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Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae

New Print and eBook on Amazon:

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

LA Fishguys      1/19/16
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2016 09:24:17 -0800
Hello Bob,
Episode 151 of LA Fishguys went on-line yesterday.
Its titled ‘Setting up my 180 Reef Tank’.
I have your promotion placed in Part Two,
<Thanks Jim! B>
Part One https://youtu.be/C0KnPMOQCag 
Part Two https://youtu.be/ejikrz4MSCY 
Part Three https://youtu.be/0q3Bn4t9eac 
Part Four https://youtu.be/1nk5R9RMQ5w 
Jim Stime, Jr
Aquarium Design - Installation and Maintenance
Midwater Systems - JELLIQUARIUM Jellyfish Display Systems
MyFishTank.com - Acrylic Aquariums, Stands and Canopies
LA Fishguys - Aquarium Reality Television

LA Fishguys sets up a glass coral reef tank        12/10/15
Hi Bob,
Episode 150 of LA Fishguys is now on-line. It features the set-up of a coral reef tank Your promotion is in Part Two Part One https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5UcI-irqBM  Part Two https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNcS9wFQhR4
Jim Stime, Jr
Aquarium Design - Installation and Maintenance
Midwater Systems - JELLIQUARIUM Jellyfish Display Systems
MyFishTank.com - Acrylic Aquariums, Stands and Canopies
LA Fishguys - Aquarium Reality Television
<Thanks Jim. B>

New 6ft marine tank upgrade, Reef, stkg.     10/31/13
Hello to who ever reads this at WetWebMedia! Hope all is well with you guys
Got a few questions regarding a system upgrade from a 4ft - 75 gal marine aquarium to a 6ft 150 gal.
Do you think this stocking list could work well?
Tank dimensions are: 72x18x24 inches
. Yellow tang
. Regal angelfish (red sea)
. Golden semilarvatus angelfish
. Kole tang
. Jewel pufferfish

. McCosker's flasher wrasse x3 (Male:Female:Female group)
. Osc clown x2
. Lemon damselfish
. Fiji yellow belly damsel
. Blue cheek goby

. Goldentail or banana moray eel (miliaris)
. Dwarf golden moray eel

. Skunk cleaner shrimp x4
. Blood red cleaner shrimp x2

. Sand sifting starfish x2
. Turbo snail x10
. Tube worm x3
<These should all go... with the following likelihood troubles. The Muraenids will consume the shrimps, the Puffer will likely nip the eels and goby>
. Brain coral
. Candy cane coral
. Green toadstool coral
. Button polyp
. Thick finger leather coral
. Colony polyps
. Green fluorescent mushroom
<And these, given they're introduced as "well-adjusted" specimens, small in size...>
Sump tank 50x18x17 inch

Deltec SC1350 skimmer
5ft T5 silver aqualumi aquarium lighting pendant
Just wondering if you guys think this set up could work and if not, what would you suggest?
<Sounds fine as presented... would add notes re converting part of the sump to a refugium, RDP macro-algal culture, DSB there>
Also what should I feed the regal angel for a staple diet to keep it healthy?
<Already posted, archived on WWM...>
Thank you and keep up the good work! :)
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Indian Ocean sps Zoa reef flat biotope tank: Sump design      9/13/13
Dear Friends and Bob San :)
Would be awesome to get thoughts on the below. Please feel free to comment on any point below.
Am I on the right track?
<... of what? Oh, guess I've got to read below>
Any changes you would suggest?
Anything to be aware of?
What am I looking to achieve?
I just started a new tank and looking to recreate a reef flat biotope.
I wanted to keep the main focus on a Harem of dwarf angels darting between coral heads.
Tank specs
The tank is a custom rimless tank with a sump included in the back side (dimensions and design attached)
<I see this; and have read your small written notes>
Since my previous tank was Aiptasia infected horribly (hundreds of big ones) I decided to play safe and used dry live rock.
<Mmm, where will you "get" the biota from otherwise?>
Basically freshwater dip for few weeks then dry for a week and then freshwater dip again (twice the same cycle)
Finished scaping (a pleasure with dry rock I must say) and cycled for 4-5 weeks.
Here are the equipment specs..
Lighting- 3x Mazarra P modules
3x 24W T5 (2 actinic and one purple plus all ATI bulbs)
Lights are hung 6" above water line
Circulation - 3x MP40W Vortechs with anti sync on slaves using nutrient export mode.
1 return pump of 1700LPH with around 12" head.
<All right>
Deltec 1060TS skimmer rates for 1500 litres.
7" DSB in second chamber of sump (moved the algae to in tank refugium)
<Sounds good>
Bare bottom (hope to get a Zoa carpet)
<Are toxic; for you as well... DO see WWM here>
Using Chemi pure elite 4 bags of 11oz
Changed every 15 weeks (change is slowly bag by bag)
<I'd change one out every four weeks, leaving the newest/newer ones in place>
Husbandry tasks
- water tests every Friday (CA/Alk/NO3/PH4) PH is on continuous monitor.
CA is ranging between 420-450
Alk is 160-170 using Hanna meter
NO3 is <0.5
PH4 am still to start testing from tomorrow :)
- 120 litres ( approx 25-30%) WC on Saturday. Still toying with idea of 15% every 3-4 days
Daily approx half cube size portion of mix of frozen brine, Cyclopes, Mysid, angel formula.
5-7 pellets of spectrum
Vacuuming - every 3-5 days
<Once a week is fine; easier to keep on schedule>
3x 2" African Flameback angels added all together (first fish in tank)
2x true percula clownfish

Can I add a trio of flame angel??
Can I add a group of Chromis (5-7)??
Can I add a mandarin goby pair??
Can I add a group of royal gamma (3)??
Can I add a pair of purple fire fish??
<How large is this tank? 120 liters? I'd stick w/ just the intended/stated 3 and 2 fishes>

Am totally fine to not add ANY more fish other than existing 3 dwarf angel and 2 clown!!
2xmontipora digitata
1x Montipora reniformis
1x Montipora (unknown genus)
6x Acropora species
2x Zoa (multi color colonies)
Planning a group of 3 (cleaner or peppermint shrimp)
<A peaceful Lysmata species is what I'd use>
Other info
No QT possible due to space constraints. So, added all existing livestock at one shot
I dip the new additions using CoralRX.
1- what are lighting considerations based on colour or shape of Acropora?
<See WWM re... You need to learn/use the site; ahead of writing us>
2- can I afford to feed more given current filtration and WC regime?
<I wouldn't be concerned re overfeeding here>
3- should I add more light modules?
<I'd wait and see (a few months) if you like what you have>
<Cheers, BobF>

Re: Indian Ocean SPS Zoa reef flat biotope tank, add all to reef sys., set up f'    9/14/13
Thanks for the super fast (as usual) response Bob.
<Ah welcome>
Some answers to your questions
Regarding the point of fish addition over the existing 3+2 fishes, you asked if the water volume was 120liters.
I believe the total volume is 110 gallons with the tank being 90 gallons.
(42x29x18) LxWxH
<Oh! You could put more in here. Likely all the fishes you listed>

So you still feel the current 3 dwarfs and 2 percula are the best in this volume for peaceful existence and displaying natural behaviours?
<Mmm, this is likely so; but I would add more for my /our own interest>
Just to mention, the dwarfs and the percula are already in the tank.
Dwarfs were added together as a trio from the same clutch at 2" size.
Percula I added a week later.
Regarding your question on where will I get the biota from if I use dry live rock,
Coralline am not for or against purely for aesthetic reasons.
Pods I already have lots from the Zoa rocks
Since I don't have sand bed, do I really need any worms etc?
<Would be helpful>
Why do you say no worry of over feeding?
<Not really an issue with the set-up as you list it. You're not likely to encounter superfluous chemical nutrient issues>
Regarding the lighting, I did research on Acropora lighting on WWM and advanced aquarist. but the details are all bit dated and discuss MH which are single Kelvin bulbs. LED technology nowadays uses multiple Kelvin sources.
<Not really useful measures... Look to PUR, PAR at the location of your livestock>
Also, is there any way to ascertain what level of depth the coral was taken from given its coloration?
<Mmm, not easily for aquarists, no>
If a specific Acropora was short and encrusting, it can be guessed it was taken from shallow depths and thus strong lighting, the question is, can it be placed 6" under water line with LED lighting blasting at it?
<Mmm, no; shape of skeleton has more to do w/ prevailing water movement, patterns... stringy/thin in low current, short/compact in more rigorous in general>
Nevertheless, I will revisit the FAQ on WWM to see what I missed :)
Very very IMP question
The Montipora capricornis specimen I added was infected with the Montipora eating white Nudibranch. The base of the coral was eaten and half a dozen Nudibranch dropped out in the CoralRX dip!!
I took cuttings from the top half of the coral which looked like it was uninfested. The rest was discarded. Was this a good decision?
<Likely so; though I might have kept the rest in isolation>
This was added Just 2-3 days back and I can pull it out right away if you think there is ANY chance of eggs being there!! Please let me know your thoughts on this.
<Could be; though the dip (had I devised the formulation) would take care of these. Again; isolation (quarantine)...>
<And you, B>

"Flow" In A Reef Tank (Gyre gets “my” vote) – 06/18/13
Hi Crew!
<<Hey Pam!>>
I'm puzzled about "flow" in a reef tank.
I have a 75 gallon with (4”dsb and 80lbs LR) 2 powerheads, a Koralia 750gph and an old Rio that puts out about 600gph.
Now if I believed what I read about taking your tank size (75) and multiplying it by 10, I would have more than enough flow.
<<Maybe so…but does also depend on other factors such as animals kept, tank layout, etc.>>
I DON"T believe it!
<<Ah yes…is merely a “general” rule of thumb.  Many reef hobbyists do provide more flow than this.  I myself provide some 30x in a SPS dominated tank>>
How much is healthy?
<<Try to provide as much water movement as possible without doing physical damage to the inhabitants of the reef.  Typical power heads shooting a strong narrow stream of water can make this very difficult.  Utilizing “propeller” type water movement devices that spread the flow helps, but a better alternative IMO with any type of powerhead/pump is to utilize a ‘GYRE’ flow pattern (do a WEB search re).  The pumps can be placed very high in the tank…water flows to the opposite end and then flows down the tank’s end wall and is both pushed and pulled back along the bottom and up to the powerhead/s in a continuous flow cycle.  This type of flow pattern can move a large amount of water in what I feel is a more natural condition>>
I also don't think that by getting one extremely powerful powerhead is good for the inhabitants.
<<Can be…if set up to produce a gyre flow pattern>>
 But,...to get several smaller ones is imo, ugly in the main display,...(I have no sump) Any suggestions?
<<My choice here?  A Tunze Stream (or similar) set up to push water in a gyre flow pattern>>
Thanks for all your help! You have no idea how good it makes me feel when I see a response in my inbox!
<<Happy to share, Pam… EricR>>

I would like comments on plan that I have for a reef tank. Set-up     4/15/13
Hi,   "I have this plan"
This would be my first saltwater tank.
I do however have a very successful planted fresh water tank that has been going for several years.
<Ahh! In many ways "as hard" to successfully keep as a sophisticated marine system; as you'll see>
The tank is 150 gallons (96"long x 16" front to back x 24" tall) with 120 small Tetras and a few catfish.
The tank is almost maintenance free. I just feed dry food once a day and prune out extra plants every couple of months.  The plants grow out of the top of the tank about 12" and then hang over the sides and touch the floor.  Very wild and beautiful.  The tank is very biologically stable.
The tank has a bioball filter and a DIY automatic water changer (10 gal a day, 1/2 tank per week).
I would like to do something similar with a reef tank.
<Can be done>
I found the attached article with a online search.
"The Zero Maintenance Salt Water Reef Tank" by Rich Green (1991)
This article may be known to you.
<Think I'd read it before... Have just done so. For folks interested, it can be found via Google:
By it's nature, it seems to me, that it should be famous (or at least infamous).
The article was written some time ago, but it does seem to be real.
<.... well; the bit re (sic) Calurpa is passé to say the least. And the use of just mixed synthetic water is fallacious assuredly>
I would like to reproduce this experiment as a long running reef aquarium.
<I'd read more widely, elsewhere. If you have time... Walter Adey's "Dynamic Aquaria" would be a great start. Complete, science-backed. Again, not the most up to date (there is none) compilation, and some techniques are likewise no longer (or were ever) popular. How to put this... as with planted aquaria there are "many roads" that will "get you there"... The onus is upon you, all aquarists to delve into the subjects of set up, maintenance, stocking... to consciously choose amongst gear, methods...>
The idea of trying to make as close to a self sustaining reef aquarium as is reasonable possible is very challenging and interesting to me.
<"Self sustaining"... all captive aquatic systems require energy inputs (electricity, food, labor, money...)>
This idea seems pretty radical and I would like to get your comments.
<Oh, you'll be getting them>
I hope that I do not immediately fall into the "LOL" category.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
After doing a lot of online reading, my plan would be as follows:
The basic concept:
     The tank would have lots of live rock, live sand,
<Your LR will make the LS so>
Macro Algae and Copepods.
     There would be no sump, no protein skimmer and only a small once a year water change.
<I wouldn't plan on this last... and a "sump" of sorts, size is a very good idea... as you'll find w/ experience>
     There would be a large BioBall filter to convert ammonia produced by animals in the tank into
     nitrates to feed the Macro Algae and Soft Coral.
<In a low density (biomass) setting this can be made to work. Take care not to overdrive nitrification in marine systems. They are far less forgiving than fresh>
     Macro Algae and Copepods (feeding on turf algae in the refugiums) would then feed the fish.
<... IF there's enough space for predators AND prey... Hence the large sump/refugium>
     (The circle of life !!!)
     Macro Algae would be chosen that would be less likely to go sexual.
<Yes; NOT Caulerpas>
     Tank animals would be chosen that can live off Macro Algae and Copepods generated in the tank.
     Fish would be chosen from, hopefully, less aggressive species.
     There would be soft coral but no SPS.
     The tank would be reefscaped to breakup sight lines and provide lots of hiding places.
     Fish would be introduced into the tank with less aggressive species first to allow them to establish
     territories and reduce potential aggression.
The physical setup:
     220 gallon TruVu tank (84"long x 20"front to back x 30"deep)
     I already have the tank, but it is not setup.
     No sump, no skimmer, DIY 15 gallon bioball filter with 1200 gph pump.
     Wave maker setup
     6 bulb T5HO lighting, one 4ft and one 3ft fixture. (total aprox 550 watts, 2.5 watts/gallon)
     2 part calcium and carbonate additive (for Calcified Plants, not sure if Soft Coral needs any)
<They do>
     Trace elements added per directions on bottle.
<... again, a cautionary note: DO take care w/ supplementing IF not using frequent partial water changes... That effectively dilute such accumulations>
      DIY in tank Copepod refugiums.
Tank Life
Live Sand;
       3" deep sand bed on the bottom of the tank
      Three DIY acrylic boxes, 16"long x 6"front to back x 16"tall, filled with sand, in the tank as part of the        reefscape.  The boxes have screened holes along the very bottom of the front and back sides.
      The boxes may act as added anaerobic bacterial filters.  The boxes break up sight lines.
      Mostly I like the boxes because they add height to the reefscape and I just like their looks.
      Sand will be mixed with a small amount of live sand and cycled.
Live Rock;
      250 lbs of dry coral rock.  The rock will be built into plastic pipe supported columns.  The columns will break up sight lines and have a lot of hiding holes.  The rock is dry but I plan to add a small amount of live rock and cycle.
Lots and lots of Macro Algae;
      The Macro Algae is chosen from types that are less likely to go sexual.
      Macro Algae for food;    Gracilaria, Ulva   (Caulerpa grows fast but
it is likely to go sexual and it is also illegal in my state,
      Macro Algae not for food;  Coraline Algae, Halimeda, Dictyota, Ochtodes
       Soft Corals;  Leather, Mushroom, Toadstool, etc
<Allelopathogens from these Alcyoniids will prove problematical in this settings... i.e. no skimmer, water changes>
       Hermit Crabs, Strawberry and Emerald Crabs, Snails
       Lettuce Seaslugs, Sea Cucumbers
       Banded Coral Shrimp
       No Sea Urchins because they scratch the aquarium plastic.
     Qty              Type                                                                    Max in
       1          Orange Spotted Blenny      Blenniella chrysospilos                5
       1          Bicolor Blenny                    Ecsenius color                            4
       1          Black Sailfin Blenny            Atrosalarias fuscus                      4
       6          Azure Damsels                  Chrysiptera hemicyanea              3
       1          Coral Beauty                      Centropyge bispinosa                  4
       1          Flame Angel                       Centropyge loriculus                    4
       1          Yellow Angel                       Centropyge heraldi                       4
<Mmm, well the Centropyge will chase, nip each other, but will likely settle in... given this size, shape system, decor plan... These fishes will consume all Copepods in short order>
      Total fish:                        12
      Gallons per fish inch:    4.8
       I am not putting Clowns in because, I guess I am tired of seeing clowns in every tank.
       Also it allows me to reduce my fish population in the tank, which I think is better.
       I chose 6 Azure Damsels because I thought they may pair off evenly and reduce aggression.
      All animals added to the tank will first be quarantined 1 month.
      During quarantine animals will, hopefully, be switched over to dry food.
      Fish will be added when very small, 3/4" to 1 1/2".
      This is to allow them to adjust to each other as much as possible.
      In addition some of the Azure Damsel may change sex for help in pairing off.
Setup plan:
      1)  Build physical aquarium with filter, lights, etc
      2)  Get aquarium working with fresh water.
      3)  Drain, then mix and add saltwater.
      4)  Add lots of Macro Algae
      5)  Add small amounts of live sand and cured rock
      6)  Add 2 tablespoons of canned tuna (stolen from my cat)            This is to start the biofilter
      7)  Cycle tank 3 months
      8)  Add invertebrates
      9)  Add Copepod starter culture
    10)  Wait 1 month
    11)  Add the 3 Blennies (all at the same time)
    12)  Wait 2 weeks
    13)  Add the 6 Azure Damsels (all at the same time)
    14)  Wait 2 weeks
    15)   Add the 3 Dwarf Angel Fish (all at the same time)
    16)   Gradually switch the fish from feeding dry food twice each day to feeding dry food twice a week and eating Algae and Copepods generated in the tank.
Long term maintenance;
      Change 20% water and vacuum excess mulm             Once a year
<... the water will be yellow; stinky>
      Change light bulbs                                                          Once a year
      Clean out half the Copepod refugiums                           Once a year
      Watch for algae going sexual                                          Each day
      Prune algae as needed                                                   As needed
      Clean aquarium glass (plastic)
Each day
      Feed 1 tps dry fish food (Partly for the soft corals)        Twice each week
      Stir the dry food into the aquarium to distribute        uniformly around the tank.
Notes on the planned DIY in tank Copepod refugium;
      The refugium will be made of several 2ft lengths of 2" plastic pipe with end caps.
      Many 1" holes will be drilled in the sides of the pipe sections.
      The pipes will be lined with plastic screen to keep fish out and let Copepods pass through.
      The pipes are connected to a small submersible pump to provide water movement through the pipes.
      The pipes are lit internally by low voltage white LED strips (eBay) sealed in clear flexible vinyl tubing.
      The LEDs will grow turf algae, like a algae scrubber, inside the pipes for the Copepods to eat.
      The refugium pipes will be lit and night and off during the day.
       This opposite cycle lighting will help lower PH swings due to CO2 production.
<We'll see if this will work in actual practice. Exciting>
       In addition the Copepods move toward light.  They should therefore move into the pipes to feed at night and        out into the aquarium to feed the fish during the day.
<Will likely all be consumed w/in days>
       The pipe refugiums will be placed horizontally on the floor of the tank, behind the coral rock.
I sort of figure I have a 75% chance of this plan working, without major changes, for several years, and that I have about a 50% chance of it working when the fish are full grown.
By work I mean fish (and a fish owner) that are healthy and not overstressed.
<Would need to describe qualifiers in quantitative ways, but I give you poorer odds of "working">
This a long proposal to request comments on, thank you for your time!
So, what do you think?
   Jim Hollingsworth
    Mountain View
<A worthwhile plan, experiment. Thank you for sharing, Bob Fenner, San Diego, CA>
Re: I would like comments on plan that I have for a reef tank.      4/16/13

