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Old 01-03-2004, 06:48 AM   #1
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The Making of an Aquarium

My wife has been inspired by "Finding Nemo" and wants an aquarium with a clown fish along with others in the cast. I've been looking into options for the past few days, and the information out there is just staggering. I was wondering if someone could give me some direct advice about how to best to proceed. Here is what I have gathered so far:

1) The bigger the tank the better (we're looking for 60-80 gallon tanks).
2) Nature is the best teacher (LR and LS are on our shopping list).
3) Nature is not enough (we're looking into skimmers).

Here are my questions:
1) For a beginner, is a 60-80 gallon tank optimal? Do we go acrylic or glass? Does a wood canopy get moldy/water damaged? Can we put the tank on top of IKEA furniture? Does the shape of the tank matter much?

2) If I have some porous aquarium rock (like the kind they sell at Petco), and I add a few pieces of LR on top of it, will all my rock eventually turn into LR? Also, will aragonite sand (from Home Depot) also turn into LS using the same method? Where can I get some decent LR for not too much money?

3) What is the best skimmer for the money out there? Where is a good place to order a skimmer (and other equipment) from? Do I need a pump, canister, or anything else to filter/clean/detoxify the water?

FINAL QUESTION: If I were to look for a used, fully cycled, fully functioning 60 gallon LR/LS/skimmer setup, how much should I expect to pay?


Any advice would be great... the more specific your advice, the more grateful I will be for it.

thanks in advance,
mike
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Old 01-03-2004, 07:41 AM   #2
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This is a very hard post to answer.... I suggest the first thing that you do is READ, READ, READ....Check out our book section for the most recommended books to read on Saltwater Aquarium keeping...HERE.

I believe a 60 - 80 gallon is a great size to start with, as it will give a little more room for error....I would go with glass, because it is cheaper, and will give you more money to spend on LR.

The skimmer, you will have about 2 months after the tanks is initially setup, to decide on one...I would go with an in sump skimmer to keep it out of sight...

A tank 60 to 80 gallons is very heavy and I would suggest getting a stand that is made for aquariums of that size... It is just safer...

You are also going to need lights a little more powerful than the ones that come with a tank... For a FO, not much more, but around 3 wpg of NO would be good..It just makes everything look nicer to me. JMO...

Now, I know finding NEMO is a great movie, but Saltwater aquariums are not something to jump into without gaining some knowledge first...There are a lot of things you need to be familiar with...I am not saying this to discourage you either...Be encouraged and read, read, read....Have fun!
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Old 01-03-2004, 11:00 AM   #3
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Glass tank is the best, plastic tank will becomes blur as time goes by. As for stand, as 60 to 80 gal tank is quite heavy, you should try not to get DIY stand, try getting it from aquarium shop, or get those that are whole set, stand and tank joint together. Shape of tank doesn't matter so much, as long as you get one with large surface area. Don't get tall and slim tank. Yes you need an air pump in order for the protein skimmer to work. As for filter, a wet/dry filter is a good choice, but its quite expensive. Regarding $$, it should be quite a lot at 1st, as you need to buy many many neccessary things and equipments, NO2, NO3, NH3 tester, LR which is rather expensive too.
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Old 01-03-2004, 11:02 AM   #4
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First, WELCOME TO AA!
I second what Timbo has said. READ, READ, come here to ask questions, PLAN your setup, ask more questions, READ, PLAN, ASK!

Water weighs 8.33 pounds/gallon, then add the LR, sand, equipment, etc. Get a stand made for the job.

Quote:
2) If I have some porous aquarium rock (like the kind they sell at Petco), and I add a few pieces of LR on top of it, will all my rock eventually turn into LR? Also, will aragonite sand (from Home Depot) also turn into LS using the same method? Where can I get some decent LR for not too much money?
I'm not sure what they sell at Petco but I bought 50 pounds of base rock from ThatFishPlace. It was almost pure white. It's now completely covered.

You want more than a few pieces of LR to seed your sand and base rock. For my 125 I put in 50 pounds of base rock and 95 of LR. I plan on adding about 25 pounds more. It's recommended to have 1½-2 pounds of LR per gallon of tank capacity.

I also used Southdown from HD for my substrate. It's now marketed as Old Castle or YardRight. I'm not sure you can get it in LA. It seems to be an East coast thing.

You've come to the right place for advice. The best advice I've received is to go slow. Good luck with your setup.
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Old 01-04-2004, 03:31 AM   #5
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Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. I've got a new question based on the last post... does the HD in LA sell aragonite sand?

