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Old 01-05-2008, 06:16 PM   #1
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New to hobby...need some major help

The girlfriend and I have decided to start a SW mini reef tank. I bought a 90 gallon tank that was pre drilled. I'll be honest, I don't know a lot about the hobby. I have been reading a lot and have a ton of questions. I saw the sticky at the top of this forum but it is not working. I am sure a lot of these questions have been answered already. I kind of know what I need but I am not totally sure how it all plums together and so on. Here are pictures of my new tank.




As for what I want in the tank I'd like to have live rock, mushrooms, coral, fish, inverts, ect. I am looking for a pretty and colorful tank. I don't want anything that is extremely hard to take care of. I don't want to waste money on equipment I don't really need. There are so many things to learn it's almost overwhelming. So here are the questions I have. Please bear with me.

What is the black baffle for in my tank? Is this what they consider a built in overflow or do I need to buy something else?

What do I need to do for an overflow and how do I hook it up? I have a 30 gallon tank lying around, can I uses this?

What do I need for a sump? I am assuming a sump just pumps water out of the tank for filtering? Is this correct? Does the sump pump it into the overflow tank first then get filtered? These are all assumptions here and I could be totally wrong.

What protein skimmer should I be looking at? Any particula brands?

What RO filter/pump should I be looking at? I am unsure what I do with this. Does it stay hooked up to the tank all the time or do I just use it when I want to add water to the tank?

What kind of lighting will work well for the tank I want? I like to have a clear white light.

Do I need a biofilter? Chemical filter? Or just a regular good ol filter?

Will I need a powerhead? My tank came with some sort of dual head nozzle. I think it is a return, does this work as a powerhead?

What kind of heater should I consider? Just follow the 3 watts per gallon rule? Any brands better than the others?

What kind of test equipment will I be needing?

What should I buy first just to get the live rock going and the tank cycling?

Is there a diagram around that shows how all this equipment gets hooked up?

I think thats all for now. I'm sure your answers will lead to more questions. Thank you in advance!
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:26 PM   #2
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Ok....I'll chime in on some of these:

1. Black Baffle is your overflow. The white pipes in the bag are your supply and return stems and they will lead to your piping below the tank.

2. The overflow (we call them sumps) are basically ways to hide your ugly equipment and to increase total volume of water for stability. I am the worst person to ask about this because i have a sump that has a larger capacity than my main tank, is in a different room and massive...search for sump on the site and you will get all kinds of ideas. The DIY section probably has a lot of pix.

3. The sump pumps up to the tank, the overflow returns water by gravity. One pump.

4. I haven't bought a skimmer in 5 years and use a Nautilus TE skimmer with good results.

5. I own an AQUA FX Barracuda RO/DI and I use it to fill my auto-top off and to make water for water changes. Had it 4 years and love it.

6. If you want to limit yourself to shrooms, zoos and some softies, I have a 4x65w Power Compact with moonlite, but looking back, I wish I would have gone metal halide and been limitless.

7. Live rock is all the filter you need, maybe run some reef carbon periodically to shine the water nice in a media bag.

8. You'll need powerheads to keep the red slime algae away. I use Maxi-Jet 1200s, 800s and 400s. Buy them at www.bigalsonline.com which is pretty cheap.

9. I run 2 200W heaters as a redundance measure in case one fails (hopefully not in the on position)

10. I test NO2, NO3, NH3, PH, PO4, and Alkalinity as far as regular tests, people prefer different brands. The one thing you CANNOT live without is a good, reliable refractometer. Don't go with the cheap swing arms, mine was off a lot.

11. Live sand and live rock will be your first purchase, and the live rock will get your cycle started.

12. Lots of diagrams around the site, can't point to one specifically.

Other people's turn...back to the football game.
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:34 PM   #3
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Welcome to AquariumAdvice.com!!!:sm ilecolros:
The tank you have does have what is known as an "internal overflow". This is a very good option if you are planning a reef tank. These are designed to be used with a sump or fuge. Your 30gal will work great (providing it will fit under the stand) for a sump. The overflow will deliver the water into the sump and you use a return pump to deliver it back to the main...but that is a whole different thread

A skimmer is always a great idea. You can hide it in your sump. There are several great models designed to be used in sumps.

I also love the idea of RO/DI unit. It is not the most glamerous purchase you can make for your tank but it is one of the most important. It is a very good idea to start out with one of these. Check out www.thefilterguys.biz for great units.

Lighting will really depend on what you want to keep for sensile inverts. Reef lighting is one of the most expensive parts of starting a tank so do your research so you only need to buy once. Again...lighting is a whole new thread.

