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Old 09-26-2010, 08:39 PM   #1
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Live Rock and Filtration Question

I havent had a saltwater tank in a long time and both the large systems I had were set up when I bought them. Life got in the way (ie: moving divorce) things like that and I was unable to keep my tanks.

I have a friend that is giving me a nice 55 gallon tank so I want to start another saltwater tank. I think it will be great piece of mind because I used to just sit and watch my other ones when I had a bad day and it just calmed me down.

Its a normal rectangular 55 gallon tank but it was used as a fresh water tank.


1. Do I need to do anything special to clean it before I start putting my live sand, live rock in?

2. On a 55 gallon tank how long should I let the water and live rock sit before I attempt to add fish? I know the last tank I did was 30 gallons and it took about 6-8 weeks before I was able to add anything.

3. What kind of middle of the road filtration system should I use? I would like to be able to add some clowns and a couple other fish that are comparable but I also want to add some pretty plants and a couple of anemones so what type of flow and filtration system will best help me here?

4. Lighting. I am pretty good at building things so what type of lighting would be best for this type of tank? I am going to build a nice automated lighting system that will be all digital with timers and the ability to use different types of lighting so I will need to know what kind of wattage I will be dealing with.

That's all I can think of for know. Thank you in advance for any help that you can provide. I am just getting able to do things again from having Leukemia so this is a special project to me. I spent 5 months in the hospital and even died once while my wife moved another man into my home and then brought me home to it and put me in the guest room of my own house so it has taken me a long time to get my head straight and I think this will help me have some peace of mind. Thanks

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Old 09-26-2010, 09:12 PM   #2
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1-Depends on how bad it is. Clean it out really well with warm water and vinegar if needed.

2-Depends on the condition of the rock when you get it. If it is fully cured when you buy it and you transport it home completely submerged the process will go much faster (as little as a week). In general: get all your live rock in and then let it sit in the tank with water running but no light. Monitor ammonia and nitrite. Ammmonia will go up then down, then nitrite will go up then down. When nitrite is back down to 0 do a big water change (to get nitrate down to 0-5) and then you are ready to slowly start stocking. The longer you let the live rock sit with nothing to bother it the better start you will have.

3-In my opinion the modern reef aquairum uses natural filtration. The live rock will be about 80% of your filtration (1.5-2 pounds per gallon). Then you have the skimmer and refugium. Anything other than that should be as needed. In that size tank I would do a sump with a skimmer and refugium in it. With the skimmer you will get what you pay for, but anything is better than nothing.

4-Lighting depends on what you want in the tank. If you just want fish the lighting is just for you so it should be minimal for you to enjoy the fish (and not on all day growing algae when you are not home). For a reef most people are leaning toward high output T5 bulbs with individual curved reflectors. If you want to do your own thing then look into retrofit kits (made to mount inside of wooden canopies). It may be better to just buy a high quality fixture though (that is up to you). If you want more advanced corals than halides with supplemental HOT5 actinic lights would let you do anything.

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Old 09-27-2010, 05:35 PM   #3
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Thx Fishguy. I agree with you on the liverock deal and being most of the filtration. Both bigger tanks I had did awesome because they both had the appropriated amount of liverock and it had a nice skimmer and refugium in it and I hardly ever had a problem.

I just knew that lighting was a big deal and I have not had alot of experience with lighting and dealing with anemones and and a few plants. My fiance and kids want the Clown fish with the anemones and I do think they are pretty but have never had any so I wasnt sure what was involved with caring for them and the environment they needed.

Do you have a preference on a skimmer system?

Thanks in advance
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:46 PM   #4
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I used an AquaC spray injection skimmer. Instead of a venturi (where air is pulled in by the flow of water into or out of the pump) the pump only pumps water. As the water enters the skimmer it is blasted through a chamber of air. This way the skimmer doesn't have to be right next to the pump. You also get a lot of control (how much water goes in, how air goes in, and how fast water drains out/water level inside skimmer). They are not the cheapest but definitely a great filter.

I do have to say though that any skimmer is better than no skimmer. One thing I hated seeing at the shop I was running was people cheaping out at first, spending $100 on an underpowered skimmer, only to have to buy another one later because they realized the first one was inadequate.

Anemones are pretty sensitive, even advanced reefers with great systems can have a tough time with them. If you do them you need to wait until six months after any problems (ammonia, temp problems, etc.). They are also not essential for clownfish, but clownfish will host in many corals. Just something to be aware of. A bubble tip is relatively hardy and a will host ocellaris and percula clowns (among others). That is the one I would suggest if you try one.
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:50 PM   #5
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Thanks again for the great advice. It is much appreciated

So something like the AquaC Remora would be good?
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:04 PM   #6
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1) You can use bleach also. Take a cap or two in a bucket of water and wash the tank out really good and then rinse very good. Let air dry to make sure all traces of bleach are gone. I`ve done it many a tank whether mine or setting up someone else`s tank.

2) Depending on whether the LR is cured or not. You can even get base rock (dry) and cure the rock and cycle the tank at the same time. What ever you do dont use fish to cycle the tank. We have an excellent article on cycling in our SW articles section.

BTW welcome to our site.

3) LR and a skimmer are really all that`s needed. If you want more then a sump or refugium can be used. I do have a refugium on mine.

4) What type lighting really depends what type corals you want. I have soft, LPS and moderate light SPS corals. I use a VHO retro fit kit. I also dont run a canopy and use a reflector dome on top to make sure all light makes it in the tank. If you want anenomes, High light clams or high light SPS corals then you`ll need MH`s or T5HO system. You can check out my system by clicking on my signature where it says "view my tank."



You can view many of my fish and corals in my photo albums in my profile.

View my tank

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