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FAQs about Tanks, Stands, Covers for Marine Systems 1

Related Articles: Marine Tanks, Size Doesn't Always Matter! Thoughts on the Desire to Create Bigger Marine Aquariums By Scott Fellman, Aquarium Stands, Canopies, Covers & Lighting Fixtures,

Related FAQs: Tanks/Stands/Covers 2, Tanks/Stands/Covers 3, Tanks/Stands/Covers 4, FAQs on Commercial, Custom Tank: Design, Shape, Materials: Acrylic, Glass, Other... Tools, Location, By Make/Brand/Manufacturer Name, & FAQs on DIY Tank & Sump : Design, Shape/Size, Materials, Tools/Construction/Sealants, Plumbing... DIY Acrylic Tanks, DIY Glass Tanks, DIY Wood Tanks, DIY Other Material Tanks... & Aquarium Stands 1, Aquarium Stands 2, What to Use, About Floors Underneath, DIY, Finishing/Coating, Commercial, Leveling, Modification, Repair, & Canopies, Canopies 2, & Aquarium Repair 1, Acrylic Aquarium RepairUsed Aquarium Gear,

Home-made Ecosystem Hey I just had a quick conceptual question concerning home-made do-it-yourself aquariums. Is it possible to set up a tank outside (to ensure lots of sunlight and rain) with some plants and algae to provide oxygen, and successfully keep fish without a filter? If so, what types of fish would be most suitable for such an endeavor? <Umm, sounds like a pond to me <G>. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm. Most ponds have some type of filtration.> Also, do you think that introducing some sort of quickly-reproducing insect larvae could eliminate the need for regular feeding (of flakes and other manufactured foods) <Refer to the link above> Thanks for your time,  Robert    <You're welcome, Don>

Question about 55 gallon tank... Hello, A friend recently gave me his 55 gallon tank, with everything. The question I wanted to ask was that this tank has stainless steel holding it together on the outside, with some sort of hard material like a cement, <This cement like stuff is usually slate (stone).> while on the inside there is caulking. I have been reading up online, and some sites say that these tanks must not be used for saltwater, because it corrodes metal, but other sites say that it's okay. What's the deal with the stainless steel? Which is true? I was thinking about eventually converting it to a saltwater tank, if possible. I could take some pictures of it for you, if you need to see it visually. <I know the kind of tank you are describing. Unfortunately, I would not choose it for saltwater. Stainless steel will eventually rust from splash and salt creep.> Thanks for any help you can give me! Rob Lewis Long Beach, CA <I would give this tank a test fill somewhere easy to clean up. This is a very old tank, probably over 15 years. Well built, but none the less good advise to test fill any used tank. Also, do you have any earthquake concerns in your part of California. Acrylic construction is your best choice by far if so. -Steven Pro>

Front Bowing Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 40 g. glass saltwater fish only tank. It is about 2 years old now, and I have noticed the front and back panes are starting to bow out-maybe as much as 1/5 of an inch or so in the center. Is this normal for glass tanks, or do I need a new one?  <normal but not ideal... the engineering rule of thumb is that acceptable "deflection" (bowing) is half the width of the glass. And so... a 1/2" thick tank should "bow" no more than 1/4". You may want to drain the tank partly and seal a brace in> Does this happen to all glass tanks over time, or do I have a dud so to say? This has made me nervous! What should I do! <play it safe and seal in a brace... little work or expense in exchange for the peace of mind> Thank You, Chris  P.S. - Keep up the good work, your site is nothing short of amazing! <thank you kindly, Bob and all WWM crew appreciate and enjoy. Anthony>

Tank size? Hi: <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> I'm going to be able to move soon, so I'm considering to a larger tank, I'm going for a 300 Ltr (80 g) tank, Can you tell me the best dimension for the tank ( I want to have different tangs)? <for fishes...low and long (for gas exchange, territorial dispersion, etc) is recommended. Hence, a six foot long 80 gallon would be better than a four foot long 80 gallon tank. Mixing tangs is difficult in such a small tank. Many are not tolerant of each other and most have adult sizes that are way too big for an 80 gallon tank. Please research your fishes adult sizes and husbandry well before you buy them> Also can you give me any suggestions, the best sump dimension/system? skimmer? the stand? Rene <much information has been written about this in the WWM archives... an enormous resource. Please browse the FAQs and articles on the topics you desire. In a nutshell though... I'd say a wet/dry system with bio-balls, a EuroReef skimmer and a reliable auxiliary filter for carbon, backup and QT fixes like an Eheim. Best regards, Anthony>

