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Old 02-06-2008, 04:16 PM   #1
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Another 90gal Beginner Setup Thread

Hello everyone. I've been lurking the forums for a while, researching on/offline for a couple of years (on and off), but finally pulled the trigger on a 90 gallon AGA with corner overflow in December. I started by wanting to go with a 55gallon tank that a friend gave me, but the snow ball effect took over and we are now at 90gallons. If I could fit a 6' long tank nicely into the sunken living room where the tank is going, the title of this post would have a 125gal instead of 90gal in it .

I'm starting this thread, because despite all of my research I still have (and will continue to have) some questions. I'll add pics and document our progress in this thread later if that is OK.

My wife and I are planning to start with a FOWLR setup, but as the tank becomes more established, we'd like to add coral. At this point I basically need some equipment and setup advice if you all do not mind. We've purchased the tank/stand/tall hood as well as filterguys RO/DI Ocean Reef unit. I also picked up a 30 gallon long which I am having baffle glass cut for and will convert this into my sump/fuge. Nothing is setup up as of yet, so I am in the "initial equipment planning and purchasing stage" . I plan to run the corner overflow into my sump which will house the protein skimmer, a small fuge, heater, and a return pump back to the display tank.

The next purchases will be the skimmer, power heads, return pump, heater(s) and then the lighting and misc other items (salt, test kits, refractometer, titanium ground probe). I plan to get the tank setup, test everything for leaks, and then drain the fresh water and add salt water/sand/live rock and begin the cycle. We will be doing a fishless cycle and are in no hurry so we can/will do it right. I’m still trying to decide on how deep of a sand bed we want to run, but will be doing 120 or so lbs of live rock.

On to the equipment/questions. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post:

For the skimmer I believe we have decided on an ASM G2. It is rated for 200gal tanks and from what I have read, you want to get a skimmer rated for more than your total combined water size (90 gal plus whatever is in our sump). The G1X is rated for 150 gal, but is only slightly cheaper so I figured why not go for the G2? A friend has a G2 in his 125 and seems happy with it. Any objections here? Seems like a decent skimmer for the price and it includes the pump.

Return Pump:
For the return pump I was looking at a MAG9.5 (950gph) or should I go larger/smaller? My overflow is rated to 600gph I believe (AGA built in overflow). I plan to have the overflow drop straight into the 30L sump, go through the baffles/skimmer area, and then be pumped back to the display tank via the MAG9.5. I figured I could split some of the return off at the sump to provide a low flow to the fuge area, and send the to the display tank. Seeing as the MAG will be located a bit to the right if looking up at the overflow from the sump, there will be a couple 90s and a bit of head height which will lessen the flow output. I could also run a ball valve to choke the pump if it flows too much correct? Our stand is 36" tall and the tank is 24" deep for a total of 5' vertical. I've got links to a head loss calculator or two, so once I figure out exactly how many 90s, bends etc we will have, I can calc the approx return pump flow. On the MAGs I have heard they run a bit hot. We live in Florida where it gets rather hot during the summers. Coupled with MH lighting which I plan to add, I want to take heat into consideration. I'd prefer to not run a chiller if possible. I'm open to suggestions on keeping the heat down as well. I've seen mention of running return pumps outside of the sump but am unsure how this is plumbed exactly.

I like the price/design/magnetic mounting of the Hydor Koralia (and it seems they just came down in price since the last I checked). I've read between 10-20x water flow is recommended in the tank. If the return flows say 600gph, and I have a 90gal tank...assuming 20x rate, 1800 minus 600 leaves 1200gph flow that I would need from my powerheads. The Koralia 2s flow 600gph and 3s flow 850gph each. I was thinking of doing (2) 3s for our tank, one pointed towards the surface to help with aeration. A bit more than 20x flow, but I have read the koralia’s dispurse the flow pretty well and are not a straight on flowing power head (if that makes sense). Or would I need (3) powerheads (and perhaps step down to the 2s)? Once again open to suggestions on this as I have never used this equipment before.

I've also considered adding a SCWD on my return to help with alternating flow, but am unsure on this particular item.

