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FAQs on: Large Tanks, Large System Lighting, Metal Halides for 40-200 gal. Systems, MH for 200 gal. Plus Systems, Large System Filtration, Large System Skimmers, Large System Stocking, Large System Maintenance, Shark Systems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Marine System Plumbing Biotopic presentations

DRAW all out on paper... to scale... CHECK on the weight-bearing load of your floor/s... even if they're concrete... Have OTHER folks who have experience look over your plan, the site... ASK what they'd do (now) if this were their system

Moisture protection; SW Tas. pond         8/1/16
Hi, I am planning a 3 metre diameter circular cement cool-water marine aquarium to house local fish and other species and local seaweeds. Site..
Southern Tasmania (Australia)I am in consultation with a builder and the current subject being discussed is moisture control. how to best seal the inner surface of the aquarium (? epoxy.. if so what product and number of coats etc)(other strategies etc)2. what cement to use 3. reinforcing bar options. (steel, galvanised, epoxy coated, plastic)
Not all products are going to be available locally. However, I am aware that large public aquariums are always thinking about this issue.. so there must be an evolving body of knowledge and opinion. Have you any suggestions as to current thinking and preferences?
<Ah yes; our companies fabricated, installed such ponds years back. The technology is little changed. You can see my three books on Amazon re or read through their various parts archived on WWM's Pond subweb:
Start at the top.... Bob Fenner>

Tank Remodel project   2/25/14
<Mich, oh, Mike>
I would like to get your advice on a "tank remodeling project".   My question is all the way at the bottom but I think the background will help make the question make sense.
I have two 750gal marine fish-only tanks tied into one filtration system.  The system has been up and running for 8 years.  It is very stable today.  Most fish in the tank are over 6 years old - My puffer, Sailfin Tang and Raccoon Butterfly were transferred from my previous system and are around 10 years old.   So I really hate to disturb things too much and risk the fish.
8 years ago when I set up the system I chose not to put a sand bottom because of concern of having to clean and maintain 55 sq. ft. of "floor space" from 48 inches up.  So I used large coral rubble elevated above the base of the tank on a grating.  Underneath this grating I setup plumbing to circulate water to keep the settled waste to a minimum.  The water circulated to and from the area below the grating to a large sand filter.  At the time (since it is fish only) I setup Living Colors coral decorations with their associated plug-and-play bases.
Fast forward 5 years.  I started to convert to a FOWLR tank.  I added a large refugium (3ft x 6ft) with a deep sandbed (6-8" of sand) and 240lbs of live rock.  I got rid of the sand filter.  I kept the circulation running under the grating - but it morphed into a closed loop circulation with no mechanical filtration.
Fast forward to today.  Fish are bigger.  They have knocked down many coral decorations and it’s difficult to set them back up.  The triggerfish like piling up the coral rubble (for fun?) <Mmm, and purposes> into big heaps exposing the mechanicals underneath.
So this is what I would like to do:
·  remove the plug-and-play bases and replace them with dry rock structures. 
·  Epoxy the artificial corals on the rocks. 
·  Stop the water circulation under the grating. 
·  Remove the Coral rubble and replace it with sand. 
·  Improve water movement with powerheads on controllers to add random wave motion.
<All sound good, do-able>

I really don't like the idea of draining the tanks and temporarily moving the fish.  I would rather do this with the system up and running.
<Mmm, I would do the epoxying outside the system... allow to cure at least a day>
 I envision putting a temporary divider in the tank using something like a plastic tarp (with weights at the bottom) and work on 1/2 a tank at a time.  My question revolves in how best to accomplish this.  Here are the options as I see them: 
1)   Do nothing - least favorite because I want to address the issues identified above.
2)   Cut pipes feeding the “under-gravel” mechanics and bury the grating and mechanics in sand.  Pros - much less work.  Con - it would require much more sand (4-5 inches to give me 1-2 inches of sand above the grating).  I guess it could function as another DSB.
3)   Remove all mechanicals first then add my 2 inches of sand.  Pros - much less sand.  It would probably be easier to keep healthy.  Con - I think I would have to buy a wetsuit and do all this work underwater.
<I'd drain one of the tanks at a time; reconfiguring plumbing if necessary... remove the rock, let dry a bit... Get some good help... lifting, handing/handling all: More fun and safer by far.>
Any thoughts or better ideas?
Mike Spizzirri
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tank Remodel project   2/25/14

Thank you for your advice.  Yes I was planning to do the epoxy work outside the tank.  You are the second person to suggest draining the tank  (my LFS made a similar suggestion).
<I did this work... nineteen years service, fourteen in retail... many times>
  I  just dread the idea of chasing fish around with a net and stressing them out so much.
<Not hard to do with one dimension removed; the tank about drained>
 I fear my adult French would have a heart attack.  I don't have a lot of headroom above the tanks (~15 inches) so I have to do this with a net.  Ok I have to think about this one.
Mike Spizzirri
<Marines are... very tough. Like going to the dentist; likely your dread here will be the hardest element. Not to worry.
Re: Tank Remodel project   2/25/14
Thanks again for your help!
Mike S.
<Ah, welcome. B>

Glass thickness     12/18/13
Dear Wet Web Media,
I have a question regarding the glass thickness for a saltwater tank I am planning for a public room. The tank will be 20ft (600cm) x 16,7inch (40cm) x 22inch (20inch/50cm water height). The tank will be closed so center braces etc would be applied
I have asked different custom tank manufacturers, some saying that 12mm would be safe and others saying that 1 minimum of 15mm, preferably 19mm is advised.
<Well; at least the 12... better the 15... 19 is a bit much, but if you, the customer can afford it>
What is your opinion on this matter? I am asking because the tank is a lot longer than what you normally see.
Kind regards
<In theory, the length shouldn't matter (much) IF the bottom/stand/support is planar, level (and strong). In actual practice, the longer the run, the better to use thicker material (to resist breakage from twisting, torsion). Bob Fenner>

Pieter's 20 foot long reef tank <bent-glass, very nice SW>    9/12/13
Hi Bob,
<James (Salty)>
Do not know if you have ever viewed this before but thought you may be interested.  Pieter is using our Atlantiks to light this monster system.
<Did see some stills of this system that you sent along. Impressive. Am going to share on WWM. BobF>