Aquarium Material Choices Bob, <Steven Pro taking my turn answering a few questions this morning.> I would like to thank you in advance for all of your help. I am looking to make a major step in advancing my reef tank. I only have a 29 gal. glass reef, which I have had for 3 years or so. It is time to upgrade to the 90 gal. range. Do you have any suggestions on glass or acrylic? <I am going to give you a pretty lousy answer. Bob prefers acrylic. In California because of earthquakes acrylic is required. They are also easier to work with, drilling overflows, carrying do it lighter weight, etc. I prefer the better scratch resistance of glass, cheaper price, and in this area, glass tanks are readily available. Acrylic is consistently a special order product.> I know the pros & cons of each. After deciding to buy a glass tank, I went to my LFS to price them out. They pretty much told me that glass was a waste & acrylic is the only way to go. Are they just trying to get $$$$? <I cannot say for sure as I do not know them.> I like the durability of glass, but is a 90 gal. more likely to leak than my current 29 gal.? <No> Is the acrylic really worth the extra money? <To some people, but not to me.> I think I would prefer a tank with an overflow, do you agree with this idea? <Yes, very much so, with either material.> What is your suggested tank equipment for someone who is interested in stony polyped corals, anemones, clowns, gobies, tangs? <Sump, high quality skimmer, source of purified water, MH's, DSB, and liverock filtration. A refugium would be great, too.> Are wet-dry systems not advised for reef tanks? <Correct. -Steven Pro>

Tank Diagram Mr. Fenner, I am sending you my second draft of my tank design. The picture shows what is planned for behind the tank and the placement of it's equipment. I'm not sure if you remember the picture I sent to you a few days ago.  <I do> I showed how my equipment would be housed in our walk in closet behind the tank, allowing us to have the tank built into the wall. Well after much debating my wife can not part with the closet space. I have now designed our setup using the stand the aquarium came with. My major hurtle was that the cabinet has a wall in the center, dividing the cabinet in half. I am not at all brave enough to take it out and find other ways to support the tank (75gallons.) My idea, as you will be able to see in the picture, is to drill two holes into this dividing wall. That will allow me to run piping from the sump (on the right facing behind the tank) to the refugium (on the left facing behind the tank) and vice versa. <Drilling round holes (not near the edge of "the wall") should be fine... Definitely do not remove this support> Would you mind looking over this design and let me know if you feel I have a disaster on my hand? My concerns as of this Monet they are subject to change, and often do) are; 1) The placements of the gate valves. I fear they are not at the right place to have the best control over the flow. Or if I even need them on the overflows. <They're fine... situate them where it is easiest for you to adjust (probably just once)...> 2) I wonder if how I planned to two overflows to join is a smart idea.  <I would leave them separate.> Do I need to increase the PVC diameter from 1" to 2" at the place they join? Or should they just run independently to the sump? <Independent or to 1 2" (surface area of a circle = pi R squared...> 3) Will I need baffles in the sump?  <Not really> I fail to see (I am quite blind to where bubbles will become problematic) a need for them in this design. I will need to find a DIY place (id they are in fact needed) to find a way to make baffles in a Rubbermaid sump. :) <A few ways... best with "races" or guides siliconed to sides, bottom so that baffles can be raised, taken out...> I am sorry for the long post and for pestering you so much this week. Your help both through your web site and by email make a word of difference. Thank you so very much! Josh <No worries. The Mag4 going from the sump to the refugium is likely oversized... I would look into something smaller flow rate wise... 3-4 volumes per hour turnover here is about right. Bob Fenner>

Marine Lighting/Covers Hi! Bob.. Lighting question..... I am going to place a 400W metal halide on my reef tank. Do you think I should leave the tank uncovered so maximum light can get to the tank? <Yes... do make provisions for preventing your livestock "leaving" (high side walls likely), and measure for "top-off"... probably will have to add freshwater daily to make up for evaporation> The light does not have a protective cover or anything. If I leave the tank cover on and place the light six inches on top how much light intensity do you think I would lose? <Variable... easily measured though> I don't really want to loose water due to evaporation if I do not have to.... <Not possible, practical. Bob Fenner> Thanks...

