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Old 02-21-2007, 02:48 PM   #1
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Questions before I jump in... ;)

So my wife is getting pretty antsy to get a SW tank - most likely a FOWLR to start with. In the interest of not spending every bit of money we have saved at the moment, Here is what we have, and I would like some assistance with what we will need...

Have:
a 10, 20, and 29g tank - we prefer to start with the 10g (please keep that in mind)
an AC20 HOB (what kind of media?)
a stand & canopy
50w Heater


Need:
new substrate (Live sand?)
Live Rock (1.5-2lbs/gallon, so 15-20 total for 10g)
additional water movement beyond HOB (PH?)?
my canopy has the potential for 4 8watt CF's, so potentially 36w CF total
skimmer (one of the nano ones rated for 30gallons?)
SW Test Kit
Salt water (does that mean purchasing actual water, or just the salt, and premixing???)

Want:
1 blenny
1 goby
1 clown
inverts?

I don't know if the AC20 is enough with the LR, so help me there. With that stocking list, is a 10g ok, or does it need to be a larger tank? Any other opinions or advise are welcome.

So come one, come all, and go ahead and start advisin'! TIA
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Old 02-21-2007, 03:01 PM   #2
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Your stocking list will require at least the 29 gallon.

Don't buy live sand. It's worthless.
If you are looking to save money, buy half live rock and half dead base rock.
For water movement, I'd get two powerheads for a total of 10x per hour flow.
As far as the canopy goes, you don't need to worry about light for FOWLR.
A skimmer isn't necessary, but would be nice. You can probably get by with running carbon and the foam block in the AC20.
As far as test kits go, the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals line packs a nice bang for your buck. For a nicer set, look into Seachem or Salifert.
You can purchase saltwater from the LFS or buy some RO or DI water from your grocery store and mix it yourself.

The AC20 should be enough filtration as long as you have enough LR.
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Old 02-21-2007, 03:07 PM   #3
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Personally, I would start with the larger tank, as this allows for more room to err.
Substrate: I wouldn't waste my money on the "live" sand. Just get the dry stuff made of aragonite, not silica based.
Rock: Save you some money and get some Base Rock about 25Lbs for your 29G (if you use that..hint, hint) and about 20 Lbs of LR.
With this amount of rock, you could skip the HOB, and get a nice skimmer.
I would definitely get a ph for water movement/surface ripple to create a stable pH.
I find it a lot cheaper to get the 160G bucket of salt to premix for around $31.99 at the drs website.
The blenny or goby will depend on what you want. I would suggest a shrimp goby, paired with a pistol shrimp. As for the blenny, I like the forktail blenny, Ray has one that is really cool, I think a Canary blenny? Shoot for a mid level water swimmer, since the goby will like it on the bottom. You could also ad a clown.
Inverts, fighting conch, cerith snails, nassi snails, maybe a pair or peppermint shrimp or a cleaner and fire shrimp.
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Old 02-21-2007, 04:19 PM   #4
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As far as the tank the bigger the better. I would go with the 29 gallon if that`s as big as you can go. As stated earlier go with a mix of BR and LR and save some money. As far as the sand I would buy dry sand and ask your LFS for a cup of LS from one of his tanks. Then you`ll really have some LS. Those LS in a bag are really not live.
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Old 02-21-2007, 04:34 PM   #5
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Didn't see any mention about what you're going to use for water. Don't forget to factor that in you plans. Seems like many start out using just plain tap water without doing any testing to see what kind of nasties may be in it to start with. So either test your water to insure it's pristine, or budget in buying distilled or RO/DI water somewhere, or budget in buying and installing your own RO/DI unit. (The only problem with using tap water that tests "pristine" today, is that it might not be so pristine next month.)

You also might want to think about the logistics of storing the mixed saltwater. You'll want a container, a heater, and a powerhead for that stuff as well as a place to put it all. Not much expense there, but thinking about where you're going to store that stuff up front might influence some other decisions down the road.

Refractometer. Good one will run you $50 or so, plus or minus. If you're doing this on a tight budget, the temptation to cut corners there and buy a cheapo swing-arm type is going to be there. But as important as consistent salinity is to your tank, it's not a good place to cut corners.

