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Old 06-02-2008, 09:45 PM   #1
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Thumbs up want2findnemo's 75g tank build

Background: I am a new hobbyist and trying to get a FOWLR setup for my house. I started off knowing nothing about keeping marine fish. But I have worked hard to learn. Right now all I have is a tank full of freshwater. The tank is in my basement away from the sun and it is mounted on a stand. I am very eager to get into this hobby.

Tank: 48x18x20. There is a Hole on the side of the tank that is about 1 inch from the top and the hole is about 2inch in diameter.

ImageShack - Hosting :: tankxu9.jpg

At first I had no idea why there was a hole in my tank. But I did some reading and found out that it is probably for something called a sump and that a sump could also contain a something called a refugium.

Equipment: In terms of equipment I have nothing. I have spent my spare time the past few weeks reading websites and bought three books. “The new marine aquarium”, “Saltwater aquariums for dummies”, and “The new encyclopedia of the saltwater aquarium”

In terms of equipment, as far as I understand I need the following?
(Please let me know if I’m missing or if I have too much)

A submergible electric heater
(how many watts and what is a model?)
A Protein Skimmer
(how big and what is a good model?)
A few powerheads (2?)
(what is a good model)
A pump, to pump water from the sump fugium back up to the tank
(how big and what is a good model?)
A powerfilter
(how big and what is a good model?)
A Timer
Test Kits (ammonia, nitrate and nitrite)

Salt mix
(what is a good type?)

Live rock ( 60lbs)

(what kind of bulbs?)
Buckets and sponges and nets
(I plan to make my own, following some DIY guides to custom fit my space)
(Should I include a Wet/Dry bioball type filter in the sump?)
I plan on making something like this…

ImageShack - Hosting :: sumpni0.jpg

For tank cleaners I found this list online: (please let me know if this is ok and if they are compatible with my tank size, FOWLR setup and fish selections)

Hermit Crabs, Dwarf Blue Leg Hermits, Trochus Snails, Mexican Turbo Snails, Cerrith Snails, Emerald Crabs, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, Lawnmower Blenny, fighting conch,

Fish: I’ve read that I should choose my fish first so I have checked out some compatibility charts and I’ve read that for each gallon I should have 1-1.5 inch of fish (full grown size minus tail). This is the list of fish I plan on keeping. ( But please let me know if they are compatible with the other stuff like equipment and such) I’m also not too sure on the order to introduce them into the tank.

| Flame Angel Fish (one)
|Royal Gramma Basslet (one)
|Jeweled Bleeny (one)
|Threadfin Cardinalfish (three introduced to tank at same time)
|Orangestriped cardinalfish (three introduced to tank at same time)
|Ocellaris Clownfish (three introduced to tank at same time)
|Green Mandarinfish (two introduced to tank at same time)
|Catalina Goby (three introduced to tank at same time)
|Foxface Rabbitfish (one)
|Yellow Tank (one)
|Pacific Blue Tang (one)
|yellow streaked fairy wrasse (one)
|filamented flasher wrasse (three, females first than one male)

For a Total of 97.5 inches of fish full grown

Live Rock: Also if I am to cure my live rock this is what my understanding is… I can buy a rubber garbage can and fill it with salt water making sure it is ok with a hydrometer and keep the water at like 80F and have a powerhead in there and let it run with minimal light distrubance. Doing partial changes of water every 2-3 days and rotated the rocks ever 2-3 days? And continue this for four weeks?

I’ve read some sites and they say to smell the rock when buying it from the store. What is it suppose to smell like? How does cured live rock look like and how does uncured live rock look like? How do I transport it from the store to my house?

Conclusion: I know I put like a whole story together, but I have a lot of questions and being new I would like to make sure im going in knowledgeable so that I can minimize screw-up’s. I will be taking pictures and posting my progress.

Thank you everyone in advanced for your advice and guidance. When replying please remember that I am new so I am very ignorant in this hobby so helpful non hateful comments only… thanks!

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Old 06-03-2008, 12:05 AM   #2
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Welcome to AA! I'll take a stab at some of these questions, and I'm sure others will pick up what I leave out! And don't be surprised if you see conflicting opinons... while there are many "must do" things in this hobby, there are many ways to get there!

First obvious thing is your fish list. The "gallons/inch" rule is a much frowned upon thing, but I think it at least gives you a rough idea of how much fish you can expect to stock. The problem with it is that it doesn't take into account things like how long of a fish really needs to "stretch its fins", how messy of an eater it is, how fat/skinny it is, etc. There are just too many variables to really make it a hard and fast rule. BUT...

In my opinion, it DOES give you a rough starting point. And the numbers you quote are normally quoted for freshwater, not saltwater. In various literature, you'll find anywhere between 5 gallons/inch and 3 gallons/inch. Those numbers would imply you could put between 15 and 25 inch of full grown fish in your tank (75 gallon). With those numbers, you'll obviously need to rethink that stocking list, and then research the minimum tank size for the fish. Right off the bat, I don't see any fish on your list that need anything bigger than a 75g, so you should be OK there.