Thanks much for your comments!
<Glad to share Jim. BTW, had an olde Koi Club friend here in San Diego years back TerryH, w/ your family name... he had a digging biz up in Canada before moving to S. Cal...>
Based on your feedback I have already decided to change to a 60 gallon sump with the bioballs, the heaters and some biology in it. 
A sump does have many conveniences and leaves my options open if things don't work out so well.
I will still try the lit pipe refugiums.
<Am curious to see how these work out for you>
It will take me awhile to process the rest of your comments.
If you don't mind, I will keep you posted on the results.
Thanks again,       Jim
<Thank you, BobF>

Very High Calcium and Magnesium Levels. Why and How to Fix? and a Big Upgrade to the Sump/Refugium/Return. Should I Go Through With It?     10/4/12
Hello there!  Thank you in advance for all your help and what you guys do.  I have a few questions regarding high Calcium and Magnesium levels in my aquarium and a few questions regarding an upgrade I want to do with my system.  I will begin by giving you an outline of my system and other info that may need to be known to answer some of my questions. Sorry if I am overly detailed but I figure more info is better than not enough.
 I have a reef ready (built in overflow) Oceanic 75 gallon aquarium set up as a mixed reef tank (I want it to be heavy SPS though).

The tank has been up and running for a little over 7 months now.  For filtration: Aqueon Proflex sump model 2 (roughly 20 gallons), AquaC-EV 180 protein skimmer, water passes through a sponge in sump (included with setup), two 200 micron filter socks (also included with setup), roughly 80lbs dry rock from Bulk Reef Supply (mix of Pukani, Fiji, Tonga branch, reef saver), 80 lbs. Carib Sea's Special Grade Reef Sand (dead and 1.0-2.0mm) and two reactors.  My reactors are from Bulk Reef Supply.  I have two single deluxe reactors which is run by one pump: MJ1200. This pump is located in the third chamber if the sump and is output in the refugium or second chamber.  In one reactor I run BRS GFO high capacity and BRS premium ROX 0.8 Carbon. No matter what I change the Carbon media every 2 weeks and the GFO media every 4 weeks. I also have a refugium in the sump.
Aqueon Proflex sumps have several different ways you can set them up so I chose the refugium style although I set mine up differently than the way they recommended.  In mine I have my protein skimmer pump (Mag Drive 7) located in the first chamber of the sump right below the filter socks.  I set the protein skimmer in the third and last chamber in the sump which outputs the water in the bubble trap area (area where the sponge is located and where water flows from the refugium to the third chamber).  To accomplish this I just screwed in a small piece of PVC piping with a 45 degree angle PVC piece on the end into the gate valve piece/output of the skimmer.  The skimmer is also raised about 3 inches using cut egg crate pieces stacked on top of each other using zip-ties.  This actually brings the skimmers output right to or slightly above the water level which is what is recommended in the skimmer manual.  Outputting in this area helps reduce bubbles created by the skimmer.  I made this "customization" because I wanted to skim the water that first enters the sump before going to the refugium.  I didn't want the water that comes from the fuge, which should often include beneficial bacteria/life such as pods and other things, to be skimmed before going to the display as that could kill that beneficial life.  In my refugium I have 1.5 inches of miracle mud as the substrate, 2 pretty large pieces of rock, some rock rubble, and a big ball of Chaetomorpha.  I have a simple PC light hanging above the fuge which I run all the time 24/7.  Inside the fuge I also have 2 heaters: two Finnex HMA-150 watt w/analog control.  These are side by side.
                My return process is a little confusing.  I use 2 return pumps: Danner Mag Drive 7 and an Iwaki MD-30RXLRT. The Mag 7 is located in the third chamber.  The Iwaki is located just outside the sump to the right.  Since I didn't want to drill my sump, I use this external pump with tubing.  I have 1" tubing attached to the input of the Iwaki pump which arches up and into the third chamber of the sump.  The output of the Iwaki pump is connected to PVC piping which runs through a high quality ball valve and goes straight to my chiller.  I understand that this is definitely not the preferred way to run this external pump and I was not even sure if it would work when I first set it up.  After installing it though it has worked with no problems at all.  My guess is that the only problem doing it this way is all the power or flow loss due to the bends but that doesn't really matter in this situation as my chiller prefers a lower flow anyway. 
<Mmm, compelled to ask/comment, "I hope the discharge of this line (after going through the chiller) is not "too deep" in the display tank... as the water will back-siphon to this level should the power/pump fail">
The water from the Iwaki pump then goes through my chiller: Pacific Coast 1/10 CL-280 HP.  The water then goes from the chiller and meets up with the water being pumped by the Mag 7 using a "Y tube connector" piece.  Then the tubing with the water pumped by both pumps goes to my return piping in the overflow and back into my display.  To give you a picture, my overflow for my tank is located on the left, sump and reactors in the stand below the tank, and chiller outside of the stand to the right. I have ball valves on each of my return pumps and typically run the system with both open to create the most flow. I also use a ATO of course.  I use the JBJ ATO  The water reservoir is a 5 gallon bucket which is located next to the chiller and a TOM aquatic aqua-lifter pump is used for the ATO.
                Inside the tank I have a Vortech MP-10 powerhead attached on the left upper side in the middle.  To the left and towards the back, I have a Koralia Evolution 750 powerhead near the bottom and a Koralia Evolution 1050 powerhead near the top.  The Koralias are connected to a controller that I have set to run opposite each other every 10 seconds.  I typically set the MP-10 to run on pulse mode with the power turned all the way up.  For lighting I have a Odyssea 48" 716watt Metal Halide System Advance Plus fixture (I know its not the best brand but I am saving for 2 Radions).  The fixture has two 250watt DE HQI metal halide bulbs at 15000K each, 4 54watt T5 high output actinic blue bulbs, and six dual bluemoon LEDs.  There is also two built in fans.  My lights are connected to a timed power strip that runs T5s from 11am-11pm (12 hours), metal halides from 1pm-6pm (6 hours), and moonlights from 11pm-1am (2 hours).  Yes, I really enjoy watching my tank late at night!
                My livestock includes a Lawnmower Blenny, 2 Blue/Green Chromis, Royal Gramma Basslet, Six-Line Wrasse, 2 Percula Clown fish (one orange, one black), and my prized fish: Powder Blue Tang.
<Mmm, needs much (like twice plus) room than this>

