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Best FAQs on Marine System Set-Up & Components 2

Related FAQs: Best Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Marine Set-Up 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4FAQs 5, FAQs 6, FAQs 7FAQs 8, FAQs 9, FAQs 10FAQs 11, FAQs 12, FAQs 13FAQs 14FAQs 15FAQs 16, FAQs 17FAQs 18FAQs 19FAQs 20FAQs 21FAQs 22, FAQs 23, FAQs 24, FAQs 25, FAQs 26, FOWLR Set-Ups, Reef Tank Setups, Small Tank Setups, Moving Aquarium Systems,

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

Cubic inches not linear inches per volume

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 tank set up & suggestions... suggest reading... a lot   1/19/07 Hello, <Hi Glen, Mich here.> I am planning to set up a 110 Gallon salt water tank.  I want to have love <?> coral, fish and  some invertebrates.  Can you give me suggestion as far as everything (a complete saltwater set-up) I will need to get a good filtering system that is fairly easy to maintain.   <There is a much posted on this website.  Please help yourself to get an understanding of the possibilities.  You will need this foundation and will need to continually educate yourself in order to be successful in this hobby. If you are unwilling to do this I strongly recommend a different hobby.  It will save you time, money, frustration and the lives of those dependant on your care if you are not "into" the educational demands.  If you'd like to learn more please start reading here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupez.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm   The tank is 48"Lx18"Wx30"High it is glass and there are no holes in it.  I don't know where to begin as far as filtration goes, I would like to have some ground coral on the bottom.   <Again there is much to learn about this also.  Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lsseldiyfaqs.htm Any help would be great and if you have any suggestions to get the items.  I live in Hawaii, there is a store here, but after waiting for an hour with no service I decided to get my items online or mail order. <Yes, I understand your frustration.  I am currently on the Big Island and have been to the LFS.  That being said, you will need to do a lot of the homework on your own.> Thank you, <Welcome.  -Mich> Glen

Need help bad on my next project ... read re SW set-up...  6/29/06 Hello Friends at WWM. I am not going to type up an extremely long email to waste your time. All I really need is a confidence boost from you guys. I had a 55 FOWLR set up with a Lionfish and a Pufferfish. <Not big enough...> Yes i know way way to small which is why I was in the process of getting a 125, Which I have just received. Unfortunately my Lionfish and Pufferfish were killed by ICH and bacterial infections because I am new to saltwater and did not monitor the levels and quarantine my fish :( I have read for about 20 plus hours total now in the past 4 or 5 days mainly during the time I was trying to save my Puffer. The only reason for this email is to get a confidence boost and guidance from you guys. Please... Please just reply and let me know for sure I am doing the steps correctly. My main concern is what to do over the first month or so with my new 125 gallon aquarium. I know to let it run. but for how long. <Likely 4, 6, 8 weeks or so. You'll know by testing... water quality> My current set up is a ProClear 150 wet/dry filter and a Seaclone 150 skimmer. I intend on not introducing anything to the tank except the water, and the live sand that I purchase in bags for the first week or so. Of course with the filter/skimmer running. I just don't want my 125 to get infested with ich again like my 55. When adding live rock.. should I quarantine it? <... Please read here: http://www.google.com/custom?q=quarantining+live+rock&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com The cached versions> And how.. I am so sorry for asking these questions that have been answered a million times but I just spent so much money and your input would be extremely appreciated. Also.. how long should I wait before introducing a few fish (damsels) to help establish certain levels. <... http://www.google.com/custom?q=cycling+with+damsels&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com> I have a nice test kit to monitor ph, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. Should I quarantine the damsels/tester fish before introducing them to my display tank? And for how long? And finally any other advice to how to make this a successful 125 and not another failure would be greatly appreciated. I am very serious about this hobby.. I love it, I'm 18 and every dollar I get from my job is gone into this hobby! Again my main concern is not getting ICH again please help :( When WWM was down for a few days around the 25 to the 27 I was freaking out because I had just ordered my 125 and thought I would have no help/guidance. Luckily the site is back up! Thank you so much guys and girls the WWM site is the only reason I am giving this hobby another shot because I know I can find anything on this site. Please , Please just explain to me on how to get this Tank running successful.. I don't want 800 dollars to go down the drain. My main reason for buying this 125 is because A full Grown Stars and Stripes has been laying in a 30 gallon Cube Aquarium at my LFS for a month now and I hate to see him suffer.  P.S. How can I use medicine to cure anchor worm in my FW tank. My algae eaters and Gourami's have it :( Thank You Very Much. -Peter <Have just skipped down. Please learn to/use the Google search tool on WWM... There are many "ancillary" issues you don't yet know enough about to even ask... that will be uncovered in your self-directed searches, searching. Bob Fenner>

New Saltwater System - 04/14/06 Hello Bob, <<Hello Jon...EricR here tonight...yikes, its morning now!>> I have been doing some research on starting a tank. <<Always good>> I picked up "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and it has been a fountain of information on the subject! <<Indeed...but even Bob will tell you...don't limit yourself to a single source>> <Yes. RMF> I am still left with one problem however. Filtration. <<Let's see if we can fix that>> With all of the filter techniques and devices out there I am kind of stuck.  I am looking to purchase a 72 gallon "AllGlass" Bowfront.  As I am rather new to the hobby I am going to start it off as a FOWLR tank and move into a reef system as time passes. <<Ok>> My plans are to acquire approximately 60-80 lbs. of live rock and have a 3" live sand bed. <<Mmm...unless this is "sugar-fine", I would go for either a 4-inch depth, or less than 1-inch.  Have a look here and among the links at the top of the page:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm >> I am not planning to have an undergravel filter <<Yikes!  I should hope not! (you just took me back 30 years!)>> Should I be looking at a plenum system and, if so how exactly would that work in a bowfront? <<Honestly...I would use the DSB and not worry with a plenum>> I am looking at a Turboflotor 1.000, a Prizm Pro or a Berlin Turbo Skimmer (suggestions?). <<Go with the Turboflotor.  Or better yet...a EuroReef, AquaC, or ASM skimmer>> I am still looking at the cleaning crew but it will definitely include a number of hermit crabs and cleaner shrimp at least.  I am leery of snails as I have heard it could be hard to control their population. <<Mmm, no...nothing like the freshwater varieties>> I am not sure on the pump as of yet but will be putting through at least 700GPH. <<A MagDrive would be a good choice for this tank>> I am planning to build a manifold for the interior rim of the tank with multiple outlets for what I hope is proper circulation. <<Do some research here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaqs.htm >> I am trying to keep the inside of the tank as "clean" looking as possible.  I have a line on a smaller tank from a family member which may come into play as a sump or refugium (only if it is solid and in good condition though). <<A VERY worthwhile addition>> I don't want to "get in over my head" so I am going to keep the stock level low until I have a much better grasp on general tank maintenance and water quality. <<Mmm...more reading then:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm >> My main question is, do I need a canister filter as well as a wet/dry system or can I use one or the other? <<Were this me...I would use a canister filter for chemical filtration (carbon/Poly-Filter), and use a fluidized-bed filter for supplemental biological filtration.>> If I can use one or the other which would be most effective considering my future goals? <<The fluidized-bed filter will "ramp up" quickly with fluctuating bio-loads...an is easier to employ/remove than a wet/dry>> I have read good things about Eheim and will most likely purchase the wet/dry and/or canister from this line. <<Another good product line, agreed>> Thanks for any help and I am sure I'll be back for more terrific advise as the system comes together and grows! <<Please do write in as needed...I look forward to hearing from you>> Jon Goulden <<Regards, EricR>>

Time to Read! - 3/24/2006 greetings from Northampton united kingdom!!!   I have bought a VISION 450 JUWEL tank and I WOULD LIKE TO SET IT FOR A MARINE AQUARIUM.   The problem is I'm a beginner and I don't know too many about the aquariums!!!   I would like to recommend me a good protein skimmer not very expensive and not a cheap one, what kind of power heads to use and how many for the size of the tank?, lighting as well???.could you tell me please how much live rocks to buy for 450 litres(98 UK gal) and live sand as well? and finally please tell me the first steps to start running the tank!!! please try to use simple words if you can because my English is not very good as you can see and I apologize for that?? PLEASE GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS YOU CAN WITH INFO!!!!!     THANKS VERY MUCH INDEED!!!!   REGARDS RAZVAN!!! <<All this and more has already been answered on WWM.  Please run your emails through a spelling/grammar checker before sending. Lisa.>>

I have some questions!!! Read on WWM re marine set-up  - 01/23/2006 I wanted to build a tank that would last and don't want to spare any expense Everything is gonna be pretty much custom and will house fish, live rock and reef. The tank size is 120 Gallons acrylic. Built in Overflow box (I know nothing about how much flow I should have and how big the bulkheads are going to need be, whether one inch or 1.5, I am not sure. How big should they be and how big should the returns be? <... posted on WWM> What kind of water flow do I need, I am going to house LPS corals. <... posted> What kind of lighting system do I need? <You're joking right?> And anything else you can think of for me to do it right from the beginning, I am also awaiting your book to arrive from amazon.com! <Please read...> Please let me know of anything I would need and remember its all custom, so anything that would make it better for my inhabitants and of course me would be highly appreciated!!! Thanks, Oren <Take your time here, keep good notes... read on WWM... Bob Fenner>

New Tank and Nerves…  12/24/05 Hi,   <Hello.>   I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank that was recently set-up (a little  over 48 hours now). <A very new tank.> It was extremely  cloudy when first  set-up but it did seem to  clear up a bit as time went on but not  100%.   <This being a VERY new set-up this is quite normal, no worries.> Today I bought a small amount of live rock to add.   <Good.> When I did, I stirred up the sand a bit (not on purpose) and the tank  is now very, very cloudy.   <Normal.> I have a wet/dry filter and just now  noticed that I have a thin residue of sand dust all in my sump and on  the filter pads.  I washed the pads out but is the residue in the  sump anything to worry about? <As long as you have baffles in the sump protecting your return pump so that debris does not get into it, no worries, just use a siphon tube to get the sand/detritus off of the bottom of your sump.>   Also any advice and recommendations  you have (other than waiting it out) on helping the clarity of the tank  would be most helpful.   <Yes as you allude to your best tool right now is patience.>   Thanks and happy holidays! <To you too, Adam J.>

New to the dark side - 11/29/05 Hi! I've taken care for a freshwater fish tank for 3 years now, and so far none of my fish have died. I want to try a marine aquarium, but I'm a little afraid. I'm willing to buy all supplies and equipment needed to start one. Are marine aquariums for experts? <Certainly not. But they do require a bit of research. WWM should help you there! It's much easier if you take your time in setting it up.> And I have one more question. I have actually been doing a lot of research on marine aquariums. <good to hear!> I went to my local Petco to check out the livestock. I found out that they did not have any kind of warranty for marine fish. I was thinking about getting tangs, so I went to the section. I found a few Naso tangs that I really liked. The thing was, they were swimming kind of slow, and they had weird brownish and blackish spots around the gill area. Should I buy fish from there, or should I go to a marine specialty shop if I do start the marine hobby? <I would prefer a specialty shop myself... but be sure to quarantine any livestock for at least a month to be safe. Do read up on Naso Tangs - they need a large tank - and avoid having more than one tang unless you are planning on a very large system indeed.> Thanks a Lot! <You're welcome! Regards from Shanghai, John>