6000 gallon fish only saltwater aquarium... design, data gathering...   5/3/11
Hey guys, thank you in advance for your time!
I am entertaining the idea of having a large saltwater aquarium built in my house. I will have a large front entertainment area in the house, and I have a vision of the aquarium being a wall that separates that room from the other connected rooms. Almost like an L but with a bit more curve.
Anyways, the tank would be decorated with fake corals, plants, and would be lightly covered with a coral substrate.
Question. For a tank this size, I am sure a wet-dry filter would be out of the question here.
<? Yes; though it/this could be one element...>
I have seen a lot of commercial tanks filtration filters online but they don't really say what each thing is in the photo.
<? For the sum of money this is going to cost to put in, service... you'll become very familiar with the names of the components>
I know I'll need a protein skimmer, a sump, heater and chiller, and a UV, but bead filter? sand filter? bag filter? bio-reactor, or all of them?
<There are a few approaches... pressurized sand filters are de rigueur w/ public aquariums of this sort of volume>
What is a good standard set-up to have when dealing with a tank this size?
<I'd be hiring a consulting firm here. Give Chris at RK2 (.com) a call...>
I would like to have ten angels, a puffer, some triggers, a school of Foxfaces, blue devil damsels, and an assortment of tangs. The filtration plumbing will go through a wall to an outside tuff shed.
<Mmm, this project is likely to cost a few hundred thousands of U.S. dollars, and a grand a month to maintain. Bob Fenner>
Re 6000 gallon fish only saltwater aquarium query  5/3/11
Hello Bob,
Just had to read this query although I definitely wouldn't answer it. I wonder if this chap realizes how much money a system like this would cost.
<Lo dudo>
I'm looking at a multiple pump filtration system capable of processing 60,000gph along with protein skimming capable of the same. At least one back up pump will be needed
in the event of a failure and/or maintenance of one of the system pumps.
A "tuff shed" isn't going to be large enough for a system like this. More like a very large room to provide easy access to all the plumbing and components.
A separate electrical service to the building is another expense along with an automated power back up system in the event of a power outage.
Water/sewage lines will also need to be run out to the building to feed the top off system and provide a source of water and large tub for cleaning purposes.
And depending on his location, heating and/or cooling will need to be provided in the room housing the water processing equipment. I cannot even begin to imagine what the total cost of a system like this would cost to build and install, but I'm sure we are talking well over 100K.
<At least>
A professional maintenance service will also be required.
<Mmm, no. One could, even should learn to do this oneself>
I could not imagine anyone with a full time job (if this is so) that would have the time to perform maintenance on a system this large. I guess I could go on and on and I'm going to
be very interested in reading the response by whomever answers this, and I'm thinking you're the man. :-)
<And you, BobF>

starting a saltwater pond   1/11/10
New Year Greetings (from Maldives) to WWM Crew,
<Hello to you Ahmed from sunny S. California>
I would appreciate if you could give us your professional suggestions/ advice on this project of us. Please bear with us if it sounds funny.
One of my friends and I are going to make a salt water pond in one of the islands (were my friend lives). Actually we want to convert a fresh water pond to a saltwater pond.
Dimensions are as follows.
Its a hexagon shape were S= 12' , A= 11' and H= 2'.
The options we have on our mind are:
1. pump saltwater directly from the sea to the pond and over flow it out to the sea. My friend lives very close to the sea and some of you might know how clean our seawater is. We did that before; but after few days we found out that the fishes eyes are getting infected. Question is, do you think this could work or where have we gone wrong?
<Certainly could work>
2. We are going to pump seawater directly from the sea to a sump get it skimmed and then send it to the pond and the overflow to return back to the sump. But we will have a mechanism to pump fresh saltwater from the sea like twice a weekly. Question: how much skimming would we require
<Mmm, something sufficient for the gallonage... pi R squared times the depth times about 7.5 gal.s per cubic foot... and stocking, feeding...>
and do you suggest a UV filtration,
<If you can support the install and operation costs, yes>
if yes were do we need to put the UV filtration (in the pond or at the sump)
<On the final discharge side of all filtration... after the sump on the way back to the pond>
and how big UV light would we require?
<Posted on WWM. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/uvselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
How much circulation will we need?
<Sufficient to "turn over" the water 5-6 times per hour likely>
At the moment we are pumping from a 2" pump from the sea.
<Mmm, should be enough, depending on the pump, plumbing, head, drag...>
Some challenges we will have to face are, since its and out door pond we will have to cater for the rainy season. If its raining we will keep the saltwater running 24/7 from the sea directly. Your suggestions please.
<Unless it's "really" raining, you should be fine... I have visited the Maldives... and know how hot it can be/get... You'll likely install a sun shade of sorts, and this can/should be employed to divert most rain water>
I know this is not a small task that we are going to start, but we would appreciate your input as we believe you guys are doing great to keep the hobby going.
Keep up the good work.
<Will do! Please send along news of your progress, images if you can. Bob Fenner> 

Re: starting a saltwater pond   1/13/10
Hi Bob,
Thank you very much for your comments. We will keep you posted on the progress.
<Thank you>
Thanks WWM Team.

Need an Idea on How to Re-Setup My Tank -- 12/21/09
I have a viewable from 3 sides' tank that is 8x2x2.
<<Ah, very nice'¦ I have an 8 x 2.5 x 2.5 tank myself'¦built into a wall and viewable from the front and back sides>>
I have lots of live rock, plus live rock that is no longer used in the tank and now been cleaned and dried. I just need a better way to use what I have to make a better display and better water movement. When I had the tank custom made I asked for a style that could be viewed as a walk-around, it has a pump that moves 5500gph, plus a 6x2x2 refugium sump filter. The tank has 4" of live sand but the seamount style that the live rock is arranged in is not a very good style and reduces the water movement plus also creates areas for detritus build up. Attached is a photo of the tank so that you may see what I am talking about and looking for ideas to change. Please give me some ideas on how I should rearrange the live rock since the inflow pipes are fixed and cannot be moved but the top flow outputs can be changed if you think they need so.
<<Well Bryan, based on what I can see and from your description, reducing the amount of live rock in the display (perhaps any surplus can be placed in the refugium) to a couple 'low' bommies will help with your water flow. Because of your design, I can see where the addition of powerheads/pumps at the open end would not be desirable. But, perhaps something like a Tunze Stream pump (the controllable/variable speed type) or a Tunze Wave Box could be added to the end nearest the wall. Either of these devices would provide some very nice pulse/surge type water movement to supplement the laminar flow of your return pipes that, coupled with the bommies, would work very well for this long tank I think>>
<<Cheers'¦ EricR>>

