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FAQs about Large Marine Systems 1

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Want to see more, natural behavior? Large systems.

Big Fish- Big Tank? 10/12/05 Hi Crew! <Heya! Scott F. at your service!> I did look at your FAQ's to make sure the question I have was not previously asked/answered and did not find specific answers to my question. <No problem...> Basics: 220 gallon Oceanic 72" long tank with Tonga Supreme live rock, live sand substrate, 40 watt UV sterilizer, Aqua Medics protein skimmer, Seio power heads, large wet/dry with filter, refugium, etc... Currently have a beautiful 30" Zebra Moray, 2.5" Volitans Lionfish, 5.5" Bicolor Fiji Rabbitfish, with several Turbo Snails and Hermit Crabs. Question: I am adding this week a Chevron Tang and wanted to know if I added a Desjardini Red Sea Sailfin and Prionurus laticlavius (Yellowtail Sawtail Tang) if you thought they would get along??? This mix is a divergence from the more popular Purple, Yellow, and PB (Blue Hippo) Tangs that most people buy. I know some folks indicate that tangs should be introduced together; however I will be adding them individually. <Well, my best advice is to consider the "end game' here. The Desjardini can hit 15" plus, and the Prionurus gets even larger. I think the issue here is more the size of the fish than their possible compatibility. I'm sure that they could get along socially, but not in this sized aquarium. Even a 220 is too small to house both of these guys together for anything close to a natural life span, IMO. I'm looking at my 225 right now, and I cannot imagine these two guys living together comfortably in my tank for an extended period. Perhaps in a 400 or 500 gallon plus tank, yes.> My last fish after the tangs will either be a Majestic or Emperor Angel, which will make 7 fish. Do you think this is a good mix and fine with the tank size I have? <To be honest, no. My personal philosophy has always been, "Why keep large fish just because you have a large tank?". Granted, that's my kooky world view, but it warrants consideration. You're talking about fishes that can and do reach well over a foot in length. Placing them in even a 6-foot plus tank is questionable. Kind of like you and I living the rest of our lives in our living rooms. Sort of comfortable, but after a while, you'd go nuts! Why not consider stocking fishes that hit a maximum length of say, 6"-8"? There are plenty of neat fishes that are in that range, and they'll be a lot happier in your tank. One more fact to consider: A study I read indicated that the adult Emperor Angel typically ranges over an area about half the size of a football field! Obviously, you can take this argument to absurd lengths, but the point is - think small!> One last question: my Lionfish will absolutely not eat frozen, only live feeders. I can only get ghost shrimp, prawn shrimp, and feeder guppies in which I place Zoe drops into the bag they are in and let them set in there until they are fed to the Lion. Would this be okay long term if he just won't eat the frozen? <It can work, but you really want to wean him to prepared foods, ideally foods of marine origin, as they have the proper nutritional profile for this fish. Keep trying> I have gone a long time in between feedings to hope to entice him with frozen food on a clear feeding stick (wiggling it) but he hides in the rocks every time. Your thoughts? <My advice is to keep doing what you're doing...Don't give up. He will eventually come around-could take a long time, but it will happen eventually.> Thanks for your help and outstanding dedication to this hobby and I look forward to your comments. Steven <Best of luck, Steven. Regards, Scott F.>  

Even 300 Gallons Can Be "Small" - 08/22/05 Yes, I know. The Yellow and the Naso were rescues from a poor vendor in Toronto.  I am surprised how well they have done. <<me too>> My fianc? and I are building a new house and we are incorporating an Aquarium room. <<sweet!>> I am having a 300 gallon acrylic tank made for one wall by a company in Minnesota. <<Getting closer.>> It will be the main display reef and I am thinking of using the 180 as a seahorse and kelp setup. <<Very nice.>> I don't think the tangs will grow too much in the next 9 months. <<No...likely due to developmental retardation...>> Thanks again. Ps. Do you know of anyone who has made a reef out of a swimming pool? I thought this could be a nice project to have a 20000 gallon system under a greenhouse so that one could swim with the display.         <<Have heard of such, more recently a new construction discussed on RC...and once saw pics of a 7,000 gallon outdoor "lagoon" system with a giant viewing window in the basement(?) wall of a home in Hawaii...fabulous!  Regards, EricR>>