 I also have a Black Long Spined Urchin, Pencil Urchin, Blue Linckia Star Fish, and a Brittle Star Fish.  My clean-up crew consists of around 80 Cerith snails, 20 Nassarius Vibex snails, 20 Nerite snails, 30 of several types of hermit crabs, and around 6 emerald crabs.  To cycle my tank back in March, I added the dry sand and rock, added water, mixed the water with salt mix to the right salinity, got it to the correct temp, and turned on the powerheads.
I used the correct portion of Dr. Tim's One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria which helped cycle my tank very quickly.  I first added the CUC and then each fish very slowly throughout the next few months.  Lastly, I began to finally purchase coral.  To date I have the following coral in my system: green Acropora frag, Ricordea mushroom, large rock covered with 3 types of Zoanthids, Trumpet Coral, Favites Brain Coral, green tip Torch Coral, 3 small but beautiful Acans from Cherry Corals, 3" neon orange Plate Coral, large Pearl Bubble Coral, and white with purple tip Haitian Anemone.
Before adding any of these corals I treated them with Coral RX following the instructions.  While acclimating all the corals and livestock, I first let them float in the tank to get to my tank's temp, then used my acclimating box which basically uses the drip method.  I allowed everything
to acclimate for at least an hour if not more. All the coral and livestock have done fine and continue to look happy with great polyp extension for corals and a good appetite from both.
                I conduct a 10% water change for my system once a week and do this religiously. Usually before a water change I use a turkey-baster and blow on the rocks, especially in crevices, to get stuck detritus in the water column.  I also siphon the top layer of the substrate if it is dark or covered in algae.  This does result in some debris to float up but I siphon as much of that as I can and really do not believe it is harmful to the system or is harmful gas or anything like that.  I make sure the salinity in my tank is always in the acceptable range (1.024-1.026 using refractometer) and always make sure there is water in the ATO reservoir. 
I have my own RO/DI unit and only use RO water for anything in my system.  I have a TDS meter and the water I use never reaches above 10 ppm (this usually only occurs right before I change the filters, thus the TDS in the water mainly used is 3-4 ppm if not zero).  I have used 2 different brands of salt while maintaining my system.  I started using Reef Crystals Reef Salt.  I then switched to Kent Reef Salt due to the great deal I got for a full bucket.  That ran out last week and now I am back to using Reef Crystals Reef Salt which I have heard great things about.
<The IO brand and Kent's have had occasional troubles... alk./Ca imbalance issues. Search/read on WWM re>
  Having good heaters and a chiller on my system allows temp to not be a problem.  I keep the temp in my tank between 77-78 F, and there is never a swing of more than 2 degrees in a day.  I clean my skimmer cup when it is full, usually once or twice a week.  I also religiously wash my filter socks.  I do this by running them in hot water, flipping them inside-out, and washing them in the washer using no soap.  This gets them nearly as clean as new and only takes 20 minutes.  Other maintenance includes scraping the glass walls which needs to be done about every 2 days. I feed my fish usually only once per day.  I use frozen squares of Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp (the one that says "promotes health!"), and a marine mix.  I put each in its own small container, rinse them, and add tank water to them to thaw in.  I use a syringe to feed them this food.  Usually I go through about 2 squares per week of the marine mix and brine shrimp and 4 squares per week of Mysis shrimp (I also feed this to my corals).  I also feed a little amount of New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula Pellets and New Life Formula Two Flake Food every time.  I also feed my Tang about 4 times per week Nori (dried seaweed) which he goes crazy for.
                I test my system's parameters quite often.  I definitely do this once a week, if not more.  For the first 3 months my system was setup I only tested for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Salinity.  When I stared to think my system was ready for corals I also began to test for Magnesium, Calcium, and Alkalinity.  The test kits I use are API for PH, NH4, NO2, and NO3, Salifert also for PH, NH4, NO2, and NO3.  Red Sea for Mg, Calcium, and Alk.  I also use a Hanna Phosphate Checker and Hanna Alkalinity Checker.  Also, like I stated before I use a refractometer to measure salinity and calibrate it often using calibration fluid.  I heard that the accuracy of API test kits are often questionable so I invested in Salifert. When comparing the results I feel that API gives a pretty accurate measurement so I personally look at API results sort of as a "ball park" figure and still use them often.  If anything is in question though I reach for the Salifert tests.  In the beginning, my system's parameters were great and following what is expected in a cycle and the start of a tank's life.  After 2-3 months I began to test for Mg, Calcium, and Alk.
As expected the Mg level and alkalinity levels were low.  My Calcium level was not low being at 450.  I purchased the BRS Kalkwasser kit which I plan to use eventually.  This kit included mixing powders to make solutions of calcium, Mg, and Alk to dose to increase the levels to the desired level.
Once that is accomplished Kalkwasser is to be used to keep those levels stability.  This leads into my first set of questions.
                Now that you have a good idea of my system (again sorry if it was too long of a description, but I don't know what info may be relevant to answer the questions I have and there is just SO much to cover to give one a proper overview of one's system). When testing my parameters recently the magnesium and calcium levels have been super high. Here is a listing of my parameters throughout different dates since I've had my system.  I'm thinking if you had a look at this some sense can be made out of it:
Added First Coral
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 450
Alkalinity =  8.4 dKH
Magnesium = 1200
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 335
Alkalinity = 9.1 dKH
Magnesium = 1360
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 475
Alkalinity = 7 dKH
Magnesium = 1200
Red Sea Kit
Calcium = 470
Alkalinity = 9 dKH
Magnesium = 1360
<These values are not "super high"...>
These parameters were when I started adding coral.  I used the BRalculator on their site and dosed the correct amounts of Mg and Alk solution.  As you can see the Alk and Mg levels swung back and forth and the Calcium level increased a little.  At this point I thought the levels were stable enough and began to add a very small amount of Kalkwasser to my ATO reservoir.  Only after a week of doing this I was told by people on a forum to stop adding Kalkwasser because there was no need to due to my only having a few corals.  So I stopped dosing Kalkwasser.  Another thing to point out is that I had been dosing Purple-Up to my system because I believed this would help develop coraline algae.
<Mmm, can help, but not a good idea to mix w/ other alkalinity and alkaline earth supplements>
  I would dose a cap and a half full everyday and did for roughly 3 weeks.  I was told to stop this too because this only adds calcium to my system and I had nothing to consume that calcium (like corals).  So I stopped dosing that as well.
This all happened about 2 months ago in July.  Around that same time my Reef Crystals Reef salt ran out so I switched to using the Kent Reef Salt I had.  I continued my maintenance and water change schedule with no dosing and continued to get more corals.  Luckily all of my corals have been doing
fine despite my some of my parameters not being where I would have liked.
Here is a estimate of what my parameters have been since stopping dosing and switching to Kent Reef Salt:
*API and Salifert Kits*
PH = 8.0
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 10-25
*Red Sea Kit*
Calcium = 500+  ****
Magnesium = 1600+  ****
Alkalinity = 7.5-9
*Hanna Kits
*Phosphate = 0-0.06
Alkalinity = Unavailable (I received a bad batch of Alk reagent so the results made no sense...they have since sent me a new reagent for free)
As you can see my Calcium and Magnesium levels are WAY high and have been for some time.  I'm really not concerned about any of the other parameters.  I thought about it and decided to test the Kent Reef Salt after mixing with RO water (or the water I have been using for water changes).  It turns out that that salt water mix also contained Calcium levels of 500+ and Magnesium levels of 1600+.  I continued to use it up as it was nearly gone and hadn't seen any adverse effects from the levels being so high.  Just the other day I finally got a new bucket of Reef Crystals Reef Salt with the Kent Salt now gone.  During the first water change I tested that mixed water of just the salt and again got the same results!  Calcium of 500 and Mg of 1600!!  Here are my questions:
1) What adverse effects will having a high Calcium level have on my aquarium and corals?
<If not too high for too long, none to speak of>
2) What adverse effects will having a high Magnesium level have on my aquarium and corals?
3) Do you know of any way to lower these parameters to the desired levels (Calcium 380-450, Mg 1200-1400)?  If doing more water changes is the only answer, what should I do considering the tests I just conducted on my new salt?
<Just let time go by... they will drift lower on their own>
4) Based on the information provided, do you know what I did wring to get these parameter's levels so high?
<The mix of supplements, presence of materials (rock, substrate)...>
5) To date, my aquarium is showing only small signs of coraline algae growth.  Do you think if I got Calcium and Magnesium under control, it would be more likely for coraline algae to grow?
<Mmm, possibly... there can/could be other influences of consequence at play here>
6) Have the high levels of Mg and Calcium hindered the growth of coraline algae?
<Could be a bit>
7) What would your advice to me be considering the readings I got when testing Reef Crystals Salt mix?  Should I keep it, go back to the LFS where I got it, maybe contact the company?
<I'd keep it, and notify the LFS and Instant Ocean/IO>
8) Based on all the info I have provided about my setup, maintenance I conduct, etc... Do you have any advice, comments, or suggestions to give me the best chance of success?
<To take your time... along w/ enjoying the process... Keep reading, chatting w/ other reefers... "Nothing good happens in reef systems in a short interval">
9) Knowing that I want a thriving mixed reef tank, heavy with SPS, do you suggest any upgrades, different equipment that I have, or additional equipment?
<A larger system (and sump)... not only for the Acanthurus leucosternon, but overall, a bigger volume will be much easier to keep stable, and give you more room to add livestock, enjoy>
My next set of questions relates to my sump setup and some upgrades I plan on doing to it.  Please refer to the part when I described my sump and return pumps.  Right now I use a Mag 7 to power my skimmer and a Mag 7 and Iwaki 30-RXLRT as return pumps.  I plan on upgrading to a Mag 9.5 to power my skimmer as I have heard this is the most efficient pump for the skimmer.  I also would remove the skimmer from the third chamber and put it to the right side of the sump.  I would raise the skimmer a little more, but still have it drain in the bubble trap (just have to add a little more PVC).  This would free up some much needed space in the third sump chamber and give me easier access to the skimmer.  I also want to upgrade to one return pump - a Mag 18.
<Mmm, can your "reef ready" plumbing accommodate the flow here? I'd take care not to overdrive the overflow... again, and get the larger system, w/ larger, more redundancy in overflow capacity. Read here please:
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/PlumbingPix/Oneinchart.htm
  Instead of two return pumps I would use the Mag 18 to do the exact same thing.  I would have the Mag 18 in the third chamber, then put a Y-tube connector piece, put high quality ball valves on each tube right after the Y-tube connector piece, have one tube go through the chiller, the other tube go towards the return, and have both tubing meet again,
<Better to have going independently back to the main/display and/or the sump>
connect with a Y-piece, and then go to the return.  This would allow me with complete control of the flow through my system and the refugium.
Since the skimmer pump will only be a Mag 9.5 which sucks water from the 1st chamber to the 3rd, and the Mag 18 being so much more powerful than the Mag 9.5, using the ball valves on the tubing on the Mag 18 I could obviously control the overall flow of the tank, but also control the flow through the refugium (2nd chamber), right?
<You don't want "too much" flow through the 'fuge...>
 Lastly, I wanted to add more miracle mud to the refugium.  I have read great things about miracle mud and the trace elements it contains.  Currently I have a 1.5" bed of miracle mud in my skimmer.  I want to add another 1.5"-2.5", making my refugium a "deep miracle mud bed".  I'd like to try this mainly because I've never seen it done before and don't see any reason why not with all the benefits miracle mud has to offer.  Here are my questions:
10) What do you think of these upgrades?
<Am concerned w/ the flow rate that your overflow can safely accommodate; but do agree re switching to one pump instead of two>
11) do you see any problems with any of these upgrades?
<As above>
12) Based on the info I gave you, with the Mag 9.5 in its location in the sump and powering the skimmer and the Mag 18 with ball valves powering the return, would I be able to control the flow through the refugium?  Do you know what type of control I will have with this setup?
<Gone over on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray... Refugium... pumps/circulation FAQs>
13) Do you see any negative consequences or have any concerns if I went ahead and did this upgrade?
<Again, the added flow rate concerns me>
14) What do you think of me adding more miracle mud to the fuge?
<S/b fine>
15) Have you heard of a deep miracle mud bed before?, see any negative effects that could come from it?,
<Have seen many times around the world (Leng Sy and I are old friends). No worries>
16) Would you suggest I add more miracle mud?
<If you'd like>
17) Do you have any advice or suggestions to make my refugium more efficient/effective (will add more miracle mud, have rock, Chaeto, 24/7 lighting)?
<See the reference above; read>
WELL, that is all the questions I have had.  I really respect all the advice you give out.  You have helped me in many situations through all the info you have given out by answering others' questions.  I really, really appreciate you taking the time to read this, give out your advice/expertise, and answering my questions.  I will continue to seek your help if anything comes up, and appreciate it so much.  If there is ever anything I can help you with please let me know (although I'm no expert...not yet!).  Thanks again and I really look forward to your response ~ Dustin Getta
<Thank you for sharing so well Dustin. Bob Fenner>

Marine Tank Questions/Marine Set Up, more gen. reef op.  8/26/12
Mr. Fenner,
<James with you today Justin>
It has been a long time since I wrote in but I have recently changed up quite a bit in my system and wanted to check in. First off, as is my usual prologue to questioning in order to butter you up for a positive response to questions  you have answered too many times ;) ;
<Beer is a good butter upper. :-)>

thank you all for everything you do, and the breadth of information you make freely available to us all.
 It is selfless and incredibly helpful for us less informed to the intricacies of marine habitation.
For a couple of years I have had a 50 gallon tank pretty much filled up.
I had a canister filter... ugh... and too small of  a tank to safely, or humanely rather, put in most of the fish or variety of corals I would really like to. Hence the recent upgrade. About 3 months ago I purchased a 90 Gallon, overflow tank with sump/refugium set up. The new tank went where the old tank was, so I drained the old tank, took out all the rock, moved it 10 feet to its temporary home, and put everything back in. After three months of it being in the middle of the living room, the wife is more than ready for it to leave.
<Mmm, are you telling me the new tank has to be moved again?  Ewww.>
I put in a few large pieces of live rock, and a clean up crew in the new tank and let it go until early this week. It had a full cycle, diatom bloom and die off. After the parameters all returned to appropriate levels + a week more, I moved everything over. The question I have is about the new setup, what if anything should I do differently, and how you feel about the setup.
It is a 90 gallon, 2 large Koralia 2 power heads, and 1 small power head just to change up currents. It is an overflow system that falls through a sock, with an Octopus sump protein skimmer, housed in a 29 gallon sump/refugium.
<A good skimmer choice.>
Misc. other items, such as heater, auto top off pump, etc.... First question would actually be regarding the auto top off, it uses about a gallon per day. Everything I read states this is normal but just confirming.
<I use darn near that in a 65, not unusual but I have an open top, no glass lid.  Fish have to be
carefully chosen to avoid placing known jumpers in the system.>
 I am aware that it is too difficult to answer this question intelligently due to humidity, lighting heat, surface area, splash, etc.... just want a feeling.
<As above.>
I have T5 HO lighting.
(2) 48" - 12,000K 54W Sun Wave Bulbs
(3) 36" - 39W Super Blue
Actinic 460 Bulbs
(1) 36" - 39W Super Violet
(1) O3 Actinic 420 Bulb
<I would have chose four 14K lamps and leave the remainder the same which still leaves you
with 3 lamps in the 420-460nm range.  Blue lighting has a lower intensity (PAR) than white lighting so you are lowering the PAR/PUR ratio for little benefit.>
Probably Close to 200 Lbs of live rock, half of which is now from old tank that was performing optimally. I have stony and soft corals from the old tank and am wondering if I am limited at all by lighting for any potential corals/mushrooms, for the new tank.
<As with most systems, corals requiring lower light levels should be placed on the bottom and gradiently work up with
more light demanding corals.>
In the old tank I have gotten into the very fun hobby of coral fragging. I especially enjoy the Zoanthids, and stony (common name here I know) Bird's nest. It is amazing how fast the stony coral really grows, and I usually have 4-5 frags a month I bring in to the LFS and trade for another piece of rock, or maybe a cool new coral.
<A good trade off.>
I supplement the tank with iodine, calcium, alk, etc.
<Does the etc. include magnesium?>
The fish are all fed with a frozen food, Rod's food (maybe local I believe so you may not have heard of it), it is a blend of Mysis and brine shrimp, some algae, and other healthy products.
<I've heard many good reports on Rod's Food.>
I just break off a little chunk and set it in some tank water, then pour it in when it thaws out nicely. The fish love it, they almost turn up their noses when I am in a hurry and feed them flakes now. (Spoiled!)
Final question, which is actually two. I have a mated pair of tomatoes - (successfully hosting a pink tip Haitian), six line wrasse, algae blenny, and red spotted Hawkfish... plus inverts. I love triggerfish but have always assumed the entire line inappropriate for my tank.
The fish store says that a Niger, or Blue-Jaw <Throat> trigger would be acceptable. Even if from an aggression standpoint these two would be ok, it is responsible to get a fish now knowing that in 2-3 years it would outgrow the tank and I would have to bring it back to the fish store?
<I would not.  Too much stress created in removing them.  Would likely have to remove most rock to net them.>
I have heard mixed opinions on this with many saying the only irresponsible thing would be to leave it in a tank that is too small in 2 years. I would like your opinion on this before I made any moves towards getting one.
<I would not want Triggerfish in a reef tank.  Crabs, shrimp, etc will all become meals and triggers have
a habit of wanting to move rock in hopes of finding a morsel of food.>
Thank you again and I hope everything is going well for you all. Have a great weekend!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
*Justin Morton

New Reef Set up & Home Construction 7/9/12
Dear Bob & Crew,
<Hi Joe>
Hope that you are enjoying the summer and taking time for your usual travels. It has been quite miserable here in KS with temperatures in the mid to upper 100's.
<Been pretty much the same here but in the high 90s and humid.>
Thank you so much for all of your past sage wisdom! My current 54 gallon reef is dominated with several Euphyllia species, many of which are becoming monsters, needing a significant tank upgrade.
My wife and I have decided to begin building a house (we just purchased the lot) and much planning has already gone into the new aquarium. The tank will be an in-wall reef, located in the basement, directly next to the wet-bar, with hopefully, viewing panels on the front and bar-side. The dimensions will be 72"L x 18"H x 18"W at around 110 gallons. I'm looking at Glass Cages at this point for the manufacturer.
<I would get more than one quote.>
This will be a fantastic opportunity to build the basement around the aquarium, making it the focal point, as well as being an integral part of the architecture. The tank will be located in the mechanical room, allowing enough space for several items (quarantine tank, sump, filtration, water vats, etc.) and will not require a separate fish-room to be built, saving space in the family room.
I just had a few questions that I'm sure you can easily address:
1) Would an Eheim 1260 (640 gph) be sufficient for the following filtration? 36"x15"x15" sump w/built in 12 gallon refugium,
<No, I would be looking at a pump of around 1500gph.  This will allow for head loss and you will have the ability to throttle the flow down if needed with a ball/gate valve.>
 single corner overflow with 2, 1.5" drains.
<Definitely two overflows in the corners or a larger one in the center and two drains as you state.>
 I would like to keep the flow somewhat low in the sump and allow the prop pumps to supply most of the circulation. Would 640 gph may be too low or high for this setup?
<Too low.>
This is my first attempt at an internally plumbed system
w/sump. I already own the sump, although it is not in use currently. I realize that sump based refugiums are not the best (fantastic write up in "Reef Invertebrates" by the way!) but I would like to use this set-up to cut costs.
2) What would you recommend having done by the contractors during the construction phase in the fish room? The things that I've thought of are, a) plumbing a portable sink to be installed with open drain,
<I'd plumb the drain to the sewer line.>
 b) creating a dedicated circuit for the system, c) adding several power outlets to the side and sump area, d) installing an electric fan in ceiling to be vented to exterior,
<Consider boxing in the canopy with an exhaust fan to the outside to remove heat generated by the strong lighting you will require for Euphylliids.  The back or non viewing side of the canopy should be hinged for easy access to the lighting, fan, and tank.>
 e) having an RO system plumbed in (this is my first attempt at a personal RO system as well). The builder has already estimated $1800 for plumbing the RO system, which is not accurate.
<Geez, I guess not, just for plumbing in 1/8" tubing feed and drain line. 
I would incorporate a reservoir with a lid into the mechanical room to store the RO water along with an auto shut off which would shut off water flow to the RO when the water reaches a specified level.  You can then use this reservoir to mix your salt water and pump it into the aquarium.  A 20 gallon reservoir will be sufficient and can be in the form of a 20 gallon aquarium. This will also require a float valve to be plumbed in to the RO feed line.  The float valve will reside in the reservoir and is adjustable in height.  Most on-line etailers handle these devices. This will not be hard plumbed but in the form of 1/8" tubing with John Guest fittings.>
 I'm assuming that I need to clarify more. Besides the unit itself, I would only need the water input plumbed, my storage vat, and a drain for waste water, correct? I was planning on using the basement sump for this.
This is a large project for me, but I'm sure that it will be extremely rewarding.
<Have you read here and related articles in the header?
 Thank you so much!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re New Reef Set up & Home Construction 7/10/12
Thank you James!
<You're welcome Joe.>
I appreciate your expertise and time. Just a few follow up questions if you'd be so kind.
I've attached a pic of the sump. The manufacturer rated it at 400-600 GPH which is, I assume for the refugium section. Would it be possible to use a 1500 GPH pump (roughly) and still use the refugium section? I'm almost positive that this much flow would disturb the 4" sand bed that I wanted to use. Perhaps a DSB will not be possible with this set up.
<You will need to tee off from the output of the pump and run a separate line to the refugium.  You can control the flow to the refugium with a gate/ball valve.  Mmm, I have second thoughts now.  Can you send me another photo looking down into the sump?  It may be possible to separate the refugium bay in to two separate bays with a piece of acrylic.>
I would prefer to have a single overflow for aesthetics but can definitely do two. If a single overflow was large enough, wouldn't it serve the same purpose as two smaller ones?
<You will have better surface scavenging if you have one in each corner. 
If you needed to work on one overflow due to a leak or other problem, you would still be able to run the system as long as proper valves/unions are installed into the plumbing.>
I will consider the canopy option that you mentioned. I'm sure that it will be better in the long run.
I will definitely use the float valve in the freshwater vat as well- very good point.
<Yes, it's very easy to forget that you are making RO water and you do not need a flood.>
I may have additional questions that pop up as the building process commences. Unforeseen issues seem to always come up during construction!
<Yes, and do plan your plumbing well, much easier now than once everything is set up and running.  Again, it's advisable to buy a pump larger than what you need as there will be head loss due to the plumbing.>
Thanks again!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Expertise Request. <Next> Addition/s to a reef set up     5/14/12
I know this isn't the proper way to run a reef tank but I have a gorgeous 180 Reef. I have over 100 fish in my tank with over 75 colonies of coral.
It's awesome. I have a horse trough in the basement for filtration with a refugium and rock sump which gives me an extra 200 gallons of filtration in the system along with a 4 foot skimmer and a bio-pellet reactor.
Is there an additional piece of equipment that I can add to the system to ensure stability and low levels of phosphate and nitrate? As you can image, the feeding load required on this tank is heavy (about a pound of Mysis and a can of green flake every week).
<Ah yes... I'd definitely have an ozonizer, dryer, ORP measure/metering here>

