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FAQs on Marine System Set-Up & Components 23

Related FAQs: Best Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4FAQs 5, FAQs 6, FAQs 7FAQs 8, FAQs 9, FAQs 10FAQs 11, FAQs 12FAQs 13FAQs 14FAQs 15, FAQs 16FAQs 17FAQs 18FAQs 19FAQs 20FAQs 21, FAQs 22, FAQs 24, FAQs 25, FAQs 26, FOWLR Set-Ups, Reef Tank Setups, Small Tank Setups, Moving Aquarium Systems

Related Articles: Marine Set-Up, Marine Planning, Getting Started with a Marine Tank By Adam Blundell, MS, Technology: Putting on the Brakes:  How much is too much? By Tommy Dornhoffer Reef Set-UpFish Only Systems, Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Small Marine Set-Ups, Large Marine Systems, Cold/Cool Water Marine Systems Moving Aquariums

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Marine Tank Setup & Stocking First of all I would like to thank all of you for such a great resource for all of us interested in keeping marine or freshwater aquariums. Your web site is great for those of us who need honest insight into aquarium care (I also have Bob Fenner's and Michael Paletta's books both great). I have taken to heart your patient approach to getting into marine aquariums. <Ah, good> I am about 4 months into the setup and stocking process of my marine tank. As this is my first marine tank I'm taking it slow. I sent this email because I do not have many LFS in my area and wanted to get input on my tank and if I'm doing things properly. I have a 55 gallon tank with about 55-60 lbs. of live rock, about a 1 inch bed of crushed coral, a Remora Aqua c protein skimmer w/pre-skimmer, a 300 gph canister filter, and 4 powerheads moving about 700 gph.  I also have a 10 gallon tank as a quarantine tank with a powerhead, heater, sponge filter, and PVC sections. I cycled the tank with 40 lbs. of rock shipped in from Walt Smith in Ca. It had to be re-cured which I did in tank with skimmer, powerheads, and filter. I had been using tap water mixed with Instant Ocean. I then started having a problem with a brownish algae which from research realized it was probably diatoms. I thought it was probably because of my water having silicates or some other nutrient for them to feed on. <And your tank "just" being new> I got a r/o filter system and gradually got rid of the diatoms. After it cured and cycled I got another 20 lbs. of fully cured rock from a store locally. I added this along with my substrate. I keep up on my water testing and have been reading zero across the board on amm., nitrite, nitrate, phos., and silicates. My temp. is steady at 78. I have to adjust my pH (8.1-8.3), alk (4-5), and calc (380-400) levels due to the r/o filter but keep them up using Seachem Reef Buffer and Reef Complete. After a couple weeks of steady readings I ordered some snails (Mexican Turbos and Cerith) to take care of some hair algae and any remaining diatoms. After another couple weeks to see how the snails did I bought my first fishes (BIG day) 3 months into the process. I bought 3 tank raised percula or ocellaris clowns( hearing many different names for clowns false percula, ocellaris, etc.). It's been a few weeks and they were doing good so I moved them from the dorm to the mansion and they look to be enjoying the bigger abode. I am getting a six line wrasse in a few days for my next fish. Now for my dilemma. I do not want to make the mistake of overstocking. I've had my heart set on a few fish from the get go: the clowns, a flame angel, and either a blue (hippo) or yellow tang. I knew the clowns and the flame angel wouldn't be a problem but I was wondering if either tang would get too big. <Should be fine... though this is about the smallest volume I would place one of these in> I would like to have the 3 clowns, six line, flame angel, and either tang. I had also wanted a group of Chromis but realized I would have to cut back to get what I really wanted. As I said earlier this is my first marine tank. I am glad I have gotten into the hobby and want to do it right and limit my mistakes. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you again for the great wealth of good info. and for your time and patience. Jeremy  <Thank you for writing... though please do note that product names, company names are proper nouns (to be capitalized)... Sounds like you're doing and will continue to do fine. Bob Fenner> 

Re: GARF and becoming an educated consumer, aquarist Hi All, <Sam> Great website and glad I found you. I have done a fair amount of   research (biotope presentation, systems, maintenance, etc.) and have a 30 gallon  setup   ready to go following the advice found on your site and then I found  GARF.  I am not terribly experienced, however I found some contradictory  advice.   Could you help?  Thanks in advance. Sam <Help is available. Do your best to inquire re specifics... understand underlying principles and you'll be able to sort the "wheat from the chaff". Bob Fenner>

How is my 50 gal tank set up? Greetings, I want to first start off by saying thank you for your great advice and direction for us "marine tank " enthusiasts. I am looking for some advise or your comments on my particular set-up. I have a 50 gallon marine set-up with the following invertebrates: 6 turbo snails, 6 blue hermit crabs, a brittle star, a spider crab, and another crab (not sure of the name), a half a dozen small leather corals, a larger bubble anemone, plus an ever increasing bunch of life in the live rock. The tank has been running almost 6 months now and I will soon add fish. I have an Aquaclear 300 filter w/ charcoal, a SeaClone 100 (newer version) protein skimmer, a Fluval 2 powerhead for circulation, and 2 x40 w marine lighting, temp. around 79 degrees.  I regularly test for ammonia, nitrites, phosphates, and test the ph. Everything has remained at almost 0 levels and the ph is good as well. I do have a bit of hair algae on some of the live rock and the glass at the back of the tank that is not visually pleasing but other than that all seems good. I have about 35-40 lbs. of live rock and 2.5 inches of substrate (crushed coral). I do know that the SeaClone does not have a great reputation as a protein skimmer but I am working towards getting it set to work sufficiently in this system. The bigger question is the Aquaclear 300 sufficient filtration for this system? << Well yes and no.  It isn't adequate on its own, but your tank sounds fine.  The key to your filtration is that crushed coral sand bed, as well as the live rock.  If you have those items, and low density of fish, you should be fine. >> As I said so far all tests have been very satisfactory but I want to be sure before I add fish to the system and increase the bio -load. It has been suggested to me by one of the local pet stores that I should be getting a different (more efficient ) filter system such as a Hagen. << If you decide to spend more money, then I think you would be better to get more live rock, not mechanical filters. >> Also do you think there is sufficient water circulation with the above noted equipment? Any other comments or support is always welcome. << You can never have too much water movement.  Just make sure that what you have is rippling the water surface, and you should be fine. >> Again thank you for your assistance. Dean Fowler <<  Blundell  >>

New marine set-up, ownerHi all, I am new to salt-water tanks and so far this site has scared me into taking my new tank even more serious.  It's made me think about a lot of things I hadn't, so now I have a bunch of questions that I'm hoping you can help me out with. <AdamC here and glad to help.  Please be respectful and conscientious with regard to the animals you keep, but there is nothing to be scared of!> I have already ordered a customized acrylic tank (before finding this site) it is going to be built in-between 2 walls in my kitchen (a 36"h custom stand is going to be being built as well). The tank will be viewable from the front and back.  The size of the tank is 74x30x36 (345 gal) with 2 overflow boxes on the left and right side, underneath will be a wet/dry filter with dimensions 48x18x26.  I have read in several posts here that tanks are better when they are short and long, I was planning on starting off slow with a fish only tank and then evolving into a reef tank, now I'm concerned that this tank maybe to high.  Is this to high? <Sounds beautiful!  The dimensions will be just fine for a reef tank or fish only tank.  Most folks would choose to make it wider than it is high, but with such a large tank, it won't be a problem. If you plan on converting the tank to a reef, set it up and run it that way from the beginning.  I would use the wet/dry just as a sump (no bio-balls) and rely on live rock and a good skimmer for biological filtration.> I have also read that you should cycle the water in your tank 6-7 times per hour.  The formula I have seen around is ((gallons in tank * #cycles per hour)/.75 (.75 assumes that you will get a 25% reduction in the manufacturers GPH due to joints, elbows, gravity up to the tank (Head)) so if I plug the formula in I get (345*7)/.75 = 3220 GPH.  Does this sound right or am I missing something? <Sounds about right for a fish only tank.  For a reef tank, do consider 10-20 times!  Do keep in mind that all of this flow does not have to, and shouldn't go through your sump.  In tank flow devices (power heads, Tunze stream pumps) and close loop circulation pumps will help provided the need flow without overwhelming drains.> Since there is a return hole in each overflow box, would you recommend 1 or 2 pumps?   Could you recommend a good low maintenance water pump(s)? <I like the idea of two pumps since you will still have some water movement if one fails.  Iwaki and GRI pumps are the gold standard of reliability.  Dolphin and Silent Seas pumps are nearly silent but require regular maintenance.  Sequence pumps are a good compromise... very quiet, not as maintenance free as Iwaki or GRI, but less hassle than Dolphin or Silent sea.> Could you also recommend a protein skimmer for this size of a tank. <I would choose an Aqua-C or one of the many Becket driven skimmers (myreef, Precision Marine, HSA, Aerofoamer).  Most of the makers of these skimmers should be fairly accurate with their recommendations, so choose a model that is rated for your size tank or just a bit larger.> I am now also concerned about earthquakes, can you suggest a way to add additional support (I will have an inch on each side of the tank).  Can I glue the tank to the stand?  Should I attach some sort of 'L' brace to the 2 surrounding walls?  <I would consult a building engineer and/or public aquarium for advice on this topic.> I haven't had time to research lighting yet, so outside of lighting, is there any other hardware that you might recommend I get for this size of a tank (heater/cooler)?  Thanks for putting up with these beginner questions and thanks for your time and efforts.  Thanks, Jamie  <Lighting is the one thing that you can upgrade later if you are going to start with fish only.  I would suggest a minimum of VHO's to be sure that there is enough light to sustain some of the photosynthetic life on your rock, but you can add to it later if you convert to reef.  If you do add a lot more light, you may need to add a chiller, but if you have central A/C, you should be able to wait until that time.  Please feel free to write back with questions about specific choices or set up plans.  Best Regards, AdamC.>

Used Tank Continuation <Hi, you've got confused MikeD again!> To clarify, I put in FO, (Fish only, but it was saltwater....)  I can see while going through tones of e-mail how easy it would be to mis-read a FO for a FW :) <It's the ones that look like FU that make me nervous> The sand I was going to replace anyway.  Or at least take most of it out and use some of it alongside some Live Sand just to add a little depth...but due to the copper issue I will just toss it.<Not a bad idea. I personally prefer fine grade crushed aragonite for its buffering abilities> And finally, with the light question 175w and 250w (not g) :)  I'm talking about 2 250 watt Metal Halide bulbs being around the same cost as 2 175 watt Metal Halide bulbs.  It will be over a 55 Gallon tank :)  Maybe I should stop using acronyms :)<Or I could quit answering e-mails at 4:00 am **grin**> Again ignoring heat (this setup will be on one side of the basement where I can have plenty of air... and it doesn't have to look good.)  will this be too much light?<For what?>  Is there such a thing as too much light?<This is a yes and no answer. If you're going with FO or FOWLR there's no need for the MH's, and with high nitrates this is a gimme for a hair algae bloom from hell. There's also some evidence that some nocturnal species kept in shallower tank can be adversely affected by too much brightness to the point of blindness, such as squirrelfish, lionfish and such. The only reasons I can see for MH's are 1)shallow water reef corals, 2) giant clams, or 3) wanting to grow shallow water macro algae that have similar needs to some corals. Otherwise it's just extra money spent for no reason that you may regret later.  If you're going to do a FOWLR, another option many go to with excellent results is "moon lights", actinics only to simulate a night time appearance that also helps various marine fauna to flourish. If you JUST want to add a clam, 1) make sure you don't have a clam eating fish on your list, 2) and you may want to consider a single "spot" MH over just the clam.> Thanks again!<You're welcome. I hope this helps a little. The confusion may well be my fault as I failed "Mind reading 101" miserably...the prof. said I wasn't serious enough. Go figure?>> Richard

New Tank in Progress Hello Crew, <Hello! Ryan with you today> Hope this finds you all well and enjoying life. <Oh, yes.  Thank you> I have been planning (and agonizing over) a marine tank for 2 years now.  I have had freshwater tanks for the past few years with great success, but feel the need for a little spice (salt IS a spice, right?). <Truly!  Just don't let our freshwater friends in on it.> Anyway I have been an avid reader of WWM for the past 2 years and have looked over thousands of FAQ's until my head is spinning!  (GREAT SITE!!!)   And I know you must get tired of everyone wanting you to tell them how to set up a tank, but was wondering if you could bear to critique one more set up before I start "smoking the credit cards"... <Ha!> Here is my plan.  Please be brutally honest so I can learn from your experiences and not repeat stupid newbie mistakes: <Very good> 150 US Gallon Acrylic Tank from Tenecor (60X24X24) with 4-6" Live DSB (Will drill for overflows) 55 Gallon sump in basement (Pump head approx 8') with 6 " DSB 20 Gallon upstream refugium with 4" Live DSB and NO Fluorescent Lighting Tunze TZ5135 Skimmer <I'd skip the DSB in the sump, so that you can run it at a higher GPH.> 88 LBS Live Rock (hopefully another 88 LBS in a few months) (2) 175 Watt MH  with (2) 96 Watt PC IO salt (2) 250 Watt Ebo Jager Heaters RO/DI Unit (4) ~270 GPH Powerheads (Brand Recommendations?) <Maxi-Jet 1200.> Dolphin DP-1200 1200 GPH Pump from sump All critters will be quarantined minimum of 4 weeks All this is in order, hopefully, to be able to keep the following: (1) Naso Tang  (Naso lituratus) (1) Tasseled Filefish (Chaetodermis pencilligerus) (1) Clownfish (True Percula) (1 Mandarin Dragonet (Pterosynchiropus splendidus) (Added 12 - 18 months after setup) (1) Purple Filefish (Nemateleotris decora) Some small schooling fish (recommendations?) <Flasher Wrasse, Chromis, Tank-Bred Cardinals> (1) Tridacnid Clam (Placed in upper 1/3 of tank)  Haven't decided on which one yet (2 - 3)  Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) Cleanup crew Maybe some other "inmates" further down the road And approx 2 yrs down the road, would like to try my hand at some of the easier Corals (Non-SPS) <Very good.> I am planning on just setting up the tank and putting in the LR and a cleanup crew only for the first 6 months and slowly adding the fish.  Am trying to look at the big picture and not rush.  It's too much $$$ to risk rushing anything. <Yes, may save you some hair in the process as well!  It's truly the best policy.> I apologize for the long email, but am very nervous since this is my first foray into Marine.  Thank you for your time and, once again, your site has been a tremendous help.  It is most appreciated! <I'm glad you are using all available resources to make this a great tank!  I encourage you to draw out the plumbing, and diagram everything prior to purchase.  You may yet find some kinks, but everything sounds great to me.  Good luck! Ryan> Thank you, Tom T

