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Old 11-18-2004, 04:28 PM   #1
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Miscellaneous Questions - New Installation

Hello All.

After my 6th visit to the LFS, I am just about ready to take the plunge, so to speak. The tank will be in the range of 90 -> 120 Gallons, and we plan to ultimately have corals, anemones and invertebrates along with the fishes. So, my questions are: What kind of sand is suggested/recommended for this mixed environment? May I include live rocks at the start or once the thank is ready, like in 6-8 weeks? Also, what is the best method for filling up the tank the first time?

I am also looking at purchasing the following components and am looking for members suggestions/reccomendations. I hope it's OK to include the URL:


Eheim Classic 2217 chamber canister filter
http://www.bigalsonline.ca/catalog/product.xml?product_id=22023&category_id=1711&pcid 1=2885

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter
http://www.bigalsonline.ca/catalog/product.xml?product_id=22585;category_id=1711;pcid 1=2885;pcid2=

Current USA Satellite Power Compact Fixture
http://www.bigalsonline.ca/catalog/product.xml?product_id=29605;category_id=1843;pcid 1=;pcid2=

Test Kits:

Red Sea Master Reef Lab
http://www.bigalsonline.ca/catalog/product.xml?product_id=19489&category_id=3111&pcid 1=3233

Red Sea Marine Master Lab
http://www.bigalsonline.ca/catalog/product.xml?product_id=19517;category_id=3111;pcid 1=3233;pcid2=

I know I am asking for a lot of information, but I am already grateful for any/all suggestions/recommendations!! I hope to make this right the first time, considering the amount of time and $$ involved in this hobby. Not to mention that my wife is anxious to have a lively aquarium in the very near future.

Again, thank you all for your time and assistance!!

Best wishes,


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Old 11-18-2004, 04:38 PM   #2
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Sounds like a wonderful set up! Hopefully I can help with some of your questions..

Filling up for the first time, I just used a hose. Many people swear by RO water, but it depends on what your tap water is like. You may mix the salt in the tank if you do not have anything in it yet.

Live rock can be added to cycle your tank for you. Get "uncured" rock, as it is cheaper, and there's no reason that I know of to add cured rock to an uncycled tank. You will not need to risk a fish or add ammonia with this method.

I personally use sand, but again, many people are starting to swear by bare bottomed tanks. Some people use crushed coral and vac. it when they do their water changes. I am not personally a fan of CC, and do not know enough about bare bottomed tanks to critique them.

For filters, you may want to just use live rock and a protein skimmer. I use a CPR BakPak, and Aqua C Remoras seem to be highly favored. I do not personally use any other filter, and can't help you in that area.

I'm still deciding which test kit I like best myself, but there are lots out here who can help you out with that.

Your wife doesn't need to worry - even with just the live rock in the cycling process, you'll find lots to watch. Sometimes there are hitchhikers, all sorts of growth on the tank, etc. I find the stuff that comes out of my LR to frequently be of more interest than the fish.

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Old 11-18-2004, 04:48 PM   #3
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Hi, Serge! I'm new too, but I can offer a few suggestions based on my experience.

Most folks here will tell you to skip the canister filter and go with a sump/fuge and LR instead. People do use canisters, but more for running carbon or just water circulation than for main filtration. The filter media are notorious for raising nitrates, which is a big issue if you want corals, etc. down the line.

The sand issue is a huge one. The general consensus is to avoid crushed coral and use aragonite sand, but how deep the bed should be is not at all something people agree on. Do a search on DSB and you'll get more info than you know what to do with.

As for the test kits--I started with Red Sea and quickly learned they aren't that great. Sometimes the results are ambiguous or hard to read. I'm replacing them with Salifert (usually talked about as the best) as I need them. Salifert has a master kit, but it's really pricey. You might want to buy them as you need them--a FOWLR tank doesn't need all the tests a full-blown reef does.

75-gallon SW tank with 29-gallon sump
Euroreef ES5-3
2x Maxijet powerheads
Mag drive 9 return
Coralife 4x65 Lunar Aqualight
120 lbs rock from liverocks.com
1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
2 black Ocellaris, Squish and Smudge
3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
10-gallon tropical
29-gallon with two goldies, Carrot and Orangehead
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Old 11-19-2004, 06:31 AM   #4
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I would also reccomend skipping the canister. Getting a tank that is drilled. Or getting the one you have drilled ( can be done at a local glass shop for under $10/ hole. ) As long as the bottom is not tempered. a tempered bottom will shatter when drilled.
You can then use the holes to plumb a sump/fuge. A reef tank can benefit from one.
Have you visited the articles section yet? lots of great info there.
Do you know what you want to keep? If so what, and we can help you design your system to accomidate your livestock. If not get a book and look thru. When you see something you "NEED" designing the system will be easier.
A lot of ripples make a wave
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Old 11-19-2004, 12:11 PM   #5
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i have heard good things about seachem and salifert test kits, and nothing good about red sea. Also, I say skip the canister, get 2-4" of aragonite sand and 1 to 2 lb/gal of LR in there. 10x circulation (so 900-1200 gph for you) and a good skimmer. set up a sump if you can or at least get a drilled tank so you can do so later.
54g all-glass bowfront corner planted FW

Red tiger lilly, Rotala Indica, Sagittaria Subulata, Micro Sword, Cardinal Plant
Fluorite Black sand and gravel
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Old 11-20-2004, 12:04 AM   #6
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OK, now I am getting more undecided. OK, no problem in skipping the canister filter, but could I not use it just for providing a power water circulation? Other alternatives possibly?