Large System Re-evaluation -- 10/19/2009
Hi Guys
<Hey Ian! JustinN here!>
For the last 5 yrs I (and my visitors) have been enjoying my tank.
I have a total 2500l setup (main tank: 2500mmx1200mmx800mm) and trying to house a full reef system. I say trying because I have had various successes with corals, soft and hard. The costs to run this size setup are quite high with food, water, replacing lights, fish and corals etc.
<Absolutely understood -- that's quite the volume of water!>
The government in South Africa however are proving to be my biggest challenge! In many different ways but now I have a serious problem. The cost of electricity has already increased over the last year by 35% and is set to increase a further +-40% per year for the next three years!!!!! This is needed to pay for a couple of power stations which no one seems to know when will be on line. It's the usual story about mismanagement of a national resource but of course it's nobody's fault.
<Ahh yes.>
The electricity cost to run this setup I have is about 60% of my total monthly electricity bill so it is becoming quite an issue. It is already more than the acceptable minimum wage!
Rather than shut down the whole system I am looking to restructure the tank in such a way that these costs can be dramatically reduced and somehow still keep the visual appeal.
<Understood -- lets see what we can do.>
* Do I just go much smaller? Problem is I have this huge purpose built void in the wall to fill so will look a little silly. However I imagine a 700l tank would be manageable in terms of costs.
<I wouldn't -- if power is your main concern, see the next commentary.>
* To maintain the size I imagine I have to remove all the live rock, all the corals so that I can cut right back on the amount of light. At present I have 8x T5 39watt tubes as well as 4x 25watt MHalides which I have just changed down from 400watt MHalides. I imagine and hope fish only do not require anything special? The moment the light is for the Aquarium trade it seems to be 3x the price!!
<Just in Metal Halides, we're already looking at 1600 watts of power draw -- this doesn't include the 312 Watts of T5 lighting. If you are no longer planning on keeping the corals, just remove the Halides from the system...
Even if you kept all the T5's active, you'd still be looking at 1600 watts less draw per hour running. Fish only tanks do not require any kind of special lighting -- the light is purely for aesthetics in these configurations. The same goes for live rock -- you might not get some of the stellar growths off your live rock like you can with full reef lighting, but this does not affect the efficiency/function of the live rock, only the colorful aesthetics.>
* The main electricity thieves are the pumps. How much do I need? At the moment I have 1x .75KW running 24hrs as a main pump for circulation, 1x .75KW running 16hrs a day as the extra wave/turbulence as well as a .45KW running 24hrs on the skimming. Various smaller pumps running all the other bits and pieces.
<This is largely subjective -- you won't need as vigorous of a flow in a fish only tank, but this is all your personal tastes... I wouldn't personally drop the skimmer, but perhaps the wave generation can be dropped?>
* Or do I look at keeping fresh water and try doing something completely different?
<You could -- if you chose to go with a planted tank in this situation, you'd be still looking at a lot of the same costs at the end of the day though.>
Please advise on how best to cut out all these crazy costs and yet still allow me to participate in this wonderful hobby.
<Well Ian, based on your commentary, my thought is for you to move to a fish only tank -- you can easily reduce the overall flow, and definitely reduce the lighting -- the lighting here only needs to be enough to complete your aesthetics, so you can see your livestock and enjoy it. Good luck! -JustinN>
Re: Large System Re-evaluation -- 10/19/2009

Hi Justin
<Hey again!>
Thanks for the advice.
<Glad to provide it>
I have been thinking along those lines, fish only, but wanted to get another opinion. The lighting I understand. What do you recommend regarding the water flow? As you said I could drop the wave generator pump, what could I do about the other pump which at present is pushing out about 20 000 LPH. However the actual volume returned to the tank is less, perhaps half that?
<Hmm... Now I'm a bit confused -- are you performing a balancing act, per se, between the tanks? Pushing water from the display to the sump with one pump, and returning it with a separate pump? I apologize if I'm densely misreading this, but if this is the situation -- this is a configuration destined for problems... There should be an overflow of some sort to accommodate the drainage from the tank, simply by using the reliable powers of gravity, and this outflow is then returned via the sump pump. If you're doing the balancing act here, removing and replacing both mechanically, that alone could be a great savings in power. Unfortunately, as big of a volume as you've got here, I'm not sure there's many solutions for circulation outside of using larger pumps -- traditional powerheads are clearly going to be fruitless, and even the newer propeller-drive style powerheads, like Hydor Koralia's, would likely be relatively weak with this size. There's always the option of slowing down the output from the tank to the sump, and likewise the return to the tank, but I'd say you're in about the optimal range if you're moving 20,000GPH.>
What return volume would you say I need to keep
the tank healthy? Would I have to get rid of my anemones, the clowns will be heartbroken!!!
<They'll find something else to 'host' -- they always do. My black and white Ocellaris has been having a long-term affair with my in-tank Tunze nano skimmer -- just don't tell his day-girl, the frilly mushroom! ;)>
My system also has a 200L refugium, another 100L tank filled with fine sand and of course the sump at 300L.
<Excellent -- hopefully my previous fear here is unfounded...>
How important is the control of Temperature in a fish only? Would they panic if the fluctuation was say between 24-29 deg C? Because then I can cut out my chiller.
<That's a pretty hefty shift in temperature daily -- if you can maintain this to a 1-2 degree max shift, you should be ok... stable is always better though.>
Thanks for your time, much appreciated.
<Glad to provide it! -JustinN>
Re: Large Tank Restructure -- 10/19/2009

Hi Justin
<Hey again Ian!>
Sorry if I have confused you. One pump circulates the water from sump to tank and then overflows back to the sump.
The other pump delivers the motion/waves in the tank through a closed loop system.
<Excellent -- the more I read, the more I felt those fears were unwarranted, but you can't ever be certain until you ask!>
The sump/tank pump is delivering about 10 000 litres ph to the tank although it is a 20 000litre ph pump. Reason of course due to also supplying the skimmer, refugium and extra tank, twists and turns etc before delivering to the main tank.
<Right -- the 'head pressure' of the line -- this all sounds appropriate here. The overall turnover rate wouldn't be as high if you were to drop the wave generation pump, but this would definitely save a good amount of power -- .75 KW is nothing to scoff at!>
The temp range I spoke about is over a period of time, winter through summer.
<Both ends of this range are a bit excessive on either end -- 25.5-27.75 degrees C (78-82 degrees F) should be the target range here. If you can keep your seasonal variations within this range, you should be fine. Let us know if you have any further questions! -JustinN>