Setting up a 75 gallon tank - 9/16/05 Wonderful website, I think it is great how you guys take the time and effort to help us mere mortals in our great hobby! <We, too, are merely mortals. It is our experiences that is the key difference. You are well on your way, my friend> Anyways I have a couple of questions piled into one email if you don't mind. <The best way> My setup is a 75 gallon tank with a built in overflow box, wet dry filter with separate skimmer, with a stand and canopy that has 2 VHO actinic blue bulbs 48" I think, and one bulb that came with the setup. I am going to start off my tank with no corals, and am hoping to gain experience by learning and seeing how things happen in the tank before I start with corals. <An excellent idea.> I have done extensive research on the web (your site being the best resource) and have bought Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies, and A pocket Guide to Marine Fishes, so I hope this email isn't completely loony.<No worries> 1st question: It is ok to mix crushed coral with live sand to ultimately make a 3 to 4 inch sand bed, right? <I have done that. Just be sure to clean the top of the sand well so that detritus does not build up. I would layer the two substrates or at least the fine underneath the crushed coral. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm> 2nd question: is 60 - 70 lbs. of live rock enough rock to help filter my 75 gallon tank (and build a reef off of later)? <Sure I recommend around 3/4 to a pound and a half per gallon> 3rd question: I consider a QT necessary <As do I> but must it be running at all times, <Nope> and also does it need a GREAT filter (any recommendations)? < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm> 4th question: eventually in my tank I would like to have 2 ocellaris clowns, 2 neon gobies, 3 green Chromis (cycling) <I actually don't like the idea of cycling with fish>, 1 flame angel, 1 sailfin or achilles tang, 1 royal Gramma, is this overstocking? (even though either choice of tangs will outgrow my 75 gallon tank) <I think this will be fine from a stocking stand point. Most of the fish you have chosen remain fairly small in their adult form. Well done> 5th question: according to all of my research all of the above fish are compatible with invertebrates, so I would also like to purchase a 75 gallon tank cleanup crew consisting of 18 Scarlet Hermit Crabs, 15 Astrea Snails (or 8 Mexican Turbo Snails), 15 Cerith Snails (or 8 Mexican Turbo Snails), 45 Mexican Red-Leg (or 45 Blue-Leg) Hermits, <Blues are my all time favorite> for my situation which of the choices do you recommend, <All the above after about a month of cycling the live rock> and also I would like a second opinion (of yours) if all of the fish above are compatible with these invertebrates? <I think you will be fine with all of your decisions here. Continue to research up to the day of purchase and I would only put a few fish in at a time and let the tank chemistry adjust before adding another fish or two or three at a time> Thanks soooOOOoooo much in advance, and really sorry about the long email, <No worries at all> but I would only ask it from the best. <Not the best but another opinion just the same ~Paul> Thanks, Clare

Hey guys, just a few questions on a tank setup and filtration...  8/26/05 Hey guys,     Hey guys, just a few questions on a tank setup and filtration. I am setting up a new show tank for a show room for my godfather. we have decided that it would be chilled to have a 8x2x2 reef tank. i was going to have a 3ftx1.5x1.5 refuge (3/4) trickle (1/4) filter system with it. Then have 2 circulation only pumps for flow. there would be 60kg of live rock and a thick (5") sand bed.      Q1:   The questions i want to ask are how many overflow boxes do i need and where do i drill the holes in the back panel of the tank so that i have enough flow in the tank to hold all corals.      Q2:   Would the refug/trickle work and be sufficient for the tank considering it would be a heavily stock reef tank.      Q3:   How large a protein skimmer do i need. Would the  Downdraft Skimmer HV600 be sufficient enough to cope with the wastes. Any help would be much appreciated. Cheers      Ben <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html Your questions have many "qualifiers" in turn to answer... You can search or use the indices to find what you're looking for (though you do not currently know this...). Enjoy the process. Bob Fenner>

Getting Into The Basics - 08/11/2005 Good Afternoon,  Sir or Madam <Sabrina with you, today.> I would like to know about how much should a 50 to 65 gallon fish tank should cost. <Very dependant upon location, materials, etc., etc....  Can't give a good estimation.  You will need to determine this by researching in your area.> And what things do I need to put together a saltwater fish tank well, and maybe some very colorful fish ideas. <Far more than I can even begin to tell in a mere email....  Start reading here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm and/or consider the purchase of a good book, such as Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" or Robert Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist".> Thank you for you time given in answering the questions.  Christopher <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Getting Into The Basics - II - 08/11/2005
What is the going price I am in the Military and deployed. <Truly, there is just far too much variance to even begin to give you a cost estimate....  We're talking between a few hundreds and a few thousands, depending upon equipment, etc.> I am trying  to find a tank on line to buy but I keep getting is how to set up a tank information and message boards to put my comments on.  That is why I ask. <Again....  Begin reading here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Getting Into The Basics - III - 08/11/2005
Thank you for your help :) <Glad to be of service.  And thank you from the depths of my heart for your efforts in our military.  I wish you a safe return.  -Sabrina

SW starting up 8/5/05 Hi, this is my first time writing to you, I just sold a 37 gallon salt water tank, I want to go with a 50 gallon (36x15x20-25?) nothing too big, and this was directly asked by my parents to keep it this size. I already have an XP3 canister, I'm using this to keep my filter, live rock, and live sand in a 30 gallon bucket. We're going with a ten inch high canopy with retrofit lighting (compacts: three 96watt:  two 96 watt actinic and one 10k white), is this suffice for a 50 gallon reef tank? <For many types of life, yes... there are other routes...> I say reef tank meaning soft corals, mushrooms, polyps, Leathers, etc. etc. nothing too light dependent. What do you believe to be the best filtration system? A sump? <... this is posted on WWM... I am a big fan of sumps.> I was looking into an ecosystem 60 (a hang on the back refugium?) Do you have any experience with these? <Yes> Do I need a protein skimmer? <I would have one, yes> Which one of those two filtration system (refugium ecosystem 60 or a sump) are more efficient? Do they both have pro's and con's? <Yes... and these are posted...> Are they both enough on their own? Or will something have to be added later on? <Depends... on what you keep, want to do with it...> I know power heads will be must. If a sump is the best way to go, is it a wet/dry system, without bio-balls and live rock? Is a refugium underneath to much for such a small system? I want to do this right the first time; it's too expensive to make mistakes in this hobby. <Agreed... which is why we've invested thousands of hours of our lives assembling input for your perusal... WWM, please go, read there. Bob Fenner> Thank you very much, Jessica Rose

Marine lighting Dear Crew, <Edward> I am looking for a light fixture to start a Coral Reef Tank with my 55g. I have a couple of questions.  Will halogen light bulbs "work" the same as fluorescent? <Mmmm, can, but not always... many have a different spectral mix... that is not useful for aquariums> Do you have any suggestions of what I could get for my tank that would allow me to keep all types of corals? Any models of lights that I could use would be great, and I also need to know how many watts I should have total for the reef tank, and how many of each bulb (Daylight, Actinic, etc.). Are moon lights a benefit as well? Any additional info that I need to know would be greatly appreciated <Oh... Please help yourself: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to lighting... and read on!> I am also looking to get a refugium. For my 55g., how many gallons should my refugium be? <See the same page? Scroll down to filtration, refugiums...> Another question, I currently have a Picasso trigger. Are there any corals that he will not nip at and/or kill. Let me know, because if not than I will probably have to get him another tank. <See....> Thank you so much, sorry for such a long list of questions, but you people at this site are like angels to those of us who are still learning. ~m~ <Be your own angel, god even... and study my friend. There are innumerable "side issues" that you'll "answer for yourself" (very satisfying)... Bob Fenner> 

New SW Aquarium Questions Hello! <Good (yawn!) morning> I'm starting up a 60 gallon, fish only SW tank. For filtration, I'll be employing a Fluval 404 (360gal/hr), Visi-Jet Protein Skimmer (100gal/hr), Marineland Bio-Wheel 350 (350gal/hr) and a standard 60 gal under gravel w/pump & air stones (no powerhead). Is this filtration matrix, in your opinion, satisfactory? Should I use a powerhead for the UGF also or in general on the bottom for increased current/circulation? <All should work> My questions are: (A) Under Gravel Filter  1) Do I need the UGF with the other two filters? Is the UGF beneficial enough to warrant use, or more trouble than it's worth? <Mmm, worth using at this point... you could/can "turn it off" (slowly) going forward. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ug5proscons.htm> 2) How often would I clean the UGF (If used) - and in what way? Would I remove all rocks, coral, etc, and have to lift the UGF up and thoroughly clean underneath it, stressing out the fish? <Mmm, please read the above... and the Related FAQs linked there> 3) If used, should I be using all four flow tubes (there's one flow tube in each UGF plate + air line and air stone) for aeration in the UGF - rather than just two (one in each corner/end of tank) to avoid "dead spots" that could accumulate bad bacteria levels? This would not be as aesthetically pleasing, of course, having four tubes running across the back of the tank with airstones, etc., BUT - is this necessary? <Two airlifts in use are very likely fine... the "dead spaces" idea is now mostly considered a myth. In fact, some folks use what is called a "plenum" which in essence is an undergravel filter/space with no circulation whatsoever> (B) Protein Skimmer 1) When would you suggest I employ the skimmer? After the initial nitrification cycle? I'm assuming if run during the cycle, it would only delay it, right? <Possibly... but this is not a very efficient model... I would likely turn it on now> 2) Should I use the skimmer in operation all the time, constantly running - or is it better to schedule it to run occasionally, on a timer or whatever? <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm and the linked files above...> 3) Is 100 gallons per hour sufficient for a 60 gallon tank, in combination with the other filtration devices? Can I get away with this? <Please read...> (C) Tank maintenance/cleaning: 1) Do you suggest a 10% water change each week, with a 25% change once a month? Maybe every fourth change would be the larger (25%) change? Or would you remove more water (30-40%) monthly? <Please...> 2) Is it acceptable to prepare the new water in a container, with correct gravity and at the right temp? I was thinking of using a 10 gallon plastic container for this. I could use an old 10 gal tank??? <...> 3) When I perform cleaning on the filters, how "gentle" do I need to be as to not removing too much beneficial bacteria? Would you agree the only concern here is the "good" bacteria located in the Fluval filter that I need to worry about? Do you have a suggestion on the best way to clean this and retain the bacteria? Also - should I stagger the cleaning of the Fluval, skimmer and Bio Wheel separately, say a week apart so there's not a big drop/change in the good bacteria's culture in each filter or tank? 4) Is there a tried-and-true maintenance schedule you could suggest, for cleaning, water changes, etc?  Well, there are all my concerns! Please forgive the lengthy questioning! I'm new at this, not afraid to admit I'm a rookie, and just want to do it right. Thank you so much for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon! I need all the help I can get, appreciate your time - and it all starts with information from good sources! Any words of advice you could offer would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks again! Jim <Jim... these questions and their rationale... AND the next few strings of likely questions from them... are posted on WWM... take some time and read my friend... Additionally, you'd do well to have a good reference book or two... to read... with one set of cogent ideas... all the way through. I wish you well. Bob Fenner>

Cycling Saltwater System Hello Bob, My question is I am in my fourth week of cycling my 55 gallon tank. Presently I have nine damsels and I have added a 2 inch Picasso (Rhinecanthus aculeatus ).  Is it possible that I can cycle with the Picasso without injury or death? <Possible... but this is not the route I would take... too much fish life, too much stress... I would have waited... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm Bob Fenner> 

Minimum Tank Size and.. What is a footprint?  I have read about them on forums and on your site...  <This is the length and width (not the height) of a piece of gear... sort of like the consideration for desk space... Often an item of interest to folks trying to fit elements of gear into, on to other spaces. Bob Fenner>

