Taking the plunge to the darkside

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Algae Fighter
May 30, 2006
Birmingham, AL
So, I have been thinking about a SW tank for awhile now, but just didn't think I could make it happen. I've had freshwater tanks for years now (like 6 or 7 years?) and I have a pretty good hold on them I think...as well as my high tech planted tanks (though they aren't perfect by ANY means). :) I'm ready for a change and a challenge!

I've been doing alot of research online and I'm ready to ask some questions. I still have alot of research to do though.

Here's what my plan is so far:

50g tank
20 long sump (maybe....)
T5HO lighting (have some questions...)

Not much yet...haha. And I don't have the tank yet...waiting for the LFS to get one in.

This is definitely going to be a reef tank.

Now for my questions:

I can get a drilled tank from the LFS and I'm thinking of doing that and having a 20 long sump. I am nervous about the plumbing and such of a sump and no matter how much I read, I don't quite understand how to hook one up....but I like to learn. :) I can get an undrilled tank too, if I decide against a sump. Any pros/cons for a sump??

For lighting....I have a 4x39w Tek T5HO fixture that I was going to use since my original plan was to do a planted tank. I want to get a T5HO fixture for my 40br, so I can use the bulbs I bought and get SW friendly ones. I want to grow mainly soft corals and possibly LPS and SPS eventually. Would I be ok with a 4x39w fixture or would it be wise to get a 6x39w fixture? I've seen both used over 40 breeder tanks on forums and since a 50g has a similar footprint, I wasn't sure if the 6x39w would be overkill. I can always use the Tek over my 40 breeder planted. :cool: I've also done a little research on metal halide....so I'm wondering what you all would suggest to me.

I've read about RO/DI units and that is one thing that has always led me away from SW. I was always under the impression that you had to get a permanent RO/DI unit, but I've now learned that most all come with the option of faucet attachments. Any suggestions on a brand or particular unit?

Thanks for reading my long post and TIA for any suggestions you have!
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I'll do what I can to answer your questions....

Pros and cons for a sump... Pros are added water volume (thus more potentially stable system), somewhere to hide equipment, possible refugium location for nitrate absorption and copepods. Cons as far as I know are just the need to plumb them. Disclaimer- I've not yet plumbed a sump, but we're about to need to.

Lighting- the 4x39 would probably be fine for softies and LPS. Maybe even a couple of the easier SPS. The 6x39 would afford you pretty unlimited choices IMO.

As far as the RO unit, I don't have one to recommend. We have a Coralife 50 GPD which is just OK, I would not recommend it.

Welcome to the darkside! It's a blast! :D
Welcome to the darkside!
I agree with the rest. I would suggest a 75GPD 5 stage RO/DI. I got mine off of ebay for around $150 shipped.
Get a separate bucket to premix your water with a ph and heater. I always have 32 gallons of SW aerating.
Those TEK lighting systems don't come with a splash guard or fans (at least the ones I have seen) or bulbs. I have a nova extreme pro over my 55 and love it (these come with everything you need).
QT (but you probably already knew that).
Refractometer (around $40-50).
Save money and buy the dry sand. You can also get 75% base rock to 25% LR to save even more money.
You probably want at least 2 phs. I like the hydor Korilia 3s.
API salt master test kit is a good starter (SW type...not FW), don't waste your tests on the pH while you have the cycle going, it will be all over the place.

Thanks HN1 and roka for the suggestions....and melosa for the links!

Roka, I will check out that RO/DI and see if I can find one on ebay. I am planning on having something to store premixed water in...not sure what size yet though. Yes I forgot the Tek's don't have the splash guards...I think you can buy them separately though. I plan on buying some Geisseman (sp?) bulbs for the Tek light if I use it (or for whatever T5HO I use). Thanks for the tips on the sand and the rock...I have read about doing mostly base rock and I'm all about saving money. :)

I've looked at the Koralia ph's too! :) They look like they won't stick out too much in the tank (and draw attention to them) and it seems like they are used alot.

I am planning on a QT tank....will a 10g suffice? I have a couple of those lying around. Would a SW QT be similar to a FW....barebottom with just the necessary equipment and some hiding spots for fish?

Thanks again!
A 10G QT should work. I've heard (shame on me here, I have no QT set up- don't judge! lol) of people using liverock moved over from a sump or running a hob on the sump to move over.
Yep, bare botton with PVC for hiding will suffice. It's cheaper to replace/clean the PVC than LR if you have to medicate.
Well I'm pretty set on the 6x39w configuration. It seems that the more light I can get over the tank the better. I can always stagger the bulbs, as the outer bulbs are usually on a different power cord. I may go with the Tek brand...the reflectors are amazing....but I'll buy a splash guard and I will hang the fixture, it won't be too close to the tank. It doesn't have fans, but with T5HO bulbs running so cool....and me staggering the bulbs...I'm hoping it won't get too hot. I did some searching/reading on some reef forums on the Tek fixtures and no one seems to complain about the heat.....so hopefully its not a big problem.

I'm still reading and shopping! Look for my questions and eventually a journal!
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I believe Nielan runs them on his SW reef and has no issues. I just like the nova extreme pro because they come with the guard and bulbs and have the same reflectors...and I think they are cheaper.
If you run into heat issue (which you shouldn't) you can always run a fan accross the top of the water. I do this on my 125 w/MHs.
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