I can probably start a whole new thread on this but I will try and make it brief. We have a tall hood which could fit some MH retros. I was thinking of doing (2) 250W MH retros such as these http://www.championlighting.com/prod...cat=540&page=1. The tank is 4’ wide so (2) should cover it alright from side to side. The tank is 24” deep as well. Would other lighting be needed or can a tank be run on just MHs alone? I do plan to add some LED lunar lights for night viewing though. I’ve seen quite a few combo units with MH and other PC/CF/T5/VHO etc but wasn’t sure what is actually needed/recommended. Would MHs be a bad idea for a FOWLR tank until we get around to adding coral? Would any other lights be recommended with the MHs for FOWLR?

Misc Other Equipment:
There are a few other things I plan to purchase right away which I am unsure about. I'd like to find a pump to place in a new/clean trash can which I plan to place my RO/DI water in. I'd like this pump to be able to fill the display tank for the first time, and later if needed I can use it to transfer water from the sump when I do PWCs. I could also use this pump to mix new salt water for PWC or pick up another pump for this purpose. Any ideas on what others have done would be great.

Heaters? Which brands to use/stay away from? I know some people run 2 heaters for redundancy. I was thinking either (2) 150w or (1) 300W. What does anyone recommend and I will add it to my master list?

Thanks once again in advance. You all seem like a friendly group so I hope I haven't pushed your patience too far with my lengthy post and questions. We can't wait to get started.

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Old 02-07-2008, 04:56 PM   #2
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Did I post in the wrong forum? Thanks for any input you can provide.

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Old 02-07-2008, 06:52 PM   #3
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Right forum, just a lot to digest.


And thanks for doing so much research before starting.

The ASM G2 is a good choice for your skimmer.

The Mag 9.5 may be a good choice. You don't want to overdrive your overflow but need to take head height and the following into consideration:
  • each 90-degree bend in the plumbing will add about one foot of head due to friction
  • as a result of friction, each 10-foot horizontal run of pipe will add a foot of head pressure
  • Any time a pump discharge is shunted off, perhaps to a protein skimmer, this will also rob the display tank of flow
The Mag 9.5 is rated at 850gph at 3'; 800 @ 4' and 750@ 5'. The mag will add

I have two of the Koralia 3's in my 125. Any more flow and the sand would blown away in areas.

Getting the lights you want up front is better than buying new ligthing systems every year (as I did). FOWLR becomes reef quickly. 24" depth takes you 400w MH for high light corals or clams on the substrate or low down in the tank. Adding T5 or PC for actinics gives you the dawn/dusk effect. It's not necessary and many people just use MH.

Get a BRUTE trash can for your water. BRUTE are all food grade and won't leach anything into the water. You can get them at Lowes.

Yes to two heaters. I use a small pump and a JBH ATO-1 for my top off water.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:03 PM   #4
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Welcome to AA

1- That's a good skimmer. You should be happy with it.

2- That pump should be fine too. I would add a ball valve after it so you can slow down the flow rate if needed. I don't use a Mag so I can't comment on the heat.

3- I use the Koralia's and like them. I would suggest 2 K-3's if you don't plan on coral that need lots of flow.

4- MH's aren't needed for a FOWLR tank and aren't really needed at all unless you plan on some high light SPS coral. I would think you would be fine with a VHO or T5 retro kit.

5- Double up on the heaters. It's better to have a functioning heater if 1 goes down.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:34 PM   #5
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I have a mag 9.5 and a mag 12 and I dont have any heat problems. You should be OK. Here is an equipment sticky we have on this site.

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Old 02-07-2008, 07:54 PM   #6
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Thanks so much everyone for your replies. I know it was a lot to digest so thanks for taking the time to read and answer my questions.

Based on what you have said I will be ordering the ASM G2 skimmer, a MAG9.5, (2) Koralia 3s, a couple BRUTE trash cans (one for RO/DI water with an auto shut-off float valve and one for mixing salt water for water changes), as well as 2 thermometers. I'll research the lighting a bit more.

Thanks again. I'll be sure to get some pics up and document our progress. We have a stock list and are researching everything possible before buying.

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