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FAQs on Marine System Set-Up & Components 28

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

new to salt water. Set up, refugium choices in hang-ons     2/25/17
<Howdy Josh!>
A store owner gave me a link to your page and I have a question hopefully you can answer. I am setting up a 60 gallon tank I got from pets mart. I am doing a canister since the tank isn't set up for a sump and the stand is way too small for a sump in it. I am using a Fluval fx4 (meant for a 250 gallon tank), reef octopus hang on back protein skimmer (meant for
100 gallon tank). My question is really about refugium. I found a hob one. It comes in 3 sizes. But I was interested in the medium ( 3.60 gallons 19" L x 4.5" w x 12"t) vs. the large (4.70 gallons 25.5 l x 4.5" w x 12" t). I was told to go bigger and not sure if the 60 gallon tank could hold such weight and also was told that both refugiums there (CPR AquaFuge 2) would be too small for my tank. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Joshua Benson
<Well; your gear and set up ideas will work. The larger the refugium (of any kind) the better; but ANY is of great utility. Oh, and not to worry re the weight of the unit of whatever size you settle on being too much.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Restarting a dormant tank       7/1/15
I had a 125 FOWLR for years, lost all livestock after hurricane and weeklong blackout 4 years ago. I never restocked the tank, but am looking to do so now.
<Ah; welcome back "to the fold">
Tank still has all the live rock (though not sure how live it is),
<Just rinse the dust off the rock, vacuum the substrate thoroughly... >
pumps and skimmer have been running all along (no lights) even though no livestock. I have continued freshwater top-offs. What steps should I  take to restock?
<I'd take this opportune time to change out all the water... via vacuuming the substrate; replace>
Will I need to go through cycle again?
<Perhaps. Bob Fenner>
Re: Restarting a dormant tank       7/1/15

Thanks. How would I know if I will need to go through cycle?
<Testing! I'd be placing a bit of dried food daily (just a pinch) and see
(via...) to see if nitrate is accumulating.... BobF>

Components of a Successful Refugium... FW, SW set up  -- 09/19/09
Hi crew,
I have spent many hours perusing your website and plan on spending considerably more getting a grasp on this wonderful hobby of fresh and saltwater aquarium keeping. I am concurrently reading Bob Fenner's The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and Michael Paletta's The New Marine Aquarium and find myself spending copious amounts of time re-reading sections from the two books and cross-referencing to the website. You have contributed greatly to the knowledge, experience and enjoyment of this incredible hobby and I thank you very much for your enjoyable, thorough and scientifically oriented approach.
<We are glad to share with you>
To the point, I am the President of the Friends of Monterey Academy of Oceanographic Science (MAOS), a public math and science academy founded in 1994 by Steve Webster and Chuck Baxter of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Laboratory and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Our capstone course is in marine biology and we are currently building and expanding our marine science laboratory and field studies classroom. In the process of building our laboratory and field studies room, we have encountered challenges that leave me coming back to WWM frequently.
<And further pleased to assist your efforts here>
Our laboratory room we are proceeding with chaining some 20 tanks with a flow-through central filtration system into a common sump for replicate studies. These will be chilled by a 1.5 hp chiller (from Mike Morris at Sea Life Supply) and will represent coldwater specimens from the Monterey Bay.
Any thoughts you might have on this would be great.
<Mmm, much to say... would need to see the spec.s or better the system in person>
We are also setting up multiple ecosystems in our classroom/fish room that will represent tropical saltwater and tropical freshwater ecosystems.
Today I set up a 170g freshwater tank with a 70g refugium. In the refugium, I'm using volcanic rock
<Hmm, there may be better choices here>
on the first division (entry) with Chemi-pure, charcoal and peat (Amazon tank), flowing into a fuge of plant-growing substrate with heavy planting and then into a third chamber with the return pump back into the main tank. The idea is to create easy medium assistance with additional gallons to the overall system to reduce the number of required water changes. The tank is currently stocked with angels, electric blue Dempseys,
<Mmm, these become quite to very aggressive with age/growth... Will likely kill at least the angelfishes>
larger tetras,
<Mmm, which species? Some are great plant eaters>
and other south American fish with swords and other live plants.
<And the Dempseys are prodigious diggers... Will likely uproot the plants>
I also have a good eheim canister filter going with volcanic rock media, charcoal and media pads. Does this sound good or overkill?
<Would work except for the addition of the Dempseys... I'd remove these>
Our saltwater tank is currently 125 gallons (with plans to upgrade when possible) with a 14" map puffer,
<Needs more room than this>
18" snowflake moray eel, 2" maroon clownfish, 3" six-banded goby, 2" mandarin and lots of live rock and sand.
We're using a refugium with live rock, live sand and Chaeto and water parameters have been muy bueno for some time now. The biofilter/skimmer produces 1/4 cup of dark green skimmate daily.
Are we on the right track thus far or do you have alternative suggestions?
<Mmm, bunches... but best for you to keep going along at your present pace, learning... Asking about, gathering useful data, enjoying the experiences.
Nothing "terminal" in the short term that you list... Bob Fenner>
Re: Components of a Successful Refugium, FW, SW sys. set-up
Thank you Bob for your helpful reply. I've been up for the past two hours re-thinking systems and am writing back at 4:00 in the morning - I guess that means I've gotten hooked.
<Is a good addiction>
I learned a valuable lesson about sumps this morning - size matters.
<Oh oh... re transit volume?>
We had a fuse blow this morning while I was two hours away from home picking up equipment. My wife called me frantic asking what to do about the steady flow of saltwater rising over her ankles from the too small sump as the overflow steadily drained the 125g tank.
<Yeeikes! Yes... water et al. run down hill... payday's on Friday...>
We did the best we could via cell phone and when I got home, we cleaned everything up and got the system started up again until the fuse blew again - and again - and a third time
<?! Am very concerned re... DO install, run all components through GFI/GFCI circuitry. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/gfcimarines.htm>
as we shut down anything that was drawing power while trying to get the system stable again.
Lesson learned.
On the 170g tank with the 70g sump, that system also failed and the return pump (rio 1700) died, but the sump was plenty large enough to hold the overflow.
<Mmm, please see... WWM, the Net... Rio/TAAM pumps are not reliable... DO look into a better brand... My fave hand's down: Eheim>
Today's project, drain the 170g tank and the 70g sump and begin the process of setting them up as the new saltwater tank to handle that 14" map puffer (*Arothron mappa*) and the 18" snowflake eel (*Echidna nebulosa*).
Unfortunately, the tank is more tall than wide, so maintenance will be a challenge, but that is the biggest tank I have for that puffer for now.
<William; please consider trading, gifting this animal to someone with a much larger system>
My plan is to set the tank up with a dividing live rock wall/oasis that will give the puffer maximum room but allow for the heaters and powerheads to be protected from puffer nipping (he's taken out my best powerhead already).
This oasis would be substantial enough for the snowflake to make a comfortable home. We also just picked up a 6" Foxface rabbitfish (*Siganus vulpinus*). Was hoping you could give input as to how this one might be with the puffer and eel and what compatible fish (Lionfish, Bass, Dottyback, Gramma, Hawkish, Angelfish, Tang) might work with this setup down the road.
<This Siganid is very fine with a mix of other rough and tumble marines... They leave it alone, knowing how spiky and venomous it is... and the Rabbit is mostly interested in eating algal foods>
The main tank will have 4"+ of mixed live sand and crushed coral with as much live rock as I can put in there and still give the puffer ample room.
I will also look for heavily armored cleaners (any suggestions?).
<Please see WWM re "marine scavengers">
This tank has a very large corner overflow with a return built into the overflow to flow back into the tank. I'm trying to consider how to add powerheads to increase tank flow and still keep the cords out of the puffer's reach -
<If money is not limited, look into the mighty fine Vortech line... if so, the Koralia...>
maybe a rock oasis on each end of the tank with the pump pushing the water through the live rock towards the middle of the tank.
I've read countering opinions on adding rock first then sand in order to avoid creating dead areas in the sand and to ensure the rock is stable for the eel
- that is my plan for now.
<Better all the time>
For the sump/refugium. New plan is to have 70g tank divided into three compartments with the first containing the skimmer (I picked up a large skimmer last week from a LFS that had a quarter-size hole in the upper acrylic tube at the intake caused by the skimmer getting knocked over - plan is to use Craftics plastic solvent cement and 27 gauge syringe plasticater to repair skimmer and place in compartment with good, free flow of intake water), the second compartment would have live sand, live rock, Chaeto, good lighting and be the largest compartment. I'm considering placing inverts in the refugium including snails, shrimp, brittle star(s)
<Mmm, I'd leave out... "too predaceous">
and feather dusters and I found a source for tropical green abalone (*Haliotis fulgens*)
<Mmm, have quite an extensive background with the family... There is no such thing as a tropical H. fulgens... This species is decidedly cool to coldwater>
that I would like to try and keep there.
<I would not. Please (re)read on WWM re Refugium Biota>
That would flow into the third compartment with the return pump for return back to the tank. I replaced the Rio 1700
<Please toss this, replace...>
with another and the return flow is adequate enough to maintain good balance between the tank and the sump, but I'm wondering if I should go with a second return pump for redundancy in case of power failure and to increase tank flow.
<A good idea to at least have one on hand...>
This 170g tank and 70g sump currently sit just outside the house where they get indirect sunlight throughout the afternoon. With a coastal climate, we are quite often overcast. One option is to leave the tank where it is to take advantage of the natural sunlight or should I move it to the garage with artificial lighting?
<I would... hard to keep such outside settings stable during cold/er months>
After the tank has been setup and running with live rock, live sand and Chaeto/copepods from the existing refugium for four to six weeks, is it safe to transfer live rock, 20% of existing tank's water and the puffer and eel, or should I keep the puffer and eel in the existing 125g tank and cycle the 170g tank for a longer period before transferring livestock?
<Likely all can be moved in concert in one day>
Will the 170g tank be adequate for these two or should I 1) get a larger tank or 2) come up with another plan for the puffer?
<1 or 2>
Second and smaller tank would be a 70-gallon bowfront reef tank. This would house the live sand, live rock, soft corrals, a rose bubble tip anemone and smaller fish including a pair of Ocellaris Clownfish (*Amphiprion ocellaris*), a Yellowtail Damselfish (*Chrysiptera parasema*), a Sixline Wrasse (*Pseudocheilinus hexataenia*), a Bicolor Blenny (*Ecsenius bicolor*) and a Neon Goby (*Gobiosoma oceanops*) along with some nice inverts. This tank is not drilled, so I can either use a canister filter or set up a weir and do a sump/refugium in the stand. The skimmer could either hang on the tank or go under into the sump.
The freshwater tank will primarily feature the Angels and the tetras and I'll move the Electric Blue Jack Dempseys to their own tanks. Our plan is to allow the students to maintain the Dempsey tanks - we have two breeding pairs - and then work with our LFS and a Northern California distributor to move the Dempseys as they grow out. The saltwater and freshwater tanks would be primarily set up as mini-ecosystems for the students to maintain and learn from.
<Sounds good>
We're still working on the design for our replicate system in the laboratory and will have more information, and pictures, as we get closer to that installation. Eventually, we would like to create a larger common in-ground sump with central filtration. These would be used for hands-on experiences with limpets, crabs and other intertidal life.
Again, thank you for your thoughtful input as we progress with these experiences.
<Am glad to assist your efforts, help guide your self-education. BobF>
Re: Components of a Successful Refugium... Ongoing prog. of SW set ups   9/21/09