SW set-up I am new to the hobby and just set up a 46 gallon tank.  I read books, articles, and FAQ's about set-up and cycling the tank.  It seems there are so many different opinions about everything. <Mmm, yes... but with perseverance, intelligence, you can easily sort through the facts, opinions, commentary...  deciding for yourself which is which>   But everyone has stressed patience.  Your site has been particularly helpful.  However, it seems I still managed to mess things up a bit.  The tank was initially set up and other than adding bacteria starter, we did nothing with the tank for three weeks.  The first week we were out of town, so I didn't test the water then, but have tested it every other day since then.  After three weeks my impatience got the best of me and I let a local fish store talk me into getting my tank cycling with some blue damsels.  I added three of them and my ammonia and nitrite levels are still at zero more than a week later and I am feeding them twice a day.  The only difference is that the substrate is now getting some brownish algae. <Ahh! A sign that your system may well have cycled... in your absence> The tank has an undergravel filter and a powerfilter that we have been running, but we haven't started a protein skimmer yet.  I don't know what I should do now. <Turn on the skimmer> It seems there should be at least a trace of ammonia in my water by now.  Can/Should I add some live rock at this point? If so, how much? <Mmm, hold off on the LR for another month or so... and in the meanwhile... you can buy, cure it in another marine container...> Should I just keep waiting for my ammonia to rise or is there any chance that I have passed this phase already? <Bingo>   After I am sure that the tank has cycled, I would like to return two of the damsels and move some of the tank decor around so that I can add more fish.  I am thinking two tank-raised percula clowns, a threadfin butterflyfish, a dwarf angel, royal Gramma, a blenny, and maybe a few neon gobies.  Obviously, I will only start with about half of these fish for the first few months, which ones should I start with? <The Clowns> Is it also a good idea to have a few hermit crabs and cleaner shrimp?  If so, how many? <Please read on WWM re> I just want to do the best I can from this stage forward and would appreciate your help with these questions.  Thank you for your help and assistance to all of us who are a bit overwhelmed with the initial start-up. Sincerely, Joe Glenn <Enjoy this process my friend... the journey is the ends. Bob Fenner>

Marine set-up questions Hello Again Mr. Fenner,       I am starting my 29 gal LR reef tank, and I have all my equipment, but I am confused on my salt water mixes. I can't find anywhere the actual directions for making the salt water mix. I have a 50 gal bag of Kent Marine Sea Salt, but it doesn't say how much salt to mix. <Mmm, well, there are rules of thumb... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and the linked files above> Also I have found that I need pure water, could I use a backpacking water purifier for this? <Mmm, you could... but this will take quite a while... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the linked files...>       Another question, I purchased an aqua c protein skimmer with MaxiJet 1200 powerhead. Do I put the power head right beneath the skimmer or somewhere else. I am a little confused on its relation with the protein skimmer. Thanks for all your help. It has been great! Sincerely, Devin O'Dea <... Please see here: http://www.proteinskimmer.com/ Bob Fenner>

Bio Diversity          Bob:         I have just recently "stumbled" across this web-site, and I must say that that your "friendly-neighbor"/"Gods of knowledge" approach to information access for the home aquarist is just too much to believe ( but I do ), and thanks forever for the effort and love that you are "spewing out" in this regard. I am just about "beside myself" ( and I really don't believe in "remote viewing" ). <High praise indeed!>         Gosh, maybe I could just get to the subject at hand, which is the "bio-diverse" marine system that I am intent on creating. I have been keeping fresh and marine fish and invertebrates for about 30 years now, but I find that I really want to now follow my ( hopefully not so elusive ) dream. I have space for it, and I have the time for it, but I must admit that I have a "lazy streak" in me that causes me to pursue "system solutions" that would be of benefit to both the aquarium inhabitants, and myself, on a hopefully "evenly balanced" basis. <Very good, absolutely essential actually to "know oneself" ahead of any action... good for you>          And here is "the dream"; I want to create a ( somewhat ) highly diverse ecosystem within the confines of what will be about a 220 gal. "primary show tank", which will be supported by a 55 to 90 gal. "support-refugium" which I want very much to also serve as a "secondary show tank", which is to be mounted directly underneath the primary tank.          Now I have very good access to both the front and back of the tank, but I have used the most common "support area" under the tank( for the refugium ), and do not wish to devote any further space to the system during initial design. This is in immediate proximity to a "home bar", and so water, drain, and small additional undercounter spaces are available for switches, controllers, pumps, etc., but not for a "sump ". I will be building inside the main tank, two 8" by 18"  "intake filter", media, trickle filter, protein skimmer and sump units, one in each rear corner, to hopefully accomplish any remaining requirements. Each can accommodate up to .5 cubic foot of bio-media or bio-wheel for nitrification, which may need to be cut-back or eliminated pending research results on their compatibility with the bio-diverse environment which is being created. <Can work out> Flexibility is really important here, because I hope to avoid any "major" space requirement changes after "setup". <Flexibility is a hallmark of success... in species, plans...>          Boy, I know that I am asking a lot here of the system, and your much appreciated technical expertise, but here goes the description of the bio-diverse environment that I hope to create, and some of the system features that I am hoping to keep things in balance with.          If you are still with me at this point, "praise be", and now on with it. I believe that serious primary intake particulate filtration is a big factor in maintaining water quality and reducing long term maintenance requirements of the downstream filter systems( albeit with frequent input filter maintenance ), and in this regard I am planning for a 90 sq. in. 3 stage primary intake filter, along with a 30 sq. in. 3 stage secondary intake filter, to start with, which "dumps" then through three  64 cu. in. media chambers with standard "spillover" onto the trickle filter and or bio-wheel, and then on down to the "sump". These "corner filters" will be separated from the "main water column" by 1/4" acrylic, and silicone seal, and include space for the pump, heater, and other plumbing.          Now here comes the "kicker"; because I want to maintain this wide bio-diversity, which will include pearly jaw-fish, crabs, stars, snails, shrimp, gobies and other sand sifters (because that is what I want to look at and culture ), and because I want to simultaneously support  fish, clams, some soft polyp corals, and any other creatures that you explain that I can support with this system (god, I think we might "both" be out of breath ) <Not me, am just reading> , I am proposing that a "reverse flow undergravel filter" ( very high flow like 4000 gph ) be utilized to allow "non-stagnant" flow to be maintained through the substrate that is being made available for "digging" and "landscaping" by the inhabitants, and to reduce the amount of "vacuuming" type maintenance that is required in the "primary show tank. The high flow rate here, should be directing the majority of the detritus and other particulate matter through the "primary intake filter", and here we might want to keep the intake to the protein skimmers separate in order to boost their efficiency. <Well... I'd have a "back-up" plan... with a much reduced flow (likely you will not be able to make a sudden transition to no-flow... ala a plenum, once this arrangement is fired over. Maybe just a good sized powerhead to run the reverse UG... with an adaptor fitting to make the plumbing match...>>           Now let's remember that that this system is to be coupled with a 55 to 90 gallon refugium( and secondary show tank ) underneath, where we can obtain the benefits of a deep sand bed filtration system , and maybe some other inhabitant benefits that are not allowable in the primary tank.  I am thinking of alternate light cycles between the primary and secondary tanks, so that my options for inhabitants in the secondary tank are not overly restricted( as in where am I going to put that trigger fish that cannot be allowed in the primary tank). Boy I know this can't be the only time that we will discuss this, and so I will call it a day, but can you give me an opinion on what the limitations might be to this kind of approach, and how I might come fairly close, without overly jeopardizing the well being of the inhabitants, and still maintain a large portion of the original concept? <Variations on your basic plan exist in good number... these ideas are sound>            Your comments and suggestions will be scrutinized like a "great treasure", and I cannot thank you enough for all the valuable information that you have already put forward.                                                                                          Thanks and Sincerely,                                                                                                                              Barry H. Carpenter <Do you have a marine club that meets somewhere near you? I'd bet your enthusiasm and curiosity would be greatly appreciated in person. Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

New tank set-up I want to set up a 54 gallon SW fish only corner tank.  I don't have space for a larger tank.  I've had freshwater for over 10 years and this is my first SW setup. First, what do you recommend as far as filtration on this size tank?  I was planning on getting the tank with the corner overflow and a wet/dry system (maybe 75 to 150 gallon model filter).  Or should I use a canister type or some other method?  Also, what type of protein skimmer should be used with this setup? <Mitch, first I will refer you to a wet web link that you should read to answer most of your questions. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm.  A good protein skimmer for your tank would be the AquaC Remora Hang on or in sump model.  Don't get a wet/dry with the starting size higher than your tank capacity as it could lead to flow problems.> Also, what is the recommended number of average size fish that can eventually fit in this size tank?  In reading some articles, it appears that only 4 to 6 fish would be the most.  I wonder if it really pays to set this up for that amount of fish. <The fish load sounds right if average size fish are three inches or less.  I think it is worth setting up as the diversity also lies in the colorful invertebrates you can add to the system to make it much more entertaining.  Good luck and most of all have plenty of patience.  James (Salty Dog)> I would appreciate your comments. Mitch

New Set-Up, bigger, really BIG questions I have a 49 gallon bow front tank, that I am setting up for salt water. I have two pretty hefty power heads, a 50 gallon capacity hang on power filter with Bio wheel and about 3/4" of black substrate... <Okay> I have a couple of questions for the experts. <Heee, always makes me laugh... xspurts... what's this? Previously married and flow under pressure?> First of all I am confused about the tank that sits under the display tank. I have tried to read about it but all the articles I have read seem to answer questions to people that already know what they are for, can I set one up and run all my filter media through it and eliminate the hang on filter on my display tank??? <Mmm, you can buy a sump/refugium ready-made or DIY...> Also I am planning on having a mixed tank, I would like to have some coral and anemone along with some fish. What would be some good things to get and stay away from... Thanks for your time, Bob <Heeeeeeee! What IS life? Please... take your time here my friend... aquarium keeping, indeed life itself is/are "journeys", not destinations... enjoy the trip. Bob Fenner>

Big Tank Fall Down Go BOOM?  Well.. Could it? Hi. <How goes it?> I just set up a 110 gallon aquarium in my apartment and I'm a little scared that one day I'll come home and the aquarium will fall through the floor to the apartment under me. I just need your expertise in calming my nerves. Please tell me that this won't happen. <Well, I can't tell you it won't happen, because then it will. I would check with your apartment owner\builder and see what the floor is rated as far as pounds per square foot. You could always make a wider stand, or put it large piece of plywood to help distribute the weight> Thanks. <Sure thing. Next time please capitalize your "I's". Thanks>