The CPR BakPak and Remora are available here and that's cool. I have found a lot of information, on the net, concerning the addition of a sump, but the idea of getting holes in the tank is kind of scarry a bit.

I have seen some sump setup with U shape pipes on the back of the tanks. So, basically, I understand the principle of its usage and operation. It works by gravity to get to the sump below the tank, goes thru the skimmer down there and is then pumped back in the tank. But, can one have one hole made near the top, at the rear of the tank, for the gravity drain to the sump?

Live rock and aragonite sand is also available from Big Al's shop, so that will do.

Concerning the quarantine tank, about 20 gallons, can I just set it up with live rocks and skimmer? Or should I also include a power filtering pump of some sort?

The water heaters, thermometers, etc... will be easy to obtain and figure out . Some things are not so different from soft water tanks. OK, I am getting mouthy here, so I'm outta here.

Thank you all, for your patience and taking time to share your experiences and tricks!

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Old 11-20-2004, 12:11 AM   #7
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Judging by what you plan to keep in the tank, may i suggest going right to Metal halide Lighting as well.
55g Reef
100 lbs. LR
70 lbs. LS
48" Aqualight Pro
Gen X Mak4 Closed Loop
LPS, SPS, whatever else.....
40g Tru-Vu
40 lbs Tonga
40 lbs Sand
T-5 Retro-2x39
SEIO 620
Frags, Fish, Mantis, Whatever
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Old 11-20-2004, 04:13 AM   #8
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For your qt tank you don't want any substrate or live rock. If you have to treat with copper it will kill the liverock anyways. You can get movement in your tank with some powerheads. If you haven't purchased your tank you can buy one that is reef ready(already drilled) this method is perfectly safe and will work out better than an overflow. Oh and for a filter in your qt a simple inexpensive sponge filter will work fine.HTH
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Old 11-20-2004, 10:38 AM   #9
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Right . powerheads are cheaper than canisters. you CAN use a canister to run carbon, but it's not critical now. better to spend the money on a great skimmer

The U you have described is an "overflow" or "weir" and it will work, but it's more likely to fail and cause a flood than a drilled tank. The hole near the top is a great solution to feed the sump.

ebo makes good heaters.
54g all-glass bowfront corner planted FW

Red tiger lilly, Rotala Indica, Sagittaria Subulata, Micro Sword, Cardinal Plant
Fluorite Black sand and gravel
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Old 11-26-2004, 10:09 AM   #10
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Thank you all for the usefull insight on things. It's not that I am living on shoe string budget, but I do find that MH lights to be on the expensive side a bit. Around here, I saw one system close to 2K$ CDN. I will have to look at somewhat less expensive alternative.

The main tank is not in yet, but should be in the next little while, and I have found someone, localy, that can drill the tank. So, I am looking at 2 overflow wholes and 2 water returns for the pump (yet to be determined). From what I understand, 1 inch returns are the norm and having one at both end of the tank should do nicely and hopefully quiet. The tank will be located in the living room.

Thank you all, and have a great day!!

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Old 11-26-2004, 10:58 AM   #11
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Does the tank you are getting have 2 overflow boxes?
A reef ready tank not only has the holes pre-drilled but also has 1 or 2 corner overflow boxes or 1 center overflow box. Look at THIS ILLUSTRATION.

If you decide to go with a DSB, go with 4+ inches of Caribbean (aragonite) sand. Home Depot sells it as play sand on the east coast for about $5.00 US per 50 pound bag. There are two stores listed for Ottawa, so you may want to check with them. You would find in the garden section and it's known as Southdown, Old Castle, or Yardright. I have 300# in my 125 tank.

Heater: You might also want to consider the Won Brothers Pro Heat II heater. No glass that could break. Big Al's does not seem to carry it, but many other on-line retailers do. Let us know if you need recommendations.

Water Movement: Most people here like the Maxi-Jets. I have 3 of the 1200's on a wavemaker and 2 Hagen 802's.

Sumps: You can buy pre-made sumps or make one yourself from a 20 gallon tank. Check the DIY area or do a search for some ideas.

Protein Skimmer: I don't think the Backpack or Remora are sized for a 120. You may want to look at the Turboflotor Skimmer, ETSS, Berlin, or EuroReef.

My tank was originally filled from the tap. I now use RO/DI water only for water changes and top off. You should consider getting one now.

This is an expensive hobby as far as the initial setup goes. If you do it right the first time you'll save money in the long run.

I'm still longing for MH lights. For now I'm using the Coralife Aqualight (2-36").

The best thing you can do is keep asking questions before spending your hard earned money. Read the Articles and then ask more questions.

Good luck
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Old 11-27-2004, 12:23 AM   #12
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I would have to make a special order to obtain a reef ready tank. They order them from California and can take a couple of months to receive. I prefer to just buy something already available and have the holes drilled at the rear of the tank. After reading a lot of material, I should go with two drains and two adjustable returns. Possibly using one pair for the sump and another pair for a closed loop. Aragonite and LR has already been decided, but I did not know that HD was selling the stuff. I have considered two heaters for the main tank, with digital thermometer. You are correct, I will require to get the RO-DI after the main tank is filled for the first time. do not want to use tap water all the time. I understand about cost of the initial setup, no issues here, but it made my wife raise eyebrows when she saw the price for the MH light system (2K$) She was ready to give up on the aquarium project. LOLOL So, I will go for high intensity light systems for now, tho I do not know what brand. I have to wait and see what the canopy will look like. Thanks for your time and patience,


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