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Old 11-09-2003, 06:28 PM   #1
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ideal setup for beginner (fish and equipment wise)

were looking into starting a sw tank we will probly be getting a 75 gallon and i would like to know your opinions on the best things to start with as in which types of fish to use a tank with or without live rock and sand what kind of filter to use whether it be undergravel canister or wut ever it may be i would just like your opinions to help me research this a bit more any help would be appreciated
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Old 11-09-2003, 10:37 PM   #2
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Well, it depends on what kind of tank you want to end up with. If you want a reef eventually, you should start it with that in mind. The best purchase you could make at this point is "The Concientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert M. Fenner. Also, read the articles on this site...especially the ones about the Berlin system of filtration and fishless cycling. One thing you want to avoid for sure is spending money twice for the same thing. If you intend to eventually have a reef tank with SPS corals, don't buy a lighting system that won't support them because you'll eventually have to replace it.
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Old 11-09-2003, 10:37 PM   #3
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I'm kind of new to this myself but this is what I've gathered from everything I've heard.

Filter
Wet/dry filters are the way to go because they put more water into your system and the more water you have the more stable your aquarium is. Don't get a cheap filter get a nice one because filters are important. If you want a reef aquarium a wet/dry filter is the way to go. You can also put your protein skimmer and other things in the sump so its not hanging off the back of your tank. Canister filters can be nice too but you usually get high nitrates with canister filters and if you have one you need to get a bio wheel unit to get your nitrates down. Undergravel filters don't offer as much filtration.

Protein Skimmer
A protein skimmer is debatable depending on what kind of tank you have. If you want corals and have live rock and have a lot of fish you should definately have one. They're also great for beginners who are trying out saltwater for the first time. You can also put them in your which means they aren't hanging on the back of your tank. Red Sea makes great protein skimmers. Get the best skimmer you can in your price range.

Heater
3-5 watts per gallon...you don't want a really cheap one but they're inexpensive. 5-8 watts per gallon if the environment gets really cold in your house or area. Keep your temp between 75-80 degrees but this is debatable.

Powerheads
Keep your water moving...Wavemakers are great if you have corals because you won't have such a constant flow of water you'll have a pulsed flow. You can use 1 or 2 powerheads in your 75 gal if you don't want corals

Live Rock
You should have live rock in your aquarium because it's natural filtration. It's really expensive, but you can sometimes find good deals online. You should have somewhere in between .75 and 1.25 per gallon but there's no set amount. It should take up 1/3 of the tank. There's also cured and uncured. You can cure your own...there's an article on this site for how to cure rock and liveaquaria.com has a good article about it as well. You can buy cured from your local fish store and put it in your tank but they charge anywhere from 5-15 dollars per pound. You can also buy uncured from your local fish store as well. You can cycle your tank using live rock as well.

Live Sand is great but it's not as necessary as live rock in my opinion. You can use just a normal substrate such as crushed coral. There's a calculator for sand bed depth on this website for how much sand you need. If you can afford it, it is a good idea.


Reverse Osmosis Water
You can buy RO water which is water that has chemicals filtered out. You can usually buy it at your local fish store and you can buy RO units, but they're expensive. If you can afford one get one because they get chemicals out of your tap water.

Lighting
If you want a fish only tank with no corals you can just buy basic flourescent bulbs. If you want corals you want 2-5 watts of lighting for every gallon of water. Metal Halide are the best for reef aquariums and corals. Once again, they're expensive but you can find good deals on ebay and some online sources. I'm not too great at explaining lighting, but I know metal halide is the best for corals. Get a timer to run your lights for 10-12 hours everyday.

Test kits
Get a good test kit for your pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, calcium, maybe copper. There's master test kits that are great.

Here's a step by step way to set up your aquarium if i were you
1. Get your tank set up and add your substrate. Then add in uncured rock and arrange it where you want. Fill your aquarium with your water and then add salt until the sg is at 1.025....a good hydrometer can measure this. They're usually under 15 dollars. Install your heater, filter, skimmer, and hood and set your light timer. Wait until your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate come back down to 0 and cure your rock which usually takes around a month and let your tank run. Do a 25 percent water change once it's your levels of ammonia, nitrate, etc are at 0.

2. Add a cleanup crew with snails and crabs and let those run around in your tank for a couple weeks.

3. Do another 25 percent water change and add corals if you want and wait a couple weeks.

4. 25 percent water change, add fish.

Do a monthly 25 percent water change and make sure you feed your fish once a day and only once a day because overfeeding can kill your fish because the decomposing food will build up nitrates and ammonia (i found this out the hard way). Add certain things to keep your coral healthy someone else will have to tell you about that.

