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Starting a SW tank, some good advice

Discussion in 'Marine Archives' started by JasonA, May 23, 2003.

  1. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    A couple of quick questions reg. SW tanks and lighting.

    Hi guys, just found this great place. Looks to be a great source of info and haven't stopped reading on here for almost 2 hrs. now !!

    I have a couple of questions reg. my new SW tank I'm about to setup. First, my dad has always been a SW lover and ever since I can remember, he's had them, but he's always used undergravel filtration and that's it. Knowing that most of my LFS's have said that it's "old school" to do so and not as stable as the new systems, I've purchased a few things.. here's my setup list.

    40g glass tank with stand, but no big hood, just a simple 36" long single NO tube setup for lighting.

    1 ViaAqua 263gph Canister filter with bio media and a charcoal unit.

    1 ViaAqua Skimmer with the UV setup.

    1 Rio 200 and 1 Rio600 for circulation

    1 150w Titanium heater.

    about 50lbs of #5 coral and about 20lbs. of live sand.

    40lbs. of lace-rock to use as a base to build my little empire of enimees and some live coral etc..

    enough RO and Instant Ocean to set it all up..


    From the above setup, you probably guess what my 2 questions are going to be.. LIGHTING and FILTRATION..

    FILTRATION: I have enough GPH, but my question is, out of the 4 LFS, 2 told me not to use the charcoal section, and 2 told me to use the charcoal section.

    My thoughts were that I've heard that charcoal takes out the hard minerals but also the trace elements as well..2 said it's not needed...2 said yes...

    What do you guys think about using the charcoal all the time?

    LIGHTING:Yes, my lighting sucks, just 1 T8 or T12 bulb... so I want to go PC on my setup... I don't mind cutting some wood and making a simple hood and since I'm a computer/electronics engineer, I don't mind doing a DIY setup..but my question is this..

    How much should I use and where to buy??? 3 of the LFS's said to use 2x55's and 1lfs said to use 4x36 units !!!

    The only place I could find for DIY units is.. http://www.ahsupply.com/

    Are their prices resonable ???

    Thanks for all your help everyone.
    Jason
     
    #1 JasonA, May 23, 2003
    Last edited: May 25, 2003
  2. mogurnda

    mogurnda vaguely present

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    It would help to know what you want in the tank. What kind of corals are you interested in? 110-150W of light will be enough for LPS and softies, but you'll probably want to think about metal halide for SPS, anemones and clams. You really have to decide what you want to keep, and build your lighting around it. I like A.H. supply, their DIY kits are easy to use and a pretty good deal. Others may have other opinions.
    Carbon is a subject for endless debate. I don't use it, lots of people do. The main concern is to get a high-quality carbon that won't leach phosphate. The main filtration for your tank will be the live rock and your skimmer. Lace rock isn't live, is it? You need live rock.
     
  3. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    It'll be mostly fish, but a few anemones and some smaller live rocks and coral...

    My dad who's always had 4+ big anemones in his 70g tank has only used standard NO 50/50 or 10K+ bulbs.. None of this new fancy light stuff that's out there now and his tank seems to do great... but he has no coral or live rock except for a few small pieces of Fiji rock..

    As for the charcoal, again, it was a 50/50 tie. If I use it mainly for fish and even just a few live rocks/corals here and there, that's probably not enough to filter the water effectivly from what I'm told so use it!!!

    This tank is just me getting starting into this whole reef/live rock/coral thingy....
    For now, I just want a nice bright tank, but 4x36 seems like alot of heat for this size...

    Anywho...thanks for all your help..always looking for advice.

    Jason
     
    #3 JasonA, May 23, 2003
    Last edited: May 25, 2003
  4. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    Re: A couple of quick questions reg. SW tanks and lighting.

    First off, Welcome to AC! We pride ourselves on good info and good flames, so don't take anything personally =)

    "40g glass tank with stand, but no big hood, just a simple 36" long single NO tube setup for lighting. "

    A decent tank, not huge, but not tiny. That light will suffice if you just want fish.

    "1 ViaAqua 263gph Canister filter with bio media and a charcoal unit."

    Still got the reciept? Take it back and spend that $$$ on some liverock. Ya don't need this item...

    "1 ViaAqua Skimmer with the UV setup."
    I'm not familiar with this one, got a link for us? The UV sterilizer is a no-no if you plan to keep corals. It will kill off the food that they filter feed.

    "1 Rio 200 and 1 Rio600 for circulation"
    Again, still got the reciept? Rio powerheads are notorious for killing off tanks when they overheat. They release an oily junk and yer lucky if anything survives. The powerheads of choice are Maxi-Jets and Aquaclears.. Bout the same $$$ too..

    "1 150w Titanium heater."
    Good choice, glass is SO easily crushed by liverock... This is a keeper!