Agree with others... go with the 29gallon. My QT is a 10 gallon, and I can't even imagine keeping a single clown in there by itself for an extended period of time. Your smaller tanks can be used for a quarantine. I've got a 46 gallon and while in the beginning it looked huge, it seems really small now!
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Old 02-21-2007, 07:13 PM   #6
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Appreciate the feedback everyone - any other advise for SW challenged?
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:06 PM   #7
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Don't get frustrated early on. Once you get the tank going, things should line out and the cash outlays should decrease dramatically. Just be ready to spend more than you first budgeted. Once you get there though, it actually is a fun hobby to have.

If you get inverts like shrimp, get some of the LED moonlights, its cool to see them crawling over the rocks at night looking for food.
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:54 PM   #8
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I agree, the initial set up can run high but the monthly costs drop a whole lot.
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Old 02-22-2007, 02:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roka64
I agree, the initial set up can run high but the monthly costs drop a whole lot.
Understood - that is pretty much my previous scenario when I converted my 75g FW to a 75g FW Planted - I rarely spend money on that tank now (beyond new plants and the energy used), but I had budget a significant amount last year to get that going.

Some more questions:
We are definitely going to start with a FOWLR, but are considering down the road moving into reefs - can you change a FOWLR into a reef without restarting the whole system?

Is there a lighting amount you want to target with a FOWLR (wpg)?
To start, we would probably have ~25watts using a single 30" flourescent bulb over our 29g.

So like I said, it looks like the 29g is going to be our starter, but I am getting a 55g tank on craigslist today. That will probably be our upgraded tank later on - but I am going to need to construct a stand, canopy, and would need much more equipment for that to work out (probably construct a sump as well). Or that tank my go to one of my turtles, and the next SW will be bigger...

So let's review what I have and what I need:
Have:
29gallon tank
stand
~27w flourescent lights
AC20 (have foam blocks)

Need:
aragonite Sand (not live)
~25lbs base rock + ~25lbs LR (what is difference between the types: fiji, etc?)
2 power heads (MJ1200s?)
refractometer (since this will have future use beyond this tank, I'll get a better one )
timer
livestock
water
either carbon for AC20, if we get a skimmer, what size gallonage should we target?

oooh - so many questions - what size holding tank should we get to store the SW we probably will pre-mix??? What kind of R/O unit is good?
Judging by the pace of rapid fire questions going through my mind at the moment, I am sure I will experience meltdown soon and just shut up...please bear with me
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
can you change a FOWLR into a reef without restarting the whole system?
As long as you are careful with any meds you add to the tank. Copper is lethal to inverts (ie. shrimp, coral etc.) in even minute amounts and can stay in a system forever.
Quote:
Is there a lighting amount you want to target with a FOWLR (wpg)?
If your using LR it's a good idea to have approx. 2 wpg or more to keep the coralline etc. alive. FWIW I was very happy with 2x75w VHO I used on a 29 gal. That would allow you to keep a wide variety of coral down the road as well.
Quote:
25lbs LR (what is difference between the types: fiji, etc?)
Some is more porous than others. The more porous the better it will filter water. I like Fiji rock a lot. It has plenty of nooks, crannies and holes for life to live in. Provides a great habitat for micro-fauna.
Quote:
2 power heads (MJ1200s?)
Sounds good. Maybe a 1200 and a 900, or two 900's. Two 1200's might be a bit much for FOWLR. Also look at Seio pumps. They move a lot of water with out blasting everything with a "jet stream". They have a large, gentle flow pattern. You could probably get away with just one seio 620 in a 29 gal.
Quote:
if we get a skimmer, what size gallonage should we target?
A Aqua-C remora would work very well. Buy a good skimmer the first time or you will just end up paying more for one in the future. Others will definitely agree with me lol.
Quote:
what size holding tank should we get to store the SW we probably will pre-mix???
I use a small trash can.
Quote:
What kind of R/O unit is good?
There are many. Many people have had good experiences and saved money by looking through e-bay.
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