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Old 05-29-2014, 01:13 PM   #1
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finally taking the plunge.. 120g from cichlids to salt

been keeping large malawi cichlids and breeding a dozen or so species for a long while, but i just can't resist the urge to do salt anymore...

so i'm switching my established 120g (60x24x18) malawi cichlid tank to salt, but there are some challenges, and a lot of questions. i'm definitely thinking fowlr because although i have a reef capable LED, i can't run a sump where the tank is and with the stand. i also don't want to use a skimmer.
  • i'm guessing RODI water is an asbsolute MUST, even for a FOWLR setup is this correct?
  • can i use my existing HOB filters (4x aqueon 55/75 rated 400gph up to 90g each) with regular water changes?
  • what rock is best? cave/lace rock? white base rock?
  • can i use the pool filter sand i have in there now?
  • about cycling, i'll be starting with dry rock (can't afford 100+ pounds of live rock all at once), is it as simple as draining the fresh water, cleaning the tank, filling with RODI salt water, adding rock, and letting it sit? how long do i let it sit? do i add cheap fish like damsels or anything? obviously this is an established tank, but freshwater.
  • fish i like / are they compatible? yellow tang, a clown, flame angel, bicolor dottyback, yellow tail damsel, and a few others. my goal is to have few fish, for the most part small, making the "ocean" look bigger and each fish really catches your eye. i do really like some of the other tangs like powder blue or regal but that would be later, and i know they can get pretty large.

what do you think of my plan? will it work? any tips? thanks in advance.
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Old 05-29-2014, 03:29 PM   #2
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finally taking the plunge.. 120g from cichlids to salt

At the very least , I would use RO water. Pool sand is okay, but tends to have silicates, which can lead to bigger diatom blooms. Odds are your tank will get one when starting up anyways, this just might be worse until they are gone.

Using HOB on a big tank is going to mean a lot of maintenance, IMO. Filters collect stuff, which can quickly turn them into nitrate factories. You will need to be cleaning those filters all the time.

The fish list is okay. Many people regret having Damsels as they can be mean little buggers when they get larger. Powder Blue Tangs can be very aggressive and Regals are tough to keep.

Read up on fishless cycling. You can throw in a shrimp or use pure ammonia or even add something like Dr Tim's One and Only (which should cycle your tank in a week, or less).
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Old 05-29-2014, 03:47 PM   #3
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thank you.

is the fox face rabbit fish more hardy than a yellow tang? i like them as well.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:10 PM   #4
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If I had to choose, I'd go with the Foxface. You could do both in a 120 though.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TheTodd View Post
If I had to choose, I'd go with the Foxface. You could do both in a 120 though.
thanks. i would just do one or the other as they are both yellow.

i have a question about a protein skimmer. i said i wasn't going to run one, mainly because i am not going to be using a sump. but i came across a HOB, a coralife 65g. being that it's not rated for nearly as big a tank as i have, is it worth running it at all?
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Old 05-29-2014, 06:23 PM   #6
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The coralife skimmers are junk IMO. They aren't designed well for HOB applications and tend to overflow.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:52 PM   #7
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IMO i wouldnt even bother running an HOB skimmer on a tank that size. not only are they really not big enough to keep up adequately with the bioload, but they are external, which is just a problem waiting to happen if you ask me. if that thing overflows while you arent home...its going all over the floor.
as for the tang/foxface decision, id do the tang in a heartbeat. its my belief that the tang is a prettier fish looks-wise, but also yellow tangs seem to have an almost neon yellow to them when they are properly fed and healthy. the foxfaces are a duller yellow. not to mention foxfaces have venomous spines.... so dont forget that aspect. and pool filter sand (PFS) is completely fine. only concern should be the grain size. mine is way too fine and my powerheads blow it everywhere.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:57 PM   #8
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Reef octopus makes quality hob skimmers
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Old 05-30-2014, 12:15 PM   #9
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i am getting a fluval fx5 in exchange for some cash and all of my HOB's.
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Old 05-30-2014, 01:39 PM   #10
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Make sure you keep the canister extremely clean, they tend to trap detritus and raise nitrates if not properly maintained.
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