #9
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I would suggest no using the CC. When I started, I used CC and sand, the CC looked great, for a while. Well try to sift out sand from the CC in the tank...not much fun. LOL! Plus the CC will stay on top and limit some of your clean up crew critters, like nassarius snails (I suggest you get them, you'll love the, especially when you feed the tank).
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:41 PM   #10
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Cool. Thanks. I've pretty much decided to ditch the crushed coral. And I've heard cool things about nassarius snails.

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