One note though - mandarin's normally don't do well in tanks. They normally need a huge population of live natural food in the tank, which they'll go through pretty quick. For that reason, they're normally only suggested for very large tanks, and very mature (1+ year old) tanks. Do some research on them, and I think you'll convince yourself to avoid that species.

Calcium reactor - if you're not doing corals, you don't need one. Even if you WERE doing corals, you still could easily do without one.

One thing not on your list is a quarantine tank (QT) (with powerfilter and heater). It's an additional expense, but quarantining each new arrival for 4 weeks minimum will keep disease in your main tank to a minimum, and hopefully out of it completely. Putting fish from your local fish store (LFS) directly into your main tank is just a recipe for eventually disaster. At some point, you'll get a hold of a fish with a disease that could introduce it into your main tank and infect otherwise healthy fish that are already in it. Research and read up on QTs. They're well worth the minimal investment in $ and time.

I don't use a sump or refuge on my tank, so I'll let someone else tackle those questions.

Heaters... I'd use two, and their size will depend on how warm/cold your room is where you plan to set up your aquarium. Here's a handy chart to give you an idea of how many Watts...

JPS - Aquarium Heater Strength Requirements

Regarding using two - that's done so that if once fails in the "off" position, you still have one heater working to keep your tank warm. If one heater fails in the "on" position (which is more likely), then your tank won't heat up as quick, as if you had just one large heater. You get a longer grace period to notice high temperatures if that should happen. Multiple thermometers are a good thing for redundancy, and if one of them happens to have some type of high temp alarm on it, that's even better.

Skip the "crushed coral" for substrate. The pore size is too big and it will just collect lots of debris and foul your water. Sand is good, but "live" sand is not necessary. Save the money. In time, all your sand will become "live" with bacteria.

If you haven't found the article section here, a lot of your questions are covered in one of many articles there...


You're off on the right foot... researching and taking it slow. Keep doing that, and keep asking questions, and we'll help you get off to a good start!

PS... One additional book that's a "must have" is Robert Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". That, and Paletta's book, that I see you already have, are "musts" in my book.

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Old 06-03-2008, 09:17 AM   #3
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Welcome to the site!
I'm picking through Kurt's post to see if I can comment on anything he may have missed. LOL! Seems pretty thorough.
I agree with the ewdundant heaters. Personally, I like the Finnex titanium heaters:
Finnex: Premium Aquatics
I have had the water drain well below them twice and they still work today.
I don't run a skimmer so I can't give any personal experience other than pay the extra money for a good one. You really don't need one if you are doing FOWLR.
For phs I like the Hydor Korelias:
Water Pumps & Wavemakers: Hydor Koralia Water Circulation Pumps
I have seen my urchins and snails climb across them with no damage and not getting sucked in.
I don't have a sump/fuge but Magdrive (I think) makes good pumps.
If you are interested in a filter, I like the Fluvials. I take out the foam and replace the media with purigen and LR rubble.
Timers, you can get them at Wal Mart for around $12.
Skip the hydro and spend the money on a refractometer:
Saltwater Aquarium Salinity & Specific Gravity Testing: Portable Refractometer
For salt mix, I like Reef Crystals. Make sure you have an extra bucket to premix your water. I have a ph and heater and constantly have a 32G bucket (on wheels) with SW in it.
I agree with Kurt, don't waste your money on "live" sand. Get some aragonite dry sand and rinse well.
Live rock, you can save a good bit of money by buying base (dead dried out rock) and mixing it with a little bit of LR.
Skip the CC and the Ca reactor.
Lighting, if you are going FOWLR, lighting is not super important. I am going to get this one:
Aquarium Lighting for Reef Systems: Current Nova Extreme Pro Saltwater T-5 Fixtures
For the sump/fuge, you can use LR rubble instead of bioballs.
Cleaners, personally, I am not a big fan of hermits. Switch the queen conch for a fighting conch, the queen can get pretty big. Ditch the horseshoe crab as they can get about 3 feet long. The lawnmower blenny may starve if there is not enough algae to eat, so skip that one unless you see him eat prepared foods at the LFS.
Once you do some more research on the fish, you can narrow down your selections.
Here is a decent reference point:
Aquarium Fish: Tropical Freshwater Fish and Saltwater Fish for Home Aquariums
A few suggestions, RO/DI is a good idea, you can get them on ebay for less than $100.
drsfosterandsmith.com is great for buying large quantities like sand and salt mix, as they generally don't charge extra for bulk. I bought 270Lbs of dry sand and a lighting fixture and a bunch of buckets of salt and shipping was only $15.99. They may not have the cheapest prices but you have to take into consideration the shipping costs from other places.
Thatpetplace does price matching and they have great service as well.
When you cure your rock, just do it in the tank and let that help cycle your tank.
Age is relative, you are only as old as you act....of course, this works in reverse....