Large System - 08/16/05 I recently acquired a 600 gallon tank that I am planning some upgrades  for.   <<cool>> The tank came with 2 - 6' VHO's.  It's a 4' tall tank, and I just want it to look REALLY nice, not necessarily try to grow anything in it (aside from healthy fish). <<ok>> I haven't gotten it filled yet, or the lights hooked up so I'm not sure how bright it's going to be, but I'm curious if VHOs can hack it or would it be recommended to bump it up to halides even though its a FOWLR. <<The VHOs will work fine for the fish (may want to add a couple more tubes), but I wouldn't expect any life to "flourish" on the live rock in the bottom third of the tank.  I prefer the look of a single-point light source myself...and considering the depth of this tank, would likely opt for the halides.>>   I want to mount my 125 above the 600 if that is possible and use it as a refugium/invert display to complement my FOWLR, so it  would be nice if I could avoid the heating issues that would inevitably arise with halides. <<A valid concern...but don't be fooled in to believing VHOs won't be hot.  The use of cooling/exhaust fans will likely be required for either application.>> That leads to my next question and that is...are there any nifty tricks aside from drilling (glass tank), and overflow boxes (the  devil) to getting a top mounted tank to overflow to a tank below? <<Not that I'm aware/would trust.  Drilling really is you're best option.>>   Third question - The tank came with two Oceanclear canisters (which I am scraping for this project), and two 1200 gph external pumps.  There are four drilled holes and bulkheads in the bottom of the tank from this, and two pumps I have no great use for.  Would it be hazardous at all to just run two small closed-loops right out the bottom - provided that I elevated the drains above the substrate? <<Employ "true" closed-loops and you have no worries.>> And would that be worthwhile? <<Absolutely!>> I'm going to plumb a Dolphin AquaSea in for a closed loop on the back so if I had to plumb them any other way it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle. <<More flow the better...whether a reef or a FOWLR.>>   Lastly - just before my dreams get out of control - assuming I have top notch water quality, and 600+ lbs of live rock how many "stocking rules" can I break in a tank this size? <<Every tank has it's own set of rules...>> Can I keep a school of Yellow or Blue  Tangs...or multiple Pomacanthus angels...or keep a Sohal with other types of  tangs...or....you get the picture :) <<Unfortunately yes, I do <G>... You don't give the tank dimensions, but at 4 feet in height I'm guessing it's no longer than 8 feet (96"x48"x30" ?).  The Sohal gets too big even for this tank to be happy/well adjusted for its lifetime...the blue tangs (Hippo?), though not quite as large as the Sohal at maturity, are so robust, active, and high strung/twitchy as to (in my opinion) require more swimming room, more flow, and more "hidey holes", than most casual hobbyist can provide...especially if more than one.  As for the yellow tangs, I might be tempted to try a trio (all same size introduced together) in this tank.  Careful selection of a Pomacanthus might prove interesting as well (two might be trouble)...tho be warned, these can/will become bruisers at maturity...choose tank mates well.  At least research your selections (fishbase.org provides good info on adult size, gut content (food), etc.) and seriously consider their requirements/needs before purchase.>>   Muchas Gracias, I always appreciate your input. Scott <<Happy to be here to assist/give opinion.  Regards, EricR>> Lighting For A Deep Tank - 08/12/05 Hello, <<Evening>> I have a large reef tank that is 3.5 feet deep with the lowest part of the tank being 3 feet from the (soon to be) halides. <<neat>> I was wondering if 250w HQI bulbs would be sufficient to keep various Montipora species alive at the lowest levels. <<Well...I'm one of those folks that believe lighting is a bit "overrated and overstated" when it comes to reef tanks.  Not saying it isn't necessary mind you, but rather than just throwing mega-watts of light at the corals I feel proper flow and adequate feeding can do much, with "light" serving as an adjunct to these rather then the other way around.  I would try this, especially if you keep the species with higher light needs in the upper two-thirds of the tank.  Do pay special attention to water clarity (ozone is wonderful for this!).>> Also how far apart should I space the lighting fixtures from one another. <<Maximum of two feet apart, but I like to go with 18" (or less) myself for a bit more "overlap."  EricR>> Building a large plywood tank 8/9/05 Hello all! I first want to thank you all for all of your time and effort in helping all of the aquarists in need of info. It is so greatly appreciated. Thanks! <Thanks for the kind words!> Before I start I would like to say that I have read every posting on WWW to do with tank building and construction. (phew, a lot of reading!) I have also scoured Ozreef.com, Garf.com and the internet in general on the subject. <Great!  Lots of good info!> I would like to build a plywood and acrylic tank with the dimensions of 96" width x 36" depth x 36" height. I was going to use 1" plywood for the frame with a 1" thick acrylic window. The front piece of plywood would frame the acrylic 3" around all sides. I was all set until I went to my lumber yard to get the plywood. After talking to the rep and telling him what I was doing, he informed me that the strength of plywood has more to do with how many layers the plywood has than it does the thickness. He told me that 3/4" plywood with 10 layers would be stronger than 1" plywood with 8 layers. He also told me that hardwood plywood would be stronger than softwood plywood. He had some 3/4 inch birch plywood that was 10 layers.  <Let me begin by saying that I am not an engineer and I have never built a plywood tank (I have built/repaired acrylic and glass tanks).  I should also admit that I am not a fan of the idea of plywood tanks.  If there is any way for water to find it's way to the wood, it will.  Once it does, the wood will swell, fasteners will rust and the problem grows.  IMO, the risk of this is too great to justify what will probably turn out to be a smaller cost savings than it seems.> 1) Could I use the 3/4" birch plywood or should I stick with my original plan and use 1" exterior grade plywood? If I go with 1" plywood, could I get the same strength by gluing two 1/2 inch pieces of plywood together. (My lumber rep tells me that the glue bond would be stronger than the plywood itself) <Your lumber rep is probably right... the strength of the plywood probably has more to do with more layers than absolute thickness (within reason), but also has a lot to do with the type of wood and the type of glues used.  These types of questions should really be directed to a structural engineer.  In any case, I would definitely use dimensional lumber ribs/spines to add strength and rigidity to the plywood and coat the entire structure in a marine grade epoxy or fiberglass after proper surface prep and priming (do you see the costs mounting?<g>)> 2) Is the 3" border for the front frame enough to hold the acrylic viewing pane in place or should I make it 4"?  <I would guess that 3" is enough, but not if it is made of unsupported plywood. Even if the border is well secured to the adjacent bottom or side panel, it will support relatively little pressure, especially if it gets wet.  I would want at least the bottom perimeter to be supported by dimensional lumber (wide side down, so it couldn't "roll") that was anchored to the same sheet of material that formed the bottom of the tank.  This would prevent the sides from being able to "blow out".> 3) Instead of using plywood top braces (which would block some of the light going into the tank), could I use 1" thick acrylic braces that would be drilled and screwed to the plywood frame? How wide would you make the top braces?  <Tropicorium in Michigan uses wooden tanks in their greenhouses.  They support the tops with steel cables or threaded bar covered in garden hose to protect it from the water.  This is very strong and block almost no light.  Drilling and screwing through acrylic is risky because acrylic is "Notch Sensitive".  Think of scotch tape... it is very strong if you pull on it, but if you nick the edge, it tears very easily.  Small holes drilled in acrylic act like the nick in the edge of the tape.> 4) I actually plan on making the tank 37" high. The extra inch will be on top to accommodate the 1" thick top braces. (nestled in between the front and back walls)  The water column will still only be 36" though. Is this ok? <Yes, but calculations should be based on the depth of the water.> 5) Instead of coating the inside plywood with resin or epoxy, I was thinking of using thin acrylic sheets (1/8") to cover the bottom, sides and back. I figured once I had the front  1" acrylic viewing panel siliconed to the front, I could use the thinner acrylic and  bond it to the front piece and then bond all the other acrylic pieces together. This in effect would create an acrylic box inside of the plywood box.  <This is a great idea, but you would still have to coat the plywood to protect it from moisture (even if it is protected from frank water contact).  Also, if moisture did swell/warp the plywood, it would easily crack the thin material allowing gross water contact. All this brings us back to the issue of cost.  I suspect that if you add up all of the costs of the acrylic, plywood, acrylic adhesives, etc. that your savings would start to shrink.> 6) Is the 1" thick acrylic enough for the front panel? Can I go thinner? Should I go thicker? Thanks so much for your help.    Mike <1" is thick enough if it is adequately supported.  A couple of cross braces should do it if the top edge is beefy enough (I would think 4x4 lumber or maybe even angle iron).  www.cyro.com has a thickness calculator that you can use.  Sorry for my pessimism for your project, but spending the money on a tank built by professionals is cheap insurance against 450 gallons of water on your floor and a tank full of dead animals.  If you do give it a whirl, good luck!  AdamC.> Tank Recommendations - 06/20/05 WWM Crew, How's it going? <<Well, thank you.>> I'm sure you get a lot of these types of "Is this right?" questions so I appreciate anyone who can take the time to reply. <<Just glad you're asking the questions now <G>.>> I'm currently planning (I over plan everything. From substrate to filtration to livestock to daily/monthly routines) a 375 gallon reef tank. <<SWEET!  That happens to be what I have too!>> It will be 96x30x30 with a sump of around 80 gallons. <<Hey man!...you been peekin' in my window?>> That is unless I can get it plumbed into the closet in which case I want to go bigger. <<There ya go!>> As well, it will have a 100 gallon refugium that will be on a stand next to it. <<Excellent!>> My goal is to actually make the refugium interesting and not something hidden away. <<Is just as fascinating as the main display, yes.>> With mainly Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria Parvispora for occasional tang feeding. <<Both great algae for a vegetable refugium...but I would recommend picking just one to go with.  Just like corals, the algae will compete for space/dominance in the refugium.>> The refugium will have a 6-8" sand bed, 150-175 pounds of Fiji live rock, and will be where I can finally put my 3-stripe damsel. <<Dude...I was right there with ya up to this point!  With the sand bed (which I applaud) and the live rock, you won't have much room for macroalgae growth.  I would suggest choosing one method or the other (rock 'fuge or veggie 'fuge).  And whatever you do...DON'T put that damsel in the refugium, it will quickly deplete your pod population (read: defeat the purpose of the refugium).>> As well, I'm planning on keeping a mated pair of coral banded shrimp, and a flame hawk in this tank as well. <<All good.  But do be aware hawk fish are neither peaceful nor particularly reef-safe.>> Moving on, the main display will have over 500 lbs of live rock (mainly Fiji, but some Tonga branch), a 3-4" sand bed. <<Way too much rock, in my opinion.  Think about going for a more "open" seascape.  Open space/rockwork looks fantastic in a large tank like this, gives corals/fish space to grow "big", not to mention the ease on the pocket book.  You really don't need to "fill" the tank with rock for effective bio-filtration, specially with the DSB (I'd bump that to 5-6 inches, by the way.) The skimming will be done with a Euro-Reef CS12-3 and I'll also be using a KNOP Calcium Reactor S-IV. This is the only brand that I've found for this size at a reasonable price. Any recommendations would be great. <<No problems here with either product.  I have the same skimmer on my 375, though I went with the PM-CR622 for my calcium reactor.>> As well as Maxi-jet's, Tunze Turbelle Streams, and such for water movement. <<Love those Streams!  I'm pushing around about 11,000 gph...would recommend same (or more) for you.>> My first question is about lighting. <<Uh oh...shoulda been pacing myself.>> My goal is to primarily keep LPS with some Zoanthids and a couple of Montipora SPS species.  Would you recommend 4 400W MH or 4 250w MH? <<Wouldn't recommend 400w even of you were keeping "high light" acros...go with the 250w... or better yet 150w (DE), considering what you want to keep.>> Also, do you think PC actinics or VHO actinics would work better? <<Moot point...use 10,000k halide bulbs and the actinics will be for your pleasure, not the corals.>> Would 1 watt blue LED's reach the bottom of the tank for moon lighting? <<Yes.  But again...this is for you.>> Also, what do you recommend for Kelvin rating? I've seen really good tanks with 10,000k and 14,000k, but have also heard recommendations for mixing different ratings. <<Maybe...tis up to you.  My recommendation is all 10K.>> I know much of this is opinion questions, but I really do like getting honest opinion. <<No prob!  Opinions I have in abundance <G>.>> As far as livestock, I'd like to know if you foresee any problems with this livestock list (attained over a very long period, 2+ years).  All quantities are 1 unless stated otherwise: Opistognathus aurifrons, <<Hold off on the mandarin for at least a year (good advice for all fish if you can do it!) until the refugium can provide a sustainable food supply.>> 6 Chromis viridis, Centropyge Aurantius, Centropyge Multispinis, Ecsenius Midas, Salarias Fasciatus, <<I don't really consider ANY blenny to be "reef-safe.">> 2 Amphiprion Ocellaris, 2 Black Amphiprion Percula, 2 Elacatinus Oceanops, 2 Pterapogon Kauderni, 1 Stonogobiops Nematodes, Gobiodon strangulatus, 1 Gobiodon Okinawae, 2 Nemateleotris Decora, <<The gobies will be great in this tank.>> Paracheilinus Filamentous, Wetmorella nigropinnata, Cirrhilabrus, Laboutei, Pseudanthias Dispar, Oxycirrhites Typus, <<Longnose hawks are fascinating, curious fish...but you'd be surprised at the size shrimp they can get in their mouths...you are forewarned.>> Centropyge Loriculus, Centropyge Bispinosus, Tank Bred Pseudochromis Fridmani, Tank Bred Pseudochromis Springeri, Acanthurus Achilles, <<I can't endorse the Achilles Tang...needs more flow/more space than even this tank can supply.>> Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis, Paracanthurus hepatus , Zebrasoma Flavescens, <<Honestly...not a tang person when it comes to reef tanks...but these last three should be fine in this size system...if you must <G>.>> 2 Blue Synchiropus Splendidus. <<Again with the mandarins?  Please do wait on these.>> As well as various snails, hermits, and cleaner shrimp. <<Other than noted...a fine selection...do keep an eye on the pygmies though...can be risky to mix so many, even in a big tank, as well as a risk to corals.>>   Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated. I'm just looking to make sure I have the best possible start that I can provide for my underwater friends. Also, one last question, I want to use a 55 gallon tank just for holding live rock to culture algae on it so I can put it into the main display for the tangs and angels and then remove it and continually replace it with other pieces in the algae tank about once a week. My question, what lighting would you recommend for growing algae on the rock and would I have to use any supplements on this tank as well to encourage growth? <<No supplements...and a couple or three 65w 6500K PC lights will serve you well.>> Thank you again for your help. Nick <<Is a pleasure, Eric R.>> DIY large tank, system plans Hi: <Hello there> I would like to build a tank out of glass and plywood that measures approximately 132" length x 36" deep x 48" high. I have been trying to locate DIY plans for a similar sized tank in the 1000 gallon range, but have been unsuccessful. Do you know where I can find plans, or anyone who will draft custom plans to my specifications? <Mmm, nope... have seen ads for such plans in hobby magazines over the years... in the back, classifieds... You could easily piece together what's involved from a cursory reading of WWM, other sites... The height is a bit of an issue... I encourage you to consider switching the width dimension... make the system three feet tall, four feet wide... to save on the viewing panel cost, make it easier to work on, in> I am quite capable of building a tank myself, but I do not have the engineering knowledge required to design such a tank. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide. Rob Koblasz <What aspect/s are you wanting input on? Width of materials, modes of construction? Plumbing, filtration? Gear? Bob Fenner> 

Re: DIY plans Bob: <Rob> Thank you for both your time and reply. I guess I have quite a few questions relating to both the materials and the mode of construction. Is it better to use glass or acrylic, and how thick should it be? <Either might well be preferable in different settings... likely the glass will be less at the shorter height, the acrylic easier to work with (much, much lighter), but scratch and bow more easily...> As for the plywood, is 1" marine plywood sufficient? <If braced, screwed every four inches, fiberglass strip and resined in the corners, for the three foot height, yes> Is steel reinforcement necessary for the dimensions I would like? <No> I have an acquaintance with 2000 gallon tank that is 20' in length which was built with steel reinforcement every 2', but I do not know if it is necessary for the tank that I want to build.  <Not necessary, but advised... especially in an area subject to ground movement...> I have researched your site and others as you suggest regarding DIY tank projects and I do have a rough idea how to do this. With regard to the height of the tank and the changes you suggest, are there any structural concerns, or just cost and ease of maintenance? <Quite a few structural concerns... know that for every foot of height such projects about double in cost... in materials> I believe taller tanks are great for viewing, and floor space might be a concern with the extra foot of width. <Mmm, I'd do this... make a "cardboard mock-up of the shape/size of the proposed system/s... the three and four foot width/height dimensions, and stand it up in the proposed space... the three foot tall one is very likely the route you want to go...> I sincerely appreciate any additional information you can provide as I do not want to make a mistake I will regret when the tank is full. It makes for a much happier wife when the water remains in the tank. Thanks Rob Koblasz <I understand this... as well as the (extreme) possibility of the thing coming apart, perhaps killing someone. Bob Fenner> 

