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Old 11-18-2005, 11:46 AM   #1
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Newbie requires help please

Hi there,

I have been keeping fish for a few years now, have always fancied a marine tank but was always put of by the cost and apparent difficulty involved. Over the past few years I have managed to acquire a large selection of equipment from buying various tanks and feel that now would be a good time to have a go at marine, however I have a few questions that I hope someone out there may be able to help me with.

I am planning on setting up a mini reef system in a 2' x 1' x 1' (around 60l) tank that I have spare. I will hopefully have a fair bit of live rock, with just a 2-3 fish (prob clowns). I'm not too concerned about coral at the moment but I may want some in the future. My questions are:

1. What filter should I use, I have at my disposal a Fluval 4, an Interpet IPF2, a Fluval 1 and maybe a Fluval 303 canister. Would any of these be OK?

2. What lighting should I use? I have a 15w Fluorescent starter and a 25-30w Fluorescent starter spare. Should I look at getting some more lighting, perhaps a MH light? Also if I do use the starters I have, what tubes should I get?

3. I have an air powered protein skimmer, is it worth using it in a tank this small?

4. What should I use at the bottom of the tank, sand of crushed corral? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each one?

5. About how much live rock will I need in that tank? Would 5 kg be enough or more like 10?

6. Will I need any additional equipment, I have a spare heater, air pump and other bits and pieces, what else will I need to run this tank successfully?

I will say now thank you for any replies I get and I do really appreciate all of your help.
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Old 11-18-2005, 11:56 AM   #2
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1. The only filtration you will need is a decent to good protein skimmer. Mechanical filtration is not necessary.

2. I would definatly consider MH when you plan the reef. Pretty much any lighting will do for a fish only setup. It depends on what you want the water to look like.

3. Do you know the name of the skimmer? More detail please.

4. sand is better than crushed coral. Less waste will get trapped deep in the bed. The deep waste can give you alot of problems.

5. for LR you want 1-1.5x the total volume of the tank. So if I have a 20 gal tank, 20-30 lbs of rock should do.

6. the only things you really need right now is a test kit, heater, skimmer, termometer, refractometer. How are you going to get salt water and topoff water? Do you have an RO/DI unit? Or will you be going to your LFS to purchase water like me
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Old 11-18-2005, 12:13 PM   #3
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So no mechanical filtration at all? Sounds kinda scary! The skimmer I have came with a tank I bought, don't really know much about it. All I know is that it is a 'Berlin air lift, made by Red Sea Fish pHarm. It is made up of 4 sections and the total length of it is around 40 cm (16").

Best start saving for a MH light then! What power output should I be looking at? I want the water to look really clear and natural. If I was to go for a fish with live rock would you still recommend a MH light?

Sand sounds good to me, about how deep should I have it? Also do I need to buy a special sand or just ordinary aquarium sand?

My tank is around 15 Gal so Im guessing I'll need about 15-20 lb of rock.

I have test kits for ammonia, nitrite and pH, so will need to get a refractometer, what other test kits will I need? Not sure about the water yet, my brother has a RO unit that he doesn't use, came with a tank he bought but he's never used it. If I can get that working then I will be using that and mixing salt in, otherwise my LFS will have to supply me!
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Old 11-18-2005, 12:27 PM   #4
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More info on the skimmer can be found here: Berlin Air Lift
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Old 11-18-2005, 01:39 PM   #5
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Old 11-18-2005, 05:25 PM   #6
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Well have certainly done lots of reading, and am now gonna ask some more questions!

If I was to go for a system with a small sump (mainly to hide the heater and protein skimmer) would the volume of the sump count when calculating the amount of LR and lighting I would need? Also if I was to have a small sump with a quite powerful return pump coming through a spray bar across the length of the tank at the top, would that provide enough circulation or would I still need some power heads?

Am now thinking about getting say a 30" x 15" x 15" tank for my display and using the smaller one as a sump underneath in the cabinet to hide the equipment in. Probably only a pipe dream, and I'll have to stick to just the smaller tank, but still nice to know what options I have.

I would also still like to hear any comments about what type of lighting I should go for, weather my skimmer is up to the job and how much sand I should have in the bottom of the tank.

