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FAQs on Marine System Set-Up & Components 11

Related FAQs: Best Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4FAQs 5, FAQs 6, FAQs 7FAQs 8, FAQs 9, FAQs 10FAQs 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 Systems Moving Aquariums

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

New Tank With Clowns - 07/11/05 Hey this is Donnie, awesome site by the way. <<Thanks Donnie...Eric R. here.>> Ok I just converted my freshwater tank to a saltwater on about 9 days ago, my protein skimmer and Coralife lunar light will be here tomorrow. <<Super>> It has 20lbs of live sand and about 7lbs of live rock, I put in 2 damsels (blue one, and domino) about 4 days ago to start cycling it, then today I added 2 orange/white clowns. <<Sorry to hear this... It's my opinion fish should NEVER be added to a tank until fully cycled.>> The pet store said my nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and ph (8.2) were good. <<Did they know you just converted 9 days ago?>> They seem to be doing fine right now and they sleep on top of each other.  Everyone in my tank gets along and eats formula one pellets.  Do you think that if I keep testing my water (SG, NITRATE, NITRITE, AMMONIA, PH) and keeping everything in check they will do fine?   <<Please do get your own test kits and monitor your water quality and relocate the fish if ammonia/nitrite show anything other than "zero."  If this is the case, wait until the tank cycles to reintroduce the fish.  Maybe have a look through our archives...here's a good place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm>>

Marine Set up My plan was to obtain a typical wet/dry trickle system with overflow, as I can get a pretty decent deal on it. This would be for a 46 gallon reef, with appx 70 lbs of live rock total. some upstairs in the tank, and some down in the sump in the place of the bioballs. In the return chamber of the sump, I planned on using an Aqua C Urchin Pro. Here are the questions: 1. Can I place the live rock in the sump just as the bioballs are, or does it need to be totally submerged.>It really needs to be totally submerged and under light< (Is it ok for it to be exposed to air and have water trickle over it, or should it be completely submerged, in other words.) 2. I planned on using 60 lbs of Arag alive sand in the display tank and none in the sump. is that sufficient? >If your two inches or less in depth OK, If more than that, you will need critters to stir up the sand...sea cukes, sand sifting stars etc< 3. Would a micron bag, Berlin-style sump be better for this sort of arrangement, do you think, or is the extra cost not really worth it? Thanks in advance. Bill James (Salty Dog)

Re: Hogs, Tangs, Clams and more...  As you can probably tell, I have a few tanks, and am debating what to put into them.  The 50G uni is going to be a clownfish habitat-   If I upped the lighting with another 65W SmartLight, would I be able to add a derasa, and would I be able to keep either a bulb tip or a long tentacled anemone?  I'm happy to keep the star polyp, leather and mushroom idea if not. <<Hi Chris! Thank you for writing.  Craig here for the gang while they take in MACNA. You have two issues here.  If you are asking about 65 watts in addition to the 96watt smart lamp, there are far better solutions that will provide better light for clams and anemones.   I would suggest at least 175 watts of metal halide lighting for approximately a 2 foot by 2 foot  area 18 to 20 inches deep and even at that a Derasa would want to be close to the top.   This is a minimum I would think.  As Zo said, they are very light, feeding and calcium demanding. Anemones will want the same lighting in order to keep them and they need regular feeding with various marine meats like shrimp, scallop, mussel, clam, silversides, etc.  Additional lighting will enable you to keep the animals listed although they require slightly different water parameters.  This should not be too big an issue.   As an example, I have two BTA's and a Maxxima clam in a 40 with 380 watts of VHO lighting.   The anemones are at mid-tank to the substrate in rock crevices and the clam is at the top of the tank.   A Derasa will want even more light.>> The bigger tank raises some other questions.  I'll be doing it in either a Caribbean or Hawaiian/Polynesian biotope.  The Caribbean fish are great, but not as colorful as the h/p type.  And if I did Caribbean I would want to use the Tampa bay LR.  Great stuff, but quite expensive due to the density. For H/P choices the least expensive Fiji I can find is about $3/pound- semi-cured- Foster's and smith's.  The Marine Center has Marshal Island base for $1.99/LB plus shipping, which I could top off with the primo stuff.  How much rock would I need in a FOWLR 125 for biological filtration if I'm planning on running a skimmer and a 30 G refugium in addition to a sump for heaters, etc. If you were going to go with the dry rock routine, what kind would you use, and where would you get it from? <<I think you can probably find better deals on Fiji.  Have you looked at FFExpress?  If I'm not mistaken they have/had Fiji for $1.98 plus shipping (transshipped?) Please consider the cost of shipping and add that into your per pound price. How much rock for a FOWLR set-up is somewhat a personal matter.  I would use as much rock as I could fit while leaving as much room as needed  for the type of fish I keep and where they hang out in the water column.   For Fiji/Marshall I would probably use 125 - 200lbs.   I would use base pieces in the sump and refugium as well.  Live rock and deep sand does amazing things and it's well worth the money in added benefit. You can purchase "Tufa" dry rock, but you aren't going to save much over live base rock, IMO I'm with Anthony, I would use the best rock with the most life for the best results. Most everyone makes some compromises from there, myself included.  Any of these options will work fine over time, it's a matter of money VS timely results.  Sooner or later we all get to Zo's rating system: Good, Better, Best.  OR: Inexpensive but dead; slightly more $$ but alive and ugly; more $$$, alive and prettier; and Spendy $$$, ALIVE and Gorgeous. We all make our own financial choice here. I sure hope this helps you out. Craig>>

Small Tank Dear Bob, <<Hi Caryn, Lorenzo here filling in for the regular crew, off to MACNA in Dallas.>> I have a 29gal tank with a Penguin 400 filter, an Amiracle skimmer and 20lbs of live sand. I plan to add live rock shortly, how much do you recommend? <<You'll want to add it over a few trips, and judge for yourself what really "looks" like enough - basically, as much as you can get in there that leaves space for your other livestock. Might be between 20-40 pounds, depending on your aesthetics and the density of the rock you find.>> Also I believe I am at (or over) my stocking limit. I have a yellow tailed blue damsel, a percula clown, scooter blenny<<This animal is hard to keep healthy on prepared foods. You need that rock!>>, Scott's Fairy Wrasse <<Tank is way too small for this fish, even before it's fully grown>>, arrow crab<<Watch this one carefully, they're quite predatory.>>, peppermint shrimp, turbo snail and chocolate chip starfish.<<Also omnivorous and can be predatory, not reef-safe, so to speak.>> All water parameters are perfect and everyone seems healthy. <<Terrific!>> I would like to add a flame angel and possibly a Klein's butterfly. <<NO!>> I imagine that's asking too much. <<WAY.>> I am willing to part with the damsel.<<And more, I hope.>> Is it possible to keep all of them until they reach adult length?<<Absolutely not.>> They are all juveniles now. <<so you have some time.>> I can find homes for them as they outgrow their surroundings, I work in a pet store. <<Good deal. That'll help.>> I am interested in keeping numerous varieties so that I can learn from them and have first hand experience in their behaviors. <<A fine attitude, and a great idea - but do consider getting yourself a bigger aquarium! Your stocking list will be VERY limited in that 29g.>> Any advise would be much appreciated. Thank you, Caryn Heffner <<Cheerio, and good luck! -Zo>>

Lava Rock with green algae Aloha, Mahalo for the wonderful website. I am in the process of setting up a 50 gallon acrylic FO saltwater tank. This past weekend I went to a local beach on Oahu and came across some lava rock and coral rubble on the beach. I noticed that the some of the lava rock had green and blue-ish green algae growing on them. If I were to place those lava rocks in my tank are there any issues that I should be aware of. <Government ones for the most part and a possibility of metals from the lava rock.> In addition, I was thinking about taking some sand from the beach and placing it into the tank. The state laws state that 1 gallon of sand can be taken from local beaches. <I would do it.> I was just wondering if I have to worry about pollution or any other negative effects. <As long as the area is clean (no industry, farming, or runoff in the area), you should be ok.> Thanks for all your help. Jeff of Honolulu, HI <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