I've heard there are reactors that are made for this purpose or I've heard of additional types of organisms that can really soak up the crap.
<Do search, read on WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Upgrading fish tank, best way to transport animals into new tank/Moving 5/5/12
Hello crew my name is Ben
<Hello Ben>
and I want to thank you for this website as it has answered many questions without me writing to you... but I need help with my latest question. Currently I have a 90 gallon display with a 20 gallon sump and I have the following marine animals: Coral Beauty, Green Mandarin, 8 Blue Chromis, 2 Mocha Clowns, Randall's Goby, Malu Anemone, Pocillopora Crab, 3 Nassarius snails, 3 Red Banded Trochus snails, Skunk Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp, Brittle Star, Cynarina, Humilis Acropora (I believe), Red Cap Montipora Pocillopora Coral, Hyacinth Birdsnest, Hawkins Echinata, Star Polyps, Zoa's, and Mushrooms.
My new tank is 180 gallons (6x2x2), acrylic, drilled and currently has a 45 gallon sump. Please mind you this is not set up yet, just gathering the equipment. I believe I am going to find a different sump that will be slightly larger but my current 45 gallon is still more than 25% volume of the display, which from my reading is recommended.
<Should be adequate.>
I will have live sand and live rock in the sump along with Chemi Pure Elite. I do not like the idea of having a sump sock or bio balls so I will not be utilizing either.
<I'm with you on that one.  Socks just clog up too fast, constantly cleaning them.>
My return pump is going to be a MagDrive (undecided size). Currently I do not use a chiller, and do not intend to, but what are your thoughts on a calcium reactor or phosphate reactor?
<Calcium reactors do work but there is fiddling involved.  If they are not set up and adjusted properly,
dangerous pH drops can happen and/or calcium levels may not be maintained.
My own goal has always been to have the least equipment maintenance possible, the better. As to the phosphate reactor, they are effective and can serve as both a carbon reactor as well as a phosphate reactor at the same time.>
I have read little on both and I am undecided if it is worth the money to invest.
<I strongly suggest you read/learn about calcium reactors before investing the amount of money a good system will cost.  The phosphate/chemical reactor I would recommend is the NextReef.  They are very well constructed and an excellent value. 
Lastly, I plan on building or incorporating an auto-top-off for the sump, again undecided on which way to go.
<This is a worthwhile investment as evaporation is a daily occurrence. 
They aren't too expensive as all that is necessary is a peristaltic pump, float switch, and water reservoir.
 Many folks DIY these as peristaltic pumps can be had on EBay at very reasonable prices.>
I will be purchasing an AquaMaxxAM250 which is rated for 250 gallons and have two EcoTech MP40's.
<Actually they are rated for 100-300 gallons depending on your bio load. 
If your tank will be well stocked, I would advise a higher capacity skimmer.>
As for lighting, I currently have two AI Super Blue modules and I have yet to decide if I want to purchase 3 Radion's or buy 2 more AI systems. I heard AI is coming out with a module called Vega so as of right now I am waiting to see what the specs are before I make my decision.
<Mmm, my personal opinion is that the Vega Color has some gimmickry going for it.  I'd rather spend my money on more energy in the useful PUR range rather than a light show.  I've never had a hands on opportunity with this unit but this is just my initial feeling on it. Take a look here along with viewing the video.
http://reefbuilders.com/2012/05/04/full-spectrum-ai-vega-color/ >
 I am going to maintain my current 4-5 inch deep sand bed and add more live rock as well.
<Sounds good.>
For my main question, what is the best way to move my animals into the new tank when it is time?
<Basically to let the new system run a few days and adjust water parameters so they are close to your current system before adding the animals.  Since the new system will have all "new" water, I'd drip acclimate the animals before adding to the new system.>
 My thoughts were to save 10-20 gallons of water from my weekly 10 gallon water change and hold the water in my designated fish trash can (there is a powerhead in the trash can for water movement). I would then use that water along with the water from the old system to fill the 180 gallon tank. My reasoning for holding onto the old water is to reduce the chance of the new tank recycling and losing all my animals.
<As long as you add the rock, some sand, and water from the old system I do not believe you will lose your nitrification capabilities.>
My main goal is to upgrade the tank and lower the chance of losing my animals since I know it is possible to lose some when they are placed in a different system.
<If you follow my suggestions, this should not happen.  Do add the least aggressive animals first and I would not add all animals the same day.  My last tank transfer took five days to complete and have not lost anything.>
 Also I have heard/read you should buy all new live sand when you set up a new system because when you move the sand your unsettling organic matter, ammonia, nitrite and nitrates.
<I always prefer adding all new sand along with some sand from the old system for the very reason you stated above.> My thoughts are to keep my current live sand since it has lots of good bacteria it.
<I would not add all of the sand, will be a mess and nitrates are likely to shoot up.  Not worth the time and expense  rinsing  the old sand with salt water.  Rinsing the old sand with fresh water will destroy most if not all of the beneficial bacteria.>
Thank you for your help and take care!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

New 5x2x2 Brace-less Reef Tank Plumbing... Rdg. 1/9/12
Hello Crew,
I have a 5ft x2ft x2ft rimless tank on order. I intend to create an sps dominated reef system with only a few fish. In keeping with a minimalist approach my aim is to have the least amount of hardware possible in or on the tank. I am aiming for a flow rate of x10 tank volume per hour through the sump, and water movement within the tank of say x25 tank volume per hour preferably without using power heads. The tank will be drilled through the base and I am intending to use two or even three 1.5 inch Durso overflow stand pipes without a weir inside the tank.
<May be noisy...>
The main pump I have in mind is a Royal Exclusiv 14000 Red Dragon.
Obviously I will need some serious plumbing.
<Mmm, serious?>
What are your thoughts about my proposed set-up?
<Thus far... can work...>
What sizes of pump, skimmer, reactor, and phosphate remover would be appropriate?

<... this is all posted/archived on WWM. Please learn to/use the search tool and indices. There are some examples, lessons on how to do so linked here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm
Do you recommend larger sizes as better in general.
<Larger sizes in what? Mechanicals and controllers? If so, more so than smaller...>
By that I mean exceeding the manufacturers tank size specification and buying one or two model
sizes larger? A diagram would help me a great deal.
<See WWM re>

My tank will include live rock, DeltecTC series skimmer, Deltec PF series fluidising calcium reactor and DeltecFR series phosphate remover, RO unit, Kalkwasser stirrer,CO2 unit, auto top-up mechanism, and mains attachment.
<Sounds nice...>
Thank you for reading this and hopefully I will hear from you in due course.
Robert Waugh
<If you have a great deal of time, start perusing/reading from top-down here:
Bob Fenner>
Re: Setting up an RO system, not: Reef set up period/gen. "Getting WWM" 2/1/12

Fine but before I look this is what I think.
Stable sustainable habitats are generally large very diverse, complex, adaptive, dynamic, best left to their own devices and yet are sensitive to foreign specie in particular predatory ones e.g. Australia. Galapagos
Very small habitats e.g. ocean bed volcanic vents are usually dependent on one or two specific conditions or processes, simple, static with relatively little diversity and not adaptable but virtually immune to foreign specie<s> .
A reef tank is a small simple habitat containing part of a large complex habitat i.e. a reef. so unless you know ALL the variables it requires active manipulation and management to stay alive. Further each tank is a unique habitat thus what's good for one ain't necessarily good for another.
Now is that all a load of cods wallop?
This is what I envisage to be the set up of choice right now;
* DSB 6"+ bed and as large as is feasible, located in sump of remotely.
water flow through it should be relatively slow: How slow? Fed from return pump via T? Aragonite sugar sand? Minimal, if any, disturbance of sand bed though opinions differ here. My take is anaerobes which is what the DSB is about will obviously abhor oxygen.
* Macroalgae preferably one of the Caulerpas family. Avoid it colonising DT. Grow on DSB. Light reverse.
* Phosphate required for algae so RO only, not DI
Presumably skimmer and calcium reactor are still needed?
Still not found your variation. Its an enigma!
<Wrapped ala a babushka... Read NMA RI... you'll be that much closer. B>
Re: Setting up an RO system 2/1/12
Alternatively, since I haven't received the book as yet, you could just tell me what you consider the to be the state of the art set up and then I can go ahead.
I understand now that it's a compromise but let me put it another way. Had you a free hand, no budget restrictions, and leaning heavily toward natural processes what would you do for a 6x2x2 tank to make it shine in your eyes? Time is of the essence -but you probably won't say.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lgsysfiltrs.htm
"and the linked files above">
Meanwhile I will have another go
Large DSB ?1:1 the DT for instance, and the entire sump? Flow rate not that important for DSB provided don't stir it?
Large 1:2 Refugium in sump for Chaeto reverse lit. Can you have another macro say Caulerpa
<... wouldn't use>
on 24/7 light as well as Chaeto obviously separate from one another
Large Skimmer
Large Calcium reactor
RO no DI
<... all archived. Please use the site like the other 30-40k people a day>
Re: Setting up an RO system 2/2/12

<Big R>
Whoa! I am using the site like 40000 others. I am reading 3 or 4 hours a day at least and my partner is reluctant to engage in conversation with me for fear of catching reef fever. If I say any word that remotely relates to aquaria she leaves the room- not really but you get my drift.
There are conflicting ideas, views, opinions, and statements.
<Ah yes; and thank goodness. Understanding the underlying principles, science, virtues and drawbacks in actual application is key. Don't get bogged down... focus on one aspect (per your desired results, budget...)
finish there, and move on to the next>
Searching for answers and clarification is the motive for, I imagine, most of the 40k to use your resource. Answers are not what your site is about-rather its about information and opinion.
<! This is so!>
There are few definitive answers - you must make up your own mind.
Your site is stuffed to the gunwales with information and opinion and there is far more on it than anywhere else. A free resource of this quality is a tremendous tool and excludes no-one.
<Now you're getting a bit buttery>
Ok, I tried to get you to tell me what to do even though I knew you wouldn't. That was disrespectful. I apologise. There are plenty of souls who would benefit from your advice. I will not bother you again.
<Not a bother Robert. As you state, I and others here are not to "tell you what to do", but proffer suggestions and inspiration re what we might do given similar circumstances. Cheers! BobF>
Re: Setting up an Reef system 2/2/12

Ok Bob
The Brazilians are coming to a reef near you with beautiful tanks having abandoned DSB, remote or otherwise in favour of Siporax - apparently or so I'm told.
<A very nice product... one-time purchase, but a tad expensive. The better deal w/ the aragonitic sand is its capacity to buffer pH and add some biomineral content>
Now I like the sound of this as its footprint is smaller, and you can bung it in a microwave to clean it if necessary. So having just got my head around DSBs I now think maybe as a biological nitrate digester Siporax might be better if the flow is slow enough for anaerobes ?
<Again... maybe some Siporax, but would make the bulk of a DSB w/ carbonate sand>
use peristaltic pump; possibly combined with a bio-pellet nitrate reactor.
<You could... not the easiest... to maintain all this gear... not
necessary... or advised for you at this junction>
Adding a refugium containing macro-algae is also do-able but I am thinking that might be over-kill as there might not be any nitrate for the Chaeto to eat. Comments?
<Best to culture some>
Two pumps are better than one so as I will have two return bulkheads high up on the back I can plumb one to each pump so no need for a split or Y connector. The pumps will be wired to separate circuits so if one is fused the other will still work. ok?
Creating a surface gyre by placing internal pumps near surface at one end and facing same direction is your recommendation but to switch direction would require two or more at each end on say a 5 hour cycle so at least 4 pumps in all, correct?
<If desired, yes>
Can you recommend which pumps would best serve this purpose in my 6x2x2?
<Money no object? VorTech or Tunze... an issue, Hydor/Koralia...
in-between... B>

Re: Setting up an Reef system 2/2/12

Ok Bob
The Brazilians are coming to a reef near you with beautiful tanks having abandoned DSB, remote or otherwise in favour of Siporax - apparently or so I'm told.
<A very nice product... one-time purchase, but a tad expensive. The better deal w/ the aragonitic sand is its capacity to buffer pH and add some biomineral content>
Now I like the sound of this as its footprint is smaller, and you can bung it in a microwave to clean it if necessary. So having just got my head around DSBs I now think maybe as a biological nitrate digester Siporax might be better if the flow is slow enough for anaerobes ?
<Again... maybe some Siporax, but would make the bulk of a DSB w/ carbonate sand>
use peristaltic pump; possibly combined with a bio-pellet nitrate reactor.
<You could... not the easiest... to maintain all this gear... not
necessary... or advised for you at this junction>
Adding a refugium containing macro-algae is also do-able but I am thinking that might be over-kill as there might not be any nitrate for the Chaeto to eat. Comments?
<Best to culture some>
Two pumps are better than one so as I will have two return bulkheads high up on the back I can plumb one to each pump so no need for a split or Y connector. The pumps will be wired to separate circuits so if one is fused the other will still work. ok?
Creating a surface gyre by placing internal pumps near surface at one end and facing same direction is your recommendation but to switch direction would require two or more at each end on say a 5 hour cycle so at least 4 pumps in all, correct?
<If desired, yes>
Can you recommend which pumps would best serve this purpose in my 6x2x2?
<Money no object? VorTech or Tunze... an issue, Hydor/Koralia...
in-between... B>
MY TANK... ongoing, re reef set-up, Siporax use 2/10/12

The story so far sps dominant reef
This is what I have ordered.
6'x2'x2' DT rimless euro-braced 70g sump
DaStaCo calcium reactor
Deltec 30/70s ext skimmer +self-cleaning head
4x Ai Sol 40/70 LED
2x Deltec E-flow 10 [32mm outlet]
4x Vortech MP40s
2x Return bulkheads 32mm
4x Overflow to sump 40mm
1x Fail safe overflow to drain
RD/DI unit SpectraPure 90
LiterMeter set up as Scott at SpectraPure advises for auto top off and water exchange.
Live Rock
This is what I am undecided about: Siporax in tower or canister bio-filter at high rate ?
<Not at a "high rate"... Likely there is no further benefit to be gotten by having more than 10-20 volumes of flow through this medium per hour... in fact, less is better in terms of denitrification>
how high for aerobic activity and combined with very slow flow 1 or 2 litres per hour passive bypass for anaerobes
<Oh! You're ahead of me as usual...>
DSB floor o DT
DSB the entire sump
<More the merrier>
Remote DSB
<Better for maintenance>
<A real plus>
Are you in general in favour of multiple filtration methods and sometimes more than one of a particular type e.g. DSB and Siporax [when set up as low flow]
<Oh yes>
re: MY TANK, Siporax ap. 2/11/12

