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Old 08-21-2005, 03:08 AM   #1
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How close am I to having a beautiful tank without a lot of $

I have searched the forum and have found answers to many of my questions but still have a lot. I have been freshwater for about 5 years and feel it is time to go salt. I recently found a 125 gallon at a garage sale and want to make it a salt tank but after talking to pet store owners it sounds like I still will be spending $25-$35 a gallon (including fish) to get it completely set up. That is like $4,000! 8O After searching this forum I have found ways to save money on at least sand if I can find the special kind that passes the vinegar test, but I live in Oklahoma City and read that it is hard to find that kind of sand in the south.

I want a community tank (tangs, clowns, wrasses, damsels, triggerfish) with some sand and live rock, and maybe someday I will add some sea anemones and coral. Anyhow, here are my questions:

1. I have 2 emperor 400 filters, the ones with the double rotating bio wheels, are they suffice to filter the tank? Someone said if you have mechanical you don’t need live rock, is that true?

2. Do I need power heads, how many, what brand?

3. I know I will need some powerful lights, but should I get one long 6’ bar, or two 3’ bars, power compact or metal halide, what brand?

4. What about a protein skimmer, do I have to have one of those?

5. If I buy one big live rock, how long will it take to grow to the sand and other rocks, and can I have fish in the tank while it is growing?

Sorry for all the questions, I am lost and think this hobby may be too expensive for me, and am getting discouraged , if you answer only one question that will help.
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Old 08-21-2005, 04:12 AM   #2
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1. Filters are good, but I believe that the bio wheels are "nitrate factories". I use a canister and may be wrong. Somebody else chime in if you know better

2. You need to move the water around. It is suggested that you have 10 - 20 times turnover per hour for movement. For 125 gal you want to have ph's that can move the water at least 1250 gal per hour. Many people swear by Maxi-jet. I use Penguin because they were free.

3. Lighting depends on what you want. If you are only putting fish and lr in (fowlr) then NO is fine. If you want corals you can use PC and anemones, go with MH.

4. Not NEEDED but highly recommended. I don't have one in mine. I do have 2 of them, but both hang IN the tank and I don't like the look.

5. Sumps also not NEEDED. It adds water to your system and more water means more stability. Also a good place to hide protien skimmers and heaters.

6. Ideally you would want 1-1.5 lbs per gallon. As far as saving money goes, buy base rock and seed it with lr. I have 62 lbs of lr in my 55gal. 46 lbs of that was base rock. It is about half the price.

READ, READ, READ. Ask questions. Make sure you know what you are getting into, it can all seem overwhelming at first, but the rewards are great. Good Luck.
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55 gal cycling. Will be FOWLR.
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Old 08-21-2005, 11:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
I have 2 emperor 400 filters, the ones with the double rotating bio wheels, are they suffice to filter the tank? Someone said if you have mechanical you don’t need live rock, is that true?
These are my favorite HOB filters. I had one on my first reef and like it. As mentioned, ditch the biowheels. IMO, there is no substitution for LR. Every SW tank should be built around the idea using LR as your main for of biological filtration. You can supplimdent with mechanical filtration thereafter.
Quote:
Do I need power heads, how many, what brand?
Yes, three or four maxi jet 1200s.
Quote:
What about a protein skimmer, do I have to have one of those?
A skimmer is just one more tool to help you and your tank out. get one.
Quote:
If I buy one big live rock, how long will it take to grow to the sand and other rocks, and can I have fish in the tank while it is growing?
A long time. Going with a mix of LR and BR is a good choice when starting. It can save you a lot of money. A 50/50 mix is good but you can play with it as your wallet allows. Two sources for you... www.liverocks.com for the best aqu-cultured LR around and www.hirocks.com for cheap base rock.
Quote:
Sorry for all the questions, I am lost and think this hobby may be too expensive for me, and am getting discouraged , if you answer only one question that will help.
This is not a cheap hobby, you need to know that going in. It will be more then ever thought. However, it does not need to break the bank. Going slow and buying a little at a time will help.
Quote:
after talking to pet store owners it sounds like I still will be spending $25-$35 a gallon (including fish) to get it completely set up. That is like $4,000!
Maybe for a full-blown reef tank that they set up and maintain for you. Don't worry, it will not cost you nearly that much. One of the largest costs fo a reef tank is lighting. You do not need to worry about that right now. I suggest you go out and buy "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner as a resource.
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Old 08-21-2005, 11:10 AM   #4
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Oddly enough, I have been in your very same position for the past few months. I live in OKC as well. 8O On the NW side in fact. I wanted to start up a SW tank for as little money as posible. I found a used 58 Gal Oceanic for sale with Stand, lighting and over 60 pounds of LR. Since you have the tank, it appears as though your next largest purchase will be the LR. You can go with some LR and add it to base rock. Actually, I have a prizm skimmer and a bunch of base rock if you need either one of those. Also, there is a local aquarium association. Here is a link to their site: http://petsforum.com/okcaa/

Hope that helps. Good luck.
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Old 08-21-2005, 09:17 PM   #5
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First of all I want to thank all three of you for replying to my questions. My excitement for this hobby has been restored.

It looks like my plan is to start small (with a huge tank) and expand. Based on your answers I have a few more questions to clarify:

1. Filtration vs Live rock, Haus and Lando from your responses you both seem to be saying to not use the bio wheels, but to still use the filters themselves with the media inside, is that what you mean? What can I get away with, can I use my mechanical filtration with 4-5 fish and add live rock slowly, or do I need the live rock at the start to have fish? Because what I really want to do right now is get some fish the cheapest way possible (and keep them happy at the same time) and expand from there.