75 gallon reef tank filtration Hello once again I have set up a 75 gallon reef tank with 86 pounds of LR, no fish or inverts or corals at this time. At this moment, I have 1 Hagen 802 in the tank and a Mag-Drive 950 as a return pump which pumps about 580 gph from basement sump which is a 55 gallon tank with down flow and up flow chambers, with a mag drive 700 feeding an ETS style skimmer. I do have 2 Maxi-Jet 900's coming to place in the tank also 1 mini-jet to place behind live rock. <Before adding all these powerheads, I would consider up sizing the return pump. Pumping water from a basement really needs something hardcore.> My questions are is there anything else I should add for filtration I am planning to add about 25 pounds of live rock to the total. <A refugium would be a nice addition.> Can I use carbon at the outflow of skimmer since I do have an odor in the sump water. <Yes to the carbon, but do try to locate the source/cause of the odor.> Many thanks for your help, John S. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Filtration Thanks, I appreciate your advice. It states for use with freshwater and marine aquariums on the Ecco box. Will this do for filtration (it says for tanks up to 90 gallons) or will I need more? <This in addition to liverock, livesand, and your protein skimmer and you should be ok. You may need additional circulation, though.> If so, what do you recommend? Also can I keep liverock in a fish-only tank without adding any specific invertebrates or corals? <Yes> What fish species do you recommend for a 40 gallon. <There are far too many different fish for such advise. Do read through the books I mentioned previously to educate yourself and make yourself aware of your options.> Thanks again for your help and patience. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Nano reef Hello my friends at WWM. It's been some time since I have been able to look at my tank, let alone send email, (I found a full time job, ugh!). But here I am none the less with more questions. But not to worry, I have been keeping up with water changes, only once a month, however I wish I had the time to do them once a week! My problem is that I'm bored with the look of the tank. The rocks are all wrong (if that can be possible) just not aesthetically pleasing to me. Maybe I need more, can't hurt, but in the ever present interest of saving $$$, I am thinking of moving the furniture around, (the rock). Is this going to present an upset with the inhabitants?  <nope...not if done right> I guess my main concern is what I will stir up under the rock, toxins, etc. What's your thought on this?  <little concern here> I need to do something, because the rock work is also unsteady, and too close to the front of the tank which makes glass cleaning very difficult. Thanks for your input! Pamela <drain the tank, put all livestock in sealed styros, stack the tank dry for expediency and ease... drill and use cable ties for strength, and then use a fast water pump to refill. If the project will take long, put the fishes/corals in a garbage can with a heater and circulation. Lots of carbon and good water change for the week after>. Anthony>

Various Questions Dear Mr. Fenner et. al., <<Hello, JasonC here...>> Comment ca va? Hope you're all in the best of health!  <<And you as well.>> Could you please help elucidate the following: 1) Can Phytoplex cause an algae bloom? <<Not with some of the more reputable brands - DT's comes to mind. Some though tend to sit on the shelf for long periods of time, or contain little to no actual phytoplankton.>> 2) Can Gluconate based Calcium additives e.g. Kent's Reef calcium cause an algae bloom? <<Possibly if you add too much, or too often.>> 3) How much wattage per gallon do Anemone's need? I have 5.5 watts/gal and my Anemone is hiding under a ledge. I tried placing him outside but he eventually moves right back in. It's a H. crispa. He is looking very healthy though, with target feeding applied once a week and is hosting a Premnas biaculeatus. Rather surprising actually. <<Watts per gallons is an overused method of determining light intensity. Are you concerned that this is too much light? It may be too close to the source... or more likely need to be acclimated to this new lighting slowly.>> 4) Is there such thing as Green Diatom? Have only heard of brown ones on your articles/faq page. <<Actually, diatoms are just small hollow structures, but they make a great place for algae to grow. Diatoms themselves don't actually "cause" the algae, they just promote it. As for color, I've never seen green diatom algae, typically this is more likely BGA - Cyanobacteria.>> 5) My algae is apple-green in color and seem to be some sort of micro algae. The snails love it but have lost 4 Turbos in the past week. Could it be Cyanobacteria?  <<Would be my guess.>> 6) My bubble coral has shrunken in size on one side. I've started target feeding 3-4 times per week. Anything I can do to bring him back to "full glory". Water params are good: pH=8.2, NO3 = 0-5ppm, NO2 = 0ppm, NH4=0ppm, CA=400ppm, Alk=4 meq/l, Temp=77-82,water changes=15-20% weekly.  <<Does your temperature really vary that much? I would start there and try to stick with something more consistent - no more than a two degree variance in a day... five degrees is a pretty strong swing.>> 7) I am planning one keeping a couple of clams, Derasas and maxima's. Will 5.5 watts/gal suffice.  <<What is the source of the light, unless it is metal halide, I'd recommend against it... you could try but the clams would have to be near the surface.>> 8) The Premnas Biaculeatus "dusts" the LS around the Anemone throughout the day. What is it actually trying to do?  <<Keep the place tidy? Not really sure... it's hard sometimes to know the true motivations of fish. If you are really caught up with clowns, I would consider the purchase Joyce Wilkerson's Clownfishes book - a great read and full of information about these and only these.>> Thanks in advance. Best, Mimi Eliza Rogers <<Cheers, J -- >>

New Tank Many Thanks. I'll slow down on the introduction process. Two follow-ups: While I cycle, do I need to 'feed' the tank at all? <No> I have a full cover so I have very little evaporation and little need to add water. Sounds like I'll have to up grade the lighting at some point. From what you say, I think I'll start with mushrooms and progress once the lighting is up to par. Will upgrading the light injure the pre-existing mushrooms? Bill <It could if done incorrectly. Anthony has written a very good article on coral acclimation that is on WWM. -Steven Pro>

Grounding probe Hi, all, I think I know the answer to the question below about the extra wire on the ground probe. I have one on my ground probe. It is intended for two prong outlets.  <ahhh......> The third prong on a three prong outlet is ground.  <indeed> Older outlets are two prong and do not have a ground prong. However, if the outlet fixture is properly wired, the center screw of the fixture that holds on the outlet cover is supposed to be wired to the house ground.  <operative word "supposed" <G>> So for two prong outlets, instead of plugging in the three prong plug which you can't do since it won't fit in a two prong outlet) you attach that dangling wire to the center screw of the outlet. <understood... Thank you> That screw should be grounded. However, it is not unheard of for it not to be grounded.  <yes... older homes and bad wiring> It isn't easy to verify, unfortunately. One option is to unscrew the outlet cover and make sure there is a green or bare wire wired to the outlet's ground lug. Or you could get a 2 prong to 3 prong adapter (which also has a wire that should be attached to the center screw) and also buy a little 3 light gizmo that checks to see if outlets are properly wired. Your hardware store should know what I'm talking about... Marc <a tremendous help... thank you for the clarification, my friend. Anthony>

Grounding Probes Hello all: <cheers> Just a quick question about grounding probes. The LFS really did not know the answer... a bit scary! The probe that I purchased has a little wire tail with a small hole at the end attached to the three-prong plug.  <attached to what plug?> Since the plug is grounded into the outlet, I am assuming that I do not need to attach this tail to the screw in the middle of the faceplate, which is used for grounding as well? <Yes... but I am still not clear why it is attached to a plug. At any rate, the tank is grounded assuming the house wiring is modernized and runs a proper ground to the electric panel. Kindly, Anthony> Thanks, Mitch

Re: Fish Treatment Hi, <<Hello, JasonC again - I hope this day finds you well. My apologies in advance for not getting back a little sooner - what can I do for you?>> Wow! I didn't know I was heading for disaster from day one!  <<Yeah... if you think about it, with the ocean covering two-thirds of our planet, a 15 gallon tank is smaller than a grain of sand in comparison. It makes for a large challenge at best to approximate a stable system with so little water to work with.>> I'm acquiring a much bigger tank now, 70 gal.  <<Ahh, much better...>> I WILL slow down as advised, but what's the recommended number of fish (presumably damsel) to cycle a 70 gal?  <<Preferably none - if you have a good source of live rock, you do much better by just stocking up the tank with this and letting it brew for a couple of weeks to a month - a test kit will help confirm when the cycle is complete. This way you don't stress any fish and also get a good biological filter started first.>>  And how long? So you do not think its has anything to do with parasitic infestation at all?  <<Well, these infections are often compounded by other sources of stress, such that without removing the stress, the fish will never win. Your best bet in the future is to use that 15g as a quarantine system for any new additions - keep them isolated for four weeks, during which you can treat them if necessary and then once confirmed as parasite free, let them loose in the tank - here's some good reading on that topic: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm  >> Btw, thanks so much for your sobering advise... <<I hope you do not think I was too harsh. I'm glad you've decided to give it another go. Cheers, J-->>

Marine Set-Up Hello again, <Cheers> It does not look like anything is wrong with my tank, but I wanted to bounce my numbers off the experts for guidance.  <actually... your green closed Faviid brain is too low and obscured from light by the angle of placement. This coral needs to be higher and better oriented flat if it is to survive more and a year or two> Here goes... 55 gal All glass 4x96 PC's 2 10K white, 2 7.1K actinics. Blues on 1230-10, whites, 1-9 5 gal sump <a bigger sump would be much safer... evap, overflows, running dry, etc> 3 power heads on wave strip Skimmer in sump 1/5 hp Chiller ( No other way to beat the Puerto Rican heat)  60 lbs LR 20 lbs live sand Mag7 driving the whole thing.  Yellow Tang 2 Clowns Neon Dottyback Serpent Star Bicolor Blenny Green Star polyps Closed Brain Coral Leather Coral Cup Coral Mushrooms Button polyps  NO3 < 5 mg/l NO2 =.1 mg/l NH3 <.1 mg/l KH = 100 mg/l GH = 110 mg/l Ph ~8.5 Ca = 450 mg/l All tests done with Hagen test kits. <Hmm... why the lingering nitrogenous compounds? And the Ca is on the high end limit... careful not to go higher or risk precipitating Alk> Additives: Kent Marine: Micro-Vert 1/wk Strontium-Molybdenum 1/wk Iodine 1/wk Seachem Reef Calcium 2/wk Make water: Reef Evolution Calcium Hydroxide. I make a 5 gal batch and add m/u water as needed at night. I do a 10 gal water change every two weeks with bottled water.  From what I have read, my KH is a little low.  <nope... it is inherently necessary because your Ca is so high. It is unnatural and unsafe to keep both on theoretical high end limits> How do I raise this?  <please don't until Ca drops... then common buffer is fine (Baking soda). Else, the 2-part supplements are quite convenient> What about the Ph, how can I stabilize this?  <stabilize? You haven't mentioned a swing or the severity of it. 8.5 looks fine to me for a daytime high. If you see 8.3 at night you are very fine> I bought a small piece of rock with some macroalgae on it in hopes of getting it to continue in my tank, no luck. Is there such a thing as too much light?  <yes... and you don't have it> One more question, for now at least, if I wanted to drill either this tank or a new tank, where and how many over flows should I use? <see bulkhead specs and match to your targeted flow based on the creatures needs you keep. On this tank, I'd expect at least 4 1" holes for drains> I have included the best picture that I have, Please help, if you can. Thank you in advance. Ron <best regards, Anthony>

