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Old 08-23-2003, 06:29 PM   #1
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Setting up a Reef tank Pro's and cons of Undergravel etc...

I recently purchased a used 120 gallon tank that was owned by a freshwater fish keeper and I wanted to use it to set up a reef tank. I will list what equipment I purchased and maybe some of you can lend me a hand in getting this set up for Marine by letting me know what other equipment and supplies I will be needing and some cleaning tips. I am a marine newbie (I just set up my first marine tank 2 months ago, 55Gal )allthough many years ago I did succesfully maintain a Fresh water aquarium.

Ok, on to the equipment:

120 gallon tank with 1/2 inch glass roughly 6' long 25" tall and about 18 width.

4 door wood cabinet stand

Black Oak cover

Glass top

2- 24" fluorescent lights

2 Fluval 403 canister filters

under gravel filter

2- 402 power heads

2- 802 power heads

3 air pumps

3- 4 gang valves

2- 300 wat titanium heaters

Misc nets, rocks plastic plants and cleaning sponges and 3 battery powered air pumps. (I got this for $250.00)

Everything just about is covered in a pretty thick layer of algae and crud I have removed and disposed of the 150#'s of rock it came with but thats it so far. Any recomendations on the best way to clean this tank and equipment would be most helpful.

I am trying to set this up as cheaply as possible but I do not want to go so cheap that I cause my self problems later. I am willing to spend the money now to prevent problems.

What would be the best Substrate to use?

Is it possible to put a base rock into the tank then add the live rock around it and have it spread to the base? And if so, what would be the best rock to use for this purpose?

Anybody have any recomendations on what type and brand of protein skimmer to install?

Should I set up a sump? And if so, what size is best (I have limited space under this cabinet but I may be able to modify it to work, or worst case scenario I will just have to build a new one).

Any recomendations on wether to use a UV Sterilizer and on brands? Wattage?

What would be the pros and cons to using an under gravel filter and would you recomend it?

Ok, Well now that I have annoyed pretty much all of you with my newbie questions I will go sit back with a beer and ponder my empty tank.
Thanks!
Zero
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Old 08-23-2003, 08:06 PM   #2
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IMO there is not a single pro for using an UGF in a saltwater tank.

If your looking to do this tank with minimal cost then i would not suggest a UV. Personally I dont feel they are needed in a tank and would be one of those things that I would classify under the category "If I had the Money."

I like to avocate sumps. One reason is you can put your heater and skimmer out of sight and not in the main tank. The second reason is it will allow you to increase your water volume some and also give you an opertunity to put additional biological filtration in the sump area. Sumps facilitiate easy top offs, water changes, and a few other benifits.

There are many ways to rig up a sump on a shoe string budget. For example using a large rubermaid tub from walmart can be done. Using a used 20-30 gal aqaurium can be easy enough aswell. Having the largest sump that can fit in your stand or if you can even do this maybe behind the tank is best.

For a 120 gal tank a skimmer maybe like the Berlin Classic or something simular will do ok. When sizing your skimmer make sure you size the pump to drive the skimmer correctly.

Quote:
Is it possible to put a base rock into the tank then add the live rock around it and have it spread to the base? And if so, what would be the best rock to use for this purpose?
Yes this quite possible. In fact this is how the FL aquaculture rock is created. I belive you can get base rock from www.hirocks.com or you might be able to find some baserock locally at your area LFS's. I might want to dress the baserock with 40lbs of good live rock.

Quote:
What would be the best Substrate to use?
Any kind of argonite based sand. Preferably with a good assortment of particle sizes that average the size of a sugar grain.

Quote:
Any recomendations on the best way to clean this tank
Some good ol elbow greese armed with a nice algae scrapper. maybe a gallon of vinegar aswell. Put some water in the tank and dump in the vinegar. Then scrub and scrub and scrub some more. Rinse a few times.

You said you want to setup a reef tank so Im assuming you mean with corals in it. If this is correct then your going to need an entirely new lighting setup from the lights you have now. Lighting is going to be the most expensive part of this setup. You have a few options as far as the type of lighting but non of them really involve the lights or the hoods you have now.

You could go with 4-6 6' long VHO bulbs, 4-6 3' power compact florecents or a few MH bulbs with some VHO actinic lighting.

The amount of bulbs and type of lighting really depends on what kind of corals your looking at wanting to keep.
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Old 08-23-2003, 10:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Is it possible to put a base rock into the tank then add the live rock around it and have it spread to the base? And if so, what would be the best rock to use for this purpose?
The effectiveness of this method depends on how porous the base rock you are describing is... If it has tons of very small holes in it, then you have perfect rocks to be seeded. If it is the kind of "base rock" that is typically used with cichlids, then the rock will be of limited filtration value. Bacteria live on the surface and inside pourous rock with "live rock".
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Old 08-23-2003, 11:09 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info! I was figuring it was going to cost me around $3-400.00 for the lighting is that even close? As far as the corals go, I would like a broad variety of them including and maybe a couple Anemones. Would like to grow some macro algae as well but I dont know what variety as yet.

As far as rock goes, is tufa rock ok? I live near tons of tufa rock and its pretty porous but not the most attractive color, but im assuming it will be mostly covered with stuff after a while anyway. What is good to use to join all the rocks together to create your base? I was thinking aquarium sealent for the base rock atleast.

Thanks!
Zero
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Old 08-24-2003, 11:14 AM   #5
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I found what they call "LACE" rock. It was perfect for the foundation. Lots of tiny holes and very light and porous. I went about 1/2 and 1/2, lace and LR. I am starting to see the encroachment of living organisms on the lace rock, It has been set up this way for about 8 months.

Is there a way to seed the rock faster than this?

Howard
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Old 08-24-2003, 12:42 PM   #6
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If you build your own canopy you can probably do the lighting for $400. One place to look online for lighting is www.hellolights.com

I dont use anything to join the rocks. I just place the rocks so they kind of interconnect. Placing them so they are not so tight its like a brick wall but also placing them so they do kind of lock eachother into place and dont fall over at the slightest nudge.
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Old 08-24-2003, 03:34 PM   #7
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Thanks again for the quick responses. This has got to be the friendliest forum I have ever been on. I am Glad I found you guys, because before I came here, I was too nervous to try a reef. I felt I did not know nearly enough to do it. I still do not know enough, but now I know where I can find the answers.
Peace,
Zero
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Old 08-24-2003, 05:12 PM   #8
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One thing that I find is one of the most helpful resources is a good book. IMO the day you stop learning about this hobby is the day you become unsuccessful.

A few good books by your side as well as doing your online research can go along way in having a sucessful aquarium with out spending alot of $ on mistakes.
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