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Old 07-29-2015, 12:15 AM   #1
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Converting my freshwater into a saltewater (FOWLER?)

That's the plan anyways. The back story is that the good LFS in my area closed and a while back I learned that the "expensive" fish from the good place lasted years and the cheap fish from PetCo died in a few months. The LFS place that I was going to is really the only place to go to that had a good selection of fresh water fish and with them closed my tank is thinning out. I've been wanting to do a salt water tank since before I even got this one, so this may be the push I needed.

Anyways, right now I have a 40g fresh water tank, as well as an empty 40g tank and an empty 120g tank. In theory I should use the 120g tank but I'd really be shoehorning it into my living room unless I put it in front of a window and I'd prefer not to do that. I understand that's a bad place for them plus I open that window all the time. On top of that, It would mean buying a stand for a 120g tank. Using the 40g tank means I at least have the tank and stand ready to go.

Anyways, I have some questions. I've read a ton of 'what you need' lists* but plenty of them contradict each other or are really old so I figured I'd ask here. The equipment I have for this tank is a HOB filter, a canister filter (both over rated for the tank size), heaters and the tank/lid/stand/heater and a light (just a basic light from a pet store. I assume other than the tank and light (and I'm not even sure about that), there's not much that can be reused, though one person said I could reuse the canister filter.

So, off the bat I know I'll need sand (substrate), salt, live rock, powerhead(s). I plan to do this right and get a RO/DI unit. I've got no intention of buying water.

Some things I'm not sure about are using a sump/protein skimmer vs a regular filter (like my canister). I'm not totally sure what a sump is and I have no idea what a refugium is, but I see lots of people making them.

Regarding a sump, do people drill their own holes in their tank?
As for a sump pump, I see a huge range of prices $50 to over $200. I see some shut off when they run dry, do they ALL do that? Is that just a a feature of sump pumps? Without that, it seems I could just use my canister with all the innards removed.

Is a 40g (breeder) tank big enough? Should I do a 40g breeder with a 10g sump underneath? I'd guess that works out to about 40g total since neither tank is filled all the way. Has anyone drilled their own holes? I just assumed I could buy a tank with predrilled holes (Petco is running a $1/G special, but checking Petco and a LFS, I didn't see any tanks with holes.) I assume drilling holes is just what you do. I checked some youtube videos, seems pretty easy...and I do have a spare tank (that needs to be leak tested) if something happens.

I'm sure I'll have more questions, right now I'm just trying to get a feel for what I'm in for. Since I already have the tank and stand, it seems the major expenses, as expected, will be a skimmer and the live rock. But I'll ask for recommendations on those later.

*Someone needs to check those stickies at the top of this forums, there's a lot of dead links.

ETA, I'm choosing FOWLER because my research tells me it's the easiest of the three. I don't particularly care for the look of live rock, but I understand reef is hard to care for if you don't know what you're doing.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:46 AM   #2
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You can always do some hardy corals, like leathers or softies. They look cool in my opinion :P

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Old 07-29-2015, 01:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
That's the plan anyways. The back story is that the good LFS in my area closed and a while back I learned that the "expensive" fish from the good place lasted years and the cheap fish from PetCo died in a few months. The LFS place that I was going to is really the only place to go to that had a good selection of fresh water fish and with them closed my tank is thinning out. I've been wanting to do a salt water tank since before I even got this one, so this may be the push I needed.

Anyways, right now I have a 40g fresh water tank, as well as an empty 40g tank and an empty 120g tank. In theory I should use the 120g tank but I'd really be shoehorning it into my living room unless I put it in front of a window and I'd prefer not to do that. I understand that's a bad place for them plus I open that window all the time. On top of that, It would mean buying a stand for a 120g tank. Using the 40g tank means I at least have the tank and stand ready to go.

Anyways, I have some questions. I've read a ton of 'what you need' lists* but plenty of them contradict each other or are really old so I figured I'd ask here. The equipment I have for this tank is a HOB filter, a canister filter (both over rated for the tank size), heaters and the tank/lid/stand/heater and a light (just a basic light from a pet store. I assume other than the tank and light (and I'm not even sure about that), there's not much that can be reused, though one person said I could reuse the canister filter.

So, off the bat I know I'll need sand (substrate), salt, live rock, powerhead(s). I plan to do this right and get a RO/DI unit. I've got no intention of buying water.

Some things I'm not sure about are using a sump/protein skimmer vs a regular filter (like my canister). I'm not totally sure what a sump is and I have no idea what a refugium is, but I see lots of people making them.

Regarding a sump, do people drill their own holes in their tank?
As for a sump pump, I see a huge range of prices $50 to over $200. I see some shut off when they run dry, do they ALL do that? Is that just a a feature of sump pumps? Without that, it seems I could just use my canister with all the innards removed.

Is a 40g (breeder) tank big enough? Should I do a 40g breeder with a 10g sump underneath? I'd guess that works out to about 40g total since neither tank is filled all the way. Has anyone drilled their own holes? I just assumed I could buy a tank with predrilled holes (Petco is running a $1/G special, but checking Petco and a LFS, I didn't see any tanks with holes.) I assume drilling holes is just what you do. I checked some youtube videos, seems pretty easy...and I do have a spare tank (that needs to be leak tested) if something happens.

I'm sure I'll have more questions, right now I'm just trying to get a feel for what I'm in for. Since I already have the tank and stand, it seems the major expenses, as expected, will be a skimmer and the live rock. But I'll ask for recommendations on those later.

*Someone needs to check those stickies at the top of this forums, there's a lot of dead links.

ETA, I'm choosing FOWLER because my research tells me it's the easiest of the three. I don't particularly care for the look of live rock, but I understand reef is hard to care for if you don't know what you're doing.

