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Old 04-29-2004, 12:58 AM   #1
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Newbie setup questions....?

DISCLAIMER:
Before I start, let me apologize in advance that I'm saltwater ignorant, longwinded and sometimes hard headed....lol.

Ok....I've got a really good deal from a local LFS on a 55gal. This setup comes with the tank, hood, stand, a Penguin 400 filter, cheapo 200w heater, InstantOcean salt and hydrometer, and 40lbs. live sand (my choice of type). Cost is $369.

Ok....here's my questions. I've had freshwater tanks before but this is my first saltwater.

1. From reading the other posts I've decided to go for a 4" DSB. Can I get the Southdown playsand on the bottom and put the LS on the top to make 4" or should I add more LS? Like more of a 50/50 mix.

2. With the DSB how much LR should I get? How much to start (min) and how much total?

3. I can get an unlimited supply of a non LR from another LFS for really cheap. It is reaaaaly porous and light-weight with a sandy texture (I can't remember the name but it's specifically for saltwater.) Tufa maybe? Anyway, my question is can I use that as base rock and use LR to seed it. And what ratio would be good? eg.60%non-LR/40%-LR.

Sidenote: The problem with the live rock situation is there are only two LFS here that sells LR. It is really expensive (7-10lbs) and it looks mostly NOT live. Brown, dull, hardly any life on it, no algae of any kind etc. I plan on using LR.com as most everyone here recommends their product.

4. What testing supplies do I need while my tank is cycling? Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? Any others?

5. What size/cap. powerheads do I need for this tank to start? And do I need them for the cycle?

6. Eventually, I want to build a refugium/sump. When and how should I do that? I have no clue on how to build one but very good at building things.

7. When should I get a protein skimmer? I understand the Bak Pak 2 is recommended.

8. Should I change my filter to a better one right now (I know it's not the best) or should I wait? What brand/size?

I'm trying to space out the costs over a couple of months. I plan on the cycle taking about 1-2months. Adding 1 fish every 6 weeks or so after the cycle up to about 5-6 fish plus a few inverts. 10% water changes bi-weekly (already have a tub and powerhead for it). 6 week QT for all new fish (already have a QT setup minus water).

Another sidenote: Here's the kind of LFS advise I'm dealing with: They advise adding 4 damsels after 24hrs after tank setup. Protein skimmers are not needed although they have them on all their tanks. They have very few fish and the tanks look bad inside and out. As I said before, the LR is terrible. 40lbs of LS is plenty for my tank. Low prices. ETC.

However, there is another LFS nearby that has gorgous tanks, is always willing to help/advise, lively fish that eat enthusiaticly. But have a limited stock due to space. Higher prices though.

My plan is to buy my equip online or at LFS #1 and all my animals at LFS #2 unless someone has a recommendation for an online LFS.

Ok.....I think I'm done now. Wake up! Get up, do some stretches, get some coffee, rest your eyes. And please come back and help me with some of this stuff. I know deaths/failures are going to happen but I don't want them to be from my ignorance.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HELP IN ADVANCE!!!

Fireman26m
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Old 04-29-2004, 01:02 AM   #2
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Oh....one more thing....lol.

Both LFS advise our local water system is ok for using in the tank and that is tests out fine and RO isn't needed. They both sell RO water though but say they don't use it in their tanks. I know everyone says use RO water but what are your opinions about this?
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Old 04-29-2004, 01:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
. From reading the other posts I've decided to go for a 4" DSB. Can I get the Southdown playsand on the bottom and put the LS on the top to make 4" or should I add more LS? Like more of a 50/50 mix
Putting the LS on top of the southdown will work, the southdown will become "live" over time.

Quote:
With the DSB how much LR should I get? How much to start (min) and how much total?
I would shoot for about 75-100lbs total, you could start out with the total amount or add LR as budget allows.
Quote:
3. I can get an unlimited supply of a non LR from another LFS for really cheap. It is reaaaaly porous and light-weight with a sandy texture (I can't remember the name but it's specifically for saltwater.) Tufa maybe? Anyway, my question is can I use that as base rock and use LR to seed it. And what ratio would be good? eg.60%non-LR/40%-LR.
The tufa rock will also become "live" over time. Theoretically, you could buy 90% of your rock as base rock and the other 10 as nice LR. However, it takes time for the coralline to spread etc...you'd probably be happier with more premium LR, like 50/50.
Quote:
4. What testing supplies do I need while my tank is cycling? Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? Any others?
While cycling, you will want hydrometer, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. If you plan to go reef, I would also plan to get alkalinity, calcium and phosphate tests.
Quote:
5. What size/cap. powerheads do I need for this tank to start? And do I need them for the cycle?
I would use PH 's during the cycle, they will facilitate flow through the LR and help speed the cycle. You want to turn over the tank volume at least 10 times, you could do this with 2 big powerheads like Maxi jet 1200's or more lower flow powerheads.
Quote:
6. Eventually, I want to build a refugium/sump. When and how should I do that? I have no clue on how to build one but very good at building things
I too am clueless about fuges and sumps...
Quote:
7. When should I get a protein skimmer? I understand the Bak Pak 2 is recommended.
You can wait to start your skimmer for a month or so after the tank has cycled and you've added fish. The exception to this is if you are curing the tank with LR and need to preserve any hitchikers, then run the skimmer from the get go. A bak pak 2 is okay, you'll probably get more recommendations for the AquaC remora.
Quote:
8. Should I change my filter to a better one right now (I know it's not the best) or should I wait? What brand/size?
I don't use any filter except the LR and a skimmer. The filter is best used for flow and running GAC . Let the LR be your bio filtration and snails, hermits and other cleaners your mechanical filtration.
Quote:
They advise adding 4 damsels after 24hrs after tank setup.
This would be to start the cycle. Spare the fish and cycle the tank with raw shrimp or the LS/LR. The RO vs Tapwater thing is up to you, some places have okay tapwater and some don't. I wouldn't trust the LFS, but once you buy some test kits test the water for yourself. Check for nitrates and phosphates and if they are low you could be okay. IMO Its just safer to use the RO and be done with it.
Otherwise, it sounds like you're off to a good start. Welcome to the board and come back with anymore questions HTH
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Old 04-29-2004, 01:26 AM   #4
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1) you can use all southdown if you want. it will become live quickly enough.

2) id go with 1-2 lbs per gallon

3) sure can! I'd use the dry rock on the bottom and cover it with LR. You can use as much dry rock as you want... it will quickly become live like the sand, but wont look as purdy as LR

4) Those are the main three... also need PH and if you are going to get corals later you will eventually need calcium and alkalinity. Save yourself the headache and dont try to save money on test kits.

5) roughly 10xgallon/hour so about 550 per hour i think?. I'd get two that are about 200, put them in opposing corner, and use the penguin for a bit more flow.

6) to long for me to explain... check the DIY section

7) when you introduce livestock... i'd go with an aqua c remora

8) Just use the penguin for additional water flow and you can throw in some activated carbon if you need it. The live rock and sand will be the primary filter


Everything sounds good... keep up the reading/planning. Go with RO water... i fill up 5g jugs at the grocery store for 29 cents a gallon.

HTH
rosstifer
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Old 04-29-2004, 08:16 AM   #5
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Perfect.....quick answers that agree with each other. That's exactly what I needed. This board is great!! Special thanks to jackdp and rossi!!!
They are very dedicated to read all this and take the time to answer so quickly.

Thanks again......I'm sure I'll think of more questions....lol
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