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Old 05-12-2009, 09:19 PM   #1
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New and looking for guidance

Hey everyone, I am new here and as the title suggests I am looking for guidance in starting a new saltwater aquarium. I have had several other aquariums throughout my lifetime and have always had a passion for marine life in every form. All of my previous tanks have been relatively small, around 10-15 gallons, and have all been freshwater tanks. I have been reading almost every article I can find on starting a new saltwater tank yet I have not really been able to find much more then the generic how-to's and I feel that I will need much more advice and guidance in this undertaking then what I have found to date.

What I am wanting to do is start a roughly 50+ gallon saltwater tank with reefs and rocks and fish that are accustomed to living in such conditions. I still have not bought the tank because I feel that buying it now would cause me to rush into starting the tank and I would end up making some fatal mistakes. I do know that I want a very lively and colorful tank with several types of fish and coral in it. My biggest dilemma however is that I do not know what all I will need, or more over, what is good and what is not in having such an aquarium. I also do not know what is the best types of inhabitants to put in my tank when the time comes. So in all of this I guess I am asking what are my options and which routes will allow me to start a thriving aquatic habitat that I will be able to enjoy for years to come.
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:00 PM   #2
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Well, Many people choose to have a Sump/Refugium. These hide equipment from the main tank and the refugium helps keep the nitrate down meaning less water changes. Usually a Refugium has a Sand bed and a type of algae. Pods are often cultured in the refugium to be sucked by a return pump into the main tank for fish to eat. To get good water, a RO unit is recommended. It doesnt have to make 100GPD, 30 or so will suffice for most people.

You also will need a good light for coral, The type depending on which corals you want. Hard corals need higher light than Soft corals and zoas. Zoas are a good starter coral.

In the sump a skimmer to remove excess waste is recommended, It helps lower the ammount of waste that becomes nitrate. Nitrate can also be removed by having a DSB(Deep sand bed) Where Anerobic bacteria turn the nitrate into nitrogen.

Look on local reef forums for a tank setup. You can usually get them really cheap. You could get a whole tank with rock and sump for a few hundred. Try to get a Reef Ready tank. It makes adding a Sump alot easier. People also sell coral frags which are pieces of a large coral which grow eventually. Corals on forums are alot cheaper than most LFS. Live rock and misc equiptment can also be found quite cheap.
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:12 PM   #3
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My biggest dilemma however is that I do not know what all I will need, or more over, what is good and what is not in having such an aquarium. I also do not know what is the best types of inhabitants to put in my tank when the time comes.
Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for that link Melosu, it helped alot to let me know what I need to start out. But I am still quite confused. I know that I will need the heaters and lighting and filtration and what not, but I dont know what is the best forms of these. What I was hoping to do for filtration is to come up with something that would most resemble an actual ocean current cause thats my main reason for wanting a SW tank finally, is that I want to transfer my love for the open ocean to a small piece of my house so I can enjoy it daily.

I know that a cycling light system would be the best way to go through the phases of day/night lighting, and I do want those lighting phases. I just dont know which ways are best to get those.

I dont know if I should just get one long heater and mount it in the corner or horizontially along the bottom, or if I should get two heaters and mount each one in the corner, or how I should run the heating.

I know I have to be quite annoying in asking so many questions, and not really knowing much about this current obsession of mine, but I am trying to learn and I figure who else is better to learn form then other people who share the same love that I do. So any and all help yall can give me is totally appreciated.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:31 PM   #5
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Welcome to AA! I'm fairly new to SW myself, but let me try to clear some things up for you. The first step is really deciding what type of "water box" you want. Reef with corals or Fish only. For a tank as large as you are talking about getting (and bigger is better for stability, options, etc.), you will probably want to run a sump. That would be the most likely location for your heater. As far as natural filtration goes, live rock is the way to go. The bacteria present in the LR will actually provide the biological filtration you'll need (Ammonia > Nitrite > Nitrate.

Light cycles can be complicated to do, but the most basic would be to find a lighting fixture that offers moon lights that are on when the main daylight lights are off.

Not annoying at all. We all start out with a gazillion questions. Trust me! lol Check out the stickies in the SW section and try to get an idea of what you would like to eventually keep. It is a ton better to go slow and research than to get in a hurry to get it setup and wind up troubleshooting issues that could have been prevented.
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:40 PM   #6
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I believe HN1 covered it all. The few things I want to add is 1) A lighting cycle is really not necessary. I`ve never had one for 11 years and my fish dont seem to mind. If you want one you can do as HN1 suggested with the moon lights. 2) A sump and refuge is always a good idea. More water volume is always good. 3) As far as filtration LR and a skimmer is all you need. We usually recommend 1.5 to 2 lbs per gallon. It will house your nitrifying bacteria that converts your ammonia to nitrites and then your nitrites to nitrates. The skimmer gets rid of DOC`s that eventually turns to excessive nutrients. Dont worry about questions. We love answering them.
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Old 05-14-2009, 03:45 PM   #7
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Cool, that helps me out alot cause I was looking at like buying pretty much everything I could for filtration and what not but I was afraid of over filtering the water if I bought too much. Most of the other tanks I have had used deionizers and an activated carbon style filter and I was thinking I would need both of those plus the live rocks and skimmers. But at the same time I was thinking that that would be overkill.

But that has got me thinking about a couple other questions... Do I put live rock in the main tank with the corals and fish or in the refuge or both? How big of a refuge would I need for like a 55 gallon tank? And for the moonlights I have seen a couple of people do the DIY approach and use LED's as their moonlights, is that a viable option?
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Old 05-14-2009, 04:10 PM   #8
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Cool, that helps me out alot cause I was looking at like buying pretty much everything I could for filtration and what not but I was afraid of over filtering the water if I bought too much. Most of the other tanks I have had used deionizers and an activated carbon style filter and I was thinking I would need both of those plus the live rocks and skimmers. But at the same time I was thinking that that would be overkill.

But that has got me thinking about a couple other questions... Do I put live rock in the main tank with the corals and fish or in the refuge or both? How big of a refuge would I need for like a 55 gallon tank? And for the moonlights I have seen a couple of people do the DIY approach and use LED's as their moonlights, is that a viable option?
Most reef tanks you see have live rock in the display tank. It can also be added to the sump which increases overall water volume and provides a place to hide equipment. A refugium isn't required, but it's nice to have as a place to place macro algae which will help with Nitrate. Also, it can serve as a place for pods to thrive providing free, natural food for your system. The DIY approach for moonlights is definitely viable. Do a search here and I'm sure you'll find several threads on the topic.
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Old 05-14-2009, 04:15 PM   #9
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The LR is usually put in the main tank yes, this is for looks and also where you would basically mount your corals. Over time your LR will also have Coraline algae grow on it which looks quite amazing. You can put also rubble rock into the fuge. A good purpose of the fuge is to reduce nutrients in your tank. For instance Chaetomorpha algae is great for a fuge. Keeps your display tank nice and clean. My 55 gallon is going to have a 30 gallon long sump with the fuge in the middle. This houses all the ugly equipment.
Anything that is DIY is always a viable option. That is up to you.

There are many people who still use activated carbon and other filtration along with their skimmers and LR. Some use filter socks, carbon, phosban reactors and so forth.
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