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Old 09-06-2007, 09:02 PM   #1
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Frequently moving a small reef tank?

I'm thinking about starting my first SW setup in a 20 gallon I've got laying around.
I know I should start out bigger, but I'm still in college, and live in an apartment and need to keep the tanks in my room because I fear people will mess with them. I currently have a 45g brackish puffer tank, as well as a snail breeding tank, so I really haven't the space for anything more than a 20 gallon (or the money).

Ideally I'd like to just do a basic mini-reef, with LR, a few corals, and maybe a little invert/fish or two. Nothing spectacular.

My main question/concern is this: I go home for Christmas and summer, so the tanks are moved several times a year. It's nothing with the snails, and with the puffers I simply set up an identical tank at home before I bring them home, and when I do I bring their established filter with them. They always transition nicely.

But with a little reef tank (or even a FOWLR), would moving it be possible? Would I just treat the LR/corals like a fish, bring it home in tank water, and acclimate it to an identical tank, or no?
Is there anyway to do it without massive die-off?
I apologize if this a SW noob question. I know my way around FW/BW tanks pretty well, but have never dealt with LR or corals

I was also wondering if a 60w 50/50 PC would support coral growth in a 20g.

Any input is appreciated,
Thanks!
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:32 PM   #2
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I have a twelve gallon reef that I have moved 4 times since july and its thriving, I don't see why you couldn't do the same.

60 Watts is enough for some corals and marginal for higher light ones. Moving all the time I would suggest hardy lowlight corals like shrooms and zoos anyway so you are probably good there. Good luck, I see no reason why this cannot be done successfully.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:26 PM   #3
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60 watts would be fine for low light corals. I use to have a 65watt pc over my 20 gallon, but I've since upgraded it to a 130 watt pc fixture because I think the 65 watt is too limiting. But I still can't keep high light corals with the 130 watts, so if you go 60 watts I'd stick with mushrooms , zoos, leathers placed midway or near the top.

From personal experience, moving a stocked 20 gallon tank with lr from a dorm room is a pain in the a..........
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Old 09-08-2007, 03:45 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses.
How long could a small reef tank be left alone for?
Ie., could I come up to school like once a week to take care of it over Christmas? Would an auto-top off lengthen the time I could leave it?
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Old 09-08-2007, 04:12 PM   #5
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If you trust the auto topoff then it would be fine as long as there were no fish in the so you dont have to feed. And I would change the water right before you left it and right when you got back. I wouldnt leave it.

AFAIK the college wont let you back into your dorm once the break has started, unless it's one of those dorms that keeps employees (maintenence/security) there through the break.
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:02 PM   #6
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Thanks.
I live in an apartment off campus (I'm a second year senior), so no worries about getting in.
Do you mean I could potentially leave the tank for a month unattended and it'd be okay?
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:33 PM   #7
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you couldnt get away with leaving it for a month. nitrates and stuff would build up way too high over that time in a tank that small, and also you'd need to get calcium and a menagerie of other supplements in during that time to keep the corals happy (via supplements or water changes of the same frequency) probably at least once a week, possibly more frequently since its a small tank (i only have a large one so all i know is the smaller tanks are far more finicky)

As far as christmas vacation goes, I would say if you could set up a kent marine float switch some how and just put it in the tank, you should be ok for top off water. They are 100% plastic and are extremely reliable. However, that will only get you as far as topoff water... no added anything, unless you get a supplement pump which are pretty pricey.

I would say a week is what I would leave my tank alone for at the absolute maximum, and only after many months of it proving to me it doesnt have issues.

The next problem is what about your fish? Your coral will be ok left alone for a week as they just eat the sun, but fish need to be fed at least every other day.

If I were you I would check a local fish store for people to do maintenance on your tank while youre away. You probably gonna put around $500-1000 into a coral tank of 20 gallons, and having the peace of mind that someone who knows what theyre doing is looking after your tank in your absence is well worth the tank-sitting fee.

As far as moving the tank... your not going to be able to take the coral out of the tank and put em in a set up tank at home like you do your puffers. Coral will attach themselves to the rock and at that point you'd have to take out the entire rock, probably even the entire rock stack (since the corals attach them in a specific way, youd have to place them exactly as they were in the new tank to avoid squishing them or inadvertently shading them.) And trying to move the whole tank... forget about it. 20gallons SW * 9lb/gallon = 180lbs + ~25lbs glass tank = 205 + 40lbs live rock = 245 + 10lbs coral = 255lbs. Add to that the fact that, if you DID manage to lift that sucker, it'd be sloshing around like crazy. Trying to manage that kind of weight while being so careful as to not slash water... its just not happening.
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Old 09-08-2007, 08:42 PM   #8
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When I moved my 20 gallon, I emptied it halfway and picked it up and carried it to my truck. It had about 60 lbs of lr and half full of water.

How far away are you going to be from your apartment? If you live like 30 mins away I don't see why would cant go once like every 3 or 4 days to check up on it. If there is no fish in there, I dont see why you can't leave it alone (just have to top off) for a month. The nitrates wont climb since there's nothing in there producing ammonia/nitrite. And most people do pwc once every two weeks or once a month with minor problems (except for the people on this forum who know what they are doing and pwc once a week).

You would need a timer on your lights for corals if you had them.

So you could do it like visiting your apartment once a week to change the water, make sure the water topoff is working, etc. if you dont have fish. It's only going to be for a month.

Besides it's already into the second week in September so by the time you get to setup you tank and it's full cycled it'll prob be middle/end of November and then (at least at my college) the winter break started like the end of the 1st week in December so you could wait alittle bit longer before adding anything to the tank and then when you come back in January the tank would have been up and running for about 4 months and then you can add fish/corals.
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Old 09-08-2007, 09:29 PM   #9
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what lance said is true only assuming you had no fish, but according to the OP you want one or two fish, which will produce ammonia and thusly nitrates, which will definitly build up if there is no relief over the course of a month, most assuredly.

As for emptying the tank 1/2 way, that will work too assuming the portion of the tank that has been drained doesnt have any coral. Methinks those coral exposed to air will be very very unhappy during the transportation process if theyre left exposed.
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Old 09-08-2007, 10:34 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses.

Ideally I'd like to end up with something like a blue spotted jawfish or an algae blenny in there, but I'd most definitely let the tank establish itself before adding one.
The biggest thing is that I want to get more familiar with SW/reef setups; I'm graduating this year with a degree in zoology and want to work with fish, either something like reef conservation or even in an aquarium, and I want some experience.
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