Fish tank Setup hello WWM crew.....<Hi Ed in Texas> a quick question, I just setup a sump (30 gallons) for my 90 gallon FOWLR aquarium, I have 50 lbs of live rock with 75 lbs of rock that was live but was taken out of tank from local fish dealer because the didn't have room for it ( was bleached and set out for weeks in hot sun to dry) and now it is starting to grow again. In the sump I made a drop tube into the skimmer chamber that made lots of noise, so I wrapped it with white Poly filter, which quieted it down, in the second chamber I have a deep sand bed, 6", of aragonite sand ( not live but will be soon) and  20 lbs of live rock, stacked up, with very good water flow, and the last chamber is the return with 500gph pump.  Is there anything else I should do, or not do with this setup, in the tank I have 4 power heads with 1150 GPH flow total in tank and 500 GPH from sump. I heard the more movement the better. thanks for all you do for this hobby. <Sounds like you are doing great Ed. I think you are on the right track, MacL.> Ed in West Texas.

SW info sheet editing Hey Bob, or whoever is available, << Adam here >> This is Matt from Critter Cabana in Newberg, OR.  We are putting together a little info sheet for people who are new to saltwater and have decided to get a tank. << I applaud any store who does this.  Too often store owners don't take the time to educate their customers. >> We basically just want to make sure everyone gets off to the right start no matter how much time we were able to spend with them.  We were wondering if you would be willing to edit our guide or make suggestions as you have much more experience in this field and are experts at knowing the most common things people are getting wrong or have questions about.  << Well I don't mind giving my input, depending on how big this is.  I've helped other stores make a little 3 page booklet, and other's make a one page quick info sheet.  So, I guess I say send it to me when you have it, and I'll see what I can do. >>  It would be greatly appreciated by us and all the future hobbyists in the Pacific NW. Thanks, << Again, thanks for putting forth the extra effort. >> Matt Johnson Critter Cabana <<  Adam Blundell  >>

New tank + picture ID OK--I'll try it again at this address. R/Janet <Got it!> New tank + picture Hi--here's a picture with the red thing--you can see two "mouths" on it, one in the middle and one on one end. The thing flexes, but doesn't move, per se. The mouths open and stay open for awhile, then close tightly. The green thing is above it. We' ve had a bunch of those pop out. Any ideas what these are? <Yep... good clues. Very likely an ascidian, sea squirt. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm> I know it's a little blurry, but it's hard to photograph through glass. Yesterday I found what looked like to be a small mucus sac up on a rock. When I came back, one of the brown crabs was eating at it. Any idea what that might have been? <Perhaps just a bit of algae... amazing what pops up in these systems, eh?> If this is a sea cucumber, can you tell if it's a non-poisonous kind? The hermit crab is sort of aggressive and I've seen him nipping at it. After reading the articles on your site about sea cucumbers, I'm thinking I may not want one! <Most hermits will nibble on most anything...> Another question--the hermit crab ate the clam. The clam was slightly open, and certainly appeared alive (he was opening and closing his shell periodically). The crab got his legs in there and pretty much cleaned out the clam shell. My husband thinks this means the clam was already dead and there must be a problem with the water. <Maybe... I'd not take bets for sure on either side> We also saw a dead brown crab today (maybe the one that at the mucus sac?). We have corals growing and the fish are fine, so except for the water being a little warm (we've gotten the temp down from 82F to 80F), I think it's OK. The water looks good and the algae problem is gone. I've tested for the usual suspects, and nitrates and nitrites are 0, ammonia might be a trace (those color kits are sometimes tough to read), and pH is 8.3. Are there any other things I should test for, and will hermit crabs eat live clams? I'd like to buy a few blue-green Chromis today, but he's worried that something is wrong. <Not all... or better put, there are species that are a much better gamble than others. See WetWebMedia.com here for suggestions or NMA Reef Invertebrates.> Our clowns (the false Percula kind) are fine and I am wondering if they might be breeding, based on the behavior I see in my fresh tanks. They hide together and mostly only one comes out and swims. The other just comes out slightly from the hiding place. Both appear healthy and are swimming fine. Do clowns breed in tanks, or do you need a special set-up? <Does happen... see WWM...> Another crab question--this crab changes shells several times a day. Have you ever heard of that? He never stops eating, either. <Typical> How would we know if we have mantis shrimp in the tank? Would they have eaten the fish by now? <... WWM> Thanks in advance for your help. I do appreciate it. R/Janet <Be chatting... and reading. Bob Fenner>

Tank Setup Question <Hi JR> Thank you for your advice.  But a few new questions come to mind in regard to the 40 gal sump idea.  I have yet to order the 180.  Would I want to have one drilled for bulkheads? <Really a matter of personal taste. Lots of people prefer not seeing or hearing the sounds as they are more camouflaged in the tank. Others think its harder to hide them located in the tank. Both work.>I am not familiar with this type of setup. With my current 90, I have everything hang on the back of the tank. <One benefit of this is that its a tad bit easier to reach the hang on the back type.> I am not sure which would be better. <Depends on your needs and circumstances.> Also, what type of return pump should I look for when it comes to gph? <This is going to depend on your fish load I think. If you think you need more current and more motion then you'd want to go with the one that circulates more.>  Will this depend on which setup I use for a sump, or whether I choose an EV180 or 240? <I agree.>   Thanks again   JR

Marine system (re) start input Please help me : My name is Elvis Capellan and i just moved from NY to MA and i restarted my whole saltwater tank and i want to do it right this time I trashed out all my sand and going to buy new sand and never had live rock... << I think Live Rock is the key to a marine aquarium. >>I had a whole bunch of stuff installed but the tank was never really perfect....anyway this is what i have sitting on the living room floor waiting to be put back together and wondering do i really need all this stuff ? Filters << You don't need any of these.  But if you already have them, they may help out. >> 1. Fluval 304 canister 2. Eheim 2227 Wet/dry canister 3. Seaclone 100 Protein Skimmer Heaters I have 2 Tronic Submersible 150 Watt Heaters Plus Protective covers << Use two heaters both set low, that presents less risk of a heater malfunction cooking your tank. >> Lighting 48 Inch. Coralife with 2 50/50 Compact Fluorescents 65k Watts each.   Item # 53008 << I don't believe this is enough light.  But that is because I am use to working with reef tanks, and not fish only tanks.  If you plan to keep coral, then you will want to upgrade your lighting system. >> Tank 72 Gallon Bowl I just need a little help....could you help me like if this was your tank and what would u do << Three inches of sand, lots of live rock.  Then I would upgrade the lighting depending on what corals I wanted to keep. >> think i need the Fluval 304 but since i already have it should i use it and if i do what type of filtration media do i buy for saltwater << I wouldn't personally use it.  I much prefer low density aquariums that utilize live rock and sand for filtration. But that is a personal preference. >>...Or could i just get away with The wet dry, live rocks, and protein skimmer. << Yes I like this idea more. >> I'm also thinking about adding more lighting because i would like to add coral and stuff. Should i change the 50/50 bulbs or add another Coralife system lighting or what ? << Here I recommend you look at other tanks in your area, or at pet stores.  See what you think looks good to you, and the corals you want.  If you want Acropora spp. then I would suggest a halide.  If you only want mushrooms and leathers, then I would just add another Coralife system. >> I thank u very much for all your help in advance. Just to let u know what i would like to put in my tank Live sand : ( Also about how much do u think ) ? << Three inches of sand, only 1/4 inch needs to be live sand. >> Live rock : ( Also About how much do u think ) ? << 50 pounds. >> and also a few fish like nemos and tangs a few cleaner shrimps and crabs. And some colorful coral that i have no idea about yet. << You should really research the corals you want first.  That will save you so much time, money, headaches down the road.  Otherwise you will have an aquarium that you wish you would have done differently.  Please read The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and also Natural Reef Systems.  Those two books can really help you to see what you want, and direct your efforts to that set up. Hope all that helps. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Everything about marine set-up! hi could you please give me some advice on setting up my own marine aquarium please and what type of filter i will need and can i use a fluoro for the lighting thanks Ryan <Umm, much to introduce, discuss here. If you drink caffeine, do gather a six pack of sodas, a big pot of tea, coffee... and log-on to www.WetWebMedia.com and read through the Marine set-up section of articles and FAQs... I strongly encourage you to take the time to delve into your possibilities through involvement in a local marine club if you have the time... and a few of the BB's that comprise folks in the interest... You will find these soon... as well as a good standard marine reference book or two. Bob Fenner>

Moving On Up (Tank Upgrade) Current Tank and Equipment (will be 3 months old on 6/10) 37 Gallon 30x13x22 USA Orbit 2x65 w/ moonlight Aqua C Remora Hang-on Skimmer approx 40#'s LR 4" DSB 2 sm. tank-raised Percs. 1 sm. tank raised Purple Dottyback 1 sm. Lawnmower Blenny 1 Emerald Crab 4 Turbo Snails approx. 15 Blk. legged Hermit Crabs (All doing well...) I am stuck between moving up to either a 72G RR BF (Megaflow) or a 90G RR. (Megaflow).  I bought 60 #'s of LR locally yesterday and the gentleman threw in an AMiracle 150 Wet/Dry. I've read some posts here on WWM that suggest Bioballs are a ticking time bomb though. <Not really a "time bomb". It's just that systems with bioballs tend to accumulate nitrate over time. Not something that you want to happen in a reef system> I thought I could use the Wet/Dry as a sump and replace the BB with LR. Is this OK? <That's a great idea. For that matter, you don't even have to put live rock in there...You could light the sump and grow some macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, which you can harvest regularly for supplemental nutrient export> I guess the main factor for me is that I'd like to add a Flame Angelfish and a Yellow Tang before concentrating on adding soft corals. <You know that there is a calculated risk with a Flame Angel in a reef tank, so stock your tank with that in mind, okay?> I love the look of a bowfront tank but I'm think that the 72 may be too small for my current livestock and the last 2 fish on my list. <Agreed. I'd go with the larger tank, if at all possible> I'm also concerned that my skimmer would be too small for the 90. Help me decide please. <Well, a slightly undersized skimmer is better than no skimmer at all, IMO! You'll just have to clean it more frequently to keep it operating at peak efficiency until you can upgrade. I simply like a larger tank.> While I have your attention, what's your opinion of the Sunlight Supply - Tec T-5 lights. I really love my current light and would be happy to purchase a 48" light but for a few dollars more I could purchase the T-5s (4<72> or 6<90> x 54w). Am I correct that they have a higher output than regular pc's with the benefit of not having to replace bulbs as frequently? <Personally, I like T5's, and Sunlight Supply makes a good product. I think that they provide a nice "bang for the buck", and can create great light intensity. They are a bit small, though-and, as they say "SMALL things come in small packages, too". I prefer PC's, myself, simply because you usually need less of 'em to get higher intensity. They do generally feature higher output and longer life- the downside being that you may need to get more of 'em to do the same job as the PCs in many cases. Since I am no lighting engineer, I'd ask the good folks at Sunlight Supply (ask for Perry) about the product. They know their stuff and can give you a better insight> Thanks for all your help. I love this site. Bill <Glad to be of service, Bill! Good luck with your upgrade! Regards, Scott F.>