Dr. Bodo Schnell of Sera GmBh who manufacture Siporax states:
"The setup is pretty simple: The first step is mechanical filtration, e.g. sera biopur (clay tubes) or sera biofibres. The amount depends on the waste amount, practical values range from 0.5 liters - 1 liter. The main step is biological filtration with sera Siporax, and in this case I recommend about 4 liters plus a relatively slow flow rate (200 - 400 liters per hour).
After a few weeks (activation period) this will take nitrate values down considerably.
There is, however, another way: A separate slow flux filter in addition to the normal biofilter. This filter (a passive bypass system is OK) should then hold 2 liters sera Siporax, with a water flow rate of only 1 - 2 liters (no typing error!) per hour. This setup will produce virtually nitrate-free water."
There you have it. So its similar in function to the deeper layer of DSB..
The LFS suggests using a tower rather than canisters and as the tank is not yet built that would be possible. None the wiser? Me neither
<Have added the quotation marks above... Yes to more Siporax (or other media for the purposes... aerobic and anaerobic digestion of nitrogenous et al. metabolites... And yes to slower flow rates, confining the media to a reaction chamber or not... but, as I've mentioned before, there is a need for alkaline reserve (carbonate, bicarbonate principally) and alkaline earth materials (principally Ca and Mg), and other rate-limiting materials (celebratedly Carbon)... to make all this work efficiently. Hence the suggestion of a fine DSBed of suitable material alone or in addition>
My thinking on it was that a Siporax system like this is accessible, simple to remove, and easy to maintain. The product was born and died and has now been revived, so always looking for lost causes I would give it a try if I could set it up right.
<I gather you're a "high tech" sort of guy; subject/susceptible to the influences of others to degrees, products that "flash"... I urge you to consider a more "biology", less technology approach, approaches... there are "many roads to Rome", but some cost a good deal more w/o granting a nice view, transit enroute. B>
Re: MY TANK... reef set-up 2/11/12

Urging more biology and less technology is advice I agree with entirely.
But I am getting buffeted from both sides with the LFS man trying to sell and my tank builder denouncing DSBs in favour of Tritons chemistry set, and urging me to stick to one filtration method whereas I agree with you that more filtration methods is the better approach.
<Mmm... well... the usual stmt.s here: You've got to become a knowledgeable, discerning consumer... sort opinions, commentary from "fact"... For the sum of money and potential emotional investment... what's it worth to you?>
The best idea I now think is a big sump almost the whole of which is set up as DSB and Refugium either half for each or combined refugium in/on DSB, allowing separate space for return suction. But the flow rate for DSB should, I thought, be slow whereas for Chaeto its got to tumble
<Nah; not necessary to tumble>
: if I make the Chaeto tumble and its on a DSB wont the sand tumble too?
<... depends on how the areas are arranged, how water is directed to/through them>
How do I set a flow rate if the whole sump is a DSB/refugium, a tee off the skimmer outlet with gate valve, assuming skimmer first to receive overflows?
<One way>
If the Ref/DSB is remote then a tee off return with a gate valve would sort it ?
<A gate or ball valve>
As for Ca. that's the DaStaCo..?Mg C haven't got that far yet!
<Take your time>
In what way am I being too tech and not biological? The mechanical is skimmer the bio LR Siporax DSB Refugium the chemical DaStaCo and the tech is the pumps and plumbing. So where am I off here?
<What is off, far? You're doing fine as far as I'm aware. B>
Re: MY TANK 2/11/12

Am also coming round to the view that a tank is to be a DSB else what is the alternative a BB is the only other way is it not as 1" or 2" sand is no good is it? Comment?
<All gone over and over on WWM>

THE SET UP:AMBITIOUS OR JUST PLAIN STUPID, ongoing reef set up      5/21/12
Bob, Hi
Well its in and presently full of tap water and undergoing trials to
identify any problems. Here are some photos of the set-up. More to follow.
Salient points
1 Display Tank [1100x1100x600] contains a weir/overflow exiting through 2
returns base bulkheads [yeah I know through the back but the builder went
behind mine] to Sump directly below.

2 Display Tank is fed through the base by Deltec E-Flow 10 located in Sump.
Pump is at max power [80w] with a Stop Valve on outlet side and terminates in 2 directional pipes. It has two returns [one fitted with a gate valve]
to sump
3.Sump  contains the Deltec E-flow 16: the main circulatory pump to the Refugium  
4. Sump has an internal weir to accept the returns from both DT and Refugium
5.Sump can hold contents of the DT beyond the weir, and the Refugium second chamber downstream of its weir [i.e. the compartment containing the Deltec 30/70s external skimmer [option is then to put skimmer outside refugium] as well as its own contents
6. Refugium  has lowermost bulkhead through the side for the primary return to the small compartment of the sump the neck points downwards remaining submerged, hopefully, and it is  fitted with a Gate Valve. Above: a second return to sump adjustable in height above the primary, is upturned [? risk of syphon] <Mmm, not much, no>  and set at a level  appropriate to the skimmer. This return is into  the large compartment and has no gate valve.
A third and final  through the side  fail safe bulkhead lies near the top and drains to waste.
7.Refugium [2000x700] is one floor above DT/Sump and has two chambers separated by a weir -the larger chamber for macroalgae and the other presently housing the Skimmer Four EcoTech MP40s will provide the speed and a Deltec 30/70s external [with self-cleaning head] the sp
So what are the problems you foresee with this setup and what are the errors?
<The image: REF BACK UP OVERFLOW (#5); where does the overflow water go to? How does it rejoin the circulation?>
That is after the obvious one which is that I don't know what I am doing, have  gone too fast and will likely crash and  burn
<And you, BobF>

See bold text.
<There is none shown on our end>
The back up ref. overflow is to waste, you can see the down turned ref. to sump primary  pipe return on image ref. return, a few inches above is the upturned overflow to sump which will siphon and needs something to stop the noise.
Then high above near top is the fail safe bulkhead to waste on the image you mention. Still sorting levels so that the skimmer don't float but has right level of water to work and not expose pump impeller. Think may put skimmer outside tank??
<Can be done>
 Glass work and plumbing by Vince Thomas  of Glass Connections in UK.
<A very clean install. B>

The point is, I think,  that once an appropriate level is set for the sump, which is determined by total volume of system, such that the total volume of the DT internal weir + total volume of refugium chamber distal to the baffle [+ or - set skimmer level] comfortably fits into the sump given the appropriate the set level in sump then the ultimate fail safe operates as none of the three tanks can overflow unless you stick the hose in there, so the emergency overflows are truly redundant because the water can never reach them.
<Hopefully so; yes>
I think. Ref. tank chamber proximal to baffle stays level with baffle, DT stays level with top of weir. Now if all drains block then the emergency overflows would come in handy I suppose. But with zero torque (in air) the Deltec pumps and if something  blocks the pump then controller cuts power or at least that's what its supposed to do, either way it wont pump anymore. How do I stop the siphon in refugium?
<An air port... to break the siphon>
Here are photos with
system off i.e. no pumps.
<Not much of a worry as stated prior. BobF>

Consulting Work, reef planning 12/22/11
Hey Bob!
Thank you and the crew for all your time and effort into creating this site.
I literally have spent weeks reading the different post. In addition I have also purchased both Paletta's (The New Marine Aquarium) and your book (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist) ... both great easy reads.
<Am glad you find them of value/use>
*Question:* Do you provide one on one consulting services via phone? If so, how much?
<I do not, but do provide what help I can/may here, on the Net, gratis>
I'm in the process and have been for the last 2 months on planning my 120 gallon reef aquarium and would like to review my plan with a trusted/knowledgeable source as well and get a list of recommended products/parts that will be needed.
<Oh! Send the plans, your comments, questions along. Am sure we can help you and in the process several others>
Before I drop a ton of cash I want to make sure everything will work properly. I have spoken with several different LFS both large/small but they seem to want to push the product they have on their shelves.
Kevin R. McGlothlin
<And hope to see you at the 2012 MACNA in TX. Bob Fenner>

First 65 Gallon Build -- 10/22/11
Hello Wet Web Crew,
<Hello Steve>
First off let me say I appreciate your site and all the great help and advice you give out. I am currently planning (and slowly purchasing) my first reef tank.
<Great news!>
My equipment plan is as follows:
1) Glass Drilled Tank - 36" x 18" x 24"
2) Lighting - 36" AquaticLife HO T5 Six Lamp (I have purchased this already)
3) Water Movement - (2x) EcoTech VorTech MP10wES (I have purchased these already)
<All good so far>
4) Skimmer / Sump - Reef Dynamics INS 180 Skimmer & Sump w/ 9 Gallon Refugium (this system package includes a EHEIM Model 3000 return pump) - I have no experience with this pump though
<An excellent/ reliable pump>
5) Two Little Fishies PhosBan Reactor to run Carbon in
<I don't like fluidizing carbon.... it can break into small pieces>
6) A Kalk Reactor for make-up water (I have not done a lot of research on this yet however)
<Do.. research and be careful with Kalk>
7) 90 - 100 lbs of Live Rock (Not sure where I am going to purchase this yet, I would like Fiji but my LFS has Tonga)
8) 5" DSB
<Is this in the display or the sump? If confined to the sump, you would be better with an inch of mud IMO. If in the display then I would go deeper if you can>
What substrate would you recommend?
<Very fine aragonite is what I use in mine.... have you researched Shimek on the web? If you are at less than 8 inches then the finer the better IMO>
I wouldn't mind including a burrowing fish, would they need a mix for their burrows? Or would this ill advised for the proper function of a DSB?
<Ahhh, this must be in the display... very interesting... something small might be ok, perhaps a shrimp/ goby pair?>
9) As well as misc. other items I'm sure I am overlooking
However my main question is about an Indo-Pacific Biotope.
<Great! This is what my tank/ system is based on!
I would like to replicate an area of the Indo-Pacific (with a Banggai Cardinalfish in mind). Is there a reference that I can refer to for the corals that would naturally occur in this area.
<The species is limited geographically, so you should be able to find such info easily... you have to compile it yourself by looking at dive sites, reef books, perusing the web, but these fishes can be found amongst Diadema sea urchin spines, perhaps with Seagrasses which would fit with the DSB and also the shrimp/ goby.. a bommie w/ some Montipora digitata... Sea cucumbers.. Pipefish.. there are many such possibilities for you to explore here>
I would like to replicate this as closely as possible but I am unsure of what types of corals / invertebrates to plan for.
<You should be able to find plenty>
Thanks a million for all your help and have a great day!
<No problem>

Reef System Question... set-up, mucho reading 10/19/11
Dear WWM,
I have a fifty-five gallon fish-only saltwater aquarium for over five years now. I wish to begin a reef environment. I did some research and shortly afterwards purchased two Power Compact 130 watt, one 10k and one Actinic Blue light systems.
<I'd switch out the actinic for more white... See WWM re...>
I have read that most Coral and Anemone need roughly 4watts per gallon
<This is an archaic measure... what one needs to be concerned w/ is the production of useful light energy. Look up "PAR" in regards to marine aquariums>
but don't want to make a fatal decision so I am still apprehensive. About 25-35% of the water is changed every two weeks. The Ammonia-0, Nitrite-0, Nitrate-5 to 15 ppm, pH-8.4, Alkalinity-190, Salinity-1.024, Temp.-80. I have a large filter that hangs on the back and a smaller one on the opposite side of the tank to maintain some flow, I also intend to buy a power head soon. There are roughly twenty pounds of live rock in the system currently. I am aware this isn't enough and plan to buy more soon. The substrate is Crushed Coral. Only living organisms inside the system includes: 1 Domino Damsel,
<Keep your eye on this fish; becomes very mean>
1 Four Stripe Damsel, 1 Pencil Sea Urchin,
4 Turbo Snails ( I believe they are the Zebra variety). My intent was to purchase a small colony of Mushroom Coral due to the lower light and low flow requirements; however I was curious as to whether or not I could house a Bubble Tip Anemone or Long Tentacle Anemone as a "starter".
<... see WWM re these species. Anemones are not good beginner organisms>
I am aware of the fact they need to eat zooplantkon.
<Mmm, no>
I found some inconsistencies on the internet and thought a second opinion would be helpful. I do plan to move up to Metal Halide Lighting once my pocket book begins to stabilize. I would like to end with a Reef System that had even SPS corals in it (several years from now and probably after an upgrade to a 250+gallon). Is all of this unrealistic? Thanks for your time.
<William, please learn to/use the search tool (on every page) and indices on WWM... ALL your answers and much more you need to know, as well as corrections to your present understanding are archived there. Bob Fenner>

New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11
<Hello Kristy>
Ok, I have read over your site a several times, and seem to still be a little confused <and> was looking for some clarification if you don't mind.
<Not at all.>
We are setting up a 48x24x30 tank drilled with one over flow. We plan to make this a reef tank with live rock, fish, and corals. I am probably going to have about 200lbs plus of live rock in the display.
First could you make pluming <plumbing> size and valve connections,
<Can I make them??>
I know this is all up for opinion, but I am sure you are wise having many years in the hobby. I would like for this set up to be easy for water changes, and quick shut offs if necessary.
<Always a good idea to use ball or gate valves on drains and returns.>
Furthermore, From my understanding Wet Web Media says you should skim the raw water from tank first, meaning that the first compartment in my sump should have the skimmer only?
<Is a good idea.>
Then I should move on to rubble, then a refugium, then return pump? Do you need to use a sock filter or anything before the water hits the protein skimmer?
<Some folks use sock filters but they need to be cleaned weekly.>
We were always taught bio balls first then skim, please clarify.
<Bio balls won't be needed with all the live rock you plan on using. The rock will take care of denitrification.>
It is also my understanding that bio balls are a nitrate factory and a think of the past, what should we use in place of them anything?
Next would you make a recommendation for a skimmer and pump and also a return pump for this style of system.
<I would need to know the drain size before I can recommend a pump size.
I would like to believe the drain is for a 1 1/2 inch pipe size. In a 150 gallon tank, a one inch drain is almost useless as it's only capable of draining about 350 gallons/hour depending on any plumbing restrictions.>
We need these items to produce little heat, be efficient, reliable and quite. One last question what should my refugium consist of, and can I avoid sand and mud in there?
<Personally, I would use either Walt Smith's Fiji Mud or Ecosystem's Miracle Mud. They are both beneficial to a refugium and to the system itself.>
Thanks for you help
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Kristy McCabe
Re New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11- 9/23/11

I am sorry, I forgot to include this in the first email but the plumbing holes are 1 1/2 inches for drain and return.
<If that is the actual hole size in the glass, that will only accommodate a bulkhead fitting for one inch pipe. This will not allow you to pump 1500gph which is what you should be striving for.
Your tank should have been set up for two 1 1/2" PVC pipe size bulkhead fittings for the drains and two 1/2" PVC pipe size returns. This would allow you to use a pump with an 3/4" outlet and tee off/reduce to ball valves to control the flow in each return line.
You will need to add powerheads to increase the flow rate in the system.
With your present set-up, I'd be looking at a pump somewhere in the 500gph range. I don't know if you have a budget for the pump, but if so, the Mag Drive pumps are affordable, reasonably quiet, and can be used externally or internally. If you have a drilled sump with a bulkhead fitting for the return pump, I'd go with an external pump which transfers very little heat into the system and frees up your sump space for other components. James (Salty Dog)>
Re New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11- 9/23/11

Ok, thanks again!
<You're welcome.>
One last question, I have purchased 3 Hydor Koralia 550gph power heads to increase flow. If budget is not a factor is there a better pump to purchase other than the Mag Drive, I have heard they are a bit noisy.
<The Eheim pumps are pretty quiet and efficient.>
Could you also make a protein skimmer recommendation.
<The AquaC, Vertex, Bubble King, Octopus, ASM, Deltec, and Tunze are all pretty good skimmers.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11- 9/23/11

<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Great, Thank you!