How long do aquariums last before they break? Hello Mr. Fenner! I hope all is well! Has there been any research conducted that focuses on the average lifespan of aquariums? <Of aquariums themselves? Not that I know of> The reason that I ask is because one week ago I came home from work and discovered that my 65 gallon hex. had cracked sometime earlier in the day and emptied onto my wooden floors and down through to my basement. The water caused a small electrical fire as it literally melted the outlet power strip which I had on the floor below (even though it was set on a raised 1.5-inch piece of slate). <Hmm, you might want to contact the manufacturers of such tanks... a few are listed on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Pages> How often do aquariums crack? Should a new aquarium be purchased every so many years? (The label on my tank had the year, "1991" on it.) <Not many crack... perhaps a few percent over years time... most of the time they're broken while empty, being moved... more often a seam/seal splits... often by way of a cleaning tool/razor blade... Some folks replace their tanks after some years use... I and many others advocate cutting out, replacing corner silicone beads... Acrylic tanks rarely fail... as their seams are not glued, but melted into one continuous piece> I'm sure there are many variables that must be calculated into this (such as aquarium shape, size, brand, tank contents, etc.), but I just thought you might know. <There might be some accumulation of such data... would think that manufacturers would know if anybody. After reading (and writing for) the various trade magazines in the field the last thirty plus years, don't recall (nor have I any copies of such in my files)> Thanks again for all your help! I really appreciate all your knowledge sharing! <A pleasure> Declan Procaccini Wilton, CT PS - The good news is that all the fish and inverts. were saved as I immediately transported them to a large plastic storage bin (with an air stone) and brought them to my local fish store the next morning. <Great! Good and fast moving!> PSS - The bad news is that after suffering numerous bouts of bad luck over the past 2-1/2 years and weighing down heavily on my savings, I have decided that I need a sabbatical from the aquarium hobby (MUCH to my dismay). My wife and I need a house first, then a fish tank. But I'll be back. <I understand. See you back soon. Bob Fenner>

Corner Tank concerns Hi Bob I have emailed you before a couple times and you have always been really helpful, so...... I have another question for you. I have a 75 gallon reef tank in my office. Well, my office is moving, so I have to move my tank. I am thinking about going with a different style tank, to be exact the corner 92 gallon (shaped like slice of pie). I am really concerned about lighting. I do not think I will be able to get enough light so that everything will thrive (keep word being thrive). I have been looking at retrofit kits, different lighting fixtures, etc. I probably only have room for one 48 inch long light. Any suggestions about lighting? <Get a few thirty six ones... Power Compacts... See the WWM site here for other peoples input as well> Any other concerns with this shape of tank? TJ <None really... functionally... I really like the looks of these corner tanks. Bob Fenner>

Bow-Front Tanks Hi Bob, I just wanted to know your opinion of bow-front tanks. Does the bow make it harder to see the fish?  <Minimally... though not a "day at the beach" for photography> I have never seen one with fish actually in it, so I can't tell. They look cool enough. Is there any other problem with them that I should be aware of? <Not really... Structurally sound, beautiful, especially the corner ones IMO...> If you could post this, I would appreciate having other readers of your daily faq page respond with their opinion as well.  <Wowzah, great idea... and one we are working on... in our spare (very big grin) time...> So, if anyone has an opinion about bow-front tanks good or bad, please let me know. Bryan Aalberg <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tank set-up Hi again Bob, Now that I've decided on a 125ga saltwater tank, I have a question on placement. I have 2 places that I'm considering in my house. One of them is in my den, where my home theater is. Sometimes it gets loud when I'm watching DVD's. I would put the tank on the opposite wall of my main speakers, so it would be about 15 ft. away. Do you think the sound would be bad for the fish (stress, fear, etc.)? For now, it will be a FOWLR tank. If this is no good, it will go in my bedroom. Thanks for the help. Jason <A tough one... not so much for the noisy DVD's (in many places in the world underwater it is very loud indeed), but the varying light there, odd hours of same... OTOH, the gear and light in your bedroom may be no better, not to mention the noise the system is likely to generate and its effect on your sleep... No where else to situate this system? How about the living room, entry way... behind or instead of the couch? Bob Fenner>

Re: tank set-up/Location Wow, good catch. I didn't even think about the lighting, as much sense as it makes. These are really the only 2 places in my house that the tank would be seen. I would hate to put it in a room where it would be 'hidden'. I guess I'll have to re-think this situation. Thanks again. Jason <Anytime my friend. Bob Fenner>

Glass or Acrylic Bob, What is your perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of acrylic aquariums versus glass aquariums? Thanks, Rocky Phillips <These can be found on the "Tanks, Stands..." and "Designer Aquariums" sections on the Marine Index of the www.WetWebMedia.com site. Both have their place. Bob Fenner>