Redundant Skimmers For A HUGE System! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I am planning a 1400 gal. saltwater tank. <Woooww! That's a SERIOUS system! Should be awesome!> The size is of the main display, not to mention the sump, separate coral tank, etc. All in all 2000 to 3000 gallons of water. Would it be better to go with one large RK2 unit or many smaller Euro-Reef units plumbed so that each takes on a portion of the load? Thanks, Corey <Well, Corey, in a system of this size, I think it would be a better idea to have some redundancy. I like the idea of 3 smaller, yet capable skimmers. This way, you could clean them in sequence, assuring you of clean, capable skimmers at all times. Yes, this may add a bit to the necessary plumbing, but I think it's a much better idea than to rely on just one skimmer in a system of this size. Hope this is useful to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

2000lb Tank! How would you lift it onto the stand.  Its a 1300 Gallon acrylic tank we are installing for a museum and I'm trying to calculate the installation costs.  Is there a better way than pure manpower?  And how much manpower would we need? <Dangerous to lift by hand... we used to move such constructs... with hydraulics (either from the bottom or the top... jacks, lifts, back-hoes and straps...> It also needs a solid but aesthetic looking floor. <Mmm> The actual tank will have a motorized vehicle that people will be able to drive around inside the tank. <Miniaturized I take it> The trick is to have something that looks good, but can't be easily jostled by the moving vehicle... I have some ideas, but nothing super, do you have any? <Marbles, large flat rock... perhaps something you can just coat/seal with laminating resin... Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Matt

Re: 2000lb Tank! Any effective chemical you would recommend for a tank of this size? <... time to study... there are a few approaches... from swimming pool/spa to...> Also for lifting, do you think it would work to strap the tank and then lift it with a fork lift by the straps? Having trouble finding rentals for any other equipment aside from cranes. <Yes. Do wrap cardboard around the corners where the strap will touch> As per decorations, we were thinking of making a rock structure from various large river stones and slate underwater epoxied together, as well as large silk plants glued to the undersides of the rocks. Do you see any flaws with this plan? Matt <... I encourage you strongly... to investigate what you're about here thoroughly... before proceeding... much to save time, money, headaches... No way possible to "go back and forth" here, the Net to inform you fully. I would hire a local service company (aquarium) to advise you. Bob Fenner> 

Protein Skimmers (No SeaClones Here!) - 04/29/05 Hi, < Hello again Mohamed! > Thanks for the information on the pump, I will buy Tunze and Eheim pumps. < Can hardly go wrong. > I need some help with protein skimmers. < A common occurrence. > I am looking for a skimmer for a tank holding 2000l of water. < Uh...guess a Remora Pro is out.<G> > I was looking at the Tunze automatic skimmer 240/3 or Kent Marine Nautilus EX Skimmer 30" but before buying one I need to know which makes are the best skimmers on the market doing the work it should. < Wouldn't even consider the Kent skimmer...but that's me. For a system this size I would go with the Tunze skimmer, or a large Euro-Reef (my current fave). I have a ER 12-3 on a 375g display with a system total of about 500g (1900l) and it works great. Other skimmers could do the job for sure, but I'm confident that a Tunze or a Euroreef will fill the bill nicely here. > Thanks Mohamed. < Regards, Eric R. > New reefer - big display 2/23/05 I always thought having a wet/dry was just one of the required things for good filtration.  <a good filter... especially for heavy fish/bioloads... but not necessary> I'm not to sure what a "sump" is exactly yet. <no worries... do look into our archives at wetwebmedia.com under marine topics... especially plumbing. You'll see  illustration(s). Also, do consider reading/buying Mike Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium"> I guess it's just a box for the water to fall in to. <indeed... a reservoir for conveniently and discreetly hiding the majority of hardware> I have been trying to research some skimmers. Would you recommend external, or sump type skimmers? <whichever fits your space allowance best... seek AquaC, EuroReef or ASM brands for best value IMO> I have trying to do more research tonight on skimmers as it seems to be one of the most important items. <agreed> I have found three that appeal to me. One of these has a quick connect fitting for a calcium injector. Is this an important feature? AquaC EV400 Turboflotor 5000 twin EuroReef CS12-6 (very expensive) Worth the Money? <all good choices with the first and last mentioned being easier to tune and operate IMO> I also would like to know if you should subtract the approximate water volume taken up by all the rocks and overflow box when buying components. <not needed... oversize on estimates for filtration to be safe> For instance I have a 750 gallon tank. But have a center overflow, and plan on putting in a bunch of rock. Should I buy components rated for 500 gallons? I have been thinking I should buy one rated at 1000 gallons since they never live up to what they claim.  So to sum this up. I think your recommending all I need is a sump, skimmer and a bunch of cured rock? <yes... for a light to moderate fish load, aggressive skimming and frequent partial water changes (cannot be avoided... very good/necessary for long term aquarium health> Around 3000 watts of light, an RO/DI and mixing tanks? <DI water aerated then buffered is best> Would you recommend laying some 1 1/4" PVC on the tank bottom, then laying maybe 3/4" of live sand? <not clear on the PVC purpose here> Thanks so much again! I told a friend of mine who recently set up his first reef tank. Have a great night. Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Big Tank- Big Plans! Hi Crew. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> First off, thanks for all of your ongoing help to us marine enthusiasts. I do spend hours reading through articles and letters while enjoying and learning. <We're glad that you enjoy it! We sure get a kick out of bringing it to you!> I have an established 55 gallon marine aquarium with crushed coral substrate, live rock, some mushrooms, polyps, and a Ritteri anemone which house two Perculas. My other inhabitants are the usual cleaning crew of Blue Legged Hermits, Turbo snails, a Sally Lightfoot crab and a Serpent Star, a Green Wrasse, a Royal Gramma, a Mandarin and the boss of the tank, a Flame Angel. All in all, they seem to cohabitate fine together. In a few months I will upgrade my to a 180-200 gallon system. <Cool!> Of course, I will let the new system cycle properly (I hope to give it a head start with some water from my existing set-up), and I have all the proper skimming equipment, powerheads, mechanical filters etc. Will the following new additions be good members of this community system? A small eel of some kind (any specific suggestions ?)... <Well, there are a number of small Moray species that may be interesting. However, Morays do require significant water volume and great attention to husbandry. I've never though of them as "community fishes", to be quite honest with you. I think a dedicated display would prove to be a better route!> 2-3 Banggai Cardinals, possibly a smaller Lion fish (again any recommended species?) a few tangs i.e.: a Hippo, a Naso, and Yellow (or Kole) hoping these are different enough from each other to discourage fighting, <I'd avoid the Naso, as these guys get huge, requiring a really large tank (like 8 feet long and over 300 gals) to be truly happy, IMO. The other tangs seem like they could work, if introduced as young, smaller specimens.> ...and lastly as the showpiece some type of larger angel (French or Queen maybe?). <Again- the size issue is foremost with these angels. They can reach up to 18 inches in length, and require really large quarters. I'd go for a smaller variety. Perhaps, with enough cover (and if they are all introduced together), you could try another two Centropyge angelfish. It's still a calculated risk, but it could prove interesting if it works.> Please comment on the type that might be best for my system. I do realize that each of these must be added slowly over time. <Agreed! Slow and steady does the trick.> I don't want this new set up to become a predator tank so I am wondering about the Lion and the Eel. <Well, the Lion and Eel will give you an instant predator tank! if you want to be truly different, I'd shoot for a neat community of smaller blennies and gobies, and maybe some other interesting fishes, like Pseudochromids and the like. Big tank with small fish-a bold concept that I wish more hobbyists would try!> I don't want stressed fish so I am asking your opinion on these selections. Sorry for the long letter but I value your opinion. <Happy to be of service! I wish you luck with your new tank! Regards, Scott F.>

