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Old 08-13-2003, 12:14 PM   #1
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Setting up house, help?

I'm new here and will be the first to say that I know pretty much not a lot about saltwater tanks except that I want one.

I've actually started setting up a 55 gallon saltwater tank in our lab, at the university of Michigan. We don't have the best of funds, but we've gotten a lot of equipment donations from people who have had tanks in the past. The tank was cleaned out from someone's garage, where it had been housing an iguana. It's fine so far as I know. We've filled it with water and mixed up the salt solution, and the gravity of the tank is where it should be (between 1.020 and 1.023). The PH is at 8.15, but I am a little unsure about what that should be at, as I have heard between 8.1 and 8.3. The temperature is between 75-78 degrees.

We have a protein skimmer made for a 75 gallon tank, as well as two hang on the back filters, one for a twenty gallon and one for a 50-75 gallon tank. We have four powerheads available for our use. Two are 400GPH and two are 200GPH heads. The only one we have put in is the protein skimmer.

Someone brought us crushed coral, which I know is not the best base, but it's what we have to work with at the moment. We've only got about a 1/2 inch base of the crushed coral right now, but I will be adding about three inches of sand as soon as we are able to, on top of that. If it's at all possible, I would like to leave the coral in, under the sand, but if it is a -must- that we have all sand, we'll work on it.

I plan to add 25-40lbs of live rock at one time to cycle the tank with. Does anyone have reccomendation on which kind would be best? I know the differences between cured and uncured, but is there a 'species' of live rock that is better than others for a reef tank base? We have four pieces of a dead coral that were used as decoration in a previous saltwater tank of a friend. We'd also like to know if it would be all right to leave those in, as they are pretty pieces.

We (eventually, though this is a WHILE in the future) would like to have a few different kinds of coral. A clam, some cleaner shrimp, and a mandarin dragonet (the dragonet last and probably this time next year) and hopefully a pair of clownfish. Any advice in this area would be appreciated the most. We would -love- to get a lionfish, but I don't think it's possible to keep with the others we want in the tank.

It's only the two of us working on it, and only one of us knows much of anything about fish. I've taken care of freshwater tanks for fifteen years (And I'm only 18!) and the only time I've ever had trouble with those is when I try to keep normal fish like goldfish. I maintain two ponds with a friend of mine (one 100 gallon and one 1300 gallon) for the past two years. The koi, comets, shubukins, channel cats, and minnows we keep in the ponds all thrive. I breed bettas in my spare time because I love them heart and soul. After knowing what a joy having anc caring for my fish is, I now I wish to expand into Saltwater. Any help toward this end would be wonderful, and greatly appreciated. I hope I have provided enough information.

~Sparkle
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Old 08-13-2003, 12:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
The PH is at 8.15, but I am a little unsure about what that should be at, as I have heard between 8.1 and 8.3.
Agreed.

Quote:
The temperature is between 75-78 degrees.
Set your thermostat for 80 feherenheit

Quote:
Two are 400GPH and two are 200GPH heads. The only one we have put in is the protein skimmer.
If you're going for a reef setup with LR and LS then the general rule of thumb is 10xwater volume in turnover. so a 55 should have in the neighborhood of 500gph. with the skimmer I would use 1 of the 400 gph and the two 200 gph in the tank for water movement (direct at least two at teh surface for good water surface movement) keep the other 400gph for that soon to be donated sump tank (i'll keep my fingers crossed for you :wink: )

Quote:
I will be adding about three inches of sand as soon as we are able to, on top of that. If it's at all possible, I would like to leave the coral in, under the sand, but if it is a -must- that we have all sand, we'll work on it.
The bad news is that the sand will quickly settle down through the crushed coral and remain at the bottom of the bed. If you're still setting things up I would strongly recommend trashing the CC and head to your local gardening/home improvement store and pick up 3 or 4 bages of SouthDown/Yard Right/Old Castle caribean play sand. This is argonite sand from the sea floor. a 50# bag is about $5 US here in WNY. The CC will slowly build up NO3 and won'y house the diversity of bacteria and copepods that a purse sand DSB will.

Quote:
A clam, some cleaner shrimp, and a mandarin dragonet (the dragonet last and probably this time next year) and hopefully a pair of clownfish. Any advice in this area would be appreciated the most.
Strong lighting and high quality water will need to be your highest priorities, especially for the clams. Look into MH and PC actinics for your 55.

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After knowing what a joy having anc caring for my fish is, I now I wish to expand into Saltwater. Any help toward this end would be wonderful, and greatly appreciated. I hope I have provided enough information.
I to came from FW for many years. SW requires a lot more diligence and monitoring than FW. There are many many things to keep an eye on in terms of water quality and lighting. Get yourself a good set of test kits and, most importantly, remember rule #1: Be patient. nothing in a SW tank can be rushed.
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Old 08-13-2003, 12:31 PM   #3
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ok... so I really should press "spell check" before posting... ever!

and... most importantly... WELCOME to Aquarium Advice
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Old 08-13-2003, 03:52 PM   #4
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^.^ Thank you so much. I will definately look into the sand thing, definately, as well as the lights. We went looking for a bit today and decided we liked the purple fiji live rock best, so we're going to save up to get a lot of that for the tank. ;.; we saw some -really- beautiful displays! I hope ours works out. *crosses fingers for a sump pump as well* We'll pick up a better heater as soon as we can, because this one, i think, is taxing itself to keep it at 77. @.@ *runs in circles* I need a teleportation unit to the fish store...

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Old 08-13-2003, 03:55 PM   #5
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Given your location you mignt be unsuccessful with finding southdown. Any argonite based sand will be fine for your purpose.

Of course if CC is all you have i would suggest a shallow bed of 1" or so of CC.

Do you have any idea what kind of skimmer you have? The PH that you have on the skimmer might be a bit underpowered.

The mandrin your talking about should be placed in a seasoned tank and its good to see you thinking about adding it last. You should have alot of Live rock for this fish. Given their diet you want to make sure you have a very well established population of pods.
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Old 08-13-2003, 04:36 PM   #6
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Will the PODS do all right in the argonite sand? I've heard of building a small pile of rocks or something like that (bits of coral, or the like) and putting bits of food in it would create a good place for some kind of small dragonet-edible food to breed... I can't remember which type, though.

I'll head to the local gardening stores as soon as I am off work to get the sand.

For the dragonet, in a 55 gallon tank, -about- how much rock? Would 35-50lbs be enough, if it were a seasoned tank (over a year, I assure you.) We're only going to have the living rock for a long time, probably upwards of half a year before adding anything more.

You guys have been so helpful already, thanks so much!

~Sparkle
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Old 08-13-2003, 04:42 PM   #7
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most folks recommend 1.5 to 2 x water volume for LR. a 55 tank should probably have close to 100lbs of LR.
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Old 08-13-2003, 08:42 PM   #8
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I wish we had the kind of money to -buy- 100lbs of live rock, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But we just don't have that kind of money right now, we're working slowly. Maybe by the end, we'll have that much *crosses fingers*

I looked up the protein skimmer we have. It's a JB2003 protein skimmer with a 528 gallons per hour powerhead. It's already attached to the side of the tank. I added in the 400GPH powerhead, for circulation of the water.

Is the water supposed to be a little cloudy? We put in the penguin filter, to see if it would help.

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Old 08-13-2003, 09:13 PM   #9
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Cloudy.

Can you describe the cloudyness. is it white or green? Look at thru the side of the tank looking long way.
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Old 08-14-2003, 09:47 AM   #10
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White, not green. It doesn't look like the filter did very much good at all.

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