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Old 10-04-2005, 03:26 PM   #1
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A slew of questions (some weird, mostly plumbing)

Ok, My first post!

I have a 55gal all-glass brand aquarium that I just carefully painted, the stand with ultra-gloss black enamel (over pre-sanded pine etc...) and the tank back spraypainted black because it looks a hell of alot better than those crappy tape on backgrounds

My questions are these...I did do a tang\liverock tank for a few months about 4 years ago but had to move and figured it would be too tramatic to deal with everything, havent used the tank since.

1) I want to do reef, with the minimal level of fish to keep everyone happy but the best selections. I thought some clownfish and the subsequent invertabrates would be good plus perhaps a tang\triggerfish (or both?)

2) I am pretty handy at DIY stuff and have used this tank and others (that I dont have anymore) many times. I want try building my own hood\lighting for coral etc...since I need to get a hood anyway, this is supposed to be the CLEANEST looking installation I can make it.

3) I need plumbing advice for the whole system! I plan to do a sump and house all the uglifiying equitment there but do not fully understand what I need to keep equilibrium in flow rates so that I dont end up with an empty tank! (and I'm very paranoid about failsafes for such an happening) The tank will be placed in the basement in a not yet furnished\truely cleaned up area (clean enough) so I can have a bunch of junk around and large sump even though I will obviously still want to cover it for a neat look.

4) Also plan on using a reverse Osmosis filter (3-4 stage) and am curious of the best way to permenently impliment it. ALSO curious to know if an aquarium rated RO filter can also be used to produce extremely pure drinking water since I wouldnt need it for just the aquarium 24/7. (I'm only asking because the aquarium ones dont have an fda rating so by some off chance there might be a reason to NOT drink the water...?)

5) I have used magnum and fluval filters and am interested in eheim as a replacement, or is that not needed? If one is using live rock then only mechanical filtration from a cheaper magnum canister is required? This is part of the confusion of the sump system but if thats the case then it appeals to me for its cost effectiveness.

Any reccomendations for the best tankmates in a reef setup are much appriciated, I liked my tang when I had him.

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Old 10-04-2005, 03:39 PM   #2
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1) I dont think a trigger will work in a reef tank. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

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Old 10-04-2005, 03:43 PM   #3
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I'm not DEAD SET on reef, whatever you guys think looks best, AND especially the "smartest" fish I can get. I enjoy watching the interesting ones, I had oscars for a while and loved them because they were decidedly intelligent

groupers are like saltwater oscars right?
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Old 10-04-2005, 03:50 PM   #4
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Welcome to AA!

Triggerfish will eat your snails and hermits. Maybe too much for a 55g too.

Get and RO & DI (ie RO/DI) system, not just an RO filter.

Groupers will get huge and eat your smaller fish.

I think the reef looks best. There are plenty of reef safe fish that will interest you IMO.

Good luck to ya!

"Life may not be the party we hoped for but while we are here we might as well dance!"

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Old 10-04-2005, 03:52 PM   #5
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whatever you guys think looks best
it is YOUR tank, you need to decide what you want.

groupers are like saltwater oscars right
None are suitable for a tank that small and only a couple tang varieties are suitable for that size tank as well.

As a side note, you may want to review some of the articles available on setting up a saltwater tank. They can be found by clicking the tab at the top of the page.
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Old 10-04-2005, 07:13 PM   #6
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what do you guys think my costs will be by doing this...even though I have alot of equitment already I just occured to me how much I will likely spend do do everything "right"...

protein skimmer $200, lighting ~$200 to cover the tank, probably more even if I build myself, $200 for a canister filter, money for the actual sump tank...money for return pump, live rock...which is expensive I know

yea its like $150 just to sneeze near a marine tank,

Also, I have a plan to do this in steps....I figure get the ro unit first since I have a small box filter to circulate just the water around. So I fill up the tank with pure water and salt mix, then build the sump with live rock and a return pump, already have a heater...300w

I want to build my own overflow and everything to keep it looking nice
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Old 10-04-2005, 08:30 PM   #7
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Check this site out for DIY sump setups and other great info
If your tank is not drilled you can use a HOB overflow. Just be sure the return pump is rated less gph(including head) than the overflow can handle.

