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Old 12-11-2010, 11:48 PM   #1
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Assembling my 55g FOWLR (opinions please!)

Hello everyone!

Well I'm making the jump from FW to SW. A friend of mine had a bunch of equipment sitting in his house that he wanted to get rid of so I went over today and picked it all up and came home and went through what was there.

Since this is my first tank I want to keep it pretty simplistic. I do want to run a sump setup. He gave me a 20g breeder but it doesn't look like it's going to fit under the tank. I do have some acrylic experience so I'm throwing around the idea of making my own sump. How man gallons of water would you recommend the sump to hold for a 55g?

Here's a list of the equipment I received as well. I wasn't planning on using any of the hang on the back filters but I figured I'd post what I have incase you guys would have any ideas on using them in some way.

(2) marineland HOT canister filters (1 with bio wheel)
(2) Askoll 201 Powerhead (which seems to now be called Aquaclear?)
(1) Askoll AC5000 powerhead (this thing is massive but I couldn't find any info on it
(1) Rio 2500 return pump (I found that it's rated for 375gph with 6' height, not sure how well that will work with my setup?)

Any of these usable? I didn't see much use of powerheads in FOWLR tank setups. Are they mainly used in reef setups?

I'm planning on using aragonite and trying to find dry rock (not sure what it's called when it's not "live") to save some on cost. I'm not in a huge rush to get it going. My LFS was recommending to set the tank up for a 1 day or 2 to get the salinity correct and the temp right then to put (2) damsels in the tank to start the cycling. They have a LOT of saltwater experience but it seems against the norm on the forum so I'm curious your thoughts on that.

I read a lot about putting shrimp in the tank to start the cycle. How does that work? What shrimp are recommended?

Well I guess that's it for now. My question is going to be lighting as I don't think there was anything included. I'm hoping I can make my own. I do a lot of plastic work where I work so I'm thinking I can get some light fixtures and make a plastic case for them.

Thanks in advance for the help!

Nick
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:16 AM   #2
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your sump could be as large as you want/need. i would shoot for the largest sump i could fit in the space i have available.

i would probably run carbon in one or both of the cannister filters.
i would keep the powerheads to mix water with in my water change barrel, and buy a couple new ones.
many folks use hydor koralias, and now there are many companies who copy them. i like the seio prop pumps because they have better magnets and seem to be constructed better.
powerheads are important in FOWLR tanks as well as reefs. you want uneaten food and fish poop suspended in the water column as long as possible so your filtration can remove it.

don't torture damsels to cycle the tank. besides, if they live you will be sorry you have them in the tank. don't kid yourself. if they are telling you to unnecessarily kill fish to start a cycle, they don't have as much experience as you might think. either that or they don't care and it's just a business to them. whichever it is, you should be careful about taking advice from them in the future.

just ordinary raw table shrimp. they will rot, in the same way the fish poop and uneaten food will rot from the damsels, and create ammonia, thus the start of the cycle.

nick, a 2 lamp fixture is all you need for a FOWLR. i like to have one daylight bulb and one actinic blue bulb. it just makes the fish and everything look better.

you may be able to use the rio return pump, but i have heard some horror stories about them malfunctioning and putting oil in the tank. i don't know if they still do this though. i like "quiet one" pumps.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
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My LFS was recommending to set the tank up for a 1 day or 2 to get the salinity correct and the temp right then to put (2) damsels in the tank to start the cycling. They have a LOT of saltwater experience but it seems against the norm on the forum so I'm curious your thoughts on that.
My thoughts are dont listen to your LFS. As a matter of fact find another one. When you cycle do it the humane way. the article below will explain it. Your LFS just wants to make a sale. Read this

Cycle your salt tank
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:02 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies guys.

Yeh I didn't think it was a good idea either. It's odd though, I think they feel the damsels are hardy enough to withstand the ammonia spike? They warranty their fish so I'm sure they aren't just trying to make the sale. They wouldn't send me home with a fish to kill that they'll have to replace.

Regardless I don't see it to be the right way.