I'm writing in response to your excellent and very helpful suggestions. On my left as I type is a beautiful 70-gallon bowfront tank with a pair of clownfish, damsels, live rock, live sand, a brittle star and several smaller
soft corrals.
<Yippee I yo! Yippee I yay....>
Beautiful! This is the tank I want to build into a wonderful reef tank. At the moment, I have a good skimmer sucking out nice skimmate, two powerheads creating nice in-tank flow, lots of central live rock and 4" inches of live sand for the base (added after the rock was landscaped per Michael Paletta. Simple now, beautiful later. When I can, I will build a sump/refugium that can handle any overflow - yes I will do all GFI/GFCI, just trying to get there and taking one step at a time. Looking for that chink in my wife's armors (damn those clowns are cute!) to get the next upgrade for our systems.
Tossed out the Rio pumps and got an Eheim (wife's chink in armor :)) and sump is working like a charm in the 170g tank. Adding good live rock with macro algae and God knows what else is in there to middle refugium.
Inherited lots of clam shells from a previous pickup - okay to add for buffering or ?.
<Likely fine>
Picked up 200# of crushed corral from local Petco store (God bless 'em) and could create a nice substrate in 170g tank. Love that 14" puffer and hate to see it go, so wondering how long I can keep it in the 170g until I locate a bigger tank for long-term residence. If holding it is bad for it's health, let me know, Pan Oceans in Hayward has a home for it though I would love to see the kids benefit from it's incredibly friendly nature.
<Is stressful... and if there's some trouble... power outage for instance... this fish will perish in short fashion>
Working on the big tank.
<300 gallons plus...>
Got the water partially rounded out with some ro/di water and built the 70g refugium/sump with skimmer/live rock, copepods, snails and feather dusters/return pump - thinking I'm getting closer anyhow.
I'm planning on taking everything I'm learning and putting into practice into getting the kids great experiences - so thank you very much Bob - I greatly appreciate your time and your interest.
Bill (or William). I am truly enjoying the long ride up of the learning curve to being a conscientious marine aquarist.
<Ahhh! Thank you for sharing Bill. BobF> 
Re: Components of a Successful Refugium... SW set up f'  9/22/09

Okay. Sinful pleasures time. All of the reading I've done and perpetual WWM perusing (damn - you guys go on forever!), have not fully prepared me for the absolute enjoyment of the smaller in-the-living-room reef tank. Pure elixir to the soul. You truly have me hooked.
<Can be, is an all-engrossing interest>
I'm working on the bigger issue and suddenly the white knight arrives. It appears that a friend in Napa is willing to donate a 460 gallon hexagon tank to the program and great blessings - this will take care of our size issues for the moment. Thinking about the transfer - ogm! Oh well, for a great cause nothing is too much.
So the puffer and the eel should be in a better environment - I'm not there yet, but I'm step-by-step working towards becoming a better conscientious marine aquarist - Bless you Bob for being there.
Eternally grateful,
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>
Re: Components of a Successful Refugium... SW set up  -- 09/26/09

Hi crew,
In light of earlier suggestions, I've been scouring the internet looking for something larger for the map puffer and snowflake eel.
Does this look like a winner?:
"Dimensions : 67x30x48 (417 gallons to be exact) ACRYLIC TANK side over flows, and a quick drain on the bottom. I can do a water change with this tank in under 10 minutes."
<Sounds good>
If everything works out well, the owner will be donating the tank and stand to the program. I'm already charting out plans for the sump and refugium.
Plan would be to drain from this tank into 100g sump with three compartments
(2 skimmers (EuroReef CS12-2RC + ASM G-3/deep sand bed with Chaeto/return compartment with three heaters and two return pumps (Iwaki?),
<I'd go with another brand... See WWM re>
on side of tank would be 30g refugium with gravity flow back into main tank. I would create two islands of live rock, one at each end of tank, to create protected areas (from puffer nipping) where I can place Hydor Koralia
pumps to create flow into tank (better multiple small ones or two big ones at each end? - We can't afford Vor Tech right now). Both refugiums would have T5 lighting and natural indirect sunlight as would the main tank.
Does this sound like we're starting to get there? Further suggestions? And finally, any recommendations for additional fish, or should this tank be simply for the map puffer and the snowflake eel?
<I'd add more... for interest, movement... Likely some tangs, wrasses...
Perhaps an Angel or Batfish as a centerpiece... there are MANY possibilities>
Thanks again for the great advice.
<Where, when in doubt Bill... keep reading. B>
Re: Components of a Successful Refugium... Puffer sys.  10/4/09