Also, does anyone know how much a used 60 gallon salt tank set up cost?



ps: I plan on doing lots of reading on the topic.
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Old 01-04-2004, 08:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Also, does anyone know how much a used 60 gallon salt tank set up cost?
Alot of that will depend on whos selling it and how modivated they are to sell it. Used setups can range in price alot. For example last week I picked up a 75 gal tank saltwater setup used for $125. Complete setup. Now that deal was stronly modivated by the persons need to get rid of the tank pronto.

Depending on whats included I would say a fair price for a 60 gal setup used would be in the ball park of $200-$700. Now as you can see thats a very wide range. Alot will deped on the age of the setup. How well its been upkept. What equipments included. Rocks and fish and corals if they are included. And lastly the sellers modivation to get rid of the setup.

Check around with your local stores and also look in the papers and trade journals for your area. You might get lucky and find that killer deal. As a general rule always interview the seller with questions and if possible ask to see the tank in person.

For books if its the only book you get I would suggest the book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert M. Fenner. This is an excellent book that goes thru everything that the beginner and even somewhat seasoned hobbists should know. For your convince you can find it and some other good saltwater books linked above in our Book Library.
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Old 01-04-2004, 08:48 PM   #7
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200-700 what!!! i have a 46 gal and i just put 36 lbs of live rock in it and afterr my lighting i will have spent over $1100. that is with the filter and the powerheards and stuff. but live rock is the only thing that is liveing in the tank
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A 46 gal bow front (Soft coral) reef tank with a 10 gal sump. And a 30 gal (SPS and Clam) reef tank hooked up to the sump of the 46 so they share water.
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Old 01-04-2004, 08:59 PM   #8
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Well the catch is USED. You can often get some very good deals on used equipment. I suspect the $1100 your refering to would be for a new setup.
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Old 01-04-2004, 09:13 PM   #9
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yes every thing i have gotten has been new. some from the LFS and some has been online (LR) but most things i have gotton at the LFS have been the same price as they are online.
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A 46 gal bow front (Soft coral) reef tank with a 10 gal sump. And a 30 gal (SPS and Clam) reef tank hooked up to the sump of the 46 so they share water.
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Old 01-04-2004, 11:58 PM   #10
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from beginner to beginner (started 2 months ago), Ill tell you what Ive discovered.

You can do a saltwater tank without a sump, but you eventually will change and have one. It makes the look a lot cleaner and makes maintenance easier. That being said, it is fine to start without one.

You will need a skimmer and a power filter, at a bare minimum, when you start. There are many skimmers out there, but the Remora by Aqua-C is a great one, and after much research is the one I bought. Captivereefs.com is a great online retailer in price and service. I bought mine there and went back when I decided to get better lighting.

As far as the tank goes, bigger is better. I know the units that come with stands seem expensive, but unless you have a VERY sturdy piece of furniture its the way to go. As long as you wipe any spillage off, the salt really doesnt do any damage to the stand.

All rock and sand will eventually become "alive" after enough exposure to "live" rock or sand. I havent found any "cheap" lr, but I have found that quality of life on the rock seems to vary with price. The cheaper the rock (in my experience) the less beneficial life will be on it.

I looked at several complete setups in my area, but they were all in the 700-1100 price

One last piece of advice. No matter how careful you are, be prepared for setbacks. Im not talking about your tank breaking or all the fish dying, but you are seting up a small ecosystem, and no matter how hard you try, things will not always go as planned. I just lost my first fish due to an unexplained PH spike, and it was definitly upsetting.
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Old 01-05-2004, 06:27 AM   #11
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It seems that the local home depot in California doesn't carry the Southdown. Is there an alternative that can be found in the West for about the same price and quality?

Also, I've been seeing complete 60-gallon salt water setups (some including fish) being sold between the $300-$800 range. So I'm waiting to see if I can get lucky and snag one of those $200 deals that FishFreak mentioned (anyone out there desperately wanting to unload their tank?). Does anyone have any advice as to what I should be looking for to distinguish between good and poor used setups?
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Old 01-05-2004, 11:30 AM   #12
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tank stand

I don't know about you, but personally I won't pay for the crap that stores sell as furniture. After glancing at the stands being sold at petco and petsmart I wouldn't trust em. Half of them were made with a fiberboard and the other half weren't structurally sound from an engineering standpoint. An engineering degree and cabinetmaking experience tends to make you dislike any storebought furniture.

