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Old 06-19-2010, 02:22 AM   #1
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Jumping into SW

Hey guys, so I've been out of the aquarium scene for quite a while since I had to move across country. I still have everything from my FW setup (55gal, wet/dry filter, heater, other tubes and bio-balls). I moved from the East Coast to Las Vegas and my fiancee and I decided to start a reef tank.

A few things I've been worried about and wanted to get straight before diving into the setup:

-the water in Vegas is extremely hard (313 ppm / 18.3 grains per gallon)... would this pose a threat to the animals? how hard would it be to do partial water changes?

-obviously I would have to thoroughly rinse the tank and other internal parts... could I still use the same tubes and filter from the FW tank, or would I need to get all new parts?

-if we start off slow (i.e. getting the tank established, adding in the live rock, then the other animals) adding over a period of several months, is it completely necessary to get the protein skimmer, UV filter, actinic lighting prior to even the live rock?


I'm just trying to get an idea, instead of jumping into it and getting frustrated down the road.


Also, I feel that I am fluent in FW tanks and had been doing it for a couple years, so I do have experience with diseases, medicine, and controlling water levels... just so you don't think I have no clue about anything "fish"
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Old 06-19-2010, 03:05 AM   #2
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Ok so you won't need the bio balls, live rock does a much better job at biological filtration and bio balls can become a nitrate factory so you'd want to replace them with live or base rock.
1. idk lol
2. I'm pretty sure you could use the same parts as long as they weren't infected with anything. Someone else may be able to clarify.
3. UV filters are usually unnecessary in most cases. however with that size tank a protein skimmer is definitely recommended. Your probably going to need actinic if you're wanting a reef tank. Also, you'll need special lighting for a reef such as T5 (preferably HO or High Output), PC (or Powercompacts) or MH (Metal Halides). If you really have the money you could go with LEDs but those are pretty costly for a good fixture.

Good luck, and remember, taking it slow is a good thing. Patience is key.
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Old 06-19-2010, 05:34 AM   #3
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A1 covered some good points. We, on the "Dark Side", use ro/di (reverse osmosis/deionized) water and a good saltmix to make our water for our saltwater tanks. You can get away with tap water for the first fill as you "Cycle" (Nitrogen cycle) your tank. read up on cycling a saltwater tank as this is one of the most important parts of setting up a SW tank. You won't need a skimmer or lights as you cycle your tank, but a 55g would need 1 1/2 to 2# of live rock per gal. of tank water. LR and your skimmer becomes your filter system so try not to skimp on them. Get the best skimmer you can afford and at least 80#'s of rock. Live rock is expensive so I would get 65#'s of "Base rock"(dry rock like "Marco rock) and 15#'s of liverock. For sand I would use "Aragonite sand". Do not use crushed coral as it is to coarse and hard to keep clean, ending up in elevated nitrates. I would not buy live sand as this is more often a selling point and the wet sand weighs more so you get less sand for your money.
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:31 AM   #4
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I definitely agree with getting a RO/DI system. I would not use that tap water to put in my tank.
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Old 06-20-2010, 02:33 AM   #5
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I'll ditto what thincat had to say. Very good advice. Check out the article section of the site for info on some of the tips suggested above.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:32 AM   #6
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spot on for thincat, and as a1 stated LEDS are expensive but will save you money in the long run and the viewing affect is second to none i would definately go with LED's.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:18 PM   #7
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Any recommendations on LED lights? Also, is it possible to add just sand and LR now and later on (before animal addition) get lighting?
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:36 PM   #8
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yeah, thats fine. The corals are pretty much the only inhabitants that would actually need the lighting (excluding certain inverts like crabs, anemones, etc.). Live rock doesn't need lighting to live lol.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:47 PM   #9
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I'm starting an LED build in the next few weeks. Ziggy is as well. I'm going to document everything, so that will give you a better idea. The problem with the 55 gallons is they are really tall, and you will have to have extra LED's and experiment with the lens angles to get penetration without "spotlighting"
Hellolights.com
fishneedit.com
both have good deals on HQI and HQI+T5 fixtures. They would probably be your best bet for a high light reef system. Check out the articles section here, there is tons of good info on beginning subjects.
Cycle your salt tank
Ammonia conversion to nitrate
Curing live rock? I didn't even know it was sick!
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:24 PM   #10
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when you buy live rock or base rock be sure to smell it and make sure there isnt any thing dead or decaying in the live rock because that would cause the ammonia and nitrite levels to soar, if it smells of any thing rotten or gross don't buy it..and dont put it in your tank.... try to buy live rock that has been "FULLY CURED". unless you have the time and space to "cure" the rock(s) yourself
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