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Old 06-09-2013, 10:58 AM   #1
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Need advice BEFORE I set up!

I have always wanted a saltwater tank and now I have one...sitting in a lot of parts in my garage. I'm looking at all of your posts, articles, stickies, etc and I am completely lost

I'm not in a rush to get this done. Indeed, I know there are several things I need to do before I even consider sand, rock, cycling and fish.

A little history on where my tank from: My sister-in-law kept this tank for 10+ years. It was her first. I watched her grow and develop it over time..even move it from one house to another. (she may have even got a new tank during that move...not sure, but the rocks/coral/fish all transferred) They made another major move and this time the tank didn't go with. They transferred it to a friend who gave it a go and didn't have any luck. Everything died and she pulled the plug on the project.

Now it is in my garage and I want to do this right! This is where I need your help.

I have a 75 gallon tank and that's about all I know on the equipment. I was there when we took it apart and took some photos so I would remember how to put it back together, but the equipment is foreign to me. There is a huge custom built cabinet/stand and all of the pump stuff sits inside. I'm pretty sure there are bioballs and water sits in a chamber underneath..thats where you add the salt and keep the heater then it pumps back up into the aquarium.

Can you tell I am new at this?!

Q1: We took out all the live rock-the corals were dead- and it is wrapped up in towels in 3 laundry baskets. Can I clean this and re-use somehow or do I need to toss it and buy new? If re-usable..how do I clean it?

Q2: We tossed all of the sand--definitely starting over with that. Any tips on what to buy?

Q3: How do I clean the tank itself before I set it up? What works and what is a no-no?

Q4: is 75 gallons a good size to start with? At this point would there be any reason to consider something larger? (the stand could definitely handle it) I saw several comments on the petco $1 gallon sale...maybe I should take advantage of it.

I think that's a fair start with the questions. Step one for me is to take the plunge and gain enough knowledge to move it out of the garage!
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:27 AM   #2
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Q1: Yes you can absolutely reuse it. Before you fill the tank just rinse it off with rodi water. You will also need to buy some live rock to "seed it" with. The microflora/fauna will eventually migrate over and eventually you wont be able to tell the difference between the two.

Q2: Aragonite sand is what people usually go for. Best way would probably to find a cheap source of dry sand and then again seed it with either some live sand, or live rock would do the trick also.

Q3: Use a 50/50 water and vinegar mix to clean the tank.

Q4: A 75g tank should be great for you. If you end up really enjoying the hobby, you will eventually want a larger tank though. I think that happens no matter what size you have. So if you have the money for it, and the inclination, then get the biggest one you can. Also, if the tank is 10+ years old it might be a good idea.

P.S. Get rid of the bioballs and make that chamber into a refugeum.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:13 PM   #3
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A 75 is a great tank to start with plenty of room for error but not so large that it's a job to maintain Here's a few articles to get you started
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Old 06-09-2013, 04:17 PM   #4
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I just bought a 75 gal & moved it, stock & all last Saturday, so I've had it for a week. I've learned SO MUCH this past week!! So we'll be learnin' together! I'm definitely learning on a fast track due to having to keep the stock alive & I have quite a bit of FW knowledge to help me along-- It has given me the basics of fish keeping. I kinda wish I had a smaller tank as I don't plan to keep any larger fish or larger quantities but I do agree that the larger the tank, the less of a swing in the water parameters so that's a good thing for a novice. I think any bigger, I'd be going crazy as I'm doing lots of water changes since the tank was not running as properly as the previous owners had thought or else the move really stirred some bad things up.

Something you may wanna consider getting to understand that I had NO CLUE about was how the overflow & sump work w/ water levels and how that affects things. I ditched my bio balls & put a filter sock in, put live rock in the sump & plan to add Chaeto too. All my parameters are great now. pH came back up when I started only putting saltwater in the tank where the previous owners were adding distilled water for evap. LFS said always add at least a tiny bit of salt to RO/DI or distilled water when topping it off or else the pH will drop. So those are some subjects I'd familiarize myself w/ before getting started. Maybe read some articles on the top big common mistakes people make. Good luck!!
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TangoTank View Post
I just bought a 75 gal & moved it, stock & all last Saturday, so I've had it for a week. I've learned SO MUCH this past week!! So we'll be learnin' together! I'm definitely learning on a fast track due to having to keep the stock alive & I have quite a bit of FW knowledge to help me along-- It has given me the basics of fish keeping. I kinda wish I had a smaller tank as I don't plan to keep any larger fish or larger quantities but I do agree that the larger the tank, the less of a swing in the water parameters so that's a good thing for a novice. I think any bigger, I'd be going crazy as I'm doing lots of water changes since the tank was not running as properly as the previous owners had thought or else the move really stirred some bad things up.

