How do i convert a FOWLR to reef?

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Aquarium Advice FINatic
Jan 8, 2011
Rhode Island, USA
I have a 75G (+30G sump) FOLR that has been running for a few years and would like to start adding corals.

All of my livestock are reef safe.

I have no experience with corals and would like to learn the basics before I buy any. I plan on buying a calcium and phosphate test kit and have a few questions....

> should I gradually raise my SG from 1.022 to 1.025? If so are there any negative consequences?

> what is the ideal water temp? Currently I set it to 80*

> are there specific additives that I should consider?

> what can my current lights handle (I plan on upgrading them in a year or so when I can afford too) I have x2 10000K and x2 actinic (all 65W).

> what corals would you recommend for this set up?

> Any additional tips would be great!


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Lights first. Either T5's, probably 6 over a 75gal would be good.

Temp should be 78 or so.

Salinity can be gradually raised to 1.025 over the course if a week. Google calculators, they're out there.

As far as additives, that depends on what you want to keep. Soft and LPS are generally easy to keep without the addition of too many additives. You'll need to monitor calcium, iodine, magnesium, KH and alkalinity.

If you want to keep SPS, hard corals, that's a whole different ballgame. Some folks swear by metal halides as the only thing capable of success for SPS.

What are your plans?
Thanks for the quick reply!

I have no real plans of yet... I am happy with my FOLR and was planning on getting into corals in a year or two but as soon as I found a little palythoa hitchhiker in my tank I have been urged to get in to it sooner.

I am not very knowledgable on types of corals but would be happy just having mushrooms and polyps for the time being. Would these be okay with my current lighting? I plan on upgrading my lights soon, just might take a while on a collage student budget!

I have two perc clowns, a fire goby, good CUC, and plan on getting a kole tang soon. Would they all thrive in a higher salinity? Of course I would raise it slowly over a week or two.

I am in no rush to fill the tank with corals and would like to do the research first, meantime I can just get the salinity right and research lighting.

All of this is spurred on by that little hitchhiker! He has been looking better each day and I would like to make sure he lives!


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I think my main question is should I raise my salinity (slowly) now in preparation for setting up a reef tank in a few months? Why are FOWLR tanks lower in salinity? Are there benefits for fish to have a lower salinity? Just trying to get a better understanding.

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Thanks, very helpful, I am going to raise it to 1.0245 just to allow a safe wiggle room even though I make sure it is kept steady

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