Questions about local retailers? Pittsburgh, PA - 6/5/04 Hey Crew, I am from Pittsburgh <It's your lucky day... So am I! So is Anthony and fellow crew member Mike H.> and have been doing extensive research in preparation of setting up a 75g reef tank, with a 45g refugium. Your site has been great! <Thanks! Glad you have benefited. Kudos for educating yourself before putting yourself at the mercy of local fish stores!> I have spent weeks reading WWM and related web sites, read 1 of Mr. Fenner's books, 1 by Mr. Paletta and 1 by Mr. Tullock. (Reef Inverts. & Coral Propagation are on the way.) I've spent hours chatting with 4 local aquarium dealers and feel confident about what I need and want, short and long term. <Excellent! The fact that you own and read books and are doing research puts you miles ahead of the average beginner (Mike Paletta is also a Pittsburgher, BTW!). My question is: Why don't the local shops carry products I'm interested in? For example, none of these 4 major dealers carry Euroreef or Aqua C protein skimmers. They all seem confident with the Red Sea and SeaClone products they carry. <There are many reasons. Very expensive items are expensive to have in inventory. Some don't know better. Some use only one or two wholesalers, and that is all the wholesaler carries. Profit margins are higher on these products and people are more willing to buy them since they are less expensive.> Which causes me to lose confidence in them. <This alone should not destroy your confidence. Consider the overall quality of the store, the health of the animals and the quality of the advice. Local retailers complain about mail order, but at the same time they do not provide a lot of the products that high end reefers demand. The best will acknowledge their limitations and provide what they can.> Only one suggested I get the products I'm comfortable with, not the one their store sells. Subsequently, he was nice enough to give me a grand tour of the shop's basement and the plumbing that drives their showroom :) <I would rank this store high on my shopping list. I am pretty sure I know the place you speak of since only on Pgh store has such a set up<g>.> I don't mind doing my shopping online, but I feel the need to have a personal connection I can feel confident with, and able to stop by any time to talk shop. I like to shop at the local Hardware store as apposed to Home Depot. <I agree 100% I am strongly in favor of supporting local businesses, but I also feel strongly about supporting the businesses that provide a quality service. There is definitely a balance between getting what you must via mail order, while at the same time supporting your local store by shopping there for what you can.> The people I talk are very nice and seem knowledgeable, but not up to date on Marine Aquariums. Is your site that cutting edge? <This is a problem everywhere. WWM is pretty up to date and offers sound information. Please do see www.pmas.org (I think you may already have... I think I saw your membership form come across my e-mail!) and see the list of stores there. Atlantis and Wet Pets are your best bets for high end equipment, but you will pay a premium price. Elmer's, various Pet Supplies Plus are good for staples and mid range items. PMASI is loaded with seasoned, well educated hobbyists. You can get a lot better insight on local stores, etc. at the next meeting.> Thanks again for all the wonderful help. Pete C. <Glad to! I look forward to meeting you at a PMASI meeting! Adam>

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Dearest Bob and crew members, wishing good health to everyone I have ordered a new tank and want to run my system by you guys just to make sure I'm not investing LOTS of money down the drain.  I have read many articles and have read bob's book. My fav pas time is zooming over the faqs on wetwebmedia .  This will be my first saltwater attempt . I have had 3 fresh water tanks for 4 years with good results and have been doing research on marine systems since day one .   << Tristan, this email is fantastic on information.  It is great to have so much background before providing advice.  Also, it is great to see someone like you do so much research prior to buying.>> My coming tank is a  90 gal  18 wide 24 high 48 long,  It has 4 overflow holes pierced across the top .  2 at each side on the top of the back wall.   The holes are 1 3/4  in diameter and I will fit 1 inch bulk heads in them.  The pump I have purchased is a mag 12 1200gph, @4feet =1100 gph.  Do you think 4, 1 inch bulkheads across the top are enough for this pump? Its too late to turn back now. For some reason I didn't want corner overflows. I plan to run a Berlin inspired system.  At first I want to try a FOWLR,  with medium bio load.  I  would like to have a yellow tang, a hippo tang,  2 percula clowns and would love a flame angle; I would also love to have a cleaner shrimp. Latter on I would really really love to have a nice healthy bubble tip anemone.  Is all this considered ok for a 90 gal of my dimensions?    The display will have  a DSB of 5 inches aragonite. << I like this idea, but you said you were going with a Berlin system, and this doesn't sound like a Berlin system.  I too would use 5 inches of aragonite sand.>>I will have a 55 gal sump/fuge .  The overflows will dump into the first section of my sump. The dam of the first section will be higher then the rest of the dams and above the water level in the rest of the sump to insure a constant water level in the first section of the sump. The water from the first section will overflow into the 2nd section. I plan to run an  in sump EuroReef skimmer  in the first section ES5-3 90gal rated  5"dia 24"high 1xSedra3500pump (350gph) Do you think this will be undersized for my 90 gal plus 55 sump? << I think you are in great shape, and you can always upgrade.>> The water from the first section will over flow into the 2nd section which will force the water to travel  through a big mass of filter floss that will be renewed weekly. Can filter floss leech anything into the water? << No it won't leach anything.  I don't really advocate its use, but only because I think it can remove too many helpful critters.>>I use allot and replace often.  the water will then pass underneath the  filter floss section and into the fuge part. I will have a plenum. The plenum will simply be an under gravel filter with risers not installed.  1 inch of crushed coral covering the plenum. A screen mesh covering the first layer of crushed coral. Then 5 inches of aragonite sand over this. Over the sand I want to build a wall of live rock perpendicular to the water flow across the sump this way all water must pass around the rocks. I plan to have  the sump lighted with some kind of proper lighting source.<< With all your wonderful description thus far, this part is a worry.  Your lighting system will make a huge difference in the possibilities available to you down the road.>> I plan to grow Caulerpa in the plenum/DSB section . The main will be lighted by 2 175 watt MH @ 10 000 k .(hopefully)  The next section of the sump is for the pump and heaters.  Can I put all the heaters in the sump? << I like them in the sump. But many people do not need heaters when they have halides.>>Why do you prefer to have some in the main?  I also plan to have a cheap hang on filter in the DSB/plenum section of the sump for carbon and poly filter.  All in all this is my planed filtration.  In the main I will try and get 90 lbs of live rock. If not base rock mixed with live rock. Does all this sound ok to you..? would you change anything? I also plan to use distilled water only with instant ocean. I will run some kind of q tank, and I already employ the "water in the trash can for a week with a power head" technique for preparing freshwater, and will do the same for marine but with distilled water.  << This sounds like a lot of excess work to me, but on the other hand I never want to tell people spend less time than they are willing to invest.>> Also I have looked around in plumbing stores and have closely looked at pvc ball valves that use a Teflon seat. I have noticed an oily coating on the ball of the ball valves and on the gate of gates valves. Is this just because of the Teflon and not to worry about or? Does this go away just by washing with water? And also what type of glue do i use with pvc piping as to not poison the life in the tank.  << I don't know about this, other than I rarely if ever hear anyone say they've had problems with pvc or its cement.>> I think that just about sums its up. I don't want to extend this longer than it already is for your sake. The time you have taken for me is greatly appreciated my friend. If I could ever do anything to repay you, please let me know.  << I think the best overall advice I can give is to look at other tanks.  Since you haven't set this up yet you are in a great position.  You can see many other tanks and get a better idea of what you are shooting for.  That will help with your lighting choice, and choice of tank inhabitants.  I also think that most FOWLR tanks should be set up with the idea in mind that you may want corals down the road.  If so, you'll be happy you have a copper free and well lit tank.>> Tristan Houle   ... The  22 year old industrial mechanic from Canada that loves fish :) << Adam Blundell>>