    "about 50lbs of #5 coral and about 20lbs. of live sand."

    Define "#5 coral" for me? The normal recipe is to go to Home Depot, grab a couple bags of playsand (Southdown or Old Castle if you can get it, anything else that is sand box safe if you cant...) and mix about 20-30% livesand in with it. If you coral is actually crush coral, yer gonna wanna go ahead and remove that and start over. Crushed coral will not work for creating anaerobic areas for nitrate consumption and will be a long term headache. Yer better off with the DSB (deep sand bed) and whatever you gotta do to get it going is gonna be worth it.

    "40lbs. of lace-rock to use as a base to build my little empire of enimees and some live coral etc.."

    Lace rock is good base rock, but you also need enough liverock to seed it with. Once you put the liverock in there, the coralline will start migrating to the lace rock and soon, it will all be nice and purple.

    "enough RO and Instant Ocean to set it all up.."
    mmmmmm my favorite Kool-Aid mixture =)


    "FILTRATION: I have enough GPH, but my question is, out of the 4 LFS, 2 told me not to use the charcoal section, and 2 told me to use the charcoal section.

    My thoughts were that I've heard that charcoal takes out the hard minerals but also the trace elements as well..2 said it's not needed...2 said yes... What do you guys think about using the charcoal all the time?"


    Well, once you return that canister, this wont be a problem =) However, to avoid being a smarty pants, the simple answer is both are right. I personally have a simple little Aquaclear 200 on my 55g that I run carbon in as needed. If my water looks a bit icky, drop in the bag and voila, clear water. Remove it, and yer done.


    "LIGHTING:Yes, my lighting sucks, just 1 T8 or T12 bulb... so I want to go PC on my setup... I don't mind cutting some wood and making a simple hood and since I'm a electronics engineer, I don't mind doing a DIY setup..but my question is this..

    How much should I use and where to buy??? 3 of the LFS's said to use 2x55's and 1lfs said to use 4x36 units !!!

    The only place I could find for DIY units is.. http://www.ahsupply.com/

    Are their prices resonable ???"


    I'm personally a huge fan of Powerquad lighting from Custom Sealife. You can get a 2x96 kit that has everything you need except the enclosure for $219 at Big Al's.. I've got this on my 55 and I'll never go back to halides again.

    Oh and as for those anemones..... Yer about 6 months to a year from being ready to even think about em. They require stable water conditions and a dilligent keeper, and both those take time to mature. Welcome aboard ;)
     
  5. mogurnda

    mogurnda vaguely present

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    Wish I'd said it so clearly. I completely agree about the canister and UV, and about waiting for anemones.

    I hope the tone wasn't too harsh. I tend to write in haste, since I'm at work.
     
    #5 mogurnda, May 23, 2003
    Last edited: May 23, 2003
  6. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    WOW Corax !!!! That was a mouth full !!! but very informative !!!

    To clearify, let me restate a few things, the tank/stand/lights, the canister and the powerheads were given to me by a friend who was moving and just wanted to get rid of it...

    So really, the only thing I've bought is the Skimmer which most people/lfs say is one of the best for a hang on unit....

    As for the Canister unit, I figure it's just another 265+gph of water moving around and if things get cloudy looking, I can just pop in the charcoal unit.

    As for the base.. I just bought a 50# bag of #5 crushed coral..it's 1 step bigger then the super fine stuff you see in the bottom of reef systems... However, from what you've said, I've never seen a tank with only a sand base:confused: . Every lfs that's i've walked into always has a "white" coral base....maybe I'm missing something here but I've not opened the bag yet....but I also don't want a brown looking base also..

    As for the live rock, how long do I wait after until I do the "Koolaid" mix? A day or two or until the water if mixxed and not clowdy anymore ??

    Thanks for all the input..there's a BigAl's in Simi that I might go visit today;)

    Jason
     
  7. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    "WOW Corax !!!! That was a mouth full !!! but very informative !!!"
    I try =)

    "To clearify, let me restate a few things, the tank/stand/lights, the canister and the powerheads were given to me by a friend who was moving and just wanted to get rid of it..."
    Ok good, I hate to see people wasting $$$ on what some LFS pushes down their throats..

    "So really, the only thing I've bought is the Skimmer which most people/lfs say is one of the best for a hang on unit...."

    The best thing going for a hang on skimmer is the AquaC Remora or the CPR Backpack. I've never head of the one you mentioned, but that doesn't mean it won't work for ya.. Got any more info on it? I'd love to get edumacated =)


    "As for the Canister unit, I figure it's just another 265+gph of water moving around and if things get cloudy looking, I can just pop in the charcoal unit.

    Good way to look at it. Most people that have them left over from FW tanks just run em empty for added circulation.

