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Old 11-29-2003, 10:53 PM   #1
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Impatient Newbie with lots of questions.

I am a newbie planning my first tank. I stopped in my local pet store http://www.preusspets.com - a store with which I have been very impressed. They place beautiful tanks all over town, in the theatre, post office, and stores. They seem to have an extensive selection of coral, fish, and equipment. Their reputation in the local community is excellent.

I ordered a 46 gallon bow-front tank and stand, made by all glass aquariums http://www.all-glass.com ($350) and plan to get the following additions -
a 36 inch Formosa DX lamp ($250)
2 MaxiJet 1200 Powerheads ($70 total)
A skimmer, 20 long sump, return pump, spillbox, and plumbing ($540)
heater ($35)
gravel ($50)
Premixed saltwater ($50)
Live Rock ($300 plus/minus $100)
Chemicals ($17)
Test Kit ($10)
Hydrometer ($15)

This gives me a total setup for about $1,700 plus fish and coral.

In trying to plan this tank I've read a book and a lot of web postings and there are a number of places where the LFS and the stuff I've read disagree. I'm looking for some consensus or guidance as to why something applies or does not apply to my situation.

1. Active charcoal - the book says use it and replace trace ions. One person at the pet store says use it in moderation and not worry about the trace ions, another says it'll lose effectiveness quickly and removes too much good stuff so stay away.

2. What else do I add to the setup - and at what cost? I'm already adding a UPS for the heater and a battery backed up airstone (for power outages), a thermometer, a turkey baster and razor blades - all at minimal cost.

The book strongly recommends a quarantine tank (pet store says that'd add about $100) and while they encourage me to do that they say they do a pretty good job of preparing the fish and they think I would get more safety by adding a UV sterilizer ($150) to the system. They showed me a white spot I would have never spotted on a fish in one of the fish in their main tank and said that it was almost impossible to get rid of the ich that caused those spots in a tank with corals, but that having a UV sterilizer on the system allowed the fish to keep it in check. Sounds to me like I'll need to add one or both of these or I'll be sunk.

3. How much water do I change and how often - LFS said 25% of tank size monthly, book says 5-10% every 2 weeks.

Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 11-29-2003, 11:21 PM   #2
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Re: Impatient Newbie with lots of questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveNandi
1. Active charcoal - the book says use it and replace trace ions. One person at the pet store says use it in moderation and not worry about the trace ions, another says it'll lose effectiveness quickly and removes too much good stuff so stay away.
AC has it's uses in a reef tank. When the water takes on a yellowish tint, AC is the best way to clear it. I wouldn't use it all the time for two reasons. 1) It's not needed all the time 2) It will eventually become bioactive and start to make nitrates.

Quote:
2. What else do I add to the setup - and at what cost? I'm already adding a UPS for the heater and a battery backed up airstone (for power outages), a thermometer, a turkey baster and razor blades - all at minimal cost.
I would probably go with two smaller heaters. It'll cost you a bit more up front, but you'll have redundancy. If one heater quits, the other will keep the tank habitable until you can get a replacement. If the thermostat sticks in the on postion, it'll take the smaller heater a lot longer to overheat the tank.

Quote:
The book strongly recommends a quarantine tank (pet store says that'd add about $100) and while they encourage me to do that they say they do a pretty good job of preparing the fish and they think I would get more safety by adding a UV sterilizer ($150) to the system. They showed me a white spot I would have never spotted on a fish in one of the fish in their main tank and said that it was almost impossible to get rid of the ich that caused those spots in a tank with corals, but that having a UV sterilizer on the system allowed the fish to keep it in check. Sounds to me like I'll need to add one or both of these or I'll be sunk.
I'd setup the Q tank. The UV will remove organisms that are beneficial to the tank as well as keeping parasites in check. It's nice to have a UV laying about for the times you need it, but most of us don't run one all the time. No matter how well the fish are quarantined at the store, they will still be subjected to stress when you take them home. This can lower their immunity enough to leave them susceptible to disease and parasites.

