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Old 09-14-2009, 04:37 AM   #1
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Help with new 55g, budget startup ideas?? DIY?

Hello everyone!
This site has a ton of great info and I am glad to be part of it.

So I picked up my 55g tank today and it is a full freshwater setup. I found it locally on craigslist and got it for $100 with everything but a stand. It is the petco setup. I am going to switch it to saltwater FOWLR at first but add corals later on when I can afford a nice light

Now what I need help with is keeping this affordable since I don't have tons of extra money, but who does now a days

What I want to do is setup the tank with about 10-20 pounds of LR and about 50-60 pounds of base rock for my cycle, unless I should maybe use live sand with base rock??

Next, what will be my budget minded options for filtration? Can I just swap the HOB freshwater filter out for something else or is there some way to use the one it came with?? I plan on doing a sump down the road but not right off the bat if I can get things started without it. Also will the normal heater that comes with the freshwater tank work for now?

I am pretty handy and have lots of time on my hands if I can do some DIY stuff to help me out please let me know! I plan on building my own sump when the time comes.

I am going to upgrade all this stuff at some point or another but replacing them all at once will be murder on the budget! I apprecaite any help you guys and gals can give me and let me know if there is something I forgot to mention
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:49 AM   #2
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As far as filtration I would just use the rock (LR and BR) and a skimmer. Along with a PH or two to push the water around would be an excellent source of filtration.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:42 PM   #3
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As agreed with melosu, i would say that live rock would be one form of filtration, since you are going to be using it. That would be biological filtration. Everyone seems to reccomend a skimmer for tanks 40G and over, and i would suggest that as well. So definitely get a skimmer. And don't skimp on the skimmer either since that plays a big role on how clean your water is. And clean water is always a plus.

One thing to take into consideration is the livestock you will be getting. You say you are starting a FOWLR, but then are changing over to a reef? Well if this is the case, you are going to want to watch out for the things you buy. Don't buy a fish now for your FOWLR, that will eat all of your corals when you DO start adding corals. It's not fair to you, that fish, and the corals lol.

And about the sump. If you are going to be getting a sump, but later down the road, you will want to figure out ahead of time what type of skimmer you would want. I had the same point of view as you now, "i'll just setup a sump in a month or two, because i don't really need it right now." Well now, i really can't get a sump, since i went ahead and bought a HOB skimmer. The HOB skimmer only sits in about 3 inches of water of my tank.. so just imagine how difficult it would be to fit it in the sump, considering you can't have a water level that is overflowing out of your sump.. lol. To fix that problem, you would need to extend the PVC of the intake on the skimmer.. and that would decrease the skimmers efficiency since the pump would have to work harder to push the water up that extra bit of PVC. Unless you get a new pump for the skimmer.. it wouldn't work as well as it should. Now i am stuck with the fact that i am going to have to buy a HOB refugium, since it's the only alternative i can have, since im definitely not buying another skimmer.

See, there's alot of planning to do in saltwater, and things you definitely want to think about before you go ahead and do them. Thinking of all the possibilities will be a better experience for you, and will save you money down the road. I figured that out the hard way.

Another thing is, that people usually slack on the RO water part of SW, and some don't even use RO water. Those are the people that you see with headaches from constantly batteling with bad algae and diatoms. You really don't want to be in that situation, because over time, you will just get disgusted of the tank, and having to clean it up so freaking much. It's just so worth it to use RO water or get an RO/DI unit that can provide you with an unlimited amount of RO water.

Since you plan to have a reef, i would suggest looking for lights now. lol. Lights will be the most expensive part of your SW journey. Whether you want metal halides which are expensive as heck, or T5 High Outputs which are less money, but still great for coral. I have a Current USA fixture right now that had 6 bulbs, each 54watts. With that i can house just about every type of coral, and clams. So just think of that.. And that costed me around 340$. So yeah, lighting is a pain in the butt. I'm not too sure on the dimensions of your tank, but my depth is 21". So i have that fixture over 21" of water, and i can house all those things i talked about. I would also suggest not to slack in the lighting department because you can wind up not liking the pick of corals you can have, with some junky light, and will wind up spending more money, getting rid of that junky fixture, and then buying a whole new one that is better. So i say buy the good one now, and save money.

