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Old 01-13-2004, 12:29 PM   #1
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HELP! I just bought a 13-year-old setup.

I've just purchased a 13-year-old saltwater/freshwater tank. I need some advice as to what I need to do in order to set it up for salt water fish and live rock. Here is what I got for $100:

1) black wood/formica cabinet stand and canopy
2) 60 gallon acrylic seaclear tank with two gaskets on the bottom opening into the cabinet below
3) Lifeguard filter unit -- Rainbow plastics filter division: QL-16 (appears to be an ionizer/sterilizer w/ 2 electrodes) & AF-94 (mechanical filter) & pump
4) 2x Second Nature Whisper Power Filters 3 w/ 4x 12-packs of biobags
5) Two airpumps
6) Sylvania Cool White Lightbulb 30W & Penn-plax aquarilux fl-30
7) Heater
8) Gravel
9) Ornaments
10) Test kits, other miscellania

1) I think that the stand is worth the most money at this point, being close to new condition with a few chips on the corners. It has an enamel finish and is smooth/clean without blemishes. There's something to a piece of furniture that weathers 13 years so well.

2) The acrylic tank is opaque due to microscratches all over the surface. However, when I fill with water, they all disappear, and the acrylic becomes transparent with the exception of a few small scratches. Pretty good in my estimation, for a 13-year old tank. It has several small and large holes on top of the tank for plumbing and access. Also, there are two large gaskets on the bottom of the tank which were used for filtration.

3) The Rainbow Plastics-Lifeguard filtration unit is my biggest question mark. If this unit is 13 years old, then it would seem that it might have some outdated technology that might not be helpful to include in a saltwater setup today. Can anyone give me any suggestions? The unit is setup as: Valve (in?)-Pump-Mechanical Filter-Ionizer-Splitter-2 Valves (out?). I suppose that one end is the input and the other end is the output, but I am confused as to why there are two valves at one end -- any ideas?

4) Is this whisper power filter 3 any good? I read that it is used for fresh and salt water tanks and performs mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. Should I use them for a salt water tank?

5) Do I connect the airpumps to the whisper power filters? ...or just into the water?

6) Do I need to change the light bulbs in order to have live rock and live sand in my tank? What kind of lights do I need?

7)-10) Do I need anything else for my tank right now?

*** Would you say I got a good deal (or just a load of old junk)?

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Old 01-13-2004, 01:08 PM   #2
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Wow sounds like a good deal to me! Wow you got the test kits too. Would love to see pics! I'll let the more experienced on here advise you on the filters, but it sounds like a great deal to me!

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Old 01-13-2004, 01:22 PM   #3
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Unless those are really new test kits I would throw them out. They tend to expire and will give false readings.

You will need more light for most saltwater aquriums but that can be added later. Get rid of the gravel and buy sand for a base, it is significantly better for saltwater tanks. 3-4 inches is needed. There is a calculator at the top of this page for figuring out how much you will need to buy. You will need to get 1 -1.5 lbs of Live rock for the tank as well.

If you are using live rock method of filtration then you will want to take out any filter media and run the filters empty. this will provide current and the rock do the filtering. Media in the filters will prodcue high nitrate levels so you will have to do many water changes or else your inverts will die off and you will probably get lots of algae.
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Old 01-13-2004, 01:34 PM   #4
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Could you explain how filter media produce high nitrate levels? I thought that ammonia leads to high nitrate levels, and that filters were supposed to remove all that from the water. Also, do I need a protein skimmer if I want to go the live-rock/sand route?

Can/should I run both of the filtration units and still use live rock/sand? Also, the Rainbow Plastics-Lifeguard unit goes underneath the tank, with water flowing in and out of the tank through the bottom. Will this work through 3-4 inches of sand? The other unit (Whisper Power Filter) is HOB, so it wouldn't have the same constraints, right?
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Old 01-13-2004, 01:45 PM   #5
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A skimmer is really handy to have and makes less work for you in the long run.

Filters can't remove ammonia or nitrites or nitrates from the water per se. They create a bed for bacteria to live and the water flows through this bacteria bed. The ammonia is converted to nitrites and then bacteria consume this which gets turned into nitrates. Filter media also traps debris and more and more of this is turned into nitrates. Nitrates don't get removed unless you do it and high nitrate levels lead to dead inverts. With the media the debris gets trapped in the lr and sand and the critters eat it up keeping the nitrate levels lower (if I am getting this correct, hopefully I am). The LR and LS do all of the conversion of ammonia and nitrites so there is no need for even having a filter. Water current is important though so your filter can easily be used for that purpose.

With a DSB (sand) you can't have a tube in the bottom of the tank. That sounds like a modified UGF of some sort. You might be needing to get some powerheads for extra water movement as you need to create of current that moves 10x the tank volumn per hour or so.
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Old 01-13-2004, 02:31 PM   #6
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two gaskets on the bottom opening into the cabinet below
Sounds like it has or had corner overflows or maybe yoru to put plumbing in to bulkheads for drains to go into your sump or wet /dry. I cant speak with athority on the lifeguard unit but the way I belive its to be hooked up is that it needs to go inline with a water pump on one end and a return to the tank on the other end. I agree on the bulbs and the lights in general. You will want more than just new bulbs for the saltwater tank. If it was a fish only system the light syou have would be ok with new marine bulbs but if you want to have healthy looking live rock (good coraline growth and macro algae) then you will neeed higher output lighting.

Remember dont tap the glass, your fish will think you're an idiot -Anonymous mother

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