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Old 05-19-2008, 08:13 PM   #1
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You convinced me to do it, now you gotta help me. 46bow reef planning phase

Alright, so I've been convinced. Time to start planning and hopefully move into action in the near-term (before the wife changes her mind - lol)

The Plan
I have an Oceanic 46 gallon bowfront aquarium that's been setup for FW for the past 1.5+ years. No meds have ever been placed in this tank, and it was new when I got it. This is the one I plan to convert to SW as my learning tank, with hopes and dreams of having a large in-wall system should I ever be successful at buying my own house. I intend on a mixed reef of corals, would prefer to not limit myself here (we'll discuss this later). For fish I haven't decided on much, except I insist on working towards having a green mandarin. I understand the maturity requirements of a tank before having one, so I know it won't be the first fish I buy. I would be interested in hearing ideas about how to prep the tank as quickly as possible to accomodate one (buying billions and billions of pods maybe?)

I plan to build a stand for it, as the current stand won't accomodate a sump or anything larger than a canister filter underneath the tank. I'm no carpenter, so the stand will probably be a rectangle stand, even though the tank is a bowfront. I intend to build the stand to approximately 40" long (TBD for sure), and 40" high so the tank sits up nearer to eye level.

I have tons of questions and requests for advice or recommendations, so we'll go in pieces. These are the things I'm currently debating on.

I had convinced myself to go with a 36" 6x39W TEK lighting fixture, based on how pleased I am with the TEK fixtures. I've read conflicting stories online about what limitations I'll have with this amount of light vs. going with a 2x175W or a 1x250W MH fixture. I've read the SPS and clams won't be doable under the 6x39W fixture. Opinions?

Drill the tank or hang on back? I don't know right now for sure that the tank is drillable. If it is, it will most likely only be the back glass, as I'm assuming the bottom piece is tempered glass. I've read mixed stories about nightmares with HOB style overflows, to stories about them being rock solid for years running. I like the lack of presence of a HOB style overflow, in that the box inside the tank doesn't extend all the way to the bottom of the tank, taking up desirable real estate.

As I'm working to design my sump (questions later, phase 2 - lol) what type of skimmer should I be considering for this setup? assume about 20 gallons of volume in the sump. I want an in-sump design for the skimmer.

Live Rock
This will most likely be my first purchase. I'm debating what kind of rock, Fiji, lalo, combination, etc. Opinions?
I'm also debating going 50/50 base and live or not. That's being driven obviously by cost, but I think I'd be disappointed with the appearance of base rock for the time it takes to get covered in coralline.
The idea to get this first is to get it here and in a can curing while I'm working on the rest of the stuff.

That should be good for phase 1 of my questions. As I get these sorted I'll start asking more about other topics.

Thanks! I'm excited, my wife is even excited, and my bank account is ready for some pain.

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Old 05-19-2008, 08:18 PM   #2
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Get that drill out and start making some holes. Little pressure and lots of water. Don't be in a hurry. It's easier than you may think.

"...but the guy at the LFS said I needed it!"
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:15 PM   #3
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I did the HOB overflow for several yrs. I would cure the LR and BR while you cycle the tank. Kill two birds with one stone. It looks like you have done your homework on alot of this.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:09 PM   #4
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I know that's a good idea about curing while cycling the tank, but I'm concerned about the smell. The tank is in our living room, and my wife hosts a ladies' bible study each week, I get the feeling they won't appreciate it. I was planning to cure and cycle in the garage in a trash can, then transfer the rock and force a fast mini-cycle.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:36 PM   #5
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I wouldn't worry about how the base rock is going to look as far as coralline. Most of the cured live rock i've seen isn't cover either unless you buy some really nice rock with will cost you quite a bit of money. When we bought our base rock it was actaully very cool looking its self. lots of old coral skeletons and shells and all sorts of interesting things to look at so i wouldn't rule that out.

I've only ever had a drilled tank instead of the hang on back over flows so i can't offer much help as far as that goes. But like you had mentioned i just like how you don't have to see the overflow hanging there.

Not really an expert on SPS corals but the way i understand it most of them would be able to survive under that light but you may not get the intense colors and growth. If you do go MH you should have a plan for dealing with some of the heat issues that may come with them.

Skimmer- we have an ASM skimmer that we bought under recommendation of some of the experts here at AA and it has done a great job so far.

Good choice on the mandarin i really like those fish as well. Very cool colors. It would help you out to have a fuge in your sump that you can start to grow a pod culture. I would get a bottle of them and add them in the tank as soon as it finished cycling that way by the time your ready to pick one up there has been plenty of time for them to multiply. Unfortunately many people still thank that a 46 gallon will still be to small of a tank to support the mandarin. You will have to call in on some of the experts to see what options you have there. A fuge is like safe place for them to live and multiply though so if you want to have any shot at keeping that fish you will need one.