I can't seem to find any dead rock around here ANYWHERE. I did find someone locally who has live rock they'll sell me for $2 a pound. Is this a good idea for starting the tank? Will it die while I transport it? Will most of it die off when I put it into my tank? They have "live sand" for .25 cents a pound as well but I'm not sure what exactly it is. I'm really trying to find aragonite.

Mr X, are you suggesting that I run the canister filters on the back of the tank or can I use one or both on my sump? I really don't want all that hanging off the back of the tank. That's partially the reason for going with the sump.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:10 AM   #5
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If they warranty their fish then you better stay with them because nobody does that except Liveaquaria and they are online vendors. BTW welcome to AA.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:16 AM   #6
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damsels are about a dollar wholesale. it's not hurting them to give away a few damsels. they look at the big picture. they know you'll be back to purchase expensive livestock soon.

yes, hang one or both of the cannisters off of the side of the sump.
make sure you wash them out real good. maybe use some common household vinegar mixed with water and soak them in that. who knows what chemicals went through them before you got them.
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Old 12-12-2010, 12:05 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies guys.

I can't seem to find any dead rock around here ANYWHERE. I did find someone locally who has live rock they'll sell me for $2 a pound. Is this a good idea for starting the tank? Will it die while I transport it? Will most of it die off when I put it into my tank? They have "live sand" for .25 cents a pound as well but I'm not sure what exactly it is. I'm really trying to find aragonite.
$2/lb is a good price for live rock. There might be a little die-off during transport but that will help with your cycle. The die-off will produce ammonia to start the cycle and bacteria growth. Live sand (if you're talking about the prepackaged bags) is not worth it and I would stick with dry aragonite. If it's live sand from someone's tank, it's the same thing as dry sand except it's been used and so should have a little bit of bacteria living in it already. I know MarcoRocks online sells base rock and sand with free shipping, but I don't have experience with them myself and the live rock you found is at a good price already. Welcome to AA!
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Old 12-13-2010, 05:05 PM   #8
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i agree. 2 bucks a pound is good, unless it's covered with hair algae or aptasia. then you have a good amount of work ahead of you, killing it off.

take a look at where the rock is kept. is livestock in the tank? inverts? some people unknowingly whack the tank with copper meds and ruin the live rock. you don't want it in that case.

if it's cured rock, you should be able to transport it completely submerged in buckets and limit the die off.
otherwise, it's like atte says. it's good for the cycle. either way you win.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:45 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the help!

I got to go out last night and look at the live rock I'll be getting and got it's background. It was setup in a larger tank (like a 90g) and the person had to tear it down so the girl I'm getting it from took it all and put it into a container with a heater and a couple power heads. Apparently it did have algea on it when she received it so she has been working on getting rid of it all and curing it. I got to look over the pieces and they looked great. They have been working with it for a while apparently. I didn't see any live stock in the tank but I'm sure it's better than me starting with dry rock right? She's going to help me out get my tank going and I'll most likely be buying/trading for all the rock that she has been curing. She estimates around 100lbs or so. She's going to give me a few of the pieces out of her 72g that's been running for a year because they want to rearrange their tank anyhow. They also have a thicker sand bed so that's where I'll be getting some of the live sand from. They won't have enough to do my whole tank so I will have to pick up some dry aragonite somewhere.

I found a guy locally who has a nice 55g plastic drum. They appear to be new and he's advertising them for the use of collecting rain water. I thought this would make a great mixing tank or a great place to hold water or let tap water sit (with a flow and heater of course) I can get them for $20. What do you think? I think it'd be great for getting my water ready for the tank, get it heated up and mixed and then just transport it to the tank when ready and just keep the drum filled with water for water changes.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:51 AM   #10
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it's not necessarily better than starting with dry rock. whichever is cheaper and depending on how much algae is on it, and what type.
you probably can't use that sand unless you rinse it out well. if it's only a few cups to seed your sand bed then it's fine, but a good amount and it will be full of gunk from the time it's been in her tank.

yes, a 55 gallon drum is exactly what i use and 20 bucks for it is very cheap. try to get a lid with it. i always keep mine full of unmixed water in case i need a water change in a hurry.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:07 AM   #11
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Do you think I can mix up say 50g in that drum with salt and get it ready to start my tank and use all that for the tank itself? Then you said you just keep unmixed water in the drum after that? How often do you have to actually add salt to the tank after it's started? I'm guessing evaporation only takes away water leaving the water in the tank with a higher concentration of salt? So to refill from evaporation you use unmixed water but for a PWC you use mixed water? Sorry, still new to all this and trying to get opinions from anywhere and everywhere.