Aquarium Setup/Marine Setup, & stkg. 8/5/11
<Hello Max>
I was wondering if this would be a good setup for a reef aquarium.
90 Gal. 48" x 18" x 24"
<Better to have more area than height.>
(2) 150 watt heater
(2) Aqueon Circulation Pump
(2) Stick on thermometer
Test Kit
Bulk Reef Supply75 gpd Ro/Di 5 stage standard system
Marineland Reef Capable LED Lighting system
<I really do not believe this lighting is going to be intense enough to support some of your livestock in a 24" deep tank. Marineland now states on their site that this fixture produces a PAR level of 130 and Lux of 12,700 from a distance of 12 inches.
That is not enough light for most corals and clams especially when you consider that six HO, 39 watt, T5 lamps produce a light intensity (Lux) of 24,650 at approximately 20 inches. The Reef Capable fixture may be fine for polyps, mushrooms, and Ricordea in shallow tanks and leads me to believe that is where the term "Reef Capable" comes in. Just my personal opinion and not that of Wet Web Media.>
10 Gallon Quarantine tank with sponge filter
Marineland C-360 Multistage aquarium canister filter
Instant Ocean Salt
AquaC Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Rio 1400 pump and Pre-Filter Eheim Wet and Dry Canister Filter 2229
<From an economic stand, I feel a sump would be much less expensive than both of those filters and offer much better air exchange and versatility. Sumps can be DIY'd from small aquariums so there is no real need to run out and buy a pre-made sump if budget is a concern.>
Live Rock and Sand
180 lbs Aquacultured Live Rock (Tampa Bay Saltwater)
90 lbs Live Sand (Tampa Bay Saltwater)
Clean Up Crew
(90) Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
(45) Astrea Snails
(4) Tiger Tail Sea Cucumbers
<The above will starve to death in a new system, and 90 crabs and 45 snails is a bit much even for an aged 90 gallon tank. I would not add any Cukes until this system has aged enough to provide a food supply for them, and then, only add one.>
(2) Serpent or Brittle Stars
(2) Peppermint Shrimp
Livestock - Coral
(2) Toadstool Leather Coral
(1) Button Polyp
(1) Mushroom Coral
(1) Tree Coral
(1) Cauliflower Colt Coral
(1) Yellow Fiji Leather Coral
(1) Green Zoanthid
(1) Yellow Colony Polyp
(1) Lavender Mushroom
(1) Bullseye Mushroom
<Do research lighting requirements for the above corals.>
Livestock - Inverts
(1) Longed Spine Sea Urchin
(1) Sponge
<In time, your live rock should provide sponge colonies if it is of good quality.>
(1) Giant Clam
<Not with your lighting selection.>
(2) Marble Sea Star
<Would not.>
(2) Feather Duster Worms
(1) Bubble Anemone
<Would not mix with other Cnidarians in that small a volume.>
Livestock - Fish
(4) Green Chromis
(1) Bicolor Blenny
(2) Royal Gramma
(1) Yellow Tang
(2) Ocellaris Clownfish
(2) Sleeper Banded Goby***
That's everything. Please let me know if anything is wrong, or it needs any additions.
<As stated above.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
*** I heard that they were good for the substrate, is that true?
<In the wild it feeds on a variety of tiny crustaceans in the substrate but isn't going to do much of anything else, and your substrate will not be teeming with tiny crustaceans for quite some time unless you seed it with such. The Brittle Starfish will do more in this regard.>
Re Aquarium Setup/Marine, reef Setup 8/5/11 - 8/8/11

Thank you so much.
<You're welcome.>
Wet Web Media has really helped. I took your help into consideration, and came up with this. Everything is the same, except for these changes.
120 gallon aquarium, 48 x 24 x 24
<Ah, 30 more gallons with more area.>
(4) Aqueon Circulation Pump, 500 gph
Aqualight Pro HQI/Compact Fluorescent/Lunar Light Fixture 48 Inches
<Should be fine if this is the model with two 150 watt HQI lamps. Keep in mind that PC technology is
rapidly being replaced by T5s which produce significantly more output than PCs.>
Coralife Super Skimmer Needle Wheel 125
<Border line with your water volume. Would look for something capable of handling a 180 gallon tank.>
120 lbs live rock
90 lbs live sand
(3) Serpent or brittle stars
(3) Peppermint Shrimp
(1) Cucumber
Caulerpa Algae
NO sleeper banded gobies
NO sponge
Now I have a few questions.
I am not a DIY kind of person. If I was to DIY a sump, what would I need, and what would it need to include?
<Best to take a look here and related articles/FAQs found in the footer.
And here. http://www.melevsreef.com/allmysumps.html>
If I was to buy a sump, what would it need to include?
<Look for one roomy enough to incorporate your protein skimmer and properly sized for your tank.>
How would I continue to provide chemical filtration?
<Choose a sump with provisions for using bagged chemical media.>
What fish/corals could/should I add with the added room?
<Will depend on the type of fishes you wish to keep. Best to choose which fish you would like and then read/learn about their needs/requirements and compatibility issues. Can all be
all found here on WWM. Our WWM index can be found here.
What do you mean by "Would Not" for the starfish?
<Would not add until you acquire some experience/knowledge, though brittle stars are fine, good detritus eaters.>
Is the anemone okay in this volume?
<System should age at least six months before adding an anemone, and again I caution you in mixing with other Cnidarians.>
I have heard about "boomies", what are those?
<Small caves, places to hide, etc. <<Stand alone reefs... "stacks of rock"... Bommies. RMF>>
James (Salty Dog)>

Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium 7/20/11
Hi Bob,
<Hey James>
I'll be touch and go for the next few days as I'm in the process of setting up a new Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium in our breakfast nook.
I might add that this unit is well engineered and constructed.
<I like this line as well>
Live rock arriving tomorrow from CA and FLA and then the curing process begins. The Fiji fancy fused rock looks very nice in the picture and I'm hoping what I get represents what the picture depicts.
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium 7/20/11
<Maybe you'd like to do a "stand in" for the small systems series I write for TFH or Ultramarine mag.s? And I've given some thought to trying/setting up a few to a bunch of these sorts of kits... Cheers, BobF>
Well I do plan on doing a review for CA on this system but not until I evaluate it for a few weeks. Never turned anything on yet except the T5s to ensure they operate. The six T5 HO lamps in this system are quite intense....very happy with it. What I found hard to believe is that these units are drop shipped from Red Sea and they actually sent it air freight. Heck, the pallet weighed 386 pounds and the air freight driver and I had a hell of a time getting it out of the semi. I might add that packaging is second to none, very well protected.
<Wow! Do make bunches of pix, keep good notes. Whom did you buy this from?>
I'm in the process of making RO water for this system with a new unit I just bought from Premium Aquatics. It's a three stage RO unit capable of 100gpd. I thought quite the bargain for 99.95. Take a peek here.
<A great deal. B>
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium
I bought this from Marine Depot in your neck of the woods. Good people, good service. J
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium
Yeeikes! Am going to count up my shekels and see if I can fit one in! B
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium
Keep counting that money up. :-) Lynn tells me she is looking forward to seeing you again at the conference in her neck of the woods. I understand you will be chumming with Fatherree up there, I'd like to meet him someday. J
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium
Seventeen hundred dollars!? Plus freight... and gravellllllll!? Do practice some flying and get on out w/ James and I dive/traveling! B
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium
Oh no, shipping was free/included in price. I did try to fly but my ears aren't big enough to get any lift. :-)
Re Red Sea Max 250 (66 gallon) turnkey aquarium 7/20/11
Heeee! Mine are!

Perry Chong reports from Aquarama Trade Show, Sing. 5/28/11
First prize Marine tank and the Grand Champion of the show. The shop that bred the discus got a few other prize from the Discus Category. Have you heard of Discus Ichiban before?
<I don't think so Per; will post to WWM w/ credit to you. Thanks, BobF>

Questions from Peru 5/17/11
Hello guys, Of what I have read this is the WWM is the best place to find the right experts.
<Tienes razon!>
I have read a lot in your web page and almost all the forums in Spanish; but I still have doubts about setting up my 58 gal reef aquarium, I´m moving from a tropical aquarium (successfully driven) to a reef.
I have some space under the aquarium to make a sump of about 25 gal, but I have read about 50 different ideas of how it should be made and now I am more confused then when I start my research, so I have some questions (for you may be silly ones), so I wish I can have the luck that you answer them:
1 The best method of filtration (Berlin, wet/dry, etc.)
<Depends on what you're keeping, want to do... but am a (current/corriente) fan of refugiums... tied in w/ main tanks... These having a DSB, lit live area w/ macro-algae...>
2 To start, the best is only fish?
<... to start w/, usually>
3 If I want a reef aquarium, future corals (a real ecosystem), can you give me a checklist for the equipment I need based on the method recommended?
<Is detailed on WWM, and in good books... even (a shameless plug), The Conscientious Marine Aquarist>
4 The skimmer question, how to choose it?;
<This too is gone over and over on WWM. You obviously write excellent English, and likely can read same>
the only good post I´ve read is a translation to Spanish of an Anthony Calfo interview, if you have something to read would be great.
<Do start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
you can scroll down to Skimmer Selection areas>
5 Any other thing you have, based on your experience.
<Take your time, make/keep good notes. Seek to understand the underlying logic, science in peoples' opinions>
I know is all about patience, I think I have it.
Many thanks,
Jorge Guerrero B.
<Nos vemos. Bob Fenner>
re: Questions from Peru, reef set up 5/18/11

Thanks a lot, I´m pretty sure I will e-mail you in the process.
<Real good/bueno Jorge>
<Y tu, RobertoF>

65 Gallon Set-Up, Reef 5/17/11
Hello Crew,
This is my first time writing in although I have referred to your site many times with my many random ideas & questions. My reason for writing you today is twofold. First, I would like to share with you the hardware that I have picked out to set up my system & see if there is anything that I missed along the way & if there are anymore suggestions you'd like to offer. Second, (I'll probably include this in a follow up email after your reply) I would like to get your opinions & help on some stocking suggestions for my tank. I plan on doing a Philippine Reef Biotope. I have some ideas that I'd like to get a second opinion on. I'm the only one of my friends/family that is into this hobby so a sounding board would be nice.
So, a little background ... I started my marine addiction with a 29 gallon tank, but quickly realized it would not house anything I was truly passionate about keeping & the animals always come first in my book, so I was not about to try my luck with overcrowding a small tank. I have since turned my 29 gallon into a custom sump/fuge & upgraded my display tank to a "Reef Ready" 65 gallon. My equipment is as follows: 2x Vortech MPw10wES/AquaC EV-120 powered by a Maxi-Jet Utility 3000/2x BRS reactors for carbon & GFO each powered by Maxi-Jet 900/Return pump is another Maxi-Jet Utility 3000. I am using a JBJ TrueTemp Digital Controller with a 500W Finnex Titanium Heater Element. The element sits in the return portion of the sump & the remote temperature probe is in the display tank.
The fuge contains a DSB of about 7" of oolitic sand & is lit by 2 5000*K spiral bulbs on a reverse light cycle.
<Mmm, don't "turn on" the GFO reactor till you have a reason to. Will otherwise deprive chemoautotrophs of nutrients>
Finally, my lighting for my display tank is where I have the most freedom to change things. I purchased the 36" AquaticLife T5HO fixture of the 4 bulb variety. (Wishing I had gone with 6 now) The fixture came with 2 "actinic" bulbs
<Trade at least one of these out for more "white">
& 2 10k bulbs & also has the moonlight LED feature with built in timers.
Now the all important lighting question(s). I would like to upgrade my bulbs to a combination of 2 Giesemann Aquablue+ bulbs
& 2 UVL AquaSun 10K bulbs. After researching rather extensively I do not feel it necessary to incorporate any "actinic" only bulbs.
<This is so>
I would rather put my 4 bulbs to better use! Do you feel this is a viable lighting combination?
<Can, could be>
If not, what would you change if it were over YOUR tank?
<As stated above>
I plan on keeping a few Acropora & other SPS corals, a few softies & even some display macroalgae. All indigenous to the Philippine Islands as I am striving to recreate a biotope to the best of my ability.
Here's where it gets fun! :) There are 3 timers built into the fixture.
One controls the moonlight LEDs, another controls the bulbs in positions 1 & 3, (currently actinic) & the final timer controls the bulbs in position 2 & 4 (currently 10k.) The default program that comes on the light fixture is 10 hrs: moonlight - 1 hr: complete dark - 1 hr: actinic only - 10 hrs: actinic & 10k - 1 hr: actinic only - 1 hr: complete dark - back to the moonlights. Is this lighting schedule sufficient?
When I upgrade the bulbs would you suggest any changes to the schedule?
<Just as stated>
Finally, what bulbs would you place in positions 1 & 3/2 & 4?
<Either 1 or 3 as the only "blue">
Bulbs 1 & 3 come on first followed by bulbs 2 & 4. I was thinking the Aquablue+ bulbs should come on first followed by the 10k bulbs but I have thought about it until my brain hurt. That's why I'm emailing the experts.
<This is what I would do>
Thank you in advance for taking out the time to help a fellow hobbyist.
Hope I didn't make it too confusing for you.
<Not at all. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: 65 Gallon Set-Up, lambda, P.I. stkg. 5/21/11

Thank you so much for your reply. I will take your advice on the lighting scheme & use a 3:1 white to actinic ratio on my light fixture.
<Is what I would do... or skip the actinic/s altogether... use part of the time, intensity of the Moonlight LEDs you mentioned last for the "blue" colouring, beginning and end of daylight times>
As mentioned in my previous email, I am currently finalizing my plans for my Philippine Reef Biotope & would like you to have a look over my proposed stocking list. I have always been a fan of commensal relationships that can be portrayed in the home aquarium setting & plan to display this in a few areas in my tank. As always your thoughts & advice are welcome. After all, that's what I'm here for!
65G Reef Ready w/ 29G Sump/Fuge
-Amphiprion ocellaris (currently have 1 juvenile from a local breeder)
-Chromis viridis (I would like multiple specimens of this Chromis for overall tank movement. How many would you suggest?)
<In this volume, just 3 or 5 if they're small>
-Oxycirrhites typus
-Stonogobiops nematodes
-Synchiropus picturatus (ORA Tank Bred specimen only)
-Lysmata amboinensis
-Lysmata wurdemanni
<? From the Atlantic; I'd likely skip>
-Alpheus randalli (to pair with Stonogobiops nematodes)
-Entacmaea quadricolor (hopefully my tank bred ocellaris will accept it. I have a local source for aquacultured specimens)
-Various Acropora corals & other SPS corals with commensal crabs.
-Some type of red gorgonian to make the Longonse Hawkfish feel at home I realize that housing BTA's & SPS's in the same system isn't usually advised, but I'm hoping the minimalist approach I will be taking with the aquascape will give them plenty of separation. I'm also hoping that the fact that the BTA will be an aquacultured specimen will help greatly with it being happy in the tank & not moving around. Any thoughts or suggestions on the stocking list would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to iron out the last few details before I continue.
<Acclimate the Anemone through water interchanges while it is in captivity (or the SPS alternatively)... You've read re such methods for reducing the intensity of Cnidarian allelopathy?>
One small request, I noticed on the Biotope FAQs on WWM that Scott F is quite the biotope specialist & self proclaimed biotope geek. Is there any way I could get an email to contact him directly with some of my more menial questions that I would rather not bore you with? :)
<I will cc ScottF here; he's become very busy in recent years... but will likely see something sent to him directly>
Thanks in advance. Enjoy your weekend!
<Am down in Costa Rica for a couple weeks, surfing and diving... Oh yes, very enjoyable. Cheers, BF>