Tank construction I am getting ready to make a diy all glass marine tank. My brother is in the glass business and can get me a good deal on glass, he will do the drilling, cutting, tempering at no cost to me. I received some great input on previous emails, but had some follow-up questions. This will be a FOWLR set-up to start, but plan to move into reef at some future point (planning for high flow/circulation). The dimensions will be 72"L X 30"W X 24"H. 1/2" glass. I plan to use a Mag Drive 36 pump to start. I will likely be using the biggest Rubbermaid sump I can find. My questions: 1) Since the tempering will be done after the holes are drilled, and it will not cost me anything to have it done......Would you still recommend doing the entire tank out of tempered glass, if not, why not? <If the cost is low... I would do all of it tempered> One concern, is that tempering might leave the glass uneven and after siliconing, the seal might not be as good as if non-tempered glass used.  <Good point, but rarely a concern... and with the tank dimensions and half inch glass mentioned... and likely bracing to prevent bowing... this should not be a problem> Is that going to be a problem? Will tempering change the clarity/visibility when looking into the tank enough to justify using non-tempered glass? <Won't appreciably change this... To make a final statement... I would NOT use tempered glass, or have the glass tempered if I were building this tank... not enough "value" to doing so IMO...> When siliconing the glass, is it possible/advisable to do the beads, smooth out, cure, then do another bead, smooth out, cure, etc, etc. (layering)? <No, just one, original bead> In other words, is it possible to have too much silicone in the seams (within reason)? <Just of no real value, added strength> 2) I was planning on 3, 2" bulkheads/ 3" hole drilled near the top of the back tank wall prior to tempering. What size drains would you recommend (more, fewer, smaller) for this size tank if you were doing it yourself (based on using a Mag Drive 36 or future bigger pump(s))? <This is about it> 3) I plan to use PVC to drain water to a sump. I will likely use PVC T's after the bulkheads with a cap, hole drilled, with tubing for ventilation. What are the ramifications on noise level of the tank when draining water through the bulkheads, if water is over the top of the bulkheads vs. water level only half way up the drain bulkhead? <... this is covered over and over on WWM... please use the search tool on the homepage... read through the marine plumbing articles and FAQs> 4) I plan to use either a flexible or PVC return line from the Mag drive 36 in the sump (submersed) to return water to a PVC closed loop single return manifold around perimeter of tank with several outlets at the top of the tank (maybe 10). Several questions follow: How quiet are the Mag Drives? <You can hear them, but they're not terrible> How reliable in your experience? <A seven on a scale of ten> Do they transfer any significant heat if used submersed? <Yes... detectable... a degree or two in your size system> Can the Mag Drive 36 keep up with 3, 2" bulkhead drains? <Keep up?... it won't overwhelm them> 5) What are the maximum number of holes one could drill on a tempered glass (tempered after holes drilled) tank wall before risk of loss of integrity? <"Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.... I'd love to turn you on...." Don't know... a bunch more than you will drill> 6) On lighting, I have seen 48"T5, 8 bulb, 54w/per lamp, HO fluorescent electronic ballasts & bulbs on the market. For a 24" high X 72" long aquarium, would this set up be enough light for clams at some future point vs. use of metal halides? <MH would be better right over the clams> Since they purport to have more light with less wattage due to reflector, efficiency, etc.....Would the rule of so many watts per gallon still hold true for these lights, if not why?  <See WWM re> Would one still need to have fans with these lights or are they cool enough to do without? Most fluorescents must be changed every 6mnth-12mnths. Can T5's really last 2yrs at full efficiency before needing replacing? <See...> That's all for now. Thanks for your thoughts on these questions <Thank you for taking the time to read posted input. Bob Fenner>

Fishkeeping I am a recent visitor to your website and quite honestly I despair. Do any of these morons ever pick up and read any books on marine fishkeeping? <Heeeee! Not yet I'd guess> I cannot believe half the things I have read today. <Don't despair... too much... The vast majority of people who visit every day.... 99.6%+ don't write in at all> I have never lost any fish I have decided to keep. Most of your contributors break every rule on marine fishkeeping there is. <Well... collectively perhaps> If it wasn't so sad I would laugh at some of the things I have read. I don't profess to be an expert on fishes like some but I do follow certain rules and I have read a great deal on the subject unlike it seems most of your contributors. Whoever keeps marine fish in a 10 gal aquarium is on a hiding to nowhere. <Not familiar with this term> Many overstock their systems greatly and wonder why they lose fish. Some  put 3 or 4 in at a time and wonder why their charges get diseased. The art of any fishkeeping is PATIENCE. The sea took millions of years to develop: why do people think they can have the perfect aquarium set up in just a few days or weeks? My advice to all your people is research the subject or give it up altogether as its not fair on the fish as its just cruelty and could threaten fish stocks around the world eventually . Just leave them in the oceans where they belong if you're not prepared to do this. <Outstanding! Could not agree with you more, would not disagree one bit... If/when you find yourself with time, an interest, please do join us in responding to folks here. Bob Fenner>                                            P.J. Willis

Re: was thin film of green algae on tank glass... now general set-up questions Hello again Is it possible to have a successful reef aquarium without a sump filter? How about just a skimmer and powerheads and a DSB and live rock. Would you recommend a wet/dry sump or a mud sump? If so what brand and how large for a 55gal. Thank you again, Andy <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm  Bob Fenner>

Sound setup? Bob, I have been researching and reading your web site over several months (which is outstanding), as well as reading Conscientious Marine Aquarist cover to cover in preparation for my first marine tank. I am 36 years old, and have been running freshwater aquariums for 25 years. I would like to run my planned setup by you before I take the plunge: <Great> 65 gallon display tank, acrylic, live rock and live sand. Plan for reef safe fish and simple inverts, going full reef in the future. <Okay> 20 gallon refugium, acrylic (for macroalgae, 'pod growth, maybe miracle mud) Refugium will have a corner prefilter/overflow and will be placed about 18 inches above the display tank. This will allow flow into the display tank via gravity, but I am unsure of how large of a pump I will need to pump water back up to the refugium, (thinking of a Maxijet 1200 to try for a flow rate of about 200 GPH considering the height of the refugium? Help.) <These are good choices, flow rate> Lighting: Current USA Orbit 36" CF 2 x 96 watts dual 6500/10000K, +2x 96 watts dual actinics with lunar lights. 65 watt CF over refugium. Is this too much wattage over the display? <Not too much> Skimmer: Aqua C remora hang on with the pre-skimmer and a Maxijet 1200 pump. Would upgrading to the remora pro be necessary? <Mmm, not really... a good idea if you think you might upgrade to a larger system down the line> Heating: 2x 200 watt VisiTherm stealth heaters. Circulation: additional Maxijet 1200 powerhead in tank. Or would two be better? <Two> Also some additional hang on power filter for mechanical filtration/ activated carbon.  Thanks for any help you can provide, anxious to get started, but as we say in the air force, proper planning prevents p--- poor performance! Matt Bonzani, MD <You cause me to feel good about accumulating the materials/content that is WWM. Thank you for your participation. Bob Fenner>

75 Gallon Plunge 1-21-05 Dear WWM Crew, <Alan> Long time reader, first time writer. Your website is incredibly resourceful and I've turned several aquarists on to it. I have maintained two 30 gallon FOWLR over the last 10 years with what I would consider very good success. I am about to take the plunge to a 75 gallon FOWLR set up as follows (with some polyps, shrooms and leathers I've had success with). After many hours on WWM I have developed this system and after sometimes confusing myself with opposing opinions, I would like your advice, thoughts and recommendations and answers to a couple of questions before I embark on this project. The basics: -Oceanic 75 gal reef ready with one overflow <How large... diameter, and where located?> -Oceanic Model 75 Trickle Filter modified without the drip plate (I'll place LR rubble in sump) <Good> -External or Internal Pump in sump capable of 7-10 times turnover and 2-3 power heads in tank for circulation. -Aqua C Urchin of Urchin Pro in sump Protein skimmer?  <Okay> -DIY Refugium plumbed to sump like this link illustrates with one partition to house Protein Skimmer and heater:  http://www.inlandreef.com/Images/DIY/Plumbing/refugium_plumb.gif  -  I will also paste the illustration at the end of this e-mail. -100 lbs of LR -4' 4x65 watt Coral Life or Custom Sealife Power Compacts w/ moonlights -Light bio load of fish Clowns x 2 (captive raised), Flame Angel, Mandarin (after established for 6 months), several shrimp, Sally Lightfoots, small hermits, snails and other scavengers.  <Study a bit re these... go with fewer...> -Sugar Sand bed-Depth to be determined by your recommendations. <See WWM re> -In House R/O H20 -Oceanic Salt is what I've been using. The purpose for the refugium with some type of Caulerpa (depending on what I can find from LFS) will be to develop a food source of copepods, etc. and not necessarily as primary filtration with the exception of the protein skimmer (unless you tell me otherwise). What would your recommendation for substrate type and depth be in a 10 or 20 gallon refugium. <Posted...> Would you recommend the use of sand or one of the Mud type products? <Yes... see WWM re> I will seed this system with copepods from copepods.com or some other source. Should I do this at set up time or after tank has cycled? <After> And, I have been confused by the light cycles. Based on your recommendations should the refugium be lit 24/7 or 12 hour intervals? <Depends on what is in it... if not Caulerpa, then alternate, overlap some with main tank> If you look at the diagram of the refugium set up tied into the main sump, what would be your suggested flow rate through the refugium off the PVC T and the ball valve? <2, 3, 4 times volume per hour> With the exit of the refugium water into the main sump can I put a PVC 90 degree elbow with an extension into the sump H20 or will this create a siphon from the refugium and increase the H20 flow. My purpose for running the PVC sub surface into the sump would be to reduce splashing/noise. <I would NOT do this, but rely, as the illustration shows on a plumbed through-put twixt the refugium and transit volume sump> So based on this set up, should I DSB or not DSB to help control nitrates??? If so, what depth? And should I do so over a plenum or bare tank bottom? <Up to you... again... see WWM re> Also, I have a whole house RainSoft brand water softener that uses a carbon block to take out a lot of the nasty stuff in city water. This then goes to an R/O filter under my kitchen sink which produces up to 10 gallons of R/O water a day. When setting up this tank, could I use the soft water from the tap mixed with salt to cycle? Or, should I just be patient and start collecting the R/O to mix with salt and fill the tank? <... a tough question... not knowing the specifics of what is in your source water... Very likely you'd be better off using mostly your treated water and synthetic salt mix... perhaps later it may prove worthwhile to use some tap with this... e.g. once you start keeping, boosting the growth of biomineralizing life.> Thanks again for reviewing this and have a pleasant weekend. Regards,  Alan Wardlow <Thank you. You as well. Bob Fenner> P.S.-Too bad Inland Reef went out of business. Maybe it was because they didn't sell hard goods because they had too many DIY suggestions!  <Marina's note: Anyone who's into astronomy knows what happened with Inland Aquatics.  Those folks are good at everything they do!>

Setting up a new marine tank - 1/18/05 Hi crew, I just have a quick question about setting up a new salt water tank. <Well, OK but just to let you know this is extensively covered on our website. Just takes some reading. Well, heck, you are going to have do it anyway with this email reply =)> I have kept FW fish for a couple of years but FW seems to be limited as to what can be done compared to SW with live rock, corals, inverts and fish. <Definitely not the same thing but freshwater have some very cool and interesting animals and environments>  I have been doing a lot of research and want to start out small so as not to waste a lot of money when I make the beginning mistakes as with anything. <I don't know about that. It can be done and very likely you can do it with your knowledge of freshwater. I do tend to steer people towards at a 55 gallon to start>  So basically I would like to try it with my 33 gal tank which I have 2 AquaClear 150's for filtration. <Again, will likely be fine>  The part I have no idea about is the protein skimmer. <A must have on anything over a 10 gallon but I actually recommend on for a 10 gallon too!!!>  Do I need one for this size tank? <HECK YES!! (Napoleon Dynamite) What kind would work well for this system? <I like the AquaC hang on the back (H.O.B) series or C.P.R BakPak series These are cost effective and very reliable.>  Could I use a Skilter? <Cheap but not reliable at all.> I have read all your info  about how they work but am confused about what kind I need for my tank. <Hang on the back would be best. I realize you have hang filtration as well. This is not going to be easy for you to fit. Check out some of the DIY sites to see if you can remote any of these other wise you might need a sump or something that sits outside of the tank.>  Also, if you could give just a pointer on what I should put in for substrate and if I need live rock or anything else I would really appreciate it as I and having some troubles on finding the right set up info for a 33 gal tank. < I like sugar fine sand in the size range of about .02mm - 1.0mm. I like my sand bed to be about 4-6 inches in depth in any given spot in the tank. There are many types of sand available from your local fish store or on the online site like Marine Depot (www.MarineDepot.com) or something to that effect. Most definitely I would use live rock. (Be sure to cure it regardless of where it comes from or what the retailers say. Pre-cured or not. Do cure it with your supervision) I like live rock for its natural filtration, water stability factors, attracts natural food sources for many animals. The benefits go on and on.>  Lastly, LiveAquaria.com has a section on beginner marine fish which is what I am going to use to decide what to buy as it says these fish are hardy and easy to care for but do you have any recommendations what I could start with? <Well, use our sections on marine set-up first. Come up with a plan (long term is usually best) and a cost sheet. Do I plan on having corals? What type? What are their lighting needs? What type and adult size of fish do I want? Where do they come from? What are their long term needs? What do they eat? How often do they feed? These questions should be asked and answered. Then look into a set-up. Deep sand bed? Lighting needs? I recommend no additives. Water chemistry, heating, lighting can be answered once you determine what animals you plan to keep. Please do read through our articles and FAQs spend a few more weeks and really design a plan. This is how you will be able to have a successful marine aquarium and will likely be cost effective in the long term. Do start your research here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm . It is where I started. Let me know if I can help with anything else. ~Paul> Thanks for everything you guys do! Mike  

