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Old 06-08-2008, 08:28 PM   #1
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Wanting to start a Reef Aquarium

I have owned several fresh water tanks as well as a couple turtle tanks and i now want to try a saltwater/reef tank. I understand these take many months to come together but i need to start somewhere. I have done some research but figured i would come here for the more diffucult questions.

I am pretty much starting from scratch and am looking to buy a 75g tank with some sort of cabinet stand to go underneath.

From what i have read i will be needing some live rock. Where do i get this live rock and can i get it shipped to me already cured? How much live rock do i need for my 75g tank and what kind of live rock do most prefer?

Next i believe i will be needing a RO/DI system if i want a nice clean tank. What would you prefer for a 75g tank?

Next is a sump. I have seen lots of posts about drilling in tanks and whatnot.........i would like to stay away from that if possible. I see alot of you making your own sumps but can good sumps be bought? Also what are everyones thoughts on a refugium?

I will also be getting a protien skimmer so any suggestions for that would be appreciated.

My LFS has the test kits i need for the water so i dont believe i will be needing much help there.

I think finally i will need some lighting and something to maintain a nice flow throughout the tank. I dont know what they are called but i have seen some set up at the corners of peoples tank and they look pretty affective.

My goal is to have a thriving tank full of corals and other colorful ocean life including some non aggressive fish and i definately am going to need your help. If i am forgetting anything which i probably am please let me know. I'm anxious to hear back so i can begin figuring out what i need to do to get started.

Matt
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Old 06-08-2008, 10:10 PM   #2
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You can get live rock from a lot of places. A local saltwater store will usually have live rock. You can get it online but beware that shipping is usually quite a bit because if you buy it cured its heavy.

The rule of thumb is that you want around 1 -1.5lbs of live rock per gallon for proper filtration. Unfortunately that makes it very price to purchase all that at once. So many people mix in some base rock (uncured) with some live (rock) i would suggest going 50 50 with cured and uncured or ever 1/3 cured 2/3 uncured. uncured is going to be considerably cheaper.

I know others have a few good places they like to buy LR online so i will let them post some links.

Check ebay for a RO/DI system. The have some decent ones for not to bad of a price. Also check melevsreef.com i think he still sells them and his site has TONS of info on every thing you could want to know about setting up a salt tank. Also you will want a good refractometer instead of a hydrometer because they are inaccurate. Check ebay for that too.

Drilling is usually suggested because it is failsafe and then you don't have an overflow hanging on the back of your tank but either way will work. Many people have overflows that are 99% failsafe anyway. I wouldn't rule out drilling though. It is very simple if done right. Someone will provide a link to you if you wanna go that route with step by step instructions from when they did it.

Good sumps can be purchaced online or at your local fish store (LFS) but the are probably cheaper online. cheaper is a relative term though cuz they are very expensive. Probably looking at 350$ for a decent sump for a 75 would be my guess. Building one out of another tank and some glass and silcone will probably only cost you 150-175$ so its worth considering as well. Again if your interested in doing that we have a few threads on step by step (AA has all the answers don't worry) If you do buy one it is recommended to stay away from socks/filter pads/sponges unless you want to change them roughly every week or the leech back bad things into your water.

A refugium if you get one going is very helpful and highly recommended for the long term success of a reef tank. Lots of people get by without them (incuding me at the moment) but it will save you a few head aches by setting one up. The export nutrients from the water and help control algae if you get some macro going in there.

We have a ASMg series on our tank and it is working out great. Go to the search tap on the top and search protein skimmers and you will find any of a dozen threads that have lots of good recommendations for you.

You will definetly want to get your own set of test with out a doubt. You will need to test fairly frequently with a new tank till it settles down and you get the feel for the tank. Even a tank with that has been up for 10 years still needs to be tested from time to time. You will have a big investment in this tank do not skimp out on this one. Get your self a good set of tests. The LFS will most likely just have some strips for quick test which aren't great. (looking back you may have meant that you knew where to get them. if this is the case then your all set)

As for lights you should do a little research and figure out what kind of corals you will want to keep. If you just want soft corals and mushrooms then you can go relativly low light. If you want SPS and hard corals along with clams and anemones you will need high light and should consider looking into metal halides and T-5's. So get back to us on that and we will be able to help you more.

Look around on some sites online and they have all kinds of additions little pumps that go in your tank for more flow. There are also wave maker units (alternating your pumps on and off on a timer and such) if you wanna get fancy.

Good luck and welcome to AA. Just do your homework and ask a lot of questions before you do thinks. Salt reefs take a long time to get right. Its a slow process.