I'm reading and reading...still so much to work through. Fantastic job Bob and crew.
Getting back to the puffer. He's hanging in there, but looking like he's waiting to move into his new digs. I'm working on transitioning him and his companions to the bigger tank, but I want to ensure I've done it right first. Okay, specs: we did not get the 400g tank I was hoping for. Instead I picked up a nice 270g tank today with stand. Plan is to transfer pickling rock and sand from 170g tank to 270g tank and switch 70g refugium/sump.
Unless I cut a hole in the side to insert the tank, I'll probably opt for a pair of Rubbermaid containers to make the fuge and the filtration sump, then tee them off to the return.
<Sounds good>
A couple of interesting features on the 270g tank: a really nice wide overflow that runs half the length of the tank and return plumbing for five returns using 3/4" piping. The two bulkheads in the bottom of the 30" overflow appear to be 2", so I'll be shopping for a pair of bulkheads.
Have to research what kind of pump I'll need in the return for this much flow from the main tank.
<These plumbing parts can be purchased on line if you can't find them locally... Here at Premium:
Question: With the map puffer (14") and the snowflake eel (18"), I have a Foxface rabbit fish (8"). What can I add for algae control?
<See WWM re... http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm
and the linked files...>
- this tank will get some direct natural sunlight, so I think I need to plan for good algae control. Someone on Craigslist posted to sell a Harlequin Tuskfish - is this a good wrasse to keep with a puffer and eel?
Also, finished my 130g Amazon biotope tank today with swords, angels and lots of natural sunlight. Absolutely stunning!
<Ah, good>
Thanks again for your support/suggestions. Continuing to work on becoming a conscientious aquarist.
<Like marriage, a condition/state only labeled as such through knowledge in action. BobF>
Re: Components of a Successful Refugium... More gen. SW set up, reading   - 10/06/2009

Hi Bob,
Me again. Mea Culpa - I'm searching and searching but coming up empty.
Need help getting that 270g tank set up correctly. I measured the two drains and they are bigger than I thought. Both bottom-drilled return drains are 3" in diameter and 6" apart, sitting in an overflow box 30" from the top. The overflow runs 18" along the back of the tank and six" into the tank. They overflow drops into a pair of 50g Rubbermaid tubs with bulkheads draining from the first one (skimmer, media) to second (LR, DSB, Chaeto) and then returned to tank with a 66" return (stand = 36" + 30" tank) via a manifold that runs the perimeter of the tank with two inlets, right with two 3/4" returns to the right and front and one 3/4" return to the other front (via a 72" x 3/4" front horizontal pipe) and left with three 3/4" returns to the back of the tank for six returns.
Questions, best bulkheads/size for the drains
<Posted on WWM. Please use the search tool, indices...
(I have the source thank you), recommended return motor/size (external little giant or submersible Italian pond pump - good performance, low power draw, low heat)?
<These are poor choices... See WWM re...
scroll down to pump. sel.>
In talking with a
mutual friend, Ray Meyers who has a great LFS in Salinas (Pet Fun) and a daughter that graduated from the MAOS program, he suggests that a high-performance Italian pond pump
<... no>
at with the 6 x 3/4" returns may be enough flow for the map puffer tank to avoid placing Hydor Koralia powerheads in the tank for flow. If that is the case, I can place the heaters in the sumps and avoid having any cords in the tank for the puffer to chew on.
Also, sand. Needs lots of it. No one that I can locate carries Southdown, Castle, Yard Right or any non-silicate based sands in my neck of the woods (lots of blank stares when asking). I found a source, Ron's Home and Hardware online that had it and ordered 12 bags for only $43.32 w/shipping free!
Woohoo I thought. I thought wrong. They called back and said the free shipping didn't apply to the sand and that the shipping charge would be $725.19. Order cancelled. Checked with Ray at Pet Fun and he can get fine grade aragonite at .45/lb. That's probably around $700 to get all of our tanks going with DSB's if we go that route. Any suggestions ... or time to bite the bullet?
<Perhaps a road trip>
Hope you can help me correctly figure out the drain/return situation. I'll be sure and pass on the knowledge to the students as we continue setting up
additional tanks.
Tanks a lot,
<Keep reading Bill. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater Problems/Marine Set-Up/Compatibility 8/11/09
<I'm not a newbie, Robin.>
I purchased 100-gallon saltwater aquarium as a complete setup.
Tank, stand, lights, cycled saltwater
3-4 inches sand/crushed coral
aprox. 100 lbs of rock
Fluval Fx5 Filtration system
2 (small) air stones (one was for a 10 gal tank, so I added another one).
1 Yellow Tang
1 Coral Hogfish
1 Yellowtail Damselfish
2 Domino Damselfish
2 Blue Damselfish
2 Two Stripe Damselfish (one died)
2 Three stripe damselfish
2 Blue Fin Damselfish
1 Horseshoe Crab
1 Serpent starfish
<Yikes, a tank full of bullies.>
2 Astrea snails (I added)
1 Turban snail (I added)
I have been doing a lot of research since I got this tank. (It's like choosing a doctor; every one has a different opinion).
And I am finding out that a lot of things didn't come with the system that probably should have. Such as a skimmer, etc...
Below are some of the questions I still can't find answers to: Not necessarily in the right order.
When this tank was set up in my house, the salinity was and still is, too low. (1.014).
<Not good.>
1) Is there a good way to raise salinity with out stressing fish? (1 gal. of 1.024, at a time? Once a day?) How much, how often?
<As a general rule, marine systems are best maintained between a specific gravity of 1.020 and 1.025, avoiding changes of more than a thousandth a day (0.001).
In reading below, you state your take actually measures out to 75 gallons.
In that regard, you can safely exchange 5 gallons of tank water, replacing with 5 gallons of new sea water mixed at 1.030. Doing this on a daily basis until you reach 1.024 will not stress out your fish/invertebrates.>
2) A sump/Refugium.
I would like to have a good filtration system, with the aim of being the least expensive, but best for the aquarium. I found a kit, but can't find info on weather it would be good for my situation.
<Difficult to answer without knowing the contents of the "kit".>
3) For a beginner, I am having problems with the gallons. For example, it is 100 gal. Tank. When I did the measurements for the volume, it comes to 74.48 gals.
But how do you judge about the sand bed and rock density? If it has less than 74 gallons, when I buy something for the tank, do I use the 100 gal: 75gal: or less?
(Since I am confused about that, you can imagine what goes thru my head on trying to figure water flow. (gph.) LOL
<If buying filtration equipment and/or skimmers, size to your actual tank size. Additives are generally based on total water volume. Most folks setting up marine systems will know the actual volume of water by tracking the amount of water being put into the tank. In your case, you will need to do an educated guess.>
4) How many different species of Damselfish can be in one tank? They have started getting real territorial, so much so that they are attacking each other. One has died and one is in a QT.
<Most of the damsels you have are not compatible with each other. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm>
Included are 2 pictures: 1) I can't find out what it is, so can't know how to care for it.
The other one was smaller and has already died.
<Is a Blue Devil, definitely justifying it's name.>
2) Don't know what this is, (what causes it) and what to do to get it out of my tank It looks like white cotton balls, after a while it gets dark spots on it.
When I pulled one off the rock, the bottom had spines sticking out of it.
<Appears to be a Zoanthid colony in poor health, lacking needed light.
See/read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zoanthid.htm>
Sorry this is so long.
<Not a problem.>
Any and all help appreciated
<Do read here and related articles.
An index to marine set up can be found here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

deep water tank, set up    7/11/09
I was wondering if it were possible to run a saltwater fish tank with live rock, protein skimmer, and refugium only.
This tank would have no artificial lighting so that it could support deep water dwarf angels like the Multibarred, or the golden angel. The would receive some sunlight from the closest windows, and am considering a 55 gallon or 75 if possible thanks
<Possible. Bob Fenner>