Setting up a tank I am interested in setting up a 70-90 gallon reef tank and have been doing a lot of research but have not made any purchases yet (other than books!). <A wise investment... along with reading them!> After reading, I am as confused as ever on what to buy. I would like to start with fish-only tank, but would like to eventually add corals and anemones as I get the hang of things. Therefore, I would like to set things up for them now. <Good idea> When I visited the fish store, they were steering me toward the purchase of a wet-dry system for filtration. After doing some research, though, it seems to me that these systems require a lot of upkeep and frequent water changes. <Relatively, yes> I would like to keep my system as low-maintenance as possible, even at greater expense if needed. Is a refugium system the most efficient way to filter the water? <By my measures of low maintenance, yes. Less time, labor, potential disasters> How does the maintenance of these systems compare with wet-dry or other filter systems? Also, I assume I will still be using a protein skimmer. <Lots to say, and it has been "said" on WWM here... and yes to a skimmer> If refugiums are the way to go, can you recommend a product and/or size for a 70 and 90 gallon system? <... Please read re these choices on WetWebMedia.com> Also, I am unsure on the size because I read that taller is not necessarily better for tanks because more water surface area is better for oxygen exchange. But I also read that more gallons are better because water quality issues are diluted with more gallons. These seem to be conflicting issues. Is there any benefit to going with a 90 gallon versus a 70 gallon rectangular tank? <Bigger is better, height matters little in actual application functionally... All commercially made tanks are useful... deeper tanks may require placing higher light-intensity organisms on rock... or the use of metal halide lighting... and are harder to work in at some point.> Thanks for your help - you have an excellent website! Barb Hoage <Glad you are enjoying, finding it of use. Bob Fenner>

Help with a combined Reef and FOWLR system Bob, Anthony and Staff; <Jeremy> First, thanks for all your help to the reef community.  This website and your books are very helpful.  Now, my questions.  I apologize for the long and choppy questioning. I have had a 29 gallon reef tank, pretty successfully for about four and a half years.  My lovely wife has granted permission to upgrade, in a major way.  Here is the planned upgrade (granted it will take a good year to achieve the full upgrade, I like to take it slow).  I plan to upgrade to a 90 gallon reef tank in my living room with a 6" DSB, about 100 lbs of liverock and a friendly reef stocking level of fish and invertebrates, good lighting (at least 2 175 watt MH with VHO, maybe 250s and high water flow.  I am going to have the overflows from this 90 gallon tank drain into the basement where I have ample room for a large sump/refuge and good room for maintenance and cooler temperature to maintain the reef temperature without a chiller.  I am also planning to install a new FOWLR tank in the basement (in the finished side) with a foot print of 72" x 18" x ??,  so around 125 “ 150 gallons.  The purpose of the FOWLR is to have those larger angels / butterflies / triggers / puffers that you cannot have in a successful reef tank.  My plan is to plumb the 90 reef and the 125+ FOWLR together in a mutual sump/refuge system.  First question:  should I do so? <Yes! Some "upgrade"... like going from a Ford to a Lear Jet!> I keep my reef tank at 1.025 salinity and 80 degrees.  I realize that many keep their FOWLR at lower salinity, so I will not be able to in a combined system. <I'd keep both at near seawater conditions> However, I greatly increase the water volume for both tanks.   (dilution is the solution).  For filtration for the tanks I plan to have two refugiums and a sump (all around 50+ gallons).  One refugium will be a zooplankton refuge with 2" of fine sand (should I use 4-5" DSB? <Sure> Can it be sustained and advantageous?) <Likely so> packed with liverock rubble and some filter floss, and either no lighting, or very weak lighting and lower flow.  The purpose here is to encourage large amounts of zooplankton, aka bug, reproduction.  The second refuge would be a typical algae scrubber with 2" of mud (not sand, and should it be 4-5" and why?) <An inch or so is about right> with some form of algae like Chaeto, (I had problems with Caulerpa in the past) good light and higher water flow.  The point here it have good nutrient export.  Both refugiums would drain into one sump which would have liverock to break up the bubbles, a section for equipment (I don't use a skimmer now, although I know you all recommend them highly, I want to promote high amounts of natural food in the form of plankton, critters, sponge and worm growth) and possibly a section for growing xenia for Po4 export. <You might (I would) try running a sub-size skimmer a few hours per day (much less likelihood of removing beneficial small creatures during light time) for the first few months... you will see quite a bit of gunk you'd rather remove>   Further, I will have the DSB and a lot of liverock in the Reef tank, and in the FOWLR, I will have a good amount (maybe 100 125 lbs of liverock, I want enough to provide food and shelter for the fish, but not to prevent good swimming and water flow) and either a 2" or 5" sand bed.  (The issue for the sand bed is that one fish I would really like is a Mandarin goby.  If I can maintain a functioning DSB filter in the 125 with a mandarin, I will.  If not, I would use a 2" sand bed solely to encourage pod growth to feed the mandarin, what do you think?). <Should work. Wait a few months before installing the Mandarin> Lighting the FOWLR.  Okay, I know the rock needs good lighting.  I am not going to have corals as the point here is to keep the fish that normally eat coral and cannot be in a reef tank.  However, I am planning on trying to grow some type of sea grass, such as turtle grass to feed the grazers in the tank, increase nutrient export and encourage phyto and zooplankton.  Thus, I will need decent light for the grass or algae.   Would 4 110 watt VHO be adequate for this purpose in the FOWLR tank? <Yes> Okay, assuming it is a good idea to combined these two tanks into one filter setup, the question is how?  My alternative plans are, A) have the 90 gallon drain into the 125+FOWLR tank, which then drains 1/3 to the zooplankton refuge and 2/3 into the algae scrubber, which both drain into the sump and back to the 90 gallon reef.  B) Have the 90 drain 1/3 to the zooplankton refuge and 2/3 to the algae refuge, also have the 125 drain the same, both refuges drain into the sump.  One pump pumps back to the 90 gallon, a second pump pumps back to the 125.  The good thing about A) is I only need to buy one pump, thus I save $$$.  Also, the reef tank will receive all of the plankton from the refugiums (which is more important since the reef inhabitants need it more).  But, will A) feed the refugiums best? <Not really... better to have only some water run into the refugiums and the FOWLR, have them gravity feed to the return sump... 3-4 turnovers (by volume) in a given/general refugium is about right>   I assume the FOWLR will have more food waste than the reef tank with messy eaters, so maybe it will be? <Likely so> Any suggestions or comments you have to this scheme would be very very much appreciated.  One other question is, assume I do the above A) setup, what size bulkhead? <For all, 1 1/2" on the returns, 1" on the pumped/pressurized sides if this is the size of your discharge on your pump/s>   I was thinking either two 1 or two 1.5" to get maximum water flow (although I am also going to either have a closed loop or Tunze pump on each tank, or both.) Thanks for your time and help. Jeremy <All sounds good, workable thus far. You might have this drawn out on paper, I would... with a materials, parts and tool list. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with a combined Reef and FOWLR system Mr. Fenner.  Thanks for the replies.  I have a couple follow-up questions. See below if you need to refresh about my plans for the upgrade.  As I stated, I am planning on two refugiums.  One will have the purpose of encouraging large zooplankton growth.  The other will have the purpose of encouraging large algal growth for nutrient export.  (Actually, I will likely use one large sump that will house one refuge, and one independent refuge.)  For the zooplankton refuge, the plan is then a DSB of 4-5 inches, lots of liverock rubble, no lighting and about a 4x turnover flow rate.  Is this a good setup for the purpose? <Yes, though I would have some light, algae present> I assume the sand at 2" would do the same job for critter growth and the reason for 4-5" of sand is extra nutrient export, is that right? <Yes, mostly>   For the algae refuge, the plan is 1-2" of mud, algae such as Chaeto, normal fluorescents lights and 4x turnover water flow.  Is this a good setup? <Yes>   The mud really being for independent export and diversity.  Lastly, I am not sure yet on the best way to drain these tanks together.  Is it good/okay to drain the 90 gallon directly into the 125 FOWLR, and then split the 125 drain, part into the refugiums and part directly to the sump (so I get 4x turnover in the refugiums?) <This will be fine... though, if you want to have these tanks receive the reef water from above and in turn drain into either the FOWLR or transit volume sump in turn this would work as well> Is there a disadvantage to not draining some of the water from the 90 reef directly into the refugiums/sump area? <No>   Again, I would like to avoid buying two return pumps, but I will if necessary to set it up best. Thanks for all the help. <With enough difference in elevation with the tanks down below, you should be able to get by with just one pump. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with a combined Reef and FOWLR system Mr. Fenner, one last follow up question regarding the refugium plans.  You suggest using some light in the zooplankton refuge for algae.  Would it be better for me to just have one mixed refugium that has liverock/DSB/algae/lights for both nutrient export and zooplankton culture as opposed to two separate systems? <Two would be better than one. Lighting can be alternated such that one is always illuminated, different species mixes favored, one take off line for whatever purpose/s... Bob Fenner>   Which way would provide the maximum benefits?  Thank you for all the help.