Big Tanks Have Limitations Too'¦ Stocking And Equipping A New 300g -- 08/28/08 Thank you for your time in reading this email. <<No worries mate'¦that is what we do>> I know you are busy so I will be brief. <<Ah yes, that honey-do list ya know'¦>> It has been a long time but I finally received my 300 gallon (96Lx30Wx24T) tank. <<Congrats'¦ After finally getting a 375g display for myself after more than 30 years in the hobby, I do know the 'joy' of getting/having a big tank. Though friend and fellow Crew-mate Scott Fellman doesn't seem to think big tanks are such a big deal (dude'¦what up with that article?! [big grin]>> I have been planning this for about three years now. <<Planning is wise>> Every day since I started dreaming of this tank the stock list has changed a million times along with the tank dimensions. <<Been there>> Thanks to your website I now believe that I have the knowledge to provide my fish friends with the proper care to keep them happy and healthy! <<Yay! But'¦then why are you here now? [grin]>> All fish will go through a 4 week minimum quarantine. <<Very good>> The fish list includes 3 Chaetodon semilarvatus, <<A spectacular Butterfly species'¦I do hope they 'get along' for you in this volume (I have found that 300g+ is not 'all that big' sometimes)>> 1 Paracanthurus hepatus, <<I'm really glad this tank is as big as it is. This is a very robust and active (and nervous) species that requires a large volume for its long term health>> 13 Chromis viridis, Naso lituratus (male red sea), Moorish Idol <<Do obtain/train this fish to feed on New Line Spectrum pelleted food'¦will be a big benefit to all your fishes as well. See WWM re'¦>> and finally an Emperor Angel (red sea). I would add the angel about 6 months to a year after the tank is set up so he won't suffer from new tank syndrome. <<Mmm'¦actually mate, this wait period would benefit ALL your fishes, and the system in general>> I will be employing the use of an ATI Bubble Master 300 (would the ATI 250 be better for my setup?). <<Ah yes, a good friend of mine (Scott Groseclose at Aquarium Specialty) sells these. And yes, I think the '250' would be plenty of skimmer for your system>> ReeFlo Dart for return. 2 Wavy Seas attached to a closed-loop run on another ReeFlo dart. <<Very nice>> A Tunze Wave Box. <<<Do consider the 'space' these require as well as the restrictions re close placement of rock/coral (yes, even in a 300g tank) and maybe reconsider for some of the electronic Tunze Stream pumps w/controller (just a suggestion)>> 1 wave box to start then, when I get more money, I will purchase another one. Lighting will be 2 48" 65 watt Coralife Lunar Aqualights. <<Mmm, okay'¦so a total of '8' 65w bulbs over the tank>> I was going to make the tank a FOWLR but maybe down the road I would like to add a few softies. <<Your fish choices may say otherwise>> Do you think that I could keep the lighting I currently have or would I have to upgrade? <<This depends on the specific species of corals you choose. Stick to Corallimorphs and you will likely be fine'¦otherwise you may need a few more bulbs/a different methodology>> I will have a 100 gallon sump that will house the protein skimmer, a large refugium and the heaters. Sincerely, Brent <<Good luck, and enjoy that new BIG tank. Regards, EricR>>

Marine Aquascaping'¦Building Large Rock Structures -- 03/01/08 Are there any products or substances such as mortars, plasters, or plastics that can be used in marine aquariums to fuse together pieces of dead or live rock and build large rock structures? <<There are'¦though for building a structure from 'live' rock you will be pretty much limited to 'mechanical' fasteners of some type (e.g. -- Acrylic rods inserted through holes drilled in the rock) as using something like a hydraulic cement; though it could be applied 'submerged', will raise the pH of the water too high (about 12.0) and destroy the life in/on the rock>> I am looking to build a rock structure to hide a series of standpipes and returns in the center of a tank that will be 48" tall. <<Will require some thought/planning'¦but can be done>> I am worried that just gluing together the pieces will not be stable enough at this height. <<Indeed'¦ Best to use some type of 'skeleton' or frame upon which to attach the rock'¦and easily crafted from PVC pipe and fittings>> I have heard that products like Thorite are better than "standard" cement for this type of application. <<About any good 'concrete' mix used with a plasticizer admix should work, I would think. But going this route, the end product is going to be VERY heavy>> I have also heard that there are water-proof plaster products that can be used however my goal is to use products that do not require long term curing due to leaching. <<I don't know that a 'plaster' would have the 'strength' needed'¦as that provided by a concrete (aggregate) product>> Any suggestions are appreciated. -Adam <<I think for both performance and to lessen weight, a foaming Polyurethane adhesive may work best for you. The Polyurethane foam will not only form a chemical (glue) bond, but will 'expand' in to the irregularities of the rock creating a mechanical bond as well. The Polyurethane is amazingly 'sticky,' and is inert, as well as surprisingly strong, once cured (about 24hrs). You can get it in 'black' from aquatic (pond) sources, or use the slightly less expensive GREAT STUFF insulating foam found at most any home center/hardware store. I suggest you build the structure in segments outside the tank and then assemble/glue the structures together with more foam in the display. Don't forget to use a PVC framework to support the rock and foam'¦and do be especially cautious if using the foam in/around an acrylic tank as it may disfigure/etch the acrylic on contact. I used this material to build some large rock structures on PVC frames for my 375g reef some four years ago, and the foam/structures have held up very well. Regards, EricR>>

Dream setup questions Large Reef Setup 2/17/07 Hello guys! Well the time has arrived that I can start to price and setup my dream system. My military career is just a few years from being over and I have purchased land and have begun to start with an architect designing my home. <Excellent!> The center piece of that home is my dream tank. I have read and applied many of Mr Fenner's and Anthony's teachings over the years on my 55 gallon and my 180 mixed reef tanks. It seems I have learned so much and have made this hobby a treat. Since I tore down my 180 last spring for my last military move I have kept the reef juices flowing by reading, studying and designing my dream layout. I want to go as big as I can handle and what the wife will let me. It will be an in wall setup with a dedicated 15*15 fish room that is on separate heating/cooling and separate breaker panel and complete power backup system generator/ floor drain etc. The display tank will be about 600-750 gallons. At least 8 feet long for the tangs and debating on a 30" or 36" inch height <The height decision will make a big difference in lighting needed and ease of maintenance.> and 36" or 48" depth. My sump will be 120-150 gallons with a 50 gallon frag tank and 2 150 gallon additional water change vessel that will alternate to make water changes/ top off a breeze plus add a acclimating tank or a time out tank for those who do not play nice. <Sounds like you will have quite a nice setup.> I will also have a 120 QT tank on its own system. My first question on my debate is the refugium. I have read Reef Invertebrates several times and want to go as big as possible. <Yes.> I am thinking 300 gallons. Is that over the top? <No, not at all, the bigger the better.> One reason is I want to add volume for the display (I plan on stocking at 1in per 5 gallons using their max length), plus I have seen the benefits of your strategies with my other tanks. <Once a person sees the benefits of a refugium first hand it is hard to go back!> Also I want to go that big to house a lot of the rock. I want an open look to the display and plan to only put about 1 lb of LR to every 2 gallons and make up the difference in the refugium. Basically the fuge would be one-quarter of the total volume (around 1200) plus I want to add a 120 gallon quarter cylinder tank strictly for smaller fish and anemone's plumbed in. Also in the refugium I plan on a shallow sugar fine bed of around 1" strictly for looks in the display but I want a DSB in either the refugium of 6-8" or do you think a separate plumbed RDSB in a 30 gallon trashcan is better with just tons of live rock/Chaeto in the refugium bare bottomed? <I would opt for the DSB in the refugium, it will have a greater surface area. Although you could also run the remote DSB with it.> I am thinking of not adding any animals to the tank for at least 6 months to a year to let the refugium culture and display get its roots. However can I add coral in that time frame or will the slow addition of fish cause a cycle in a tank this size? <Not a problem, the addition of fish slowly will be fine with the amount of live rock you will likely have in this system. This is a long term project, and it sounds like you are approaching it as such.> Please as I start this progress shoot holes where you see fit. A few more quickies - what kind of turnover in the refugium is acceptable? <On a system this size, 1000-2000 gph will be about right.> - Display turnover I am going to shoot for 30x's, sound right? <Your water flow can certainly be this dynamic, but may not need to be depending on what you keep and where. In a tank this size you will inevitably end up with areas of high flow and low flow. So long as you place your livestock accordingly and have no dead spots of flow, you can likely get away with less.> Thanks guys for any help you can bring. I have read many of Mr Fenner's and Mr Calfo's books, postings and thank you for what you do for us. Jeff <Welcome Jeff, it sounds like you are well on your way to a successful system. Have fun setting up, Scott V.>