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Old 10-04-2005, 10:00 PM   #8
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I just now actually got and visualized how the overflow works...I thought making my own partition out of plexiglass for the overflow would be economical and also much cleaner looking since the tank is already permenently black in the back.

I could get black plexiglass and form a 2-3 sided overflow partition and silicone it to the tank corner yes?

The basic idea is that the partition height cuts off the siphon from emptying the tank if the pump dies right? Is there any chance of overflowing the main tank? I know getting a return pump thats too fast would do it...but any other scenario?

ALSO: if doing a sump with live rock, do I need a mechanical filter? How would I impliment that? just put the in and out tubes on either end of the sump?

Another big question is...How big of a sump should I get...I'm beginning to think that a reasonably sized one for this tank probably wont fit under it in the cabinet space. Though I already sealed the bottom wood with marine varnish so excessive water spillage wouldnt rot it or warp but the cabinet is not very wide at all so I thought perhaps doing a "to the side" sump would be better suited.

I thought the way I could do this is by having the sump on a large table to the right and building a painted box out of MDF to put around it or possibly even make a full hinged box and drill plumbing holes through it. Thus hiding the sump in an attractive matching black enclosure with easier access AND keeping the equitment quiet because MDF is so heavy (they use it in speakers for such reasons and its dirt cheap to get in car sized slabs and cut at homedepot)

The only problem being that the in and out lines would be longer and not directly vertical.

The questions keep on comming too...These are for handymen!

I want to build that lighting hood or at least a plain hood, maybe out of MDF as well. IF I coated the MDF on the inside with marine spar varnish enough do you think it would be safe to use? I know saltwater corrodes insanely fast especially above the tank where vaporization and bubbling will splash it all over the top!

FINALLY what would be the best way to run this setup from a sequential buying of equitment. That is to say: How should I start this thing up while not having ALL of the needed products...

I thought the best way might be this: Place tank in desired location--->finish detailing and silicone\build overflow box---->purchase RO\DI water filter--->fill tank and circulate with cheap onhand box filter and let run for a week to make sure tank is structurally stable--->add livesand substrate---->build sump setup and incorporate into tank and leave it for a few days to make sure it all works perfectly--->add liverock to sump---->ensure prestine water conditions and then added "cheapo" workhorse fish to cycle tank (or maybe something I can keep but will do the trick as well)---->add decorations/rocks etc---->introduce 1-2 small fish

THEN that way I have all the salt mixed and everything working with the ability to make it a reef tank eventually, with the only remaining thing being the lighting which I know the least about. So all I would have to do is upgrade the lighting and then add coral\anenomies and their complemenatary fawna like clownfish or whatever. Is that a do-able process? It would really ease the whole "expensive as all hell" situation since I could buy all that stuff as I go with no harm done at all since every step only needs a little bit.

After the cost factor, and the dissapointement in not being able to get the bigger\more agressive fish I still am having alot of fun thinking about building this thing. I just have no expectations or knowledge of the smaller things I can keep in a reef tank of this size.

I'm assuming things like clownfish and cleaner shrimp right? *Some* coral? I dont really know what else in flora or fawna I could use though...

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Old 10-04-2005, 10:21 PM   #9
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WOW I jusT checked out that DIY site saltwatersmac, THANKS! Its insane the amount of stuff that guy put in his 55gal, and I see how his sump fits under there. I'm handing with electrical work for the most part too, never thought to impliment GFI outlets like that but makes sense.

Does anyone know safe spots to mount things in the cabinet are? Without damaging the weight capacity\structural support that is
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Old 10-04-2005, 10:43 PM   #10
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Reading on...I don't think I COULD fit a very large sump under the tank because of the back brace...So this out of stand sump idea might have to do...considering all things I'm thinking of maybe doing more by myself. Forming an acrylic sump on my own and building a full matching black "water closet" for the tank that will be a large black monolith looking thing.

Is it alright to have a sump thats about the same size or is that too much to double the water capacity just for a 55gal...my thoughts are that I could build off of that guys designs with DIY acrylic bonding etc and have all the equitment plus a refugum and use the MDF cabinet to house all the electonics and outlets and monitoring stuff.

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plumbing, weir

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