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Old 05-24-2009, 07:30 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Crete, IL
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New 75 gallon FOWLR (making jump from fresh to salt)

I have a 75 gallon tank that is almost void of freshwater fish, therefore, I am looking to convert it to a FOWLR setup.

Things I know (I think) I need :

~260+ Watt lighting
75 - 150 lbs. of live rock
2-4 inches of sand / live sand
Protein Skimmer
Powerhead for circulation
Standard things like heater, etc.

I have also read that I need a sump, but this is the part that confuses and scares me, since my tank is not drilled for an overflow. How important is a sump to the system? Does it have to include a "Refugium"? Can I use a 29 gallon tank I currently own as a sump if I have to?

I have read so many horror stories about a HOB overflow and wet floors etc, that the sump part is starting to scare me.

Anyway, at this point, any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated. I have read so many articles, my head is spinning.

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Old 05-24-2009, 07:42 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 8,482
Welcome to AA!

Alright, lighting. You say you need 260+ watts of light, but that really depends on what your plans are for the tank. Are you planning a Fish Only system (FO), Fish Only with Live Rock (FOWLR) or a full blow reef with corals? I assume not FO since you said you plan to get LR, but are you planning on corals too? If so, what kinds do you want, as this will affect how much lighting you really need.

As for sand, I recommend getting dry aragonite sand. It will liven itself up and you don't have to worry about getting bad stuff. Most of the "live sand" you find on the shelves of the pet store isn't alive because of how long it's been sitting there, so you're paying extra for nothing.

For circulation, you'll likely need more than 1 powerhead. If you're planning on corals, you'll want to aim for 20 - 30 x turnover. What this means is if you have a 75 gallon tank, you want 1500 - 2000 gallons per hour of pumping going on.

Sumps are of a real benefit for many reasons. First, it provides for additional water volume. Water volume is important because the more you have, the more forgiving your tank will be as it will be more tolerant to things that will likely happen as you're learning the hobby. Also, the sump provides a place to hide most of the unsightly equipment from the display. Heaters, skimmers, etc. Refugiums provide additional benefit, in that growing macros lets them absorb the excess nutrients and they help you towards having an algae free display tank. Yes, the 29g you have can work, that's precisely what I did, turned an old FW system into my sump.

HOB overflows are a risk - it's true. But I think that for every "horror" story you read, you'll find 1000 people using HOB overflows with no issues. Me included.
In the DC Metro Area? Check out GWAPA and WAMAS
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:00 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Crete, IL
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I plan to just go fish only with live rock. Nothing with corals, since I seem to remember the lighting is much more important for them.

Thanks for the info, I am not pretending to know what I am doing, lol, so all advice is very welcome.

I saw some 260W lights on ebay for really good prices, that is why I was considering that range I guess.

Any particular HOB overflows that you would recommend that work better?
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5 gallon, 75 gallon, fowlr, fresh, salt

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