Re: What to tell my boss at work Bringing a 55 Gallon tank back. 6/30/2009
<Hi Russel.>
If attached picture did not come through, try this link. As you probably figured out I am not very computer savvy!
So, I hope you can see the pic of the tank?
<Yes, I see it, you have a Niger Triggerfish in the tank - The tank is too small for this fish. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm >
You say He needs to upgrade the filter system.
<Most definitely.>
Looking at my Drs. Foster Smith cat. I see CPR Aquatics Cyclone Bio-Filter.
Is this the type of outfit you are talking about, along with overflow box and pump.
<That would help, even more important would be the addition of a protein skimmer.>
<Do read the articles here as well as the linked pages at the top of each page.>
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm >
I really need all the info/suggestions you can provide.
<The articles linked above will answer most of your questions, but in short, you will want at least 600 gallons per hour of circulation as well as a protein skimmer to keep the water quality up. Further, regular 10 - 15% water changes will go a long way to keeping the system stable and clean.>
I'll have more questions after I know if you can see the pics so I know we are on the same page. Thanks,
Re: What to tell my boss at work, SW set-up...  7/1/2009

Hi Mike,
<Hi Russel>
Thanks for your help. I have been looking at your suggested reading but I am still lost. You said I need 600 GPH of circulation. Are you referring to though a filtration system?
<Through a filtration system and or through the use of powerheads. Though I prefer the majority of the flow actually go through a filtration system.>
As for the protein skimmer, please recommend a brand and model number or two so I can look them up and see what you are talking about.
<Many many choices here. Though you cannot go wrong with an AquaC Remora http://www.proteinskimmer.com/Product%20Pages/Remora.htm >
Also what about a powerhead and the recommended size (GPH etc.)
<I'm a fan of either the Maxi-Jet series or the Hydor_Koralia :
As to GPH, that boils down to the size of the tank. If you were to get either of those in a 400 - 600 GPH range, you would be fine.>
Thanks Russell

Adding An Additional Tank -- 06/30/09
I currently have a 29 gallon reef tank with about 50 pounds of live rock. I have two 10 gallon sumps, one with a protein skimmer/heater, and the other has a good amount of Caulerpa in it. I have had it up for about a year.
I plan on adding a 36 gallon corner tank right beside it. I would like for this tank to share the sumps.
<<Is doable'¦but be aware these tanks will also share all the same 'problems' should any arise>>
I have about fifty more pounds of some old live rock that has been dried out I plan on putting in the new tank.
<<You can use this rock'¦but it would be of benefit to swap at a least a portion of this for 'new' live rock for the added/renewed bio-mineral and biota content>>
Can I simply add RO water to the new tank, get the salt correct, then simply adjust the plumbing so it shares the water with my current set up?
<<You can>>
Could this hurt the cycle in any way?
<<Such a setup will likely decrease the cycle time of the new tank due to the shared water/microbes of the first system>>
Any suggestions?
Can't thank you enough for the information and hard work you have put into the website!
<<Is quite the collective effort, indeed>>
I can't count the number of people I have told about it.
<<Excellent'¦is good to know>>
Thanks again!
<<Quite welcome'¦ Good luck with the new tank. EricR>>

New Setup Questions 5/25/09
Hey Guys.
I had a question about two options to set up. I am thinking of the JBJ HQI nano cube 28 gallon tank. As you know this has everything but I think it has too much light for what I need and seems too small.
<Larger is easier, with more livestock options.>
The other tank I was thinking was a 46 gallon all glass aquarium bow front.  This tank would be non drilled I just want approx 40 lbs of live rock and an external protein skimmer. I would maybe want to use a hang on refugium.  The light would be a t5 compact fluorescent. What type of external skimmer would you recommend something I could place under tank and hoses running up into tank.
<HOB unless you plan to have a sump; an AquaC Remora.>
What type of hang on refugium would you also recommend for this set up?
<Any will do. While we are here do consider drilling the tank, now is the time! Take a look at my drilling video, you can do this yourself very easily: http://reefercentral.com/Videos.html>
Thank you very much.
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: New Setup Questions 5/25/09

Thanks for the quick response. So ditch the 29 nano. I like the idea of the bigger tank and more flexibility. I have had a 200 gal and a 120 in the past but was very expensive to build so now I want something a little bit smaller. Is there a particular model AquaC remora?
<Depends on the tank size. Anything above 50 gallons you may as well go with the Pro.>
Also I had a 120 in the past and used a 200 gal tank plumbed through a wall for a refugium you guys actually helped me build it.
Now I want to simplify things a bit with the 46 gallon. Do you think it would be ok to just use the live rock in the tank and a hang on skimmer with a compact florescent light t5's?
<This can work.>
Or would you also use the hang on refugium on back of tank?
<You could, the HOB have limited volume and therefore benefit.>
I don't want to drill tank in risk of a flood the tank is in a family room with wood flooring and finished basement below. Again I think this would be
the simplest way to go.
P.S. I would of liked to see your video of drilling tank but it would go through this may be something I do if I could drill myself. Maybe you can
try to send the link again, thanks.
<Sure, here it is: http://reefercentral.com/Videos.html
Scott V.>

Old thread...new comment, Marine/Reef keeping trends   4/28/09
Hi Bob
Hope the MAX conference presentation / pitch went well. Picking this thread up again, but for somewhat different reasons now...
I have taken your suggestions regarding additional points of reading / research, however this has sent me off on a new tangent. Our discussion - and the follow-up reading - got me really interested in looking at differing ways of setting up and maintaining reef aquariums; above-and-beyond simply the approaches to lighting. Might split them into 3 different schools (although I'm sure there are many more if you really get into it):
High tech - atomic-level MH, nitrate reductors, trickle filters, diatom filters, auto-dosers, computer controllers, heaps of supplements, ozone etc. etc.
Low tech - Very Berlin-orientated...say skimmer, lots of LR, fluors often used in place of MH, minimal supplementation (e.g. Calcium plus a few trace elements)
Natural - Berlin-like approach but also DSB's, refugiums, turf scrubbers, dosing with green water etc. Moderate supplementation
And no surprise...there are fantastic examples of all of these.
Now, to get to the point of my email...I've read a number of articles (including those on WWM) regarding the evolution of systems and some of the big innovations over the years (plenums, skimmers, refugiums, T5's etc.).
I'd be curious about your commentary regarding the current state of play with marine systems.
<It is... "all over the table" to put it one way...>
The trend down under seems to be "getting back to basics"; i.e. a rise in popularity for semi-low tech systems and natural systems, as well as increased interest in smaller nano setups. Is this the same internationally?
<Mmm, no... Even in any one given general locality there at "gear heads"... that have not just most all given types of high tech. gear, but even are devising new...>
What do you consider to be the most significant positive and negative trends / innovations in, say, the past 5 years?
<Unfortunately, this will/would take several thousand words to describe...
Even just for lighting... I think some light year cheaper LED's are right around the corner (similar to great leap downward in "flat screen" technology for laptops, TVs...), as well as improvements in MHs (in other wattages even), T-N lamps... electronic ballasting...>
And do you think that there are any old "pearls" that are being overlooked / forgotten as things have shifted? Also, where do you think things will be heading in the future?
<Sorry to state, I just don't have the time to compose a response Leon...
Are you attending Aquarama in Sing. next month? We could meet up and chat re if so>
I'm also curious as to what setups (marine and fresh) you've run yourself over the years, and how your approach has evolved.
<Heeeee! You're killing me. I want to STRONGLY suggest you write up your experiences, impressions on these questions, and I'll help you present, sell the treatise to the hobby pub.s. Got images? Interested?>
And just to round things off, I thought I'd post a link to a very interesting super low-tech experimental system I came across which runs against some of the conventional wisdoms (no skimmer, no DSB, annual water changes only, minimal supplementation, heavy feeding etc), but has was stable and thriving for 3 years before it was sold:
<Don't have a log in, password...>
I certainly wouldn't use this approach myself (I'm a fan of natural-ish systems with high species diversity, moderate-strength MH/T5 combos and regular water changes), however it just highlights what I love about this hobby: just when you think you're getting your head around "how things should be done", someone comes out of the blue and does things completely differently, but no less successfully.
<Agreed... "many roads lead to Rome", and successful reef keeping>
Leon (Brisbane)
<BobF, San Diego>