Questions loved, heeded advice greatly appreciated!

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Good reading about:
Nitrogen Cycle
Fishless Cycling
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Acronym List

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Old 06-03-2008, 10:58 AM   #4
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Looks like all your questions were covered by roka64 and Kurt Nelson 2 very knowledgable aquarists for sure. good advice. I have nothing to add except Maybe get a pad of paper and start a tank log each time you do something new to your tank, and when you test your paramaters write it down to reflect upon it later. When asking for help to solve problems the first question usually asked is what are your tank paramaters its nice to have that info to reflect upon.

And buying an RO/DI unit and a Refractometer should be on top of the shopping list.

Hydor koralia powerheads are great for flow in the tank, Maybe pick up a couple of the cheaper Maxi-jets for your saltwater mixing tubs.

120G Oscar tank in progress
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:50 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by want2findnemo View Post
Salt mix
(what is a good type?)
If you ask this question to 10 people you will get 10 different answers. I use Oceanic salt mix. I use it because IMO it`s the best out there but that is solely my opinion. It keeps parameters where they need to be esp my calcium by just doing frequent PWC`s. I feel less of a need to have to add supplements to my tank. JMO and JME. BTW welcome to the site


You can view many of my fish and corals in my photo albums in my profile.

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Old 06-03-2008, 12:07 PM   #6
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Wow guys thanks for the replies! I love this place already.

I am still unclear about some things...

So if i was to follow roka's suggestion and cure my rock in my tank...

Originally Posted by want2findnemo View Post
Iíve read some sites and they say to smell the rock when buying it from the store. What is it suppose to smell like? How does cured live rock look like and how does uncured live rock look like? How do I transport it from the store to my house?
Any good suggestions for a

Originally Posted by want2findnemo View Post

A Protein Skimmer
(how big and what is a good model?)

A pump, to pump water from the sump fugium back up to the tank
(how big and what is a good model?)

A powerfilter
(how big and what is a good model?)

and do I need a certain size for my tank?

Also if anyone can comment on my sump picture (e.g do i really need the wet/dry?) that would be great

For my fish I got most of my info on size of tank, full growth size, and compatibility from

Marine Fish Species

I went to every single link, read each fish's description and then matched it with

Compatibility Chart for Marine Fish

Most of the fish are semi-aggresive and freindly growing not more than 6inch except the two tangs and the foxface.

But I was careful of the minimum tank sizes and so i came down to this list. After getting together with my little brother and picking which ones look cool .

If anyone has an idea which ones to introduce first and last. That would be great.

Thanks agian Kurt_Nelson, fijiwigi, and roka64 for the quick replies.

And thanks in advanced to anyone else...
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:18 PM   #7
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Regarding live rock, read this article as it covers most of the issues...

Curing live rock? I didn't even know it was sick!

If it's in your LFS, and smells clean like the ocean, it's most likely "cured". If it smells like something is rotting, then it's "uncured." You can transport it from the LFS in buckets of saltwater, or just wrapped in damp towels (damp with saltwater.)

Protein skimmer and return pump - numerous options, and like opinions on salt mixes, you'll find many opinions on many different brands. I don't have a sump, so I can't offer you any advice there, but I will say that with skimmers you normally get what you pay for. That holds true with most things in this hobby.

If you use 1.5 - 2.0 lbs or live rock per gallon of tank, then you don't need a wet/dry, or a powerfilter, for that matter. The live rock will give you all the biological filtration you need. However, you may want a power filter to enable you to run your tank water through some form of chemical media like activated carbon, phosphate removers, and other resins that remove "bad stuff" from your water. Seems like most around here run AquaClear brand - maybe some of those folks will chime in.

With introducing fish, you normally want to start stocking with the meekest/most docile fish first, and finish up with the most aggressive. Reason for that is that if the aggressive fish are introduced first, they most likely will become territorial with the entire tank and harass any new fish coming into it. With the aggressive guys last, everyone else has staked out their turf already, and will be more comfortable in the tank. They'll probably get chased anyway, but they will more able to stand their ground. With your list though, I don't see any really aggressive fish, so you should be fine.
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:38 PM   #8
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75Gallon tank so I should have about 25-30Gallon Sump (30% so when I do water change i just change the sump water right?),

does the 1.5-2lb LR per Gallon include the Sump gallon as well? Or just the display tank?
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:01 PM   #9
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I would skip the tangs and the foxface. Some peopel will differ with me, but having those fish in a 6' long 125 gallon tank I would never put them in anything shorter. They need to 'stretch their fins' and can barely do that in a 6' run.

The LR rule is for tank capacity, but you can always add some LR rubble to the sump for some extra filtration.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:21 PM   #10
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so to get live rock rubble is the same as getting live rock right?

I just asked them if they sell it?

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