Filtration...biological filtration is one of the most important aspects of a reef tank. Basically, it uses surface area in your tank to colonize benefical bacteria that processes waste in your tank. Using lots of LR and a LS substrate will provide your tank with lots of area to harbor bacteria. Chemical filtration uses chemicals to actively absorb impurities in the water. GAC is an example.

You will need three or four powerheads in addition to the return flow from your sump. Water flow is also an important aspect of a reef tank.

There are several good brands of heaters out there. I use Marineland heaters and have had good luck with them. In larger tanks it is a good idea to use two heaters instead of one. This way, should one fail you have another one to help out.

Basic test kits to start are Ph, NO2, NO3 and NH3. A digital thermometer and refractometer are also great additions.

Check out the articles section on this forum for great info on cycling a tank and for more great articles.

Keep the questions coming.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:20 PM   #4
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Thanks a lot for the info guys! It helps so much. A couple more questions if you don't mind.

The RO\Di unit; Is it plumbed into the tank or do you only use it to make up your RO water for water changes?

Also I guess I am not understanding the purpose of the sump\overflow. What is the benefit of having water gravity fed into a second tank and then pump right back up again? There is no filtering going on here is there? Is it just for good water movement? Or is the overflow tank just used to house the protein skimmer?

Sorry for so many questions. It's slowly becoming clearer.

Thanks again!
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dheck View Post
Thanks a lot for the info guys! It helps so much. A couple more questions if you don't mind.

The RO\Di unit; Is it plumbed into the tank or do you only use it to make up your RO water for water changes?

Also I guess I am not understanding the purpose of the sump\overflow. What is the benefit of having water gravity fed into a second tank and then pump right back up again? There is no filtering going on here is there? Is it just for good water movement? Or is the overflow tank just used to house the protein skimmer?

Sorry for so many questions. It's slowly becoming clearer.

Thanks again!
The sump hides ugly equipment so that is not an eye sore. A lot of people have a refugium section in there sump as to grow macroalgae which helps to prevent your basic algae. Or you can just do a simple sump to hide the equipment and add to your total water volume which will help increase your room for error and your system more stable. There is always a push to get a larger tank in this hobby because the bigger it is the more you can do with it and more room for error,. here is a simple sump setup http://www.aquacrylics.com/instructions.htm and here is a DIY setup with a refugium http://www.melevsreef.com/acrylics/s...***/index.html or you could buy one http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...=0029667000000


hope this helps
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:54 PM   #6
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I get it. So basically you'd put all your filters, skimmer, ext in the overflow tank so they don't have to be in the main tank.

Do I actually need any filters of will the LR do that part?
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:15 AM   #7
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no filters just water flow 10-20x tank volume per hour. If you run some chemical filtration such as purigen or carbon you will need some way to do so such as canister filter, biowheel, calcium reactor etc... And if you go that route about 1.5-2 pounds of rock per gallon is recommended depending on the density of the live rock you purchase. Basically you want pourous light rock with more surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and good real-estate to place your corals.
And the 10-20x water turnover per hour figure includes powerheads and your return pump from your sump. the protein-skimmer is not included in this equation. With a 90G about 150# should do the trick. Rock can get kinda expensive here is where I got mine http://www.intmarinefish.com/ this rock is moldy stinky and smelly caribbean rock straight outta the ocean good stuff
http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/s...cfm?pCatId=393 this site I got some fiji rock from and had some nice coraline algae on it and good looking and good quality rock but they sent me some bigger chunks and not much for shelf rock. I would recommend when you place and order for live rock that you call them and request some shelf like rock with good coraline coverage.
I got my RO/DI unit from melevsreef http://www.melevsreef.com/ro_di.html I searched for months and this unit was the best price I could find for a 100gpd setup. I just got it a week ago and I am very happy nice unit easy to setup and produces water fairly quickly.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:26 AM   #8
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I saw the picture you posted. Should I go ahead and put the baffles into my overflow tank? Do something like this?



Or is this necessary?
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:32 AM   #9
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I personally am still in the process of figuring this out like you. I ordered everything i needed to do the DIY sump. and I almost think it would have been easier to just order one yet it does cost a little more to do so. I figure fabricating my own will save about 150 dollars. If you got some cash to throw around it may be better to order one online. I am going to build mine in a week or so I will let you know what I think when its a done deal.. I think the benefit of making your own is that it is cheaper you get a bigger refugium section and it feels good to know you built something there is a sense of pride in ownership and that is what I am looking for.
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:30 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dheck View Post
I saw the picture you posted. Should I go ahead and put the baffles into my overflow tank? Do something like this?



Or is this necessary?
Actually that is my "paint" masterpiece...lol. It is just a basic layout for a sump. Simple to build and works flawlessly. You want baffles in there to stop microbubbles, which will come into the sump from the tank overflow, from getting pumped back into the display.
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