Setting up a marine aquarium Hi, First, thanks for the incredible resource your website provides!  Unfortunately, I discovered your site a bit later than I would have liked but I'm hoping you can help me make the best... I have recently purchased a 75 gallon Tenecor Simplicity Plus system.  It is in my living room in a big box as we speak!  I'm very excited even though I haven't started the set-up yet - waiting until post-holiday. << Well if it isn't up yet, you can really do it right by getting lots of ideas a head of time. >> I'll cut to the chase - based on what I've read on your website, I am planning on using live sand and live rock as the foundation of this tank with an AquaC protein skimmer.  So far so good - but what about the trickle filter system in the back of my tank? << I'd get rid of it. >>  If I understand correctly, the bioballs are unnecessary and may even be harmful longer term. << Certainly unnecessary, but I don't think they are really harmful. >>  Of course, I paid extra for this "simplicity system" because at the time I thought these things would be good for my system.  Would you recommend removing the bioballs when I set up the tank? << Yes, I'd use that space as a refugium. >>  It pains me to do that given the extra money the simplicity system cost me, but if it's the best thing to do I'll do it.  Would love to have your advice on this. << Junk the bioballs. >> In terms of livestock, I'm interested in having a couple of cleaner shrimp, some snails, an emerald crabs, a few hermit crabs, a blenny, a clownfish, a tang (yellow eye), a wrasse, a firefish goby and a Picasso triggerfish.  How does this sound? << Sounds great, no problems. >>  I understand you may not like the idea of the triggerfish (good chance the shrimp would be a goner?).  Do you have a suggestion as a substitute? << I think you are fine with the trigger. >> Thanks so much for all your advice and the great resource! Happy Holidays. <<  Blundell  >>

Aquarium Systems Query Hi! Bob, <Hi! Ryan in his shoes today.> Following your advice, I've been spending substantial time researching and encountered the Aquaricare and SurgArium products (www.EZtank.com, www.Aquaricare.com and www.SurgArium.com).  Since I'm still at the planning phase of putting up a marine system, I might be an ideal candidate for these products. Have you seen these products?  What do you think about them?  Do they really work as advertised?  <Am unfamiliar with the products personally...I'd rely on common sense, word of mouth for equipment.  I'd be careful buying into an "aquarium system" as they can be quite pricey and lock you into a system.  Try reefcentral.com forums for feedback on this specific aquarium system.  Good luck, Ryan>

Beginning to set up a salt water tank Hello, My past interest in aquariums has been recently rekindled with the help of my 8 and 9 year old children.  I'm now at the point where I want to begin the process of purchasing a marine aquarium.  I'm currently reading The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and found it to be very interesting and helpful.  I've also been scouring the FAQ's at WWM and also found that extremely helpful.  However, I'm hoping for someone to give me a kick in the right direction in my hunt for a tank setup. << I have to say that with all your reading and preparation prior to such a purchase is already a kick in the right direction. >> Before asking my specific system setup questions, I'll give you an idea of what my ideal setup would be.  I would very much like a fairly small FO or FOWLR setup to put in my living room.  I realize that bigger is better for novices, but the space I have for the tank is less than 48" long, so that limits my options when it comes to tank dimensions.  I prefer the natural look of live rock over artificial decorations and also understand its usefulness.  The type of fish that I have identified as possibilities for a tank this size are false percula clown, royal Gramma, Banggai cardinal, scooter blenny, flame angel, longnose hawkfish, yellow tang and possibly some type of wrasse and/or goby.  I want a peaceful, uncrowded environment, so I'm trying to do my homework on a suitable mix of fish.  Can you give me your thoughts on a good combination of these fish or others that I should consider for a tank this size? << That all sounds good.  Try looking into a 75 gal with a pre-drilled overflow set up for a refugium. >> I'm looking at a couple of different tanks that fit my space, including a glass 58g Oceanic and an acrylic SeaClear 50g, both pre-drilled with built in overflows. << Along the lines of just what I was thinking.   Only, I'd go bigger. >>  Also looking at some 46g bowfront tanks, but the ones I've seen so far would need hang-on filters and skimmers.  Although I'm not certain, I think a reef ready tank with a sump system (not sure what size) including an in-sump protein skimmer (something like AquaC Urchin) would be good setup for what I want. << If you ask me, skimmers are more important in fish systems and less important in reef tanks. >>  I like the uncluttered look of an in-stand sump and skimmer and also believe that this would be better from a noise standpoint also (is that correct?). << It is a much better way to go having them in the stand. >>  Given that the family room is our main TV room, I don't want the system to be too loud. I'm OK with some muted operating sound, but loud pump noise or waterfall sound or sucking sounds probably won't be well received by the wife... << Shouldn't be much of a problem. >> I also presume that I need a pump to return the water from the sump to the display tank, powerheads to move the water around, a heater or two, thermometer, and lights. << Most likely yes to all. >> If I used live rock, would I need a bio-wheel or other form of biological filtration? << I'm going to say no.  I think with live rock and with a refugium you are fine.  But only if you have lots of live rock. >>  Anything else I would need? << Sounds good to me. >> Am I heading down the right road for a tank setup?  Any other advice for me? << Lighting is going to be a big issue.  You'll have to put a lot of thought into that with what you want to keep. >> I will continue to read and visit my local fish stores as much as I can before taking the plunge.  I'm just glad that I've found the book and this website before jumping the gun and wasting any money on improper equipment. << Good luck. >> Thanks so much for all your help. Rick <<  Blundell  >>

Beginning to set up a salt water tank continued Thanks very much for your reply.  I do have a couple of follow up questions though.  Given my space restrictions (can't fit a 48" long tank) I have been looking at 36" long tanks.  I like the Oceanic reef ready tanks and they make 2 models in this length.  One is a 58 gallon (36x18x21) << Is that really a 58 gal? >> and the other is a 70 gallon (36.5x18.5x25) << Is that really a 70 gal? >> .  There is only a $20 difference between these two tanks and while I understand that more water is usually better, I have read that tanks with depths of more than 24" can be problematic when you need to reach into the bottom of the tank.  Which of these tanks would you recommend?  << The bigger for sure.  You can always have the corals up higher. >>  Any other high-quality glass tanks I should consider?  I think AGA makes a similar sized tank (64 or 65 gallon) with a built in overflow, but I believe that AGA is a step down in quality compared to Oceanic.  << I wouldn't worry about the quality, I'd get the biggest tank you can with the overflows. >>   Is this true? << Wow, I don't buy tank often so I don't know.  I'd just have to visit a LFS and ask. >> Also, with respect to your comment about lighting being a big issue, If I plan to keep fish with live rock (no corals at first), what would the issue be with lighting?  << Growing algae.  Mostly coralline.  Also high lighting gives off a lot of heat, which requires a fan, which can be noisy. >>  Does the live rock need special lighting to stay "alive"  << Not really, but it does grow more life with better lights. >> or is this more of an issue with keeping corals? Lastly, my LFS is recommending that I use a UV sterilizer.  Is this something that you would recommend I use for such a tank setup? << No, I'd keep a sump, and no UV because it ruins the purpose of the sump. >> Thanks much and Happy Holidays.  << Good luck. >>

Creating  A Successful System Hello, <Hi! Scott F. here today!> After months of planning and stocking questions, etc. to you guys, I am almost ready to fill the tank with water. <Cool! Now the fun begins!> Ok, I have a 60 gal glass tank (48"x16"x18"). I have a very successful 30 gal reef tank that has been running for about 9 months now. I am only 16 so I need to pay for everything myself, so I have to do a lot of DIY projects. <I can relate to that...I did a lot of improvising when I was your age...And things worked pretty well!> I sadly have to settle for not the best, but I hope that that makes up for my husbandry and maintenance daily. <Good husbandry on your part can definitely compensate for some equipment shortcomings> Ok, back to my new tank, for the filter I have a Via-Aqua 650 canister filter, and that will lead into my sump. My sump is a 20gal aquarium that is divided in half. The first half is where I will have the water from the canister flow in. In there will be my heater, and my Jebo Protein skimmer. <Good location for the skimmer!> I am turning this side in to DSB refugium (this is where most of the questions will be). Then the other side will be a trickle filter with live rock as my media, then the return pump to my tank in the second side as well. Ok, I made a list of questions so that it will be easy to answer: The canister is 270 GPH...is this enough water flow for the tank? fish only tank)  <For most fish, this flow would be adequate. If you could get more in there, it would be all the better...> Do I need extra water flow? <Need? No.> How much if yes? <I think that if you could get the flow up to 500-600gph, that would be great> I have read on WWM about DSB but still don't understand what goes where? <I like the DSB right in the display tank> My LFS only has the Florida live sand in a bag, it looks like medium grain size. <I'd look for "sugar fine" sand, like CaribSea's "Aragamax Sugar Fine Oolithic Aragonite". I would avoid more coarse varieties> How deep of a sandbed (I can go as deep as 6" if needed)? <I'd shoot for 4"-6"> And will just the medium size work, or should I invest into buying online the coarse grain (how deep for bottom??) then put plastic gaze then the medium grain (how deep??) and then more plastic gaze then also online fine Carib grain for top (how deep??)-I am planning on making this a refugium so how many inches for the top layer? <Keep it simple. I'd go for 4"-6" right on the bottom. Use a more uniform fine grain. That's my recommendation.> What size grain to plant the Macro Algae in? <Most macroalgae do not need to be "planted". They will form runners on rock, etc. Some, such as Chaetomorpha, are free-floating. <Study the one that you intend to keep, and provide the right conditions.> What macro-algae do you prefer for nitrate control ecto for the refugium? <My two favorites are Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria> How many watts of lighting for this approx 10gal refugium 16" high? <You don't need much for just macroalgae. Use PC's at around 65 watts or so> I want the deep sand bed in the refugium because I don't want to much sand in the tank (it will take away swimming space"). I plan on 2 inches for the tank, how much pounds of sand is this apprx? is this ok? <Go to reefcentral.com and use their "DSB calculator. You plug in the dimensions of your tank and it will tell you how much sand you need to achieve a desired depth.> 200 Watts enough of heater ?(how much if not?) <Should work> Last but not least, for my quarantine is a 10 gal ok? <Sure! For most small to medium sized fish> sand or no sand, or doesn't matter? <Bare. A QT is a temporary feature, remember?> Thank you! <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

Getting started... using WWM 7/23/05 I've had my tank setup for about a year now. Its a 29 gallon that I had just fish in at first. I just bought an Orbit PC light fixture, remora hang on skimmer, and about 40lbs of live rock. From everything I've read this is an alright starter setup for a beginner reef with soft corals and other invertebrates. I have a couple of questions though. I bought a mandarinfish about a month ago not knowing much about them. <... this tank is likely too small... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandsysfaqs.htm> Will it's eating adversely affect the maturation of my live rock or have any other bad effects on the tank (as of now his health seem to be fine). I also have a yellow tang and green Chromis. Should I remove any of these fish. <And the linked files above...> I have a few astrea snails and blue leg hermits, six or seven of each. How many more and what other species would you recommend for this size tank for cleaning purposes. <...> Lastly is there anything I should be adding to the water. I want to start adding corals and I'm want to do things as fail safe as possible, also how often should I do water changes? <... read... on WWM... re small systems... set-up, stocking, maintenance. Bob Fenner>

Heat in new tank, too high tech.? 7/14/05 Hi reef folks. <Howdy> I have some questions regarding heat transfer in my newly set up reef (no sand or living creatures yet). The tank; 180 gal. with 70gal. sump and 40 gal. refugium. Main return pump is Ampmaster 2100 that feeds a manifold above the perimeter of the tank with six T's. The second pump is a Super Ampmaster 4500(3600gal/h) running a closed loop manifold on the back wall of the tank. The third pump an Iwaki 40 hooked up to the sump goes into the refugium. I was running the 2100 and the 4500 for over 24 hours and was not running any skimmer(2), reactor nor the lights. I was confused to see that the water seemed quite warm. I put digital heater in the tank to check the temperature. I was 78. Now, can a these pumps be the cause of this heat? <Oh yes> Does friction in the pipes induce this heat? <Minimally> My ambient temp was 66 and goes no more than 70 because I live in the fog belt of Daly City Ca. I realized that I am going to need a chiller that can handle 300 gal. combined tanks. <Maybe... I would first look into using cooling fans> Which chiller brand, size and lowest power consumption would you recommend? <Mmm, can we step back a bit first here? What is the rationale of using two good-sized pumps for two separate manifolds? You might want to look into just one, larger, cooler pump... my pick? A Sequence model...> What are the pros and cons with an In line versus coil type? <Coil types are more gimmicks than real... and ugly to look at to boot> On a different subject. My sump has quite a bit of flow coming thru and I would like to make it a refugium of some sorts. What would be the ideal medium or animals? <This is posted on WWM> I was thinking an NNR at best, live rocks O.K?. <Could... a DSB w/o rock would be better here> And finally, What is your take on motorized union ball valve (they are all plastic)? Are they reliable and can they be connected to a my Octopus controller? <... Not a good idea... too much likelihood of failure... "More biology, less technology" needed here... study for now. Bob Fenner>

