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Old 03-16-2006, 07:11 PM   #1
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New 120 gal advice needed

Well, I'm going to take the plunge. I'm going to buy a friend's old 120 gal. Problem is, I know freshwater, but I don't know saltwater. What do I need to know about setting up a used system that books and articles haven't said?
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Old 03-16-2006, 08:55 PM   #2
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I would start with "The Conscientious Aquarist" by Bob Fenner. I think this explains everything pretty nicely from beginning to end. There is a lot to consider when taking the SW plunge. It is more expensive, and good husbandry is necessary for a successful setup.

From there, the book explains the different type of lighting you can use. This is where you need to determine if you want a FO or Reef setup since lighting can play a large factor with corals, etc.

120 is a good size to start for sure. Just determine what you want to keep and that will help you choose wisely on the types of SW life you want.

Welcome to the addiction!!!

Mike
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Old 03-16-2006, 09:35 PM   #3
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I second the book recommended by Mike. It is a great reference. Remember...the enemy of every SW hobbiest is impatience. Go slow, research...research...RESEARCH. You will save yourself heart ache and money in the long run. There are some great articles on getting started in the "Articles" section at the top of page.
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Old 03-17-2006, 12:16 PM   #4
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Do you know if the tank has ever been medicated? Was it used previously for FW or SW? Is it “reef ready”? Are you taking over an existing setup that has fish/inverts?

Research is key to successful SW fish keeping and as lando mentioned reading all the saltwater articles on this site and the articles on liveaquaria.com is an excellent way to get acquainted with all that’s required for this expensive hobby.

SW fish keeping isn’t really that much more complicated then keeping FW or brackish fish. The key thing to understand is that SW fish/inverts come from a very stable environment (the ocean) which has a fairly consistent sg/ph and very low nutrients. They require fairly stable conditions in the aquarium as well to thrive long term hence the reason you want to consider a skimmer which removes DOC therefore keeping your nutrient and no3 levels low. A SW tank can be run successfully without a skimmer (as many have done for years) but require more frequent PWC to keep DOC down. Since SW doesn’t exchange oxygen as well as FW you are also limited in the amount of fish you can keep compared to FW or Brackish. For SW the general rule is 1” of fish per 5 gal for starting out. For FW/Brackish it’s 1” per gal. There is virtually no limit on how many inverts you can keep though within reason. Acclimation is probably one of the biggest differences between FW/SW and drip acclimating them for 3+ hours to adjust to the sg/ph will help considerably.

FW & Brackish fish come from less then perfect water conditions most of the time and more oxygen rich environments which make them easier to keep in less then perfect water. As already mentioned as long as you take it slow ie: doing a fishless cycle, then adding 1 or 2 fish per week and research your fish/invert selections before purchasing you should do fine. I would also consider a qt tank (55 gal or a couple of 20 gal tanks) so you can qt all new inverts/fish and never have to treat the main tank.

lr and skimmer filtration (Called the "Berlin Method") doesn’t require the use of any mechanical filtration ie: sump or hob, but does require water movement through the use of ph (aiming for 1200-2400 gph for your 120 gal). It is easy to maintain although it’s costly to initially setup. You can use a 50/50 mix of base/lr to reduce costs though and it will serve the same purpose but not look as nice as having all lr.

Also unlike FW or Brackish the use of tap water/de-chlorinator is not recommended due to the high levels of minerals & usually no3/po4. A ro/di unit is recommended for removing all of these elements and to make the water as pure as possible.

A lot of people get them from ebay for around $100. Below are the 3 most popular sites:
Filter-Direct-store (seems to be most popular on this site)
The-Aqua-Safe-Pure-Water-Shop
ROfilterDepot

Also airwaterice.com is a good place if you don’t want to deal with ebay.
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Old 03-17-2006, 01:19 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the advice! I'm actually going over to 'visit' the tank and make sure I want it. He says it has 'everything' including sand and live rock, a trickle filter and UV filter but the lights might need an upgrade for reef use.

I understand (basically) lighting concerns - what would be the best suggestion for upgradability?
Could I get a high wattage system and just use a few bulbs at a time until I'm ready for a full reef?

I'd really like to make good decisions now so that I don't have to make expensive corrections later. I'll post later about what the full system includes. Thanks again - my nervous excitement continues!
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Old 03-17-2006, 01:31 PM   #6
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Does it have a canopy as well? If there is room I would consider DIY as far as lighting goes. A couple of 96W PC bulbs would be fine for general lighting and you could always add 250W MH bulbs later when you are ready for reef. hellolights.com has great service and prices
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