Hope this helped. I tried. :p
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Old 09-14-2009, 03:35 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help guys!

Can you guys link me to a good HOB skimmer and maybe one for a sump that you would recommend?? As for flow I was planning on getting 2 power heads for sure.

As for changing from FOWLR to Reef, I was planning on only picking fish that are reef safe so I don't have to make changes later on.

I am new to SW and want to make sure I get all my ducks in a row. So to start my cycle all I am going to need is:

- Sand substrate which everyone seems to agree that aragonite sand is what I should use, but how deep for a 55 gallon tank?

- Power heads for water movement, I was thinking 2 x Hydor Koralia 1 Aquarium Powerhead 400 GPH

- Will the heater that came with the tank work?

- Some sort of skimmer

- Live rock/Base rock

Is there anything I am forgetting?? then I can hurry up and wait for my cycle
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Old 09-14-2009, 03:51 PM   #5
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Hey..WELCOME TO AA!!!

and welcome to SW Tankkeeping.. There is nothing better. You are on the right track with your setup.

You can also use that HOB filter if you want. I filled mine with LR rubble and use it to run Purigen in my tank(it's down in the Sump). I can also do carbon if I feel the need.

I started with an old 45gal tank and no sump. I bought the AquaC Remora Pro HOB Skimmer and it does a WONDEFUL job in my tank. I just didn't like the huge pump hanging in the back of the DT. Mine came with a Mag-3 and it's quite large.

I did upgrade to a 20gal Sump and few months into it. Thankfully I was able to fit the Skimmer in my sump setup. I kind of had to design my sump around my skimmer though as the skimmer section needed a high water level.

Anyway.. I recommend the AquaC line but there are a few others that I hear are quite good too.
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:27 PM   #6
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Those are a few sites i know that sell skimmers, filters.. etc..

As for the sandbed, it really all depends on what you want to have in your tank. If you pick something like a pistol shrimp, which burrows in the sand, then it needs to be at least 3"s. If you don't want anything that burrows in the sand etc.. then you really only need a thin layer, that is basically just for show right? My 55G tank has a sandbed depth of 2.5"s in some areas and 3"s in other areas. I do have a pistol shrimp and he has not had a single problem. But, if you do decide to go with a sandbed of that depth, you are going to need some sand sifting creatures, that will aerate the sand for you. Pistol shrimps do.. but they only do so much. Nassarius snails will plow through your sandbed all day long, so they are a must if you have a deep sandbed. Bacteria could build up below the sand if it is stagnant, and starts to smell really bad, and could harm your fish.

I have 2 Koralia #2's and that provides great flow for the tank. I would say that the Koralia #1's are too small for a 55G tank. Go with the #2's.. you will not regret it.

If the heater is 200watts then you should be fine. I am running a 200watt heater right now, and it heats my tank perfectly. Even a 250watt heater would do fine too.
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Old 09-14-2009, 08:53 PM   #7
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Read this to learn about your cycle.
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Old 09-14-2009, 11:06 PM   #8
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Thank you for that link.

I just need to verify a few things before I get my tank rolling. From what I understand is I set up the tank with the salt water in it running and add my substrate, get it up to temp and have the salinity correct then order my live rock/base rock and put that in to really start the cycle. At that point I'll throw a shrimp or 2 in there for good measure.

Is that about right? I'm going to buy my salt and substrate tomorrow if I have all of this correct.
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:18 PM   #9
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I got my tank up and running with my live rock and sand in it. I have my protein skimmer and powerheads on the way, they will be here next week I went with a Reef Octopus BH-100F. So right now I have the HOB filter that came with the tank running with filters in it. I was planning on putting live rock rubble in the HOB filter, should I do this?? Also if not should I be putting charcoal in the filters or no?? during the cycle and when the tank is up and running??? Thanks again guys!
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