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Old 10-08-2004, 01:25 AM   #1
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My first sw tank, my budget, your opinions, in Boston.

Howdy folks,

So, I want a salt water tank. I've been looking, reading, researching, and forum perusing for a week+ now, and I've decided it's time to commit (murder, on my wallett). In my mind, the mini-ecosystem that a Reef tank provides is the only way to go. Now, I've never had a SW tank before, though I have kept a FW one. So, this is gonna be a breakdown of each category I can think of and what I've learned/semi-decided on thus far. I'm looking for specific opinions, brands, retailers, etc.

What I have-
55 gal tank
lfs hood

That's it. Everything else I'm buying, and I'm one for doing it right the first time. Now I guess I'll work my way through the categories. Oh, and a little bit more about the kind of tank I'd like to have- I want live rock, a fair amount of it w/ a LS base. I'm in the north east so the Home Depot play sand should be the good stuff (I'll check when Igo look for the stand/it's parts). Now, I think 100# of sand should give me about 3 inches of bed, then, what I'm hoping, is that I'll be able to find someone in boston that I can get some LS from to seed my tank, or, if nothing else, find a LFS to get some from. I'd like to have anenomies, and all the little beasties that come w/ liverock as long as they're friendly-ish. A few fish (maybe a mated pr of clowns) etc, but I know that won't be for months, til after everything's stable etc. Really going for the mini-ecosystem here. Anyway, onward & upward.

Yeah, I know, I'm working my way up for the things I'll need for my tank. Probably not much to say here, though would folks recommend an open stand or a cabinent type? If it's open, I could drap cloth around it if it were unsightly. After I get a stand, I'll need... No idea how much it'sgonna run though...

Filtration/Water movement
So, I'll need those before anything goes into my tankl I think refugiums would fit in this category, though I know the least about them? Difficult to set up/stock? Can I work with other methods til I get things stable then add it? I'll need a protein skimmer? Brand? Capacity? Anything I should look out for? Also, power heads, gotta keep the water moving, how many, what capacity/flow rate? Anything else I'm missing? Nope, no idea how much this'll run either.

I'm thinking one of those nifty Via Aqua titanium heaters would be cool... or warm. How many watts? Should I not go for this choice? My ambient is 68-72 deg. $50 for a heather is generous, I think?

Yup, lights are good. Soo, I'm gonna need a brand new system, I have no illusions that a LFS hood w/ 1 40w t12 will work. MH or high output florescents? What brand, how many watts, etc. I'd prefer not to spend more than 250, maybe 300 if it's going to be necessary/really worth it.

Test Kits
So, I hear they're useful? *ducks* I was thinking digital pH meter, kH, Ammonia, Nitr(i/a?)te kit. Oh, and a hydrometer.

Now I need water, so-

RO/DI filter?
looks like I can get a decent one for under a hundred bucks, 6 stage, w/ a 4 gallon tank. Need to know anything? How much is it needed?

Ocean in a bottle
One brand just as good as the other? I'm thinking Instant Ocean?

So, the playsand should go in before the water, right? But, I want it to be a bed of LS, so I put it here. How much LS to adequately seed 100# of playsand (3" bed)? Should I used LS if I can find it, or get a kit to seed it? Do I need anything other than sand?

Now the fun part-

Live rock
So. I understand that if I get enough LR, I won't need to go through a 6 week cycle? How's that work? Anyway... I'm seriously considering 40# of Gulf and 40# of Keys from LR.com- I'm really, totally into all the hitchhikers, would there be a way to maximize survivability? Also, is the hard limit of LR at 2#/gallon of tank capacity? Is it worth getting the more colourful but less lively Keys rock, or should I just go for totally gulf? I was thinking some from each, maybe 50/30 would be good for bio diversity? Ideas? Also, maybe I could pick up some Fiji rock for more diversity, or is it not worth it? Also, could I add it afterwards or what? Maybe 50/30/30 of gulf/keys/fiji for 2#/gallon. Or just more Gulf & Keys from LR.com instead of getting the Fiji from some place else? or just stay w/ the 80#? I don't know... Anyway, can 80# (min I'll get) cycle the tank w/o all/many of the hitchhikers croaking? Oh, and LR.com is the place to get it, right, I understand they cut deals for large orders/forum folk? And they don't sell LS anymore either... drat.

I suppose I've covered what I can think of. The only other thing would be fish, but that's months down the road. Oh, what should I feed the LR/hitchikers/tank anyway? Will anenomie hitchikers exist/survive? Coral? Stars?

Ok, let's see how many people jump on this. I totally want you opinions, preferably backed up It was this or a new computer, and, well, I think I'm proverbally hooked...

Last, anybody in the Boston area for an LS seed or something like that? Or local LFS's?



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Old 10-08-2004, 09:47 AM   #2
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First off...WELCOME TO AA!! A new computer would have been much cheaper. So, it sounds like you want a reef tank. In which case you will need to have better lighting. At least CF. The Coralife CF fixtures are well received here. Maybe more dependign on the anenome species you plan to keep. However, most do not reccomend trying one of these until your tank is very mature (8-12 months). If you go with a DSB and 100 or more lbs of LR you shoul not need any toher filtration. Combine that with a good skimmer and you will be fine. Your tank will still need to cycle, but using cured LR will will speed things up a lot. I know you have lots of other questions but I hope this helps get you sarted. Pick up a copy of "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner and continue to do your homework. Good Luck...Lando

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Old 10-08-2004, 10:54 AM   #3
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One thing I picked up on...

I recommend a cabinet type stand that is closed. My Oceanic has a glass window door. The more I hear about refugiums, I wish that darned glass door wasn't there so I could have light for a refugium. The way my basement and tank is laid out, it'd be hard to do a hang on fuge. Anyway, that's just my two cents. 8)

"Life may not be the party we hoped for but while we are here we might as well dance!"

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Old 10-08-2004, 12:50 PM   #4
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One suggestion from someone who's just been through it--skip the hydrometer and go straight to a refractometer. I got one on Ebay for under $40 and it's so much better than the swing-arm thing I can't even tell you.
75-gallon SW tank with 29-gallon sump
Euroreef ES5-3
2x Maxijet powerheads
Mag drive 9 return
Coralife 4x65 Lunar Aqualight
120 lbs rock from liverocks.com
1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
2 black Ocellaris, Squish and Smudge
3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
10-gallon tropical
29-gallon with two goldies, Carrot and Orangehead
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Old 10-08-2004, 09:46 PM   #5
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So is the Brix scale directly convertable to specific gravity?
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Old 10-09-2004, 12:46 AM   #6
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I've looked all over boston and haven't found aragonite playsand. If you find some, let me know.

I've heard jager heaters are the best.. Also, best to get 2 smaller ones instead of one big one.

Get the Fenner book before you buy stuff.

Fuge is good, especially if you want sifting fish in the tank (as I do).
54g all-glass bowfront corner planted FW

Red tiger lilly, Rotala Indica, Sagittaria Subulata, Micro Sword, Cardinal Plant
Fluorite Black sand and gravel
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Old 10-09-2004, 03:06 PM   #7
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See if there is a local marine aquatic society in your area. I met up with some folks here in portland and i could have saved a hundreds of dollars (if not a grand) by buying items used, and/or local, and from hearing first hand how things work.


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Old 10-09-2004, 03:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Banik
So is the Brix scale directly convertable to specific gravity?

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Old 10-09-2004, 04:31 PM   #9
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Thanks. I'm slowly getting everything ordered/bought. Is a Remora good enough for this type of tank, or should I go for a Remora Pro?

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budget, first sw, tan

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