Ye Olde Family Fishtank - The Inheritance Spent >Hello crew. >>Hello. >I have just inherited "Ye Olde Family Fishtank." An old 20 gal. long dating back to the mid 70's. >>Is it a metal framed tank?  If so, I fear you should nix the idea of keeping saltwater specimens in such a tank. >After spending the greater part of a day cleaning (and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning...vinegar smells) and resealing it, I have decided to make it into a marine project.  I know, I know, way too small, especially for a beginner. However, I am an apartment dweller and hourly wager earner in retail, with a family. >>Please DO test it for a full 48 hours, filled, before investing any money into anything.   >Between it all, a 55 setup is just out of reach at this (albeit early) point in life. I know it's small, but I am prepared to take on the challenge. (I've always felt that nothing easily earned is appreciated.)  I have been doing a lot of reading up over the last few months and figure I've got a pretty good grasp on things...I think. I will be recycling as much "antique" leftovers from previous aquariums as I can, (hood, some lighting, etc..) but still have a few questions. >>Ah, then I will assume that you are fully aware of the damage (toxic in many cases) that salt creep can exact upon many metallic components. >Will a 200gph. Whisper power filter and a 170gph. powerhead turn over enough water for a 20L? >>They should, yes. >Protein skimming will either be DIY or a $20 air driven counter current unit from Lee's. >>Don't waste the money on the Lee's "skimmer".  Water quality in a tank this size can easily be controlled by frequent water changes.  Or, you can get some macroalgae to go along with the water changes, creating a system of natural nutrient consumption. >They SAY it's rated for up to 60gal. but seems better suited for something my size. Does anybody on staff have any experience with the new, screw-in type 9 watt PC bulbs from Coralife? >>Someone may, but that person is not me. >They are designed to be used in place of (woefully dim) 15-25 watt incandescents, and have 50/50 lighting (10,00K/actinic). >>I would trust Coralife, they usually provide a very consistent product that seems to deliver what they say it will.   >I plan to use three of these, as the cost of "off the shelf" PCs is prohibitive. I would still like the option of having a few hardier corals later on, and this seems like the cheapest way to light the tank adequately (by my standards) for under $50, bulbs included. I'm planning on starting with a FOWLR system, and moving on from there. More than likely culturing my own LR over base rock. >>I strongly suggest you spend the money on a few pounds of really good quality live rock.  There is just no way anyone can culture anything close to it in a closed system.  Even aquacultured rock tends to fall short (it is heavy, without the variety of shapes found in rock hailing from different regions). >Livestocking plans aren't heavy. I know better than to go for triggers, tangs, puffers, morays, lions... Only concrete plans are a tank raised clownfish, ocellaris or perc., (Wife wants a pair, is this feasible?), NO anemones, a Firefish (dartfish), a handful of sociable inverts, and one or two other small fish. What are my options? A pair of A. percula or A. ocellaris is fine, but I would stay away from the Firefish for their propensity to jump.  Also, a bit too timid for the clowns once they get larger.  A Fairy Basslet or royal gramma, or Yellow assessor (a type of roundhead, related to the Marine Betta or Comet) would work better in my opinion.  Then, one or two neon or clown gobies could round out the mix well for you. >I was thinking maybe one of the smaller hawkfishes, or a scooter or lawnmower blenny. >>The hawks I'm thinking of would still grow a bit large for the 20 WITH the clowns.  If the clowns are a must, then you have to keep it to slimmer bodied fish.  I cannot recommend a scooter blenny, as these tend to starve in new tanks, especially those that don't sport premium live rock.  The lawnmower blenny would get a bit large as well.  Not that the gramma can't, but it'll take a little while for this to happen. >Either of these an option? Some of the grammas and Basslets are attractive as well, but not sure about suitability. >>They're quite suited. >I'm not too fond of damsels or Chromis, and I think any damsel would be too aggressive for this small a tank anyway. >>Chromis are a group of damsels, and they would likely not become aggressive, but they ARE very active swimmers and would feel quite cramped, even in a long. >I'm just looking for a simple setup of hardy fish that aren't "fussy" for the family to enjoy. Thanks for helping a starter get a better plan to start with. I'd rather plan things out the right way than waste money. (Measure twice, cut once, so to speak.) Keith >>Great plan, Keith.  I suggest doing some searches, fishbase.org, liveaquaria.com, marinedepot.com - search for smaller fishes.  The goby family is HUGE.  For instance, the lime-stripe goby is not only small, but attractive, and captive-bred (OSI, I believe).  The sixline wrasse would be another excellent choice here.  The longnose hawkfish can work, but beware, again, they get JUMPY, the tiniest of spaces through which many are lost, though not as sensitive as Firefish.  Heed all warnings.  A much better choice of hawkfish would be Neocirrhites armatus, as would be C. oxycephalus and C. aprinus (not so colorful).  This hasn't even touched families of fishes like the cardinals.  The point is to go for fish that  should grow no larger than 2" or so, and keep those stocking levels LOW. >P.S: In case you were wondering, yes, this IS all Nemo's fault. I'd be happily setting up another community tropical tank if it weren't for him. >>Michael Eisner is the man to blame for all this.  He undid Disney, but I digress, and long for Walt. >However, to his credit, it's got me kinda excited to be trying something new, and to be learning so much! >>Well then, small favors, eh?  Also, for what it's worth, I believe that with that lighting you could grow a Tridacna derasa (a species of giant clam) well in there.  I suggest starting off with soft corals only at this point.  Marina
Ye Olde Family Fishtank - The Inheritance Spent II
>Hey! Good to know I am on the right track. >>Indeed! Your time spent on research will ALWAYS be well spent. >The tank isn't old enough to be a metal frame, however it IS old enough to not be made of tempered glass. >>You know, I don't think many tanks *are* made of tempered glass, especially those intended for saltwater use - need to be drilled, so on and so forth. >So salt creep shouldn't be a problem. (Held up well on the water test by the way, not a drop all week!) >>Excellent. >I am well aware of the problems caused by corrosion from saltwater, as I live on the Texas gulf coast (Houston). Sadly, there's only one truly local LFS to me, and they kinda suck. Anyplace of any quality is at least an hour's drive away. Hence the reason why I'm considering culturing. The LFS's idea of "cured" LR still looks half dead and is mostly grey/brown (as opposed to uncured, which is ALL grey/brown and costs $6.99 a pound. They DO however sell Fiji base as well.). >>Well, it seems that you're already at least somewhat well versed in the use of the internet, and while I don't always wish to advocate using e-tailers over retailers, this is definitely one case where I think it's warranted. I suggest you join some of the saltwater bulletin boards, here are some links: http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  http://www.reefs.org  Register, and use them for all they're worth to ask about best suppliers for live rock. For instance, Harbor Aquatics is WELL known for their premium live rock. It's an initially pricey investment, but for your size tank you would only need a very few pieces. Another avenue of good use for these boards is to find a local marine aquarium society through which you may be able to find your very best connections and advice. >I had already taken into consideration the threat of jumpers. That's why I'm recycling the off the shelf hood that's been in use with the tank over the last few years. Covers ALL the top, and the glass separating the light strip from direct exposure to moisture is still intact. >>Wow, that's great! >After replacing the strip internals, it still fits snugly on top of the hood it came with, and looks completely stock (I like my fit and finish. There's something about using the eggcrate that's so commonly used as "hood" material that I find ugly, and in a lot of cases unsafe for man AND fish). All that needs replacing for the hood now is the plastic strip across the back and it's ready to roll. As for macroalgae, which would you recommend for the best nutrient consumption? >>I've always had very good luck with Caulerpa, but it is toxic and, if not pruned properly can (and likely will) "go sexual". That is to say that it will be triggered to go into a sexual reproduction mode instead of the usual means by which it sends out holdfasts and sprouts "pups". Pruning of this macroalgae MUST be done by removing the holdfasts, never by simply cutting of leaves. However, there are many other good algae (though I don't know that they're as fast growing), Chaetomorpha comes immediately to mind. As a matter of fact, on reefs.org there's a member who was sending out some FREE Chaeto to RDO members! Reefnutz is his nick (I am known as seamaiden there). Gracilaria is another nice macroalgae that comes to mind. >Caulerpa (sp?) >>Caulerpa. >..has caught my eye, but aesthetics give way to function if there's better. I would prefer a more natural approach to "skimming" anyway. Any recommendations for powerheads on the cheap? >>Honestly, again, for inexpensive dry good the internet has become a wonderful thing. Go for the best quality you can afford - Eheim are, in my opinion, THE best. However, Visijet, Penguin, Maxi-Jets, all good, too. >The one I have been thinking about is the Wal-mart knockoff of a Regent model, and under $10. Would be shopping elsewhere, but I get 10% employee discount. Hee. I'd go with their power filters too, sold under the brand "Aquatech," which is basically a Penguin w/o a BioWheel, but I've not had good as good a success with them as the Whisper units. And I like having the option of loading in my own chemical filtrants, which you can't do in the Regent's sealed cartridge. >>I am not at all familiar with the Regent brand. >Clowns are kinda a must, but I can deal with dropping the Firefish for a blue neon goby. A royal gramma or one of the pseudochromis would be kinda nice too. Now if I can only FIND them. As mentioned before, LFS sucks, and the only other salt option is Petco, which is all clowns, damsels, and the usual assortment of fish that have no business being sold to newbies like me. (Can we say snowflake eel? They've got THREE!) Oddly enough, when I ask the lead aquarist if they carry a certain fish, it "magically" is in stock my next visit, and she is known to special order from time to time. Go figure. >>Well, she's paying attention to her customer's requests, and if her fish are healthy and remain so in the displays, there actually may be some wisdom in using this particular Petco.  >Would a clam do anything for water quality, or just for show? >>Actually, if I recollect, they're known to consume some nitrogenous wastes, but still need to be directly fed, as well as have sufficient lighting (which I think you can achieve with your intended power compacts). >And, should I "happen" to take a trip to the beach with the kids, and we just "happen" to come home with a bucket of sand, is it possible to use as a substrate, or just a great way to infect livestock with twenty different kinds of funk? >>Funk, and pollution, and possible all kinds of other trouble. Honestly, I wouldn't risk it without putting IT through two to three months quarantine. >Tanks, er, thanks again. Keith >>Heh, you're welcome. Marina 
The Inheritance Spent III
>Took your advice and joined reefs.org. >>Ah! Fantastic. Did you get a chance to check out WetWebFotos, too? >You were right, TONS of information to be had. Learned a bit about people too. Would you believe that there's (way, way, WAY too many) people out there that actively fight the efforts of people like me starting in tanks under 55 gallons?!?! >>Actually, yes. This is considered a nano, and there are those who have had bad experiences, and those who believe it just can't be done, and those who think it's cruel, so on and so forth. >Talk about ridiculous...some people. Geez. (I think they're just pissed that somebody did what they did on 1/4 the budget and ended up with something that looks twice as good.) And in another strange turn of events (I seemed to be plagued by these) the unsavory LFS seems to be going through a turn-around. Stopped by for a while to occupy the kids for half an hour and what do I see? New 50/50 lighting in all the fixtures! Ugly dead rock gone! All the old and pathetic livestock seems to have been cleared out too, and there were about a dozen buckets of fresh arrivals being acclimated too. Some of which I've never seen. I think they fired off the lazy and unreliable staff too. All new faces, and all busily tending to maintenance related things. >>WOW! And YAY! Watch them closely over the next months and let's keep our fingers crossed. >Meanwhile, I think Petco had a system crash. A lot of empty tanks and brown fuzz. >>A shame. >My lighting project is finished! Added a fourth bulb, and have the lights paired in sets on two seperate switches, and it all looks like I bought it that way. All told, hardware was less than $5 at Home Depot. >>Great! >I've refrained from posting (reefs.org) about what my lights will support though, most questions of the sort I saw posted were greeted with the response "buy metal halides." >>It may have been that those posters wanted to keep SPS, anemone, that sort of thing. If you post in the nano forum, there WILL be folks who understand nano systems. There's another site I've heard of.. name's on the tip of my brain, nano-tank.com I *think*. >Perhaps I'm more welcome in the nano section? >>You're welcome everywhere. Remember, the people who just pop off with one uniform answer are gits! Every situation is different and mutable. These people hate it when I tell them of the stuff I kept under NO lighting.  >I'm thinking I'll be going with the royal gramma after all. Hadn't seen them in person before, beautiful fish. Too bad I can't scrap the whole clown thing and have a single flame angel... but I'd rather not be sleeping on the couch. :-) Is the prepackaged live sand sold in water packed bags worth the purchase, or would I be better off trying to buy some of the dregs from the bottom of the curing tank at the LFS and seeding fresh sand? >>No, and no! Whatever you do, DON'T buy substrate from a shop. Bio-spira would be the way to go if you're not going to go with decent live rock. Otherwise, live rock has all you'll need (hoping you'll soon understand the wisdom of putting your money into good stuff). >After more research, I've found the Wal-mart dry goods to be actual stripped down Penguin products with a different name attached, and several dollars removed from the price. They also sell some Eclipse products this way. Food for thought. That's about all for now. A parting note though. The more I hear the owners of "tankoliths" in excess of 90 gallons tell people like me I should be more like them, the more I want to make this tank work, and show newbies you don't have to be rich to enjoy something a little different. Now where's my soap box.... Keith >>Keith, one of my FAVORITE tanks to work with in all the time I've done such was a 5 gallon nano. That's not to say that 3,000 gallons isn't ALSO fun! You can do this just FINE. It will present some problems, definitely require a bit more work, but the small size tends to lessen the work, too. Marina 

A Setup Reviewed Hi, <Hi! Ryan with you today> I have planning a marine set-up for a while and have made a few purchases put I am still a little undecided on a few matters and would appreciate some assistance. <Not a problem> Tank Plan is Fish Only with Live Rock: tank - 72x24x28 with sump skimmer - Australian built DBReefTech Lights - 3 x 150w MH + 2 x 36w actinics <If you don't plan on keeping anemones/SPS corals/clams, this is overkill.  PC/VHO will be fine for all other applications.> Substrate - about 1 inch (or a little more) of coral sand Live rock in tank Fish - medium to large scribbled angel (or possibly Queensland yellow tail), copper banded butterfly, black backed butterfly,  dwarf angel, 2 clown fish, 2 sand sifting gobies, bubble tip anemone + sea stars, hermit crabs etc. <Butterflies and anemones don't mix...Pick one.> I have got the skimmer but as for the rest of the filtration I am still a little undecided.  I don't want a deep sand bed in the display tank, but I could put one in the sump (would I need to light it? should I make it so I can remove portions of the DSB over time and replace them? should the DSB be live sand?).  Should I have a refugium? Or should I go for a bio-ball type set-up? <You could use a remote sand bed, but the sump's flow will be too high.  A 20 gallon tank would be simple enough to plumb in.  This same vessel could serve as a macro-algae refugium, providing nutrient export.  Lighting is required for the algae but not the sand bed.  DSBs should be re-seeded every 6 months with new colonies of nitrifying bacteria-otherwise certain strains will outcompete others, leading to a less efficient bed.  Hope this helps! Ryan> Any advice on the set-up and the choice of livestock would be appreciated. Thanks Andrew

A Setup Reviewed pt. 2 Thanks for the info.  Just a couple more queries if that is OK. <No prob! Ryan with you again> Do all butterfly fish eat anemones or only some species?  Do butterfly fish or angels eat corallimorphs? <All butterflies (with the possible exception of the Bannerfish) are not to be in tanks with anemones.  Even if they aren't prey, no butterfly can resist a little bite here and there.  As far as corallimorphs, both have been kept somewhat successfully together.  Much better chance for survival, and a mushroom will likely regrow the eaten/torn tissues.> Are you recommending that a remote deep sand bed would be better than bio-balls for a FOWLR? <Yes, I am always in favor of natural methods of filtration- no matter what the application> How much of an advantage would it be to have a macro-algae refugium? <I can only access your advantage if I know your goals.  The benefits to a refugium are lengthy- But yes, if properly managed, it can reduce nitrate to zero levels, provide a free food source that feeds your tank 24/7, and serve as a unique place for organisms that typically would be lunch within minutes to thrive.   http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm> Thanks again Andrew

Tank Set Up and Livestock Review  Hi:  <Hi Dan>  First, Thank You for taking the time to answer so many questions - Your site is immensely valuable and I appreciate it.  <You're most welcome. Thank you for your kind words and appreciation.>  I have been planning my first saltwater setup for a few months now - so much to read and learn.  <You're off to a great start. I can't say enough for planning and reading.>  I've always had freshwater, but this is first saltwater try. I wanted to run my plans by you and ask you about my inhabitant selection and I'd appreciate any general thoughts as well. I have decided to go with a 38 gallon starter tank with either a 10 or 15 gallon sump, your thoughts? - I thought 15 to add volume in case of problem] to add to water volume/stability to the extent possible and also to conceal skimmer, heater, etc.  <Sounds good. The more water volume the better>  I contemplated having the tank drilled, but have decided against it despite noticing your comments about overflows. I plan to move up someday if things work out and will buy a pre-drilled tank with an internal overflow once I get the hang of the saltwater thing.  <Funny thing this hobby it can become a bit addicting and you may find yourself upgrading now and again or even adding just one more tank.>  At any rate: CPR CS100 overflow w/ Aqualifter pump, dual 150 watt heaters (failure redundancy), an AquaC skimmer, not yet bought, but likely the Urchin/Urchin Pro, 9W UV sterilizer, Orbit 2 x 96 W 50/50 10,000K w/ 3 lunar lights, pumps/powerhead plans not yet final, approx 50 lbs. live rock/Tonga branch, 20-30 lbs. live sand with 35-45 lbs. other sand for DSB. The following would be my cleaners/maintenance crew: 2 smaller peppermint shrimp  <They grow quickly>  6-8 red and scarlet hermits and 10 Astraea and turbo snails. I would like to introduce smaller sizes of the following fish: 2 blue-green chromis,1 ocellaris, 1 yellow watchman goby, 1 Banggai cardinal and 1 royal gramma.  < Actually it sounds just fine. You might want to consider pairs for the Ocellaris Clownfish or the Banggai Cardinalfish as both species do well in pairs and pair interaction can be quite entertaining and fascinating. All the fish you have chosen just happen to be available captively bred. Please do consider this environmentally wise option when you are ready to purchase your stock. http://www.inlandaquatics.com  and http://www.drmaccorals.com/sys-tmpl/door/  are both excellent sources of captive bred and tank raised fish and inverts.>  Eventually: button polyps, colony polyps, hairy mushroom coral, bull's-eye mushroom coral and green fluorescent mushroom corals.  <All good choices>  I know it might be a large load and that is why I planned the sump and hope to be able to handle it with the OR, LS, cleaners/maintenance, as well as aggressive water turnover. I also realize I maybe planning too much - just be gentle- I'm trying to plan carefully and be responsible.  <No bullies here. Your doing a great job>  Anyhow, let me know what you think when you get a chance.   Again, thank you for your help and all your time. Dan Kelley  <Your most welcome!> Leslie