New tank (glass aquarium manufacturers, ratings) Hi Bob, I am looking into a new 100-135 gal. marine FOWLR tank set-up. I have looked at a few (on the internet). I was wondering about All-Glass brand, and Oceanic. Do you know if these are well-built (quality, reliability) tanks? <These are both good outfits, the Oceanic measurably better...> How about any other brands (I prefer glass). <Which part of the country are you in? If the Oceanic is within your budget reach, this is what I'd get.> I like the corner overflow set-ups that run out the bottom into sump/filter. Is this a good way to go vs. any other method of getting water to sump under tank? Pros/cons? <Yes, a good method... safe, sure... would be better if the towers had an "over-under" divider in their fronts to return water to the sump from the bottom layer of the tanks water...> Thanks for your time. Great web site! I ordered your book. Can't wait! Jason <Am sure you will enjoy, benefit from it. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Reef Tank, Acrylic tank thickness, lighting, skimmer efficiency, confusion Bob, Just a few more questions. I was in Phoenix this week on business and visited the Tenecor shop.  <Nice people there> I also went to a lot of Marine shops and that confused me more than ever.  <Hmm, that's a shame... there are some great shops in Phoenix> Most shops said the Tenecor tank is not thick enough, even for a 50g tank(?) One said I should get an upgraded thicker top(?) <Hmm, well, yes... as a matter of economic expedience most acrylic tank fabricators "main lines" are constructed on less thick materials... than might otherwise be used... but/and these tanks are still very sturdy... much more so than glass of the same thickness... but are still inclined to "bow" much more than thicker material ones are... As such, manufacturers, including Tenecor will gladly use thicker acrylic (especially the top...) for custom tanks> I was planning on a retrofit with 2x96w lights, most suggested go with 4x55 watt(?)  <Six of one... the four lamps are more flexible in choosing different lamp arrangements> Some said don't do the wavemaker, go with the new rotating powerheads(?)  <I agree with this...> All said don't do the CPR unit as the built in skimmer isn't very good(?) <Not a "great efficiency" skimmer... but certainly "good enough" for the majority of set-ups... for larger systems, animals that extracting more is better, other models, makes are better...> I felt comfortable with my original choices except for thru Rio's which I would upgrade to the Maxijets but now I'm not sure. Any thoughts you have on a 50g limited to 36" wide would be a great help.  Thanks again, Paul <Please don't be discouraged or fall into a morass of non-action over apparent differences of opinions on gear... they are just that, different opinions... Strive to understand the underlying logic of these choices... and choose for yourself... Certainly there are better choices depending on aspects of efficiency, cost, your sophistication, desire to keep all up and going... but all the gear, ALL of it you mention will indeed work... Perhaps an analogy with automobiles... Yes there are more "high performance" cars, ones that get better mileage, are more safe, shinier/with more bells and whistles... they all will get you where you want in relative comfort and safety... Bob Fenner>

Oceanic Tank manufacturer? Hi Bob; I wrote you an e-mail a few weeks back regarding fish per inch/gal. After checking out the list of companies in the back of your book. "The Conscientious marine Aquarist", I was wondering if you would know the address of "Oceanic"? The company that makes fish tanks. I am trying to get a price quote on two different manufacturers. Please let me know if you can help me. Thanks, Fred Siegele <http://www.oceanicsystems.com/wheretobuy.htm, Bob Fenner>

Commercial concerns, cutting an up and going acrylic tanks Hello Mr. Fenner, I hope all is going well in your life. You know I feel like I know better than I real do because I read your web site everyday and also the FFExpress website where you answer questions. I appreciate all you do for the hobby. <Very glad we're both here> I had a few questions and I will start with... why do you not ask FFExpress to carry your latest book? <Have done so... thank you for this> Second question is... have you ever considered setting up a phone where someone can call you and talk to you but has to pay a certain rate a minute. I think a lot of people would be willing to pay three dollars a minute for the chance to talk to you and get some questions answered. <Hmm, another good idea... but must beg off on trying such a service... don't really have any more time... and the flexibility afforded by/with this (email) format is necessary... I travel quite a bit.> Anyway.. that is all I really wanted to say. I am in the process of planning out my thousand gallon system. I can't for the life on me make up my mind as to if I want it full of butterflies or if I should have a reef setup with tangs. I love fish more than corals. Any.. advise... <Perhaps a biotopic presentation... I thought of helping build out a public aquarium once in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i... and the long (maybe forty feet... by ... six or so feet tall tank in the turnaround/back of the building I envisioned a reef face arrangement with an arrangement of doubled up (one spilling into another) surge tanks along the whole upper back... With... local (there are 25 species there butterfly species) and tangs... would be spectacular.> Also... I have a 240 gal Acrylic tank. I am thinking of drilling holes into it so I can toss the over flow box. Can I do that with water in it? <Yes, just lower the water quite a bit... like half ... tape a box sort of rig on the inside to catch the bits of acrylic.>  Is there a chance of it shattering? <Not much... tape over the cut out on both sides... and don't drill too close to the upper edge (at least two inches down)... and take your time... probably with a hole-saw set-up like used for installing door knobs.> Thanks.... Bhaskar. <Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Aquariums: Glass/Acrylic? I would like to know what are the price difference between glass and Acrylic.  <Depending on? Thickness, quality....? Acrylic costs more wholesale and retail... for practical purposes... a rule of thumb so to speak, a good two to three times as much> I just read your website and you said you like acrylic better.  <For most applications, yes> I'm trying to buy a tank approx 65 gallons. I don't see any acrylic tanks in the pet store in my town so I might have to order one. So also read that if u scratch the acrylic tank it can be remove. We kind of gauze do u have to use to get rid of the scratches?  <My favorite simple remedy involves pastes of different grits... very fine scratches can be rubbed out with gritty types of toothpastes... But plastics dealers everywhere offer types of technology for this> Well I will appreciate if you answer those questions. And thank you for taking time to read my email, Aaron <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Leak Hi Bob, I've got a problem that hopefully you've seen before. My tank is leaking from the bottom. It's not a drip. I get NO moisture from it in the tank stand. I'm getting salt creep underneath. It's very slow. When I clean it, I don't see anything for a couple of days. In a week's time, I have about 1 square inch (if that) of salt creep. Here's my Q's: 1- Will this eventually worsen? <Possibly...> 2- Would sealing up the underside around the leak contain the leak? <Yes, from the inside... necessitating draining the tank... If indeed there is a real leak... see below> 3- Since my tank is doing so well, and the rock/corals are almost perfectly placed (in my eyes), is this some sort of cruel joke from the fish gods? <Perhaps.> I realize you can never tell what could happen, but I figured since you have so many years in the biz, you've probably seen this a few hundred times. I'm trying to avoid tearing down my tank if possible, but, if the leak leads to a family room/pool, I'll drain and seal it from the inside. Thanks for your help (again), hope all is well, Tony <Do this first... tape a piece of clean and dry newspaper around the perimeter of the lower part of the tank... tightly... below all mechanicals (i.e. hang on components, power cords...) and let's just check and see if the salt creep isn't really originating from splash, spray, capillation... i.e. from over the edge of your system... This is VERY common, and at times almost undetectable by the human eye... i.e. it happens slowly, imperceptibly... You'll be able with the newspaper to more closely identify the source of the seawater... If it is the bottom (doubtful) we can talk about resealing the tank itself (from cleaning it out...) Bob Fenner>

