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Old 08-05-2006, 06:53 PM   #1
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questions about filtration, debate with husband

I have read a lot about filtration with this website and Robert Fenner's book. We are purchasing a 75g tank. My plan is to purchase 40lbs of lr and 40lbs of base rock, a good protein skimmer, cleanup crew, and powerheads, and a 4 inch base of argonate sand. I thought this would be a good start for filtration. Right? My husband has only read "Saltwater Aquariums for dummies". He says that we need to have canister filter, gravel (because the vacuum will suck up sand). I tried to tell him have gravel collects stuff we don't need in the tank and he said that is why we would need to vacuum and have a canister filter.

Long story short. I thought some of you could comment about your filtration experiences. I will then print it and let him see that I have done a lot more research then he thinks I have done.

The long term plan is FOWLR and possibly purchase reef later.

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Old 08-05-2006, 11:14 PM   #2
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Gravel is not the substrate of choice in any saltwater situation. Crushed coral is unpreferred for the same reason as gravel, it holds too much trash and becomes a nitrate factory. Sand is the preferred method. Either a shallow sand bed, or a Deep Sand Bed (4 inches or more) for additional filtration. If you are only going to use rock as filtration, I would add an additional 40 lbs minimum. I have experience with cannister filtration, HOB filtration, liverock only and liverock with a deep sand bed. For your needs I would say liverock, skimmer and powerheads will do just fine.
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Old 08-06-2006, 04:24 AM   #3
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Seconded. Live rock is a fantastic choice when setting up a marine environment, and I would strongly recommend it. Canister filters + gravel vacs are ok for freshwater use (lower biodiversity, less organisms to do the work for you ). The filtration and natural cleanup potential of live rock are unmet by anything else. Gravel vacs, crushed coral and canister vacs sound like a maintenance nightmare. Sand generaly is never cleaned by hand (various citters, worms, snails, etc do this for you, and even eat the waste!), and a good sized and good quality protein skimmer will remove a large amount of the waste in the water. Regular water changes, some testing, feeding, and emptying the skimmer cup is all you regulary need to do.

I would add about 80lbs of base or even 40 base + 40 dead (dry calcium based oceanic rock, there are vendors online, like hirocks on ebay - saves cash as this rock will become live over time). You're targetting 1.5-2x pounds per gallon of display tank water.
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Old 08-06-2006, 11:47 AM   #4
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Welcome to AquariumAdivce.com!!!
IMHO, the best filtration you can have inyour tank is a 3 inch sand bed, 1.5-2lbs/gal of LR, a good skimmer and powerheads to move the water. That is all you need. You can run a canister is you like, however, they require frequnet cleaning in order to keep NO3 from climbing. The upside...they add increased flow and give you place for chemical and mechanical filtration.
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Old 08-06-2006, 09:34 PM   #5
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I have to agree with the experts as IME of nine years LR, skimmer and good flow are the best way to go. Break it easy to your husband that you are right


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Old 08-07-2006, 09:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by scrmom
He says that we need to have canister filter, gravel (because the vacuum will suck up sand).
I agree with the others but wanted to specifically address this concern of his. First off the technique of vacuuming the substrate is usually reserved for fresh water or brackish water tanks due to the fact that most of these types of tanks do use canisters for mechanical filtration since skimmers don’t work (due to the low or non existent salt level) for mechanical filtration. Gravel is the normal substrate for those types of tanks since that is the normal substrate in their environment and most sand would elevate the PH too high in those tanks. Sand is the normal/natural substrate in SW tanks so besides the aesthetic appearance it also makes sense to use it for its small buffering ability to maintain PH.

Since you can use a skimmer in a SW tank it acts quite similar to a canister as far as removing waste from the water but the advantage of skimmers versus canisters is that the waste collects in a cup away from the water whereas a canister traps the waste in filters which build up and raise your no3 levels unless cleaned frequently since the filter is always being exposed to the water supply.

Secondly you don’t want to vacuum the sand at all if possible for two reasons.

1: It holds oxygen deprived bacteria (assuming you have 3”-5”) once the tank becomes “mature” (4+ months) that helps complete the nitrogen cycle converting no3 into the harmless nitrogen gas which escapes in tiny bubbles from the surface and if you vacuum it you disturb and vacuum up the good bacteria along with any waste.

2: With SW you have a ton of options for sand stirring inverts which will keep waste in the sand down to a bare minimum.

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Old 08-07-2006, 10:00 AM   #7
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I agree with the rest. 1.5-2LBs per gallon of LR, the sand is right too. This will set up excellent filtration. I have a canister filter, I ended up removing the sponges, they were producing nitrates like crazy. Now I just use it for extra water movement and to run carbon.
Tell the hubby, you can save the money you would have spent on the canister and get something else.
I also have to agree with the rest on the CC substrate. I started with it and it got nasty, I have to vacuum is and it kept all kinds of funk in it. I had to remove after I already had fish and LR in it....no fun, at all! LOL!
CC will also limit your sand stirring critters/substrate living critters, here are a few ideas:
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