    As for the base.. I just bought a 50# bag of #5 crushed coral..it's 1 step bigger then the super fine stuff you see in the bottom of reef systems... However, from what you've said, I've never seen a tank with only a sand base:confused: . Every lfs that's i've walked into always has a "white" coral base....maybe I'm missing something here but I've not opened the bag yet....but I also don't want a brown looking base also..
    Play sand is about the consitency of plain old white sugar with a white-yellow tint to it. That is what ya want and it only costs about $4 a bag at Home Depot. If you paid more than that, take it back ;) I personally would take it back and get the play sand which people KNOW is proper..

    "As for the live rock, how long do I wait after until I do the "Koolaid" mix? A day or two or until the water if mixxed and not clowdy anymore ??

    Ok, I'm gonna go step by step for ya.

    1. Locate tank and stand where you want em (I assume you've tested the tank for leaks outside, right?)
    2. Pour about a 1" layer of dry sand (or #5 coral if you decide it will work for you. ) in the tank, smooth it out.
    3. Place your lace rock as you see fit
    4. Pour your remaining dry sand in and smooth it around the rocks. This is to provide a good solid base for your rock structures. Get it right the first time cuz it won't move... ;)
    5. Fill the tank with RO water.
    6. Turn on the powerheads and let it run for a few days.
    7. Test your salinity, hoping for a 1.022 - 1.024 reading. Adjust accordingly..
    8. Let it run for 2 days, testing occasionaly until it is perfect for a couple days.
    9. Throw in 1-2 large cocktail shrimp.
    10. Check your your ammonia after about a week. It should max out your test kit and yer tank will probably smell like a bad seafood counter. This is normal and it should go away after 3-4 days. Glade plugins help =)
    11. Once your ammonia and nitrite both return to zero, you can safely add the livesand and liverock. Some people suggest cylcing with these in the tank, and that's ok, but anything you pay a premium price for on the liverock is probably going to be burned to a crisp by that ammonia. Save the good stuff till yer cycled.
    12. Get some fish! What's a fish tank without, well, FISH? =) The reward for being so patient...
      [/list=1]

      Sorry for the delay, now on to you other questions...
     
    #7 Corax, May 23, 2003
    Last edited: May 23, 2003
  8. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    I know that you'll edit the post when you get home but I guess a couple of more things to consider..

    1.Should I put anymore then 10lbs. of live sand I have waiting right now??? I'll probably take back the coral, and spend the $35 on a few large pieces of live rock also..

    2. Once I get the play sand from Lowe's/Home Depot, do I need to wash it first to get any dust off it or is it good to go??

    I will go out on a limb and say this is the first time I've heard Play sand being used instead of coral, but as long as it's white, it's cool with me...

    just more $$$ to spend on lighting;)
     
  9. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    "1.Should I put anymore then 10lbs. of live sand I have waiting right now??? I'll probably take back the coral, and spend the $35 on a few large pieces of live rock also.."

    The more liverock you can add to the tank, the more quickly it will mature and become stable. Try to get liverock and livesand from several different sources, for more bio-diversity.

    "2. Once I get the play sand from Lowe's/Home Depot, do I need to wash it first to get any dust off it or is it good to go??"

    Nope, put it in as is. Those varied particle sizes (dust, if you will) are good for the micro-environment you are trying to create.

    Before you take that coral back, give us an exact product name? A lot of times, newbie types don't realize they are calling a product one thing, and its really sumthin else. That might actually be great for your tank, but it sounds to me like crushed coral.

    "I will go out on a limb and say this is the first time I've heard Play sand being used instead of coral, but as long as it's white, it's cool with me...

    Most everyone on this board uses it, as does Aqualink, Reef Central.. Southdown is the same stuff you get at the LFS for $40/bag, only with a differnt label and for $4/bag. Southdown is the holy grail of sand for us marine nerds, and unless yer from the North-East, you'll probably be using silica sand like the rest of us, myself included.. Nothing wrong with silica, it just has no buffering advantages like Southdown which is an aragonite (calcium) based sand.

    "just more $$$ to spend on lighting ;)"

    You'll need it, oh I promise you you'll need it ;)
     
  10. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    The coral has no name on it..just a white 50# bag..... all it is...is just crushed coral....I'll take it back later on and stop by and get the play sand...

    So only after the big SPIKE, should I add the live rock and sand ???

    I'm also gonna go check out Big Al's and see their lighting selection..

    Thanks again,
    jason
     
  11. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    just one more question...the of the LFS said to use argonite for the bottom, then live sand on top...

    Any thoughts on that or are they just trying to get the $44/bag out of me?

    Thanks
     
  12. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    That's exactly what the playsand is for. If you can indeed find Southdown or Old Castle, then you have aragonite sand, for $4.00 per bag. Otherwise, the only option is to pay the $40 per bag to the lfs to get aragonite... Aragonite = Southdown, and Southdown = Aragonite... (Southdown and Old Castle are the same product, differnt retailers...)