Tank size? Hello Bob! I was wondering what is the smallest optimal tank size for ease of stability and maintenance. I have a 29 gallon tall that I have been struggling with for a year, and it seems very hard to get it stabilized! On the other hand, I also have a small 6 gallon mini reef that is doing great!! What size would you recommend for a good stable system? thanks, Ben <Different "minimums" work for different folks... but a forty gallon is my generally suggested minimum... for reasons you know. Bob Fenner>

Glass Aquarium Dear sir, I recently acquired a 105g Oceanic Aquarium w/stand. It is an all glass tank and therein lies my problem. I would have preferred acrylic but am not complaining as I got the tank at a very good price. <Nothing wrong with glass tanks... and definitely nada bad about a good deal> Anyway, here it is: I wanted to set it up with the water going down to a sump or refugium underneath the stand and place much of the filtration etc. there out of sight. However, as the tank is glass and is not drilled for that setup in tank, I would have to use an over the edge overflow or whatever. Now that that is my option, I have heard several horror stories about these malfunctioning and flooding the room when the siphon breaks etc. <Hmm, well... the tank can likely still be drilled if you want to investigate the possibility... but for the money, time, hassle, I'd get/use an overflow box... these are about foolproof... and you could always rig up two... if you're fearful that one might fail... take a look at the spec's of the ones offered on www.cprusa.com> So, my question is there any way to accomplish the under tank refugium w/o a great risk to my mothers carpet (and thence to me!) or should I do something else. How would you set up a nondrilled glass tank? I had planned to setup a fish and hardy invertebrate system w/live rock, sand-then later perhaps convert to a full blown reef system. When I decide about a year ago to get into this hobby, I thought that I should first read up on it-so have spent the last year buying and reading books on the subject, and I will have to say that your book is the most well worn of the lot. (smile) <And a very big grin here> I feel I have a decent understanding at least enough to get started-I hope! However, the plethora of gizmos and doodads has me somewhat confused anything more technical that a can opener confuses me I must admit!) So if you have any recommendations as to a best setup for my glass tank, I would be eternally grateful...(smile) Regards, Kim <I'm here to help if you get stuck, would like another opinion or three. Bob Fenner>