Something you may wanna consider getting to understand that I had NO CLUE about was how the overflow & sump work w/ water levels and how that affects things. I ditched my bio balls & put a filter sock in, put live rock in the sump & plan to add Chaeto too. All my parameters are great now. pH came back up when I started only putting saltwater in the tank where the previous owners were adding distilled water for evap. LFS said always add at least a tiny bit of salt to RO/DI or distilled water when topping it off or else the pH will drop. So those are some subjects I'd familiarize myself w/ before getting started. Maybe read some articles on the top big common mistakes people make. Good luck!!
If you keep adding saltwater for refilling evaporated water, you're are going to drastically raise your salinity.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:15 PM   #6
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lfs said always add at least a tiny bit of salt to ro/di or distilled water when topping it off or else the ph will drop.
trolled!
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:48 PM   #7
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trolled!
What does that mean???

So I looked up "trolled," etc... I mean no harm by what I'm saying. I've had 2 IRL sources of that info AND researched it myself. And I hope that any advice anybody receives here or ANYWHERE, they seek multiple different sources before acting. These particular things that I feel are things I had no clue about getting started in SW, people don't regularly mention & can make a difference in your tank. The pH on my tank was pretty low & the only thing we can conclude was that the previous owners were topping off w/ distilled water. This tank has no top & evaporates quite quickly.

So instead of accusing people, how about just say "I don't agree w/ that statement, I think RO/DI or distilled water is just fine in my experience." A lil kindness can go a long way. We are all real people here even w/ the anonymity of the Internet.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
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If you keep adding saltwater for refilling evaporated water, you're are going to drastically raise your salinity.
I'm not saying full salinity saltwater, just add a bit of salt to the plain water & let it set, etc. Adding distilled or plain RO/DI water straight to the tank will drop your pH. Saltwater is a solution. When you add unsalted water to a tank, your creating the solution *in* your tank--not good. I hope that makes sense.
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:33 PM   #9
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I was saying your LFS trolled you mr sensitive... chill.
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:39 PM   #10
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I was saying your LFS trolled you mr sensitive... chill.
What would be the point of that? Either the LFS trolling me OR you stating it that way... Hence, me not understanding what you meant. I've heard the info from more than 1 source. How about some support info in your accusation.
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:51 PM   #11
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What would be the point of that? Either the LFS trolling me OR you stating it that way... Hence, me not understanding what you meant. I've heard the info from more than 1 source. How about some support info in your accusation.
I appreciate your info. Don't let a few disparaging remarks that have no value hinder you.
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:53 PM   #12
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Here is an interesting thread discussing the subject... there are much less inconveniencing ways to buffer your top off water than using salt mix.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh....php?t=1740810
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:24 AM   #13
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All: thanks for the replies. I'm sure I will have many more questions as I go. It's great to have such a nice forum for discussion

I'm gonna start cleaning the stuff up tomorrow!

@rossv: on the (dead) live rock I took out... Do I need to scrub it down with anything? Is just rinsing w water sufficient? The second owner told me the rock itself isn't really live... Just called that. It's the sand that spawns the critters that eventually grow. Not saying she's right, just trying to learn and figure out if I need to buy more. I've supposedly got about $2,000 worth of the stuff. Is there a ratio or percentage of the tank that should be rock?

And while we are talking about water.... This will sound really silly, but is RO water just the big 5 gallon jugs you buy at those self serve dispensers or that the culligan man delivers or do you go to pet store?

Do I mix it w salt in a bucket to get it salty? Or does it go in those bottom reservoirs first then cycle up through the main tank?

What size pump should I have for a 75 gallon tank?

@ tango: looking forward to learning with you. I've wanted a saltwater tank for about 20 years now

Final question for the night: when cleaning out tank, should I try to get all of the white salt deposits off the tube( not the right word) that comes up through the tank in the back corner?

Sorry , one more: do I need to worry about condensation or salty buildup or wetness of any kind on my furniture- floor or the area surrounding the tank? I had a freshwater that sat on a sofa table and even with a hood, the evaporation ( i guess) took the finish off my table

Aw heck, I'm gonna keep going: where do you all have your tanks? Living room , office, special room? What do you like best and how handy does a sink- drain need to be?

