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Old 11-29-2012, 06:01 PM   #1
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20 gallon SW Filtration Upgrade

So, I want to spend about $200 to upgrade my filtration on my 20g saltwater tank. I have a credit on Amazon, so whatever I get I need to get from that site. Here is my current setup:

Home made coke bottle skimmer (wet skim and works for now)
Tetra Whisper EX70 Power Filter
Koralia Evolution Aquarium Pump (425 gph)
20 Lbs live sand
15 - 20 lbs live rock
2 nemos
1 emerald crab
6 hermits
Various Snails.

My Ammonia is 0, but my nitrates and nitrites are a little higher than I would like. I think this may be due to the HOB Power Filter.

I want to eventually turn my 20 gallon into a sump and use my 55 gallon as a saltwater tank. I also want to eventually add some corals and such, so I want to make sure I will not have to buy larger skimmers, filters, etc. to accommodate a larger system if possible.

On all of these I plan to remove the Power Filter and Ghetto Rigged skimmer.

Option 1:

Add an Aquatop PSE1 Hang-On Protein Skimmer w/ UV + Power Filter. ($90)

Amazon.com: Aquatop PSE1 Hang-On Protein Skimmer w/ UV + Power Filter: Pet Supplies

It's rated up to 60 gallons, includes a skimmer and some power filtration. It also contains a UV light.

The only problem is that it does not allow me to include that much additional water to the tank. I also do not know if the skimmer will really be able to handle 55+ gallons. I can buy another skimmer in the future if necessary.

Option 2:

Only purchase a
Coralife Super Skimmer Needle Wheel - up to 220 gal. ($180)
Or
Coralife 05272 Super Skimmer with Pump, 125-Gallon ($150)

Maybe another small powerhead to move some more water.

Option 3:

CPR Aquatics AquaFuge 2 Medium Hang-on Back Refugium w/ Pump (New Outlet Design) ($145)
Coralife 05271 Super Skimmer with Pump, 65-Gallon ($100)
This one is the most expensive, but I like that it adds more water to my tank. The Skimmer also is still rated up to 65 gallons.


If anyone else has any other option ideas, I am open to them.

Thank you!
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:39 PM   #2
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I guess I could always use the HOB Fuge on another aquarium later though. In case i want to do a Nano reef or something.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:46 PM   #3
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Basically: A HOB filter rated twice your aquarium size (maybe get an Aquaclear one) would be nice. Some people even get a massive Aquaclear and make a mini refugium out of it. Adding GFO would be a great little upgrade.

You don't need a skimmer, but I've heard great things about the hydor slim skim. Even though they are mainly a company that makes powerheads, their skimmer is good quality and efficient. It could possibly be the cheaper/better than the other options you listed. Having a skimmer that is rated a lot higher than what tank size you actually have means it will get more waste out and if you get an upgrade like you said, you might not need a new one.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply Obscurreef.

My current powerfilter is rated for 46 - 70 gallons (340 gph). The intake is in the middle though, so making it a DIY fuge seems pretty difficult. GFO? Where do you put that? In the powerfilter?

I checked out the Hydro model, and I think I am more drawn to a Coralife because it can hang on the back. Although that probably will not matter once I get my 55 gallon setup and put the skimmer in the sump.

The reason I am drawn to the Coralife model is because it can be used for either. That way it wont take up much space in my 20 gallon, and I can pack it nicely in a sump. I always hear bigger is better when it comes to skimming.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
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I've only seen the refugium conversion work for the aquaclear filter anyway. Some people put little heaters in the filter just to keep them out of sight! Anyway GFO is Granulated Ferric Oxide. It binds phosphates, "removing" them. Phosphate can come from the water source and are nutrients for algae. You can put it in a bag and put that in the filter like you would carbon. However a reactor is more efficient since it is forcing the water to go through the GFO. I don't know you'll have enough space in your filter. That's why I recommend the aquaclear since you can pack just bags or essentially anything in that space unlike other filters where you have to buy their specific filter media/bags.

I've read that the coralife isn't the greatest skimmer. I mean it does the job, but it shouldn't be rated for how high it is. I think it would be fine on the 20. However I haven't had one so reading reviews and such would be good. Reef Octupus skimmers are very popular and great, but more costly. I don't think they have HOB models though :/. I have a skimmer that can be HOB or in sump, but it's more costly than I think you'd like to spend. AquaC Remora skimmers I believe have that feature, but they are very expensive. You get what you pay for though!
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:23 PM   #6
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Hey! Just noticed that you are in San Diego too! What LFS do you think is the best. I usually go to Aquatic Warehouse, but they always seem so busy. Maybe that is a good thing...
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:44 PM   #7
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Lol I didn't see you lived in SD too! Aquatic Warehouse is great, however I only buy all my equipment online b/c any LFS store prices have crazy high prices! By doing this I have prob. saved 100s of $s. Just for fun, my fav. LFS for livestock would be AquaSD. They get new stuff like every 3 days and great prices/quality! I usually only buy my coral there since they have $10 frags where everyone else starts usually at $20 for the neon, colorful frags. There's also Octupus Gardens which has some good deals and Ron, the owner, is very knowledgable, but can talk for hours if you don't stop him! I learned some great stuff from him and a volunteer who worked there. Reef Dreams (okay, but small selection) and Pet Kingdom (both kind of far from me). Pet kingdom is great, but if it's your first time going there you'll get lost looking at all their exotic stuff! I still do!
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:45 PM   #8
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I think AquaSD have cheaper prices than Aquatic Warehouse, but I only sometimes glance.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:45 AM   #9
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I'll have to check those out. I way to get some corals but I don't have lighting to properly take care of them. Maybe for Christmas!
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:48 AM   #10
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I think I'm going I give the aquatop pse1 a try. It should work just fine for a 20 gallon and I can probably put some media in it like you mentioned earlier.
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