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Old 03-05-2008, 11:25 PM   #1
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starting out questions

Hello,
I have recently joined this forum but have had freshwater fish for many years. I have wanted to set up a saltwater tank for a long time. I have had a double decker iron stand with two 20 gallon tanks, and I was originally going to use one of these for saltwater when the fish inside died a natural death. That has happened and I have stripped down the tank and was originally going to make a nano out of it, but now I am having second thoughts.

I have just graduated college and am limited in my funds, so I thought the nano would be the way to go. But the more I think about it the more it seems like a waste, beacause I will set it all up and then only be able to have 2 or 3 fish and then have to buy all over again if I decide to go larger

So now I have begun pricing out a larger tank, probably either a 55 or 75 gallon tank. I plan on going with a iron stand or a homemade wood one. I live in Westchester county New York, which as some members may know is a very expensive place to live. I was quoted for a complete set up of a 75 gallon with everything except fish at a LFS and it came to 6,269 dollars. Now there were several unnecessary items on there but still to me that was insane. I plan on getting everything second hand, and consider myself to be pretty handy. That being said, what do you guys think I should go for a small nano to start to go hog wild and set up a 75 gallon? How much do you think a bear bones set up --no bells or whistles (other than a good lighting/filter) .would cost?
thanks alot for any advice you may have

Also on a side note, one of the only affordable LFS around is having a tank sale 75 gallon brand new 113.00 55gallon 89.00 how are these prices they seem very good to me (but I would prefer used)
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Old 03-06-2008, 08:31 AM   #2
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That is a very good price for a 75 gallon tank!

I would not start out with a small tank in SW. There are so many things that can cause your tank to crash and crash quickly. Water volume is your friend when doing a SW tank. The larger you can start out with the better success you will have.

Basically you are going to need:

A tank
Stand
Lights (I suggest to start out T5s with or with out MH (MH are expensive))
A decent skimmer
Sand
Rock
TEST KITS!!!!! (Ammonia, NitrAte, NitrIte, PH, eventually Calcium, MG, Phosphates)
Salt mix
If you can afford it an RO/DI unit (look on ebay)
Pumps (if you are going to have a sump, and I highly suggest it, you will need a decent retun pump)

If you are a handy person as you say, then a lot of the things you need for your tank you can do your self. Buy a DIY/retro fit lighting kit and wire it up yourself. Build your own stand and canopy. Make your sump a 20g tank is not too expensive and much less then buying a pre-built sump!

Shop online for all your equipment except the tank. Check on craigslist for your area, people are always selling off equipment, live rock and other things you may need. I even picked up a free 55gallon tank off of craigslist.

I would not buy any equipment from the LFS they usually have a huge mark up and you can get everything you need online at a fraction of the cost
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Old 03-06-2008, 01:08 PM   #3
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Glad to hear that that is a good price How much is the regular going rate for just a 75 gallon tank sans anything else?
In regards to filtration, initally I was planning on using my aquaclear hang on the back filters, but it seems in speaking to people that they would be inadequate. That leaves undergravel, which I understand to be junk for the reef application, and finally refugiums and sumps or a combination of the two. Basically, a sump has a wet section with coral debris/media and and a dry section with bioballs, and a refugium would have the same but also lighting and food for organims like copeopods etc. If such is the case building a sump seems to be quite easy--get a 20 or 30 gallon tank and then divide it with a plastic sheet or another smaller tank nested in and have half wet half dry with bioballs. Making it that way would save me the insane 459.00 quote for the same thing in the LFS. Would such a set up require additional filtration, or are there better filtration methods-thanks again
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:33 PM   #4
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:49 PM   #5
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Think in terms of LiveRock for filtration together with a protein skiimer, and a sump (can be added later).

On a budget I would go with about 80% base rock and 20% LR. The base rock I linked to is on sale for $29.96 for a 50 pound box (plus $21 shipping). That's a $1.00 per pound. The rock is bright white but will color up in a few months. You want about 1Ĺ - 2 pounds of rock per gallon of tank volume.

Get a decent quality protein skimmer, a couple of Hydor Koralia power heads, a retrun pump for the sump you build and you're almost there. You can use play sand from Home Depot or Lowes for the substrate (sand box sand).

A wet dry has the sections you described. All section is a sump are wet and do not use bioballs. LR rubble yes, bioballs - no. Check out Melev's Reef site for DIY sumps, etc. Great pictures and diagrams there too.
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:31 PM   #6
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I went over to house of Fins in greenwich conn. Today and took a look around to get some ideas. The staff was very helpful, and according to them the wet sump is the way to go, rather than a wet- dry filter with bioballs which is really only good for fish. He said that the bioball bacteria would compete with the live rock bacteria, and too many nitrates would be created

In regards to live rock, I had planned to buy it online, where it is much cheaper from a site like liveaquaria.com. I would have liked to go the route of some live and some plain rock that would become live, but the concern expressed at house of fins was that the pound/pound and a half per gallon would not be met for several months untill the plain rock became fully live setting me back timewise. I know the nitrifying bacteria will set up on base rock quickly but how long before it really coats it? Also, They claimed that tonga rock was far superior than figi which was appently too dense and hard to stack. Is this true? Can rock types be mixed and still look good and which if any is best?
thanks
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:54 AM   #7
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Base rock will become live (coated with bacterai) during the cycle. It will take months for it to beome covered in coraline algae, but it will still be part of the filtration system from day one. So the lfs gave some bad advice there, probably hoping to sell you more LR.

I have 3 different type of LR (4 is you count the base) in my tank. They all look the same except for shape.
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Old 03-07-2008, 12:49 PM   #8
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I would say get a good mix of rock for your tank. You don't want solid rock you want rock with holes and crevises and things like that. Basically you want to get rock that looks like the way you want it to look. I have many different types of rock in my system. Get what you like. The rock will do its job no matter what it is fiji or tonga or whatever. It's the amount of rock that makes a difference. 1.5 - 2lbs per gallon.
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Old 03-07-2008, 01:16 PM   #9
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i dont think that I was being bamboozled at the LFS because his concern was not that the rock would not become live but if it would get enough bacterial growth fast enough to allow for fish--during the cycle process would the rock get enough bacterial growth to allow for fish with out an ammonia spike?
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Old 03-07-2008, 01:20 PM   #10
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You shouldn't have fish in your tank during the cycling process. If your LFS said that you needed fish during your cycling process then they are going on OLD out dated information on how to cycle a tank.

Go to the article section of this site and read about cycling a tank.
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