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Old 01-14-2009, 02:11 PM   #1
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Glad to be here...with questions!

Hi everyone-
I just recently joined this forum after checking out several others.
I've had 55g FW tanks for years, community and cichlids, and my wife and I decided we wanted a SW tank. Our LFS (I'm still catching on to the lingo around here, lol) was going out of business and I got what I think was a really good deal. A used 125g tank, 80# of LR, wet/dry with plumbing and media, Mag 1200 return, aragonite substrate, hanging light canopy with 3 VHO bulbs, 2 jager heaters, and very nice homemade stand for $175.
I plan on FOWLR. As I started cleaning everything I used FW- a rookie mistake- but have since been curing the LR in a kiddie pool and it is showing signs of life, so I guess I didn't kill everything!
I've looked around the forum at other newbie's questions- some helped, some didn't- so I thought I'd begin my own thread "diary". I have some questions.
The first applies to the initial water fill. I called another LFS that delivers RO water for a fill and they quoted me a price of...$500!!! Five hundred bucks?? Are you KIDDING me??!! So that option was out, and I started looking at RO units on EBay, and through research I discover the ratio of RO water to wastewater is 3:1 to 4:1! I try to be environmentally conscious and the thought of wasting 375g of water to gain 125 disturbs me. I have no way to capture and store that much wastewater for future use.I understand not using tapwater, even with conditioners. So...
Is DI water acceptable? I can get it from a local grocery for .19 a gallon and haul it 10g at a time. I still plan on getting a RO unit for topoffs. Or how about plain well water?
When it comes time to fill the tank, can I fill it about half way, mix the salt, place the substrate and LR, then finish filling in smaller mixed batches?
Circulation- A very learned friend has a system on his 15-year established 250g SW tank that he made. It consists of PVC pipe running along the back and sides with holes drilled in it and a pump to push out detritus. I'd like to do the same- good idea? Powerheads- how many, what flow rate? I understand the principle of eliminating dead spots, but is there a given formula to go by?
Lighting- As I mentioned, I have a hanging canopy. I'm considering placing it on top of the tank, but I'm concerned about the weight- it's made with treated wood and has to weigh a minimum of 80#. Too much weight? If placed on the tank the lights would be about 6 " from the water's surface- too close?
Substrate- I'm sure I destroyed any possible life in the aragonite. Will the LR organisms spread to the sand, or should I buy a small amount of live sand to seed what I have? I have also been told by some that the arag crushed coral I have is too coarse- that is, too big, and will catch more detritus. Should I go with a fine sand, and should it be live?

I know I've gone on a long time, and I apologize. I like to be thorough, lol. We're excited about our first SW setup and want to make as few mistakes as possible- even though I've already made some!
Thanks very much!

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Old 01-14-2009, 02:48 PM   #2
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Welcome to the site!
I'm on well water and when I used my RO/DI I figure the waste water goes into the septic and eventually back into the ground.
When filling the tank, I would add some water then the sand an LR, otherwise you will end up with air pockets in the sand, if you add the sand first.
For FOWLR you can look at 10-20 turn over rate.
I have my lights about 6 inches from the water level. You should be ok with the canopy on top of the tank, but it would be easier to hang it for PWCs and cleaning.
Don't wast your money in the "live" sand. Use the dry aragonite sand and rinse it. I started with CC and within a few months didn't like it.
You can kick off you cycle with one raw, unseasoned jumbo shrimp per 30 gallons for your ammonia source.

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Old 01-14-2009, 05:16 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard. Glad to see you starting back up. 1) I would see about getting an RO/DI unit. You can get them on ebay for pretty cheap and it will save you money down the road. 2) I dont see why you cant do that. Just make sure you give the water a few days to mix properly before you add any LR or sand. 3) Allen covered it. On my 125 I have two returns powered by a mag 12 and a mag 9.5 on the other. Plenty of flow so that PH`s not needed. I do have a seio on one corner pointed at my SPS corals. 4) I have VHO`s. I have 4 160 watt bulbs. 2 50/50 and 2 super actinic. I dont have a canopy as I dont like them. You can check out my images and see my lighting set up. 5) As Scott said get the dry aragonite and rinse it out real good. It will become live over time. Read our articles section as Scott said and read about the fishless cycle.
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:01 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tips, melosu and roka. Very much appreciated. I'll check out the articles and see what other questions I can come up with!
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