New Tank Hey guys, Newbie here. Everyone else says this but let me reiterate, your site is great. I spent weeks surfing it (and others) for info before deciding to take the saltwater plunge. <We are glad to have been of assistance.> To set the stage ... 30 gal tank with Coralife florescent bulbs (one actinic, one full spectrum), two power heads (one 270 gph one 400). Plan to add skimmer when I add critters. <Good> My hope is to have a tank primarily with soft coral (can't afford the lighting for hard stuff at this point) with inverts and limited fish. <There are some mushrooms that would tolerate this lighting, but many soft corals that will not.> I started cycling about a week ago with 28 lbs live rock. I haven't bothered to check H2O quality yet but I will this weekend and, if all is well, I hope to introduce some crab-type critters in order to add the next layer to the ecosystem. <You should wait closer to one month before adding anything.> Week or two after that, I plan to add a few fish and sometime after the fish, start slowly with coral. I have a couple of questions and I'll try to keep 'em short. Stocking: Does this plan of stocking (order and timing) make sense? <A little too abbreviated for me.> Seems like many folks rush the process. I'd like to avoid that. <Good> Water Temp: LFS said to shoot for 76 degrees but I can't seem to get below 77 and daytime gets up to 80. I've raised the light so there is space between fixture and tank cover and lowered the window shade to avoid direct sunlight. Is this temperature range/fluctuation a problem? <76*F is a little too cool for my tastes and the three degree fluctuation could be a serious problem (one of the main triggers for Ich). I would target 78-80. Also, lower your light back down as this will cut down on what little light you have for your corals and instead use a small fan to vent away excess heat.> Power heads: I've seen posts were you discourage the use of power heads because they add heat to the water. If this temperature range is a problem, should I pull the heads in favor of another method of circulation? <Generally, we discourage powerheads when the individual already is using a sump and return pump. In your case, unless you want to have your 30 drilled and install a 500 gph return pump, you will have to make due with the powerheads.> If so what would you recommend? Bristle worm: Don't have a digital camera and I know it's tough to ID stuff without a photo but that's not going to stop me ... live rock came with long thin worms ranging in size from 1/4 inch to 2 inches. They are pink at either end and dark purple/black in between and have a row of small white hairs running down each side. Any idea if these are vicious killer bristle worms or the innocuous scavenger type? <Probably harmless. If their population explodes, you are probably overfeeding.> More importantly, should I be a little wary of stock from this shop or (as it seems from reading) are these hitchhikers inevitable? <You will always have some and they are not a problem. When a tank becomes overrun, it points to other issues.> Fish in their store all seem happy and healthy (swimming and eating) and coral looks healthy (although the rock came from a separate tank of just rock). If I have to rid my tank of these guys, what would you recommend as a predator (hopefully one that will play well with others)? <Do search through www.WetWebMedia.com regarding this issue.> Skimmer: Any brands you recommend? <Sure, Aqua-C, Excalibur, CPR, etc. Their is much more written on the subject on www.WetWebMedia.com.> Any I should avoid? <Yes, see the website.> Finally ... why is this silly hobby so addicting?! All I have at this point is live rock, feather dusters of various sorts, a random snail and bristle worms and I still find myself conducting multiple censuses a day! Just finding new critters that have come out during the cycle has been fun. <The longer you leave your tank without predators (fish, crabs, corals, etc.) the more critters you will be rewarded with.> Many thanks! Bill <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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 u 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 -- >>

Hawaiian Aquarist Aloha WWM Crew, <Aloha, Jeff> I'd like to start off by thanking you for creating such a great web site. <thanks kindly> I just purchased a 45 gallon acrylic tank for my new home in Hawaii. It is going to be a fish only tank. I was looking at using live rock for biological filtration, but I found out that Hawaii doesn't allow live rock to be shipped into the state. Moreover, I can't find any local distributors of live rock.  <No worries... look up Troy and Doreen at Salty Waters Aquarium, 77-6451 Pualani Street, Kuaialua, Kona, Hawaii 96740. Last I heard they sold beautiful heavy coralline cultured live rock> I was thinking about going to the beach and picking up some live rock, but that is illegal too.  <yowsa!!! Staggeringly illegal... and if that weren't bad enough, the rock needs to cycle for a minimum of 30 days without fishes or I can assure you of introducing a disease> It seems like there is no way to get live rock without breaking some laws. Do you have any suggestions? <as per above for starters... let me know if you need more> Since I can't get live rock, I was looking at a wet/dry filter.  <a nitrate machine...yuck. Only necessary for heavy fish loads> I was looking at the Amiracle SL-5 due to fact that it is a hang on model.  <the hang on models are so small that they aren't worth the money IMO. Enough live rock will easily outpace such models in efficacy> I don't want to deal with all the plumbing for a under tank wet/dry and the potential for a major spill on my new carpet.  <under tank models are larger, more effective and foolproof if designed correctly (no siphon overflows... ever! Only drilled)> Do you have any suggestions for a hang on tank trickle filter? <I wouldn't take one for free> The state of Hawaii allows one gallon of live sand to be taken a day from local beaches.  <no black sand from Kona... bad luck ;) > If I used live sand with a CPR BAK PAK II would the combo be enough biological filtration?  <I don't know, bud... what is your fish load?> Thanks for all your help. Jeff <Mahalo, Anthony>

Established aquarium question(s) So the aquarium has been up and running for about a year now. Life has stabilized in there and we haven't added (or lost) anything in 3-4 months. pH is good, nitrites are 0, nitrates are very acceptable and calcium levels are perfect. I've got pink coralline algae growing everywhere and keep having to scrape it off the front of the tank. No more blooms, no more red slime, and I think I've got the feeding schedule down. Now for some questions about what I see in there. - Hitchhikers : I've got several long threads that wind their way out of crevices in the live rock and gather up whatever they can. They eat the fish feces, green algae, whatever they can wrap around and drag back with them. They're controlled (they bend against the current) and they look almost like very clear starfish arms, only much, much longer and thinner. What are they? <Spaghetti worms> I've got a ton of weird snails. They don't have a full shell, just a half-shell that looks almost like half of a clam shell. They just showed up one day and keep grooming the rock, in spite of the fact that the shrimps and crabs seem to eat a lot of them. I find their empty half-shells all over the place, but there's always plenty more of them. <I believe this is a species of Strombus snail.> Baby conch? It's spiraled like a conch, but it's itty-bitty in size (but growing). It started out the size of the lead end on a sharpened pencil, and now it's more eraser sized. Anything I need to keep in mind to keep this one happy? <Please see the files on www.WetWebMedia.com> When he gets bigger, is he still going to be safe for my tank? <Depends on species> Down in the sump/refugium: Little clear shrimps? <Amphipods> I've got some greenery down there, and the lights are growing some hair algae and there are lots of what look like tiny, see-through shrimp all over it. They occasionally get sucked into the return pump and the fish enjoy their little carcasses. - Things that are growing: Brittle star. I got this cute little brittle star when I first upgraded the tank. He was maybe 6 inches across and a spiky, dark, rusty brown. He promptly disappeared into the live rock and I'd only see him every few weeks. Today I saw his arm, wrapping up through the live rock, across the giant clam and down into a niche in the rock to grab some fish feces. It had to be 12", at least, and I wasn't seeing the whole thing - I couldn't see his body, just the arm. That means tip-to-tip, he's got to be at least 24" across, and likely bigger. How big is this guy gonna get? <Depends on species> I feed him pieces of Formula 1 about every other week, and maybe that wasn't such a good idea? <It sounds good to me.> Is he going to stay safe, or will I wind up with The Brittle Star That Ate My Tank? <Depends on species, but more than likely completely safe.> I bought a bright red "Australian rock anemone" and now I've got little red anemone buds growing everywhere. They're in the sump, they're in the shells, they're all over the rock and one has attached itself to a sponge and is growing there. The mama will occasionally move in and eat one of the buds, but there's plenty to go around. How big should I let them get before I start trying to find good homes for them? <The cannibalism seems strange to me. Are you sure they are the same thing?> I don't think I want 10-20 anemones in an 80 gal. tank. Any help or information is appreciated - you guys are great! Scott Carpenter <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Coral Compatibility Just started my first saltwater with Natures Garden sand and one piece of liverock (10 pound piece). This is in a 15 gallon now but plan to do a much larger salt tank later (180-265). I'm starting out small to get a feel for salt and plan to transfer out of the 15 into a 55 and then to the large tank when I've had more experience. Also wise to do a little at a time because of expense. <While your plan sounds reasonable, it is much harder to maintain a small saltwater tank vs. a moderate to large tank. Many people that start out this way have troubles and drop out of the hobby before ever getting to the second stage aquarium.> What fish can I get to begin with that will be compatible with live coral later on other than the usual clownfish? <There are many gobies that would make fine additions.> I am planning on starting out with 2 green Chromis and then transfer sand rock fish and the water to a 55 and add a dwarf lion, a yellow tang and increase the green Chromis to a small school of a half dozen or so. <It is probably best to add all the green Chromis at once. And be aware that the Chromis could become food for the dwarf lionfish.> These are my favorites so far but will they get along ok with live coral? <Yes> What species would you suggest for my community tank of the future? <There are many other fish that get along with corals and the wish list you have above; Gobies, Blennies, Pseudochromis, Cardinalfish, etc. I would check out the vast amount of information on www.WetWebMedia.com to help you narrow your search. -Steven Pro>

