New setup (yup, another new guy!)

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Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Nov 23, 2004
Los Angeles
I've been researching equipment for a 125 gallon acrylic tank and wanted to run by the experts here on what I'm thinking about getting. I've already read The Conscientous Marine Aquarist and the New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paletta. The stand I'm building is almost done so I think I'm ready to buy!

Here's the list, feel free to comment:

Pro Clear Aquatics Pro Wet/Dry 200
Capacity - 200g or 900gph
bio area 5.9g sump 19g
protein skimmer place before biological media
pump included for operation of skimmer
bio-balls media included
pre-filter unit, siphon tube and foam pre-filter tube
3 foot heavy duty spiral drain hose
thick non-kinking return hose
heavy duty non-warping lid
directional return spout
foam water polishing block
ventilation holes in bacteria chamber promotes gas exchange
constant water level area for mounting of heaters and probes
(I will be using Live Rock instead of the bio-balls)

Mag Drive Pump 1200

(2) Maxi-Jet 1200 Powerhead / MP 1200
Red Sea Wavemaster Pro Wave Maker

135lbs. Live Rock
110lbs. Base Rock

100lbs. of Aragonite Sand

RO/DI unit 110gpd (already got off ebay!)

Not sure about the lighting yet but leaning towards this:
60in Orbit 4x65 watt SunPaq with Lunar Lights & Fan
Wattage: 65W
No./Color Temp: 2-Dual Daylight/2-Dual Actinic
No. of Lunar Lights: 5
Fan: Yes
No. of Switches: 2

So, does this sound like a good start? I'm obviously new to saltwater and I want to start out right. I especially would like advice on lighting, so many choices, so confusing. My lighting choice above alone is nearly $400, I had no idea lighting was that expensive, so if anyone has any recommendations on something thats a little cheaper, that would be great.

Thanks for any comments or input.
Hmm...I don't know that I'd spend the $$ on a wet/dry when all you will really need is a "Berlin style" sump to achieve the end result. Will the tank have LR in it? Is this going to be a FO tank? How you set the tank up really depends on what you intend to keep more than anything. The system you have listed will certainly work, but I'm not sure it will be the best route to take. If you want least anything more than softies...the lighting isn't going to be enough. I'd also go with a good external pump instead of the Mag Drive. Mag Drives are great for submersed applications...I wouldn't even consider anything else for submersed use...but externals are more durable, quieter, and add less heat to the system. Unfortunately, they also cost more :( . I would also look at setting up a closed loop with a SQWD instead of the powerheads and wavemaker. Again...more durable, less heat added, less clutter in the tank. Give us an idea of your goals for this tank...what you want to keep in it, ect... and we can make better and more concise suggestions. Also, if there is a budget that must be adhered to, about how much? I'd also question whether the skimmer that comes with the wet/dry will be an effective unit. Many of the combo deals come with a skimmer that leaves a lot to be desired.
If you are planning on going with a reef and I assume you are, you are not going to have enough light. That is only 2 wpg. You are going to need double or more than that. Alot of corals fall into the 3 to 5 watts catagory but some need even more, but 2 is definately not enough. Plus if it's a deep tank it will be even more of a problem. The rest looks good to me but I bet it's going to be spendy. If you are a diy kinda person you might look into putting together your own lighting system. Maybe mh, they are very easy to wire yourself. We bought 2 mh ballasts, 2 reflectors, 2 sockets, and 2 10,000k bulbs from a lfs in Austin and only paid 350$. Add a couple fans from radio shack(25$ ea) and a yellow pine canopy(diy), 1 walmart shoplight(for actinics) and we have a beautiful canopy that we can say we built ourselves and saved a mint! I would also look at Ebay if I were you. Hey, good luck and have fun. Sounds like a great setup.
Thanks for the advice. I'm not opposed to DIY if I know what I'm doing, I'm building the stand myself, now that I've finished putting in new wood flooring. But for some things because of time and knowledge, I'd just as soon buy it. I'm not rich by any means but I'm sure as I gain more experience and understanding with all this I'll make more and more things myself.

My plans right now are simple, fish with live rock, clownfish of course, yellow tang, one of those "Dory" fish.. In fact pretty much the whole Finding Nemo gang except for the Moorish Idol and starfish, yes, I have kids! And after I get my feet wet (sorry, I know) moving towards some 'easy' corals and see how that works out. Having a full blown reef tank just seems out of my league right now.

As for the pump, I thought the Mag's were good all around pumps, I didn't know they're not recommended for external use. What other pumps do you suggest? I've seen Quiet Ones and Gen-X mentioned, would one of those be a better choice?

For the lighting, would the setup I listed be 'good enough' for now? Couldn't I just replaced the existing lights with bigger, stronger ones as my needs change? If not, again, suggestions are welcome. I don't think my tank is especially deep, it's 60"w, 18"d and 24"h. Lighting has me so confused!
One other thing, loganj, you mentioned budget. I'm willing to go around $1500 - $2000, not counting fish or a tank, I already have that. It's already been cleared with my wife, hell, she bought me the tank in the first place. So now that I have it, it has to be used right!

Thanks again.
OK, the setup you have listed will work. One thing I see happening a lot when folks are setting up new SW tanks is that they are in a hurry to get it going and don't make the best equipment purchases. Then they end up spending even more money to replace it with what they really should have had in the first place. If you're going to have LR in the tank, you don't need a wet/'s repetitive. Your LR will handle the biofiltration. If you can't afford to buy all LR (and most of us can't 8O ), make up the difference with base rock. Mag Drives are good pumps. The front housing is thin which is why we don't recommend using them externally. If it cracks, you have a mess in the floor. Personally, I would go with a Blueline or Iwaki. Little Giant makes a good pump as well, but I don't think they run as quietly as the Bluelines and Iwakis. I've never had a Quiet One, but I've heard others complain that they weren't that quiet. For the lighting...yes, you could get by with the system you listed. I would go ahead and invest in MH's if you're going to work toward a reef tank eventually. Not much more money, if any and you will have what you need to start with. The point I'm making is that I hate to see you spend money twice. I would probably go with an Aqua C or EuroReef/ASM skimmer in a plain sump. I think it will give you better performance than the one that's coming with the wet/dry. JMHO though :mrgreen: .
I personally am in no hurry, but I've had the tank for 3-4 weeks now and its just sitting there, wrapped in plastic. The kids are the one's I'm feeling pressure from to get it going. Everyday I hear "can we buy fish now?"! :lol:

My original plan was to get that Orbit fixture and build a canopy while the tank is cycling, but I'm thinking that has to change now. I am assuming you do need lights to cycle since I will have 135lbs of Live Rock and 110lbs of Base Rock.

So, and excuse my ignorance here but this is all so confusing, what if I go with something like this:
the 60" 2x250W 10K setup. Would these just screw on to the inside top of the canopy I'll build? And will 1 fan be enough, or would I need two. This alone would be over $700. I haven't shopped for the best bargain yet, but it's way more than the $300 for the Orbit, but at least it'll be future-proof. Does this sound like a plan?

So it seems I'll have to build the canopy, thats another weekend, put in the lights then start up the tank. More delays, poor, poor kiddies! :lol:
You sound like you're off to a great start. One thing I will tell you is that you do not need to have the lights to start cycling the tank. I'm not saying that you need to rush into anything, but if you have everything except the lights, get the saltwater in the tank, get the powerheads and heater going, then add the liverock and begin the cycle. The lights will help with corraline growth down the road, but there is no need for it at the start. HTH

That's good news about the lights! I think I'm about ready to start buying and do the intial setup and cycling and still have a month or so to do more research on a proper lighting system. Thanks!
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