Plumbing a 275 gal Tank I want to thank you all for answering questions in the past. You have helped tremendously. I built the 275 gal. aquarium attached which has artificial coral as you can see. It will look better once filled with water, some live coral and algae and fish. All lights I built consist of 18- 65 watt Catalina PC bulbs in three polished mirror stainless steel housing units for a total of 1170 watts. They consist of 3-6500K, 3-20000K, and 12-10000K bulbs. Three bulbs will come on first, then another three, then the rest and shut off with the same idea. I'll probably purchase a moon light as well. Sound OK? < Yes, but that is a lot of bulbs.  For that much light I would have just gone with halides. > I intend on using a 4-inch live sand bed. Is that enough? < Wonderful. > The aquarium measures 96-inches long by 18-inches wide by 35 inches high. What is the best grain size to use? < Standard crushed coral. > Do I simply put it right on the tank bottom? < Yep. > I will install and Ro/DI unit. Any suggestions here on type and size? < I like the Kold Steril Units. > I read where 35/gal per day is most efficient, is this true? < No idea, I don't think it matters much. > My water is well. I read I need a TFC membrane if I have well water. Is this true? < I'd only do it if the manufacture says so. > The water flows from the bottom of both the right and left sides of the aquarium into a compartment as illustrated in the other attached file (does the illustration concerning the sump seem OK?), which fills and spills over its top into another compartment which is piped to a sump. My main questions here are what do you think is the best type of sump to build? I will build one of Lucite measuring 15-inches high by 13.5-inches wide by 72-inches long. < This sounds fine.  I think instead of just Lucite, I would purchase cast cell acrylic.  Actually, you may want to look into just buying a pre-made sump, or buying a cheap aquarium to use. > If totally filled it is 61 gallons. Height and width must be this size in order to fit under aquarium. Do you know of any pictures that I can use when building the sump to use as a guide? < Lots of online searches, and visits to friends' houses and pet stores. > Or is my diagram fine? < All is fine, but I'd test it out, and compare it to other sumps you see. > I intend on putting an already purchased AquaC EV-400 in the sump. I can build the over flows in the sump at any height as required by the skimmer to maintain proper water height. Should the skimmer be first or last in the sump sequence? < First. > It requires an Iwaki 55rlt pump. I thought it should be first. I really am not sure how to install the Iwaki. Then I will have a compartment in the sump for live rock and or macro-algae, and then through a pre intake filter and out via a Dolphin 3000 Amp Master to the aquarium.  I purchased a large pre-intake foam filter for the Dolphin because the Dolphin people told me that any particles that enter the pump will damage it. The foam filter is to prevent this. I do not want nuisance algae in the display tank. Is this pre-intake foam filter going to act as a nitrate factory? < No, it will be fine. > It measures around12-inches long and is cylindrical of around 6-inches. I intend on having a return from the Dolphin pump go to a surge bucket as well for good water movement. Should I make a compartment in the sump for any future devices such as a chiller if necessary? < I wouldn't waste space making extra compartments. > I have room to place a chiller elsewhere.    What type of lighting as far as K would be best (I like PC) < A mix of 10k and blue actinics for the tank, probably 6500K for the sump. > for the live rock and should it be turned on at night when the display tank lights are out? < Good idea. > I anticipate a turn-over rate of around 11 times an hour anticipating head height. Is this Enough? < Yes, sounds great. > Finally, I see that many people recommend that water to be skimmed should come from the most upper portion of the aquarium. My water as indicated is drawn from both right and left bottom sides of the tank. < This is very bad if you are saying your tank drains from the bottom, into the sump below. > Any suggestions here? < Yes, you need some sort of pipes that go up to the top of the aquarium and are sealed very well.  The water needs to drain from the top.  If it is draining from the bottom, it will instantly flood out all over your floor when you are filling the tank. > Should I purchase another skimmer or simply plumb a siphon from the aquariums upper water and let it drain into the sump prior to the skimmer? < Yes, this is appropriate.  But that siphon is more of an overflow and can't be a continuous siphon. > Or is this a non issue? Any suggestions at all concerning this whole aquarium situation? A lot of questions I know, however I'm finally putting it all together. Thank you - Chris Drialo    ---    Oh, another question. The back of the aquarium has its own room which I enter via a door. I would imagine humidity may be an issue. I installed a moveable Lucite covering for the aquarium. < Not a good idea to have the aquarium covered.  I would leave it open, and worry about getting humidity out of the room and out a window. > It is not totally air tight and is in three pieces and is removable. I installed EPDM rubber to the entire room area and installed an exhaust fan at the ceiling. However the fan is loud, not made for a salt application, and in my opinion, probably can exhaust at a much slower rate to be efficient. Do you know where I can purchase such a device? < That I don't know, you'll have to search around. > Should I make a Lucite cover for the sump as well? I right now am thinking of leaving the over flow compartments on left and right sides of the aquarium open for air. What do you think? < Leave it all open if you can.  The CO2 build up from having the tank covered can be very detrimental.  Again I highly recommend seeing more tanks in your area (whatever that is). > Thank you again. < After looking at the picture again, I see you are fine with the overflow situation.  I think I would still prefer to take water right off the top, and not off the bottom.  This will just be a lot easier and not stir up the bottom with water moving too fast around the sand. > <  Blundell  >

Lighting a Huge tank Lets say I built a aquarium 96" long by 48" wide by 48" tall. Is this even possible??) <Sure> out of plywood and glass according to the methods on www.garf.org. Would 8 96" VHO's be enough lighting to make this tank relatively bright and enough light for live rock and softies and polyps and shrooms? <Barely... metal halides are best for this size, depth of system> If I made a tank to these dimensions, would (2) Berlin XL's Protein Skimmers each rated for up to 500 gallons be enough skimming? <Should be close... but I'd look into EuroReef, ETS lines> How many GPH on an external pump would you recommend? <5-8kgph... look into Baldor-motored Sequence pumps... much cheaper to operate> And HOW would I heat a tank this big? With what type of heaters? This would sure require a lot of salt. Well, Thanks!, Adam M. <There are in-line resistant heaters of thousands of watts... You can find these on the Net. Bob Fenner> Re: 375g setup Hi Anthony, <Out till 12/12> Thanks for the tip - I will follow up with him. When you commented "you don't follow", I was asking if switching the 2 DSB's would have any effect or make a difference (i.e. Thalassia in the refugium with sugar fine sand and the Chaetomorpha with fine sand in the tank). <Might indeed make a positive difference> Also, I wondered if this was going to be quite enough tank turnover...other than sea-swirls is there anything else that can perform their function? With their 1" max input it's going to take a lot of them ($$$$). Would I just plumb some of the additional returns as "direct" and aim them away from any specimens to avoid uni-directional flow ?            thanks,               Greg <Best to make, place a manifold of a few discharges... with one through-put to a few, or even an "over the top" arrangement to return water from a strong pump source outside this size system. Bob Fenner>

Building A BIG Tank The Right Way! I am in the process of having a 340 gal. tall (72x30x37) acrylic reef tank built at a plastics manufacturing business here. They will be using 1 inch material for the body and 3/4 for the top and sides. Is this strong enough? <I'd consult the professionals who are making the tank for this one. They have a far better understanding of the strength of materials that they use. If they build lots of aquariums, they should know this.> OK. The main problem is the fact that they don't have a clue as to what an internal overflow box is but they said they can build anything they have a diagram for. <Ahh...Sounds like they have not built all that many tanks...Are you sure you want to work with them? It's often better to deal with a manufacturer that specializes in building aquariums. They require an understanding of the stresses facing the materials that they use, and need to construct the tank to meet these stresses. I'd seriously consider a dedicated aquarium manufacturer, such as Tenecor, Advanced Aqua Tanks, AAC, and others.> Can you help me at all in this? I have searched the net and your site and while there are pictures of external boxes I cannot find an internal diagram or picture. <You'll find diagrams and pics on the websites of the companies that I mentioned, as well as on DIY sites, like OzReef.> I am thinking I will need a 5000gph flow for circulation. Does that sound like enough? What would be ideal? <Well, it depends on the types of animals that you intend to keep. For a FOWLR, this is fine. For a hard-core SPS reef tank, you'd want more like 20 times the tank volume per hour (we're talking 6800 gph minimum), and some SPS nerds shoot for 30-40 times per hour! Study the requirements of the animals that you want to keep, and plan accordingly!> How many and what size holes for outlet and intake will I need? I plan on building a return manifold. <Again, it's more of a function of what works for your animals. A good manifold can have a dozen or more outlets in a tank of this size, assuming that you are pushing sufficient flow through the manifold to be effective. I'd consult DIY sites like OzReef, and check out some of WWM Crew member Anthony Calfo's work in online magazines like Reefkeeping and Advanced Aquarist. He wrote a great piece on manifolds several months back (I forgot which magazine it was published in, though!) which you should definitely check out! Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" is chock full of cool ideas that can help your project as well!> Any help would be appreciated. I have a 90gal. reef now but as you know, you can never get a tank large enough! <There is soo much innuendo I can use with that...But I'll let it go with a simple "I agree!" LOL> Waiting to hear, Trudy <Take your time and do a bit more research, Trudy. And don't hesitate to discuss this project with other hobbyists. Internet discussion boards like Reef Central have a "Large Aquarium" forum that is frequented by experienced hobbyists who may have some great advice for you on planning this monster! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> - Large Tank, Large Fish - hi! really, really love the sight! I have these fish now in many lg tanks but I'm wanting to put them together! I know some fish wont do well together but if I had a lg enough  tank would it work? tank size - 120x48x30 and fish are as follows: blonde Naso, BlueLine trigger, shoal tang, powder blue tang, Emp. angel, Mac angel, Moorish idol, zebra eel, Epaul. shark, Aussie tusk fish, blue dot grouper, Mappa puffer thank you Bart <Well, Bart, even with a tank of this size, there are still bound to be some problems. The Tangs and Angels would likely be fine. The Grouper would probably get large enough in such a system to make a meal of your other specimens, in spite of their size. Likewise, I would probably leave the shark in a species specific system - but otherwise, if you put together a tank of this size and have sufficient places for all the fish to hide, then it should work out. Cheers, J -- > How Much Sand and Filtration for a 1300 Litre Tank? Hi Guys, << and gals, although not here right now >> I'll be as quick as I can.  I do really have to ask these questions as you are the only people I will listen to.  The LFS are no help.  My 1300 litre main tank and 500 litre sump have just been delivered. << Excellent >> 1) I have read all the DSB FAQs but need a little clarification. I have bought some aragonite 1mm - 2mm size as I couldn't get sugar fine size (I'm in South Africa). << I don't like sugar size, so I think you got what you want. >> My aim would be for natural nitrate reduction.  Do I add a 5-6 inch deep sand bed to the main tank or  to the sump and how deep in the sump if so?  << I like about 4 inches in the main tank, and in the sump. >> A DSB in the sump only may be sufficient as I only have 3 Tangs, Niger trigger, Coris wrasse and a blue ringed angel plus LR and no corals.  << Actually the more corals you have, the less sand you need, as the corals are helping to filter the water. >> They are all around 4-5 inches at the moment.  I don't plan on adding anymore fish. In my 300 litre tank which is there current home my nitrate ranges from 0 to 10. 2) Is it better to add 2 x Turboflotor 1000 or 1 x Turboflotor 5000 shortly? AquaMedic is all that's available here? << Sorry, I'm not familiar with them.  Basically the more filtration and the more water motion the better. >> 3) If I put a glass cover on top of the tank to stop dust, evaporation etc. would it not stop oxygen getting in and gas exchange? << Yes, and no.  A glass cover isn't bad, unless it is like a tight seal and doesn't allow gas exchange.  A better idea is a glass shield right under the bulbs, but not all the way across the tank. >> 4) I have read sump FAQs as well, but do I add bioballs and those round ceramic things to begin with, or just more LR? << I would stay away from bioballs, and just go with more live rock. >> Thanks so much.  I've just been reading the "Goodbye to Powerheads" article so I'm away to build a water return manifold.  My fish are going to love me for this.  I don't know how people can swap their fish around, I have gotten so attached to mine. << Me too, good luck. >> Kind Regards, James. <<  Blundell  >>