Re: New Tank Hey thanks for the info. By the way, I did get the Aqualine Buschke "spacelight", let me tell you it is a great piece of German engineering, looks sleek and modern, very nice if you can squeeze the pennies. <Always good to hear more first hand information regarding products.> Anyway, I will add my corals a few at a time to the 90 gallon as you recommended. I'm wondering if I should put some of the water from my existing 38 gallon into the 90 to help it cycle better, faster? <No, I would wait until when you move your corals over.> And by the way about my Euro-Reef skimmer that's going nuts because I added that stress coat, well I did shut it off because the collection cup fills up in a minute with foamy water. So it will take a while for the stress coat to get out of the system so the skimmer doesn't go nuts? <I would imagine the colloids would adhere to something else in the tank in a few days.> Should I do a water change to get rid of some of it quicker? <I would not bother.> I've only had water in the tank for about 4 days. What do you think about using Tropic Marin for my salt choice? <I have never used it. Bob seems to like it. I always stick to Instant Ocean and/or Reef Crystals, both Aquarium Systems products.> One more thing bud, in your opinion do you think I will be able to feed my tank with kalkwasser alone for my calcium in this size of tank? <It can be done. Thorough testing will confirm whether your dosing is maintaining appropriate levels for your tank's/coral's demands.> And is it common to dose it EVERYDAY in a tank this size for make-up water and good calcium growth? <Every night is most common.> I appreciate your good help. Thanks! <You are quite welcome. Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>

Re:  Marine set-up As always, I'm amazed by your lightning fast response! You mentioned that 1000gph is too slow for a 180, but that is just the portion going through my sump.  <Ahhh.... my fault> I am also planning on the closed loop having around 3000gph. Is that enough?  <very fine... the more the better as long as it is not laminar flow> You also mentioned keeping detritus in suspension; with most of my flow being a closed loop, will the detritus eventually make it to the skimmer? <likely yes... you will just have to get creative with the outlets and turn/adjust them to get the best flow dynamic in the display... pockets of detritus will be obvious> I must be lucky, because the angel doesn't mess with the mushrooms and xenia in the tank he's currently in. Even though he will pluck the hairs from my arm :) <not lucky at all... a great fish for reefs tanks often when small... when they get larger they browse less discriminatingly> By the way, you made me laugh out loud with your "How are youuuuuuu doing" response. Thanks, I needed that! Ken <Ha! My pleasure :) I enjoy making folks laugh when I can. I saw that you just ordered my book too... kept those smiling muscles ready :p kindly, Anthony>

New Tank Questions Hi WWM crew,  <<Greetings, JasonC here.>> For the past week I have been cycling my 30 gall SW tank with 20lb live rock and would greatly appreciate your advice on a few things. Everything seems to be going well and over the past few days nitrates have begun to accumulate and I have had an outbreak of brown/golden algae that seems to indicate that the tank is almost cycled. I am using 3 internal power filters for circulation/filtration (hoping to get a canister soon) and the tank is lit by 68w NO fluorescents (1 * 30w actinic, 1 * 30w & 1 * 8w daylight). Now for the questions: Is it possible for a tank to cycle in less than a week?  <<Yes, under the best of circumstances, with well cured live rock - sure.>> The rock seemed well cured and the tank had been running for 2 weeks before I added it but this still seems fast.  <<Go with what the tests tell you.>> What would you recommend for a clean up crew?  <<Nassarius snails, perhaps a small brittle star or two - not the green ones.>>  I was going to get 5-6 turbo snails and 2 hermits but I read recently that hermits can sometimes eat coralline algae.  <<I would be less worried about them eating coralline algae than I would be worried about them eating each other or the snails. Hermit crabs are opportunistic.>>  Are there any alternatives?  <<See above.>> Is my current lighting enough for the coralline algae?  <<Likely, yes - coralline algae is less demanding of light and more demanding of available calcium.>>  Have you got any links to pages that could help me identify some of the many life forms on my live rock?  <<Yes, try this one, although I will caution you some of the links beyond this page are broken: http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm >> When I get home from work after my lights have been on all day, there are air bubbles ranging from 1 to 4mm all over my live rock and on the foam of the filters. These disappear over night and then come back again the next day. I have no air stones that could be introducing the bubbles. Have you get any ideas what could cause this?  <<I would take a guess that this is photosynthesis in algaes within the live rock. No worries.>> Sorry for asking so many questions and thanks very much in advance for your time and your amazing website. Matt <<Again, no worries. Cheers, J>>  

New Tank Hey guys! I got a few need to know questions for you. Here we go. I currently have a 38 gallon with some softies and hard corals. I just set up a reef ready 90. Let me know if I did the following in good order. I started with filling it with R.O. water, <Aerated RO water preferably.> then heated it, and then added my salt, and powerheads. I then started my Mag-Drive 950 and my Euro-Reef CS-2 protein skimmer. Next, I added about 140 lbs. of fine coral sand which included 40 lbs of that live CaribSea reef sand. I then added about 80 lbs. of live cured Fiji rock. All this was done within a few hours. Is that in good order? <If the rock is fully cured, you should be ok, but I would have preferred you wait to add the liverock until any cloudiness from the sand went away.> Also, should I be running my skimmer so soon? <I would.> Here is another thing, I had to add about 10 gallons of tap water to the system cause I ran short and I added some stress coat and my Euro-Reef went nuts. Bad idea. <Not really. I prefer to always use purified water, but your skimmer is reacting to the colloids in the Stress Coat. It should be fine.> Question is should I still run the skimmer or shut it down for a while (don't forget I have live rock in there)? <I would leave on.> Now as far as cycling how long would you say I am in for? <Generally, about one month.> What should be my next thing to add, snails and hermits? <If you want.> And my final question is how long to wait to add my corals from my other tank (I have a green button polyp, green open brain, a Heliofungia, 3 pieces of mushroom colonies, a finger leather, and a Sinularia)? <After the tank is fully cycled.> Basically wondering if I can add all those at the same time or I should do it over some time? <Probably better to split it up some.> Also can I add the live rock from the 38 gallon all at the same time with the corals (its about 40 lbs.)? <I would do half and half with a month in between.> I know its a lot but I need some professional advise and know you are to turn to. Thanks, Jamie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

substrate, lighting....quickies ;) Hello and good day, <Good day to you!> I just spent a good 2 hours reading through your substrate and lighting FAQ's. I'm hooked and just a little confused. <How can I be of assistance?> I'm in the middle of setting up my 55 gallon tank with 60 pounds of liverock I just purchased. I'll eventually get only a few hardy polyps/mushrooms and few fish/critters (not sure if that makes it a reef). <A type of reef environment for sure.> I'd like to go the under 1" of substrate route. <Ok> Should I use aragonite reef sand? or a sugar fine sand? Mix them? <The term aragonite refers to the type of material. The sugar fine phrase to the grain size. In fact, aragonite can be sugar fine and is my preference, fine grain size aragonite sand.> Or is a DSB really my best choice? <It depends. In your instance, with your choice of corallimorphs and zoanthids, denitrification is not going to be a primary concern. Your "corals" may do better with higher nutrient levels. Either would be a fine choice, 1" or 4"+.> As for lighting, I have a 96 watt CF bulb. Is that enough or should I retrofit another 96 watt bulb in my canopy? <Two would be nice.> Maybe also raise it a few inches above the water? <No need. All fluorescents work best near the water surface. Do be careful about splash and salt creep so it does not corrode of short out the lights.> Thanks for any direction/confidence you can give me. <I can give direction. Confidence will come as you gather more information so that you can reach an informed decision about all the advise/direction you receive. -Steven Pro>