Tank broke Hi Mr. Fenner My 75 gallon fully stocked reef leaked 25 gallons of water all over the floor last night. I also have a 240 gallon with 100lbs of live rock that finished cycling 3 days ago. It was going to be FOWLR. I moved the contents of my 75g reef into the 240g tank. I put my 4ft VHO system over one half of the 8 ft tank and put the high light corals on that side. My mushrooms I put under 4 40 watt no lights on the other side.  <Yikes, thank goodness you had/have the other tank...> I am filtering the 240 tank with 180 lbs of cured LR, a Turboflotor skimmer, and a large Amiracle. Am I ok for the short term? I am very worried about spiking the new 240. It had 0 ammonia and nitrite before I put in all the reef critters from my 75g. 'hopefully everybody makes the move and doesn't die in a hole or something. All the corals are opening up in their new home after an hour or so <S/b... let's hope for the best.> If you have any comments, ideas, or reassurances please help. I think I've done all I can do and I feel very lucky my 240 had finished cycling its 100 lbs of rock. Thanks, Everett West.  <Do keep your fingers crossed... but I'd wager all will be well... your moved animals were in good shape... no real worries. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank broke Thanks for the reassurance. I really appreciate your fast response. I am just so happy that I had that tank available. Now I want to fully reef my 240 which I was against originally due to the cost of such a venture. I thought about buying another 100g tank for the reef but I think moving it again will be very bad.  <No more moving! Buy a BIG house, and seal the doors in with silicone rubber, and fill it with water!> To make my 240g a permanent reef I think I will add 4 more 110 watt VHO bulbs.  Is my Turboflotor enough of a skimmer for this tank?  <Should be okay... eventually... once the curing, recurring are about all done... I probably would NOT upgrade.> Should I add another Amiracle, I have room for another sump down below.  <A good idea... maybe with some live rock, Caulerpa and lighting?> Any other suggestions to fully reef this thing. Well thanks again Everett.  <Much more to come. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank broke Great idea about the house. Although I'm almost there as it is. I also do Malawi cichlids. They are fun but they are way easy to breed. Well its been 6-7 hours since it was all moved and everything is looking better. Some corals still look kind of annoyed but most are fully out like nothing happened. Well thanks for the input. Everett  <<Ah, good to hear of all...Bob Fenner>>

Carbon  HI there Bob, Thank God the nitrite level is back to normal this afternoon and fed my clown ( trigger ) with live fish (freshwater). <Ah, good to hear> Does a juvenile Cephalopholis miniatus has a white line from the head? <Sometimes... though of the basses offered in the trade, the Skunk Grouper, Variola louti is more commonly marked this way... take a look at both on our site: Home Page and FishBase on the net.> Is a red miniatus a good choice to keep with a clown trigger? <Yes, both species and many other basses make good tankmates... smart, fast, greedy eating species all> Also can a low grade carbon release nitrite back to the water? <No. Neither does it take it up.> Hope to hear from you soon. Bye4 now David. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Reef tank question About 10 years ago, I maintained a 30-gallon fish-only  marine aquarium. I am thinking about getting into the  hobby again, but this time I am interested in starting a  (much bigger) reef tank. Is it true that, as a general  matter, the bigger the better in terms of how easy it is to  have good success with the tank? And if so, is a  125-gallon better still than a 100-gallon, etc.? Also, are  reef tanks much more work to learn about and maintain than  fish-only? Thanks. <<Good question... and one that was refuted recently in a U.S. hobby magazine. Yes, larger systems are easier, more stable, more flexible, more disaster-proof... By virtue of their sheer size/volume... Imagine scenarios of power outages, a dead organism going undetected, an accidental over-feeding, over-supplementing... the chance to have your organisms grow a bit more without having to catch, move them... There is incredibly more to learn from and about reef aquariums compared with fish only marines... Many more times and diverse forms of life... An ever-unfolding adventure. Bob Fenner, who welcomes you to this world>>

Deciding on Tank The penny pincher is back for more advice. Thanks for your response last week to my question regarding should I get a 125 or 75 gallon tank with the variable being the lighting. My birthday is this week and by this weekend my purchase will be made. Also, purchased your book and I love it. I have several questions though and they are as follows: 1. Any difference in tank quality based on manufacturers such as Perfecto, All-Glass, Oceanic ...etc.? I saw an advertisement on Perfecto tanks that looked pretty good and Oceanic tanks looked a bit expensive comparatively. <Perfecto and All-Glass are about the same in quality IMO, but the Oceanic product is worth the money in difference.> 2. Any suggestions/advice on tank stands made of oak, pine, particle board? I saw a good deal on a pine stand. <No to anything made of Particle board materials...> 3. Any suggestions/advice on a hood? I'm leaning towards a glass hood, so down the road I can upgrade my lighting without replacing the whole hood. My thought is that it would be cheaper to take this path.  <You mean a glass "top" right? Rather than Acrylic, or? You might want to look into just leaving the top uncovered... and making, buying a hood of wood (coated), plastic construction... with a reflective interior> 4. As for lighting, how many total watts of Fluorescent lighting would I need to support live rock and hardier inverts? What's the best combination? (example 1 actinic to 2 full spectrum day light bulbs)  <This can be a tricky question... 3-5 or so watts per gallon or so should do it... the proportion you state is about right...> 5. How many watts of power compacts to support live rock and hardier inverts? for same support? What's the best combination? (example 1 actinic to 2 full spectrum day light bulbs)  <About the same... in terms of wattage consumed> 6. Can I combine fluorescent and power compacts and if so what is the optimum combination? <Yes, the watts consumed proportionality is not important> 7. You mention in several of your Q&A's regarding reduction of phosphates that the food source may have an impact on these levels. I checked my food sources and some do not list the make-up of food in such detail and others have what is called polyphosphates. Is polyphosphate a culprit of high phosphate levels? <Possibly... but not generally... most any food-source of phosphate period is going to be readily absorbed, otherwise taken out of any maintenance equation in an up-and-going system> I know that this is a lot of information, but I just want my investment to be a beneficial one for me and my livestock for a long period of time. Thanks in advance for your insight/advice. Nick <I understand, and you're welcome, Bob Fenner>