Big plans 11/2/05 I was just hoping for some quick criticisms on my plans for my 600g tank. It's big (obviously) kinda clunky shaped (90x32x48), <Mmm, would limit the height myself... trade off for more width if you'd like... easier to work on/in, keep clean, cheaper to build...> has a built in overflow/filter in the back left corner, I'm guessing probably 75 gallons or so. <The size of the filter?> The back and left sides have black backgrounds. Already drilled it has four holes in the bottom, two on the left side, and one on the bottom of the overflow.   <Going to be noisy> The tank came with two Little Giants, I plan to plumb two closed loops with those pumps, draining from the side where the holes are and each one pump returning to two of the holes in the bottom. Currently I am having a custom stand made that will be able to hold an extremely large refugium above the tank. <You must have very high ceilings!> The stand which is already partially made, and partially in progress is 12" off the floor holding the main tank, <Unusual...> and the top frame will sit 16" taller than the main tank where I will be able to mount lights. The refugium which is still in design I was planning to have the same footprint as the tank, be perhaps 16" tall or so. Oddly enough, and unsurprising to you I'm sure, the cost/effectiveness of the fuge is offering me some very interesting choices. It's significantly cheaper for me to get a 96x24x24 tank than it would be for me to get a 90x24x16 or a 90x32x16 <Oh, yes> which is what I would like ideally.  Silly customizations just rack right up regardless of actual gallonage. I'm sort of inclined to get the standard 240 just because it's cheaper, but I'm not sure how I'll feel about that decision once all's said and done. I feel like I'm sort of cheating your time by asking this sort of question, because it's mostly aesthetic (and I apologize :)  <No worries... though I have no "fashion sense" to speak of, I do have opinions re the looks of captive aquatic systems> - but do you think it would look "off" to have the fuge that is sitting directly above the main system, and really a display unto itself, to be 3" longer on each side than the main tank?  <Mmm, not really... though the main tank being so low to the ground is going to generate comments> And do you think it will be noticeable that it's 6" shorter front do back? <Nope> And do you think that at that volume of water it is "worth" taking the extra 6" of height just because I can for a few extra pennies even though I don't necessarily need the extra height for this particular function? <Not in my opinion> It's really nothing at cost, and adds about 100g with that footprint. Either way...the refugium will drain directly into the tank, and depending on what I decide to do be either pumped directly out of the overflow, or a sump if I decide that I need one. My vision for the refugium is really more of a fishless reef...in my mind's eye there are corals and algae and all varieties of invertebrate life living as harmoniously as critters that would eat each other if they were truly hungry can live,  <Heeeee!> and the 600 with be more along the lines of a FOWLR, putting in whatever noxious lower light corals I can possibly pull off. For the main tank, I have been planning on doing one closed loop in addition to the two coming out the bottom, and due to recent marveling at several other tanks with killer water flow have considered a fourth. I was eyeballing the Dolphin AquaSea that cranks 6000gph, and just drilling straight into the back - 8 outlets - each outlet with a LocLine T - so 16 outlets for that loop. This coupled with the two loops out the bottom would give me ~8500 gph which is pretty respectable for fish only system. My thought is that once this baby is filled, there's going to be no regrets, because there'll be no way to change anything. So I've been considering drilling, plumbing, and closing off 8 more outlets on the left side so that should I have the need and finances provide... I could simply buy another pump and stick it on there. Overkill? <Mmm, in my view, yes... better to limit such plumbing, pump systems to no more than two> Or am I still underkilling? Next thought is the sump - I don't really want one but I'm feeling like I might need one. I want to have an auto-top off system, which is easy to rig in a sump. Can one be practically installed in either the fuge or main... both of which will have overflows? <Yes> Aside from that, the only other reason I can think to have a sump is to have a place the skimmer - of  which I'm looking at the largest AquaC model. That issue is fairly easily remedied by spending an extra grand or so and getting a Euroreef, which I can just plumb obviously. Any other suggestions... or any other reasons I might truly need or want a sump? <Mmm, nice place to add heaters, new water...> Another issue I've run into (mentally) with that is that I have never seen a non-gravity fed sump, which...with the bottom of the tank only 1' off of the ground would be kind of tricky (say impossible?) <Just more limited/limiting> to do. The sump would be to the side, and I was thinking if I valved off the bulkhead at the bottom of the overflow and installed another bulkhead maybe halfway up coming out the side I could just run the overflow halfway full all the time?  <Yes> I think those are most of my plumbing concerns... but the questions are gonna keep rolling for a minute or two. The tank is acrylic, and the stand is steel. If the stand is reinforced with 3" steel beams front to back every 2 feet, is it still critical that the tank sits on a completely flat surface such as plywood?  <The wood will rot... best to have as planar, level as possible w/o> Is that something worth contacting a tank manufacturer about? The inside of the tank is also in need of some buffing/minor scratch removal. Any suggestions about where to get a hold of I'd guess almost bulk quantities of high quality super fine grit sandpaper?  <... I'd sub this job/material search out... take a look on the Net re...> It's a massive project, and planning it has been a blast, but overwhelming. I appreciate your thoughts and time as always!  Scott <If it's not too late, I'd make a plywood "model" of the tank, stand, refugium... and place it where you're thinking all this is going to go... I do hope the arrangement doesn't appear (too) odd. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Big plans 11/3/05 Thanks Bob for your quick re-my queries. <Welcome> I have the tank already... at 1/10th of the wholesale cost...which is why I took it despite it's awkward and annoying to work with shape. I'm going to have purchase scuba gear to work in it but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. <Heeee!> You have made me nervous (to say the least) about my grand design as to it's overall finished appearance, which I appreciate greatly... the last thing I want is a multi-thousand dollar funny looking setup.  <I would "raise this up" as high as your ceiling will allow... leave a good two feet "head room"... though you can likely fashion the lighting/canopy to slide backward/forward... to allow you to get into the system> As of right now, the tank is in front of my garage door, and the garage is set up as sort of a living room/shrine to aquatic life. I had (yes already done, tank now sitting on it) the stand built with this full design in mind: bottom to top - 12" stand, 48" tank, 16" lights, 12-16" refugium, and however much room I had/would need for fuge lights. The only way to possibly fit the whole setup in a standard room (in the future, if/when I move) was to make a really short stand. Also with a 4' tank, the top of the tank will still be significantly taller than say a standard 120 or 125 on a 3' stand, so I figured it wouldn't necessarily look all that abnormal. From the view of my couch, the empty tank and lower stand combo look natural at this point, and that is where I would guess 90% of the viewing would occur,  <Good point... much more "natural" than if appreciated most of the time by folks standing, walking about> and it fully covers up the garage door and most of that side of the room so it's still impressive in this environment despite it's diminished height. The top part of the stand is what is still in construction, and the refugium obvious to our prior dialogue is still just dreams in the works. I am taking your advice and constructing a plywood model to more closely identify with a finished product. Again, your sort of vague and ominous suggestions seemed to imply that you thought it would indeed look odd.  <Yes... but once the novel appearance "wears off", and the life in it becomes more of a focus... should look less odd...> I considered very strongly that it might, but decided ultimately if it were framed into a wall, it would look more like one floor to ceiling tank with a spacer in between than a tank with a big filter above it. Again I apologize for appealing only to your fashion sense ;), <Heeee! Am wearing rolled up sweat pants and slippers presently...> but I want it to look right. Would you scrap the overhead refugium idea in light of the fact that the tank is 4' tall, and even with the tank on a 1' stand the refugium will be seated at over 6' tall? <Hard to state... your plan will work... and am a big fan of relying on gravity... and such an arrangement may look like two semi-continuous tanks after all...> I had planned a 16" tall refugium so that I could have a 6" sandbed, and 10" of living and viewing space, do you think it would look better to go with a 12" tank and do a shallower sand bed or a 24" tall tank so that even from a disadvantaged viewing point you could still more or less see into the refugium? <Depends on what you ultimately want to do... keep... if this upper tank was/is for reproduction of soft and/or hard corals and other cnidarians... I would go with the12" depth...> If I did a 12" tall refugium, If I put it in a room with an 8' ceiling the tank would start 1' from the ground and the fuge would be 1' short of the ceiling - <Is there a gap in-between the tank and this 'fuge? How does it move to allow you access to the main tank?> so it would be perfectly square with the wall. I could most likely extend the 1' stand if I decided against the refugium, so that's not out of the question...it's just expensive to do more work, and expensive in that the top frame has already been designed to hold thousands of lbs of water, which would be needless without the refugium. Not that I think you are ever withholding, but just be brutally honest as to where you think this is will end up, and where you yourself might go with it in my shoes :) Thanks!  Scott <Well... to toss a large new world Cercipithecoid into the works:  If it were me/mine, I'd look into cutting the tank down, around the "middle" to 2 1/2 feet and 1 1/2 feet in height, use the cut off portion below as a/the sump/refugium, have a new bottom fitted on the upper tank... Bob Fenner> 