Young aquarist seeks advice (marine set-up, operation) Dear WWM Crew:  Okay. I just want to start by thanking you guys for having a website out there like this! Communication is really a key part in keeping a marine aquarium, it seems. Getting differing opinions, expert advice, learning from others' mistakes, etc. <You are very correct. I would suggest you look into any local marine aquarium societies/clubs. I have found these to be an excellent source of information.> So what I'm going to do is describe my aquarium to you, and then just see what suggestions or tips you have. I've documented just about everything that has gone into or out of my aquarium from day one, pretty much. <Very good!> So this will be pretty specific. I started setting up my aquarium in mid-May. I got an aquarium "kit" from PetSmart. It had a 29-gallon glass aquarium, hood, fluorescent light, Visitherm 150 heater, and Top Fin 40 filter. <I believe the Top Fin is a re-labeled Whisper filter.> I brought my fish home on May 24 (I had started them out at school, this is all part of a project, though it's also much more than that. Especially now :-D ) At that time I had two Dalmatian mollies (that had been acclimated to saltwater, some people really question that...) <I have seen it done many times.> and two sergeant major damselfish. <The Sergeant Majors are a bad choice. They get too big and aggressive to be comfortably housed in a 29 gallon tank.> I lost one damsel two days later. On June 6, I discovered that live rock should be added. I also got two blue devil damselfish, which died within a week of buying them. <This was probably too early for additional fish.> Then on June 16, I added some live sand that turned out to have a blue legged hermit crab in it and some more live rock (there's about 15 pounds of live rock in there to date). On July 2, I added more live rock, 2 more blue legged hermit crabs, and 5 turban snails. Only 2 of those snails made it overnight though, we suspect that the biggest crab ate them, because there were absolutely no remains and that crab was always around. <Crabs are rather opportunistic feeders. It could have killed the snails or merely scavenged they. Snails are particularly prone to osmotic shock (abrupt changes in salinity) and require a very slow drip acclimation process.> Ever since those turban snails, we haven't bought any livestock. I started out changing the water 25% every month, but in early August I changed to 10% weekly water changes. With each water change, I also use an algae scrubber on the front and side viewing panels as well as a straight razor blade for the red algae that is harder to get off. <If this is coralline algae, it is a good sign.> I've also done my chemical checks as religiously as possible. My last results, from today, are as follows: Temp - 78, Specific Gravity - 1.0215, pH - 8.4, Alkalinity - low/normal, Ammonia - .15, Nitrite - 0, Nitrate II - 0. <I would like to see your alkalinity and salinity a bit higher and zero ammonia.> The latter 5 results I obtained from RedSea test kits. I recently attached a Prizm protein skimmer, on August 20. <Sufficient for this size tank.> I clean it out whenever it needs it. <Please adjust to maximize removal of dark skimmate.> And I put in a new filter cartridge about once a month. I don't understand the whole thing with ammonia though. The level started out real high as well as the nitrites and nitrates. It went down as well as nitrites and nitrates, but those two soon reached 0 while there was still ammonia. I thought the process was that ammonia was broken down to nitrites, then broken down to nitrates. So your ammonia levels should be at zero, as well as the nitrates, but it's okay to have a slight nitrate reading. <Correct> And everything I read say that all those results are totally deadly, but my aquarium seems to be doing alright. <While not deadly, it may have contributed to some of your losses, three fish and two snails by my count.> I know I'm not ready to add any more fish, but those little mollies hold their own, and are as happy as can be! I forgot to mention that back in June, those mollies had some babies, but they got eaten because we knew next to nothing about babies. And the crabs and snails are doing fine too. Each crab has shed its skin and moved to a bigger or different shell multiple times. And we're also noticing little bugs scooting around every once in a while, plus today my Mom found this worm-like thing poking its head out and around the one live rock. And there's plenty of algae that crops up all over the place, I always clean it off the viewing panels during the water changes. So apparently things can't be that bad. <Not that bad, but could be better.> I'm planning on cutting back their feeding a bit now, I've been told that that can be a source of many problems. <Perhaps> Let me know what you think, how I'm doing. <See notes above.> I'm really new to this. <Let me suggest Mike Paletta's excellent book "The New Marine Aquarium." It is a perfect, easy to read, inexpensive beginners book.> I'm a 16, soon to be 17, junior in high school. I love science and am definitely shooting for a career in the sciences, possibly a marine biologist or marine scientist. But I'm leaving my options open as far as specifics go. I just really love to learn and explore new things. <Good!> And I've wanted to have an aquarium since I was a little girl. So my parents finally broke down since I can incorporate it into a killer senior project. Well that's about all I can say for now, except for a big thanks!  ~Lara Rath (Mt. Pleasant, PA) <Oh, Mount Pleasant. Perhaps you can make it to one of the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society, Inc. meetings. Currently, we meet in Monroeville, right off the Turnpike, in one of the Palace Inn's meeting rooms. The website is www.pmas.org -Steven Pro>

me again! (design, marine set-up) Hi its me again.... to make my own sump for my s/w tank, instead of having an overflow would it be ok to put the spray bar that sprays into the tank of the canister filter into the sump (empty modified eFishTank) and then return it to the tank using a powerhead or something?  <The canister can run on its own loop in the sump alone... many people put their heater and carbon/chemical filters down here as well. But you will still need a drilled (preferably) or siphon overflow on the main tank down to the sump and a separate dedicated pump to return the water back up to the tank> Also I have these tiny things that look like umbrellas swimming in the tank .... they swim like jellyfish but are only like 5mm wide.  <many natural plankton grow from live rock and sand. Likely harmless> I removed my UG filters to make way for some aragonite sand or live sand......do I really need to replace the crushed coral substrate like I've heard. <probably... crushed coral is too course to use (traps a lot of debris). It needs very strong water movement and aggressive protein skimming to succeed> Thanx again from Brendan <I think that you would really benefit by reading Mike Paletta "New Marine Aquarium " book. It is available on Amazon and many other places inexpensively (under $15). It will answer many of your questions very well> P.S-my regal tang has caught white spot which I got some copper based medications for ......  <please use a copper test kit daily to maintain a therapeutic dose and medicate this fish in a separate bare bottoms quarantine tank. Please read through our archives on how to set this QT tank up> I am going to try and find a ova sterilizer because I never want any diseases in there because when I eventually get corals I can't treat... <a UV sterilizer is very unlikely to prevent disease as you hope for (see FAQs for why). It is better to quarantine all new livestock (fishes and invertebrates) for 4 weeks first. This will prevent more disease for you> also I have heard of this stuff miracle mud which helps fish diseases (it goes in the sump) it also helps coral and reduces the need for a protein skimmer.... I am still going to get a protein skimmer though! <the skimmer will serve you much better than "miracle" mud. The "miracle" about this product is what people pay for it. Anthony>