Saltwater Pond in SoCal? Dear WWM Crew,  <Sean>  First, and foremost, thank you for staffing such an incredibly informative site! Between WWM and ReefCentral I've been able to answer countless questions over the past three years that would still be mysteries without you... On to the topic -- I'm evaluating the feasibility of adding a saltwater pond to the 1000+ Gal reef system I am in the process of installing.  The indoor portion of this system will consist of a 575 Gal display tank in my office, and approx 500 Gal of refugium/grow out/sump volume. The pond I am considering is roughly 12' x 8' x 4' deep, or ~3000 Gal. The two would be plumbed together via the 200 Gal sump.  <Okay>  The display will have roughly 6500 GPH of flow, and I was planning on the same amount of flow to the pond/lagoon via a separate pump. My idea is to keep SPS coral in the display, and run the lagoon as a large FOWLR section of the system.  <So far...>  My area of greatest concern is around temperature.  After researching this for the past two months it seems that a gas fired heater and heat exchanger would be the most economical way to keep the system warm in the winter months. Unfortunately, I am having trouble sizing this. These systems are rated in BTU/hr, but I can't gauge my requirement without local (to SoCal)  pond anecdotes on temp in Koi/Shark setups... specifically, I'm curious to know what fluctuations folks experience in their ponds that are NOT heated/cooled. I've found a good deal of information on your site, but no specifics as to average seasonal  pond temps in this region.  <And so a bit more info. on historical temps in the area would help... but a rough guess... 1000-2000 BTUs... There may well be a better long-term thermal regulation mechanism in the way of plumbing a recirculation line through a line that would through an exchanger and your gas-fired water heater... with a thermostatic mechanism to set the temperature. Bob Fenner>  Any help you can provide in that area would be GREATLY appreciated.  Regards, Sean

Large Tank Plan Dear Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob today> I would first like to thank you for taking my questions.  I currently own a 90 gallon reef tank and am interested in setting up a larger reef tank in my new home.  The tank will be 72x30x30 (280 gallons).  The sump and other equipment will be in the basement (10 feet below the display tank and about 15 feet away horizontally).  So, I figure my vertical height from the return pump to the top of the tank where the water will be returned to be 15 feet.  I plan to keep fish and mixed corals in the tank-some soft, LPS, Tridacna, and a few SPS.  I plan to install a large protein skimmer, canister filter (for water clarity since it is a see-through island tank), 57 watt UV sterilizer, chiller.  For lighting, I plan to use an Aqualine Buschke Aquaspacelight 72 inch (with three 250 watt HQI metal halide and four 24 watt Osram actinics). <An excellent lighting system> I have a number of questions about the setup that I would like to ask… <Sure> 1)What piping should I use for my drain and my return?  I am considering using a single 2 inch ID flexible pvc pipe for the drain and another for the return. The purpose of this is to reduce the resistance for my long plumbing run from the sump to the tank.  Is this appropriate? <I like the fact that you're using 2 inch. It sounds pretty workable to me. I would test the system once it's filled, however, to make sure that this works okay>   2)What kind of drain hole should I use on the bottom of my overflow box?  I would think that a single 2 inch drain would be loud. <It can be!> Would I be better using two 1.5 inch drains that would then "t" into my 2 inch drain line?  What would you recommend? <If it were me, I'd consider buying or constructing a "Durso Standpipe", which is a simple, but ingenious design that purposely limits the noise caused by water draining down. Do a little searching on the 'net under "Durso Standpipe", and you'll find good information on how to build or buy one> 3)The area where I want to install the aquarium receives a lot of sunlight.  Besides the obvious problem with heat generated in the tank, are there any other problems with having sunlight shining on the tank (in addition to the metal halides)?  I have heard that sunlight can cause algae blooms.  <Well, sunlight, in conjunction with high nutrient levels can lead to excessive nuisance algae growth. The object here is to keep nutrient levels low, and remain vigilant in husbandry> However, is this still a concern in a reef tank that is already well lit and has low water nutrients? <Probably not. The greater concern would really be heat, as you surmise> 4)How large a sump do I need?  I am a little constrained by space in the utility room where it would be installed.  I understand that the bigger the better. <My point exactly. I wouldn't go for one less than 50 gallons in capacity for this system, and ideally, 100 gallons! Go big if you can- the benefits are many!> 5)I have been looking into different pumps for the return.  Due to the size of the tank and the need for water flow/turnover for the SPS and clams, I suspect I need to move 3000-4000 gallons per hour.  I plan to use a Dolphin or Hayward pump.  Any suggestions on size, output, low speed vs. high speed? <I was thinking of the Dolphin series myself. An excellent, quiet, and extremely capable pump with a good track record> 6)What size chiller should I plan on installing, considering the sunlight issue? <I wouldn't use anything less than 1/2 horsepower. Ideally, you'd go for a 3/4 horsepower, or even 1 HP, if you can afford it. I'd rather have a safe margin for the extra water capacity, and the potentially unknown effects on the tank's temperature caused by direct sunlight in summer!> 7)I will probably have to run a loop off of the sump for the canister filter and UV sterilizer (pump then filter then UV then chiller then back to sump). Can you see any problems with this setup? <No- that is the way I would have done it, too! My only advice is to consider a refugium as a filter adjunct. Also, make sure that the protein skimmer that you will be using is an efficient, high performance one> Thank you again for taking my questions Sincerely, Michael Layland <My pleasure, Michael! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Natural Filtration Methods For A BIG Tank! Hi Scott, a little resume of our previous e-mails: I'm trying to set up a 350 gallon tank FOWLR with a 100 gls sump, in my new apartment, in which there will be 3 large clown trigger (9, 8 and 11 inches) <<Pardon a side note here... combining large Clown Triggers is not a good idea... very likely they will fight... to extreme damage. Even in a tank three times this size. RMF>> and 1 large Arabian picasso(6 inches) and 1 Guinea fowl puffer (10 inches) - I have them now in my actual tank - therefore with very high bioload . You told me that LR and DSB are OK for my tank filtration. <Okay> 2 questions for you: 1. Many experienced people told me that the container used to run a separate DSB would have to be nearly 2/3rds (about a 240gal) as large as the main system to be useful ; this size is too large for space that I have in my living room; what about it, is it true or not? <I'm not entirely disagreeing with this thought; however, I believe that your system can realize the benefits of DSB methodology without such a large remote sand bed. I think it's entirely acceptable to maintain a DSB in the sump. I have set up such systems before, and have several friends that have kept them for years without problems.  Remember, the DSB is just one of several biological "filtration" adjuncts that you will utilize in your system. The live rock will perform a similar role, and aggressive protein skimming will help, too. In a tank with heavy feeders and a large metabolic load, you will have to be diligent about regular maintenance, and utilize chemical filtration media (ie; activated carbon/PolyFilter) as well.> 2. I'd like to use (Berlin system) ONLY Live rocks with Caulerpa in my sump lighted 24/7. <I'd go for a "reverse daylight" cycle, myself> I think to put in the new 350 gallons tank + 100 gls sump 700 pound of live rocks - 110pounds LR rubble in the sump and remaining LR in the main tank. <Sounds fine to me...> Besides, I'll use a huge skimmer, Aquamedic 5000 twin (greater Aquamedic skimmer). <Excellent> I wouldn't want to use a wet dry filter, but I prefer a natural set up! Do you think this set up (ONLY Live rocks + Caulerpa) is able to handle that large bioload? <With the aforementioned caveat on maintenance, it is entirely possible, in my experience. Any macroalgae should be harvested regularly, if you intend to use it as a "filter", as you are removing nutrients from the system completely when you harvest. As with any system, use common sense when stocking and feeding.> Thank you for your advice. Best regards Lorenzo <Well, Lorenzo, I think that you are on the right track. Give your system time to cycle and mature, and I'm sure that you'll enjoy it for many years! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Big Tank-Big Plans! I have a custom 275 gal (=empty) tank. It is in a wall, made of plywood and coated with epoxy, the front is glass. It has a sink, drain, place for a sump, etc.. It is set up pretty well. I want fish only. I have spent a large sum of $ on imitation coral that has also been epoxied to the rear wall of this tank. I must tell you that it looks great. <Sounds terrific!> Imitation corals made today are, in my opinion, very realistic. My question to you is this. Can I simply add live sand to the tank floor (and if so how much) along with a very large protein skimmer ( I like Aqua C - what size would you recommend) <I'd look into an EV-400> and have enough filtration? <I'd go for at least a 3-4 inch sand bed, right on the tank floor> I purchased a wet dry trickle filter with bio-balls but now am afraid of using this wet dry filter because I belief that the resulting nitrate will ultimately lead to excess algae growth. I do not want any algae to grow on these beautiful corals. <Well, you're probably better off removing the bioballs from the filter and just using it as a sump- the "nexus" of your water processing system.  Throw in some live rock to provide additional "filtration". You will probably always have some algae growth on the corals. Regular, careful maintenance and some snails and other herbivores will help a bit> I of course will treat all water using something like a Kent max60HiS four stage Ro/Di or even Spectra Plus five stage Ro/Di ( Do you recommend any thing better here?), and perform regular maintenance. Can someone please help! Chris <Well, Chris- sounds like the basis of a good setup. Either of the RO/DI units you describe are fine for producing quality source water, as long as you change the membranes and prefilters regularly. I've used both. Currently, I use a Kent Maxxima "Hi S" model, and it does just fine. Keep researching a bit more on sumps, and I think you'll find that your tank will be better off for having one. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Big Tank- Big Plans (Pt. 2) Dear Scott, Thank you for your response. <You're quite welcome!> One last thought please. Will the live rock/sand in the sump and tank floor itself need special lighting ? What kind do you recommend? How long should the lights be left on if I put live rock in the sump? <The sand does not necessarily need to be lit. If you are going to keep macroalgae in the sump, lighting is, of course, mandatory. I'd use an inexpensive power compact fixture, run on a "reverse daylight" schedule (i.e. lights on when the display is dark, and vice-versa).> You guys have no idea how much I appreciate all you do and it is obvious so does everyone else!!! Chris Drialo <Thanks so much for the kind words! We certainly enjoy bringing WWM to you every day! Good luck with your system! Regards, Scott F.>

