55 gallon reef - First Saltwater Build Ever!

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Aquarium Advice Freak
Jul 31, 2011
Hey guys. So over the past couple of months I've been reading and collecting everything I need to set up a saltwater reef tank. I plan on housing LPS/Softies/SPS.

Now, I'm at the stage where I've got nearly everything set up, ready to go, including the sump, BUT I have a couple of things left to do before and this is where I need help.

I had a weir installed recently. I also plan on putting some sort of vinyl background on the back of the tank. What is the best option of covering up the weir so I do not see the overflow pipes and hide it? It is currently just a small, rectangular glass weir that I can see straight through. I want the color to be the same as the background of the tank (which I have yet to buy). I plan on getting a nice blue colored background.

My other question is, once I have the background on and it's ready for water, so I just buy sand, cover 2-3 inches deep and buy some RO/DI water from the LFS and tip it in? Is there any special methods on this initial process?

Last question. How much live rock should I put in to start the cycle? Also how do you guys keep your rock from tipping over? I know you can glue/epoxy the live rock together to create a sculpture, but how do you keep that sitting on the bottom without moving?

Thanks a lot for any assistance guys. I'll be sure to update this as progress continues!
Welcome to the salty side of things! LOL

What is a weir? rofl?

When adding water to a tank with sand out a bowl or plate in the tank and pour into that, a lot less sand kick up that way.

I would suggest at least 70lbs of rock total. You could get 50lbs of base rock which is nice and cheap and very porous and then the rest in live rock.

I really jam the larger pieces of rock into the sand, some people put the rock in first then the sand to make sure there is no shifting.

Keep us posted on your progress, pictures are great too, even if you don' think it's pretty yet, we love pictures!! LOL
Thanks for the tips Carey. I'll be sure tonged some pictures up as soon as there's some water and sand in the tank!

I'm not 100% sure on the definition of weir myself lol! I actually had it installed, it's a small overflow in the back right corner o my tank. Currently it's just glass so I can see straight through to the overflow pipes etc, so I want to cover it with something that I can also match colors with the vinyl on the back of the tank.
Haha I'll try once I set my computer back up! I have another question. I have LED lights, and they are very bright. There is independant switches for the blue and white LEDs. Do I have lights on 24/7, or are the lights switched off at night?

I ask because the tank is in my bedroom lol.

Also, any tips on hanging these lights without coming all the way down from the ceiling? :) something preferably inexpensive if possible!
I have mine run blues from 9am til 9pm and whites come on at 10am and go off at 8pm. If you have moonlights then only keep them on while youre awake, they are only for show.

I wish i had an answer, I am in the same position, I have no logical way to hang them. I was thinking on making a jimmy rigged mount to the tank stand and having it go over the top so I can hang from there. Kinda like a plant hanger. if you have a wall then it will work for you. I have no wall and my ceilings are too high and sloped to hang from there.
Thanks Carey!

About the hanging, I actually have a picture of a tank that might help, maybe..

It's got a kind of 2 metal bars that go up from the back of the cabinet. Then these arm things that stick out from them that holds the light. This metal bar also allows you to move the arms up and down. It seems like it may be a possible solution, but I haven't really looked into it 100% yet.

I'll upload a picture once I get my computer back up.
Hey guys, need to get all the plumbing done to get this tank under way. How much roughly would plumbing parts cost for a project like this?
for my 45 gallon tall i spent about $65 at the home depot for all my sch40 pvc pipe, unions, ball valves and fitings. are u gonna be using a sump?
Yeah using a sump, the reason I ask is I have someone coming to install it for me and I wanted to make sure his price was good, which it sounds like it is :)

Getting close to the time for sand and rock to go in now. Having everything put together in a couple of days, then just have to wait for the glue to settle.
I have also pretty much finalized my stocking list I think.

So far:

Flame Angel
2X Oscellaris Clowns
Six-Line Wrasse
Longnose Hawkfish
Scooter Blenny
You've researched the blenny right? Most will eat only pods unelss you can convert him over. It took me months to get him to eat some prepared and he still eats pods. :-(
Yeah I did, and actually the Scooter Blenny is actually something I plan on adding down the road when pods have had time to grow. I'd love a goby, any recommendation on easy ones to keep?

Only problem is they are so expensive here in Australia.
I'm a goby fanatic! lol I have several. I have a larger citron goby which is kinda nice, a yellow watchman who has a perennial scowl on his face and a pink spotted watchmen. I like the pink spotted the best I think. And it's size appropriate for your tank too. There are clown gobies but they are very very tiny, I have a green one. the diamond back goby is famous for its sandsifting. :)
Thanks for the info! I'll have to keep an eye out for a nice Goby that's not over $100 like most of them here.. that's if you can even find one! They are pretty rare. A long way to get them to Australia haha.
Ok guys, so the tank is getting plumbed tomorrow, and after a few days for the glue to set, I'm ready to start cycling. Any tips you have for me to start the process?

To start the process from an empty tank, do I just put in the sand, water and live rock, then wait it out the 6-8 weeks or so for the cycle to complete?

During this time, how long should lights be on (if at all?), should the power heads be on and should I have the skimmer going?
You can go lightless and run the skimmer, it;ll give it a chance to break in. :)

here is an article on cycling that might help
Cycle your salt tank

You can use the shrimp decomposing method or you can add pure ammonia as well if you want to control the exact amount of ammonia. I personally use the ammonia myself, lets me dose it to 4ppm immediately and re dose as necessary.
Thanks for the link Carey! I don't see it mention live rock. Do I aquascape and set up my live rock before beginning the cycling process? I ask because I've read moving the sand in your tank can release bad gasses, causing spikes. I'd imagine in a tank you've just cycled to good levels you wouldn't want this, so you would do the aqauscaping before hand as to not stir up the sand?

Another question please :) Does the shrimp method make the tank smell lol? The tank is in my bedroom and there's no way I want it smelling like dead fish :p
Sorry adding another question :p I'm looking at buying live rock from some one who is shutting down their tank. The rock has been in there for 5 years.

How will this effect the cycle? Will it be shorter?
I think the live rock addition can only help. It will generate some ammonia adn thats what your cycle needs to progress.

I would add all the rock you want and do your best to rockscape. You can always re arrange at any time, it;s just not recommended to muck up the existing sandbed too much. So be gentle. ;-)

I havent used the dead shrimp method, I use staright ammonia so I have no idea. It can't smell that bad under water though I;d imagine....
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