New to Saltwater Aquariums

Madison Area Reef Society - Club and reef discussion

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New to Saltwater Aquariums

Postby Bela on Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:35 am

I am new in this hobby and have been researching for a few weeks. Experienced and bored with tropical fish, I am excited about establishing a reef tank.
My experience so far with the retail market is most are trying to sell me something contrary to the research articles and books I've read.
I live in Elkhorn, Wisconsin but would be willing to travel up to Madison area to purchase my equipment.
Recommendations would be appreciated!

Thanks
Bela
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Welcome

Postby causeofhim on Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:15 am

Welcome to a great club with great people! Read as much as you can here, http://www.nano-reef.com (if you are setting up a small aquarium), and reefcentral.com and ask many questions.

As far as purchasing equipment, research these sites and decide what you will really need for what kind of aquarium you will have (reef, fowlr, etc). Then check some of the online stores, make some phone calls to LFS to see if their costs are comparable and go from there. Always make up your mind before going to the LFS.

Look at the for sale areas on these sites as well, there are always good deals on equipment from other reefers.

Matt :D
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Postby Brad_608 on Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:28 am

ditto

RC has a lot of equipment for sale but you have to consider shipping cost

Key thing is research before you buy
I'm unemployable Yeah
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Postby friogatto on Fri Mar 18, 2005 5:28 pm

If you answer a few questions then people can give you their ideas on the items and whats needed. They also might be able to tell you where to find the best deals.

What size tank?
Fish only? Stony corals only? Soft corals only? Mixed Reef?
Are you converting an existing FW tank?
How much room do you have?
How many outlets do you have in that area?

There are a ton more but this will get us started.
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Newbee

Postby Bela on Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:12 pm

I'm interested in a deep water tank, 80 to 120 gallon. I like the unusual styles of the acrylic aquariums and the built in marine set ups that are possible. I am aware of the costs involved and the amount of room required. I have room for the aquarium, set up, and a quarantine tank. I am employed by a company who makes multi-outlet surge suppressors so have familiarity with outlet requirements.
I do not have any of my FW systems any longer. I will be starting new.

Where do the club members go for their purchases? Are the internet sites fairly competitive. So far, none of the major chain pet stores are willing to order my aquarium(Janesville). They think I should start with a mini-reef tank(24 gal). Do you think they may be correct?

Thanks Much. I appreciate your help.

Bela
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Postby moujon on Fri Mar 18, 2005 10:03 pm

Bela-Welcome! Too bad you want acrylic and my 90g tank that is for sale is pretty much sold...:D

This is sort of like having kids- take the advice you get from the LFS with a grain of salt. Smile, nod, and say thank you. Does this sound familiar- "Lather, Rinse, Repeat"??? They are after all trying to sell you something. Most of us- even those with stuff to sell- ;) - will give you an honest view of what we have learned.

I started with a 38, went up to a 90 and am going up to a 180. Pick a size with which you are comfortable and go with it. If you've had FW and are jumping back in- you should be able to get the hang of this pretty easily.
I've bought supplies locally, on-line, and from other enthusiasts. Depends on what you need when.

So- the surge supressor thing sounds interesting....might need to talk to you about them. :)
Shel
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Postby friogatto on Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:19 pm

Like shel said. a grain of salt. They want to sell you a small tank they know you will not be happy with so you buy another one.
I would go as large as I could afford. Larger tanks are alot more stable and "absorb" rookie mistakes.
Dimensions should be no more than 30" tall but you want it as deep as possible. most are 24" deep if you can go deeper (30 - 36") it leaves you with some great aquascaping possibilities. I would also stay with a standard length. 6' or 4'.
Lighting - I would go with T-5's if your doing deep water corals. It leaves you with alot of flexibiliity to upgrade if you want. I personally would go with metal halides to begin with just so I don't waste money upgrading later. I really liked my softie tank but got the SPS bug and am glad I have halides.
I would go with Ice Cap electronic ballist.
250 watt Ushio 10K bulbs and spider reflectors. 2 for a 4' tank and 3 for a 6' tank.
VHO for actinics
Stand - make your own or have someone make it. 39" tall gives a ton of room under the tank and bring teh tank to viewing level so you don't have to bendover to look in the tank.
Skimmer - ASM G-5 would kick but in a large tank. I just got mine and love it.
Heater - Titanium WON with digital read out. Make sure to tape the temp dial in place so it doesnt get bumped and send your tank to 90 degrees.
return pump - 1500 gal through your sump should be plenty. Pan world 200 px. Then put eductors on the return for more flow.
Extra flow in the tank - Either Seio 1500 or Tunze stream pumps. This is a very flexible area depending on what corals you keep.
Sand - argronite special sea floor I think is a great size to go with. and it won't get picked up by the pumps and blown around. 1-2" deep sand bend in the tank should be fine. More if you buy digging species of fish.
Acrylic or glass - Glass all the way. No matter how careful you are you'll scratch the acrylic. I know it can be buffed out but after a few years you'll have to drain the tank and de-scratch the tank. Glass scratches much less easily and you can use razor blades to clean it. It can also be drilled. Go with starphire glass in the main viewing panel if possible.
Overflow - I would drill a few holes in the top of the back panel and drain the tank that way. Then you won't be wasting so much space in the tank.
PLaces to get this stuff - I ordered all my hardware from http://www.marinedepot.com. If you order it all at one time you can talk them into free shipping, even on the heavy things and a 3-4% discount.
Locally - if you want to support your LFS (recommended since then you can try and get good deals down the road for livestock) bring in a print out of the online stores price and see if they will match it. Tell them some profit is better than none but they will probably complain about the low prices.
Ok, I think I have officially went over my typing limit. I hope this helps. This of course is just my opinion and what I would do if I could redo it all over.
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Postby Bela on Sat Mar 19, 2005 10:39 pm