New System Design!  First, I would like to extend to you and your team a heartfelt "thank you". I believe that because of the information contained on your sight and chat forum, I will be able to make the right decisions that will make my involvement in this hobby a more enjoyable experience.  <Excellent to hear! We have a great group of people who love bringing the site to you every day!>  It all started with a Mandarin:  2 months ago, I set-up a 70g (glass - not drilled) FOWLR and DSB. I have two XP-3 canister filters that contain activated carbon and mechanical filtration media. I bought a Mandarin because the book I had read and the LFS mentioned nothing about their special diet.  <Gulp!>  When I read on your web site that 90% of them die of starvation, I vowed to right my mistake. (Never do anything that changes your system without first consulting multiple sources). I have since read more books (Bob - CMA was the eye opener) and everything on your site that time would allow. I believe the following system will be much more flexible and easier to maintain.  Here is my plan:  New main tank: 120g acrylic (48"x24"x24") DSB pre-drilled with two 2" drains (3" holes) positioned at the back 2" from the top and 3" from the side. I am shooting for a turnover rate in the range of 22 - 27 times/hr.  <Excellent!>  Will the two holes to accommodate 2" piping be adequate? Is it hard to get 2" flexible tubing?  <@ inch overflows should be able to handle the flow rate that you are talking about>  I plan on modeling the overflow after Anthony's shelf design (book will arrive on Friday). Can you recommend any changes to the drains?  <Actually, your scheme sounds great. Some people use the "Durso Standpipe" design to help quiet down the overflow a bit, if thy find it to be too noisy. Other than that, I think that you're on the right track. I'm considering Anthony's design for my new tank, too>  Refugium: 65g acrylic (36"x18"x24") DSB pre-drilled with three 3/4" drains (1.5" holes) positioned at the back with the lowest point of the holes 15" from the bottom of the tank. This should give me about 40g of water in the refugium. Do you concur?  <Sounds about right. Do calculate how many gallons per inch your tank will lose if it drains down to the point where the siphons break, as you want to make sure that the sump and/or refugium can handle the influx of water without overflowing>  I will position the refugium next to the main tank and would like a turnover in the range of 4-6 times/hr. I plan to position the refugium about 15" above the main tank to allow for a gravity return to the reef.  <A great way to do it>  The feed to the refugium from the sump will come from the pressure rated pump below (Pump 2). I want to grow food for the Mandarin in the refugium. Any conflicts with this design? Can you recommend a better design for a refugium that is only partially filled.  <Your sounds good on paper!>  Sump: 55g acrylic (36"x15"x24") main tank cabinet will be 30" high and built for a 60" tank so that I may fit everything underneath.  <A smart thought. Providing yourself room for future equipment (different skimmers, calcium reactor, etc.) is well-advised>  Sump will contain 20g of water. I would like the flexibility of adding Miracle Mud, algae scrubber, or similar at a later date. However, I don't think any additions like these are likely. Any issues here?  <Again, think about flexibility and room for future modification when finalizing sump designs>  Skimmer: AquaC EV240 with the Dolphin DP-1200 pump. Right size for the 180 system gallons?  <Good call!>  Pump 1: Dolphin AMP Master 3000 return line of 1.5". The return will be modeled after Anthony's manifold system. I plan on having a hole drilled to accommodate a 1.5" return in the back of the tank at the very top and center. This will allow for a straight shot back into the tank instead of a 180 up and over. Is there anyway to avoid the 180 without drilling the return?  <I can't think of one off the top of my head. Your manifold will be an awesome addition>  Pump 2: Blueline HD55 return line of 1". The return to the main tank will travel through a 1" hole drilled just below the primary return from the Dolphin. The bottom point of the hole will be no lower than those of the holes drilled for the drain. This return will make a 90 degree downward turn after it enters the tank and output to a straight bar positioned at the bottom back of the tank. I don't want a spray bar effect. If I treat this bar the same as a closed loop manifold, can I avoid such a situation?  <Hmm...I think that you can. Personally, I never liked this type of return. I'd consider instead some sort of external powerheads or (yes- more expensive) Tunze Stream pumps, which move a lot of water throughout the tank...>  Can I split the return from this pump, using a ball valve to control flow, to send water to the refugium as described above?  <You could, sure>  In addition, I would like to be able to split the return a third time for the possible future addition of a chiller. IYO, will this still allow for a total of 3000 gph utilizing both pumps?  <There will certainly be some back pressure, but I think that you'll come fairly close>  I have tried to evaluate pumps based on criteria in the following order; noise, heat, energy use, and finally cost. I realize the Blueline might not be the quietest, especially considering that it is designed after the Iwaki. I just figured I needed a pressure rated pump for all of the things I wanted to tie to that pump. Do you agree with my choices based on the criteria? Would you increase the size of the Blueline to the HD70 or go with an Iwaki?  <Well, I have a love/hate relationship with my Iwakis. I think that they are amazingly durable and long-lasting. However, they are not the quietest pumps out there! I have personally been evaluating and seeking opinions from my reef-geek friends on Sequence pumps. They are apparently very quiet, energy efficient, extremely powerful, and similar to Iwaki in terms of reliability and durability. Worth checking out, IMO. Although originally designed for ponds, more and more hobbyists are using them in reef systems. Saltwater configurations are available>  I would appreciate any general comments about the set-up. Is there anything you would do differently or improvements I can make? Is there anything I have left out or might not think about considering my lack of experience?  <Sounds like a very well-thought-out system>  I apologize for the long letter, I just wanted to get everything on the table at once and make sure that I get it right this time. This is a huge investment and I want to get the most flexible system I can.  <Understood! I think that your doing great!>  Thank you so much for your time, consideration, and patience.  <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

Zeovit system 4/19/04 I live in Belgium (Europe).  Since a few months there is a lot of interest in the Zeovit system for reef aquaria.  It uses a 'special' kind of Zeolith (of which I thought that it only works in soft water) + 'special' food + 'special' bacteria + 'special' expensive reactor.  It is supposed to deliver breath-taking colors in SPS-corals. More specific information (for instance about the working mechanism) is hardly given.  A Google-search shows that it is very popular in Germany. Now there also seems to be an American website about it ( http://www.captiveoceans.com/).   Could you give me your opinion/experience about this system?  Many thanks. Sincerely, Patrick Vertongen <I have no personal experience with the product, nor do I know any friends that have had. I do recall chatting with some advanced aquarists in NY recently that expressed some interest and doubt at the superlative claims in the marketing. I would not ever use any product without defined/detailed ingredients on its packaging (not sure of Zeovit does here... I do hope so) without previous experimentation on a small isolation tank first, to begin with. I suggest that you do the same. Please do tell us afterwards about your experience. You might also do a keyword search on Reefcentral.com and other message boards for this product and other peoples experience. I recall reading threads on RC at least about Zeovit. Best of luck! Anthony>

Just Starting Out...The Right Way!  I have just purchased a 150 g tank 72 x 18 x 29 . I want to build my own stand and canopy for it..... This tank will be a lot of weight and I want to make sure I have it supported well.... Can you tell me where to get drawings for the 150 that will have better support than the ones purchased at the pet store??  <I would look to the Australian DIY site, ozreef.com, which has a lot of good information on many DIY projects.>  Next I would like to find out how to get started in the marine world......?? I am really excited about this... Always wanted to do salt water and never had the time or funds.... Now I think I have and want to do it RIGHT !!!!!!! Thanks for your help.  Danny E. Cowick  <Well Danny, that's a pretty broad question to answer in the limited space available here. However, you've taken a great first step by finding the WWM site, which has sooo much good information on the marine hobby that you're likely to spend a lot of late nights just reading the many FAQs and articles. Also, be sure to arm yourself with a good general book or two (or three). If I was just starting out and could only get 3 books, I'd look at Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium", and Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation". These 3 books will give you a nice, well-rounded reference library for your hobby...Of course, if you're like me, you'll want to keep getting more and more books for your library! Best of luck, and feel free to write us again any time! Regards, Scott F.

Changing Water Without Getting His Hands Wet?  Hi,  <Hi there! Scott F. hee today>  I had a few questions on plumbing. I wanted to put both my FW and SW storage trashcans in the garage and have/use a pump to pump the water from the garage to my SW tank in the living room. I plan on having a 150 gallon tank with a 50 gallon sump/refugium.  <Sounds nice!>  My refugium will have three parts; the raw water from my tank overfill for the skimmer, a large refugium with macro algae and pod production, and a final chamber for water returning to the tank via a pump, in that order. I will hardwire the pump in the garage to a switch in the tank room so I can just turn it on and off whenever I want to top off or do a water change.  Do you think this is a good plan? (feasible)  <A clever plan.>  Into what section of the sump should the water be pumped?  <If you are going to flow water into the sump, rather than the tank itself, I'd flow it into the final section>  I also want to have another pipe leaving the sump that will be connected to a exterior drain so I can get rid of buckets all together. This will have a valve (or two) on it so I can just drain water from the sump for my water changes.  <A unique idea. However, I still think that it is necessary to "get your hands wet", and siphon detritus and other material from the reef structure and/or sand bed. There is no substitute for removal of this stuff! I would not remove water from the sump, myself.>  Which section of the sump should I have the water leave from?  <As above...>  About how often will I actually have to siphon the substrate in the main tank? I plan on having a 1-2" semi fine sand bed in the main tank with some corals and a fairly heavy fish load.  <I'm a big fan of frequent, small water changes, preferably siphoning debris out of the rocks as you go>  There will be Gracilaria in the sump along with a half inch layer of coarse or half in layer of very fine substrate along with some pod producers from IPSF.  <Good stuff!>  I also plan on having the sump circulate about 7x's and the main tank circulate about 20x's per hour.  <That sounds like good turnover for this tank>  Thanks a million. PS, I have been having a hard time finding plumbing sites/FAQ's. It is very overwhelming for a beginner.  Have a good day/night. Dan  <Glad to be of assistance, Dan. We do have some plumbing FAQs on the WWM site, but for even more "hardcore" plumbing projects and DIY information, you should visit the Australian DIY site, OzReef. It is full of great stuff that will help you with your DIY goals!>  PS. Sorry, one more...  <Okee dokee...>  Custom tank size. 45L x 35w x 22h.  Since most light manufactures sell hoods in even foot sections, can I get away with a 36" light hood on my 45" tank?  <You could, but I'd use pendants for more flexibility>  I was thinking a couple 150 HQI's with a couple T5 fluorescents.  <Not a bad way to go!>  I really like this type of setup, but if it will be too short for my tank, I could go with a couple of PFO mini reefs or something to that effect. I just would hate to loose the fluorescent color enhancers. What do you think?  <I'd go with two or three pendants, such as the Sunlight Supply "Reef Optix III" HQIs or the PFO "Mini Pendants". Supplementation with fluorescents is strictly your call, and is really for aesthetics. All depends on the look that you are trying to achieve. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>  45" is my max as it will be inside my staircase.  Thank you again...

A New World (New Tank Setup) Good morning folks! <Hi! Scott F. here today!> After MUCH reading and procrastination (have been "studying up" on your wonderful site and others for over a year now), I am finally going to try my hand at Saltwater. <Cool!> I have been keeping Freshwater fish for a few years with great success and want to convert one of the tanks to Marine. <Those skills will help you immensely in your marine aquarium journey> I know you fine people have about a bazillion emails a day but hoped you could take a minute to look over my proposed set up and let me know if it'll fly. <Sure> 44 Gal Corner Hex with 1" sand and 45 lbs LR (pain in the rear for "filling" the back corner!), 20 Gal Upstream Refugium with DSB and some LR (macroalgae soon?) 2 Proquatics 1600 (320 GPH total) Canister Filters running "floss" and carbon (can't afford LR AND Skimmer yet) <Make sure that you very regularly clean and/or replace the mechanical filter media, before organics can build up and negatively affect your water quality> 2 Power Heads (any suggestions on flow rate?) <The more the better> 2 18 WATT NO Fluorescent Lights (All that will fit on the hood!) <Fine for fish only; problematic if you intend to keep all but the most undemanding photosynthetic inverts. BTW- retrofit PC kits are made for hex tanks, or you could even suspend a metal halide pendant above the tank if desired> Submersible Heater (approx 78 DEG F) Instant Ocean Salt (SG of 1.025) I am planning on curing the LR in the tank with no sand for a month (or whenever it is finished i.e. 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, and some Nitrates) then adding Southdown Sand and hooking in the refugium. <That's an acceptable procedure, but I'd try curing it in a separate tank, myself, and then transferring the "cured" rock into the display> After everything is smoothed out, would like to house a True Percula Clown (YES I finally gave in to the kids!  Cute movie though!) a Royal Gramma, and possibly a Flame Angel. <A nice combination of fish, but I might suggest a smaller dwarf angel, such as the "Cherub Angel" C. argi. Might be better suited to this sized setup> Can you see any GLARING problems with this setup?  Other than the Skimmer which I will be getting within 2 - 3 weeks (AquaC Remora HOT). <Now that you mentioned that you will be getting the skimmer, I don't really see any glaring problems here. Just keep the mechanical filter media clean, and obey the basic common-sense husbandry procedures that we push here on WWM, along with a healthy dose of patience, and you should enjoy a relatively trouble free setup for many years!> Thank you SO much for the great site and the time you take "hand-holding" us newbies!  I just don't want to make any obvious mistakes, especially when you have experts - like yourselves - who are so willing to help (why reinvent the wheel?).  Take care and have a Wonderful Easter! Tom T <Thanks for all of the kind words! And a very Happy Easter to you and your family! I hope that you have fun with your new adventure! Regards, Scott F>

