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Old 08-01-2010, 10:35 PM   #1
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New to sw and need some advise on setup

Hello, I have a 38 gallon tank that I plan to use to begin our first saltwater tank. It will be a fish only tank with live rock and sand. I have been to a number of local fish stores and received a variety of conflicting advise and as such, I have been left confused and deflated. I am willing to make the necessary initial investments to maintain long term water quality and the health of my fish and various critters. However, I am unable to obtain consistent advise on how to equip my tank. If you were starting from scratch, how would you equip a 38 gal for a FOWLR tank? Canister and protein skimmer... Sump with protein skimmer... I really have no clue on the best setup... Please help... I just want a clean tank and health fish.

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Old 08-02-2010, 09:04 AM   #2
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You will probably get a lot of different answers in here on exactly how to do it. A large trend I see is for FOWLR tanks to have canisters and HOB skimmers because they are clip on attachments that are easy to service. A lot of reef setups I see end up going with a sump and an in-tank skimmer. The only big difference between them is the mentality that comes with it. If you run a canister, its all mechanical filtration, if you run a sump, it is largely natural filtration through macro algaes and other things.

There really is no right or wrong option. Personally I love sumps, you throw some macro algae in there and empty the skimmer every now and again. Canister filters need a little bit more TLC as far as cleaning them out and buying new media. The only wrong thing to do is to not buy equipment suited/large enough for your tank, but it seems like you realize that.

Feel free to bounce any concerns or thoughts off us on either option to help you choose.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:30 AM   #3
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I also like to use a sump instead of a canister filter. A good protien skimmer is a very useful piece of equipment and i find the hand on back skimmers to be generally not as good a quality. They are also a real eye sore in my opinion. The other added benifit is that if you decide later you want a reef or even just additional equipment like a media reacotor, extra heaters (as a back up), or just additional live rock it is easy to hide down in the sump and much easier to service since it is in the cabnet and not behind your tank.
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:34 AM   #4
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Let's start with some good reading material. Read these articles, then post some questions. When posting, please post one topic at a time.

Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank

How to cycle your tank with out the use of fish

Quarantine article

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: A Quarantine Tank for Everything by Steven Pro


For a 38 gallon tank that will be FOWLR a cannister is a fine choice. Once you decide you want to go to a reef setup and add corals you are better off with a sump, skimmer, refugium.

Regardless of setup the best way to maintain a tank is by weekly 10% partial water changes (or 20% every other week).
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:06 PM   #5
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Funny... I guess there really is no consensus on setup. I was wondering if the lfs's were just trying to sell me stuff because I was coming off as willing to spend for a quality setup.

What I want most is a setup that will maintain water quality and fish health but don't want to overspend for no reason.

I was considering an AquaC remora pro with a rena xp2 or 3. Or, a ProFlex model 1 sump (can't fit a model 2) with an AquaC skimmer (open to suggestions) and lifereef overflow. I plan on using plenty of live rock and live sand to go with either setup. The canister and hob skimmer are obviously less expensive but will they give me the same results?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:17 AM   #6
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If you want a low-fuss factor, in my opinion, just go with plenty of live rock, a HOB protein skimmer, and some type of HOB filter that will allow you a place to run chemical filtration (carbon, phosphate remover, etc). No need for a cannister filter. With no sump or tubes going over the back of the tank, you don't have to worry about plumbing issues that come with those things. On the flip side, you end up with stuff hanging off the back of your tank, and heaters in your tank. With a sump, you can hide those things in the sump. It all depends on what is more important to you.

Either setup will give your fish a healthy place to live... as long as you keep up on the maintenance. I'm sumpless and cannisterless, and normally run my nitrates around 1.0 ppm.

Just a comment about the Remora Pro, since I have one. For a 38g FOWLR, you probably don't need the Pro. The regular Remora will be fine... unless you plan on overstocking that 38g with a ton of messy eaters/poopers. I have a Remora Pro on a 46g reef. It keeps the water clean, but the pump that comes on the Remora Pro (Mag 3 pump) is NOT the smallest bugger in the world. It takes up a fair amount of real estate in the tank. The regular Remora comes with a Maxijet 1200, I think. Much nicer footprint.
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:44 PM   #8
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Ok, Picked up 80lbs. of carib-sea live sand, some red sea salt and an aqueon quite flow filter to start with and see how things go... I am not opposed to upgrading in the future to a canister or sump system depending on how things go. Tank is super cloudy at the moment but I'll just be patient and wait for things to settle down. I will be adding a circulation pump and an AquaC Remora skimmer as soon as I get them from the place I ordered them from. I was planning to get some tampa bay saltwater live rock but my lfs has some awesome looking rock albeit expensive.... So... I'll prob pick up some lr from my lfs tomorrow to add to the tank. I have heard that I need around 1.5 lbs of lr for my tank but the lfs said I can get by with way less lr with the addition of some dry rock (to become future live rock). They also recommended that I upgrade my standard hood to t5 lighting to maintain the growth on the lr and encourage it on the dry rock... any thoughts on my path... Thanks for your helpful info already!!!
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:07 AM   #9
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Base rock if a good idea. Use that on the bottom and add LR on top of it. You can go 70/30 base to LR ratio. The base will become LR (hosting beneficial bacteria) in a few months. In a year it will look just like LR. You still need to have 1 - 2 pound of rock per gallon of capacity for adequate filtration. The variance is on how porous the rock is. Carribean rock is much denser than Pacific island coral rock so you need more of it by weight.

Sounds like you're on your way to a full blown reef in a year, so multiple T5HO bulbs in a quality fixture would be a good investment. LR doesn't need much light. Coralline algae is a low light algae. I had the greatest growth of it when I had the original NO light setup.
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