Have only had my saltwater tank up for 3-4 months but will try to answer a few things.

1) Filtration
If you are doing a sump, live rock and protein skimmer you will not need more filtration. The live rock is your biological filtration. The protein skimmer, In saltwater due to the higher surface tension air bubbles are smaller this allows a filter that takes out TDS by carrying it away in the foam it creates. My refugium acts as a nitrate absorber. I grow macro algae and a colony of Copepods. The Copepods eat additional detritus allowing the waste produced by the Pods to be extracted by liverock or skimmer. They also provide food for my fish when they enter the main tank.

2) sump connection to tank and pump.

I have no experience drilling holes in tank I used an Eshopps overflow box to allow flow between the sump and tank. The pump I use for return is a normal submersible aquarium pump rated for the max flow of my overflow box. Others may have better experience drilling tanks.

4) liverock and substrate

If you use the above filtration method you will need 40lbs of live rock or base rock. Baserock or dry rock will be cheaper but will take longer to cycle. The rock besides filtration acts as hiding spots for your livestock, being from reefs these animals are used to have crevices to hide in. Substrate most fish will appreciate sand. Most Sand for marine purposes will also help maintain your ph and alkalinity. You will need 1-2 inches of sand. I used livesand to speed up my cycle but this is in no way required.

5) flow
You will need flow 20x-50x GPH the amount of gallons in your tank. Unlike freshwater these should be placed to create the turbulent flow of ocean surface currents. This can be created by circulation pumps or power heads.



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Old 08-02-2015, 01:34 AM   #4
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I'm still doing lots of thinking about this. I've looked at that idea of of an overflow and I'm on the fence about it. On the one hand, it means no drilling, OTOH, if it stops working or the return pump fails, I understand you can run into problems with the tank or the sump overflowing and pouring water onto the floor. In fact, that's one thing that's always worried me about HOB filters. One crack and all the water gets pumped out. I know canister filters can do that as well, but they seem a bit hardier.

As for the sump, I'm toying with the idea of using a 20g tank. I'm not sure if I can physically maneuver one under my stand though. A 15g tank might work though. Either of those will up the total volume of my tank.

As for filtration, just to be clear, does the protein skimmer act as a mechanical filter? I suppose people do just stuck a filter over the input hose though, right?

Again, I'll have lots more questions, I'm sure, but right now I'm more concerned with equipment.

One thing though, I'm surprised at how small the PWCs are. I'm reading things about 10% every week or two where as on my freshwater tank I'm doing 40-50% every 1-2 weeks.
Why is that? I can't imagine just pulling 5 gallons out. On my 40g tank I hook the Water Changer up and let it run into the bathtub for like 15 minutes and it takes about 10 minutes to fill back up.

Oh, something else, is the protein skimmer/sump loud? I've worked hard to make my tank just about silent. When everything is working well you'd never know there's anything mechanical working on it. The sound of constant gurgling/moving/aerating water would drive me batty. It's the main reason I don't use an air pump. If it's an option, I'm willing to pay more for a quiet skimmer.
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Old 08-02-2015, 10:11 PM   #5
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Well, I picked up a 20G high Aqueon (All Glass) tank from Petco today (they have a 1 dollar/g sale going on so worked out to half price. Didn't fit.
I suppose while I had the cabinet emptied I should have tried the 10G that I have on hand as a QT, but I assume it'll fit just fine, so that's what I'm going to work with as a sump.
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
I'm still doing lots of thinking about this. I've looked at that idea of of an overflow and I'm on the fence about it. On the one hand, it means no drilling, OTOH, if it stops working or the return pump fails, I understand you can run into problems with the tank or the sump overflowing and pouring water onto the floor. In fact, that's one thing that's always worried me about HOB filters. One crack and all the water gets pumped out. I know canister filters can do that as well, but they seem a bit hardier.

As for the sump, I'm toying with the idea of using a 20g tank. I'm not sure if I can physically maneuver one under my stand though. A 15g tank might work though. Either of those will up the total volume of my tank.

As for filtration, just to be clear, does the protein skimmer act as a mechanical filter? I suppose people do just stuck a filter over the input hose though, right?

Again, I'll have lots more questions, I'm sure, but right now I'm more concerned with equipment.

One thing though, I'm surprised at how small the PWCs are. I'm reading things about 10% every week or two where as on my freshwater tank I'm doing 40-50% every 1-2 weeks.
Why is that? I can't imagine just pulling 5 gallons out. On my 40g tank I hook the Water Changer up and let it run into the bathtub for like 15 minutes and it takes about 10 minutes to fill back up.

Oh, something else, is the protein skimmer/sump loud? I've worked hard to make my tank just about silent. When everything is working well you'd never know there's anything mechanical working on it. The sound of constant gurgling/moving/aerating water would drive me batty. It's the main reason I don't use an air pump. If it's an option, I'm willing to pay more for a quiet skimmer.

1 I don't have a lot of experience with the quiet level of protein skimmers to be honest. The loudest part of my system is the water coming from tank to sump.

2 With my HOB overflow box the return is only 1 deep from surface. And sump filled only about 7 gallons so during power failure my tank is still relatively full and sump doesn't overflow.

3 yes protein skimmer acts as a mechanical filtration. Instead of passing through a mesh material water comes in contact with the micro bubbles. Small dissolved particles attach to the bubbles and driven up to the collection cup hence removed from the system.

4 saltwater tanks are stocked much lower than freshwater tanks due to a variety of factors but mostly because Marine fish can not handle the higher nutrient levels freshwater can. The sheer size of the ocean means nitrate levels never go above around .1ppm and fish from here are used to very low levels. Example a 10 gallon freshwater may have an entire school of tetras and shrimp in it and be "stocked". A 10 gallon saltwater may have only 1 goby and be considered stocked.


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