"BassPro" size/type marine system  1/16/06 Hello Bob My name is Seena from Canada, I worked in an aquarium store for about a year and now I work at BassPro and in that store we have a 24000 gallon freshwater water tank with large/small mouth bass, pikes etc..... <Yes. Am familiar... have been in the original shop in FLA> and I think a 12000 gallon trout stream. The 24000gallon take I believe has a concert shell with a large acrylic wall and two other small ones one the other side, my question is, would I able to build something like that but in saltwater. Would the concert be safe for the fish? <Yes> And how out I heat this thing? <Very important question... as this, along with pumping, will cost a great deal... I would look into more passive means... solar, orientation of the building... as well as "heat pumps"...> And one last question, for filtration could I use Large sand filters? because that is that we have at the BassPro.   <You could... though filled with other media... I would definitely "draw all this up on paper" ahead of actual buying of gear... Unless you are wealthy, or have some capacity as your employer to offset expense, this project may be too expensive to keep running, let alone set-up. Bob Fenner> Thanks you for your help Sincerely Seena

Planning A New (Large) Tank - 01/02/06 Hello crew and happy New Year! <<Hello and Happy New Year to you!>> As always, I offer my great appreciation for your site and your assistance.  Thanks to you I have had much success with my current 225 gallon reef tank. <<Excellent to hear.>> I am about to begin a remodeling effort for my house and will be moving the tank to a new location, giving me an opportunity to go even larger and fix some of the things I don't like in the current tank. <<Larger eh...sweet!>> I would love your input on the initial design decisions (and will no doubt come back with more questions if that is okay). <<You bet>> The new space is going to allow for an 8' x 3' x 3' tank (about 540 gallons).  I might be able to push it to 4 feet deep, but haven't decided. <<Do it if you can afford/accommodate...you'll regret it forever if you don't.  But then, it's easy for me to spend your money <grin>.>> My current tank is acrylic with deep sand bed and I have put numerous scratches in it, <<Same here>> particularly when cleaning close to the sand bed. <<Yep...a necessary evil.>> Since I want to continue with the sand, I want to have a glass front. <<And back/sides/bottom I hope.>> I read recently that the low iron glass tends to be more prone to scratching, have you found that to be true? <<No personal experience with this, but have heard same as you.>> Would you recommend using low iron or not? <<If it were me...I would go with the low-iron glass.>> I would be interested in getting a composite tank with fiberglass (or some other material?) sides for all but the viewing pane.  Do you know of any fabricator for tanks of this nature? <<I don't...and I tend to think it would be safer to have an all-glass tank rather than trying to seal/adhere dissimilar materials.>> I have attempted to create a biotope tank as described by Tullock in his Natural Reef Aquariums book.  I probably have not gone far enough in this direction, choosing animals from the indo-pacific lagoon biotope he describes (giving me the most flexibility and variety of species). <<Mmm, not so much the biotope that provides/limits flexibility as the fact the animals will be kept in a small (by comparison) closed system.  Best to focus on a single species within the niche for optimum results.>> I mostly keep LPS corals with a few soft corals mixed in.  I will be keeping the same arrangement in the new tank.  Can you give some suggestions for lighting on the new tank?  My preference is metal halide...more bang for the buck with a more natural appearance in my opinion.  Likely 150w (10K) pendants will be more than adequate for the species you plan.>> I currently have 2 pendant MH bulbs on about a 6 hour (midday) photoperiod and 3 VHO bulbs on about a 12 hour photoperiod. <<I would increase the MH to 10-12 hours.>> I like the concept of the Outer Orbit lighting systems but I don't think they make any setups that will provide enough light for my new tank. <<I don't think so either, you'll probably be best served by using single pendants on this tank that can be positioned/spaced as necessary.>> I also worry about having my VHOs and halides built into the same system meaning I would have to replace both if the controller for one failed.  I also don't need to worry about finishes on the lights as the tank will be built into the wall in a dedicated fish room. <<Then look in to "retro" kits to save a buck.>> I know that the recommended amount of water flow has increased substantially since I built the last tank.  My guess is that the new recommendations of 20 times tank volume applies more for SPS than LPS and soft corals.  Would you agree? <<Not necessarily, all will benefit from vigorous water flow.>> What would you think would be an appropriate amount of flow and how would you go about producing it? <<A MINIMUM of 10x tank volume in a random/turbulent fashion.  The larger Tunze Stream pumps will work well for this size tank.  Or you can fashion a closed-loop system if you wish to keep equipment out of the tank.>> The largest LPS I have now are a variety of Euphyllia, a Bubble, a Pearl, and several Favia.  Finally (sorry for the length of the post), <<No worries mate.>> do you have an opinion of the work of GEO ( http://www.geosreef.com).  I have seen other large tanks built with his equipment and am considering ordering his kalkstirrer, calcium reactor, and protein skimmer. <<Again no personal experience, but have heard good things from others re. Try hitting the BB's (RC/Reefs.org) to see what those who have the equipment say about it.>> Thank you for all of your help and recommendations!  Your site has long been a favorite of mine and I spread the word whenever possible. Larry <<You're welcome Larry.  Regards, EricR>>