2 Aquariums, 1 Project!/Marine Set-Up, James' go 2/1/11
Hi Bob (and team).
<Hello Neil, James with you today.>
I am looking to upgrade my sump-less Jewel Rio 180 reef into a 4'x2'x'2 reef but am also looking to setup a 6'x2.5'x2' FOWLR. Whilst I trawl many a UK and international aquarist forum, there seems to be lack of "that looks good to me" or "Woah you're missing a trick here, that won't cope with what you're looking to achieve" style response. (To be fair, most seem to revolve around my model building techniques...more on that later!) There seems to be no real "home" for a question like this as it asks a multitude of "does x work with y?" style questions and focuses not on a singular specific - i.e. lighting or fluidised reactors etc and I understand that there can be almost limitless configurations that will "work" - I'm just trying to prevent making mistakes that will be a) financially costly and more importantly b) costly to the welfare of the animals I wish to keep!
<You are correct, there is no specific way to set up your system. What works for some may not work for others.>
So as I plan and research, I'm finding that I just can't make sense of it all without 'seeing' it.
And taking inspiration from another 'model' tank that I have seen, I've been busy building tanks this weekend..!
Here's the first one (reef.jpg):
<I see no pictures attached.>
Sump (reef sump.jpg)
In my reef tank I am looking to hide as much of the pipework and general 'non-fishy' elements. The reef slope on the left contains flat plating reef bones to give ample coral-placing areas and at the very back is the weir with downpipes to feed my 36'x15'x15' sump -- total volume IRO 590l (130 UK gal) with an ATI Sunpower 8x 54w T5 mixture of whites, blues and pinks.
In the sump I am looking to filter most of the larger particles out using 100 micron filter socks, the water will then flow under a baffle and back and forth along where I shall be looking to harvest macro algae (Chaeto and Caulerpa) - though not be a DSB. Next we have the skim chamber with a Bubble Magus NAC7 and a reactor with fluidised GAC to adsorb any larger particles leftover. Finally it'll flow through to some live rock rubble where the Profilux doser will dose balling lite salts (yellow straws) before being pumped back to the tank. (Whilst I am not looking to employ biopellets/pearls just yet (if at all), I am leaving a T-section to add further reactors, water outlets in case.) If any pesky nitrates/phosphates do occur, I would like to try NO3O4-x by RedSea first to keep overall mechanics to a minimum - as with pearls I'd have to add a phosphate reactor also. The general idea is to provide something that, whilst I do not mind the maintenance (in fact I see it as an opportunity each week to evaluate what's working and what's working not so well), will be easy for someone else to maintain say for a week whilst we're on holiday.
<Having all those gadgets will not make maintenance easy for someone inexperienced in the hobby.>
Once returned water is back in the tank I'm looking to use a reef-clean/flush system that will also provide water motion coming out towards the viewer (blue pipes) from the reef slope. Further water movement will be provided by 2x MP40w ES mounted on each "end" of the tank.
On the right, there is a bommie/cave area to provide a hiding spot/shaded area, with the floor of the tank covered with a minimal covering of sand primarily for aesthetics.
Close up of slope + reef clean closed loop returns (closed loop returns.jpg and Reef Sump + doser.jpg)
<Pics please.>
Livestock will include:
1 Fire goby, 1 6-line wrasse, 4 black-bar chromis and 2 percula clowns from my current tank and new recruits will be: pygmy angel (probably a flame - understanding that angels can be a risk with corals), white cheek tang, pyramid butterfly (again, possibly the best of a "bad" bunch when it comes to coral munching?), a midas blenny and a school of squamipinnis Anthias.
<Neil, just what is it you are asking info on? Sounds like you are just describing your planned system. Personally, I like to keep my system as simple as possible....the less work, the better.
My system employs a protein skimmer and a canister filter used for chemical media, that's it. Nitrates have always remained at <5ppm and I do not concern myself with phosphate as the little that is present is useful
to corals and clams. James (Salty Dog)>
2 Aquariums, 1 Project! RMF try 2/1/11
First, apologies if you have received this nigh on 1 million times, my work internet connection and Apple's Mobile Me service do not seem to want to co-operate with one another.
<First time I've seen>
Hi Bob (and team).
I am looking to upgrade my sump-less Jewel Rio 180 reef into a 4'x2'x'2 reef but am also looking to setup a 6'x2.5'x2' FOWLR. Whilst I trawl many a UK and international aquarist forum, there seems to be lack of "that looks good to me" or "Woah you're missing a trick here, that won't cope with what you're looking to achieve" style response. (To be fair, most seem to revolve around my model building techniques...more on that later!) There seems to be no real "home" for a question like this as it asks a multitude of "does x work with y?" style questions and focuses not on a singular specific - i.e. lighting or fluidised reactors etc and I understand that there can be almost limitless configurations that will "work" - I'm just trying to prevent making mistakes that will be a) financially costly and more importantly b) costly to the welfare of the animals I wish to keep!
<Am with you so far>
So as I plan and research, I'm finding that I just can't make sense of it all without 'seeing' it. And taking inspiration from another 'model' tank that I have seen, I've been busy building tanks this weekend.!
Here's the first one (reef.jpg):
Sump (reef sump.jpg)
<Mmm, these graphics didn't come through. Need to be sent as sized attachments for our mail server>
In my reef tank I am looking to hide as much of the pipework and general 'non-fishy' elements. The reef slope on the left contains flat plating reef bones to give ample coral-placing areas and at the very back is the weir with downpipes to feed my 36'x15'x15' sump -- total volume IRO 590l (130 UK gal) with an ATI Sunpower 8x 54w T5 mixture of whites, blues and pinks.
In the sump I am looking to filter most of the larger particles out using 100 micron filter socks, the water will then flow under a baffle and back and forth along where I shall be looking to harvest macro algae (Chaeto and Caulerpa)
<You may want to eschew the use of the latter... and you may well find that the algae need to be sequestered in a compartment w/ less water flow>
- though not be a DSB. Next we have the skim chamber with a bubble magus NAC7 and a reactor with fluidised GAC to adsorb any larger particles leftover. Finally it'll flow through to some live rock rubble where the Profilux doser will dose balling lite salts (yellow straws) before being pumped back to the tank. (Whilst I am not looking to employ biopellets/pearls just yet (if at all), I am leaving a T-section to add further reactors, water outlets in case.) If any pesky nitrates/phosphates do occur, I would like to try NO3O4-x by RedSea first to keep overall mechanics to a minimum - as with pearls I'd have to add a phosphate reactor also. The general idea is to provide something that, whilst I do not mind the maintenance (in fact I see it as an opportunity each week to evaluate what's working and what's working not so well), will be easy for someone else to maintain say for a week whilst we're on holiday.
Once returned water is back in the tank I'm looking to use a reef-clean/flush system that will also provide water motion coming out towards the viewer (blue pipes) from the reef slope. Further water movement will be provided by 2x MP40w ES mounted on each "end" of the tank.
On the right, there is a bommie/cave area to provide a hiding spot/shaded area, with the floor of the tank covered with a minimal covering of sand primarily for aesthetics.
<I can imagine all this>
Close up of slope + reef clean closed loop returns (closed loop returns.jpg and Reef Sump + doser.jpg)
<Mmm, not visible either of course>
Livestock will include:
1 Fire goby, 1 6-line wrasse, 4 black-bar chromis and 2 percula clowns from my current tank and new recruits will be: pygmy angel (probably a flame - understanding that angels can be a risk with corals), white cheek tang, pyramid butterfly (again, possibly the best of a "bad" bunch when it comes to coral munching?),
<Yes... the genus (Hemitaurichthys) are almost exclusively zooplanktivores>
a midas blenny and a school of squamipinnis Anthias
<Sounds/reads good. Bob Fenner>

Re 2 Aquariums, 1 Project! 2/1/11
James & Bob,
First, thank you for your swift replies. Second, apologies the photographs did not come through. I have now resized them to 800x600 in the hope this reply makes it through, intact.
<They did and I see what you were saying about modeling.>
James, I guess with this being only my second attempt at marine aquarium setups, I'm a little apprehensive so am trying to canvas as much opinion as possible so I don't say, try to mix a Zeo system with a DSB as they would be competing against one another, for instance.
<Understand here.>
I appreciate "gadgets" can complicate matters - hence why I am looking to gauge what are fads and what are necessities (e.g., Biopearls vs. skimmers, respectively). And regarding maintenance, I respectfully disagree - auto dosers for the likes of balling salts to replace used compounds through reef growth are beneficial when you're not asking a relative to dose on a daily basis!
<Just threw that at you, your decision to make.>
My plans are much thought through yet all the planning in the world is worth nothing in comparison to gaining the opinions of people who experience this first hand - again much the reason why I ask the questions in the first place (please do not see this as me looking to pick arguments for arguments sake, as that is the last impression I want to give!)
<I/we do not see it that way.>
Bob, <I will let Bob comment here.> I'm hoping the images attached show in a bit more detail what I aim to achieve regarding macro growth in the sump.
<<Yes, nice modeling>>
I agree totally that less flow is "more" in this instance - would it be worth T-ing off the feed to the macro growing area so that it not only spends more time within this compartment, but also slows the flow further?
<<Yes; a good/workable plan>>
I thought that the allowing the water to meander front to back, through "guided" baffles would increase the amount of time that the water spends "with" the algae, thus giving it a greater opportunity to take up nutrients?
<<A trade off twixt spinning the algae too much vs. dwell/interactive exposure time>>
Are we talking about the same goal through different means?
<<No, I don't believe so: Just a matter of degree>>
Slow throughput vs. increased contact time?
Maybe I should ditch the idea of the pyramid butterfly in this instance..!
<<It/that would be my first choice in stocking, re-stocking. RMF>>
Again gentlemen, thank your input,
<You're welcome, and might I link you to our index page which will aid you in finding useful information.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Advice On Equipment For New Dual 125 Set Up/Whew! 11/21/10
<Hello Donald>
I currently have a 29 gal reef setup. The bug has long since bitten but my wallet is just now allowing me to have something closer to what I want in terms of system size. I recently purchased 2 used glass aquariums which I was told were 125 Gal. Inside to inside they measure 20" tall, 17.25" wide and 71" long which an online calculator said was just over 100 Gal.
<Correct, 106 gallons.>
Still a vast improvement.
<For sure.>
I am ready to set up something that I can sit back and enjoy rather than something I constantly have to "tinker" with. That will be my other setup ;-) My plans for the system as of now are for it to be an "LPS" "Softie" and coralline dominated tank with many fish though few large (> 3-4"). My stand is already
framed and just needs to be "skinned" with 3/4" plywood. It is designed to hold one 100Gal with the rim about 5ft from the ground and house the other 100Gal below as a sump/refuge with a deep sand bed and Chaetomorpha macroalgae. The top of the stand has double "header" beams all the way around using a 2x4 mated to a 2x6 both standing on edge to bear the weight with everything screwed and glued. The reason for this is that the entire front of the stand is open to allow the lower 100gal to be placed and later accessed for any reason (plus I like to watch the critters there as well, call me weird).
<Welcome to the club.>
There is a minimum of a 7" clearance ranging to 9" and nearly 12" between the braces in the frame
above the rim of the lower 100Gal. I will be using a (not sure the exact terminology) hang on tank overflow versus drilling. I have already purchased an EcoTech Marine Vortech MP40w ES ECOSMART Wavemaker Pump. I have since read on your site that wavemakers are not necessarily worth the investment but regardless it is on its way now.
<I'm all for wavemakers and the Vortech is the best system that I'm aware of.>
So flow (internal to the display) is covered. I sure hope that the pump lives up to the hype though few things ever do. Next I am trying to decide on lighting. First I should tell you that there is a 20" horizontal glass support brace in the center of the tank at the top. This leaves an effective 25x18" rectangular opening at either end of the tank. For this reason (though not solely) I was considering dual pendant metal halide lighting.
<Believe you will be needing three of these equally spaced. Two will not cover your tank length.>
I will be purchasing my live rock from Tampa Bay Saltwater. I have not been able to find out as of yet what the depth is of the plot where they "liven up" their rock but I hope the compensation/photo inhibition ranges of the organisms that inhabit that depth fall within the lighting parameters that I choose. From what
I have read the live rock is covered in all sorts of wonderful stuff and I would like for it to thrive. I have already tried the "hard way" now I want to try the correct way. From what I have read it seems that better results will be achieved by simply meeting the compensation point of the Zooxanthellae and spending the
rest of your energy "compensating" the other symbiotic through regular feedings and supplementation. I have found that ultraviolet sterilization (making lava) is not conducive to a happy reef. Colors slowly faded from washed out to white but I noticed no benefits. I would like adequate light of the optimum frequency for coral health. Growth now comes second.
<Goes hand in hand.>
Later I may add some actinic to better accentuate those corals with fluorescing pigments. It is my
understanding that many of the colors that people wish to see, especially in their "SPS" corals, are actually the pigments produced by the coral that are effectively sunscreen and that they are not seen at the levels desired until the coral's health is on the verge of being compromised. Anyway, on to the point. I wish to know what type of lighting you would recommend for the above stated application. An "LPS" and "softie" dominated tank (research will of course be done on the specific corals) with a large fish population and "I want coralline!" Sorry but that is one of the things that will not grow/live under my current, Current USA Nova Extreme Pro 6 bulb 36" T5 that lights my 29 gal reef. I bought some of the prettiest live rock completely encrusted only to turn it bone white except the patches underneath another rock/coral. It won't even grow on the glass. I was thinking either a 6' 4 bulb T5 setup or two 175watt metal halide pendants, one over each rectangular opening.
<I would go with three 175 watt halides and opt for 14K lamps.>
Next, to counteract all the feeding I will be doing to keep my corals growing and fish happy, I will need a
heavy duty skimmer. I read quite a few, if not all the recent FAQ on skimmer selection here at WWM. I would like to get an oversized skimmer to leave my setup capable of growing/expanding later, maybe adding a display to the same sump. I, however, do not wish to spend more than $500 for the skimmer. In truth I would like to get lights, a skimmer w/pump and a chiller for around $1200 though I am probably dreaming. I have looked at AquaC, ETSS, Reef Dynamics, Super Reef Octopus, and ASM skimmers pretty closely. The water level in my sump will be normal tank level
so that is one consideration I need to make.
<Caution advised here, will need some additional room for overflow when the pumps are off as the return lines will act as siphons.>
I find myself unable to compare the skimmers. I am not sure which model of one brand is comparable to that of another. Though AquaC and Reef Dynamics as suggested by WWM are pretty "spot on" with their size recommendations. Reef Dynamics may even under rate theirs. The display will only be 100gal so I assume I only need a skimmer overrated for that 100Gal and not the 200Gal total volume of the system if I will not expand later.
<You will need a skimmer sized for the total volume of water.>
To allow room for expansion or population of the sump/fuge with some sort of creatures I assume I will need something that out skims 200gal. I was thinking, with expansion in mind, that the INS250 would
be a good choice for in sump skimming from Reef Dynamics.
<Most of the in sump skimmers are going to require water levels much lower than what you are planning for your sump.>
Or with expansion still in mind the EV-400 from AquaC which can be either in sump or external. One
thing I like about AquaC is that, with the waste collector attachment, it will effectively stop the skimmer from skimming if it gets full. That would be great for peace-of-mind external skimming. Comparable, I guess from ASM, would be the G4, though they are only considered in sump. I am strange, I guess, in the fact that I would prefer an external skimmer.
<I've never felt comfortable with external skimmers, always the chance of the skimmer overflowing, especially prone if the venturi starts to clog.>
I guess my main reasons are the hassle and possible permanent nature of sectioning off the lower 100Gal. What would you suggest?
<I would suggest partitioning off the 100 gallon sump thereby creating a refugium and keep the water level at the suggested height for whichever in sump skimmer you should choose. The AquaC EV-240 would be an excellent choice for your system and they are virtually hassle free.
The other skimmers you mention are also fine products so the selection will be yours to make depending on your budget.>
There is of course always the option of a 6ft tall ETSS too ;-)
<A little overkill.>
I have the MP40w ES coming. I just need to finish the stand and get my lights and skimmer coming so I can get my "The Package" ordered from Tampa Bay Saltwater. "The Package" contains...
* 1 pound per gallon Live Sand.
* 1 Serpent or Brittle star per 50 gal.
* 2 pounds per gallon Live Rock.
* 2 Tiger Tail Cucumbers per 50 gal.
<These likely will not do well until the sand bed gets aged.>
* 1 Blue Leg Hermits per gal.
* 1 Peppermint shrimp per 50 gal.
* 1/2 Turbo Snail per gal. I am skeptical about the blue leg hermits in a reef and the serpent stars around small fish.
<The hermits should be fine, large serpent stars have been known to catch/dine on fish.>
If nothing else though I can trade them at the local fish store. They claim their live sand is "a mixture of sand, shell bits, corallines, bivalves, starfish, snails, and many organisms not visible to your eye, but very much needed in your tank" and that it is "harvested well offshore in the ocean to be clean of pollutants and silicates".
<If this is true, then the cucumbers should be fine.>
I have not seen a picture so I do not know the average particle size. I like the fact that it will have all the organisms from the ocean rather than the few that have survived the aquarium trade for decades.
<And you may also get some unwanted organisms.>
Do you think their "sand" will be of comparable benefit when compared to sugar fine aragonite? They claim it is silicate free.
<Should be fine.>
Anyhow I assume the optimal "color" is 5500-6000K for the lighting to promote optimal health. Would you suggest T5's or MH and in what quantity/wattage?
<Already mentioned above.>
Recommended manufacturer of ballasts,
<Mmm, Ice Cap is one of the better ballasts.>
bulbs, reflectors or
retrofit kits?
<I prefer Hamilton or Ice Cap lamps. You say retrofit kits, but I'm understanding that there will be no canopy on the display'¦.correct me.>
What would you recommend I do for my skimmer predicament?
<Covered above and I also suggest reading here along with related articles covering plumbing found in the header. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm>
I am about to close my eyes and point. I want reliability, few adjustments, and the biggest factor for me is peace of mind. I don't want to be wondering if my skimmer is overflowing if/when I am out of town.
<Is why an in sump model is better for peace of mind.>
I am not going to let $50 decide me, nor $100. But $150 might make me change my mind. Last thing, that I can think of at 2:50 AM, is the counter-intuitive nature of constant heavy duty skimming. Reef Dynamics says, "If the skimmer is correctly sized for the system, it will be able to remove most if not all of the DOC's before they become oxidized by nitrifying bacteria. Since the job of these bacteria is to convert
DOC's into Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate, subverting this process is ideal since the goal is to limit the accumulation of Nitrates and other toxins in the system." This is semi confusing. I know we want to remove excess DOC's but what is the point of all that live rock if we pull it all out?
<No skimmer is going to completely strip the system of DOCs.>
What does it feed on?
How are the populations kept "ready for battle"? What then is the point of cycling a tank when you begin with live rock and a skimmer? If the bacterial population isn't fed how will it do its job if it needs to? Anyhow thank you for your time. If there is anything I didn't ask that you can tell I meant to (like skimmer pump recommendation)
<Most skimmer manufacturers will state the recommended pump that they feel will do justice to their skimmer.>
Please feel free to throw it out there. I welcome any and all opinions suggestions and positive critique. Thank You in advance for what I know will be excellent advice.
<Since you have a myriad of concerns, I will provide you with an index to our articles which should aid you in answering many if not all of your concerns.
James (Salty Dog)>

