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Old 02-15-2012, 10:58 AM   #1
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Synyster's 55-gallon Academic Build!

Hey all, new poster here. My name is Shawn, and I'm a third-year biology student at West Virginia State University. There has been a 55-gallon tank in the hallway at school that crashed roughly four to five years ago. I finally spoke to my ecology professor, who then introduced me to Dr. Eya, who does research on developmental traits of fish. Dr. Eya is allowing me and a couple of my science-major friends to revamp the tank with completely new gear and pretty much theme it however we want. From what I understand, saltwater aquariums have to cycle for about a month before you add fish, am I correct? I have no clue as I just have a 20g freshwater aquarium at my house. I have read a few articles here and there on what gear I need to start up, but should I plan the fish and live rock/'sand setup before I decide on what equipment I need? I'm kind of in the dark with saltwater, and I hope to hear from you guys soon. Could a couple of you just provide a check list of basic stuff I need to at least start cycling? All of this information is really overwhelming, especially since I just got my first aquarium ever started up about two weeks ago, and it's freshwater.

EDIT: Cost should not be a problem, as he is going to get the school to somehow pay for the startup cost and maintenance cost of the tank.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:10 AM   #2
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Yes, a cycle can take a few weeks to a month or more depending on the amount of die off on the live rock/ammonia source added.

To start the tank you will need to purchase 50-75 pounds of the most porous live rock you can find. The lighter the pieces, the better they are.
As for sand, i'd purchase dry, aragonite based sand instead of the "live" sand on the shelf at the LFS. It's debatable that there is anything live in those bags after they've been sealed in plastic for months.
For a 2" sand bed you'll need 60 pounds.
Rinse it well or your tank will look like skim milk from all the dust.

Salt- I would buy a bucket of salt, because you will be using it for water changes.

A basic heater
Thermometer
Refractometer to check salinity.
a power head or two to move water around the tank. I would suggest 2. Hydor Koralia's are a common choice.

And finally, you want to purchase a salt water master test kit, which comes with all the basic tests (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph..)
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