New fish tank 3-25-09
Hello WWM Crew,
<Hello! Merritt here today!>
I am conflicted about purchasing a new saltwater reef tank (75-90 gallons).  I looked for a nice used tank online and found some but I don't know what I need for corals and other species.
<First of all, before you buy you need to decide what you are wanting to keep. You always build your tank for what you eventually want to house in it.>
I have a 30 gallon but when I got it at the pet store it came with everything. A number of the tanks for sale are freshwater, so I would need to convert them. Do I need a sump? Is a 75 gallon tank big enough for some tangs or a snowflake eel? I would prefer a tank with bio-wheels and filters and things like that. The new tank at the pet store has 2 tops, one with two lights and one with four, do I need the four light fixture (It is 100 dollars more)? Also I was wondering what the possibilities were for my old 30 gallon. I could sell it for about 100 dollars maybe, I could convert it to freshwater which would be lots of fun, or I could use it as a hospital tank which is probably the smarter option (although less fun).
<Sounds like you have lots of work ahead of you. After you have decided what you want to keep (corals, fish, or a combination of the two) you need to determine amount of gallons, lighting required and the amount of live rock you want. If you want to keep a saltwater tank you can easily use a freshwater tank, just add some overflows and a sump. Sumps are almost a requirement for saltwater tanks, they add water volume and help with creating a refuge for beneficial bacteria. And they are great places to hide extra equipment. Next, if you want tangs and/or a snowflake eel, a 75 gallon would be okay for awhile. The eel will eventually get 24 to 32 inches and tangs get quite large, some even three feet long! Thus, a 75 gallon would be fine but eventually a larger tank would be required, also larger tanks are always more fun!. You can run a saltwater tank with bio-wheels and filters but these tanks are less than 30 gallons usually, so I would recommend if going for the 75 gallon to invest in a sump.  Regarding lighting, that depends if you want coral. Coral will require lots of high powered light while fish can be happy with less. The 30 gallon would make a great sump or quarantine tank but, the other suggestions depend on your preferences. Before making your first purchase, decide what you want to keep! Here are some links on starting a saltwater tank. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/first_steps.htm ,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm ,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupii.htm .>
Thanks for your help!
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>
New fish tank Part II 3-25-09

Thank you for the timely response, I want to keep corals and fish. And you do think I need the sump? I know how to care for a tank my question was more about buying one. Is 75 gallons a good size for bigger fish like tangs and snowflake eels? I planned on buying a used tank online. What should I ask for in terms of filtration and other aquarium equipment? Like I
said before all the aquariums I own have come new with everything installed.
<You are welcome! Great choice, I always thought an impressive saltwater tank is a tank that combines all aspects of a coral reef. That helps that you already have a background in saltwater tanks, but I would still recommend reading through the archives of wet web media. Do some quick searches on the site and you should be able to find your answers. Merritt

Your book, CMA  -- 2/21/09 > Hi Bob, > Madeline here (On Call). You'll think this funny. Eight years ago you gave me a signed copy of your book and here I am today finally reading it and using it. I am 3 weeks in on my salt water tank. It's coming well and I am super excited. Thanks so much for giving me that book so many years ago :-) Here's a picture of my tank. I have 19 hermit crabs, 3 green crabs, 1 blenny, 1 goby and 3 blue yellow tailed chromis damsels so far. Oh and I have some feather dusters that are growing on their own. > Take Care, > Madeline <Ahh! Thank you for writing, sharing On Call. Glad to see you getting involved in the hobby. Hope to see you about at the HHH. On Out! Bob/DF>

Plus super nova!

Bob, I have placed an email in the images folder that is in the jpg format for posting. <<Saw it Scott, and will post here. RMF>>
Re: Dearest Crew/Marine System 2/17/09
Dearest Scott! =) <Hello again Michael!> I hope you have been well!!! <I have, thanks.> Happy Belated New Year! I sincerely wish you, your family and your crew the very best in 2009! <Thank you from me and the crew. We wish the same to you too!> I am currently in the process of moving to a new apartment here in Hong Kong and I have finally found a local fish tank manufacturer who will tailor make a tank of my design! <Great.> Having said this, I was wondering if I could ask you a quick couple of questions'¦ =) <Sure.> Tank Dimensions: 60cm (width) * 60cm (depth) * 60cm (height) Tank Material: 12mm glass Tank Layout: 2 partitions creating 3 isolated areas (glass/acrylic) Tank Picture: Please see below <OK> Firstly, the outer tank will be made by the custom shop, however, I will most likely have to put in the partitions myself. The larger of the two partitions which divides the front and the back of the tank will most likely be made with glass (5 mm holes for circulation) and the smaller partition in the front will be made of acrylic (5 mm holes for circulation) so that it can easily be removed when required. <OK> Also, the rear of the tank will house all of my equipment (skimmer of your recommendation, Tunze nano pump 4045*2, chiller intake/outtake, heating tubes) and the front portion will only hold one piece of equipment (one Tunze 4025 for surface agitation). All remaining space within the rear of the tank will be filled with live rock. <Will work.> I will only keep reef safe inhabitants in the main display tank but wanted an extra partition just incase I were to keep crabs/shrimp etc. <A good distinction you are making, most do not see this.> The fish load will be low at approximately 5 two inch fish'¦ Now my question is! =) I am planning to use two long/narrow pieces of glass as a rail which will keep the glass/acrylic partitions in place. Essentially, I will have two rails on both sides of the glass to keep it in place and so that I can slide it up and down for further flexibility. This will all be glued in place with epoxy. <Just use silicone for glass to glass bonding.> Will this work? <It could certainly work. How do you plan to keep the glass partition in place? I have a feeling you do have a plan, I am just curious!> I would love to hear your thoughts on the general setup! <It sounds fine, a custom all in one tank.> Also, I am not sure if you recall, but I have been struggling for the past two years due to somewhat sub-par equipment available here in Hong Kong. <I do remember, you are my Knight Rider bud!> With the new tank, I would like to improve my water quality if possible. I was wondering if there was a hang on the back skimmer which you would recommend for a tank of approximately 100 to 150 gallons (tank itself will only be 60 gallons, would like the extra kick for extra skimmage!). I would really like to get a strong/sturdy skimmer as I will be ordering it from the good ol' US of A! =) <Well both Deltec (not US made) and Bermuda have hang on the back skimmers that I would not hesitate to use on larger systems'¦.my first choice if HOB was the requirement would be to run dual AquaC Remora Pros though.> Thank you in advance and have a great day/evening! <Welcome, have a good one too. Scott V.>