The walls are coming down Hello Bob, I have written you before about our tank. When we first started it  everything kept dying so we took some advise and bulked up on the filtration  and got a fish stocking plan and everything. And it was going great; but  then I came out to the living room yesterday and noticed that the top of the  aquarium was in the water. We have a 150 gallon aquarium that we purchased  second hand, it is in really good shape it was a custom tank and the store  that made it double sealed everything. Any way the top portion that holds  one side to the other broke the seal on one side, and the tank looked like it  was bowing out, but did not leak at all. I was scared that the hole thing  would come apart but it looks OK. I through all of the livestock in my 10  gallon hospital tank and put the big mama sand filter on it to take up the  slack of the other filter. So can I just re-glue this thing back in place  with some sealant or should I scrap it? The integrity of the tank was not  breached and didn't leak, it is empty now and looks fine except for the top  piece that is hanging. Really can't afford to replace this big right now.  Sorry for the long letter but thank you for reading it.  Please Help Us. Thank You, Mark Pinkston <<Yikes, thank goodness for your quick action... If left as it was, it might well have burst if jarred... or on its own. Yes to being able to be repaired. Have you done much siliconing of fish tanks before? If not, and even if so, you might want to get someone to help you with this repair. You need to clean up, remove all the existing silicone from the front and support pieces of glass where they will be resealed... With single edge razor blades (watch your fingers!), and a solvent (near 100% alcohol can be used, we utilized xylene)... to get rid of the oils, etc. from your hands and the last bit of "non-glass" before assembling. Once the surfaces are clean and dry, and you've figured out a way to support the top piece while the silicone is setting up (a good day, two are better), practice fitting the piece in (it should be tight... have to be wedged in)... put a bead of 100% silicone (doesn't have to be specified for aquarium use... just 100%) on the top piece, and with that friend, fit the piece in, place whatever support to keep it in position, then run a thick-enough bead of silicone around the edges of the piece and smooth out the bead... with a clothes pin, tongue depressor, your finger... whatever to make it smooth, and give you a border to aid trimming off the excess (after it cures... those two days)... One other issue... you might consider this the opportune circumstance to add other top bracing... it can be siliconed inside the front panels or on top. Make sure your stand is planar/flat and level before refilling with freshwater to test... this might be a/the reason it split... and stand off to the side when you're filling it... no problems? Bob Fenner>>

First Tank, What Size? I'm kicking around some ideas about my first salt water tank. I was wondering what you suggest I get as far as size and what animals to put in there. I was going to try to start with clowns but am interested in breeding them. Are they an easy fish to breed and what species do you suggest as a first attempt at both care and breeding? <<Thanks for asking! As far as size, "the bigger the better"... at least a forty gallon... for stability and flexibilities sake... the tank can't be too big. Measure up your space available and wallet, make a list of all the gear, livestock you'd like... and put in as large a system as you think you can handle... Trust me. Clownfishes are an excellent breeding start... As are some types of Cardinalfishes (family Apogonidae)... the males of the latter are mouthbrooders... Be chatting,  Bob Fenner, who will risk the chance of sounding self-serving (as a pet-fish writer/photographer), but do read about the hobby as much as you consider prudent before plunking down the big bucks...>>

Tank Capacity Formula How do you estimate how many gallons are in a tank. Mike Williams <<A few ways... mainly by multiplying the inside dimensions in inches and multiplying the length, width and depth together, dividing by 231 (cubic inches per gallon)... to yield the gallons... If it's a real big tank you can do the math in feet: L X W X H divided by 7.48... gives gallons... Or if it's a real big, irregular tank, or has a lot of stuff displacing the water in it... and you need a better idea way... you can use a watch with a second hand, a bucket of known volume and a garden hose to gauge (by measuring how long it takes to fill the bucket per whatever volume it is) how many "bucket-fill equivalents" it takes to fill your tank... Bob Fenner>>