If I take a good portion of their live sand and rinse it will that then take away it's "live" effect?
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:11 AM   #12
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you never add salt to the tank after the initial fill. only when you remove salt water do you add more salted water. yes, you are correct in your assumption.

if you rinse the live sand in salt water, it should not hurt the bacteria on it. what i would do is put it in a bucket, and pour salt water in it...stir the sand around, then pour off the nastys that cloud up the water...and repeat..until the water stays clean when you stir it.

nick, live sand is only live because of bacteria on the granules. this happens with any sand when it's in the tank for a period of time.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:31 AM   #13
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nick, live sand is only live because of bacteria on the granules. this happens with any sand when it's in the tank for a period of time.
I think I've wrapped my head around that understanding. I'm not quite sure how to word things yet since I'm still new to this. I know that the sand is live in their tank because it's an established tank. Figured since I was getting live sand I'd like to keep it live (as in try not to kill off the bacteria) and take advantage of the quicker cylcing. I'm sure the live rock will help with this as well.

I think the game plan we have worked out is that I'm going to get my tank setup, water mixed, purchase and rinse dry sand. add sand to tank and fill tank. Make sure it's the right salinity and temp. (What's a good temp btw?) At that point we'll bucket the live rock and live sand she has and bring it over and add it into the tank.

Is there anything that I'll need to keep an eye out for at that time? Should I invest in some crabs or snails or anything to help with the cycle and tank clean up?
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:40 AM   #14
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no. no livestock until you are sure you aren't going to have a cycle. as much as i disagree with their "cleaning" ability, they are supposed to be added after the cycle.
if you can get all live rock and transport it in buckets, you might skip a cycle for the most part. you might just get a diatom bloom and that's about it.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:45 AM   #15
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Works for me! Only time will tell with the cycle I'm guessing? Just keep an eye on ammonia levels to spike?
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:45 AM   #16
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yeap.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:10 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the help it's really appreciated. I'm hoping to look at the new tank sometime today. It comes with a sump tank but I'm guessing it's a wet/dry setup from the sound of it. After a lot of reading it looks like I'd be better off selling that and making my own sump so working on that issue now.
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Old 12-14-2010, 04:49 PM   #18
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Thought of something else.....

What rating of a heater would you recommend and what about using two in the tank? I'm kind of worried about if something happens to one then there is one for a backup?
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Old 12-14-2010, 04:52 PM   #19
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i agree. i would recommend using multiple smaller heaters instead of one larger one for the reason you mentioned.
i have 4 heaters on the tank i maintain at the local gym. 2 in the display, and 2 in the sump.
2 x 150 or 3 x 100 would work i suppose.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:06 PM   #20
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That does make good sense. I guess if I ran two each should be capable of heating the tank itself or else its a bit pointless if one goes out. If i have 3 then only two really need to be able to heat the tank.

Next set of questions. Lighting. The more I read the more I know I'll be considering a reef when my tank and I are ready.

I am looking at a 65g now which has a 4 bulb fixture. It seems the dimensions (I haven't seen it yet) are 36"w x 19"d x 24"h. I am assuming it has T8 fixtures. Since I do want corals at some point will T5HO bulbs reach the sand bed at 24" minus the bed depth? I'd imagine I will need a 6 bulb setup. From the research it doesn't look like a 8 bulb setup would fit. The tank is supposed to have a canopy. I'm very good with wiring (big into RC cars) and have a good understanding of electronics. Anything I can do myself to save money I will consider.
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