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Old 08-25-2004, 02:37 AM   #1
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HELP! Saltwater plunge

Okay, guys- I think I'm going to take the sw plunge and turn my new 55 gal. hex into a mini reef. But I NEED YOUR HELP please!

What wattage of light bulbs do I need for corals/anemones? Right now it's just equipped with two 20 watt blue/purple "colormax" bulbs.

Is CC better, or should I use sand? If it's just personal pref. I prefer sand...

Should I buy SRO from my LFS or should I mix my own- is this difficult?

How do I begin to put it all together- what do I do first?

Thanks so much!
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Old 08-25-2004, 03:02 AM   #2
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Heya, if your going to go with corals, anemones, your going to need like 250 to 300 watts of light, like 5-6 per gallon, but since it's a hex tank, you might need more because it's taller. Being a hex tank one 400 Watt MH bulb centered might do the trick, or a 250 if it's not to deep, lighting is IMPORTANT with corals though, so you should research this and not go into it blindly...

I'd go with sand if I was you, CC requires constant cleaning, sand can take care of itself with the right critters, ie. crabs and snails, maybe a cuccumber, to clean it for you, and I agree with you, sand looks better.

Mixing Saltwater really isn't that hard, but if you can't afford a RO/DI unit it's tricky to get the water right. Depending on what your lfs charges for saltwater, you will probably save a lot of money in the long run to buy a RO/DI filter and mix your own.

You'll also need a protein skimmer if you want to cut down on the maintaince, most corals don't tolerate nitrates well at all. AquaC makes a hangon for tanks that size for a pretty good price. But I'd look into an overflow and a sump, it makes life sooo much easier, and it clears up a ton of room in your tank because you can put your heater and filters all in the sump.

You can get a 500 gallon an hour overflow u-tube box for like 40 bucks on ebay, and you could easily use a $10 10 gallon tank from walmart as a sump, then use a mag 7 which at 4 feet is like 450 gallons an hour I think. That is like a 60 dollar pump, but it would give you good water movement, and get your tank opened up for your reef and wildlife.

So I'd say first things first, get your sand, I'd go with 4-6" of sand, but with a hex tank that will take some computing to figure out how much that is, then get around 75 pounds of LR, and I'd do the sump setup right away and the protein skimmer, then you'd better ready to go!!!

BTW, this isn't cheap, haha...
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Old 08-25-2004, 03:46 PM   #3
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it may not be cheap, but its super rewarding
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Old 08-25-2004, 04:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nodoubt471
it may not be cheap, but its super rewarding
and possibly a little more than frustrating at times
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Old 08-25-2004, 05:17 PM   #5
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What are the dimensions of the tank? What corals specificly are you wanting to keep. I would drop the anenome idea at this point. They have a bad survivability rate in aquariums unless you can find a good tank propogated anenome.

Clearly lighting is going to be your challenge with a hex because of its shape. You cant do long florecent bulbs so you have to do shorter bulbs or go MH. Your best bet will be MH but the size of the bulb will depend on the depth of the tank.

Sand is better than CC because of the grain size. Sand will not trap detruis and will not cause nitrate to collect.

Get salt mix and make your own. This way you can control what the salinity level is and you also know whats going in to mixing it. I cant fathom the effort it would take to constantly transport water from the LFS to your home.

Setting up the tank is not all that more complex than with FW. But you will do much better if you have a clear plan set out. What are your ultimate goals?
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Old 08-25-2004, 06:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishfreek
I would drop the anenome idea at this point. They have a bad survivability rate in aquariums unless you can find a good tank propogated anenome.

I was suprised at how diverse the Coral selection was. Many look as good or better than any anenome out there.

note: The recommendation seems to be to wait off on corals for a year. that allows your tank to get properly established.

here are some things to consider.

1. Fish load is very small. Think 4 or 5 fish max. (depending on species of course.) this is very different than freshwater.

2. SW is very expensive. The Lights, the rocks, the constant need to buy more salt, skimmers, sumps, sand, etc. None of this is cheap. ( I am over $1000 dollars in and I haven't put a single fish in my tank yet.)

3. SW takes dedication to constant water changes, and constantly checking and re-checking parameters.


Be sure to do plenty of research before you start. I have and I have learned a TON of information to keep me from making costly and deadly mistakes....hopefully...
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:40 PM   #7
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Hi! Thanks for helping so far...

I don't have the tank here with me. It's at our apartment,and I don't have cable internet on the pc there. But I know the tank is wider than it is tall... it's not a typical hex. It's probably about 20'' high and 36-40'' wide. My fiancee just bought it, the canister filter, lights, and powerhead for $250. The guy who sold it to him said he'd used it as a sw tank until the filter began to leak, and they're moving anyway, so he needed to sell it.

My friend Kris has several filters that he's told me I can use if I need to, and he also told me he'd help with the setup. He has two sw tanks (175 gal and 150 gal) of his own and all the salt and chemicals for them. He advised me to use cc, but you all seem to prefer sand, and so do I- so I'll go with sand. How deep should it be- is 4-6'' really how deep?

I'll type more later...
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Old 08-25-2004, 08:41 PM   #8
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You can go deep or shallow with the sandbed.. it's really up to you.

I can tell you that a DSB is not typically recommended here in UK anymore.. I personally have a 2" bed and still seem to get all the benefits, without the lingering fear of an eventual crash. But a lot of people keep a DSB for years without problems so it's certainly not cut and dry.
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Old 08-25-2004, 08:59 PM   #9
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6 inches is rather extreme. I personally have a 3 inch sand bed.

use this calculator: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/calcs2.php?type=sanddepth

to find out how many lbs you will need to purchase to reach your desired sand depth...You have a hex tank so you will need to do some tricky figuring. how well do you remember your geometry class?
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Old 08-25-2004, 09:52 PM   #10
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Might be what they call a flat back hex. For a tank thats 36" wide or more than a MH solution would really require two bulbs. If the tank does not have a center brace you could get by with 1 MH bulb in the middle. The edges of teh tank woudl be dimmer than the middle but it woudl proabbly be ok. If the tank does have a center brace then you would need a bulb on either side of the brace if you did MH. If its 36" wide you could go with a series of 55/65W PC bulbs or some 3' long VHO bulbs aswell.

If you go with a CC substrate keep it shallow.
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