Re: Dearest Crew/Marine System 2/17/09 Hello Scott! =) <Michael> Thank you once again for your kind advice! I find myself at a total loss without your guidance now... I come up with these wacky ideas and feel the need to run them by you before I can act hee! So naturally, I end up staring at my Gmail inbox eagerly awaiting your response =) <Heee, I know that feeling!> Anywhoo~ I have my heart set on a Aqua C Remora Pro being your first choice... I can't wait to have this in my salty little fingers! <They really are just very effective, easy to use skimmers.> I really am sick and tired of these half cup of skimmage per month units over here... =( <You will like the Remora Pro.> Scott, I plan to use two 1cm square glass rods which will be placed side by side (glued vertically to the tank wall) with a 10mm gap in between as the glass partition holder. With these square rods glued in place, the glass partition should slide up and down between the two square rods for easy removal. As for holding the glass in place, the square rods will eliminate any side to side movement and the weight of the glass should prohibit any up/down movement. I don't know if this description makes any sense but I will be sure to send you a picture as soon as the tank is completed! <Ah yes, it does make sense'¦I was just curious! Sounds like you have a good plan in place. Please do send along a few pics when you are done.> (turns out that I will be using acrylic as the partition as glass can not be easily drilled here, 5mm holes every two inches, all around) <If you would like to use glass and have a drill, do consider just drilling it yourself. You can do it for next to nothing, just some patience and time on your end. I even know where you can get some inexpensive diamond holesaws right there in Hong Kong!> Thank you once again for your kind help and do take good care! Michael <Welcome, talk soon. Scott V.> Re: Dearest Crew/Marine System 2/17/09 Hello Scott! =) My heart is at rest now... you have enlightened me and my responsibilities have been simplified to the extent of following your well provided instructions! =) <Great!> With any luck the simple glass bar setup will suffice but with the language barrier... I may end up with something total unexpected! Ah the excitement of living abroad! <Hmmm, a surprise then!> I will be sure to take some detailed pictures ASAP Sir! I am more eager to finally get that high quality skimmer! <You will like the Remora...> Scott, as for the drilling of extra holes, I will definitely look into it! In all honesty you are making this hobby significantly more interesting for me with every email... for this I cannot thank you enough! <The hobby should be fun, way too many of us get too obsessed with our tanks, lose sight of the original intent.> Do take good care and once again, if ever there is something I can help with, please do not hesitate to let me know =) <Very much appreciated.> Cheers, Mike <Talk soon, Scott V.>

Hi! Questions about setting up a marine tank 1/26/09 Hello, <Hi> I am changing my all molly 55 gallon brackish tank into a marine tank. I am using a tank divider so one side can be mollies, and one side can be clownfish, anemones, and invertebrates. <Why are you separating them? Also I would skip the anemone for the time being, they need an well established tank and a experienced keeper to keep them alive and thriving. The clowns won't miss them at all.> All of the water qualities are fine, i slowly acclimated the mollies to a 1.024 salt content, and an 8.2 pH. Now , all I have to do is change the substrate, and add the fish/invertebrates. <Go slow here.> For the substrate, I am thinking aragonite, Is that ok? <Aragonite sand? Should work fine.> Does it affect any water qualities? <Can help buffer the water.> I have plain gravel now. Also, can I add live rock to the molly side of the tank? <Sure> Thanks! <Welcome> <Chris>
Re: Hi! Questions about setting up a marine tank 1/26/09
Hi, <Hello again.> So wait....you're saying the mollies and clownfish can live together? I heard the mollies are aggressive toward clownfish? <Mollies can be somewhat aggressive, as can clowns. Most likely they would be able to co-exist in this environment as long as they are not overcrowded. Using a divider in a marine tank where circulation is very important would most likely require separate filtration for both sides of the tank. Too much trouble.> <Chris>

Re: new marine setup, wood inclusion?  11/17/2008 Hi This may sound a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway. Can you put Mopani wood or bogwood in a marine aquarium? <I suppose you could. Many of the beneficial effects of adding would be the opposite of what is wanted in the marine setting. It will effect water hardness and PH over a period of time.> Kenny <Scott V.>
Re: new marine setup, Bogwood (water chemistry)  11/19/08
Hi I have had some bog wood in my fresh water setup for 7 years. Do you think that it would affect the water after this amount of time <By its very nature, wood decays and in doing so produces acids that lower the pH. But "used" bogwood more than six months old is relatively safe, and provided you do regular water changes, and assuming the water isn't excessively poor in carbonate hardness (less than, say, 3 degrees KH), you should find the bogwood has little to no effect on water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>

55gal FOWLR setup 11/11/08 Hello, I have been checking out your website and all I have to say is WOW! You guys are very informative. There is just so much info, that I am getting confused on exactly what I should do <A good problem!> ...here is my setup: I just purchased a 55 gal aquarium that was bare (meaning nothing in it at all, just the glass and stand). I want to setup a FOWLR setup and have already bought two Hydor Koralia (850 gph) powerheads. What I want to know is do I absolutely need a mechanical filter if I have 50lbs of live rock and 50 lbs of live sand? I am going to purchase the AquaC Remora hang on the back skimmer and don't have a sump. <Mechanical filtration, sponges/strainers per se, are not needed. Your skimmer is in actuality a form of mechanical filtration. Your live rock will perform your biofiltration needs. BTW, fine choice in skimmer.> What else do I need? <Do consider adding a refugium, now or down the road.> Also, what is the process for adding the live rock to the tank? <See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm > If there is any way you can give me a step by step advice to setting up the tank, it will greatly be appreciated. <Hmmm, you can learn this through reading on WWM, but buying a good basic book is a good way to go. I recommend Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" for starters. Too much to cover in an email.> It is bare right now and I have never done a saltwater aquarium before. Is there any other suggestions you can give me? <Read, read, and then read some more! Marine aquariums are not really all that difficult. You just need to educate yourself on both the setup/maintenance and livestock needs (DO research livestock before purchasing, a very common mistake!). > Thanks a lot! <Well on your way. Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: 55gal FOWLR setup 11/12/08
Thanks for the fast response....so you think with just the two big power heads and the skimmer, along with the live rock and the live sand I will be ok? <Yes, will be fine. Do consider the book I recommended in the previous email, it does cover all this and more. Scott V.>

New Marine Setup 11/5/08 Hi all <Kenny.> Thank you for the help that you have given me so far with my new setup. <Glad we have helped.> I have attached some more drawings, to see what you think.  My questions are.  Which tank set up do you think will work best #1 or #2? <No. 1, shorter overflow line run and spread out pump outputs.> If I use 2 x 1.5in overflow pipes, as you suggested in an other email, what size return pipes do I need to use? <A couple of 1/2" lines for the flow these pumps will put out at this head.> Do I need to put the return pipes all the way to the other end of the tank, or can I put them in the same end as the overflow? <Either can work, but I would start with the opposite end, the idea being to get water movement throughout the tank.> I am going to put some flow pumps in the tank at the opposite end from the overflow, and I'm going to use my Fluval fx5 for water movement as well. <In this case I would start with the pump outputs on the overflow end, opposing the powerheads.> What do you think about taking some of the baffles out of the sump and maybe putting a refugium in. <This will be fine with this sized sump/amount of flow through.> Any other advice that you can give me will be very much appreciated. <Looks as though you are well on your way!> Thank in advance
Kenny Logie
<Welcome, Scott V.>

<<image in pdf file -Sara M., who doesn't know how to post this, waiting for BobF>>

Re: Water Movement 11-7-08 Thank you Mike, I wish you well on your tank as well. Hopefully I can get one that size. <Thanks - check Craigslist! ;)> On the two filters I mentioned, I was planning on using 1 for all mechanical and chemical filtration and the other for just bio. Does that sound OK? <Either way will work, just make sure there is mechanical filtration before the water hits the bio media> Also, how much of the ceramic rings should I use? <Depends on the bioload...the most that will fit after decent mechanical media> I have heard they should be spread out and not real close together. Is there any particular brand that is best? <If you already have some, use them - if not, Seachem Matrix is good, but you'll need a media bag> And lastly, would placing one filter at each end of the tank be OK, or should they both be in the middle? <Either way works> Thanks again. James <Anytime - M. Maddox>