Thanks for all the replies so far, and in advance for any replies to follow!
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Old 11-18-2005, 08:27 PM   #7
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First off...Welcome to AquariumAdvice.com!!!
Quote:
The only filtration you will need is a decent to good protein skimmer. Mechanical filtration is not necessary.
Let me clairify...a skimmer is really a form of mechanical filtration, just not in the traditional sense. I will add to Dragon's response by saying that the only filtration you need is a good skimmer, a 3-4 inch sand bed and 100-120lbs of LR. throw in some powerheads for circulation. This is pretty much the all natural way to go and will work fine. If you are concerened with mechanical filtration via filter pads and chemical filtration (i.e carbon or chemi-pure) I would recommend some other sort of HOB or canister filteration.

before you go and drop a ton of $$$ on MH lighting, decide what type of corals you would like to keep. Most corals will do just fine under 4-6watts/gal of CF lighting. If you plan on high-light anemones, SPS corals and clams MH is the way to go. IF you plan on Softies and most LPS ocrals then you can get away with CF lighting. Tank depth will also plan a factor in this.

I recommend LR over CC for a substrate. Shot for between 1.5 and 2 lbs/gal of LR. You can also get a mixure of LR and base rock to keep the initial cost down as base rock is much cheaper. Over time, the LR will seed the base rock and it will all become LR.

Next step is to get a copy of "The Consscientious Marine Auarist" by Robert Fenner and keep reading.

Good luck in the set-up.
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Old 11-20-2005, 04:58 AM   #8
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No, the sump does not count in volume for lighting or LR (otherwise you get a very full tank). The recommened amount is 1-1.5lbs/US Gallon, so around 15-20 for you.

You should be fine with a compact fluorescent lighting fixture for most soft corals (zoos, xenia, mushrooms, etc), and some LPS if they're high in the tank. Its very easy to go overboard with lighting, but it only really hurts the wallet (just ordered 2x 250W MH for my 55g :| 8O ). For fish, a normal fuorescent fixture with a 10k bulb should look pretty good.

Go for fine sand. Live sand isn't needed if you have live rock (and isn't needed in general unless its full of good sand critters like worms, etc)

You obviously need a heater, salt, water, and circulation. If you have a sump, this could be the main source of circulation. Without corals, 5-10x flow rate per hour is the target. With corals, 30x and up is not unheard of. This would be total water volume including sump.

What are you intending to stock in your tank? 15USgal can be somewhat limiting in fish choices (a pair of false perc clowns, or a small wrasse and a clown, small goby, etc)
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Old 11-20-2005, 07:23 PM   #9
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Was only planning on a few fish, prob a pair of clowns, and quite a bit of live rock. Think I will have to wait and see with the lighting, although MH are expensive, the cost of normal florescent lighting is still quite high, and since I am planning on building my own hood I may be able to get away with buying the bits I need for a MH light then incorporating them into my design, suppose I'll have to see what bargains I can lay my hands on!

Am still thinking about a new tank with a sump, mainly because a 15 USGal tank with a heater, skimmer, a few power heads and 20lb of live rock might be too full before I add any fish!

How about that skimmer, will it be OK for my needs or should I look at buying a new, better one? Also about how much sand should I have at the bottom of the tank, I read somewhere talk of a 4" bed of sand, but am a little worried in a tank that is only 12" deep it may be too much sand!
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Old 11-20-2005, 08:13 PM   #10
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4" of sand consitutes a Deep Sand Bed (DSB). Some people love them for their nitrate reducing abilities, but I think they look kinda ugly

I'd go for 1.5" of sand myself, or just above the bottom trim of the aquarium. Its shallow, be careful about dropping rocks, but will serve just fine.

I'm not too sure about the skimmer. If you'd like to save the cash for now, feel free to use it and see how it works out once you have fish in the tank. It may be adequte for such a small tank. An AquaC Remora (hang on back) or Urchin (sump) is a good upgrade. Stay away from Seaclone/Prizm.

A pair of false perc (oscellaris) clowns would be good in such a tank. If you don't want corals yet, start with the cheapest light you can find until you're ready for them (such as the lights they ship FW aquarium kits with, desklamp, etc ). Doesn't make sense to spend money on a halfway light only to replace it 6mos down the road.
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flame angel, mated pair of false perc, 6-line, firefish

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