Marine System Set-up Hello Crew,  I am still in the planning stages for my first marine aquarium.  Needless to say, my planning has been greatly aided by this website,  as well as Bob Fenner's "Conscientious Aquarist" and Michael Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium."  Thank you for that. <Glad you have learned from WWM and chose two excellent books!  Kudos on asking questions BEFORE proceeding!> I have two major questions for early in the planning stage, one about setting up a sump, one about lighting.  I tend to be a bit of a DIY'er, so I thought I'd ask these questions early on, before I get (too far) into trouble! <I am a pretty ambitious DIY'er as well and always found that while my projects aren't always perfect and I usually make changes, I always have fun!> Sump/Pump question:  I am planning to purchase a 55-gallon pre-drilled aquarium, most likely the all-glass Mega Flow model (from what I can see, they've adopted the Durso-style drainpipe, so I think it would be cheaper to get this pre-made model than to try to deal with getting a tank drilled, building an overflow, etc. for my first  aquarium). <Ahh yes..  An important trait of the best DIY'ers... Recognizing when it just isn't worth your hassle.  Drilling a tank usually falls into this category.> This tank will likely have 60 lbs. of live rock that I will purchase cycled from my LFS.  I also plan to use some coral substrate, but not a deep bed; I've been thinking that I might inoculate this sand with a couple of pounds of GARF Grunge to get a little more variety of life into the tank early on (as it is, I expect to run the tank one to two months after cycling without fish in order to let the other life get a good hold before it all gets eaten!) <Sounds like a good plan.  I would avoid the GARF grunge unless you are going to use a deep fine sand bed.  Otherwise, you can get live sand from local aquarists to seed your system.  Adding fine substrates to your planned shallow coarse sand will just clog it up and leave a substrate that is not suitable for much life.  Coarse and shallow = OK, fine and deep = OK, fine and shallow or coarse and deep usually lead to problems.> So on to the question:  I'm thinking right now of using a Nalgene rectangular tank as a sump, which has dimensions of 24 x 12 x 12 and when totally full holds 15 gallons.  I assume that in operation, with a lower water level, it will hold about 10 gallons. I'm envisioning two chambers- on the overflow side, there will be the input from the overflow, running through a sock filter, and a protein skimmer.  This chamber will be about 2/3 of the total volume of the sump, and due to its length will most likely contain two heaters. <Sounds good.  If this is to be a reef, I would skip the sock filter for general use and reserve for special occasions (when detritus gets disturbed, etc.).  You should always put heaters in a part of the sump that will always be submerged so that they don't get heat shocked and break.> Then I plan to install two dividers as baffles,  the first one permitting water flow underneath it, and the second rising from the floor of the sump to a height of about 8".  Is there a good amount of space to put between the baffles (thin to allow polypads, or thicker to allow a supplementary sponge when I need more mechanical filtration)? <Additional mechanical filtration is probably unnecessary, especially in addition to the sock.  Otherwise ok.> The final piece of this planned sump is a bulkhead fitting to my return pump, which at this point I think will be either  a Dolphin DP-800 or a Supreme Mag 7 or 9.   I'm leaning toward the Dolphin, given it's GPH curve that I've seen.  It seems like if I get this dialed in, I should get something like a 6-8X turnover of the total 65 gallons in the system, which I will supplement with a powerhead.  Have I missed anything here in terms of the design, baffling, or things that will go into the sump? <Not that I can see.  Do consider a true external pump (Iwaki, Blueline, little giant, GRI) if you are going to install a bulkhead.  A bit more noise, but much less heat transfer and much better reliability.> Lighting question:  My goal is to have this tank, after 6 months or so, be a good beginner's FOWLR with some simple invertebrates (feather dusters, cleaner snails, a shrimp, maybe some other stuff that comes on the live rock or GARF Grunge).  I am also very interested in having the rock grow out nice coralline and macroalgae, as I would like this to be my major "decoration" of the tank.  However, given the cost of starting up this system, and the fact that I am a grad student, I am currently thinking of doing a DIY lighting package.  This would entail me building the enclosure, and installing a 2x55W power compact kit from AHSupply.  Would this give me enough power to grow out coralline and other macroalgae to make the tank look nice, and then when I am ready to add some light-hungrier inverts put in another 2x55W kit to bring my total to 220W, or do I have to do it all at once?  I don't want to cut corners, but money is an issue and I am content to build this up over time. <Your plan is very reasonable, and there is no problem adding light later.  If your goal is to grow coralline algae, you will have to be conscious of maintaining calcium and alkalinity with the same care as if your were maintaining this as a reef tank (although the demand will be much lower).> Also, if this will work initially, should I make the two lamps the 50/50 10000K/03 actinic that AHSupply sells?  Does this seem reasonable? <This is totally a subjective choice.  Try to see what the color of the lamps looks like and choose those that you find aesthetically pleasing.  By the time you are ready to upgrade, it will likely be time to consider lamp replacement anyway.> Thanks so much in advance.  Sorry my two "short questions" became a full page!  Andrew Taylor <No worries!  It is much easier to answer questions when the background info and goals of the aquarist are clear!  Best Regards.  Adam>

Misc. Marine Questions, mainly set-up, gear Bob Fenner, <Mark> First, I would like to thank you for writing such an informative book ...it is truly a fantastic reference. <It was a joy to go about the task... with such good people (the Lawrence's and the few folks that made up the Microcosm staff... and realize a dream of being able to put-together a complete work on the topic of value, beauty>   After twelve years away from the hobby (maintained saltwater tanks from the ages of 12-18...purchased a few fish from Wet Pets-Rosecrans location back in the day), <Oh! That was one of our old corporation's retail stores... in San Diego> I am extremely interested in setting up a fish only tank with live rock, for myself (main reason) and my kids (educational experience).  Fortunately, the hobby/industry has progressed significantly during my absence; however, my former knowledge is no longer adequate.  Thus, I need help with a number of issues.  I currently plan to set up the following system: * 100 gallon wide (48Lx24Wx20H) with a corner overflow (space constraints (wife) limits the tank to 48 inches) * 33 gallon sump with EuroReef CS-62+ * Iwaki 40RLXT (1200 GPH at 4ft head) <Sounds very nice thus far> Based on this system, I have the following questions: * How much live rock is required to support a medium fish load (2 tangs, 2 butterflies, 1 non-pygmy angel)?   <Twenty pounds or so... more would be better> * Do I need a refugium if I don't have a DSB (I plan for a 1 inch sand bed of coarser grade substrate)? If so, does it make sense to have the refugium in a portion of the sump or have a separate refugium? <A refugium would be nice to plan for from the get-go... in a separate sump... either above or below the system> * Is the turnover adequate for a fish only system?  According to your book, the tangs and butterflies should enjoy the turbulence but is it too much for the angel?   <S/b fine> * What size should the drain pipe be to handle this flow rate?     <1 1/2" inside diameter on the one side... and a one inch for a return on the other back corner> * What lighting do you recommend for this system? <Power compacts... of a mix of temperatures mainly for your viewing pleasure... hence, go see them "in action" at a store, other hobbyists' tanks> * What is your opinion of the Poly Marine Kold Ster-il system?  I would rather use this system than waste so much water with a RO/DI unit. <A worthy product> * Should I upgrade to a 125 gallon wide (48x24x24) and how would this impact your recommendations for the 100G wide system? <The bigger, the better... and wider gives many more aquascaping possibilities. The rest of the gear could stay the same, though you might want to increase (if space allows) the refugium volume> * What sea salt mix do you recommend?  I used mainly Tropic Marin in the past, but had good results with Hawaiian Marine Mix. <My preference is for Tropic Marin or one of the Instant Ocean/Aquarium System lines> Thanks for all your advise, both from the book and your website, and thanks in advance for help on the questions above. Sincerely, Mark Robertson <A pleasure to serve in welcoming you back into our interest. Be chatting, Bob Fenner, usually in San Diego, but out in HI at present>

New set-up (marine) and sharks Crew- <Tony> I am currently designing a reef set-up and had a couple of quick questions about design and equipment.  The system I am planning is 120 gallon display tank (48L x 24W x 24D) with an approximately 100 gallon below tank sump/refuge area.  I know that an above tank sump would be ideal and I may add one in the future.  I plan on using the display tank as a home for LPS corals.  I am absolutely entranced by hammer corals.  (This must be because my father was a carpenter. :-) ) <Sounds good> My question is about lighting (imagine that no one ever has lighting questions. lol).  Would dual 175W metal halides or 150W HQI's with 10K bulbs be a good choice here? <Either. I'd go with the 175 MH's>   The 250W scare me as they produce a hell of a lot of light.  I am NOT looking for maximum growth rates but rather for long term stability and health.  Your daily FAQ's have beaten that idea into my head after a couple of months of reading.  <Good> Since I am not a diver and don't intend on becoming one any time soon, I was wondering if you could direct me to a picture or two of hammer corals in the wild.  I've found quite a few close-up shots of hammer corals, but nothing showing their overall environment.  <Mmm, look for the books by J.E.N. Veron, or search on the Net under the term "Euphyllia"> Thank you, Tony Hambley - Milford, MI PS.  You think I could stick a couple of nurse sharks in this display? I am thinking juvenile sharks might be the best so they would have time to grow into their surroundings.. <Mmm, no. This volume is too small for the smallest shark species... let alone animals that grow to more than three times its length. Bob Fenner>

New Tank recommendations II 3/30/04  Hi Anthony, Thank you for your help.. sounds like good advise and much appreciated.  <very welcome>  Could you also help me with these questions with regards to purchasing a new tank?  1) Does it matter on the thickness of glass for a 3 foot tank? When I am in the aquarium store they tell me that the standard glass tank would be sufficient. However the glass they use for their own setups always look very thick in comparison to what they are actually selling.  <consumer vs. commercial durability. No worries. The commercially produced tanks for hobbyists are fine :) >  2) Is there a difference in glass quality? Do some scratch more than others?  <most are made of strong plate/float glass (blue/green tinge). This glass is the strongest and least expensive. White (AKA Starfire or Diamante) glass is clearer (better than many acrylics) but a bit weaker than regular plate glass>  do some crack more than others?  <nor really... all are much more resistant than acrylic>  Do some tinge or reflect more?  <as per above. I use and prefer white glass myself. Much more expensive though. Really only a perk for photographers or advanced aquarists>  Do you have recommendations ?  <the off the shelf aquariums are truly fine my friend... no worries>  3) I have a phobia about electrical fires.. How safe is it submerging heaters and powerheads into water?  <some risk with any electrical instrument. Enjoy peace of mind with a very inexpensive Ground Fault Interrupter (Hardware store) for all to be plugged into. They usually save your life/home/fire, etc>  What about the splashing of water and salt into the lighting? Do you guys have any tips on this?  <use a glass cover/canopy or protective lens, to be sure>  4) I have been through a lot of FAQs on your site.. I would even buy your books but they don't seem to be readily available in Australia.  <actually, they are my friend... do contact the folks at ReefOnline... or at Aquasonic Pty Limited>  Maybe as a suggestion, you could put together a list of questions that we should ask retailers when we are setting up a new system.  <we are an all volunteer site and struggle to keep up with the flow of mail as it is. Its a great suggestion, my friend. I do hope some one does help us and write that list. Perhaps you after you navigate the hobby a bit longer. We'd be grateful for your help, and would love to publish it>  I find that I am getting such conflicting advise from within even the same stores.  <this is natural in any field/hobby... no worries. Just poll enough respectable people and make your decision based on an intelligent consensus>  people trying to push their own stocked products etc. its hard to know if the advise is credible.  <yes, true... much easier to take the advise of folks who are not trying to sell you something <G>>  At the moment I have spent 3 weeks trying to spend around $90 on a glass box, but cannot find any solace from the kind of advise I have been getting. Thanks again for your help. Regards - Simon  <wishing you the best of luck, Anthony>

Begin at the beginning 3/28/04 hi,  I was thinking of buying Ambon shrimp, but after reading nearly all of the posted questions about them, i am still not sure how to keep them! I have never had any aquatic animals before, and so do not have any idea how and where to keep them. please could you advise me on the simple things, like how big should their tank be? <Hmm... so much to say he beyond the scope os an e-mail reply. You really need a concise guide/book to start with. Do consider Mike Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium" or Bob Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" plus so much to read for free at wetwebmedia.com> do i need any special pieces of equipment? and, what is live rock? sorry to ask so much, but i cannot find the answers anywhere. <I cannot understand or fathom how it is that you cannot find this information anywhere, my friend - you are presently on the Internet. Do a keyword search on google.com of our site and beyond (search tool can be found on our home page). Best regards, Anthony>