Wet/dries for 300g+ commercial installation 1/24/04 I work in the aquarium svc business, at this point mostly with 4' & 6' glass fish-only aquariums using wet/dries, and decorated with coral skeletons/shells  & artificial decorations.  We generally make our own wet/dries from 20 & 29  gallon aquariums using  PVC, eggcrate & bio-balls.  We have had good success using one Mag 5 or similar pump per standard overflow (All-Glass "Reef Ready" tanks) and with a sump capacity that is about 20% of the size of the tank (so that  evaporation doesn't become much of an issue). <All sounds quite appropriate.> We're preparing to handle sales and maintenance of 300-600 gallon acrylic  systems, and I'd like your input on a couple of things: a) Should we still stick with 20% size wet/dries? It appears that our competition is using smaller ones (re: less expensive), but we haven't maintained any  of the systems they installed so we're not sure how well this works. <I would consider 20% a minimum.  My greatest concern would be that the sump can handle the volume of water that will flow into it if a pump stops.  As a general rule, I suggest the largest sump that is practical.> b) Can you recommend a source of inexpensive rigid-sided rectangular tanks (made from plastic?) that we might use instead of glass aquariums to construct the wet/dries?  If we stay with our current wet/dry design and just enlarge it,  in most installations we will probably be looking to make wet/dries with  dimensions similar to 75 & 125 gallon aquariums.  (Anticipating that in some installations the wet/dries will still need to fit under the tank in a stand.) <Several types of water holding vessels come to mind, including fiberglass, acrylic aquariums, polyethylene tanks (often used in the back of trucks).  An internet search using key words like "water tank" combined with poly, polyethylene, fiberglass, etc., should yield a good starting point of hits.> c) Any input you can provide concerning the various acrylic tank makers would be helpful. <I can't really be of much help here in terms of specifics.  The "big boys" of the industry (Tenecor, Sea-Clear, etc.) haven't gotten there by chance.  Just stick with well known companies.  FWIW, your acrylic tank supplier is a great place to check with for sumps.  Adam> The Big Picture (Big Fish- Big Tanks!> I've read though all your FAQs about lionfish. I found them very interesting and informative. I wanted to ask your opinion about the number of fish in our tank. I'm concerned after reading all the FAQs that we have too many fish. <Definitely worth looking at...> We started out with George and Lenny. George is a black Volitans lion. He's now about 5 inches long. Lenny is a panther grouper. They were tank mates at the pet store for a long time before my husband fell in love with George, so we bought them both. They were in a 55 gallon tank with live rock only. But we have since moved them into a 72 gallon bowfront, with the live rock. And since the move we have also added Leo and Cleo, 3 inch black Volitans lions. And Frank, a green wolf eel, who is about 8 inches long. Just today, he brought home Frick and Frack, two yellow tangs. They are about 2 inches a piece. <Okay- no need to go further- it's seriously crowded, and you'll definitely need to move up to a MUCH larger tank for the long-term benefit of these fishes. They are small now, but they will get bigger- soon. And, there will be a lot of metabolic waste production with these fishes. Lon-term environmental stability is a concern here> We do have good filtration and a skimmer. I can't give you specifics without asking, but can provide them if its important. I do check the water and its doing very good. We have too many fish don't we? <I'm afraid so. On the brighter side- your husbandry techniques have been good so far- imagine what they would do in a much larger tank!> Our goal is to get another 125 gallon tank, but we haven't decided what to put in it. My husband has dreams of an Hawaiian Dragon Eel...insert sigh here... <Yep- major sigh...Insert custom order for 70 gallon acrylic tank with 300 gallon refugium here...> we have one 125 gallon already, its full of clowns, dwarf angels and a lot of other cool fish that George and Company would scarf down in a second. I'm thinking if we do get another 125 gallon tank that we should keep George (the big one and my baby), the two tangs and the eel. Is that too much even? <Better, but I'd honestly look at two 240 gallon tanks! I know that is a conservative stocking approach, but with big-time eaters and big-time waste producers, such as the ones that you have- the old adage about "dilution being the solution to pollution" holds true. More water, higher flow rates, major skimming, and lots of water changes will all benefit your animals.> My husband could keep his dragon eel in the 72 gallon. Alone. <I think it would be better in a 125 plus- alone. Or, consider a "Golden Dwarf Moray". Pricey, but it has lots of the "features" of the big guys in an 8-10 inch package!> Any advice or opinions you could share with me would be greatly appreciated. I love my lion. I don't want to hurt him unintentionally just because my husband has a fish fetish. LOL Thanks, Teri <Understood, Teri! I'd just think about expanding to either one much larger tank, or a few smaller ones (by "small", I mean 100 gallons plus). It seems kinda frustrating, but the big fishes do need big tanks for long-term success...Best of luck! Think BIG! Regards, Scott F>

240 Gallons and 1 Million Possibilities! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I purchased from a friend a 240 gallon show tank; 4' tall and wide and 2'deep. <Sounds sweet!> The acrylic tank was a steal at $50 and never had water in it, no scratches dings or dents, just a 10 foot long python that he kept as a pet. I was really excited about the tank and started putting together all of the parts that I felt were needed. I bought an Eheim 2229 wet/dry canister because I wanted a sealed wet/dry unit and figured it would double as one of my canisters. I bought the Prizm Pro protein skimmer, Helix 18 watt UV light, 2 aqua clear 802 power heads, Sea Storm mud unit (was free from another friend), Fluval 404 canister filter, Ice Cap ballast, 2- 40 watt VHO actinics and 2 40 watt VHO daylight bulbs. I also plan on buying or making a sump after I get done making the custom stand out of 6x6's and other BIG chunks of wood. <A thought here...You seem to be dependant upon a lot of mechanical filtration systems. You could really simplify things (and possibly save some $$) by going with a simple sump set up, and a more capable protein skimmer, like a Euro Reef or Aqua C.> I plan on doing a sort of hybrid reef setup because I do like some non reef tolerant fish. I also plan on using live sand/crushed coral and live rock as a supplement to my mechanical filtering capability. I talked to quite a few of the local shops and most are in concurrence that my setup should work well. <It can, but you will need to regularly clean and change the filter media to avoid them becoming a "detritus/nutrient trap". Again- you may want to explore the flexibility and simplicity that a sump affords for a large system> I ran into another fish store owner one day and was discussing this setup and he advised me that all I need is a filter sock, sump and a protein skimmer and two 10k metal halides. He talked about how he's breeding some reef life under this setup and that my equipment will not handle the tank for more than 3 months. <I don't know about the "3 month" estimate- but I do concur that you should do some research into this suggestion. Sumps work well, even in FOWLR setups...> I am concerned now about the path I have taken and that all of this equipment will go on EBay for pennies on the dollar. <Well, you can still use some of the components...For example, the canister filter can be used to help periodically "polish" the water with carbon, or you could run it continuously with Poly Filter, changing out/cleaning the pre filter and Poly Filter as needed> What is your opinion of my current and future path. Thanks in advance, Jeremy Pratt <Well, Jeremy, I really do think that you can do eat easier and better (especially for the long term) with a well-thought out sump. You'll be much happier in the long run, IMO. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

240 Gallons of Doubt? Hello, I purchased from a friend, a 240 gallon show tank; 4' tall and wide and 2' deep. The acrylic tank was a steal at $50 and never had water in it, no scratches dings or dents, just a 10 foot long python that he kept as a pet. I was really excited about the tank and started putting together all of the parts that I felt were needed. I bought an Eheim 2229 wet/dry canister because I wanted a sealed wet/dry unit and figured it would double as one of my canisters. I bought the Prizm Pro protein skimmer, Helix 18 watt UV light, 2 aqua clear 802 power heads, Sea Storm mud unit (was free from another friend), Fluval 404 canister filter, Ice Cap ballast, 2 110 watt VHO actinics and 2 110 watt VHO daylight bulbs. I also plan on buying or making a sump after I get done making the custom stand out of 6x6's and other BIG chunks of wood. I plan on doing a sort of hybrid reef setup because I do like some non reef tolerant fish. I also plan on using live sand/crushed coral and live rock as a supplement to my mechanical filtering capability. <You mean biological filtration, not mechanical. I suggest live aragonite sand over crushed coral to avoid trapping particulates/waste, contribute to primary denitrification.> I talked to quite a few of the local shops and most are in concurrence that my setup should work well. I ran into another fish store owner one day and was discussing this setup and he advised me that all I need is a filter sock, sump and a protein skimmer and two 10k metal halides. He talked about how he's breeding some reef life under this setup and that my equipment will not handle the tank for more than 3 months. I am concerned now about the path I have taken and that all of this equipment will go on EBay for pennies on the dollar. What is your opinion of my current and future path? Thanks in advance, Jeremy Pratt <Well Jeremy, I've heard of these hybrid ideas before and I don't know how well you can expect that to turn out, depending on your fish wish list. I would keep it simple and straightforward to begin with. Your lighting will be insufficient for reef life in a 4' deep vessel, depending on your coral/invertebrate wish list. You will make good use of those VHO's though, so not to worry, although after you use those up (in about 8mos to a year) switch them to 03 actinics all around to supplement the metal halides you will need to penetrate 4 feet of water. Something in the order of two 250-400 watt fixtures will suffice. With 10K you may want to just run the VHO actinics for a dawn/dusk/fluorescing effect. The filters can be used for carbon, so not a total loss, but forget all the bio-capacity of these and change them every two weeks (minimum) better small amounts weekly to avoid nitrate production. For the best presentation of this concept please read the articles on Live Rock and Deep Sand Beds on WetWebMedia.com in the Marine section. The only other upgrade I would look at is the skimmer. Before you go too far or use it, return it and look at a Euro Reef or Aqua-C for your sump for improved nutrient export. The main issue is your lighting.  Fine for 18" or less.  No need for the UV unit, return for more circulation, shoot for 10-20 times tank volume turnover.  Don't forget to factor in return pump from sump, overflows, etc. Best to draw up and solidify a good plan before spending any more hard earned $$$!  Look for more in the Marine Set-ups pages and faq's, more there than can be posted. I hope this helps you out! Craig>   