What brand of test kits did you use? You just reminded me of how little I know. You have pretty much given me my parts list. Thanks! Do you run two heaters? This was recommended from some of my readings.

Bela
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Test kits

Postby causeofhim on Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:15 am

I asked the same question not long ago.

http://www.madisonreef.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=82
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Postby friogatto on Sun Mar 20, 2005 4:06 am

2 heaters is better than 1. I only run one but I don't always do wht I'm supposed to. :-)
Set one to kick on at 76 and one to turn on at 78 that way if the main one fails you'll have a back up. My tank runs hot so my heater almost never turns on.

Test kits? I haven't tested in about 5-6 months - see line 1...
Salifert seem to be what most use and what I have.
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Welcome Bela

Postby Toddah on Sun Mar 20, 2005 9:20 am

When you use the trem "built in Marine setups" are you refering to wet dry filter setups?
If that was the case IMHO I would generally advise you to not go that route, They tend to be "old school" bio ball based with filter pads and such and the thinking in most reef circles today has drifted toward the sump / refugium line of thinking. Also most people who have been in it a while have adopted skimmers as the prefered method of organic waste removal. The old sponge or filter pad method works but can also become a nitrate factory by doing exactly what you want it to and collecting the organic material from the water but then adding the nitrates back through the decomposition of that exact material you are removing. The skimmer removes it and isolates it from you water column for disposal.
My wifes clinic has a 100 acrylic with all the built in stuff and it is a MAJOR pain in the rear to clean and very hard to see in operation to determine if it needs maintenance or repair.
It also has some very ugly scratches on the front surface from Live Rock falling over during tank maintenance.
The plastics are lighter but require special tools and care when scraping coraline algea or other buildups from the viewing area. Many people run them and love them but my experience would send me to glass tanks for durability and toughness.
If you are thinking about a deep water species tank then the lighting requirements are very different from what alot of reefers consider standard lighting requirements (able to burn paint from car bumpers), as you have most likley already read most things in the deep water areas survive on very low lighting requirements compaired to shallow lagoon species so adjust accordingly.
If I were to give you any advise to take away from this post it would be to UNDERSTAND WATER CHEMISTRY (Calc, Alk, Phos, MagAND HOW IT INTERELATES
Do you ever wonder why the only thing common in all your dysfunctional relationships with others is you?
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Water Chem

Postby Bela on Sun Mar 20, 2005 7:28 pm

Then I will ask about how much water chemistry I need to know? Just the basics as far as balance, testing etc? Or ? Recommended reading? Info on web?

I also have an unusual concern. This tank needs to be pleasing to the eye. Not just the reef, but the tank as a piece of furniture. Is this possible with the proper lighting. Proper filtration? Is a deep tank anything over 24 inches in depth?

Bela
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Postby friogatto on Sun Mar 20, 2005 8:08 pm

You originally posted you wanted a "deep water" tank. I took this to understand you would be housing deep water species. Usually species that require little to almost no light. Maybe a list of what corals / inverts / fish / livestock you plan on keeping in the tank will help us point you in the right direction. I would think that with a complete list of intended tank inhabitants you can create the environment around them.
It only seems fitting since they are the ones living there.
I agree with Toddah. Those built in systems leave no room adjustments and would shy away from them.
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Postby Bela on Sun Mar 20, 2005 10:38 pm

I've been to the members site and have seen your tanks. That's the direction I would like to take. I have no specific species in mind, although I expect very basic/beginners inhabitants to start. Any fish will have to be compatible to the reef. I do have some interest in clams but nothing set at this time. Still sorting out the equipment and the live rock/live sand issued. Cured, Uncured etc. How to's...... This is a bit overwhelming.
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Postby friogatto on Mon Mar 21, 2005 1:33 am

So we'll asume your going in the direction of a "mixed" reef.
I would still look heavily into Metal Halides. It may seem excessive while the tank is new but in the long run I feel it would be your best option. You can keep just about anything (within reason) you won't have to worry about your clams not getting enough lite or anemones.

Keep reading the posts in RC it's the best way to become educated on what your doing and why.
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