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Old 12-26-2014, 11:24 PM   #1
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advice for starting for someone new to saltwater

As the title says I'm looking for info on starting a saltwater tank in the next year or 2. Would like to do a reef tank with coral, live rock, some crabs, snails, maybe a star fish and shrimp, and various fish and other creatures to make a nice set up. Would be looking to do a 60 to 75 gal tank. So what would be good filters, heater, and other necessary equipment to successfully have a tank set up like this? Thanks

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Old 12-27-2014, 03:25 PM   #2
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First thing's first...

With reef, a top of the line filtration system is a must. Your system should include (but not be limited to):

A Refugium
A Protein Skimmer
A Canister Filter

What media for the canister filter? Not Bioballs. Bioballs need to be rinsed and cleaned well every month or two otherwise they become a Nitrate factory. What I recommend would be Seachem's Purigen, which acts somewhat like a protein skimmer. It absorbs dissolved organic matters before they can decompose. To filter out the Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate, I would choose Seachem's Matrix. It is a super-porous stone material that has enough surface area for Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria, which will complete the Nitrogen (Nitrate) cycle.
The canister filter I would recommend is either a Hydor, or a Fluval.

Recommended protein skimmers include the Aquamedic Acone, Coralife 75, and the Hydor Slim Skim (if you have a refugium large enough for it).

For reef, strong lighting is needed. Depending on what corals you plan to grow, there is a vast array of options, but in my opinion, LED is the only way to go. LED bulbs last ten years (at about 10 hours a day), and depending on the watt per unit, can grow any coral. I have two 170 Watt units over my 90 gallon reef, and they work wonders. For growing reef, it is recommended to have at least 1 watt per gallon if you are using LED, or 4 watts per gallon if you use t5 HO lighting. If you only want soft corals and maybe some LPS, I would NOT recommend lighting as powerful as mine. You can get far cheaper systems specifically for softies and LPS.

Finally, you need water movement. The water moving is how corals get their food (besides photosynthesis), and some coral need higher movement than others. Once again, SPS needs higher movement than LPS and softies will, so if you don't plan to get SPS, go cheaper on water pumps or wavemakers.
Recommended wavemaker:
Aquamedic EcoDrift 8.0, this wavemaker has different wave settings, pump strengths, and frequencies. Up to 2,000 Gallons Per Hour, it also has a daylight sensor, so at night it turns it's power down for lower water movement like in nature at night.

That's about it... good luck!

I wonder why tough corals are called hammers, and weak corals are called buttons...

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Old 12-27-2014, 04:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. Currently I'm the research phase of this project. I currently have a 20 gal fresh water that is about max stocked and am slowly switching from fake to live plants in. I've always wanted to do saltwater and figured in the next year or two I should be able to. One question I have is where do most of you purchase your saltwater fish and supplies from the one stores around me that I've found are petsmart and petco and I know they aren't the best and petco is the only ones with saltwater. Do you have good luck buying from Internet sources?
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Old 12-27-2014, 07:20 PM   #4
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Old 12-27-2014, 08:12 PM   #5
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I've purchased live fish and coral from several online retailers. liveaquaria is my favorite and has the best shipping in my opinion. I have used petsolutions, aquacon and a few others as well. For hardware and equipment check out marinedepot, drsfostersandsmith or aquacave. Bulk reef supply is also another good source for equipment.
180g Reef - 60g Rimless Reef -90G FOWLR- 125g Malawi Cichlids- 40b REEF- 34g Fresh Planted-working on- 20L FOWLR- working on
I have a mix of many different saltwater fish amongst my tanks, but I love my Tangs most of all.
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Old 12-28-2014, 08:53 AM   #6
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Go with a 75 gallon over a 60, and definitely choose a "reef ready" tank.
You will need a sump that will fit inside the stand, unless you would like to display it next to the tank. A "20 long" aquarium is about the biggest you can fit in the stand of a 75 gallon tank. The sump will have to be partitioned depending on what you want in it. If you plan on a refugium, you will need to separate it into 3 sections. The first being an intake area where you will have a filter sock and your protein skimmer, the second your refugium area if you go that route, and the third section your return area. You will need to glue in partitions to do this. I would take the aquarium to a local glass shop and have them cut them for you so they are precise. It shouldn't cost much.

The watts per gallon rule is useless when speaking in terms of LED, and not all LED fixtures are created equal, and cannot be judged by wattage alone. You'll have to decide what you are willing to spend for lighting, and what options you want this lighting to have. You can light a 75 gallon for $200.00 and up.

I don't use canister filters so I don't recommend them. I find them unnecessary. Nitrate and or phosphate removing material in my opinion is just a band aid, removing symptoms of a nutrient issue, instead of correcting the issue. I prefer figuring out the source and correcting it, by changing food, or salt mix, or increasing flow...

You will need a heater, or better yet 2 smaller heaters for redundancy. If one goes out, the other will still heat until you spot the problem. Or, if one gets stuck on, it won't cook the tank before you can spot the problem. I would put one behind the rock in the display, and the other in the sump. this way if your return pump fails, you still have the display heated until you correct it.

You will need 75-100 pounds of rock. This will act as your nitrate reducing filtration. You can use "live rock" from the ocean or completely dry, man-made rock. Either will work. Some folks like dry rock to be sure you get no harmful hitch hikers from the ocean. I prefer live rock because I find the hitch hikers fascinating, and part of the ecosystem.

Substrate is optional. I like an inch or so of aragonite based sand on the bottom, for extra surface area for bacteria, and for some critters to live in. Also, white sand is reflective and helps lighting shadowed areas.

A protein skimmer is a good way to remove excess nutrients, and aerate the water. I would choose a skimmer rated for 1.5 to 2 times your total system volume. In my experience, manufacturers loosely rate their shimmers and many of the recommended skimmers are underpowered. The correct way to choose a skimmer is by air intake. The manufacturer should have the LPH (liters per hour) of air the pump pulls listed. I would shoot for a skimmer that pulls close to 1000lph.

Flow inside the tank should be achieved by the use of power heads. Effective power heads can be as cheap as 70 bucks and as expensive as 400+. It's all about how many "bells and whistles" you want. Either end of the spectrum will do the job.

Test kits. You'll need the API "reef master" test kit, and also Salifert alkalinity and salifert calcium kits. API's kit isn't very accurate for those things.

Lastly, your return pump. For a 75, you could use something 700-1200 gph. danner mag drives and Eheim are good quality. I have had good luck with Lifeguard Aquatics Quiet One pumps as well.
Good luck!

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