Pat
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Old 06-08-2008, 10:24 PM   #3
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Hi welcome to the site, a 75g is a great size not too big and not too small. I have a 46g and am limited on fish with a 75g you have a lot more options than me. When you purchase your stand keep in mind that you want a stand that can fit a decent size sump sometimes center braces in the stand can prevent you from having a large sump. You should have a sump at least 20% of the tanks volume. the bigger the better. Get your stand first and then you can measure how much space you have and decide if you want to buy one or build one yourself.

There are lots of places to purchase live rock. I bought mine from Liveaquaria.com All live rock needs to be cured. if it is labeled uncured it needs more time to cure. When you are cycling your tank uncured rock is a good thing. The Die-off on the rock will help jump-start your cycle. If you get about 100# of live rock you will not need a filter because the surface area on the rock will act as a biological filter.

Definately get an RO/DI unit its money well spent you never know what is in your water unless you purify it yourself. I got mine here Melevsreef.com - 100gpd RO/DI System it was 199 dollars shipped. Its 100gpd you can get 50gpd units for cheaper on e-bay.

Don't go cheap on a protein skimmer some popular ones are the Aqua-C Remora Pro for Hang on back style and the Octo series skimmers for use in sump Octopus NW 150 Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer* - AquaCave . I have an AquaMedic Turboflotor 1000 Multi I like it now that I got it broke in. Most skimmers have a break-in period

To start you will need a test kit for ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and PH. if you go reef then you will need Calcium, alkalinity, magnesium, And a phospate test.

You need powerheads for flow about 10x-20x tank turnover per hour is suggessted.
with a 75g about 1200-1500 gph this is accomplished with powerheads and the return pump from your sump. Hydor Koralia's are popular powerheads.

Your lighting will probably cost about $800 or so. your tank is most likely 48" and you will want about 6watts per gallon or more of T5 or Metal halide lighting. certain lights limit what you can keep for corals wether LPS or SPS start a thread about your light when you are ready to purchase and we can help.

a good site to browse at is Drfosters&Smith most everyone has bought at least one thing from them.
Good luck and welcome to AA
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Old 06-08-2008, 11:15 PM   #4
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Read this as far as equipment

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Old 06-09-2008, 02:24 PM   #5
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Thanks alot for the quick and extremely helpful answers to my newbie questions. I was told a large part of the $ would come from lighting and i guess they were right. I also dont plan on skimping on any of the skimmers or sumps or powerheads or RO/DI or anything really. I want to make sure its done right regardless of cost. I will be getting started piece by piece over the next couple months and will be checking back as i go along. I think first on the list is the stand and then the tank.

If anyone can find a step by step link for drilling i would like to look at it. i dont know the benefits of an overflow compared to a drilled tank and want to see what everyone here suggests. Thanks alot.
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Old 06-09-2008, 03:10 PM   #6
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Wow, some great advice so far. But, as you don't have a tank yet why not look at getting a Reef Ready (RR) tank. These tanks are pre-drilled and have the overflow built in. All Glass Aquariums (Aqueon) and Oceanic both makes them.
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Old 06-09-2008, 03:16 PM   #7
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I agree with the reef ready tank. I wish I had bought one instead of my plain 125....sigh...
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Old 06-10-2008, 05:22 AM   #8
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i did some looking around tonight and found a reef ready aqueon megaflow overflow system aquarium that is 75g (48x18x20).

i then went looking for some lights that would get me around 450w and found this NOVA Extreme 48" T-5 Fixture 8 x 54W by Current USA* - AquaCave

I decided i would eventually like anemones and hard corals so i was told i would need a stronger light. i havent bought any of this yet and dont plan to until i am 100% sure what i need to get.

The post about the reed ready tanks makes alot of sense to me since i didnt know such thing was available. Let me know if i'm on the right track so i can move on to finding a skimmer, ro/di system, and powerheads.

Also not sure about the sump/refugium since i'm getting this type of tank so any info on this would be great. I'm still trying to grasp the whole sump/filtration/refugium thing since all i have ever done is fresh water whisper filters. Thank you all so far for all of the help! This place is a new comers dream come true.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:39 AM   #9
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Skip the Nova extreme and get the Nova Extreme Pro:
Aquarium Lighting for Reef Systems: Current Nova Extreme Pro Saltwater T-5 Fixtures
I have the Nova Extreme and the legs are flimsy and after 1.5 years, the ceramic pin holder are cracked (I think that may have been partially my fault).
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:47 PM   #10
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Hmmm, The Pro version states "individually contoured reflectors "
The other version states "Parabolic reflector".

As I recall the Pro version reflector is like 3 sides of a rectangle around the bulb and the upper side is flat. No where near the light output of a parabolic reflector. I may be wrong and it may actually be shaped like a "W" in which case it would be similar in performance.
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