    However, silica based play sand is an absolutely acceptable alternative to aragonite.
     
  13. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    oh and after the ammonia spike, watch for the same kinda of spike in your nitrites. You'll see nitrates initially also (after the ammo and trite spikes since it is the end product...), but as your DSB matures, it will process the nitrates into nitrogen gases and bubble out of the tank harmlessly.
     
  14. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    cool...thanks for all the info...

    UPDATE: Just got back from my little trip..Took the $35 bag of coral back and got a $5 bag of Aragonite from the local cement shop...they had every type of sand imaginable but that's what I got..

    I also got 2 more pieces of live rock, and another 10lbs of live sand.. also got a maxi-jet head with the variable diverter...it's the 800 so that's more then enough along with the canister filter..

    For now, I got a 40w 50/50 bulb... didn't get a chance to run over to Big Al's but I'm gonna order the 4x36 kit from AH and build a nice little hood for the lights...

    I'm gonna start getting it ready soon...any other last thoughts?


    Thanks,
    Jason
     
  15. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    "UPDATE: Just got back from my little trip..Took the $35 bag of coral back and got a $5 bag of Aragonite from the local cement shop...they had every type of sand imaginable but that's what I got.."
    Woah there, be careful what kind of sand you grab. You only want sterilized, sand box safe, play sand. What brand is it?

    "I also got 2 more pieces of live rock, and another 10lbs of live sand.. also got a maxi-jet head with the variable diverter...it's the 800 so that's more then enough along with the canister filter.."

    Where are you keeping the liverock? You shouldn't have it until after the cycle.

    "I'm gonna start getting it ready soon...any other last thoughts?"

    Umm, yeah, where ya keep that liverock? That stuff doesn't keep well outside of water ;)
     
  16. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    Sorry for the long delay, but dinner plans took over my setup tonight..

    As for the sand, forgot the name of it, but it's Aragonite Playbox sand. It says "Sterilized, screened, washed and kiln dried." I've got another 50# bag in the car but it's late and I'm tired..

    So I don't have to wash this sand then? Just put it in, add the lacerock, then start to add water ??

    If the water is cloudy, how long does it take to go away..I assume I should use the charcoal fliter to help get any left over dust out of the system??

    I'll wait a day or two before I add the salt...wanna make sure everything is kosher..

    As for the rocks, the lfs guys said to keep it in this special bag for up to a week...after all the salt has desolved, then you can add it to help speed up the cycling process...

    Anywho...I'll start first thing in the morning.
     
  17. Awestralian

    Awestralian Awesome...

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    This is a good thread to learn from!

    :D
     
  18. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    "As for the sand, forgot the name of it, but it's Aragonite Playbox sand. It says "Sterilized, screened, washed and kiln dried." I've got another 50# bag in the car but it's late and I'm tired.."

    Sounds like the right kinda stuff. Congrats, we Southern folks are all envious of your ability to get the good stuff so easily =P

    "So I don't have to wash this sand then? Just put it in, add the lacerock, then start to add water ??"

    Nope, the varied particle size is a good thing. Now, it will take some time to settle, but you can't really do much for that. Patience grasshopper =)

    "If the water is cloudy, how long does it take to go away..I assume I should use the charcoal fliter to help get any left over dust out of the system??"

    Nope, let it settle on it's own. All that dust is a beneificial thing.

    "I'll wait a day or two before I add the salt...wanna make sure everything is kosher.."

    Yeap, cuz you don't wanna go dumping 40 gallons worth of salt in until you know everything is gonna work. That junk ain't cheap!

    "As for the rocks, the lfs guys said to keep it in this special bag for up to a week...after all the salt has desolved, then you can add it to help speed up the cycling process..."

    Err, a bag? Never heard of that before. Yes, the liverock can and will speed up the cycle, but anything bigger than bacteria that is on it right now is gonna be completely fried by the ammonia spike. Liverock, IMHO, should only be added after the cycle is complete OR placed into a new tank in sufficient quantities to instantly "cycle" the tank. Again though, that's not a cheap think to do..
     
  19. Corax

    Corax Temporarily risen from the dead..

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    That's what we are here for =) Feel free to ask for clarification on anything I've glossed over. When you've done it a few times, you take it forgranted that people just naturally understand the stuff yer talkin about.
     
  20. JasonA

    JasonA Jack of all trades, master of none!

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    So how long will it stay murky for ??? I put in the sand, got the lacerock setup, and then very slowly started puting water in it..

    But it's murky...very murky.... and I've got the tank swirling around at a pretty good rate too...

    Should I wait for the water to clear before I put the salt in ??

    Thanks,
    Jason
     

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