Quote:
3. How much water do I change and how often - LFS said 25% of tank size monthly, book says 5-10% every 2 weeks.
Smaller water changes on a more frequent basis are less stressful on the fish and inverts because they are subjected to less of a change in water parameters. I do a small change weekly on my tanks at home and about 15-20% every two weeks on the tanks that I maintain.
It sounds like you're off to a good start, but I would do more research and ask about anything you have even the slightest doubt about. I highly recommend "The Concientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner if you haven't already read it. I'm not familiar with the lighting fixture you mentioned. Is it a PC fixture? If so, you might want to consider going with a MH setup to start with if you want to keep SPS corals, anemones, or other high light inverts. I would urge you to check online for pricing on some of this stuff as well. $70 for a pair of MJ1200's is outrageous IMO. They can be had online for less than $25 each. What kind of skimmer and return pump are you planning to use? And, last but not least, WELCOME to AA.com!!!
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Old 11-30-2003, 01:29 AM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll get the book tomorrow.

The light is indeed a compact fluorescent. Here's a link to it from the manufactureres website. http://www.jbjlighting.com/sys_formosa_dx.html Looking on the web, I also like the CustomSeaLife PowerCompact/Moon-Lite Fixtures. I thought/was told that 96W of PC would be enough to keep corals and anemones.

I didn't actually get a specific name or model on the skimmer and return pump, but I asked for something that would be forgiving of mistakes (overfeeding or something) which is why we are going with a sump instead of trying to hang things off the back. Suggestions on size, make, and model of skimmer, return pump, and UV sterilizer (I was thinking 8Watts for the 46 gal tank) would be appreciated.
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Old 11-30-2003, 06:16 AM   #4
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One 96w PC over a 46 gal tank will limit you to corals that have very low light requirements. Anemones are out of the question. If you intend to keep inverts that have high light requirements, I would seriously look into a MH setup. At the very least, you'll want a 2x96w PC system and 3x96 would be even better. MH is your best bet though for SPS corals, anemones, ect... For this size tank, I would look at an Aqua C Urchin skimmer with the Maxi Jet 1200 pump. The Aqua C Urchin Pro would be even better...get it with a Mag 3 pump. For pumps, I like Blueline. They are quiet and reliable...not too pricey either. Little Giant and Iwaki are good as well. You'll want to invest in an external pump with an air cooled motor. The submersibles add heat to your system even when they are run externally. You might check the Sponsor Forum here for some of your equipment...there are several of us that run specials for AA.com members only.
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Old 11-30-2003, 10:01 AM   #5
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Sorry, it is 2 X 96W bulbs for a total of 192W (1) 10K DAYLIGHT/(1) 7100K BLUE. I'm going to look at brighter options. I really like the idea of something I can just clip to the top of the tank and plug in.

I'm going to look at the sponsor forum too. Thanks for the advice.

Another question - what is a reasonble ratio of base rock (cheap $2/lb) to live rock (expensive $4 - $10 per pound). I was told that over time the base rock will get colonized by the organisms from the live rock.

Thanks,
David
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Old 11-30-2003, 08:24 PM   #6
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192w is more like it and should allow you to keep most of the soft corals and other inverts with low light requirements. Anemones are still a no go with this setup though. You should really wait till the tank is about a year old before adding an anemone anyway.
I think you'd be OK with 25% LR and 75% base rock. Put the base rock in first and top it off with the LR. You'll eventually have all nice LR, but it'll take some patience.
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Old 12-01-2003, 10:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice.

Based on this advice we've decided to change the setup a bit. We want to get a Metal Halide / Something Else combo hood. We figure perhaps a 250 W / 2 X 65 PC like the Custom Sea Life http://www.captivereefs.com/captiver...CatID=lt-mh36# However, unlike the PC moonlight combo that CSL makes, this hood comes with no mounting kit to attach to the top of the tank. I'd really like to attach it to the tank because I have 2 small kids and am afraid if I just lie it on top it'll end up on the floor or in the tank. I'm no good as a custom builder. Any suggestions on how to mount this to a tank easily or what else I might get instead?

I am also changing from a euroreef to an Aqua C Urchin skimmer - it's cheaper and seems to get good reviews.

Finally, I plan to increase the sump from a 20 to a 30 GAL to get rid of more heat from the extra lights.

As far as waiting on the anenome we've been told to add it FIRST so as it moves around to get into a position it likes, it won't sting everything as it goes.

Any more advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
David
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Old 12-01-2003, 10:41 PM   #8
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Anemones tend not to do well in new tanks. You want to wait till the tank is about a year old and fully matured before adding an anemone. Anemones are not the easiest critters to keep alive even in a mature tank.
I'm not really sure how you might attach the lights to the tank without some custom work on the hood. I just threatened my kids with death and dismemberment if they touched anything on any of the tanks...seems to be working so far.
I think you'll like the Urchin skimmer too.
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