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Old 08-02-2015, 08:37 PM   #1
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New 55 gal tank

So I'm starting a 55 gal reef tank. So far I have either bought or already have from my prior sw tank: tank, stand, protein skimmer, 100 lbs of live sand (was originally going to convert my 92 sw but found getting a new home for an 13" Oscar is not easy - hence the overabundance of sand), RODI unit, heaters, test kit, bin full of powerheads, UV sterilizer, and a refractometer.

Questions:
1) I was going to get about 40-50 lbs of base rock and add about 10 lbs of live rock. It seems there is a lot of hype about marco rocks - but those go for $2.15 a lb. I found Carib Sea base rock for 89 cents a lb (supposedly fossilized coral). Are Marco Rocks that much better, or should I go with the cheaper option?

2) Is it necessary to cycle with RODI water, or can I start with conditioned tap water or distilled water and use RODI water once that tank is cycled?

3) I don't have a filter. I have a 12 or 15 gallon bow front aquarium sitting in the garage. Is there a economical way to create a sump filter from that? I did a cursory review of premade sumps (sans pump) and it seems the cheapest I could find is $200. Seems a canister filter rated for 100 plus gallons is far cheaper.

4) I lack lighting. I have a 34" compact florescent light left over from my 30 gal reef tank a decade ago. I'm not looking to maintain anything more than maybe some mushroom coral. Any suggestions for a economical lighting option?

I will have stocking questions, but those are a long way off.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 08-04-2015, 04:09 PM   #2
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Hi there: I am not sure about most of your questions but I can definitely give you a tip on your lighting question. I would suggest going to superbrightleds.com and get the NFLS-X3. There not that expensive, it's around $30 for a 39.4 inch strip, and it comes in a variety of colors, even UV for your corals. Each strip has one color and I would suggest 3 strips. 1 white 1 blue and 1 UV. To power all the leds I went with the 50W 12V DC power supply I would also get a mini dimmer for each strip so you could turn each strip on and off as you please.

Some precautions to think about, is if you get a filtration system that even splashes a little bit, make sure your leds are out of reach of the splashes, I've lost many sections of strips do to that. It's not fun cutting the strips and re-soldering a new section. I would either waterproof it somehow, get a less splashy filter or keep the water from touching the led. You will be spending around $100 for everything. That is the cheapest way I've found to have a pretty good light system. If you have any more questions about this just ask and I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Good luck with the tank!!!


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Old 08-04-2015, 04:33 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response. As far as lighting, I purchased two ceiling hung LED lights. Hopefully they don't suck ... but if they do they didn't cost an arm and a leg.
Sunspect 165W LED Aquarium Light for Reef Coral Fish Dimmable Full Spectrum | eBay
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Old 08-04-2015, 06:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nwsharksfan View Post

Questions:
1) I was going to get about 40-50 lbs of base rock and add about 10 lbs of live rock. It seems there is a lot of hype about marco rocks - but those go for $2.15 a lb. I found Carib Sea base rock for 89 cents a lb (supposedly fossilized coral). Are Marco Rocks that much better, or should I go with the cheaper option?

Go with your cheapest option if that is the route you want to go. It doesn't matter if it is live, base, macro...it is all about having porous enough rock for the beneficial bacteria to grow on when you cycle your tank. Don't even worry about seeding it, it isn't necessary.

2) Is it necessary to cycle with RODI water, or can I start with conditioned tap water or distilled water and use RODI water once that tank is cycled?

You should aim for as close to pristine water as possible. Conditioning tap will bring in unwanted nitrates and phosphates in levels that vary from region to region. I run my reef off of distilled water from walmart since the wife took over the kitchen when we got married. I have algae and it drives me nuts.

3) I don't have a filter. I have a 12 or 15 gallon bow front aquarium sitting in the garage. Is there a economical way to create a sump filter from that? I did a cursory review of premade sumps (sans pump) and it seems the cheapest I could find is $200. Seems a canister filter rated for 100 plus gallons is far cheaper.

You can make a sump out of anything. Bigger the better. Then you can run your skimmer and other equipment out of it. Even food grade plastic containers will work. The next sump I put together is going to be a large horse trough.

4) I lack lighting. I have a 34" compact florescent light left over from my 30 gal reef tank a decade ago. I'm not looking to maintain anything more than maybe some mushroom coral. Any suggestions for a economical lighting option?

The most economical lighting option is usually the taotronic LEDs and those like them. You can keep ANYTHING you want under them. They cover 2 ft of tank each and is a much better price than anything I've ever been presented.

I will have stocking questions, but those are a long way off.

Thanks for any help.
Hope this helps. Just go slow and things will go just fine.
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:40 PM   #5
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So, I have the tank with live sand, base rock and water. I ordered 20 lbs of live rock online (as the rock at the LFS looked a bit sub par - granted significantly cheaper than what I ended up getting). I had a question about cycling. Is there enough crud in the "live sand" to start cycling the tank? I'd like to get it started without having to wait for the live rock to show up. Can I just dump some Oscar pellets in there? Last night's leftovers? I don't have any dead shrimp on hand. ... or should I just be patient and wait for the live rock? Thanks.
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Old 08-06-2015, 08:54 PM   #6
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Even if the sand is really 'live', without something adding ammonia to the system the bacteria in there that make it 'live' will slowly starve and become not so live. I love the cocktail shrimp method personally as an ammonia source. It doesn't have the phosphates that flake/pellet food will dump into your system as it rots.
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Old 08-06-2015, 09:12 PM   #7
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How many cocktail shrimp would you suggest for a 55 gal tank?
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:42 PM   #8
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One. Toss it in some pantyhose for easy clean up.
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Old 08-07-2015, 08:09 PM   #9
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New tank is starting to take shape. Installed lights and filter today. Protein skimmer is ready to go. Getting 20 lbs of live rock hopefully some time next week. Brackets for the lights aren't the most attractive and I don't know that I'm 100% confident they will hold. Left bracket is in a stud but right is with drywall studs rated for 50 lbs. Fingers crossed. Will a glass top (to prevent compete submersion of a fallen light) reflect/block a ton of light?
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Old 08-07-2015, 09:17 PM   #10
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There will be some influence on the light penetration into the water, but with the lights you have there shouldn't be any issue with any corals getting the light they need.
As for the hangers, things look just fine to me. Might be because the lights are out, but it looks pretty nice.
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