That's it for now!
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:54 AM   #14
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If there is dried up algae or anything like that on the outside you can scrub it off. If it looks relatively clean, then just let it soak for a little bit, take it out and dunk it a few times, and you'll be good to go. The "live" part is just referring to the bacteria that grows on the rock. Usually the "critters" come from live rock, but they can come from sand also if you get it from an established tank. You will definetly want to buy some more live rock so you get all the pods, feather dusters, corralline algae, etc. that adds to the diversity of the microflora/fauna of the tank. Eventually the stuff will spread from the live rock to the base rock and you won't be able to tell a difference. As far as how much rock, most people suggest around 1.5 lbs of rock per gallon. It will be the main part of your biological filtration so if you have room and it looks aesthetically pleasing, the more the better.

RO stands for reverse osmosis. I actually use one of those 5 gallon jugs and fill it up at a meijer near me that has a unit for people to use for drinking water. I'm not sure if culligan or other drinking water places use straight RO or if they add minerals and stuff for taste.

When mixing saltwater, you will want to do it in a bucket or something like that. Mix it up, throw in a powerhead (and heater if you want), get the salinity right, and then let it sit for a while before you add it in.

As far as what size pump for a 75... use a search engine to look up "recommended gallons per hour for a saltwater tank" or something like that and it will give you an idea of how much flow you need. You will want that to be from multiple sources too, not just one powerhead.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:00 PM   #15
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All: thanks for the replies. I'm sure I will have many more questions as I go. It's great to have such a nice forum for discussion

I'm gonna start cleaning the stuff up tomorrow!

...The second owner told me the rock itself isn't really live... Just called that. It's the sand that spawns the critters that eventually grow. Not saying she's right, just trying to learn and figure out if I need to buy more. I've supposedly got about $2,000 worth of the stuff. Is there a ratio or percentage of the tank that should be rock?

And while we are talking about water.... This will sound really silly, but is RO water just the big 5 gallon jugs you buy at those self serve dispensers or that the culligan man delivers or do you go to pet store?

Do I mix it w salt in a bucket to get it salty? Or does it go in those bottom reservoirs first then cycle up through the main tank?

What size pump should I have for a 75 gallon tank?

@ tango: looking forward to learning with you. I've wanted a saltwater tank for about 20 years now

Final question for the night: when cleaning out tank, should I try to get all of the white salt deposits off the tube( not the right word) that comes up through the tank in the back corner?

Sorry , one more: do I need to worry about condensation or salty buildup or wetness of any kind on my furniture- floor or the area surrounding the tank? I had a freshwater that sat on a sofa table and even with a hood, the evaporation ( i guess) took the finish off my table

Aw heck, I'm gonna keep going: where do you all have your tanks? Living room , office, special room? What do you like best and how handy does a sink- drain need to be?

That's it for now!
Yes, it really is a nice forum when it's nice. Don't let anybody on here ever discourage you from asking any questions. Sometimes it can be intimidating to ask b/c there's definitely some superiority complex going on w/ some of the more experienced fish keepers.

Live Rock is called base rock when it's not alive, but you want it to become alive. People "cure" their rock by putting it in tubs w/ saltwater & power heads before putting it in their tank (hopefully to let the not-so-good critters to run their course) or they cycle it in the new tank. Live Rock is a place for good bacteria grow as well as other critters--how to get the other critters on is something I need to look into it myself! IDK the ratio of rock to tank, I know I need 50lbs more & have quite a bit!! I haven't weighed it.

RO/DI... I've read that RO/DI from other sources could possibly not be 100% pure so you should check w/ the company on their purification processes as well as Distilled water b/c they could be using copper piping which wouldn't be good for your invertebrates! IDK... But I would think mixing salt in the sump (bottom reservoir) would not be good! You mix the salt in a separate container, let it aerate w/ bubbler and/or power head(s) 12-24 hrs (I always do at least 24 hrs, I even aerate saltwater I've just brought home from LFS). Freshly mixed saltwater can burn your fish, etc in your tank. IDK about the size pump, I rely on my LFS to tell me-- I truly trust them. Also I bought mine on emergency as my pump broke in the move! As your supplies have sat a bit, you may wanna check everything is sealed up nicely. I was shocked touching the sump b/c water was getting inside the submersible pump.

As for "salt creep" (I think it's classified as that)... I'd clean it as needed. I prefer there to be no salt on things but that's b/c I have time for it & I figure it's easier to clean daily/every few days than a big job doing it every quarter. I just had to clean the salt off my plexi on my tube lights & inside... plexi was basically attached via salt! I will definitely be wiping the light regularly to prevent it getting that bad again. I imagine you need to be careful the salt isn't falling back into the tank as you wipe also.