2. The last time I had a power head was when I was in jr. high with an under gravel filter. Do these power heads plug into any pipes or do you just stick them on the side and have them blow the water that is next to them?

3. How much does salt cost and how often will I need to do water changes on my 125?

Thanks again for the help guys and the welcome!!! I will look into that book you recommended Lando.

MyMonkey, wow! thanks for the offer, nice to hear from someone locally. I would like to see what you have as far as your skimmer and rock goes, how much do you want for it? I will check out that aquarium association you mentioned. By the way, do you have any suggestions on good stores in the area? Most of the places seem to not have much of a selection when in comes to saltwater fish. I have not gone to the Reef Shop, do you know if they are any good?
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Old 08-21-2005, 09:38 PM   #6
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Oops, forgot that I had two other questions.

Base Rock, has any of you ever used ordinary rocks that they found on the ground in their area? Or does that just look bad, or bad for the fish?

MyMonkey, do you know of any hardware store in the area here that sells play sand that is safe for the aquarium (passes the vinegar test) like some of the posts talk about?
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Old 08-21-2005, 09:43 PM   #7
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1. You got it. I use GAC and ceramic chips in my canister for media. When you add lr you have to make sure that it is cured. If it is not you will have an ammonia spike that will be stressful to the fish. I would add some right off the bat to get a good start, after that you can add more over time.

2. Just hang them in the tank and try to make sure there are not dead spots in the tank. Water movement in important and ther is what helps the lr serve as a biological filter.

3. I do about 20% - 25% every 3 weeks. Some people change water every two weeks. I spent $45 on a 5 gal bucket of salt from my lfs. General rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of salt per gallon.
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55 gal cycling. Will be FOWLR.
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Old 08-21-2005, 10:29 PM   #8
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Cali, regarding the use of local rocks, I think it depends on the type of rock but I am not positive. I have a 5 gal bucket full of dead rock in my garage. Also, there is someone in the local association with 50 - 100 pounds of dead rock that has sat dry for 3 years from what he says. The skimmer I no longer need is a Prizm Skimmer. Made by red sea I believe. I think they sell for around 70 to 80 new. This one was used for around 8 months. It works, produces brown stuff. Not as efficient as some though. I would part with it for $20 I suppose. Unless you had something to trade. 8) (I am in need of a 20 gallon long for a refugium) BTW, regarding local shops. Aquarium Concepts is a good shop with some nice stuff and great service after the sale. Also, a new shop called Aquatic Resource Technologies just opened up on Britton and McAurther. Nice place with some nice corals and polyps. However, the best selection in OKC is The Reef Shop. www.reefshop.com I think. They are by far the best in terms of selection. Although I hear they are not as friendly after the sale as some. Oh, also, there is a shop on North May around 70th. Forgot the name on that one. Great fish there. In edmond there is AQUARIUMS - TROPICAL FISH & SUPPLY. She is nice and has quite a selection. However, I have not found any good local live rock. It just seems nonexistant. I wanted to buy a few choice pieces but found none. You may try shoping around for some though. Otherwise I hear liverocks.com is good. As well as this site. They have a cool but expensive selection: http://www.tbsaltwater.com/

Good luck. LMK if you need something.

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Old 08-22-2005, 12:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haus
3. I do about 20% - 25% every 3 weeks. Some people change water every two weeks. I spent $45 on a 5 gal bucket of salt from my lfs. General rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of salt per gallon.
I have fw tank with gravel so it is easy to use a water vacuum to clean it. How do you clean sand without sucking up the sand itself
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Old 08-22-2005, 12:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMonkey
Cali, regarding the use of local rocks, I think it depends on the type of rock but I am not positive. I have a 5 gal bucket full of dead rock in my garage.
I might be interested in that, what does it look like? How much? First i need cheep cheep sand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMonkey
Also, there is someone in the local association with 50 - 100 pounds of dead rock that has sat dry for 3 years from what he says.
might be interested in that as well, how much does he want for it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMonkey
The skimmer I no longer need is a Prizm Skimmer. Made by red sea I believe. I think they sell for around 70 to 80 new. This one was used for around 8 months. It works, produces brown stuff. Not as efficient as some though. I would part with it for $20 I suppose.
produces brown stuff? Is that a good thing? Is it effieient enough for 125 gallons?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMonkey
Unless you had something to trade. 8) (I am in need of a 20 gallon long for a refugium)
sorry, have a 10 gallon tank that is in my attic, you probably would not want that as they are so cheep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMonkey
BTW, regarding local shops. Aquarium Concepts is a good shop with some nice stuff and great service after the sale. Also, a new shop called Aquatic Resource Technologies just opened up on Britton and McAurther. Nice place with some nice corals and polyps. However, the best selection in OKC is The Reef Shop. www.reefshop.com I think. They are by far the best in terms of selection. Although I hear they are not as friendly after the sale as some. Oh, also, there is a shop on North May around 70th. Forgot the name on that one. Great fish there. In edmond there is AQUARIUMS - TROPICAL FISH & SUPPLY. She is nice and has quite a selection. However, I have not found any good local live rock. It just seems nonexistant. I wanted to buy a few choice pieces but found none. You may try shoping around for some though. Otherwise I hear liverocks.com is good. As well as this site. They have a cool but expensive selection: http://www.tbsaltwater.com/

Good luck. LMK if you need something.

TeamMyMonkey@aol.com

JJ
Thanks again for the info, I think the place on 70th is called Josets pets. Stinks to high heaven in there.

Do you have sand in your tank? Do you know where I can get the old castle stuff everyone in the north east raves about?
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