Large Aquariums Hi guys. <cheers, Bud> I am in the beginning stages of planning for an 800-1000 gallon fish only tank.  I won't actually be getting the tank for another 2-3 years (when I'm able to buy a house).   <good to hear> But since planning ahead is a good thing, and I enjoy doing it, I decided to get started with diagrams and equipment pricing/estimates.   <even better to hear <G>> I was hoping you could point me in the direction of some good resources (books, internet, or otherwise), that would help me do this project correctly the first time. Thanks, Adam <absolutely... get the fundamentals on the hardware first in Pablo Escobar's "Aquatic Systems Engineering". Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Big Tank..... Big Filter Thanks for all your help in the past. I'm coming much closer to finalizing my plans for the 300 gal. I'll be receiving in a couple of weeks, and without your assistance I don't believe I'd have designed a very effective system! <That's why we're here! Do keep the questions coming!> The tank will be constructed of glass (96"x24"x30")with two narrow supports at each end (5" each) and two wider supports across the middle area of the tank (10" each). The total width of all supports is 30" leaving 66" of open access at the top. Three overflow boxes are being constructed on the outside back of the tank. I have noted on this site that it would be ideal to skim as wide a surface area as possible to capture the maximum organic waste for a given volume of water. So, each box is 22" long (utilizing the entire available 66" width of open surface area) and will feature two 2" overflows (Durso standpipes in the box). Thus if all were utilized (I may not run full flow in this neotropical cichlid habitat, but I may want to "go" reef in the future) I will have six total 2" pipes providing flow to the sump/filter. <Good idea to overbuild for the future.> The return flow would be distributed through eight bulkheads inserted into the glass support braces in the top of the tank. Back siphoning would thus be no problem, and I could fix nozzles to the bulkheads to better direct flow if necessary. <Do realize that the nozzles will siphon until they reach and pull in air. Also be aware of the stress the bulkheads, pipe/hose etc. will put on your braces, in the horizontal plane, the weakest feature of glass. You may want to consider a manifold *above* the top altogether, eliminating this stress.> My questions are: 1. What would you suppose the flow would be per 2" pipe if I drained them all into a 6" horizontal pipe tilted a bit to drain into a sump? The 2" pipes would each have on elbow (45 or 90 degrees) leading to the 6" pipe. <The passive flow rate for 2" pipe? They can probably reasonably handle approximately 1500+ gph or so each, depends on design. To get a real number shop overflow boxes with 2" pipes, they will be rated at GPH. The WetWebMedia.com sponsors will carry these.> 2. Would I be better served to utilize a wet/dry filter or another form of filtration. I am planning, at the moment, on a 75 gal. sump. The drain would first flow into a micron bag, then over the bio chamber (bioballs in use in this freshwater tank), then a couple of baffles with a chemical chamber, returned via two Iwaki pumps (trying to get enough flow and be able to service one at a time without disturbing the bio-media). I have received two different sorts of advice in the past, one favored wet/dry while the other supported a pond/pool type of filtration (I believe Aquanetics was noted; if so please specify). <This choice will need to be made for your FW inhabitants, but perhaps with an eye to the future again. Either of these options would be suitable depending on capacity. They both work essentially the same way.  For cichlids I would go with a larger system. Neither of these would be necessary for a reef tank in the future. Deep sand beds, live rock, carbon filtration and protein skimming is the way to go there.> 3. Would the micron bag work best submerged (except for the top in or so) or hung above the bio chamber (the stand is 39" high and should accommodate either approach). <No matter. Position for ease of maintenance.> 4. Any benefit to skimming in freshwater? Probably not, huh? <Nope.> 5. U.V. filtration needed? After sump or in? Any recommendations? <Not needed.> 6. Heating via submerged Jaegers in the sump or a fireplug model? <I use Ebo's myself. A personal/esthetics choice.> 7. Return flow will need to have a couple of elbows (maybe three for each of the two return pumps) if I am to hard plumb the returns. Is there a distinct advantage to flexible tubing? I thought I saw it might be quieter, but I think I'd prefer hard plumbing the system with PVC for stability. <Perhaps a piece of flex tube after the pump to isolate that vibration. I prefer hard plumbed pvc, oversized to reduce the friction of turns, ells, etc. Flexible tubing can overcome this, but do be aware of pipe size. For instance, a Mag 18 with a 3/4" outlet only produces this rate and pressure with a 1 1/2" pipe. The hint? Oversize plumbing substantially. Pumps are easier to size/replace!> 8. Is there any way to keep floating plants without them all flowing down the overflows? <Mesh at the top of the overflows or tie them where you want them.> 9. I guess I'm most concerned with the filtration type issue. <Don't be. They both work the same, one uses aerated bio-balls as a wet/dry and the bio-wheel pond system uses a wheel for wet/dry biocapacity.  Some of the pond systems would offer a sump of sorts and more filter capacity as they are designed for larger outdoor systems. Cost/size/capacity are the main considerations.> Sorry about the length of the questions. Thanks in advance for all your help! <No problem! Hope this helps!  Craig>

Large Tank Set-Up Hello Crew, I just purchased a 720 gallon tank (96" L X 36" W X 48" H). Which I won't be setting up until I move into a new house but wanted to know if there are any places that have pictures and diagrams of their setup, how they maintain such tanks and what type of equipment do they recommend for tanks this size? <You could easily search through the ReefCentral tank of the month section. There have been some rather large tanks posted there.> I would like to make the tank a Fish & Invertebrate tank with a 4" Sugar Sized Aragonite sand bed, 500 lbs of Live Rock and a 100 gallon refugium, but haven't seen many 500+ gallon tanks with invertebrates and fish and was wondering if it's hard to maintain a fish & invertebrate tank this size? <No more difficult, just larger scale (water changes, equipment, etc.).> The tank is made out of 1" acrylic but the acrylic seems to be bowed from the center. I asked my LFS is this was normal for a large acrylic tank and he said his 500 gallon tank had the same problem. What do you guys think? <I think it was not built thick enough or with enough bracing. Forty-eight inches deep is exceptional for most aquaria.> The tank was setup and running when I purchased it. Thanks. <Hopefully, you will be ok when you set it up. -Steven Pro>

Large Tank with Center Divider Guys, I'm installing a 10 foot long tank in my restaurant. My idea is to have a Plexiglas divider with a multitude of small holes or slots in it to provide water flow. One 5 foot section would house a live rock predator type ecosystem, with morays, triggers etc, the other half a reef community tank. <If you have not done so already, I would rethink this, if you want to have a reef (corals and the like).> There will be inflows and outflows on both sides, plus a closed circuit line, pulling from one side, exiting in the other side with an in line canister filter. One large sump will be used with system with top line skimming, ozone, pumps etc. Any obvious problems I may encounter? <Tremendous nutrient problems and nuisance algae on the reef side.> Any other suggestions? <Simply keep the two systems separate.> Also, I've installed a 200 mg ozonizer on my home tank, total water volume 500-550 gallons. After a week my ORP has stabilized at 310 even though I have the unit set for 350. Is my unit too small for this size system? <Perhaps, but if holding steady, I would be happy with it. Versus trying to attain some particular number, I would strive to maintain stability and watch the trends of ORP.> The unit is on maximum output. I have not noticed a big difference in water clarity. <Perhaps there is some other aspect of your husbandry that is amiss. Ozone is a useful tool, but is not a remedy for any and all problems.> Thank you as always for your timely answers. Paul <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Re: 600,000L display tank in Australia <Now that's a tank! And worthwhile visiting... even if you might slip into the water yourself... Bob F> Cheers, Pete! > All is well over here in Australia. Excellent to hear :) Our new tank is > still going up slowly. > Thanks very much for your previous thoughts on our project. A pleasure, my friend. > Having not been on the net long I've been familiarizing myself with some marine-based sites and have been most impressed with coralrealm and wetwebmedia. Are there any other sites you consider essential viewing? Wow... so many great places to visit. Photography, ID, etc I like fishbase.org for fundamental taxonomy/ID... and even some of the big message boards like reefcentral.com can offer a nice pulse on the cutting edge techniques by aquarists in the hobby (a lot of amateurs there as well... but some really good stuff too). The e-zine Advanced Aquarist (http://www.advancedaquarist.com/) at reefs.org is pretty good. And if anyone in your company can read German, Daniel Knop's articles and work have been quite good (fascinating recent article on Entacmaea quadricolor imposed propagation in captivity). > For a very large tank such as ours, what would be the best quarantine procedure for fish we have just caught? Do follow zoological protocol: 4 weeks bare-bottomed, dim lit display. Sponge filtration (easily maintained/sterilized), non-porous artifacts (PVC pipe fittings) for hiding security and sterility (non-absorptive to meds if necessary). Medication is optional but recommended. I'd suggest freshwater dips coming in and/or going out. Formalin for all for first several days to one week. Malachite green in concert with Formalin for those that can/will tolerate it (large scaled fishes yes... but never scaleless, Elasmobranchs or small scaled species). things that it is truly effective against. More often it is inconvenient and ineffective. Anything if can kill... formalin can kill as well or better (especially with malachite). Still... it is an industry standard for controlling "Ich". If you choose to use it... please dose and test for concentrations twice daily... critical to maintain therapeutic levels. My best advice for controlling parasites in QT is a daily water changes siphoned from the bottom every day for the first 8 consecutive days. It has been proven to "cure" Ich without any meds by breaking the larval (tomite) cycle. I learned this from Blasiola and Gratzek (fish pathology at U. Georgia/Athens) Do individuals need to be held in separate tanks, or could we put through say 20 green > Chromis in one tank? For most fishes it would be best to keep one per tank. However in this case (with so many tiny fishes of the same species) I could live with the group QT if you are strict with the 4 week QT. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how critical the full 4 week QT is. While most diseases will be expressed within the first 2 weeks... some can be dormant for nearly one month. Be strict my friend. > Is a freshwater dip followed by four weeks observation and bottom-siphoning the best treatment? Right on, my brother! Would you recommend combining Methylene blue with the dip for newly captured fish? It is a good idea for most fishes... but some small scaled (Chromis) and scaleless species are quite sensitive to it. Yes... a little M. blue is good. > Similarly with corals and other invertebrates, can we hold more than one specimen per quarantine tank? Definitely in this case... with inverts infectious diseases are expressed quickly as a rule. Qt with inverts is really for screening pests and predators (bait for hitchhikers in the tank by suspending corals on racks or tiers and leave meaty foods on the glass bottom to lure predatory crabs, mantis, etc from the rocks. Many great tips and tricks here for screening corals of problem worms, crabs, shrimp, etc. We have some 4600L fiberglass aquaculture tanks with the floor sloping to a centre drain that we could use for this purpose. Excellent... just try to do small batches to reduce the impact if an infectious disease should manifest. > I'm happy to ask these questions via a site such as wetwebmedia if you prefer, so that others may also benefit from your wisdom. Actually... that would be great, my friend! Many aquarists around the world would love to hear of your facility and learn from our exchanges. Always feel welcome to e-mail me privately just the same... but please to submit husbandry queries to WetWebMedia.com And I thank you for your consideration :) I will forward this to Bob just the same so that he can post it. > Regards, Pete McKenzie Best regards, Anthony

