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Old 05-14-2010, 11:47 AM   #1
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I've been soaking up every bit of advice and read everything I can here and want to get some opinions. I have had many fresh water aquarium setups in the past and a 55 saltwater that included clowns, yellow headed jaw fish, pygmy angel figure 8 puffer - yes a figure 8 puffer that loved life in saltwater and a sifting goby (forgot the name). That was going so great for 6 months and then a crash that killed everything that several years later I learned was probably caused when I started to use the dehumidifier water from my basement. No one at any LFS, not even the one that I trusted the most said it was bad idea. I later learned that, after Al invented the internet, Dehumidifier water can have so many bacteria that it will kill everything. Now I am older and wiser - well older at least. I am not going to even start until I know exactly what I am doing. I am in the process of setting up a small FOWLR with a sump and separate refuge. I want to learn and maintain a simple system before I execute plan B in a couple years after we move.

My plan (I’ll call it plan A) now is I am now building a nice tank stand to hold a 20gal long that I am having drilled this weekend with a 15 gallon sump under the tank with an auto top off and trickle filter (if my idea works I’ll post pix after it is Patented) i'll post pix anyway. Do a fishless cycle before adding any fish. Add the LR and let stabilize, then add clowns and pygmy.

Skimmer and sump pump TBD based on advice here. After that is all running smoothly I want to start a 5 gallon separate refugium with cheato for a copepod farm and algae control (Eventually this will be a large part of plan B that includes a mandarin and 360 gallons- heh -heh- heh). My stock list for this setup I want to keep simple with a very light bio load. I am thinking simple lights of 50/50 – small actinic added for color enhancement during evening viewing hours with a LED moon light.

2 Percula's (they are the most basic but still my favorite)
Pygmy Angel
4-5 turbo snails or other clean up crew as needed
20-25 lbs LR

After things are under control and I am able to control the water params and algae I MAY, MAY, MAY try a hearty mushroom (eventually this will be part of plan B heh -heh- heh).

I want to keep the entire setup compact for cost and space reasons.

Questions I have for now is with plan A being a 1 to 2 year experimental learning set up and again keeping in mind that for now cost is an issue – when will it ever not be an issue, what sump style skimmer, set of smaller heaters, sump pump, light setups and DT substrate would everyone recommend? I know substrate depends on the inhabitants but what is the safest?

I now realize that keeping marine fish has very little to do with the fish themselves, it is all about controlling the water.

Is the trickle + skimmer + LR a bad idea?

Thanks and if anyone has anything that they have outgrown and wants to sell, and would fit this small setup let me know.

My wife does not know about plan B yet!!!

Sorry this maybe should have gone into the "Getting started column"

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Old 05-14-2010, 01:00 PM   #2
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sounds like a plan!! im tagging along.. but with a 20 gallon you wont need a PS (Protein skimmer) you can have and yes itll help but its not a have to. your weekly PWC (parital water changes) will take care of that. good luck!!

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Old 05-14-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
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Welcome to AA and Good Luck with your build!

If you keep up with maintanence, a skimmer isn't really needed with that small volume of water. Now a skimmer won't hurt by any means and if you have room and want to use 1, there are 2 choices for an "under the tank" sump skimmer or you can get a Hang on Back for the tank itself. Which you use really depends on the room you have and how your sump is setup.

I would suggest using 2 heaters(redundancy). You can put both in the sump.

Dry aragonite sand is a good choice. I use the real fine oolitic sand from CaribSea. I'm not a fan of deep sand beds, so I just have a layer about 1"-2". If you do use a DSB, make it at least 6" deep.

If you don't plan on any corals, a stock 24" flourescent bulb from HD or Lowes will work fine. I use a 6500k bulb from HD for over my 20g long qt. If you even think you may want to try corals, look into T5HO fixtures.

When you say trickle filter, do you mean a wet/dry with bioballs? They definitely do work. I used that setup for over 15 yrs. The main thing using bioballs is to make sure the water coming from the tank into that section is free of debris. A sponge in the overflow will work, but that sponge must be cleaned often.

The recommended flow rate thru a sump is 5-10x the tank volume. A 20g long doesn't really hold 20g and with displacement from the rock, depending on how high you run the sump, your total volume may only be 25g. So then you want a pump thats rated anywhere from 125 - 250gph after you figure the head loss from the distance the pump has to push the water up into the tank.

As far as your fish list, cross out any pygmy angel. Your tank is too small.
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:10 PM   #4
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I have a spare 29 tall I may use for the sump also. It has a small chip in the corner 2 inches from top that is "fixed" but looks ugly. I may use that for a sump. My goal with the sump is just to add volume. 20 + 20 or 30 is about 35-45 gallons. I am trying to stay out of the Nano class and part of the goal is to have a light bio load with a filtration system that is overkill along with an insulated sump tank and enough volume to avoid nano tank temperature fluctuations.

What skimmer is the best value/function. Ease of maintenance and cleaning is very important to me. There are so many out there. In the real world what works best for everyone. I have access to a used red star prism HOB for 50$ but am leary of it cause of the mixed reviews and the skimmate ends up on the floor if you forget to empty it for a couple days. They are mixed I found. The twin heaters are in the works.

I am a bit surprised by the pygmy statement. In my 55 I had one and he never ever strayed more than a foot from the liverock pile I had in the tank. Cute little buggers though. Maybe I'll scratch the pygmy after all. What are some other "couch potato's" that don't need to run or stretch their legs too far? Thanks.
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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I agree about the skimmer. PWC`s will accomplish the same thing in a tank that small. Good luck on the build.
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