New Marine Aquarist Hi, Thanks for the SITE, INFO AND TIME. I will try to be short. Am new in this hobby . I did something wrong the other day .What I have done is : I have added LR week ago and I forgot to condition my tank with Anti-Chlorine so every thing died. What should I do? the water is dark. What am doing is water changes. I did add the Anti-Chlorine. <my friend... the lack of dechlorinator did not kill your live creatures and really is not much of a problem or oversight (chlorine can easily dissipate in an aquarium without using an "anti-chlorine" additive). Your situation is more likely that you received fresh live rock and did not know or were not instructed on how to properly "cure" it (which means to condition the live rock for 2-3 weeks in a bare bottomed aquarium with no light, very strong water flow, very aggressive protein skimming and almost daily water changes). Before you buy any more live creatures, please invest in a good marine book for beginners. I would suggest "New Marine Aquarium" by Mike Paletta and "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner. The investment in buying and reading these books will help you to greatly enjoy your hobby and will save many creatures lives in your care. For now, continue to do water changes as necessary. If you have a skimmer, adjust it so that it produces dark, daily skimmate... if not, BUY a good brand of protein skimmer as soon as possible. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Aqua C vs Euroreef Hi Anthony, Thank you for your quick response regarding the skimmer.  <my pleasure> It is now ordered and should be here next week along with the 180 tank and the Custom SeaLife 3-175 MH/2-96W (2 Actinic/3-5500K) light. Before I go on with this email I must tell you I had a great chuckle when I received a reply from you. I have read "Aquarium Corals" by Borneman, "The book of the Marine Aquarium" by Dakin and of course Bob's book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I consider one of the best that I have read so far. Now to the chuckling part----The decision of the skimmer was holding up my order and I was getting impatient because included in that order is your book "Book of Coral Propagation". Thanks to your suggestion of skimmers I now can get your book into my hands within a few days!  <Ha! talk about fate for both of us :)> I read on your site that you have suggestions on what type of macroalgae should be grown to benefit the corals and would like to learn more---hence the refugium idea. <yes... in fact, I just got off the phone with Eric Borneman... we were chatting and grumping about various industry shams not the least of which is the awful marketing blitz that has strong-armed aquarists into equating Caulerpa with refugiums!!! Refugiums have been around DECADES longer than "magic mud" Caulerpa cess pools... and there are so many reasons not to encourage large quantities of it to grow. Anything but Caulerpa please. Heck... many styles of refugiums have no Caulerpa at all and are far more productive :)> I have a 30 gallon reef tank with a few corals (Plerogyra sp, Paralemnalia sp., Protopalythoa vestitus, and a few mushrooms of various colors) and fish (1-True percula, 1-Copperband Butterfly (which I have had for 5 months and love blood worms, seaweed and brine/mysis shrimp), and 2 PJ Cardinals. Let's not forget the cleaning crew of a few blue leg crabs, snails, and 1 cleaner shrimp. All which live together happily so far but will be more comfortable in the 180. Presently I have the Berlin Turbo skimmer which I was able to get skimming pretty well until I cleaned the collection cup (rinsed with water only). Since then (3 weeks) I have not seen one drop of scum come out of it.  <interesting> Needless to say the water changes are weekly if not more depending on my readings. Unfortunately, my sump has bio balls which I did not know about the nitrate buildup until I stumbled on your sight a few months back. The RK2 sounds like my kind of skimmer since its self cleaning. Maybe I can make a wish list for Santa--hehe. <agreed!> Now to get back to your reply, the 40 gallon tank chambers will be set up as follows: skimmer and overflow water, live rock (about 17 lbs.), refugium (which will be elevated slightly to allow the overflow water to pass under, return pumps. The size of the refugium will be determined by the space left after the above is placed in. I am hoping the size will be at least 12 inches wide if not more. I asked my LFS if any of his customers install the skimmer this way (to get an idea on how to set the thing up). His said none of his customers have the skimmer before the raw water.  <then none of his customers have an optimally working skimmer... this is all too common. Skimmers need to be fed raw overflow surface water... this is why better skimmers have their own skimmer boxes (Aqua C) or are rail mounted at surface (TUNZE). Otherwise, raw waste is allowed to go through a biological component and create nitrate rather than get skimmed out before turning into nitrate> Walking away with no idea of the proper way to do this could you suggest how this should be done? My mental image is to have the overflow drain into the chamber that the skimmer is in.  <exactly> The skimmer pump pulls up whatever water it can into the chamber and skims it. The remaining water will rise (no higher than 8 inches as per AquaC's site) and overflow into the live rock chamber which will drain into the next chamber and eventually get pulled up by the return pumps.  <ahh...yes, I think we agree. Basically... the skimmer box is drilled with a hole at or slightly above the mfg recommended running level (the skimmer can be propped up if necessary but never drill a hole too low)... the raw water fills up the chamber and overflows into the sump or downstream otherwise. The skimmer cycles in and out of the skimmer box water and the high turnover per hour thoroughly skims the system> The skimmed water will flow into the refugium and overflow to the returns too. That was the original plan until you mentioned that the 2x's per hour flow may be too slow. Could we not raise the refugium up and have it level with everything else and have the full flow of the overflow and skimmer go into the refugium and then overflow to the return pumps chamber? (We will be using 2 Mag 7 for the returns and another Mag 7 for the skimmer). I'm sorry I don't have a drawing yet (just a really rough draft of this sump) but until the skimmer arrives and I know the proper dimensions this is still theory in my mind. I guess to put it in a nutshell - Is the full flow from the overflow and skimmer running through the refugium too much? <hmmm.... this is perhaps tough for both of us to envision in text. Do look at the following diagram: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm this is a diagram (not to scale) of many possible components but each where it may work best> So you will be in Philly in December? I would love to come. Do they have a website I can go to and get the information?  <the club president hasn't confirmed the date yet... they are called PARC> There's a LFS I go to in the North East. In fact was there today to pick up the last of the LR for the 180. BTW, there are 3 LFS's I go to and this is not the one that said the turnover of the refugium should be 2x's per hour. <I heard that Hidden Reef is pretty good in the area. Indeed, one can get good and bad advice most anywhere... hence the reason for being an informed consumer> Cheers, Chris <kindly, Anthony>

Lava Rock and other stuff. Hello guys, how are you today? <very well, my friend... I hope you are well too!> I'm setting up a 60 Gallon Marine Tank. It will measure 123 Cm. x 51 Cm. x 36 Cm. I will put two 40 watt bulbs (1 actinic and 1 daylight) and I'm planning on making my own sump instead of buying a Tidepool 2. The pump I will be using is a MagDrive 1250GPH. (I think this will be enough) <indeed enough water flow but perhaps add more daylight tubes in the future for light> I found two bags of lava rocks in my house, you know, those used for the charbroilers? I already boiled them in water and now I have them in a plastic box with salt water, an air diffuser and some Stress Zyme each day, to colonize the bacteria on them. <whoa!... don't put them in the tank and don't bother buying such enzyme products at all... rather a waster of money for most> Today, a friend told me that lava rocks are the worst for marine aquariums, because they have heavy metals and toxins. Is this true?  <yes... it may very well be true. Indeed some risk involved here since lava is volcanically formed. I would never recommend it. Carbonate material is always better> I even have a very good book that tells me that they are the best.  <I wouldn't be surprised if it is the CIG series... a poor and inaccurate reference> I'm only planning to put them in one of the media bays in the sump, because in the aquarium I'm planning to put normal live rock. What should I do? What is the best biological filter for the sump? <if you use it... I don't think it is likely to kill animals, but may impart nutrients for a terrible nuisance algae bloom> What can you tell me about the bed? What kind of sand should I use and how deep? <less than 1/2" if just for aesthetics, 4+inches of sugar fine aragonite sand if you want denitrification> Is the SEACLONE skimmer good?  <it has a BAD reputation with aquarists> I live in Venezuela, and stuff here is very expensive. This skimmer that in the US costs $99, here costs $230.  <my goodness! Many folks here wouldn't even take it for free let alone pay good money for it! What other brands are available to you?> Is it possible to put it in the sump? <there are many models that can go in the sump> My LFS tells me that keeping the salinity at 1.019 will keep the Ich off and other parasites and the fish live happy. Is this OK???  <it is OK but not exactly true... the lower salinity is more favorable to the fishes and less favorable to the parasites, but there is no guarantee that it will prevent Ich. My friend, you really must have a small quarantine tank to all new fish, rock and invertebrates in first. Please read through our WetWebMedia site for advice on QT protocol... it is critical to success. Please never put a new animal directly into your tank from a LFS or anywhere!> What are your suggestions? Thank you very much for your time. Julio Grossmann <with kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Filtration Bob (and/or Steven), <Steven previously and following up this evening.> Thanks for getting back to me so quick. Few more questions. First, can I get by, at the moment, with a U.G. filter and the Visi-Jet protein skimmer while I add live rock to the tank? <Yes> I figured I'd wait until I upgrade to a 55 gallon to go with the live sand and change filtration. <Ok> The filtration I'm looking at is the Fluval 404 and for the moment the Visi-Jet skimmer. I plan on upgrading the skimmer at a later date. <Good idea> Will I need additional filtration? <Additional circulation for sure, another 500 gph.> Also, not sure what is meant by cured live rock? <Easily answered by a quick search of www.WetWebMedia.com.> I've been adding calcium (a liquid by Kent) daily, as well as some additional chemicals as advised my the pet store. Right approach? <I strongly encourage you to change to using a two part supplement, I am partial to ESV B-Ionic, and begin testing alkalinity and calcium so that you know what your levels are and how much to dose.> Thanks again, Dave K (great site, I will finally know the right questions to ask next time I enter the pet store) <I would also recommend Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium." It is an excellent beginner's fish book and it with give you a lot of the vocabulary and background in marine fish keeping. It is also a very easy read, not too big (about 150 pages), and pretty inexpensive. -Steven Pro>

New aquarium Hi, this is Andres from Colombia again <cheers, my friend> I am planning on this arrangement for my marine aquarium: Just fish Aquarium: 90 to 100 gallons mechanical filtration: Euro reef protein skimmer CS6-4 or CS6-2 biological filtration and heater: Eheim 2128 or 2126 water sterilizer: Vecton UV15 Sand: CaribSea Seaflor special grade reef sand salt preparation: Coralife Any suggestions? <in a fish only display...keep the sand shallow (less than 2 cm deep) and you really do not need the UV sterilizer for disease control: they only work within a strict range as a disease controller and doing so once a sick fish is already in the tank is bad procedure. Your money will be better spent on a simple and inexpensive quarantine tank. Please research our Wet Web Media site archives for advice on how to set a QT tank up and use it. All new fish should first go into this "hospital" tank for screening, prevention and/or medication if necessary for 4 weeks before being put into the main display. This is one of the single most important keys to success. If you do not heed the advice my friend, then I am sure you will have a disease problem in the display eventually even with a UV sterilizer. Words of wisdom and experience <smile>. Best regards, Anthony> Best regards, Andres Saravia