New Setup Equipment Questions 11/4/10
Good day to you!
<And to you as well, Lacy>
I am a new saltwater hobbyist, although, I have always been a fan. I am now able financially and have enough time to care for my friends. I have just purchased a 220 gal tank.
<A great choice.>
In, addition, I have acquired 100lbs of sand and 150lbs of Baja LR. I have a sump, pump, and it came with VHO lights.
My questions are as follows:
1.) I need to purchase a skimmer. I have researched and know how important they are for water clarity and health. I need a clue on which brands and models are top notch and affordable.
<I'd look at the AquaC and Vertex line although there are additional brands that work equally well. I've had experience with both and found them to be virtually hassle free.>
plus, 4 stage/ 5stage - I really don't know what's best.
<Are we talking RO units here?>
2.) I have the exact same question relating to an RO/DI. What brand??
<Depending on your source water quality, an RO/DI may not be necessary. I don't believe one brand is better than another from a processing standpoint. They all employ the same principle, forcing water through a membrane. May want to read here.
3.) Some research I have done says VHO lights are fine for growing coral and ok for clams as well, as long as you put them mid tank or higher. Some sites say they are inadequate with the exception of soft
corals and Zoas. What is the right answer?
<Will depend on how many VHO lamps you have. You didn't state.
Again, read here and related articles found in the header.
Thank you so much for your time!!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re New Setup Equipment Questions 11/4/10 - 11/5/10

duh, didn't even see this info when I was mad searching through this site.
Pfffff panicked much. hehe
<No problem, and you're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Crazy Fish Ideas... Reef, FOWLR set up, marine plants use 9/11/10
Hey WWM! Thanks for helping me out with trying to bring my aquarium ideas a reality. Over the summer I got a free 135 gallon fish tank from my teacher at Marine Biology and since I've gotten it I've wanted to turn it into a
reef. At the moment my only problem is my current fish. I have a 90 gallon tank FOWLR tank with a porcupine puffer, bird wrasse, zebra moray, and juvenile chainlink moray (I know, I know I have WAY too much in one tank, especially for it's size. It was my first time setting up a tank, which consisted of getting whatever fish I liked without thinking twice.) Since I love these fish too much to get rid of them, my plan is to have the 135 gallon become a reef and move the bird wrasse since they're semi-"reef compatible"
<Mmm... won't eat Cnidarians, but will eat crustaceans, worms...>
and the zebra moray
<Messy and clumsy>
over and having beginner, hardy corals, a crustacean-less cleaning crew with inverts such as snails and brittle stars, and two surgeonfish like the orange shouldered surgeon and a yellow or Kole tang to help algae control. The other part of my plan is connect the reef to my 90 gallon tank, which will be come a seagrass/lagoon tank where the puffer could live peacefully with the chainlink moray eventually (the chainlink is living in my Nano-reef alone very temporarily until he gets large enough to live with the others, then he's moving) and I can grow mangroves and seagrass.
<Neat plan>
I've read about how seagrass is an excellent nutrient remover
<Mmm, not so much really... Takes a good long while to become established, grows/metabolizes slowly, and takes a "high nutrient" substrate itself in point of fact>
and since I have some heavy duty fish, I'm going to need it. Of course these tanks would have a large protein skimmer attached along with mechanical and chemical filtration like poly-filters and carbon in a twenty gallon sump underneath.
<Larger gallonage if at all possible>
My main question is do you see anything wrong with this plan, have any suggestions on ways to make it better (or
<Look around for a larger sump container... maybe a plastic tote of some sort>
or is this idea really not going to work? Since this will be a HUGE project I'm trying to research as much as possible and getting as much advice as possible. Again, thanks for your help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

At my wits end...cloudy, microbubbled water. Weird colors/foam. 8/27/10
Bob Scott V Eric
Good afternoon Bob, Scott, Crew, whomever might be reading this! Hope all is well with everyone as a big THANK YOU goes to everyone who pitches in on the hobby! I however want to scream, while thrashing a $2500 box of water!!! I'll try to be brief, ha. After a barrage of emails to Mr. Scott and ye olde[r] Dogfish, I've come pretty far, my pet water is coming along nice...ugh!
Here's my pertinent set-up info... I have a 75 gallon DT with a 55 gallon sump [app. 42gal operational], 2 1.5" flex drains, with one wyed to distribute slower flow to the refugium section of sump, Eheim 1262 return pump with 3/4 flex [no ball valve for throttling back] going almost to top of DT.
<Just not "over" in the event of a power outage or pump failure... I'd definitely be testing for maximum running volume and marking this on the front of the sump... Turn the pump off and wait...>
Then it wyes to 2 returns consisting of 2 3/4 90's [upside down square U hanging on tank trim] with swiveled Locline attached on the end submersed. Siphon holes stay underwater. Sections of sump and approximate measurements from left to right are, refugium 16.5"h x 15"l, return area 15"h x 17"l, skimmer section 15" x 15", all sections have a width of 12".
One overflow line drains completely into skimmer section [app. 4ft run, straight below overflow],
<"Put a sock on it"... See/search re on WWM... Emperor Aquatics my fave brand... get two sets... one for use, the other for intermittent cleaning, drying>
the other wyed overflow probably 75% drains to skimmer section [4ft straight below], the other 25% going all the way to the left [app. 1ft down, slightly curved 4ft horizontal run] to the fuge. Both sections spill over to return chamber.
<Perhaps a bit of removable sponge (polyurethane, open-cell) here>
Baffles are in place dividing each section. Heater in baffles after skimmer section, water temp between 76.7 and 78ish [during lighting peak].
I'm sure I forgot something you need/want, hard to concentrate while still fighting the urge to grab the Louisville Slugger!
<Don't do it!>
Ok, here's my problemo[s]... I filled up everything with just freshwater {yes R.O.] with the plan of documenting lighting schedule, water temp relating to heater and lighting. Had fierce bubbles, but everything ran smooth 1-2 days. Bubbles decreased slightly, water starting to warm up from the 60's. Days 3-4 noticing the water starting to cloud, bubbles
still insane! By day 5, the water was definitely cloudy. Also noticed a reddish pink foam/y [thoughts? ideas?]
<Bio. likely>
something on top of the water in the return section where the water sat stagnant with no flow. Meanwhile, earlier correspondence with Scott had me ordering filter socks for the microbubbles.
<Oh! Good idea>
Ok, due to the past dirty plumbing problem when I filled the tank, I thought this cloudiness might be leftover residual, or the r.o. water did sit for 2-3 wks not aerated, the microbubbles, maybe a bacterial bloom, I had no clue! 6 in one, half dozen in another feeling. Well still bubbly, cloudy, day 7 or 8 the filter socks [200micron] came. I siphoned 80% of DT
and sump, filled with fresh water, installed filter socks on drains, turned everything on and went to bed! Next morning the microbubbles were gone [was amazed][thank you Scotter] with the exception of a straggler here and there and the water was still clear. So after a couple days, I thought it wouldn't be a waste of salt, I added what I thought would bring the tank to 1.024.
<Best by far to pre-mix, add at a higher concentration>
WOW, everything went hazy, bubbly, crazy as you might expect, the next day I had to manually stir the rest of the salt to make it dissolve, the salinity wasn't high enough but geez the bubbles were there with a vengeance. After a couple days of leaving it alone, the microbubbles are back better than ever, water cloudy, but I think due to the bubbles. I've also noticed that the filter socks are turning orangish, pinkish red [why this color, iron maybe?] .
Which makes me remember the pinkish foam. What could that have been?
<Preferred microorganismal life of some sort. Do you have a 'scope?>
Also a couple months back after a few batches of r.o. water, one of the sediment filters on my unit established a nickel size rust spot. I couldn't completely remove it or it would of damaged.
<Just rinse next cycle>
After 10 or so batches of about 150 gallons a piece I still get a 5 reading on the tds meter, 3 was the reading brand new. Still both good I think?!
<Likely "close enough">
I want, feel I need to take care of the bubbles and figure out this dis/coloration before I order and place my live rock.
<Likely unnecessary... these/this too shall pass>
A big what do I do comes to mind? More filter socks, ball valve for the strong flow from return pump, baffle sponges, etc? What about the strange coloration? I would expect brownish or greenish, but with it just being water, and until a few days ago with no salt, I'm at a loss! Should I worry about that?
<Less than you are currently>
Maybe just sell everything and find a new hobby to sink a small fortune in? I really am at a frustrating point with all this and your help and guidance is greatly appreciated! I seriously can't thank everyone enough!
Thanks in advance.
<I'd place the rock. Dang the torpedees! Bob Fenner>

Stocking, Equipment and Compatibility...125Gal Stocking and selection 8/16/2010
Hello To All The Crew...
My name is Ron,
<Mike here.>
You have always steered me in the right direction. That doesn't mean, I have always listened...
<Take comfort in the fact that you aren't the first and hardly likely to be the last.>
I need your advice on stocking, equipment and compatibility. I am breaking down and selling my 110 gallon tank. My new tank is a 125 gallon. My equipment is listed below.
Tank dimensions are 72"x 18"x 22"
Current USA Outer Orbit Fixture 48 inch, 2x150W 10K Metal Halide HQIs with
4X54W T5HOs, & 18 Lunar Lights
Rena XP3 (I know your crew is not a big fan of canister filters)
<I actually have 2 on my 150. I use them for chemical filtration and water movement only.>
AquaC Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Mag 3 pump (Upgrading to the AquaMedic Turboflotor T1000 Multi SL with Aqua Medic Ocean Runner PH 2500)
Two Hydro Koralia Powerheads #4 and One Hydro Koralia Powerhead #3 Two Visi-Therm Deluxe Submersible Heaters 300W
100 lbs. of live rock
<All looks good there.>
The list below is my wish list for stocking. Some will be transfers from the 110 gallon tank.
Transfer List:
4" Purple Tang
4" Pacific Blue Tang (This one can go, if I can have the rest)
4" One Spot Foxface (This one can go, if I can have the rest)
3" Flame Angel
Wish List:
3" Volitans Lionfish <Will get much larger in time.>
4" Blue Angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis) <Same here, will get bossy in time.>
3" Blue Jaw Triggerfish <One of the 'calmer' triggers, but again, will get
bigger in time.>
<If it was me, I would pick one or two off of your wish list and lose one or two from the transfer list. Otherwise, you are going to be too crowded, both physically and psychologically.>
I also would like to have some corals, if possible? What kind could I have?
<You have adequate lighting for most corals, that said, Triggers and the larger angels are at best 'very cautiously' reef safe, and would stock accordingly.>
Thanks in advance for your advice...
<My pleasure.>

Bob or Scott V's approval. Reef set-up 6/17/10
Hello Bob, Scott, everyone else in crew land.
<Hello Jeremiah.>
Hope this finds everyone happy and fed! I do have a couple quick questions but I will get to that in a second. I'd like to give a run down of my gear for final approval and my gratitude to the site, and again thanks to Bob and Scott V. for getting me thus far. 3yrs of WWM, Bob's writings, and Scott's patience, I'm ready for my reef. I know that taking almost 3 years to start a tank might sound ridiculous, but I can only imagine the time, MONEY, and wet lives I have saved from taking the time to...as Bob says...READ!!!! I have learned so much and knowledge truly is power, especially in this hobby!
<Congratulations and thank you for all the kind words.>
Thanks to that I have one whole "Reef Room" in the basement. It holds a 75 gallon starphire tank, drilled with [2] 1.5in drains fitted with a [custom blue...thanks Mike] Glassholes.com 1500gph box [the wife let me paint the
room to match the overflow box]. Also another 1.5in drain a little lower going to a "future" closed loop, currently capped. All plumbing is in flexible, braided 1.5 inch pvc draining to a 55gal sump. One drain going straight to the skimmer section [10gal] of the sump, one drain split with one half going to the fuge section of sump [approx 15.5 gal], the other half merely a bleeder line going to the skimmer section. As soon as I drill it, there will be a 55gal DSB fuge halfway between DT and sump on its own stand, positioned on the overflow side. Once its set in place [after live rock curing for water change purposes] the current fuge line will drain to that tank, with the drains [2] from the 55gal fuge going straight to the return section [10gal] of the sump for pod transport heee [that'll be approx 165gal total system water, not too bad eh]! I'll leave the small fuge in the sump for RDP since I want the 55gal fuge to be a display as well with the lighting on same timeframe as DT. As far as equipment, in the sump I have an Eheim 1262 for the return pump with 3/4in braided flex going up the back of the display, wyed into 2 returns with LocLine on the ends, Aqua-C urchin pro skimmer with Mag 5 pump, and one of two ML 150w stealth heaters in the baffles from skimmer to return pump, with the other being in the DT. Up top I have a Nova Extreme 8x54w fixture, [6] 10k bulbs and [2] actinics, 1st hr the 2 actinics and 2 10ks, 10hrs all, then 1hr actinic/10k. 2 Koralia #'4's for extra movement, one on each side pointing toward the front pane. 50gpd dolphin Aqua fx RO filter. Milwaukee brand
refractometer and ph pen. Coralife brand digital thermometer, hydrometer, and shoulder length gloves. I'm using the instant ocean salt mix and reef master test kit. Might I say that every time I go into this room I throw on my GH.com shirt for full effect [dope aquarium stuff haha]!!!
<Haha, Mike will love hearing that!>
I'd also like to add that I accomplished all the above with only 2 emails [3 now], a few follow ups, and a !@#$ LOAD of reading. Literally a couple hundred hours of READING, whether it was Bob's books or using WWM's search tools and indices! Never once have I even been in a saltwater fish store.
Everything came from here, online. Which brings me to my question. I would like to ask your opinion re worthy etailers for live rock and what you think of the rock that's available right now [took too long for Kaelini haha], what would your pick be? I was thinking of going with 40pds of Vanuatu and 55pds of Bali Alor, to diversify life. Just wanted to ask your thoughts first.
<This will be fine for rock. There are so many etailers selling rock nowadays, with widely varied prices. I would just shop around a bit and see what kind of deals you can get. The BB type forums such as our own http://bb.wetwebmedia.com/ are a great place to talk with others about who has the deal going on right now. Short of that my steady backup to compare others to is Liveaquaria.com.>
Do you see anything wrong, or would you change anything with what I got system wise? What do you think?
<Your system sounds great. The only thing I see to warn you about is the refugium draining back into the tank. This does have many benefits, but just be aware you will likely have some microbubbles in the display you will need to deal with, likely with some sort of baffle where the line discharges.>
Bob, I hope they paid you well for the jury duty, <<Zip... the parking cost... lunch, fuel, and time loss is considerable. RMF>> I would rather have teeth pulled! Your wisdom and opinions are appreciated. All this is thanks to you and everything you guys do! The beer is still on me one day!
<Will be the jury pay in itself!><<Oh yeah!>>
Thanks again and look forward to your reply.
<Welcome, enjoy the new system. Your research and patience will pay off. Scott V.>

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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