New "Dream" System - 12/01/06 Hey crew, <<Hey Bob!>> I am in the midst of planning what I hope will be my ultimate dream system. <<Lucky you!  Most hobbyists only ever get to dream about such things.  I myself was lucky enough to install a 500g SPS in-wall system about three years ago>> My reason for writing in is that this is a sizable ($$$) undertaking and I don't want to make any serious mistakes. <<Indeed my friend...not including livestock, I have more than $25,000 invested (per my wife anyway)>> I am working with a custom tank builder who has made some recommendations for the system.  I would like to get some second (or third) opinions embarking on this venture. <<Wise...the more the better>> Main display - 620-gallon acrylic tank 114x42x30 with integrated overflow on back wall.  Display will be designed around SPS coral (primarily) and fish. <<I'm happy to see you are choosing a particular "genus" of coral to concentrate on, rather than going with the ubiquitous "mix reef" type of display...you will be more successful for it>> Aquascape will be constructed with both a reef face and back reef/lagoon area in hopes of encouraging more natural behaviors and growth patterns from the inverts and fish. <<Nice>> Filtration will be located in separate room with dedicated ventilation. <<Very smart...my system is built in to a wall, but I also installed an exhaust fan that has proven invaluable at removing moist/warm air from the space (assisted by 12v computer fans to keep things "moving")>> Skimmer - AquaC EV2000 <<A fine skimmer (met the company owner a couple weeks ago in HI)>> Calcium reactor - Korallin 4002 UV sterilizer - 120 watt Aqua UV <<This is unnecessary and even unwanted, in my opinion.  Aside from the maintenance hassle to keep the unit efficient, it will destroy/reduce populations of beneficial micro-biota utilized (needed?) by the coral, et al>> 250-gallon sump with DSB and live rock. <<Excellent...but I would limit the amount of rock/keep much of the sand bed "exposed">> Sump has a lid, which will keep the DSB in near total darkness. <<Not necessary...but not a problem either>> This sump will feed all skimmers and other filtration hardware as well as provide location for GAC and other chemical media. <<All good>> 200-gallon raceway style refugium with zones for macroalgae, pod culture and frag grow out. <<Cool>> Circulation provided by two Dolphin Ampmaster 4000 feeding off of sumps at a total return rate of 6000 gallons/hour. <<Mmm...might do better to put one of these on a closed-loop...this is an awful lot of water to process/deal with going through a sump/overflows>> Closed-loop pump - Sequence Dart return line will be connected to an Oceans Motion 4-way device <<Very good...but do consider how you're going to get 6000 gph through that sump...efficiently.  I doubt you will be able to speak above the ruckus it will make.  And the overflows needed to handle such flow...mercy...>> Eductors to be installed on all return lines.  Additional flow to be provided in display by a pair of Tunze Waveboxes. <<Neat!>> An Aquadyne controller will provide system monitoring and some automation. <<Automation is key on such large systems>> Here are my initial questions:  Is 450 gallons of sump/refugium overkill for the display? <<Not at all, bigger the better.  Many public aquariums utilize sumps/refugiums that are "larger" than the display to take advantage of the intrinsic values re>> Would the equipment sump/DSB work better if illuminated? <<Not necessary>> Should I plan on dosing with Kalkwasser as I begin to add SPS to the system (it appears from my research that many hobbyists do this and a calc reactor) <<Indeed (I do)...utilizing a Kalkwasser reactor may prove beneficial>> Is there anything in my initial filtration plan that causes concern? <<Just the amount of water you plan to process through the sump>> Obviously I will have lights, live rock, and other items, but this part is what has me scratching my head right now. <<Ok>> If I am successful with this set-up, I plan to expand into a coral grow-out area with additional capacity. <<I see>> I look forward to your thoughts. Bob McCook <<Do keep me posted on your progress.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Equipment list for 500 gallon system   11/26/07 Hello, <Hey Kirk, JustinN with you this fine evening> And thank you for answering my question: <No problems, is what we exist (as a group of like-minded individuals, not as a personal crusade! *grin*) for> For my Xmas present this year, my wife has given me the OK to get a 450 (96x36x30) custom acrylic gallon tank for our new home. <Very nice! Quite an undertaking, and quite a woman for letting it happen. *grin*> The largest tank I have had to this point has been a 125gallon tank. I have been in the saltwater hobby for 8 years, but I must say this is an exciting but seemly overwhelming task. <Can be daunting> I know the choice of filtration, pumps, skimmers and crucial to the success of this project. <Absolutely> With that said, I would like to know what types of skimmers would you recommend for a tank of this size.  I am going to have a mixture of fish (large angelfish, triggers (pink tail or Bluethroat), butterfly (copperband), clowns, and possible a Naso tang) and corals (mostly being LFS and a clam or 2).  I am NOT going to keep SPS corals. <Am sure you know this, but still feel I must mention that both the angels and the butterfly run a very high possibility of nipping both corals and clams to death.> Skimmers ------------ The research I have done so far has led me to the following skimmers: H&S Bubble King Deltec Klaes I would like to know if a Euroreef or ASM skimmers are a good choice for this large of a tank.  Whatever skimmer I decide on, it needs to be a well design skimmer AND produces a sufficient amount of skimmate. <I believe any of these would be sufficient. Just to be safe, get a skimmer that is recommended for a tank larger than your overall water volume. That should give you the piece of mind you seek, regardless of manufacturer.> Filtration/Pumps ------------------- I am planning on a closed loop system, and for a pump choice it must be quiet and emit low heat.  I was thinking about Dolphin AMP Master pumps, but some other reefers have mentioned larger Bluelines, but I do not know much about them.  Can you offer any suggestions in this area?  How much water flow (i.e., gph/hr) should I plan for?? <Alas, I have no experience with either pump, but going on what I've heard, I hear nothing but glowing praise for the Blueline line of pumps. Sequence pumps also seem to carry a similar reputation. Sorry I'm not of more assistance here.> Calcium Reactor ------------------ Is this a mandatory piece of equipment with a tank this size? If so, can you suggest some models for me to research. <I would not consider it mandatory, no, but it will simplify and automate that much more of your maintenance. Korallin, Knop and Tunze all make readily available calcium reactors.> Thanks for any advice you can give. Kirk <Well, wish I could say I had more specific recommendations for you, here, but I think you will do fine. Just read as much reviews of equipment as possible on online forums, talk to local reef clubs, and research before you purchase. Do keep us informed on this wonderful sounding project! -JustinN>