Marine Set-ups preference, misc. op. questions Hi there, As I always write, this site is great! I was wondering if you would give me your honest opinion on something. <All I've got> Do you folks prefer a fish-only with live rock or a reef tank? <Yes, depending...> Here's is why I ask. I have a 90 gallon reef tank at home, several fish, lots of corals, crabs, shrimps, live rock etc.  I recently wrote to you about an incidence of ich and the fact that I haven't had this problem for years. Now fish are dying and I am frustrated with this point, I can't treat this condition because of the reef. I have a salt tank ( no corals but hermit crabs )and had one outbreak of ich, I treated it with formalin and malachite green and all has been well for months. Fat and thriving fish in a FOWLR setting. So which setup do you folks like? <Both> I have always maintained that fish and inverts together in a tank seem to help each other to thrive. In the past I have had to break the entire system down so I could eliminate parasites. It has worked, but it would be alot <a lot... there is no alot> easier if I could treat the tank. I guess what I am asking is it really better to have my fish in a reef or is a live rock tank ok for my fish. <Live rock is preferable> I got into the hobby 18 years because of the fish. I have only had a reef set up for the last 6 years. I never really had much of a problem with disease before my reef setup and now I have so much more knowledge ( and a quarantine tank ) that I am sure things would work out. But any information you could share would be greatly appreciated. I would like to be as informed as possible before I make any decision. (I have had the LFS recommend Kick-ich but I have nothing good at all about that stuff )  <Change shops... this one is ignorant> One more thing, I ordered a UV sterilizer for my tank in the hopes that it will help keep any possible outbreaks at bay. Are sterilizers really effective? <Posted on WWM> Thank you very much for your help, Rob Mancabelli <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Lessons Learned and Shared Mr. Calfo, <cheers, Daron> While moving my aquatic guests from my 30 gallon back into the 72 gallon aquarium this weekend, I was thinking about how much help I've received from Bob, Steven, and especially you over the past year.  <I assure you that it has been our great pleasure> I have made so many mistakes in this time, and your advice has always saved lives. <very redeeming to hear. Thank you! Our intent, in part, for certain> I've learned: Foremost, I learned that my place in this hobby is as a 'casual aquarist' - I am willing to spend a few hours working every week so that I can spend an hour a day listening to music, watching my fish. I don't want to be a slave to the aquarium, but am willing to work for the enjoyment. The enthusiasm and newness has worn off, but not the eagerness or fascination. <very sensible... knowing boundaries and not turning this or any pleasurable hobby into a chore. Respect for life and enjoyment at large. Carry on gently> Quarantine Choose your stocking plan wisely, and stick to the plan Choose only species that you are currently equipped to care for Choose hardy specimens - both by species and individual Light bio-loads Any rash decision will likely be wrong. Slow down and analyze before acting. <yes... good things take time to develop... bad things can happen fast> Live Rock, Skimming, and water changes Stability, stability, stability. No matter how cool many animals look, most are best left on the reef. (That's what my PADI cert. is for.) <agreed... especially these crack addict friends of mine/fellow aquarists keeping sharks, parrotfish, etc> Maybe most importantly, I've learned to spot the charlatans. I thank you. <very welcome my friend> Now, that my aquarium is basically back to where it was 9 months ago, I can move forward. This time, I will be a little smarter. <very important to work smarter, not harder, as we get older... best regards to you in this endeavor> Daron, who is sure to get an early copy of your book - in September, right? <my pleasure... we, the Wet Web Media crew, have a lot of stuff going on right now you may have heard. A three volume set of books on Reef Invertebrates (2003), Reef Fishes and Reef Corals. My second volume (2003)... heehee... you just can't stop us from talking/writing and sharing! Kindly, Anthony>

New Tank/Sick Fish  Hi,  <<Hi, JasonC here...>> I'm new to marine aquarium set-up. I'm glad to stumble on your website because of the amount of info you have & I was hoping to get some advice. I have a small setup (15 gal) started 5 weeks ago.  <<Goodness, that is small for a first time attempt at saltwater.>>  I used 3 damsels and 1 clown (all 1 inch) to cycle the tank.  <<Erk... that is really too much for this tank, and also too soon.>> Everything appeared to go fine, although the nitrite level was going up and up.  <<That is normal for a cycling tank.>>  I was doing almost daily water changes (15-20% water changes) to bring down the nitrite level.  <<Not a good plan at all - you need the nitrite to build so that the appropriate bacteria will develop and start converting those nitrites into nitrates - by doing water changes you are stalling this process.>> The fishes appeared fine & were eating voraciously.  <<Sigh... you are going about this completely wrong. You shouldn't have more than one hardy fish in this tank to cycle it, if any at all... and on that note, you shouldn't be feeding them much either. You are on a very slippery slope here.>> Trouble started 1 week ago, when one damsel had a 'pop-eye' & started to scratch his eyes against the shells. My first thought was parasite, due to the scratching.  <<My first thought is toxic water from the cycling>>  and I bought CopperSafe & applied the dosage as recommended. However, I do not have copper test kit to check the copper level.  <<Oh man... you should just stop right now. You can't just add these things indiscriminately and hope that all will be well. Many direct cause and effect relationships here.>> I also bought bottled bacteria (Nutrafin) to try and remove the nitrite & applied the recommended dosage.  <<Please, stop adding things to this tank.>> 2 days later, the damsel died. The clown followed 1 day later, and another damsel followed after that.  <<Why am I not surprised...>> I noticed that before they died, they lost color and appear a little whitish. Is this signs of velvet or ich? And did CopperSafe helped the situation at all? <<My friend, you really moved through things much too quickly. Your absolute best bet at this point would be to set this tank aside and start over again with a larger tank. The odds were not in your favor from day one, and you compounded things by doing the large water changes and adding the Coppersafe. The Coppersafe has likely ruined your substrate and also the silicone in your tank. This tank will now only work well as a quarantine tank.>> Also, was it right to introduce bottled bacteria or did I just disrupt the cycling?  <<You disrupted the cycle with the copper as well... in the future, try to move slowly and use a larger tank. Much to reflect on.>> thanks in advance, <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Setup Question? <Greetings Adam... Anthony Calfo here with the follow up for Bob. I am a friend of Bob's, nearly a lifelong aquarist, author of the Book of Coral Propagation, and obviously shameless about plugging my book... hehe> Thanks for such a quick response. <WWM seems to have a full time crew of dedicated aquarists with no social life <smile>> I have been spending countless hours reading and the one main issue that keeps coming up is a) wet/dry can only lead to problems, <agreed> b) lava is a phosphate nightmare and should get rid of it for some base rock or live rock.  <most likely> My current plan is to remove the lava and get about 100 lbs of live/base rock.  <live rock is one of the best investments you can make... but do wait to buy the best rock that you can afford. Cheap base rock that lacks good coralline algae growth is harder to defend against nuisance algae that are so common in young tanks. Try to resist anything called "base" rock... it is also a label given to live rock in the industry that has been delayed or otherwise mishandled and lost much of its life. I suspect you will be disappointed in the product> I do not think this is a problem as the nitrogen cycle has yet to start.  < a moot point if you buy cured live rock> I am think about the turbo floater or the AquaC EV-120.  <a good skimmer is crucial... learn to make necessary adjustments to get it to produce DAILY product...no exceptions> I will also upgrade my single bulb fluorescents for the 192 total watt PC Smartlites. I am going to leave the bioballs in the sump for the time being unless the nitrates go off the chart. Any concerns yet? <nope... still rollin' witcha> My fish will be Purple Tang, Corel Beauty, Flame Hawk, Cleanup Crew, Yellow Tang? <a rowdy bunch, believe it or not... please add the tangs last if possible, and be sure that they are of different sizes with the hope of reducing competitive aggression (they are likely to scrap a bit...in some cases terribly)> sand sifters/Gobies.  <also add these late so that they do not decimate the beginnings of interesting microfauna in the sand. And do be very careful of species selection... many of the popular ones in the hobby are doomed to starve to death in immature tanks> Generally, do you think I am on the right path? <actually, the level of understanding that you have demonstrated is well above the average... kudos to you for good research! Keep up the good work> Please advise to anything I am missing. Thanks! Adam <do try to align yourself/participate in local and/or regional aquarium societies. They are perhaps the best places to get unbiased and cutting edge information from people who aren't trying to sell you something. kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Setting up a new tank Hello, I just found your site today. Very informative. Anyway, my husband and I just purchased (didn't even receive yet) a 90 gal. tank that we plan on setting up for a marine aquarium. I've been doing lots and lots of research so it's done right!! It was suggested that we do live sand and rock to cycle the tank. We're going to have a protein skimmer, sump and 100 lbs live rock. We are also going to be setting up a quarantine tank at the same time so it can cycle as well. I have a few questions though. We are planning on mainly a fish tank, no coral at the moment. Will the fish eat all the live rock and turn it to dead rock?? (We're planning on a flame angel, copperband butterfly, emperor or queen angel, and maybe a purple and a yellow tang). I know that the angel's and butterfly's are notorious for eating the live rock inhabitants. Will they actually destroy our live rock?? We need it since we're not going to have a wet/dry filter, right? . . . I'm all new at this but trying hard!! <The fish you listed will eat off of the live rock, but will not eat everything. You probably will not be able to grow any macroalgae in the main display.> Also, do we wait until the tank is fully cycled before adding snails, crabs, and shrimp? <Yes, wait until tank is cycled prior to any additions.> Can we add them all at one time (meaning snails, crabs and shrimp)? <Yes> Do we really need like 40 snails and 40 crabs? <40 snails sounds ok, but I would not want that many hermits. No more than half a dozen.> What are the good shrimp to get?? <Any of the cleaner shrimp, genus Lysmata.> Dumb question, but do we need to feed the live rock while it's cycling our tank? <No> And lastly, how do we cycle our quarantine tank? <I prefer to keep a sponge filter in my sump and move that over to the quarantine tank when needed.> Do we put live rock in there too? <No, best to leave devoid of calcium based decorations because of potential use of medications.> Do we need decor in the quarantine tank or just like one cave like structure for a hiding place? <Inert hiding structures like short sections of PVC pipe.> Curiously yours, Katie <Welcome to the club. -Steven Pro>

