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Old 06-12-2013, 03:10 AM   #1
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starting up, got a few Qs

hello all, and thank you in advance for reading and your help. long time lurker of a few aquarium forums. i had a small one 10+ years ago and have been wanting to get back into it and have a few questions that i couldnt really find out about searching.

1) petco has their dollar a gallon sale going on soon so i hear and was thinking of picking up a 55gall and a 20g for a sump. is a sump needed? i eventually "plan" to upgrade down the road( a year or so plus+) so would i be able to use the 55 as a sump then, does that make sense?

2) live rock? i really dont get it. everywhere i read cure your live rock when you get it, is that ONLY for already established tanks? is it ok to put straight into starter tanks to help cycle? i know u get majority dry and a few pounds of live to save money right? and live sand, do i get it?

3)where do people find larger tanks (75g-150g) for the best deals? curious if theres some secret here, ive read LFS can order them, craigslist is good, is it worth walking into LFS's and trying to strike a deal with a tank they maybe have sitting outback, this realistic?

4)tell me your favorite fish( doesnt have to be the star of the show, the cheaper the better) to recommend to a beginner!

if you also have any really good starter guides you wouldnt mind sharing that would be awesome
hope these arent too silly of questions but thanks for reading
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Old 06-12-2013, 02:37 PM   #2
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1. A sump isn't necessary, but it can be helpful. But yes, you would be able to use your 55 as a sump when you upgrade; although I would suggest adding some baffles.

2. The reason you cure your live rock is that after it gets pulled from the ocean it will have a lot of die off from organisms that are found all over and in that rock. When it gets put back in water those organisms decay and will turn into ammonia. Allowing the rock time to soak in the water will establish higher levels of the BB you are looking for as well as getting rid of those huge reserves of ammonia. It might be worth looking into getting fully cured live rock from your LFS if you are impatient. It lets you skip almost the whole process of cycling even though it is more expensive. You don't need to buy specifically live sand, it is a waste of money. Any substrate that you put in the tank will eventually become live.

3. It can be hard to find tanks bigger than a 55g. Occasionally the 2 lfs that are in town will have 75 - 90 gallon used tanks for sale but that's about it. Aside from that, im not sure where I would go for a bigger tank.

4. I would really suggest either a Firefish or a pair of Ocellaris Clowns, both of which great in reefs. If you were going FOWLR I would probably pick something different.
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Old 06-12-2013, 04:38 PM   #3
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One thing I would sincerely recommend if you are holding out for the PetCo $1 per gallon sale is to get a 40B instead of a 55. It has more surface area (roughly 648 sq inches vs. 576) and with the extra depth front to back, it ends up being much easier to decorate. If you're going to do corals or anemones, it's also easier to light.

Live rock is a mixed blessing. You get lots of cool stuff, but you are also likely to get unwanted hitchhikers. Uncured liverock as Mebbid said will help you cycle and ultimately establish a stronger bacterial bed, but often stinks pretty bad as it cures. You never want to add it to an established aquarium. Dry rock is cheaper and safer. Live sand is also an unnecessary added expense.

If you want a bigger tank, craigslist or your local reef / aquarium club is the way to go. there is almost always someone moving or getting out of the hobby and you can get a much better deal than retail.

As far as first fish, ocellaris clowns are pretty good as Mebbid said. I'd also consider chromis (NOT damsels), firefish, cardinals, a royal gramma, or one of the several species of blennies. I also am very partial to flasher and fairy wrasses.

Fish I would avoid as a beginner include butterlies, mandarins, scooter dragonets, and cleaner wrasses. These often have trouble adapting to prepared foods. Unless you get a larger tank, avoid tangs as well. Avoid damsels becasue they are often aggressive. Once established, you might consider a dwarf angelfish, but be warned they sometimes decide to eat corals.


Two more pieces of unsolicited advice: either buy purified water from a tested source or make your own with an RODI system. Tapwater is algae fertilizer.