Tank Set-Up Hey guys, so much useful info from you all. Here is my situation, I just bought a 90 gallon reef ready and I plan on getting a Euro-Reef protein skimmer, not sure what size to go with though, which would you be happy with? <The smallest model is good for up to 200 gallons. I may go to the next size up if you were thinking of upgrading to a larger tank in the next few years or if the price difference is negligible.> I will have tidepool for my sump, should I remove the bio-wheel? <If a reef is what you want, yes.> and also plan to put carbon bags in it, having a mag 9 for my return and 2 maxi-jet powerheads. <Ok> Should I have a UV sterilizer on this system? <Not needed> 2 smaller sized heaters in the sump, any size recommendations on those? <150 watts each> I probably will go with the Spectrapure RO unit because you guys seem to like it. <I am a big fan, but I also like the Kati-Ani DI units. You just have to be confident in handling chemicals during the recharge. I own and use a Kati-Ani, but I sell SpectraPure RO units for my customer's safety.> I plan on doing about a 4" sandbed and about 100#s of live rock, I mainly want to keep LPS (frogspawn, anchor, hammer, open brains, torch, try an elegance again and maybe a clam or two), some mushrooms and some soft corals as well. My main thing is what to do for lighting. I do like the MH's with actinics. Here is what I would like to know, well what I was thinking of. Aqualine Buschke has the "spacelight future 48" with 2-150w 10k HQI lamps and 2-24w Blue PC. I do like the looks of the system and want to know if this would be too much for the corals I want to keep? <Quite possibly, the double ended lamps are much more powerful than the single ended screw in ones.> If I get this light should I keep any glass lid over the top of the tank or should I keep it open? <I would cover it.> Also how high would you hang a fixture like this, if it isn't too much light for what I need? <Follow the manufacturer's recommendation> If it is too much light for all the tank could I wrap some eggcrate with fiberglass screen and place this on the tank top? <I guess, but it sounds awfully ugly. You can always raise the light fixture a bit more to temper the light intensity.> I don't want the heat as a problem either. Or are PC's or Smartlites the way I should go? <I would go with halides, but maybe not this unit.> I know its a lot of questions, but I know you guys will steer me in the right direction. Thanks, Jamie <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Built In Overflow Hi, Quick question--what do you u think of All-Glass Aquarium's Corner Overflow units?  <they are patently inadequate for most fish-only tanks and definitely inadequate for reef systems. The concept however is nice... the flow capability is just pathetic though> They seem like a great idea; I'm just worried that in they won't be able to drain the water fast enough to keep up with my pump (if I use a 900 GPH Mag Drive Pump).  <not even close> Would a pump rated 700 GPH be better?  <might be OK.. what a shame to have to use so many power heads instead of one or two large proper external pumps.> I'm thinking about different ways to set up a reef tank. <good... my advice is to have more/bigger holes drilled and use a good pump from the start. 900gph is a pump for a small reef (75 gall or smaller). Serious flow is needed if the return pump will nicely handle all flow (a good thing!). Best regards, Anthony> Thanks, Mike

Filtration Bob, I have a 30 gallon tank with a Visi-Jet protein skimmer and undergravel filter. I had a "quick sand" sand filter which just recently broke when I moved. My question is what should be my next course of action to replace the sand filter? <You may not need it with your U.G. filter.> I'm not happy with the Visi-Jet and from reading some FAQ's, not sure if I should keep the undergravel. <Agreed> I have 2 clowns, a hawkfish, a yellow damsel, a few snails, hermit crabs, and about 12 pounds of live rock. <Get yourself some more cured liverock, about another 30 pounds, ditch the U.G. and replace it with sand (not all at once). You can find out much more on the details of such a project on www.WetWebMedia.com.> A gentleman at the pet store I just found recommends the sea clone skimmer and something 404. <Probably a Fluval canister filter.> (I plan on upgrading to a 55 ga, in about 6 months.) Can't swing all the funds at the moment, but hope to go in the right direction. <We have tons of information on setups in the marine setup section. Please avail yourself of our resources.> Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks, Dave K. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

3 Gallon Eclipse Nano Hello, I'm looking for a little help, on setting up my nano, please criticize as much as you can. I would like to do a 3 gallon Eclipse, Eng style, if your unfamiliar with that term, here's a link, with a nice briefing. http://www.garf.org/news6p3.html <I am very familiar with Lee Chin Eng and his methodology. It is his modified method that most reef keepers are using now, a combination of the Berlin method and Eng's (skimmers, live rock, and live sand).> Basically, what I would like to do is, run it with only live rock, and live sand as a filter. <It is ok to go skimmer less in such a small tank. Frequent regular water changes can and will suffice, 1 gallon per week would be excellent.> I was thinking a sandbed somewhere between 2-3 inches, <I would probably go thinner, 1" or less.> and about 5 pounds of live rock. <Maybe a little more depending on the density of the rock.> I know a fish would be pushing this system, but as my first nano reef, or only nano reef at that, I would like to have some sort of constant movement, besides the water. I was thinking about a Neon Goby (Gobiosoma oceanops), or a Green Banded Goby (Gobiosoma multifasciatum), or a Red Headed Goby (Gobiosoma puncticulatus), or maybe a Clown Goby (Gobiodon spp). <Any of these seems ok.> Thank you, for taking your time, and reading (and hopefully responding). :o) Lisa <You are welcome. Please look over the pertinent sections on www.WetWebMedia.com. -Steven Pro>

Reef Tank without Holes Hi, Is it possible to have a sump and not drill holes in the back of my main tank for overflow? <Possible but not recommended.> Drilling into glass is just too risky, <Having drilled hundreds of holes in glass, I can tell you it is not risky. Very rarely does the glass crack, only happened once to me when I was still learning. Any good fish store should have the personnel and equipment to drill a tank and guarantee the work.> and the only other way I can think is just to buy one with overflow holes already drilled into it? I know you're not a fan of siphon overflow boxes, but I don't see any other reasonable way (at least financially). Please help! <Those are your only two options, a hole in the tank or a siphon overflow. You must weigh the risks associated with each one, a slight possibility of breaking the glass (and then the store should just replace it) versus the increased possibility of the siphon failing at some point and dumping large amounts of water onto your floor.> Thanks, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Basic Marine Setup Hi <cheers> I have read many of your information on this web pages and I am really lost..... I am trying to start a marine aquarium I read about filtration, U.V. etc... What do I really need to start a marine aquarium? Do I need protein Skimmer.  <a very good skimmer is critical yes. Don't waste your money on a cheap one please. Look at Euroreef, Aqua C, CPR and Turboflotors. Be fair warned about Prizm, Red Sea Berlin, Seaclones... many more> U.V. filter, reverse osmosis,  <neither unless your tap water is awful and you begin to have nuisance algae problems> canister filter,  <perhaps... but there are many fine filters. Live rock is the best natural biological filter. It can be the primary at 1-2 lbs per tank gallons. The canister can then be the supplemental filter. A good power filter could be used instead> well I guess by now how much I know about aquariums and if I add brands things go worst specially with skimmers, best aquarium to start with by size?  <anything bigger than a 30 gallon will be fine> 50 gallons, 100 gallons I read the biggest the best, I know you answer all the time this skimmer is good engineering but I will prefer Vecton U.V. or euro reef skimmers don't go around and say straight you need this and that... any way every one talks about your book. What book?  Maybe your book will help to answer many of my questions. <indeed a good book should be your first purchase! Bobs book is the "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and would be a very honest and informative start. Mike Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium" is also a good book to begin with. It is not as comprehensive but it is simpler and less expensive.> Best Regards, Andres Saravia from Colombia. <With kind regards, Anthony>

Fish Only meets Reef! Back again :) <cheers mate> Well you asked for my list of fish, here goes. Current stock includes a tomato clown, 2 coral banded shrimp and a few hermits and snails (about 4 of each) <all but hermits above are fully safe with these corals of course. The hermits may indeed be safe but long term they are likely a risk. Depends on species> This is under stocked yes but I was getting the live rock first then going to add fish -  <very wise!> My tank has been cycled for about 3 months now - well the next fish I want to add are 1xFlame angel 2xmaroon clowns (or 1 more tomato) 1xtang (not sure what sort) and a few cardinals (probably Banggai) <all of the above are also mostly to very reef safe (always a chance of coral nibbling from flame and tang... albeit small chance) May I suggest a comb-tooth species of tang? They are INCREDIBLE algae grazers... several species and one endemic to your Australian waters> Filters: I have a 30g sump with 10g of bio-balls and I now have about 100lb of live rock and dead coral rock (75lb live & 25dead) I was hoping to remove the bioballs  <agreed...wise> and make a macro algae sump (refugium?) <your bio-load wont be heavy enough to need the macros... they may be more aggravation then they are worth. Do try another refugium instead for plankton culture or coral propagation. Perhaps a seagrass bed for pipefish!> but my live rock supplier said I would need 200lb of rock to manage that and there is no way it would fit in my tank :).  <I disagree... you don't need all of that rock to go without bio-balls... especially with a refugium and light fish load. Do regular partial water changes (small weekly exchanges would be ideal) and go the natural route without the nitrate producing bio-balls. Use chemical media too regularly (carbon or the like)> for lighting I only have 2x18w (sylvania)1x Coralstar (actinic) +1x 10000k -these I have right over the coral  and 2x36w Sylvania 1 of actinic and 1 of 10000k  <nice colors but not strong enough indeed. Keep the coral shallow in the meantime and upgrade ASAP> some of the other corals I got was a staghorn (which was a little bleached - I think its dieing) and a purple coral that looks like coralline algae but its actually a coral as far as I can tell (it's in the shape of a bommie) and also a few plate corals  <what lively Live Rock! You are truly blessed my friend!> cheers and thanks for the advise  <my pleasure> p.s. I'm going to build a new light hood so I can run 4 full length lights of the 50/50 type as no one in Perth sells VHO lighting that I can find <very good! And have you checked with the fellow aquarists on ozreef.org message board for a merchant in Perth? Do try there for advise if you haven't. A nice site... I love the DIY section and cited it in my book :) With kind regards, Anthony>