Check with other people about all of this stuff because there's lots of conflicting advice. My best advice is to take it slow and be patient. Don't rush anything. I found that out the hard way because I rushed my tank and it went into disaster mode and i had to start over. Liveaquaria.com has a lot of great articles on it about maintaining an aquarium and so does this website. It also has a compatability chart for fish. Build your tank around the fish you want the most. Put your least agressive fish in first and then build up to your most agressive fish such as triggers. Make sure you build a quarentine tank. You can build one for around 30 dollars. Fill it with your aquarium water and acclimate all your fish to that and keep them in there for a few weeks in case any diseases pop up. This will keep your main tank from getting diseases in it. Also if you have sick fish you can put them in there. a QT tank is REALLY important. My best advice is to do TONS OF RESEARCH. Make sure you get the best equipment you can. Start out with the right stuff and don't rush and do everything the right way and you'll be happy. I hope this helped and if i gave any wrong advice im sorry but that's what i've gathered from most of my research. Hope this helps.
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Old 11-10-2003, 09:45 AM   #4
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Damsel that was a great post. If you dont mind I would like to make some clarifications to what you said but what you posted was great and I know it took some time to write all that out. KUDOS to you.

On the Wet/Dry, if your doing a fish only tank or a fish only with live rock then yes a wet/dry is a great way to go for nitrite and ammonia removal. If you go with a reef tank (fish and corals and other inverts) then a wet/dry might cause you some greef in that they can become a source for excessive nitrates.

Skimmers, As you said skimmers are debatable as for their use but I like to suggest to all beginners that they get a skimmer simply because it helps the beginner sustain good water quality by the removal of DOC's.

Usually you can find live rock online at a price of $3.50/lb or less. Live rock locally will cost easily 2X that much.

The general lighting range that is usually tossed out is 3-5watts per gal. This rule of thumb is only good for florecent lights and holds little weight for MH because MH light an approx 2'sq area per light vs the florecent bulbs supplying light thru the entire lenght of the bulb.

Just a clarification on your step 1. Adding the rock and then the water and then the salt would basicly give the live rock a freshwater bath and cause it to have to experence all kinds of chemical reactions as the saltmix disolved. Its best to mix the saltwater first then put the rock in.

Like I said above the post itself was great and I just wanted to toss out a few clarifications.
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Old 11-10-2003, 04:01 PM   #5
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OK, I'm really excited :P I'm finally taking the step into Reef'dom. I'm sure this has been asked and answered 1 million and a half times but I'm at work and unfortunately don't have enough time to search around. Much like philc21 I'm setting up my 75g and want to make it a reef. The final product will essentially be a show/brood stock tank of corals I intend to propagate for sale to my local fish stores.

The basic set up so far is my 75g and a 30g using a 29g wet/dry sump for filtration. The 75g will be for low to moderate lighting corals with 2 110w VHO's and 2 40w NO florescent bulbs. The 30g will be for for SPS and high lighting corals with probably 4 95w VHO's or something along those lines. I don't want to use MH due to there size, price, and high heat production. I also have some home made base rock that was in my fresh water tank for a while.

So without listing all my PH's, skimmers and heaters etc.. that I have, I would like to hear what you guys/gals would do if this were you? How much live rock for both tanks? How much sandbed, if any?? How much water movement IE how many PH's? Etc... Like I said I'm finally taking the leap and what better people to help out than you?
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Old 11-10-2003, 08:01 PM   #6
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Good call on the filter fishfreek....i found that out today about the wet/dry not being the best for reef. I'm thinking about building my own sump and buying an overflow box and using like a 20 gallon aquarium....any tips on brand of overflow box? I don't want a wet dry system but i want to hook a sump up so water changes are easier and more water capacity and i can also hook up my protein skimmer in there. Any suggestions on skimmer models or brands for a 75 gal? Should I hook up my canister filter in the sump or should i just keep that hooked in the aquarium?
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Old 11-10-2003, 08:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
any tips on brand of overflow box
Anything with out the words CPR on it. They use a C style overflow that needs the added help of a PH to maintain the syphon. While many have used it with no problem others have come home to a flooded floor thanks to a failed PH on the overflow.

Look for the U tube style overflows. These have a clear acrylic tube that is shaped like a U that is used to get the water up and over the side of the tank.

www.lifereef.com I have one of the overflows form this place. I belive hara just got a bunch of overflows off ebay. She could link ya to that guy aswell.
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Old 11-11-2003, 12:45 AM   #8
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The more beginner you are the more reason to invest in QUALITY filtration.

I recommend any EHEIM canister filter you can get your hands on.
Preferably the wet/dry model.

Secondly when purchasing filtration, I recommend getting enough filtration for double the amount of actual water volume you have. For example, if you have a 55gallon tank, get enough filtration for a 100 gallon tank.

This method has multiple benefits.

1) You can stock more fish in your tank.
2) Less frequent water changes
3) Less frequent filter media changes.
4) Less fish fatalities
5) Margin for error greatly increases so you can enjoy your hobby more.
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Old 11-11-2003, 06:37 AM   #9
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Thought I would link my shopping list. I've researched this topic for quite some time and decided on this setup:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...477&highlight=
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Old 11-11-2003, 09:58 AM   #10
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THANKS Bearfan, Thats exactly what I'm looking for
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