Another upgrade 15 gal to 135 gal to 180 gal. 10/18/08 Hello all, <Hello Dave.> First I'd like to thank you all so much for the knowledge you provide. <Thank you.> I have an upgrade on my hands and I have not saw an article in your FAQ archives that would pertain to my specific dilemma. I presently have a 135 gal. tank that been running for 22 months, lightly stocked, 120 lbs Fiji live rock crusted in Coralline algae. The system is made up of a Coralife up to 220 gal. skimmer ( which produces 1/4 cup a week of the dark syrupy stuff), 3 200 gal/hour power heads, 40 gal. refugium with 8+" of sand, Mag drive 2400 on the return, and a overflow box with a 1.5" bulkhead that is maxed out. I have the mag pump controlled with a gate valve and of course a check valve. Sorry for the length of this but I want you to have all the info. <No problem, a good thing!> I purchased an All Glass 180 gal aquarium used with 3 holes drilled in the bottom. Two holes are for a 1.50" bulkhead and one is for a 1" bulkhead, they are all at the left hand side and the two larger are at the front and back of the glass and the smaller is in the middle. My plan is to empty the present tank with the inhabitants and live rock into large containers and put a power head and heater in each one. How long can the fish (yellow tang, mandarin {fat}, maroon clown, 5 Sm. blue/green chromis', Koran/bi-colour angel, 2 skunk/blood shrimp, Sm regal tang, lawn mower blenny, lrg cleaner wrasse {eating Romaine lettuce mysis/brine shrimp, live rock/sps corals stay in this environment? <A few days with aeration and heat, which you are providing. Definitely long enough for you to get set up.> While they are in there I want to set up Durso standpipes on the two larger holes in the new tank and plug the smaller. I will still utilize the mag pump but I want to run it externally from the back to a spray bar type set up, which I hope will reduce my unsightly power heads. The second question I have is can the Durso pipe stand freely with no "skimmer plate" or tooth like wall for the water to trickle into? <The pipe can stand by itself, but it does increase the chance of your smaller livestock ending up in the sump. > I understand I won't be skimming the top surface as efficiently but my skimmer is in the main tank due to the size of the skimmer it can't be in the refugium. Can all the coralline algae crusted on the back of the tank be scraped off and used to seed the new tank? <Sure.> All tank parameters are perfect (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, 0 phosphate, 420 calcium, 8.4 pH) with 0 additives, is this something uncommon? <Not with appropriately stocked and maintained systems.> I do a 20 gal every 10 day water change and use reef crystals with r/o water. Thank you for your time and knowledge to you and all @ Wet Web Media. Dave Windsor, Ontario Canada <Welcome, Scott V. Fresno, Ca.>

Recommendations on a 30 - 40 gallon reef tank, all-in-one commercial set ups  10/6/08 Dear WetWebMedia Crew: <Kevin> I am getting back into having a marine aquarium as my kids are now beyond the "throw things in or at the tank" stage. My last tank was a 120-gallon reef tank that was thriving thanks to the information on your website and Bob Fenner's excellent "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" book, but I had to take it down and give to someone who could use it when my little boy started walking; big glass tanks and 2 year old throwing things were a concern! Now that both my boy and girl are beyond this stage, I am ready to start getting back into the hobby after a 5 year absence and show my kids how to take care of marine animals. <Ahh!> I am planning to start with a micro-reef and wanted to know your thoughts on the various all-in-one systems being sold, specifically the Red Sea Max 34 gallon and the Deep Sea Aquatics Neo-Nano products. <These "units" have REALLY improved. Not so familiar with the latter line, but Red Sea's are very nice, complete, good, working gear> I like what I have read about the Red Sea Max, but I am a big fan of having a separate sump and using the Aqua C EV series of skimmers, which the Neo-Nano would allow. If you feel there are other models of this category of tanks that I should look into, please let me know. <Have just looked at Deep Sea's on the net, think this can be made to work... given your background in marines> As for the bio-load, I plan to keep primarily invertebrates, with a couple of fish. I had good success with T. derasa and Squamosa clams, and would like to keep a T. Squamosa in the tank, with some smaller hard corals and snails. Fish would be gobies or blennies. i am a big fan of invertebrate tanks; I grew up in Hawaii and had several marine tanks with Cone shells, cowries, sea cucumbers and various other animals we caught on the reef flats east of Diamond Head. <A beautiful spot... when the swell is down!> Thanks in advance for your advice. Kevin <Welcome. Bob Fenner, a hu'i hou!>

Initial set up, SW, reading  9/24/08 Hi - you guys are amazing! I am setting up a 125 gal with the following: 1) Pro Clear 300 series Wet/Dry 2) ASM 2 Skimmer 3) Kent RO/DI unit 60gpd 4) Aqua 25W UV 5) Hydor 4 - 2 units 6) Mag 1800 pump I will start with fish & inverts, and get some anemones <... do read re on WWM... not easily kept> and hardy corals, <Esp. with such> nothing too fancy. Is this set up decent? <Mmm... I'd be reading on WWM re wet-dries, the use of UV... this gear is all "medium" quality> Am I missing anything? How much live rock/base rock should get? <... Maybe 50-100 pounds of both... you can add to later...> (I want to purchase all of it up front before I start adding fish) Thanks, Andy <Again, I'd be reading for now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Initial set up, reading, not  9/24/08
What would you recommend in terms of wet/dry and UV? I am reading so much and many stores contradict each other. How would I "better" my equipment? <... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm You'd likely do well to borrow/buy a good complete saltwater aquarium book... BobF>
Re: Initial set up 9/24/08
I am reading a lot on your site that Wet dry filters promote high nitrates. How do I combat that besides using no bio balls and placing some LR in the sump? This is a new set up. <Please, don't write unless you have specific questions that aren't addressed/archived on the site over and over... instead devote yourself to study. Read. B> 

The New Setup, Marine 9/1/08 Thanks for the quick reply. Much appreciated as I'm wanting to start making a decision as to what I get. <Great! Happy to help out.> I have been looking around the website trying to gather information about what I need so I can make an informed decision. I am having a hard time understanding some of the terms and words used and the theory behind some of the practices in play. Which brings me to my next question. I am under the understanding that fish and coral need quite a strong current to replicate the natural under water world, so if I was to filter my aquarium with only the protein skimmer, live rock and sand, how would I generate the current? Would it be from the return water from the protein skimmer? <The return can constitute some of this flow. Otherwise you will need powerheads or a closed loop to supplement the flow. How much depends on what you decide to keep.> With the skimmer, live rock and sand, that is the Berlin Method, is it not? <Basically, usually without the sand.> Also I am wanting to base my tank around the clowns/anemones and tangs. I would also like to include some very colourful soft corals. Can you recommend some? <Hmmm, very much a personal choice. I recommend looking around to some corals that interest you then research their care needs and compatibility with each other. Start with the livestock you list above. The anemones generally do not mix well with other corals and the tank is on the small side for a tang, much less more than one.> I had a quick look at the setup that I'm interested in again and noted down the protein skimmer details. As follows: AKS Aquatic Protein Skimmer Model: NV200 Air Injection: Diversion System Included Pump: Rio 800 Height: 465 mm Tube Dia: 76 mm Suits Tank: Up to 400L <To be perfectly honest, I would consider buying the skimmer separately. This skimmer will work, but for the money you can get better. If you want to stick with a hang on the back do look out for an Aqua C Remora or Remora Pro.> Thanks again, Nick <Welcome, Scott V.>

Would like a saltwater tank, New tank Setup 8/7/08 Dear Sir, <Hello> I know I am jumping the gun with questions, but I would like to start a saltwater tank in a year or so. Until then I will be/have been doing research into the subject. First off, I would love to say I am getting a 150 gallon tank, but my research says that would be quite expensive (like $2,000). <Probably more than that realistically, I've dropped at least that on my 46G tank.> My first question is: Is it possible to have a saltwater aquarium that is only 30 gallons? <Yes, but that is definitely on the small side.> And if I buy the kits (i.e. the nanocube) do they have the whole setup necessary for this? (I do know there is quite a lot of equipment involved this is why I ask). <I would skip the kits, you tend to overpay for mediocre equipment.> Also, is it true that it is harder to care for a small aquarium than a larger one? <Yes, much less room for error.> What I would like to have ultimately in the tank is Tomato Clowns, Urchins (several types), <Most get too big for a 30.> Anemones (again several types) <Not for beginners or small tanks really, need excellent water quality, lighting, and stability to survive.> and live rock (don't particularly care for coral). I just love these critters. My second question is Will these get along and if so what is the general rule of thumb of number of fish to gallons of water? <There is no rule of thumb worth mentioning, depends of fish size, aggressiveness, feeding habits, and other traits.> Are there certain species a "beginner" should stay away from? <Too many to list really.> My third question is, When buying the sand, what do I look for. <Calcium based, aragonite.> My LFS has packaged sand with water in it that says it is live on it, but is it really? <Not really, but unnecessary really, the LR will seed it, or you could add just a bit or really live sand to seed with.> As I mentioned before, I have been doing research, however I seem to find conflicting answers depending on where I look. <Such is the hobby.> Thank you for your time and knowledge, Brandy Symons <I suggest picking up some books, Bob's is quite good, along with Scott Michael's "Marine Fishes" and "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta. All will help you get off on the right foot.> <Chris>