I have 2 tanks in my family room and 1 in each child's bedroom, so 5 total. And I almost bought another at the Flea Market this past Saturday!! I'm actually on used fishtank watch for several friends b/c my daughter has Guppys Galore, man do those things like to have babies! I'm really considering getting rid of all my FW, at least the kids' tanks if/when they are ok w/ it b/c I'm spending so much time on the SW tank. It makes me sad but the kids focus on the SW a lot too so maybe it's best we just concentrate on one & financially. As for damage to furniture, I do not have any issues. My large tanks are on their appropriately sized stands (any water probably hits the tile & walls) & on tile floors--I just had the walls painted w/ eggshell a couple of months ago, so no effects there (yet!). I always have a big towel or two handy to wipe surfaces that get wet when I'm tending the tank-- the stand, floor, etc. The smaller tanks are on dressers & desks, haven't had an issue w/ furniture being damaged but they're all hooded w/ HOBs. And water changes really aren't messy. I use buckets, even for the big tank to remove water for the water change. I suppose a longer hose straight to a drain would be GREAT! But I like to rinse things from the tank in old tank water just incase they contain a lil beneficial bacteria, don't want to kill any good things off by shocking them w/ different water parameters if I used new saltwater or fresh water/tap water, etc.

I hope all this helps. I like being told *why* people do what they do, not just Yes or No or "Do this..." So this is why this is so wordy. Good luck!! KUP!
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:54 PM   #16
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Regarding the top off water (to salt or not)...as long as you understand that salt does not evaporate and continuously adding more salt will increase your salinity, you are okay. Keep a close eye on that, as you want that parameter to stay as constant as possible. You will lose salt from salt creep, so sometimes a lite extra wont hurt. I just use RO though and my tank stays pretty constant.

I've had tanks wreck furniture, but its usually been stuff that was not made for tanks (my kids dressers and such) and the damage was more from water getting on it during water changes or cleaning. My wood stands have always held up fine.

I've got four tanks, working on adding a fifth. All bedrooms and the living room. Kids tanks are freshwater, others are salt.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:01 PM   #17
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For a 75 with a 1" overflow a mag 7 gives a nice flow. Checkout Melevs reef.com great info on sumps and fuges and little tips that prevent flooding if power goes out and such. If you can afford a rodi unit buy one I just got mine a few weeks ago no more running to get water and tests better than the lfs. They hookup right to your hose outside if you want about $180 for a decent one.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:21 PM   #18
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Regarding the top off water (to salt or not)...as long as you understand that salt does not evaporate and continuously adding more salt will increase your salinity, you are okay. Keep a close eye on that, as you want that parameter to stay as constant as possible. You will lose salt from salt creep, so sometimes a lite extra wont hurt. I just use RO though and my tank stays pretty constant.

I've had tanks wreck furniture, but its usually been stuff that was not made for tanks (my kids dressers and such) and the damage was more from water getting on it during water changes or cleaning. My wood stands have always held up fine.

I've got four tanks, working on adding a fifth. All bedrooms and the living room. Kids tanks are freshwater, others are salt.
Todd... We sound very similar! I can hook you up w/ a tank or two! Ha ha... Jk.

Callen... Definitely get yourself a hydrometer or refractometer whenever adding water and for after adding.

Quote:
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For a 75 with a 1" overflow a mag 7 gives a nice flow. Checkout Melevs reef.com great info on sumps and fuges and little tips that prevent flooding if power goes out and such. If you can afford a rodi unit buy one I just got mine a few weeks ago no more running to get water and tests better than the lfs. They hookup right to your hose outside if you want about $180 for a decent one.
I had a Mag 7 which would've been $139 for me to replace at my LFS (since it was an emergency). I chose a $60 pump & plan to upgrade when it goes bad, the LFS said the only diff is how long it will last, the flow is the same. So it's like weighing the pros & cons, reliability & lifetime of the product may be more important to you. As I don't have corals or expensive stock & am home all the time, I feel like I can afford to skimp at the moment.

And I agree, get your own RO/DI system... Or just buy saltwater from the store (unless you have very specific salinity requirements for your stock. If you buy the RO/DI, then mix it yourself you still have the price of the salt to account for & no quality control over the RO/DI.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:33 PM   #19
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I support my local lfs but when it comes to pumps, pheads and rodi units buy online. Great service and prices with Dr foster and smith, champion lighting for higher end and hard to find parts and bulk reef supply. But sometimes you have no choice. I just spend more money at my three lfs on corals and fish.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:54 PM   #20
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I've never added salt to my top off water and I don't recall ever having a problem with ph. This is the first time I've heard of this.

I don't know if anyone asked this, but was that tank ever treated with copper based medication to treat ich?
If so, I would toss all of that rock and start from scratch. That copper may have settled in the rock and keeping sensitive inverts will end up being impossible.
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