Secondly (and finally), invest in a quarantine tank. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. in fact, I use a 10 gallon with a HOB Aqua Clear filter and a powerhead for mine. Any new fish go in for at least two weeks to be sure they aren't carrying anything which will infect my established fish. Effective treatments for most fish diseases are fatal to invertebrates. treating a new fish in isolation is cheaper and easier than catching an infected fish from an established tank.
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Old 06-12-2013, 05:28 PM   #4
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+1 to both the 40b and getting a QT.

I also agree with the fish selections already suggested. For a 40b, I would consider a Pygmy angel (Flameback or cherub), but IMO, I would not throw a dwarf angel in anything less than a 75g. They don't get mentioned much, but I loved my Pygmy/possum wrasse. There are a couple types and I'm not sure which I had.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:24 PM   #5
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awesome advice, thanks all 3 of you guys. a few follow up questions
in another post someone posted a really awesome diagram showing the tank/sump tank and all the pieces. is drilling a must? does it just look better than having things stick out the top?
im still on step 1 of all this, plan to just grab a bunch of stuff like tank/heater/lighting everything else i need in a week or two. im aware that its not an overnight process and can takes weeks and weeks before getting any fish in and im fine with that, i want to do it right. ive already read a few of the guides stickyed to the top of this forum but does anyone have a really detailed beginner guide thats almost like a recipe? like it has all of the materials (ingredients) needed then a really good explained step by step guide?
from reading ive already learned alot of the major/important steps but im really OCD sometimes and would love just to have it all spelled out in front of me to ease my anxiety , thanks~!
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:28 PM   #6
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Drilling is not a must, but drilled overflows are more reliable than HOB overflows. I have a 40 that's drilled and a 75 with a HOB. My drilled overflow is FAR quieter.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:38 AM   #7
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While I would ordinarily agree with a 40 breeder over a 55g any day, I think that it would be more difficult to fit a 40 breeder underneath a tank to use as a sump than it would be to fit a 55. In fact, looking at the standard aquarium sizes the smallest standard tank that could fit a 40b underneath it is a 180 gallon.

I currently use a HOB overflow on my tank but plan on drilling my 40 breeder when I upgrade later this year. At first the overflow box was SUPER loud, but a minor modification that took 3 different pieces of pvc, a drill, and some airline tubing completely fixed it. All in all the non permanent modification took me 10 minutes to put together and has been working like a charm ever since.
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mebbid View Post
While I would ordinarily agree with a 40 breeder over a 55g any day, I think that it would be more difficult to fit a 40 breeder...looking at the standard aquarium sizes the smallest standard tank that could fit a 40b underneath it is a 180 gallon.
So that just makes the future upgrade choice easy. Go 180 or larger! If you were to use a 55g for a sump, it would likely be in that ballpark anyways. Worst case scenario, you decide to go smaller, the current aquarium doesn't work and you sell it and out that towards buying one that would fit.
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:23 PM   #9
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So that just makes the future upgrade choice easy. Go 180 or larger! If you were to use a 55g for a sump, it would likely be in that ballpark anyways. Worst case scenario, you decide to go smaller, the current aquarium doesn't work and you sell it and out that towards buying one that would fit.
Well.. Go big or go home has always been my philosophy ^_^
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PviLLe View Post
awesome advice, thanks all 3 of you guys. a few follow up questions
in another post someone posted a really awesome diagram showing the tank/sump tank and all the pieces. is drilling a must? does it just look better than having things stick out the top?
im still on step 1 of all this, plan to just grab a bunch of stuff like tank/heater/lighting everything else i need in a week or two. im aware that its not an overnight process and can takes weeks and weeks before getting any fish in and im fine with that, i want to do it right. ive already read a few of the guides stickyed to the top of this forum but does anyone have a really detailed beginner guide thats almost like a recipe? like it has all of the materials (ingredients) needed then a really good explained step by step guide?
from reading ive already learned alot of the major/important steps but im really OCD sometimes and would love just to have it all spelled out in front of me to ease my anxiety , thanks~!
Everybody is commenting on it... Ha! Drill for overflow & not the return. I reposted the pic from another forum for an OP who asked how a tank should be setup. My 75 gal isn't drilled at all. Not sure I'd ever go there but I'm not a big risk taker!! Ha ha...
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