Request for Photo use  7/7/08 Mr. Fenner: I currently am applying for a position with my employer as an education and development specialist. Part of interview process involves a 10 minute educational presentation. There will be 15 people present and I have decided to give a lesson on setting up your first saltwater fish tank. I was hoping that you would allow me to use a couple pictures from Wet Web Media and add them to my power point presentation to illustrate set up and stocking selection. I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much, Craig Carlson <Craig, my work is free to use for all non-commercial applications per our stated Content Use Policy here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMUsePolicyStmt.htm Bob Fenner>

a lot of stuff 'cause my tank started leaking! Much reading    6/22/08 hi.. <Uh, hello> sad news guys.. tank started leaking.. Im getting it resealed and stuff.. was an All Glass aquarium. <... okay> Anyways.. wanted some help with my new tank which I wanted to build as the old one has too many scratches.. it'll be a 123cm (length) x 45cm(depth) x 65cm(height) (about 100 gallons) tank with a built in overflow - 25 gallon sump .. OR1200 AquaMedic return pump with the same ev180 from aqua C and a Geo 618 calcium reactor. what I wanted to ask was how big should my internal overflow box be to be on the safe side?.. how many and how big holes? <... posted> Any recommendations and considerations when making a new tank? <Ditto> How thick should I keep the glass? <And this> What is "American standard clear" tempered glass? Is this good for my reef aquarium? any suggestions? Is tempered glass recommended? <I would not use tempered... in case you want to drill, have drilled...> How would this compare to starphire glass? <Inferior clarity-wise> also, will the EV180 be enough skimming for this tank? <Yes> next, my lighting will be a 2x150 MH 14k and 4x54w actinic and 2x54w actinic. (I plan to keep Acroporas and such sps corals).. Is this enough lighting? <For what purposes?> Next, how often do you change Metal Halide bulbs? any good brands of bulbs?.. I have been using a 2x 150w MH bulbs (Ushios) for 1 and a half years.. too much(eeks..) (btw my corals don't do too well.. don't grow soo much.. maybe cause I still didn't get a chance to increase calcium.. you know because of tank leakage 2 days ago..)? Next, how do I prevent future leaks? what do I incorporate in my tank since its being built new and from scratch? Will a Tunze 6060 and a MaxiJet with a algae free propeller mod 2000gph be enough flow? Sorry if these are too blunt or too much but I wanted to get everything cleared at once before I go looking and deciding stuff.. Thanks a bunch in advance guys.. you people do a brilliant job I must say! PS let me know if I need to look out for anything else when building this tank. --Mohamed. <Have just skipped down. Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Your answers and much more related material you'll be interested are posted/archived there. Enjoy the process and take good notes. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater vs. Freshwater vs. Water Turtle - 06/08/2007 Hi! <Hello!> I have a Sea Clear Acrylic System 2. I "inherited" it from someone else who had a saltwater aquarium. When I received it I transferred it to a freshwater aquarium. I was very successful with it, but lost the time to keep it up. <okay...> I now want to start it up again, but cant decide what I should do. It is well equipped for a saltwater tank- it has a built-in back filter with bio balls, as well as an under aquarium filter which is very powerful. It also has a protein skimmer which I have never used and have no idea how. I am leaning towards wanting to get a saltwater aquarium because they are very beautiful and it would be something new. But I have a few worries- <Indeed, they are lovely.> 1)I want to use gravel on the bottom instead of sand- it scratches the acrylic. <Shouldn't...and you'll find gravel to be an entirely unsuitable material for saltwater aquaria.> 2)I have never had a saltwater aquarium and have no idea how to use it. <I'm not going to tell you everything you need to know. That isn't what we're here for...but our index of archived queries and articles can teach you a lot. There are also some splendid books available to teach you, although I would steer away from anything too terribly dated.> 3)I am not familiar with the mix of fish- I want a colorful but diverse environment of fish/invertebrates 4)I don't know what to feed 5)I know about zooplankton and phytoplankton, but do you add that to the water to make it more natural? 6)Are bio balls the best way to go? I have heard alternatives like using algae that absorbs the ammonia. 7)Do you still add things like Cycle, and how do you mix saltwater? <I'll just state that a saltwater aquarium is a serious commitment, and not one that can be taught by a store clerk or a quick email....read, read, read, and you will find success and enjoyment in the hobby. There are a number of forums online as well, including ours at bb.wetwebmedia.com, where there are people who would be eager to share their knowledge with you in an extensive way.> I'm sure there are more things I don't know, so if you have any other tips that would be great. <There are a lot of things I don't know either. Read and you'll find them.> Also, do you have any pros or cons about water turtles? <Need a specialized environment...read about them via WetWebMedia or a good book on their keeping; this is well documented.> Thank you so much! <Welcome. Good luck! Benjamin>

125 Predator sys., stkg.... Just using WWM   5/28/2008 "Lo Crew! <Weston> I am planning on starting a 125 Saltwater predator tank, and I was wondering what kind of equipment and inhabitants I should look into. <?> I love blue tangs, Picasso triggers, Maroon Clownfish, and almost all species of angels, to name a few. Which of these could I use, and what others would you recommend? <... you're not joking? I'd suggest perusing WWM, reading> I have been running a 29 Gallon BioCube nano reef for 6 months now, and previously had a 40 gallon fish only, but this is my first foray into larger tanks. <You'll enjoy it... esp. w/ more knowledge> What would I need in the form of equipment? I already have the tank and stand (secondhand gift from a friend) but other than glass sliding doors and two old filters, I don't have much else. (No hood, no skimmer, no lights, etc.) Also, the tank is UN-DRILLED. What do I need to successfully run the tank? One more thing, How much live rock will be required? Thanks! -Weston McDougald <Please do what most of the other 40 some thousand folks a day who use WWM do... learn to/use the search tool and indices... start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Bob Fenner>

New saltwater Setup Problems 5/21/08 Hi WWM crew, <Hello Nathan.> I have recently set up a new saltwater aquarium within the last five weeks. It is a 29 gallon tank. I have a 3 stage carbon filter and a power head operating on one side of the tank's under gravel filter. <The 'old school' way of doing things, but will/can work.> I just added two false Percula Clowns this last weekend, they are the only fish in so far and remain that way. I'm having a problem with my water levels since then; both of my alkalinity and PH levels are high (8.4 for PH and around 3.0 for alkalinity) <Not bad, in the acceptable range.> and also my nitrite (around 0.2). <This would come from your filter needing to cycle, it will in a short time. Until then continue the water changes to keep this level in check.> I have changed around 12 gallons of water over the last few days and no noticeable drop in the levels. <Do test your make up water also, but if you have nitrite in your water is will be processed by a properly cycled filter.> I do not yet have a protein skimmer and it is the next on my list. <A good idea, wise investment.> I have treated the water with Nova Aqua+, stresszyme and success buff but again, no real drop in the levels. <Water treatments will not decrease these levels, and the buffer will only increase the alk.> The fish seem to be acting fine but I'm new at this and I could be missing something. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions you may have. Nathan <Welcome, Scott V.>

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
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Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
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Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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