Acrylic Aquariums I would like to know if you have ever come across any information, or had any experiences with livestock that shouldn't be put in a acrylic aquarium. I  just purchased a Clarity Plus acrylic and I would like to know if certain livestock would end up scratching the acrylic. This question came to mind  when I was considering putting snails in the tank for clean up purposes.  Thank You in Advance for your reply, Kirk  <<Hmm have heard of limpets, abalone, some coralline algae scratching acrylic (and even glass) tanks... but they're more likely scratched by aquarists by far... And the scratching is very hard to make out when the tank is full.... and can be removed with varying degrees of ease if need be... every few years... These are very nice tanks... and I wouldn't worry. Bob Fenner>>

Aquariums Bob,  I'm thinking of building a tank in my home and I would like some insight on the subject. First, the size is 84'' x 28"W x 30"H What do I calculate to find the total gallons? Second, Is there a ratio of live rock per gal of water? Any info you can give would be GREATLY appreciated.  Thanks, Ed Noble  <<Glad to comply! Multiply LXWXH in inches, divide by 231 (cubic inches per gallon)... in feet for those really big tanks... it's about 7.5 gallons per cubic foot! The rock calc. is a little harder... due to variation in shape of tanks... density, shape of live rock products (they're quite variable)... and desired effect of the artist/hobbyist... Something between one to three pounds per gallon probably fits most. Don't pass out! Look for "full box" deals!  Bob Fenner>>

New tank and no clue where to start... I just got a new, used tank for Christmas and am interested in setting it up as a reef tank. It is a 61 gallon Plexiglas tank with a divider down the middle which has 2, 2 inch holes in it. The dimensions are roughly 4 feet side to side, 1 foot back to front, and about 3 feet top to bottom. There is a Plexiglas rim all around the top of the tank that is probably an inch or so wide which would, I think, prevent me from putting any hang on filter systems without cutting away some of this rim. There are 2 spouts on either of the 2 top corners which I am told are to be used for gravity filter systems but they are broken and will need to be replaced if I intend to use them. My questions for you are first, does the aforementioned description seem like a viable tank for a reef tank? Further, what type of filtering systems and lighting would you suggest to get the tank up and running. I am really lost as to where I should go from here so any help would be great. Thanks. <<Well, the shape of this tank is a bit problematical... better to have something more flat and wide... rather than tall and narrow... for looks and functions sake... the more surface area the better. Be this as it maybe/is, the tank you have is... well, the tank you have... and it can be made into a working reef... but, if you haven't kept marines before, I strongly encourage you to try just keeping a "Fish Only" system for a few months (much easier, more forgiving).  Take a look around at different filter possibilities. A "hang on" system or components like a skimmer are still possibilities, even if the lip of the tank must need be cut (not all the way to the edge... minimally). Or better still, much flexibility and safety can be gained by situating a sump/reservoir under, behind or to the side of the main tank, and placing much of your water conditioning gear there, using a pump to move the water back to the display tank. You need to consider how best to route this water exchange, but don't be dissuaded from the possibility of drilling, cutting the top or back to fit through hull fittings. Scan the net, visit other hobbyists who have tanks, read the books on marine aquariums you can lay hands on, and contact an acrylic fabricator in your area if possible (look in the phone et al. directories under "plastics"). And do "ring me back" if you have specific queries. Bob Fenner>>

Sea Clear System Tanks I currently have a 55 gal Sea Clear System II (the one with a built-in trickle filter in the back) reef tank. I bought it when wet/dry's were still in vogue, and, didn't realize how much I would have benefited from having a regular sump instead! Consequently, I have a hang-on skimmer (Sea Clone). I know the Sea Clones get marginal reviews, and, I was wondering about your opinion. Would I benefit enough from a Red Sea Berlin Hang-On Skimmer to justify the costs? Any other ideas? Also, I don't know how familiar you are with the Sea Clear tanks; but, I've only be able to remove half of the wet-dry media due to the excessively loud noise caused by removing all of it (water cascades down the back and drops almost the entire height of the tank, unimpeded). Could this result in any water quality issues?  Thank you very much for your help. David Kleeman <<Thank you for writing... and am very familiar with SeaClear/Tradewind/CASCO's products including this one... Am friends with the four owners and a few of their staff, and they do have other fine products... but do concur with your appraisal... this integral filter line... is bunk. I really would abandon the back "filter" area entirely... and drill (you can use/borrow a side-drill I know...) and just use the present area for circulation... maybe a purposeful denitrator)... and go with an external sump... and the real skimmer you intend (the hang-on or in sump needle wheel types are superior)... If any of this isn't clear (or obvious) please ring back. Bob Fenner>> 

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