New Tank Set-Up Mr. Fenner and faithful crew <faithful Antoine in your service <G>> I was hoping to get just a little input on the setup I'm hoping to get up in the next few weeks. It is a 75gal rectangle tank eventually to house a Volitans and a snowflake eel,  <good hardy choices... although the lionfish is likely to outgrow the tank in the long run. You'll be OK in the 2-3 year picture... but the 5 year picture is a little squeaky with an 18-24" eel and a beefy lion that can easily sail past 12" long> we are deciding on all the other inhabitants with this in mind.  <hmmm... other fish for the tank? Some Volitans can actually approach 2 feet long. You need/should want to plan for adult sizes. They mature and grow quickly if you care for them well. If a bigger tank is certain in the near future...OK. Else, do enjoy these two fish for 2-3 years sans company> question is mainly regarding the setup. 75 gal tank with a Eheim 2235, 2 zoomed 228 powerheads,  <hmmm... if you bought the powerheads already... I'll be interested to hear what you think of them after some use. Else, do consider larger powerheads or a water pump. Not enough flow here with these pumps and the Eheim alone (detritus accumulation, algae problems, etc)> protein skimmer (brand undetermined),  <what is your budget for this piece... looking for a size or style recommendation?> 25-50lbs of live rock to start <the more the better.. a wise investment> eventually 75+, a 3-4 inch sand bed hopefully seeded with some live sand, a 300watt Visitherm submersible heater,  <2- 150 watt or 200 watt heaters would be better/safer than one 300 watt (all seem to fail/stick in time and you would be less likely to cook a tank)> Instant Ocean for the salt.  <my fave!> Question here is does this seem ok is there other recommendations that you would have.  <as above... mostly stronger flow and more live rock. And a quality skimmer is priceless... please don't skimp here. I like Euroreef, Tunze and Aqua C brands at the top of my list> Thanks for all your help and such a WONDERFUL BOOK and all the time that you spend answering questions. <indeed, CMA is a treasure trove! Do pass along what you learn to others in kind> Colleen <kindly, Anthony>

Skimmer, bulkhead flow rates, plastic sumps, etc. Hello! I am a novice to this fascinating hobby and have found WWM to be a wonderful and at times overwhelming source of information. I am setting up a 135 gallon reef and have a few questions I was hoping you might answer for me. First question is about overflow size and flow rates. I plan on drilling two holes for 1.5 inch bulkhead fittings near the top of the back wall. My return pump will be an IWAKI 100RLT (2000 GPH) plumbed with 1 inch PVC, 20 feet horizontal, 5 feet vertical and about 6 x 90 degree turns. Will the overflows handle this pump's output without creating a noisy siphon or should I do some more drilling? <Better to be safe than sorry and add another hole.> While I am on the subject, I also plan on adding a 3rd 1.5 inch overflow that will drain into a refugium under the tank. <Oh, three holes should be fine.> There will be a pump dedicated to the refugium for return to the tank, <Ok, so two pumps and three holes total. You will probably need a fourth hole then.> but my concern is controlling the overflow to the refugium with the 100RLT pumping water from the sump. Would a gate valve on the refugium overflow and a float switch be enough to prevent flooding? <I don't like this idea. Please see here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm  for a nice CAD drawing Anthony's brother-in-law did for Anthony's book.> Second question is regarding a skimmer I just bought. It is a HSA 1000 capable (according to the manufacturer) of skimming tanks in size up to what the name implies. I plan on using another IWAKI with a 1080 GPH capacity for the skimmer. Any chance of overskimming? <There is that possibility. You will see when you hook it up. You want dark skimmate the color of dark tea to coffee, one cup per day.> What are your thoughts on this type (high speed aeration) skimmer? <Not familiar.> Next question is about the use of plastic or rubber storage bins and trash cans for sumps, water storage, etc. I have read that some plastics can leach chemicals into the water. How does one know which materials to stay away from and which are safe? <I like Rubbermaid garbage cans, but any food grade plastic is safe.> I hope I haven't wasted your time by asking questions that have been answered hundreds of times, and thanks to you and your organization for putting together a wonderful tool for all hobbyists. Regards, Gerardo Gomez <No problems. Your questions were interesting and I am sure they will enlighten some of the daily FAQ readers. -Steven Pro>

Marine System Set-Up <Cheers, Russ! > I very much look forward to reading your book!  I'm hoping it will help me select specifically which species I'd like to house in the 75 gallon that  I'm just now setting up, allow me to provide a proper environment for them to prosper in, and understand coral propagation in general. < Yes, my friend... I have faith that you will not be disappointed. The text is very comprehensive after all. And it is very wise of you to consider that stocking requires due thought and information gathering. It is a common flaw (that leads to great problems in the long run) for aquarists to fill a tank randomly with all types of coral from all parts of the reef (LPS, SPS, 'shrooms, Buttons, etc). It seems to work for a year or two but ends up being rather difficult to succeed with in the long run.>  I've been  involved with keeping small freshwater tanks for years.  However, I've caught the "reef bug" and I think I've really always had salt water circulating in my veins!  <Heehee... agreed, my friend.> I've built a DIY stand, gotten a Euro reef skimmer (oversized for the system... a good thing), < Outstanding!!! Top of the line brand and performance as far as I'm concerned!> gotten the return pump (Mag 7), have the RR Oceanic 75 on-order from LFS,  < Heads up... the Oceanic (and most mfg tanks) are notorious for undersized overflow holes. Don't be too surprised to hook up your mag drive and hear an awful gurgling sound... undersized overflow holes. Case in point... I have four 1" drains for my mag 9 and they are running at scary high capacity.> and am building a refugium modeled after the one shown at Carlo's barrier reef  ( http://www.carlosreef.com). Okay, so I'm acquiring things slowly and probably a  little bit backwards... but I'm having fun!  Still have to figure out additional circulation,  < If you can afford it... I like top-mounted Gemini pumps or Tunze Turbelles... they are discreet, strong and very long lasting. I know folks with Turbelles 15 years old! >  DSB (probably 5")  < Yes... 5" or deeper. >   One of the biggest decisions I'm wrestling with, before I build a DIY canopy, is lighting! (No big surprise).  I'm 99.5%  sure I'm going the SPS  route, and I'd rather not have to "upgrade" later. It looks like a MH/PC combo for me --> PC only for aesthetics <admittedly cool to have blue actinics... all reef halide bulbs have enough or too much blue wave in them> Probably PFO ballasts driving two Iwasaki 65K 250watt-ers,  < The very best all-purpose bulb IMO >  and an Ice-cap on two or more 110watt VHO URI's -- housed in PFO reflectors:  Would that be "too much"? < You really need to go hardcore SPS to need 250 watts MH even in the 3 year plan.> Actually, I mean would  it be "unnecessarily expensive," due to ongoing electrical costs, for  most SPS?  < Hmm...  Do they  really require this much light to prosper? Definitely not... many sps and most sps will fare fine or better under 175 watt halides (10K Ushios or AB then) >  Would I be better off with a pair of 150 or 175 watt > MH's?  I'm afraid I'd  be "under-powering" some SPS in this size/depth tank.  < Not much of a concern... many 250 watt and even 400 watt MH reef tanks are wasting electricity/light by not cleaning glass canopies weekly of dust/salt creep, etc. or by not using chemical filtration media weekly or full time to reduce yellowing agents which temper clarity and light penetration.> If better off with 150/175, would you recommend bulb/ballast brands and wattage combinations? I'm hoping your book will help me understand the corals better, and their  individual lighting requirements.  I guess I was just wondering what your  "gut feeling" tells you about a pair of the Iwasakis  vs. other pairs of MH's  you might suggest?  < Honestly... as much as I favor creatures that enjoy the lower end MH light, most people want sps and clams for more than half the tank. If this is you and you are going to minimize LPS (bubbles, hammers, elegance, octopus, fox) and Corallimorph/mushrooms... then I would say do the 250 watt Iwasakis after all. >  Oh, and thank you, Bob Fenner, Steve Pro, and  everyone else at WWM, for already answering many of hobbyist's and my questions.  You guys are really great at helping hobbyists reach decisions when  Internet research leaves many of us otherwise confused. -Russ < It is indeed our great honor and pleasure. Kind regards, Anthony > 

First Saltwater Aquarium Mr. Fenner, <<JasonC here>> I plan on setting up a 100-120 gallon saltwater tank in about a year or so. In the meantime, I would like to start out with something smaller, to gain some experience. I have read several places that a 40-55 gallon setup is ideal for a starter tank.  <<Actually, I'd start at 55 and go up from there.>>  However, the price of a 55 gallon saltwater tank is a little prohibitive, especially since I just want this tank as a "warm-up" for the real deal. <<Well, in many ways it won't be a warm up for the occupants of the tank, it will be the real deal.>>  I have seen some desktop (12-13 gallon) tanks that run about $400, and include everything except the heater. I am struggling trying to determine whether I should try to go with a 40-55 gallon tank, or the desktop tank, price being a big factor.  <<Well... consider also that the price to stock the tank will be the same, regardless of size - the animals cost the same. Likewise, your desire to 'practice' might be better filled by working at a fish store or aquarium. The smaller the system gets, the more unstable it becomes, and the more diligence it requires to keep. The potential for problems in smaller tanks is much larger than even the modest upgrade from a 40 to a 55. A 40 is about as small as I would go for my first tank, and that probably with an Ecosystem hang-on or similar system for filtration. For your position on the learning curve, I would predict that while a 55 might cost a little more at the outset, you will spend the same in the long run trying to keep a smaller tank in line.>>  What are your thoughts?  <<You got 'em.>>  Can I put together a 40-55 gallon saltwater setup for around $400? <<Perhaps, but if money is holding you back, consider saving a little longer, than you don't have to skimp on the hardware required to run a vigorous system.>>  Is the desktop aquarium going to be extremely difficult to maintain?  <<If this is your first attempt at saltwater, the answer is unequivocally , yes.>>  Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  <<I would just keep saving.>> Thanks, Andy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Upgrading to Reef Hi, Thanks for the info--just a couple quick follow-up questions. If I buy live rock (about 1-2 pounds per gallon, right?),  <a good ballpark> I have to upgrade the lighting with it, right?  <not at first... the rock can do fine with standard lighting. In fact, it will do better maturing for weeks or months under low light with good water quality (skimming, water changes, calcium and buffer supplements for corallines, etc). Only when you want to put coral in do you need the lights. The lights you need will depend on the coral you pick. Please try to select from just one or two groups of coral (as in mushrooms and button polyps OR sps OR LPSs OR soft corals. Trust me... you'll do better in the long run for it. And please do not be tempted to put a coral in prematurely. Living temporarily under an LFS low light system for a few weeks of couple of months doesn't mean the animals isn't starving for light. Do be patient with all coral until you get the lights on. In the meantime, enjoy all the many fascinating creatures developing in the live rock! If you can resist fishes for a while, these creatures will develop much stronger (amphipods, worms, copepods, etc)> That would be my most difficult financial move in the whole upgrade process--I was thinking compact fluorescent of about 4 x 96 watts. <attractive color to these lights but weak in intensity. They are much stronger than regular output fluorescents, but not strong enough for many clams and hard corals. If you prefer soft corals, though... you will be fine. The best all around solution may be 2 175-watt Aqualine metal halide bulbs (no other lights needed)> Secondly, what exactly would I need to purchase and do to make a 10 gallon aquarium a sump?  <many aquarists leave it empty except for a sealed pane of glass on one side to make an overflow for the skimmer to catch all raw water first in a standing reservoir before overflowing into the main fluctuating sump> It seems like a lot of plumbing, tubes, connectors, etc. <not at all... just some holes in the main tank with bulkhead fittings and overflow tubing... then a return pump. Many DIY plans for this all over the internet> And how would I make my SeaClone skimmer a part of that sump? Is that a good idea even?  <wow... a SeaClone isn't even remotely likely to handle a 75 gallon reef for so many reasons. Do consider buying or building a better skimmer and please don't buy coral until you do. Else, you will be very restricted on "skimmer less" coral species. I won't be surprised if you have nuisance algae problems without a better skimmer in the future too (bright light, accumulating nutrients from lack of a skimmer that yields a full cup of dark skimmate daily, etc)> I would just like to have less "stuff" in the tank, like tubes, heaters, and all that. Thanks Again, Mike <agreed... sumps are so very nice for that. Kindly, Anthony>

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
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