Shrimp as ray food, Oblivious questions re a large SW system   1/16/07 Hi I was wondering what kind of protein skimmer I should buy. I have a 150 gallon now with a carbon filter. Is a protein skimmer the same as a filter or do I need both? <Mmm... a skimmer is a type of (marine) filtration device... Most folks find other filtration necessary...> I am in the process of getting a 500 gallon tank. What is necessary to run such a marine tank? <?> Wet dry filter, Protein skimmers? Any other suggestions on product? <Yes... Please read... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Too much to relate... w/o knowing what you intend to keep, do what with...> One more question, is ghost shrimp a sufficient diet for my ray? <No> Should I be giving Vitamins if so which ones? <This and much more you need to know and will enjoy is posted/archived on our site... Please see WWM... learn to/use the indices, search tool...> If anyone is in desperate need I can ship ghost shrimp to picky eaters in need. I am fortunate enough to live on the bay!! Thanks Michelle <Ahh, thank you for this kind offer. Bob Fenner>

Newbie 1st Huge tank... Not quite ready...    3/20/07 Hi, I live in Hawaii <Mmm, which Island? Am familiar...> and we're looking for a 1st salt water aquarium. We actually had a hard time finding tanks this big and equipment to go with so we have to order mostly online. I've been reading a lot for the past few days on this site. My Conscientious Marine Aquarist book didn't come in yet. We're looking to get a 300 gallon acrylic tank for our Arowana but I want to set the tank up for salt water in the future. I'm not exactly sure what the proper route the equipment is. <"Many roads..." depending on what you want to keep, what you want to do with it... how much time, money you want to invest, keep putting in... how fanatical with gadgets you intend to try to be...> I couldn't find diagrams showing people's setups. I'm still researching for the equipment but this is what I came up so far. Does this all sound good? I attached my diagram for my setup. Also I can't figure out the overflows. Does the hole go on the top half or bottom half of the tank? <Mmm, can be either, both...> The company says they will drill the hole for me. I want everything to be hidden as much as possible. Thanks. <These are important decisions... requiring knowledge, careful thought... My advice, don't have this tank drilled until you're aware of your options... Easily enough done... by reading...> 1.    Aquariums > Rectangular acrylic 300 Gallon Tank 96" x 24" x 30" Tall 2. Overflows > back corners 3. Stands > Rectangular > CS Oak 200-240-300 Gallon CS Oak Stand 96" X 24" X 30" Tall http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a232/pikherchu/Aquarium/4781.jpg 4. Canopies > Rectangular > CS Oak (Not sure of the height) 5. Protein Skimmers > Euro-Reef Euro Reef RC500 http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a232/pikherchu/Aquarium/RC250-REV-2_0-500x 752-1.jpg <Oh, for browsers... these images are proprietary... We don't "lift" others work (w/o paying for it, or having the owners' express consent to do so> Rated for aquarium systems of +/- 500 gallons with a medium bioload Footprint/ sump space required for skimmer: 17" x 24" Height: 30" Reaction chamber diameter: 12" Reaction chamber volume: 8.38 gallons Inlet sizes: 1" Outlet size: 1.5" Pumps (included): (3) SPE5 Euro-Reef modified EHEIM 1262 pumps Pump power consumption: 120 watts (3X40w) @ 115/120 VAC 60hz Air intake: 2400 lph <Yes... but to point out... the water exiting from the skimmer won't magically flow uphill to the sump as illustrated... will have to be mounted in the sump or at a higher elevation...> 6. Lighting > Possibly two or four Hamilton 3' retrofit light kits. 2 metal halide 250W and 2 98W super actinic blue fluorescent bulbs with VHO ballast. Dawn to dusk effect. http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a232/pikherchu/Aquarium/680.jpg <Again, many possibilities... depending on... Really... investigate the life you intend to keep... gather, arrange the gear to suit it... not the other way around> 7. Pumps > Iwaki (don't know size or quantity) 8. Chillers - Heaters > Pacific Coast 1/2 HP CW-0500 (We have a split air-conditioning unit on mostly during the day and night. It's about 75-80 degrees in the room. Do we need a chiller/heater?) <Likely the latter... more than one> http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a232/pikherchu/Aquarium/00000028-200604060 94031-43579794.jpg 750 gph minimum/1500 gph maximum 6000 BTU removal capacity 60 db noise level 15" x 19.5" x 15.5" 1" PVC inlet and outlet connections 10 degree cooling up to 450 gallons and 30 degree cooling up to 240 gallons. 9. Sump > KIS Reef Filter - 125, Reef Filter 24" x 12.5" x 16" http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a232/pikherchu/Aquarium/3931.jpg 10. Refugium > Eclipse 25 gallon 24" x 12.5" x 26" Tall (current tank with Arowana) 11. Live Molokai rock <Neat> 12. Live CaribSea sand if it's legal to have <Mmm, I think so... Call the shops on your island re. Bob Fenner>

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.>

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>>

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>

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 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>

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>

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.>

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> 

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