So I decided to make my own. I spent a total of $40 for a stand and a hood made out of 3/4" maple and maple plywood. A stand and hood of the same size would have cost roughly 300 and not been near the same quality.

just my .02

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Old 01-05-2004, 09:11 PM   #13
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Can you give me some quick tips on how to make a sturdy yet presentable stand and canopy? If you have some pictures, could you post them? Also, what do you think about furniture from stores like Ikea? Are they any less useable than the Petco furniture you mentioned?

thanks,
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Old 01-06-2004, 12:25 AM   #14
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Without seeing the furniture firsthand, you can't tell what it's made out of. You want to make sure that a stand isn't made out of a particle board (mdf, osb). If for some reason you end up with a leak, the particle board can turn into mush and lose all of its strength. I took a look on the ikea site. I dont know if anything on there would be capable of holding 800+ pounds.

The stand I made is constructed of 3/4" plywood on all sides with maple trim. There's a picture in my gallery. I'm currently throwing a few coats of tung oil on it.

HTH
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Old 01-06-2004, 02:00 AM   #15
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That is one impressive stand. Do you work with wood for a living? I couldn't imagine putting together something that nice. Any ideas for something a little less ambitious? Do you have any pictures of your canopy? By the way, what tools did you use?
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Old 01-06-2004, 09:31 AM   #16
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I'm an engineer and computer scientist according to my degrees but i make furniture for fun. I started last year, and i think it just tends to be a winter thing with me.

To make something a little easier, you could just make a support out of 2x4 and 2x6 pine and then wrap it all with 1/4" plywood that has a hardwood veneer as its top layer.

That cabinet was literally an afternoon of work. I used a tablesaw, jigsaw, drill, biscuit jointer, miter saw , router, shaper and then a jointer and planer because i use rough cut wood typically.

I was just about to put the canopy together, but then i decided that I should wait until I get the final light setup that I plan on using so I dont have to rebuild.

I was just thinking how cool it would be to incorporate a touchscreen into the side that has a readout and controls for pH, temperature, specific gravity, level sensors and a few alarms......that could be a fun thing to do

Jim
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Old 01-08-2004, 01:30 AM   #17
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you can also find a lot of DIY information in our DIY section on this site, Mike.
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Old 01-16-2004, 02:34 PM   #18
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The garf.org stand

Thaiboxer on this forum has started building this stand and it looks SUPER sturdy and easy to make. If you know how to use power tools, and have access to a couple, this would a fun project that would result in a clean, strong, CUSTOM stand... I plan on making this as well. Here are some links to follow:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/photop...r=4174&thumb=1
(This is Nascar Dave's stand... Based on the garf.org plans, but modified. Mine will mimick this design with T-braces and such)

http://www.screwynoodle.com/gallery/Aquarium
This is Thaiboxers stand.. So far so good!

http://www.garf.org/tank/BuildStand.asp
This is the garf.org calculation page. You put how big you want it, and it makes it for you and gives you cut lists and everything.

Once you have the frame done, you can wrap it in 1/4" whatever-is-cheapest material. I'm going to use 1/4" birch because I can stain it and make it look nice. I was going to use MDF for the noise dampening qualities.. But, I happen to HATE MDF/Particle board in general. OSB is okay for somet things.. flooring, under-tank platform, etc..

Tips for stand building:
1)Don't go over 36" in height - it will loose stability. Most people stay between 22 and 34 inches tall. A highly desired height for DIY stands is 32inches.
2)Don't skin the absolute bottom of the stand. Put the bottom platform higher than the frame of the stand. Reason for this is if you have a flat surface on carpet or slightly uneven tile, it will rock, and put your aquarium in jeopardy.
3)Keep a sump in mind when designing it. Try and keep a large enough area for a large enough sump under your aquarium. Without compromising structural integrity of course.

I think thats it. All I can think of. I don't have a crapload of reefing experience, but i have a little woodworking experience and common sense related to it.

Hope I helped,
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Old 01-16-2004, 02:49 PM   #19
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Another thing to consider when planning a new tank is the inhabitants and their size. I believe a regal tang (that would be dori) can get to be 10 or 12" - anyone please correct me if I'm wrong, I am just going from my memory and I'm not for sure. A fish this size will have trouble living in a tank if there isn't enough swimming room.
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Old 01-20-2004, 06:04 PM   #20
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Is a wet/dry filter the way to go with a 75gl tank? Right now i have a fluval 404 canister filter, two pwerheads and around 34lbs of live rock and 3 bags of live sand. Tank has been running for month and a half i have two clowns, 4 cromice
coral branded shrimp, sally light foot crab, the emrald crabs, and 9 hermit crabs. Is it time so get a wet/dry filter with pre filter and skimmer built in ( looking at the pro75 ) thanks
jeremy
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