To Drill Or Not To Drill and other life altering questions.3/28/04 First my thanks to all of you for an awesome web site. I have read Bob's book and the web site for months and am finally ready to plan my first saltwater system. <welcome!> We would like to keep a reasonable number of smaller fish and some hardy inverts (shrimp, snails, crabs) in a 75 Gallon tank with live rock (amount is still undetermined). <I recommend 100-150 lbs here> For a skimmer I am planning on a Remora or Remora Pro if I don't have a sump. <all good> If I have a sump I have a whole lot more to figure out. My first problem is trying to figure out the best tank arrangement. I live in the middle of nowhere so one of the LFS's will be the source for the tank.  They currently have a package deal for a std. AGA 75 with stand, light and cover for $300. If I wanted a drilled tank to use with a sump I would be buying parts separately and it will cost probably $175 to $200 more for these items plus the plumbing, tank and parts for the sump. <wow... dear> The HOB siphon overflows sound like a disaster in the making so that's not an option. <yes, agreed IMO> So is it worth that much to have a sump or is the money better spent on more rock or something else? <not necessary... but really a big convenience and aesthetic boost> Also I am totally confused about the best plan concerning a filter if I don't have a sump. <your live rock is the best investment in biological filtration you can make. Add to that a good protein skimmer and a modest HOB filter for carbon use and you have a sound system> Some say a canister is good to have for carbon addition and occasional mechanical use but shouldn't be used all the time or it's a nitrate factory. <some of both, yes> Others say if you have enough rock all you need is the circulation of the water and all other filters are unneeded. <mostly agreed... although you really need to use carbon for water clarity and live rock/growth health if nothing else> I guess I understand the FO HOB setups and I can sort of understand the "Ultimate" reef set-ups but since I am shooting for something in the middle and I am buying everything new so I don't have anything lying around to use I am not sure what makes the most sense. I am willing to spend what I need to get where we want to be but I don't want to waste it on things we don't need. That eats into the fish and critter budget. <as per my above recommendation: live rock, skimmer and small/med HOB filter> Also a little fuzzy on lighting. For the time being the rock is the only real light requirement. What would be recommended for the life on it to flourish? I assume the std. light single T-12 fixture  from the combo deal is probably going to end up a door prop right? <exactly! If you are not going to keep corals in the next 2-3 years... fluorescents are fine. Else, do invest in low wattage halides (2X 100 or 2X150 watt would be fine)... 10k K double ended HQIs ideally> Let me know if I have left important info out and thanks in advance for the help. John <best regards, Anthony>
To Drill Or Not To Drill and other life altering questions II 3/28/04
Anthony, Thanks for the input. Guess I will save the sump for the next tank. <all good> Any advice on if I need to go for the Remora Pro or will the standard model be OK. <do spend the extra for the Pro for a buffer, or if you will have a heavy bio-load... or if you think you may upgrade the tank/size in the next 3 years, perhaps> I guess I am really wondering if the skimmer can be too big? <no such thing... simply more efficient/faster> Seems so important I would rather be on the big side than the small side unless too big causes problems. Also curious why HOB is preferred over a small canister. <a simple hang-on power filter is much easier to clean (exchanging carbon in small amounts weekly, etc)... rather than the tedious  and messier task of cracking open a canister filter as often which people are likely to ignore> Cost or some functional reason? <convenience and cost/value> Would prefer to have a canister if for no other reason than it's one less ugly thing hanging on the back of the tank. Thanks again, John <no worries using the canister if you have no qualms about the maintenance. Do avoid letting it "do" biological work for fear of contributing to nitrates (let the skimmer export matter before nitrification instead. Anthony>

Sifting Through The Confusion Hi there, <Hello! Scott F. here today> Tried finding something similar to my question but not having much luck.  We are beginners and just bought system on ebay picking up this next weekend. This is the description: Description      65 gallon saltwater aquarium for sale. This tank has been running for 2 years and has over 80 pounds of live rock. Everything needed is included. Here are the included items: 65 gallon tank, stand, glass tops and lights. 3 extra saltwater bulbs, aquaclear 300 and 500 filters, replacement foam and carbon for both filters, food, hydrometer, test kit (used once), timer for lights, a heater, a mag float cleaner, and many chemicals. This tank is easy to maintain. Fish include a neon goby, 2 other gobies, and a snail. I have over $1400.00 invested in this tank. Reserve is Much lower. BUYER MUST PICK TANK UP.   <To be honest, that sounds to me to be a bit too expensive for a used system dependent upon external power filters. And, most important, there is no protein skimmer, which is an absolutely essential piece of equipment, IMO. I don't want to tell you that you won't be successful with this system, because you certainly can be. However, a little advanced planning is a good idea. And, I loved the "only used once" statement regarding the test kit! Probably explains why the guy is selling his tank! I'd check with a LFS, e-tailer, or fellow hobbyist to see what kind of deal you could get on a system with a sump and skimmer. You can always use the Aquaclears as supplemental filtration. I know, I can hear you saying, "This guy is NUTS! I just shelled out $1,400 for a system, and he's advising me to ditch the filters and buy MORE stuff?" Just my opinion...> Confusion coming from friends at work with systems, Saying that I should go with GARF's bullet proof plenum system. <That's just one approach to starting a reef system.> Not to mention the transportation concerns and trying to save what he already has.   <A big concern when purchasing an established system> Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.  Seems like the more we read the more confused we get.  OH YA...we want to make a reef tank...clown, cow, damsel, chromis and soft/hard corals, anenomes, polyps and Christmas trees.  Once again thanks for your time. Regards, Joe <Well, Joe- it really sounds like you need to do some more "homework" here. There IS, unfortunately, too much conflicting material out there. The fact that you're here on the WWM site ( a great resource, BTW!) is a good sign! I'd start with a couple of good books, such as Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium", and Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", and, if corals are in your future, get hold of a copy of Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation". These books will give you an excellent resource of unbiased, honest, and useful information on marine systems and husbandry. Educating yourself is a fundamental step in the process of becoming a successful aquarist. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, but the journey itself is a lot of fun! Enjoy it! Regards, Scott F>

46 Gallon Setup Overview <Hello! Ryan with you today> I know I know read the FAQ, I have been reading for months and are confused about a few things.  It is mostly in the setup. True or False: It is bad to have 1-3" of sand, should only have less than 1"(no nitrate control) or more than 4" (4" for nitrate control)? <True...5-6 would be better but can be an eyesore> A hang on power filter, you should remove the bio wheel because it's a phosphate heaven? <False- Has nothing to do with phosphate.  Can be problematic when trying to reduce nitrates to near zero levels.  I'm one of the few who actually thinks "leave it be," doesn't seem to cause problems for everyone.>   Cure Live rock with live/dead sand on the bottom? <Sure, most do it this way.> Put sand down first then rock on top of it or put rock down, cure it then put sand down AROUND it. <You want the rock exposed to the water, not the sand.  The more surface area of the rock you submerge in the sand, the less filtration it will provide.  This is why many build a PVC frame for their sand bed, so that the rock stays in place and doesn't sink over time.> Fiji live rock quality has been going down hill lately, use Marshall or Tonga? <Fiji is still exporting the same quality rock as ever- It's the retailers in your area that aren't getting the good stuff.  I actually prefer to buy rock from aquarists in the area breaking down tanks- minimal cycle, lots of good life, meet some cool people, typically better prices, etc.  As for rock appearance, mail order is hit and miss.  There are some trusted names- try wetwebfotos.com for a few reliable sources.> Anyway, how bad does the curing of live rock smell, I want to warn my wife! <Horrible.  Perhaps you can being home a cold for her that week?  If you use a bag of carbon in the system, it should help a bit.> When do I add the critters/clean up crew, during cycling after etc. <After, a few weeks> I don't like the look of a DSB, do you clean it, stir it, after about 5 years wont it get black and icky, is it just as good to have only about an inch of sand. <Hmmm...too much question to ask here.  It's an endless debate, go to reefcentral.com and just type it in the search field- You'll see what I mean.  There are literally hundreds of ways to care for/construct a sand bed, all with pros and cons.  I'd suggest designing a sand bed to support the type of animals you would like to care for- In my corallimorph tanks, I use a DSB and stir the very top layer daily.  They love it.  In my LPS/SPS tanks, I don't even use a substrate, and they don't seem to suffer at all.> I want to do this stuff right at setup, <A noble challenge> I want to set up a 46 gallon bow tank, about 75 lbs of live rock,1" OR 4" sand bed oolitic, Aqua c Remora skimmer,2 power heads for lots of movement. Power filter (no bio wheel, just filter media with carbon), 192 watt pc Coralife. <Great> Debating whether to put a sump under the tank, dump the Power filter and use the Berlin sump with filter sponges /no bio balls.?!??. <Sounds like a good way to increase water volume.> Oh yeah you probably will ask what I'm keeping in the tank, I saw a lot of cool looking beginner stuff to put in so I am not looking to get too advanced.2-3 fish with lots of soft corals. <soft corals sounds perfect for your skill level/lighting system.> Thanks in advance and I think I have read and learned more to this than in calculus <But this will keep you awake!  Good luck, Ryan> Mark

-Welcome to the hobby!- Hi there!!! My name is Nick and I am ready to take the plunge into Marine Aquariums! <And I wish you the best of luck!> I have decided I want my first marine aquarium to be a 50 gallon Fish only tank with some live rock (FOWLR??) <An appropriate title.> I have been keeping freshwater fish for almost years and decided to try something new. Anyway I have some questions on equipment, as most beginners do I am sure. <Nope, you're the only one. ;) > I was considering going with an outside power filter (One of the two chambered models from Marineland) it filters 400 gallons per hour and I trust Marineland products. <Ahh, the Emperor. If you plan on using live rock, you won't need the biological filtration that the Emperor provides. I would be much more interested in a protein skimmer.> I also was going to use a Marineland 350 canister filter, Which does 350 Gallons per hour, or an Eheim equivalent (i have heard good things about them) <I would skip this as well in favor of a good protein skimmer, a few powerheads for circulation, and potentially a small outside power filter for carbon use only.> For a protein skimmer i was considering The SeaClone Protein Skimmer for up to 100 gallons (There are so many choices, this is where i could use the most help) <Aquarium system's 100g rating for the SeaClone is marketing at its best. This is a very poor performing skimmer, and is reflected in its price. For that tank, I would suggest either an AquaC remora or a Precision Marine HOT-1.> Lighting was going to be nothing special, because this is a fish only aquarium, not any corals (unless, some make their merry way in on live rock, which i suspect will die anyway) <Don't forget to buy lamps with a bit of actinic in them (either 50/50 lamps or lamps with a color rating above 10,000k to show off the fluorescent colors of your critters.> Substrate was another problem, crushed coral, live sand, aragonite sand??? Not sure which to choose <I'd go with a live sand base of a few inches. Check out Bob and Anthony's book Reef Invertebrates since they have a spectacular chapter on substrates.> I was going to add about 30 lbs of live rock (Fiji) to jump start bacterial colonies, then wait maybe 3 weeks for the tank to  cycle.  Question: do i have to feed the live rock? <If you want to get the critter population going, a periodic feeding of small foods wouldn't hurt.> For Fish i wanted to keep: 3 Blue Chromis (Chromis cyaneus ) A pair of tomato clowns (Amphiprion frenatus) and possibly a royal gramma (Gramma loreto) or Lemonpeel angel  (Centropyge flavissimus) I have heard so many different opinions on stocking.  For a 55 gallon, this isn't overstocking is it? <Nope, sounds good. You could also probably put in 1 or 2 more small fish.> If there is one thing i learned from Freshwater keeping, it's that Poor water kills, and overcrowding causes poor water quality (on my two tanks at home i do water changes 3 or more times a week J I actually find it fun. And i plan on doing 25% changes once a week for my saltwater aquarium.  (Should i do more or less???) <The frequency is great, but I'd do around 10% or so. I hope this is of some help! -Kevin> Thanks for all you help, any reply Is welcome! Have a good one! -Nick

New Tank Setup Hello Bob (or whoever is kind enough to be helping today), <Ryan here, hello!> I am going to set up a 90 gal. FOWLR aquarium, and being that I am new to the marine world have been reading a couple books, and going over your FAQs to try to gather information before getting started.  I was just hoping you could help me with a quick check to see if I am on the right path. <Surely> The fish I am looking into are neon gobies, clowns, royal gramma, six-line wrasse, flame or coral beauty angel, and/or a Heniochus. <I am in support of all selections as wonderful beginner's fish.  Please wait 6 or more months before introducing the angelfish> But my question at this time pertains more to the overall setup.  I will let you know my plan and if you would be so kind as to let me know if it is workable or requires any adjustments. <No problem> I intend to get a drilled 90 gal tank, and use a 30 gal aquarium as the sump that is fed through a filter bag. <Very nice>  In the sump would be a Turboflotor 1000 in a first section. <If you haven't purchased it yet, perhaps look towards Euro-Reef or Aqua-C?  I have found these to be my favorite in-sump skimmers.>  A second section that could contain some sand and live rock, and the heaters. <You may want to skip the sand altogether- Sand wears down pumps very quickly.>  This would be followed by some baffles where I could use a sponge for polishing, and/or activated carbon and then a Eheim 1262 for the return pump. <Great> I intend to use 2-65w PC lighting, and place at least 45 pounds, more if I can afford it, of live rock in the main tank.  I guess my main question at this time is would I require more circulation than the one pump could provide? <I would recommend an additional form of circulation- Anything from a pair of maxi-jet 1200's will work> IYO would I be better off curing the live rock in the new tank with sand, or curing it in a separate container, and then moving it to the display tank? <Curing in a separate container is ideal, because you have the opportunity to remove unwanted specimens on the way to the display.  Make sure to take a clean toothbrush, and remove all Valonia, Aiptasia, dead sponge, etc.> Finally, if I intend to store pre-mixed water in a garbage can, for water changes, how big of a power head do I need in there for circulation? <Not too large at all- Just powerful enough that the surface does not become stagnant.> Thank you very much for your time, you folks offer a wonderful service. <Price is sure right! Good luck, Ryan> Dan Kohne