BTW welcome to the salty side. You have some really nice looking FW I'm interested to see what you will come up with for SW.

These are all just my thoughts don't write them in stone or anything i don't have the extensive experience like some of the other mentors on here but i thought i would chime in with my 2 cents
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Old 05-20-2008, 05:04 AM   #6
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To my experience, it takes multiple refugiums to keep mandarins long term. Hang-on models and sump refugiums should be employed if you wish to keep one. Your tank is on the small side for one; they are little fish, but in a larger tank the 'pods have more real estate to proliferate. In your 46 he'll 'fish out' the pods as they come in from the refugia before they have a chance to procreate and populate in the aquarium. Mandarins can REALLY eat the 'pods, so they can clean out a tank your size in a day.
I keep a group of eight mandarins - one male, seven females - in a 350 gallon reef. Have to check my records but I purchased them in either 2003 or 2004. There are four hang-on and a 90-gallon sump refugiums on that tank.
I'm not discouraging you from keeping a Mandarin in your 46, just indicating that without multiple refugiums it will be challenging.
As to lighting, if you want to keep SPS and/or clams, you'll need the halide. A 10,000K 175 would do it as your tank won't be very deep, top to bottom. Gigantic plus with the clams is they metabolize Nitrate making it especially easy to keep it at zero.
Personally, I use Aqua-C skimmers, as IMHO they are the best I've used. I believe they make one small enough for your sump.

And you know, that you're over the hill, when your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill . . .
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Old 05-20-2008, 08:26 AM   #7
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If you were to cycle your tank with the LR and not add a shrimp I dont think you`ll have to worry about any smell. I didnt have to. I do agree with Dave that the mandarin will be challanging. Maybe you`ll get lucky and find one that eats mysis or vitamin fortified brine. Get the LFS to feed them and see if he eats anything.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:50 AM   #8
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Heh, I knew Ziggy and I put a bug in your wife's ear for SW!
With the 50/50 LR/Base rock, you can always put the base at the base of the pile and kind of cover it up.
Age is relative, you are only as old as you act....of course, this works in reverse....

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Old 05-20-2008, 11:06 AM   #9
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My 46g is my learning tank as well, I hope to have a huge tank within the next 10 years or maybe when my daughters graduate college(20 years) who knows may mortgage the house to pay for it. LOL

Building your own stand is a great idea. I debating how to fit a sump under my tank for months. I thought about just having a seperate refugium display to look at. May be a good idea if you intend to keep a mandarin that way you can monitor your pod population. I ended up buying a different style 46g bow stand with no shelfing or center supports there still is no way to put a sump inside it. I actually put my sump inside it when I put the stand together and slid the tank from the old stand to the new one. worked ok definately not the ideal setup though. If I ever want to take my sump out my enitre tank has to move.

I regret not getting great lighting BIG TIME. Once you get going with the corals then the addiction sets in and when you find out you can't have cool stuff like clams and anemone's its frustrating especially when you already spent over $200 on a light already. Go with the metal halide the cost is about $150 more the the Tek T5 its money well spent.

If you are worried about the smell of the tank from cycling rock you can cylce somewhere else but really it depends on the rock. The fiji I got from LiveAquaria did not smell that bad just a little moldy when I opened the box and in the tank didn't really give off an oder. Now the Caribbean rock I got from inland aquatics smelled like rotten moldy socks that soaked in pond scum and rotted in the sun. Horrible smell my entire garage stunk for the 2weeks I cylced them( they came out of the ocean about 7 days before I got them) They still have no coraline coverage 5months later. Where as the Fiji I got from LiveAquaria was covered in coraline about 2weeks after I turned my lights on them. It depends on the rock. LiveAquaria is a great source not as cheap but also money well spent.

Hope this helps

120G Oscar tank in progress
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Old 05-20-2008, 12:32 PM   #10
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Nooooo Neilanh!!!!

Another one bites the dust! And another one gone another one gone and another one bites the dust!

Oh well, good for you going SW I guess! Now I know I'll have one more asset if I ever go SW.

Judging by your planted tanks, it's a safe bet that you'll have a beautiful SW tank up and running in just a few months. Have fun! I'll be following your progress.

FYI, I really liked the skimmer/overflow/sump on my FW tank, and did everything I could to keep it. The siphon never broke unintentionally and it did not take up much tank space at all. Depending on the flow, I think bubbles can get trapped and break the siphon but I've never had this issue in 4 years of using it.

Thank you so much for all your help. I'm back into the hobby with a new vigor!

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