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Old 07-03-2009, 08:02 PM   #1
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Questions About Tank Set-up In Progress

I am in the process of setting up a 40-gallon FOWLER aquarium. Over the course of this week we have ...

• bought the tank, stand, and hood (cleaned, leveled, painted back glass)
• put 30lbs of dry Caribbean sand in (washed it thoroughly)
• put in about 35-gallons of salt-water purchased from our LFS (Reef Crystals)
• today put in 11-lbs of live rock with intention of putting in more LR on Sunday
• running a single power head for circulation
• running a simple Penguin power filter with a floss and carbon insert to agitate the surface and pull anything the floss/carbon might catch
• LFS told me a Protein Skimmer was not necessary at this point for my tank

A few questions at this stage of setting up the system:

1) Even though we washed the sand as instructed on the package - the water is still very milky over 24 hours later - is this normal?

2) We can barely see the live rock in the tank but we are seeing a few things moving around - normal I suppose?

3) I'm thinking of adding another 5-10lbs of live rock on Sunday and then considering a first fish or two next week - am I moving to fast?

Thanks everyone for any opinions or advice!
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:25 PM   #2
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1 and 2 normal. 3, yes.

Your liverock will provide your filtration so you want to build it up and let the tank cycle correctly. How are you cycling? Are you testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? Preferably with a liquid kit. On a tank that size, I think you'll need a skimmer once you start stocking it. You shouldn't add fish until, with an ammonia source present, you read 0 ammonia and nitrite and have increasing nitrate. Then do a big PWC. There is no set time, only test results will be accurate.
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:58 PM   #3
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I suppose now is the time to go ahead and put a raw shrimp in the tank?

My local LFS has been out of stock this week on test kits so I am hoping to pick one up tomorrow maybe at a retailer such as Petco. getting a test kit is my next purchase.

As far as the protein skimmer - it seems to be the most subjective topic when talking saltwater FOWLER ... one LFS completely recommended a protein skimmer as my only source of mechanical filtration while another said a power filter minus the bio wheels and packed with carbon and floss would work great for my tank and said I didn't need a protein skimmer at all.

In actuality, were amazed at some of the things were seeing just on the live rock. No hurry to buy fish but the water cannot clear up soon enough so we can get an even better look at all the stuff in the live rock!
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:07 PM   #4
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LOL. Totally understood. Watching the liverock and seeing things take form was one of the most fascinating parts of going to SW for me. I would think that you can add your shrimp now, but you may want to build up the amount of liverock first. Wait on one of the real experts (melosu, Kurt, Capt, Inn, Thin, etc.) to chime in about the skimmer. I'm still quite new to them having only run skimmerless nanos.
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Old 07-04-2009, 08:15 PM   #5
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Skimmers are not really needed during cycling, and in fact don't work too well until there is an appreciable bioload. It's quite possible to do without one altogether and rely solely on water changes.

I wouldn't worry about it till you have a few fish in there.
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Old 07-04-2009, 11:01 PM   #6
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All good information given above. For a FOWLR you really don't need a skimmer, You could even go with a wet/dry filter with bio-balls. It's when and if you decide to move on to corals that you need a protein skimmer. Until then, PWC's will control your nitrates. When you move to a reef and nitrates need to get as close to 0 as you can then PWC's alone won't do it. Don't be in a rush to add fish. Wait until your test takes all parameters except nitrates to 0 and holds them there for a few days, then do a large PWC, 30-50%, then the next day or so add a few fish at a time. Always figure on the max adult size of a fish when adding them to your tank.
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Old 07-05-2009, 12:11 AM   #7
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Hmmmm, to the OP, when you say fowlr what kind of fish are you wanting to keep? Most of the time I much rather have a skimmer on a fowlr than a reef and especially with predatory animals. With a 40g you might want to think about a canister for carbon use and using the HOB filter for a make-shift refugium regardless of whether you purchase a skimmer or not.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:53 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone for the advice - I think for now I am gonna go without the protein skimmer.

Today my plan is to buy more cured live rock from my LFS and even though I am watching the water parameters, they encouraged me to bring them a sample today so I am gonna do that as well.

To Innovator - my plan for fish is something as close to a community tank as possible ... I'm thinking 2 clown fish, a fire fish, and maybe a goby of some sort. We really like the Royal Dottyback but our LFS says we may be a bit small at 40-gallons to accommodate this fish. We also would like to add some inverts such as a shrimp, a crab and snails.
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Old 07-05-2009, 12:11 PM   #9
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I think you will be fine without a skimmer and can always incorporate one later. Most dottybacks do not mix well with firefish, but for some reason the Royal's seem to tolerate other inhabitants better. I would add the Royal last and make sure you keep some kind of top on the tank to keep them from jumping, whether it is eggcrate or a mesh (see my sig for mesh).
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Old 07-05-2009, 05:27 PM   #10
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So I bought several more pounds of live rock today, including a nice piece of Fiji that to my surprise has a 'feather duster' attached. So at this point in establishing my aquarium - is having this feather duster good or bad and do I need to do anything specific to care for it?

Also, at what stage would I start adding some clean up crew members like a few small crabs?
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