Refugium and Pond question Dear Bob, <<I'm not Bob, but I play one on TV... JasonC here.>> I am working on the addition of a refugium to my 300 gallon (96x30x24) reef tank. I have obtained a 250 gallon container and plan to locate it and all my other hardware in an adjoining "fish room". I have researched your website and read your book (both excellent!) and have a couple of questions: 1. Is it ok to have the new "refugium" act as my only sump as well? <<Sure.>> If yes, do I need a separate area for the water to crash into from the tank overflow? <<In a container that large, probably not... but it wouldn't hurt, it would just need engineering and construction in advance.>> 2. My tank is currently turning over at about 8 times per hour, and I am planning on increasing the flow as part of the new plumbing (larger pump). Will a flow of about 10-12 times per hour be too much for the refugium to function properly (nitrate removal, oxygenation, transfer of pods and other critters to feed main display)? <<In this case, you may want to baffle the water coming into the sump/refugium just so things don't get completely swept away.>> My other question is regarding ponds. I live in southern California (near the foothills in San Bernardino County). My wife has always wanted to have a saltwater outdoor pond. <<I would think this is do-able, but not without many issues - right off the top of my head would be constant top-off to deal with evaporation.>> Is these do-able with local animals (maybe leopard sharks, or rock wrasse, etc) or is it possible to do something with tropical livestock. <<Not with local livestock unless you also invest in a LARGE chiller... tropicals would be easier, but you'd still need a pretty large heater to make sure the temperature didn't drop too low on that one day a year when it gets chilly.>> Any insight you have on either subject would be appreciated. <<I say do as much research as you can... this isn't impossible, but will probably test the limits of your financing.>> Thanks, Bob McCook <<Cheers, J -- >>

Large System Set-Up Dear all knowing, I was asked by a local resort to rectify the problems in their 1000 gallon saltwater fish only tank. They have no idea what they are doing. My experience is limited to small home systems, but I'd love to help them get off the ground. They have an elaborate filtration system plumbed in, but I didn't see a protein skimmer anywhere. Where do I go to get information about making their dreams a reality? PLeeease! They have complained that all the fish they've put in it have died. I guess I could start with water testing and then "dive in" from there. The acrylic tank they use is in a bar/lounge so maybe the view is distorted to begin with! Seriously, I'd like to help them out if you could start me in the right direction. Thanx <<Hello! This is Craig answering for Bob while he is attending the MACNA conference in Fort Worth. This is kind of a broad question but let's see if we can't get you on the runway! You don't mention any details of the set-up, age, or the type of fish they tried to keep, but it sounds more like you need the right information or help to make those choices. It is necessary for someone knowledgeable to teach whoever will perform the daily tasks of feeding, scraping, cleaning etc. how it is done properly, quantities, etc. The regular maintenance will also need to be done by someone knowledgeable of the filtration system and skimmer if one is installed. Is this something you are going to do or would this be done by a professional?  This will likely be the first consideration. I will assume it will be you. If you are going to do this then the only difference between your home system and this one is scale.  I would address the following areas: 1. Substrate.  Is this decorative, crushed coral, or some other coarse material?  If so this can trap debris and waste and cause water quality problems.  Deep aragonite sand beds can remedy this, consume nitrates, and reduce maintenance. 2. Live rock can perform many of the same functions and add decoration. 3. A skimmer plumbed in-line or in the filter /sump can remove much of the waste before it is consumed or converted into nitrate by the filter or other bio-media. 4. Air quality can contribute to water quality problems.  This tank is in a lounge/bar and any air fed into the filter or skimmer needs to come from a clean source, not from the bar or any smoking area. 5. Most filters for these types of systems are a drip type with bio-media like bio-balls or sponge and perhaps a sand or chemical filter.  These do a great job of converting ammonia/ammonium to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate, but they lack the anaerobic capacity to reduce or consume nitrates, which then tend to build up.    Add-on sand filters also consume oxygen which can be a problem in certain situations.  This filter will need regular maintenance and cleaning.  Live rock and sand could replace much if not all of this capacity and actually replace the bio-media in the filter, depending on the fish kept.  This would enhance water quality.  I can't stress enough, regular maintenance by someone familiar with and knowledgeable of the filter system and the principles behind it.  IE: knowledge of the nitrogen cycle and filtration principles. 6. Educating the regular care-giver.  Preventing over feeding and performing the daily chores improves water quality. There are several good books which could also help you to make some of the choices for this system.   Of course Bob's book is an excellent choice as is Anthony Calfo's book. Several companies make quality skimmers sized for 1000 gallons.  Jason Kim's AquaC skimmers and Euro-Reef are two of the better brands although any skimmer is better than none.  Keep in mind that a skimmer for a 1000 gallon tank will be rather tall.  Remote plumbing of skimmers and filters is common in such cases. Lastly, any fish added should be quarantined for the appropriate amount of time to make sure disease or parasites aren't inadvertently introduced by accident. Please let me know if you have any further questions or if you would like more detail. Yours, Craig>>

Re: Water Change, Big Reef System Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Due to the constrain on my aquarium frame (350 gal tank), my local aquarium shop recommends to build a sump within the aquarium itself with a tied-in refugium. <I'm not sure what the aquarium size/frame has to do with an external sump but I will trust your decision on this. I am assuming the tank cannot be drilled because it is made of tempered glass. I cannot think of another common exception.> Will the lighting effects the bio filter performance on the in-tank sump?  <yes... light does inhibit nitrifying bacteria. A darkened glass or acrylic will at least be necessary for an in-tank sump> Will it be covered by algae population and have adverse effect? <severely adverse if algae or any debris is allowed to accumulate or culture on the bio-media> Does 340W of fluorescent light enough for a 350gl tank if I want to keep hardy invertebrate and some soft coral? <that would be rather low lighting only suitable for the lowest light demanding coral. Even then they will need to be kept in the top 12" of water> How can I avoid bringing parasites such as marine ich from live rock? <the best way is to quarantine all new fish, plants and live rock for 4 weeks in a separate quarantine tank.> Can I sterile the parasite infected base rock by completely drying them up? <that will not sterilize it, my friend. Many parasites can encyst and weather extended periods of drying out. Keep wet and quarantined to run fallow without a host for more than 4 weeks instead> Is refugium very effective therefore almost necessary for a successful reef system? <I must admit that it is VERY helpful in many ways and many forms (RDP, seagrass, rubble, plants, plankton, etc)> Best regards! Liao I Ching <do consider that with enough live rock and two good skimmers a wet dry filter will not even be necessary (nor the internal sump). I suspect that the internal tank sump will be more aggravation than it is worth and that the bio-media will contribute more nitrate than its inclusion as bio-media is worth. Anthony Calfo>

A new (Very large) home aquarium in the works Hi Bob; Rick your reefing friend here again with an update on my hobby involvement. If you will remember I have a 180 gallon FOWLR and a 75 gallon FO currently set up. Here is my plan for the next little while. I currently have on order through a local, (Canadian) licensed manufacturer for All Glass Aquarium an 807 gallon reef tank. <Wowzah!> It measures 108 x 48 x 36. It has a Starphire laminated front, 1" thick. It will have 4 x 2" overflow and 4 x 1" returns. I will be connecting all the 2" overflows through a 3" PVC pipe flowing to one of 4 - 55 gallon Rubber Maid Brutes which will contain filter floss in an old salt bucket full of holes as a prefilter. This sump will also house my Aerofoamer 830 skimmer, calcium reactor, heaters, and FB filter. I will interconnect the 4 sumps with 2 runs of 2" PVC to ensure they can handle the flow rate of a maximum of 8000 gph. <Hmm, you'll need more through hulls, or better, larger diameter ones here... I would make these 4"... for 8k gallons... otherwise you will find the water "piling up" on the first incoming sump side... And btw these tubs do come in larger sizes...> The PVC will be connected to the bottom of the previous sump and run to the top of the next sump to help eliminate air bubbles. <Again, dangerous... I would connect them at the side/base where they're made flush/flat and fitted with a drain... and not worry about the bubbles at this point... can be screened out later> The second sump will house a plenum, 5" aragonite sand and Caulerpa Racemosa (sp?) <Caulerpa racemosa> which will be lit by a 175 watt MH 24/7. <Mmm, would place the refugium "out of sequence" here if it were mine... you don't want 8,000 gallons an hour going through... more like 150 gph... divert some water from the return to the refugium and have it overflow into the last/return sump> The third sump will have about 50 lbs. LR and the forth sump will be extra capacity for power outage etc. I will be returning the water through 4 4qxm-sc little giant pumps, one of which will go through UV, another through a chillier. Two will flow straight to tank. All return piping will be 1" PVC. Lighting will consist of 8 x 400 watt 10,000K PFO MH retrofits with 8 x 96 watt pc actinics.  <I'm buying stock in Canadian electric power companies!> The tank has Euro bracing and will include a full glass top. <In sections I hope. Heavy> I will fill the tank with 600 lbs Carib-sea Aragonite, (Can't get Southdown in Canada) <Have folks drive it up there with cigarettes?> and 400 lbs LR for now, more LR will be added in two or three months as finances allow. All the water will be RO/DI and I will be using Kent Sea Salt. I will be venting the excess heat and moisture with a large bathroom fan until I can afford an air to air heat exchanger. My questions are, how do you view the proposed set-up? Would you change anything? Do you think I'm crazy? <Not much more to state than the above... fish-crazy perhaps...> This tank will be a reef tank with mega species of corals and inverts with only tangs, Chromis and other reef safe fishes. What do you think of my plan? Pretty ambitious isn't it?. <Yes> As always, your opinion is very important to me. If I am following an incorrect path, now is the time to correct my course before all is purchased and set up. Would you add anything else to the proposed set-up? <Perhaps... a much larger refugium sump (like 150 or so gallons) with just simple fluorescent to compact lighting... and maybe a larger combination rock and return sump (again, about 150 gallons)... And likely just one large pump instead of the four semi-corrosive Little Giant series pumps... with plumbing instead of more pumps to get water around... Please do solicit the opinions of the chatforum crew here as well: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thank you Rick aka dafishguy <Oh! I see you already do participate on WWF.>

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