Setup Overview I know this question is going to be similar to ones you have answered elsewhere, but hopefully it is different enough that it is worth your effort to answer.  I will apologize early for the length.  I have read your many FAQs the Crew have written concerning filtration and have found them VERY helpful.  From them, I have developed an idea for a combination filter system that I would like your feedback on. <You've done the right thing by researching before asking.  In this fashion, we cover new territory.  Ryan with you today!> I am setting up a 210 gallon, open-reef style tank.  The goal is to have a decent mix of corals and invertebrates, but with a significant amount of open sand and swimming areas to support a larger fish population. <Great> More of a fish tank with a small live reef, rather then a reef tank with a few fish. <I see> I am planning for approximately 150 lbs of live rock in the display tank and a 2" live sand substrate over 1/2" of silica sand. <2.5 inches is actually a little thick for just a small sand bed.  The last thing you want to do is trap debris, as your bed is not thick enough to process it.  Less that 2" or more than 4" are good rules of thumb for sand beds.>  The tank has dual overflows totaling approximately 1200 gph and will have roughly 15' of plumbing (times 4 lines) to the filter system (about 21' head) for another 17 gallons of water in the plumbing.  I will probably use two return pumps for redundancy in case one fails at some point. (Can't help it, I'm an engineer by trade!) <They'll also last longer> For filtration, I will be using dual skimmers (an Aqua Clear 250 and an Aqua-C EV180, more redundancy). <Very nice> I will definitely build a refugium and am thinking of combining this with a W/D filter. <For the purpose of nitrate reduction?> One reason for considering two separate sump-like components is that I would think it is better to significantly slow the water flow through the refugium as compared to the flow rate through the W/D. Is this right? <Yes, certainly.> Though I understand Ly Seng's EcoSystem filters use a very high flow rate through the refugium, it would seem the macroalgae needs more time to react with the water to remove nitrates. <Different algaes absorb different nutrients in unique ways.  Truly depends on what you're game for.  I prefer Gracilaria in my refugium, and the flow rate needs to be high enough to keep it suspended in the water at all times.> I am considering about 30 gallons for the refugium itself. <Bigger is better, you can even dump the wet/dry idea and invest more here.> I am planning to have about 3" of either Kent Marine BioSediment, or else aragonite and sand, with probably Caulerpa as the macroalgae. Lighting will probably be PC lighting ran opposite to the main tank light cycle. <I would do more like 6"-7" sand bed, and seed some dead sand with quality live.  You can mix with Southdown if you can find it.  Check out local hobby groups for a handful of some good sand, don't get the bagged junk> The SeaLife Systems 43-gallon W/D filter I'm considering has a floss-type pre-filter, flowing into a 19 gallon area for some sort of bio-media and then a 24 gallon sump area. If I run the refugium pretty much full of water, and keep the water level at about 8" or so in the W/D, this should give me an additional 30-35 gallons of water (for a total of around 260 gallons total for the system). <I would just get a 55 gallon cheap tank, and run it as a sump.  You can use both skimmers in there, and with the money you save buy more live rock.  I don't find bio-media helpful in maintaining reef water quality, but rather great skimmer, lots of live rock, and frequent water changes.> My first question is does this combination filter system makes good sense at all? I know it is somewhat similar to a mud-eco filter, but with some twists (the dual skimmers and separate W/D). <Above> My second question is on the recommended bio-media.  I know you are huge proponents of live rock over bio-ball type media.  But since I am planning on a heavier fish load than "normal" reef tanks, would bio-balls be more appropriate in this situation than just adding more LR to the bio-media area?  Maybe just not 19-gallons worth of bio-balls.  Or, would I be better to just add more LR in the sump to increase the overall rock in the system? <I would investigate other options...With a higher fish load, I would consider a nice set of Tunze Steams to keep waste suspended.  This way, (ideally) your skimmers can remove it without it even needing to decompose and be converted to nitrate.> My third question is whether or not you would recommend tying the refugium output to 24-gallon W/D sump area, or would it be better to have them both flow into another common sump area, say of about 20 gallons and pump the return flow from there? <The best way is to return the refugium directly to the tank, gravity fed.  So let's see it, Mr. Engineer ;)    You want raw tank water going into the refugium, and the refugium water going right back into the tank.  All filtration should be on it's own loop.> And finally ( I promise) in which order should the water flow through the filters? Would it be better to flow through the W/D, then the skimmers and into the refugium? Or would it be better to go through the refugium, into the skimmers, then the W/D?  (The reason I am assuming the skimmers go in the middle is I hear that the pumps can destroy the various pods that I want to find their way into the refugium.) <Yes, exactly why gravity fed to the tank is best.  You fish will start to learn the fuge output is a guaranteed pod meal if they wait long enough.>  The only other option I've thought of is to have parallel flow paths with the higher flow going through the W/D, and a smaller feed line for slower flow going through the refugium. <I like that best, also because if one bites it, the other will still provide flow to tank> You have both mine and my wife's heartfelt gratitude. <I was winging it  ;) I wish you the best of luck, and demand a progress report w/ pics soon> Your information has already led us to a successful 46-gallon FOWLR tank. Now, thanks in large part to your website and tremendous information, we have decided that we are up to the task of taking the plunge (sorry) into a reef tank. <Best of luck! Ryan> I REALLY look forward to your response.  Sorry again about the length. Tnx, Rick

-Configuring a 180- Attached is my preliminary plan for the setup of a 180g Reef ready FOWLR tank. <Very nice indeed, I like the zoom feature of the page!> I would like your thoughts on the design, of particular interest is the flow of water through the sump (where physical/chemical/biological/etc. should take place.  <I'd scrap the mechanical (physical) filtration part, but it does look like a nice place to run some carbon periodically.> Some questions I have are: - How are the plans for my sump, do you see any problems with the configuration? <Looks good, the return pump seems rather large for the size tank you're using. I'm concerned that the stock overflows may not be able to handle that much flow.> - What are your thoughts on the protein skimmer I plan on purchasing? <Good choice, make sure the stand you choose can accomodate it's recall tall skimmer body.> Which section of the sump should my protein skimmer exit; the same chamber it is in or the last chamber before the main pump circulates the water back to the tank, or somewhere in between? <With those baffles you shouldn't have to worry much about bubbles, so have the skimmer dump towards the return section of the sump.> - What are your thoughts on my main pump selection, Oceanic says the plumbing included with the tank will handle a flow up to 1800gph my only concern is that it uses a 3/4" standpipe which is why I figured to use a larger pump to compensate for the increase in head pressure? <Reefcentral has a nice head pressure calculator that takes into account (i think) pipe friction along with all the other usuals. I understand what you mean, the Ampmaster has a 1.5" outlet going into 3/4" pipe. You may want to try something smaller, one that definitely won't exceed the manufacturers specifications on the overflows.> I have found lots of useful information on your site but am looking for more specifics. <Excellent, I hope this is of some help!> Thank you very much for your time, D'Wayne

Trying to be Cheap! Hello to whoever gets this,<Cody, here today!> Thanks for the great site and all the good info.  I have been searching the site for some information on doing a very inexpensive FOWLR tank.  I have a 29 gal with an eclipse hood, and a Fluval 204 canister filter.  I would like to be able to set the tank up for around or under $200 (not including livestock).  I was thinking of using base rock and very little live rock at first, This will take longer for the rock to establish, but I can't afford mass quantities of live rock.<That would be fine and works well.> What I would like to know is what is the cheapest skimmer that will still give me good operation and not be extremely noisy?  I really want the AquaC Remora, but it is just to costly for me at this point.<Hmm, I would definitely go with the AquaC, you can get them for about $170 shipped.  Other than that the quality drops quickly.  But the Bak Paks do a decent job.> DO you think I am missing/forgetting something? <What do you want to keep, you may need to upgrade lighting.  Cody> Thanks for the help, Tim Winzeler a.k.a. Starving Student Phoenix, AZ

So Much To Choose! Hi Team, <Hello, Ryan with you today> Just starting out could use your advice in making some decisions. <Surely> I got the tank (oceanic 90 gallon bowfront, 48Wx28Hx18D).   I'm at that point that I need to make decisions about lighting, type of live rock, type and depth of sand bed, plumbing setup, and most importantly, what animals I want to keep. <Okay> I want to be able to keep a few SPS corals, clams, zoos, anemones (pizza, RBTA, or saddle) w/clowns, and a small number of compatible fish. <I would encourage you to research a bio-tope and recreate it.> First, lighting:  I was thinking either going with a T5 light setup (Tek light (4) 53watt retrofit)  or step up to a DE MH setup.  Given the 24" depth of my tank (assuming a 4 inch DSB), and my desire to have some animals with intense light requirements, would a T5 setup be adequate. <MH would be preferred by your SPS and Clams, everything else would be great with T5> My local LFS indicated that T5s are inadequate for depths greater than about 18 inches. Is this true? <Yes, the light is considerably filtered at this depth.  Most light loving corals should be in the top 12" of water, however> Going with the MH setup with two 175w or 250w bulbs, I'm concerned about heat and electricity costs.  What do you recommend?  <A second job...Just a little reefers humor.  It depends on what you want to keep!  If you can do without the clams and SPS, T5 makes a stunning display with Octocorals and Corallimorphs.  You'll save monthly and initially, but will need to replace the bulbs at least three times more often.  If you're certain that you want to keep the higher-maintenance animals, then buy the MH hood and get it over with, but be prepared to spend some serious cash on bulbs, PG&E, etc.>  I understand that SPS corals and anemones don't mix, that the anemones will sting the corals. <I rarely mix these animals.  Some even say their SPS doesn't grow in the presence of anemones.> Is this more of an issue with the RBTA because they can move around? <All anemones can move> Is there a way around this, such as putting the RBTA in first so it finds a place it likes before putting the corals in? <yes, the best tactic.  But, you need at least 6 months of a stable environment before an anemone belongs there.>  Second, live rock:  I have been thinking about mixing several kinds of rock, both Florida aquacultured rock (e.g., TBS or gulf view), Kalini, and Marshall rock.  By mixing these sources I want to get the benefits of the aquacultured rock that appears to come with more life, and the "natural" rock that is less dense and more diverse in form.  Does mixing rock from the Caribbean and the south pacific have any issues that I should be aware of? <If you are trying to create a certain biotopic look, I would not mix.  There are no big problems that result from mixing rock from around the world, but a uniform look is very neat and clean.> Thirdly, sand beds:  my plan is to go with a 4 inch DSB, about two inches of Southdown at the base with 2 inches of larger 1-2 mm CaribSea special grade sand/live sand mix on top. <Southdown has a half-life of less than a year I think...I'm sure that this is documented somewhere, I just can't find it.  Anyway, you may want to add an inch or two, because 4 is pretty much the minimum with DSBs.> I want to use Tunze Streams (two model 6000s with controller) which could blow the sand around if the sand is too small. <Could> I understand the streams are very powerful. <They're amazing> They could be too much for my size of tank.  What do you think? <I think they're great for anything over 75 gallons.  Just make sure they're not aimed directly at any residents and you'll be golden.>  I may try Anthony's manifold return concept but I don't know how many outlets I can really drive since I will be limited by the capacity of the overflow. <I see> I don't want to drill the tank so I can't do a closed loop. <OK> I will probably go with a Euroreef or ASM protein skimmer -- which one do you prefer? <Euro-Reef> Keep up the good work. <Enjoy your new project! Ryan> Thanks, Matt

General set up/stocking plans 3/9/04 J,  My system is using a protein skimmer, the Skilter 400 for up to 100 gallons, Florida crushed coral on the bottom about 1-11/2 inches and then another 1-11/2 inches of live sand, 48" 10,000K light bulb, 10 lbs of live rock, a 1 ft long air stone that is being used as well, buried in the sand, so there is plenty of oxygen, and a synthetic maroon coral tower.  That's all I have so far. <Hi Kelly, Adam here today.  A couple of comments...  most manufacturers estimates for Skimmer performance are over-rated, and probably none more than the skilter.  The skilter is probably realistic for about a 20 gallon tank at max.  Better choices for a 55 include the CPR BakPak and AquaC Remora.  A minimum of about 1/2-3/4 lb of live rock per gallon is recommended for adequate biological filtration.> I live in Colorado about 6000 ft up. Does altitude have anything to do with it?  The pet shop says these fish come from Denver so I am not sure. <What tropical ocean is in Denver?!?!<g>.  Seriously though, since you are at altitude your tank may be a bit more susceptible to low oxygen if the power ever goes out or a piece of equipment fails.  Members of your local aquarium society should be much more "in tune" with altitude issues.> Anyway, I didn't lose any fish. After I wrote to you I jammed home and they were all doing great. Eating, swimming and playing. I don't know what to make of it. Anyway, if you have any thoughts I would love to hear them. <I'm not sure what was goin on either, but am relieved that you didn't have any losses.> I plan on doing a lot more with the inhabitants. Can I expect this to happen again? I want to eventually put in some live coral, sponges, shrimp, crabs, more fish of the same species, and maybe a couple different ones, and anemones. <Since we don't know what happened, there is no way to predict if it will happen again.  As for your stocking plans..  Please take time to research!  Most sponges have no hope of survival in the home aquarium, and except for very unique circumstance, I generally recommend against keeping any crabs.  Corals and Anemones will require MUCH more light than you currently have.  Do look in to VHO florescent and metal halides if you wish to keep these animals.  Many popular fish will quickly out grow your 55, so do consider those that stay small as better choices.> I plan on doing this within the next 5-6 months. Gradually like all my books say. What do you think?  Kelly Norton <Kudos on being willing to be patient!  Time and reading are the best investments you can make in a marine aquarium.  Please do exploit the resources here at WWM!  Best Regards.  Adam>

Building A Perfect System? I am coming back to marine after a long lay off. <Welcome Back!> I want to keep box & cow fish in a rectangular, 80 gallon tank but am bewildered by conflicting advice. <Yep- a very common thing in this hobby!> I live in a small flat so my set up should be 'flood proof' & quiet. Please let me know your thoughts on filtration & lighting. Thanks Neil Hong Kong

Small Marine Aquariums
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