Ground Probe Bob or who ever is answering today: This is the best site on the web, spend many hours reading as much as possible thank you for all the great advice. Quick question if I have a grounding probe in the sump do I also need one in the display tank? <One should suffice as water running up and down will complete the "circuit."> I would not think so but am not sure. Thanks, Pat <Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>

Big Fish, Big Poop, Reef tanks and Girls in Vegas Greetings my friends: <cheers, mate> Here are my tank specs: 100 gallon acrylic, 20 gallon sump, 420 watts of VHO Icecap with 2 X 50/50 bulbs and one blue bulb,  <nice color but more blue than you need for most corals... do consider a daylight tube when you change the next aged lamp> 100lbs LR, 1+'' aragonite, two overflows with a return pump that rates 1500 gph at 4' head, and a Turboflotor skimmer. The overflows empty into a bucket in the sump that contains a poly filter material. Water changes are done weekly (20 gallons) and the filter material is also changed weekly. Buffered RO water is used exclusively for makeup water and water changes. <OK> The current fish include: an endlessly-growing harlequin Tuskfish, a hippo tang, an endlessly-growing lionfish, a Picasso trigger, and a lawnmower blenny which was nearly swallowed last night by the lionfish. Corals: a leather coral that's growing like a weed, hairy mushrooms, and very large blue mushrooms. Fish and corals are growing and apparently quite happy. <excellent> So. . .what's the problem? I'm unhappy with the tank and I want to do an overhaul. Because of the heavy feedings required by these massive eaters, no matter what I do. . .algae of all sorts grow; <agreed... or at least, understood. A second skimmer would make a tremendous impact on nuisance algae growth and your work load> particularly hair algae and various golden diatoms. The tank has never reached its' full potential and I want to make it something beautiful that will be a "show-stopper." <indeed! I hope you do> I am thinking of doing a soft coral tank a la GARF. 1) Do you think I have a setup that will accommodate most soft corals, current fish excluded? <yes> 2) Specifically, how do you feel about the lighting? Any changes worth making? (No MH for now. It's too hot in the desert). <as above... or even 2 straight daylights and one straight blue of you don't mind the warmer color... better for the corals, but less blue/sexy> 3) I plan on getting rid of all the fish except the hippo, lawnmower blenny, and the trigger.  <eh... I'm not thrilled about the trigger> What are my chances that the trigger (about three inches long) will leave the inverts alone? He's a very passive and peaceful fish.  <he will get somehow complicated as he ages and grows... many possibilities here> Will the hippo be okay? <likely just fine> 4) This time, I really want interesting fish that will stay a reasonable size. I had no idea how fast the tusk and the lion would grow. I am thinking of using Scott Michael's Marine Fishes as a general guide for my new fish purchases. What do you think of his book? <excellent and outstanding> 5) I general, how about an angel for the tank? <generally a bad idea by far...dwarf or standard> When I first got this tank a year ago, like a fool I came home and announced to the wife that I knew an elegans coral was difficult to keep alive, but I had bought one any way. It was an $80 learning experience and it jilted me towards corals. I think I have put this behind me. <heehee... the early $80 would have been much better spent on two good books :p > 6) Would you agree that soft corals would be substantially easier than hard corals?  <categorically yes> I don't want to play the old supplement this, supplement that routine. I just want to do water changes, light feeding, and enjoy the tank. <it can be done nicely this way. Weekly water changes please and you will enjoy fine fishes and corals> 7) One of the reasons that soft corals never really appealed to me was because often times they aren't brightly colored. Where online can I find brightly colored soft corals? No Dendronephthya please. . . <there just aren't as many that are gaudy and hardy. Simple. Many tan/peach/pink earth tones... some yellow, some green and variations thereof. That's about it.> 8) Do you think these proposed changes will greatly improve my algae difficulties? <easily, yes> Sorry for the life story guys. I guess I need a little reassurance before I get too involved in the tank make-over. You know the story, changes cost money but doesn't include a guaranteed improvement. <you are on the right track... regular water changes, lower bio-load... keys to success> You're doing a fabulous job answering questions. . .it's nice to know that you and Steve are actively in the hobby. <thank you my friend!> If either of you are ever in Las Vegas, drop me a line. I'll give you a tour of the aquariums in the city and a fancy-schmancy dinner. <I would LOVE to take you up on the offer. I have been all over the country but never to Vegas. Perhaps some day. Do you have an active aquarium society in Vegas? If so... do pass a link/contact along. I'll send them a copy of my book for the club library too> Gambling on a fish tank make-over in the city of lost wages, David D. <Heehee... believe it or not, I'm the type of personality that is bored to tears by gambling! I'm like "Rainman" in a casino :) Mesmerized by the people and the lights but ignorant of all else. Oh ya... there is the girls and fine alcohol aspect of it too... Hmmm... it is sounding better by the minute :) With kind regards, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

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 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>

Cement/Glue Can I use: PVC CEMENT and PVC PURPLE PRIMER when I glue PVC together (for connections to my wet dry)? <Yes> I don't want to contaminate my fish! There is a pretty long danger sign on the front of the bottle. <You need to allow it 24 hours to cure/harden away from the fish.> Thanks, Nattalie If I can't use it is there something that I can? <This works fine. -Steven Pro>

It's Not the size that counts... or is it? First off, I want to say you guys are awesome! You always answer all of my questions, and quickly at that! Thanks!!!!! <quite welcome> If my wet dry is very small ( 5gal.) for a 55gal would it be at all beneficial to make a thicker sand bed??? < a little, but more live rock would really be better for nitrification (like the wet dry)> Also, someone told me I should not use Pinesol when I mop around my fish tank, is this true??  <very true!!! Even though cleaning products are not used on or in the tank... if you can smell it in the air, it WILL be in the aquarium. You have all sorts of venturis and pumps turning air and water over. Furthermore there is natural osmosis. It's like putting an uncovered glass of water in a refrigerator with an open bowl of cut green peppers nearby. Even though they never touch or come near each other, the pepper flavor is imparted to the water through the air. That's why water is so often used to purify air. Scary bad, yes> Ant info is great!!!! THANKS AGAIN!!! Nattalie <best regards, Anthony>

CPR Overflow Steven - Thanks for your comments and support. I emailed Oceanic regarding recommendations on drilling the tank. They stated that they only drill before final construction, and that they do not recommend drilling. <This is probably more recommendation is probably based on legal protection than actual practical husbandry.> Are there risks associated with drilling a glass tank after construction? <A minor risk of breaking the tank, but very minor IME. It is preferable to drill the glass panel before building the tank, because if you break it you have not wasted any time building the thing.> I had planned on finding a glass company that was willing to do the drilling; I assume that there is a company that would do it. <Yes, and sometimes pet stores have the equipment and personnel.> Should I just forget about the sump until I get a new tank, or is this just a tank manufacturer being overly cautious? <More the later, but you may want to wait anyhow. Your setup was pretty good already.> Thanks again for your help. James <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Light Height  I am currently building a hood for a 90 gal 48x18x24 tank. My question is what is an acceptable height for 2 48" VHO actinic bulbs? I installed 2 metal halides 10k, 9 inches off of the water. <your halides are just fine...9-12" off surface are appropriate. Fluorescent lamps, however need to be very close... ideally about 3" (anything much further is quite compromised). Obey all safety installation precautions though (U.L. listed materials, waterproof end caps and harnesses, lens to protect hot bulbs from splash, etc)> Thanks, Scott <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Upgrading to Reef Hi, First of all, great informative website. I'll get right to the point. Right now I have a 75 gallon saltwater tank with a few inverts. I run a SeaClone skimmer and Emperor 400 Filter. I would like to upgrade to a reef system eventually. My idea was to first purchase a PRO 75 wet/dry filter from AquaClear with a built-in skimmer and then when I upgrade to live rock, remove the bioballs, keeping the filter as a sump (of course, the lighting will be increased to around 380 watts). Does this plan sound reasonable? <A very expensive way to get a sump. You would be far better off buying a similar size aquarium as a sump or even a Rubbermaid tub.> I don't really have $1000 to throw around right now, so I'd like to do things in the right "order" so to speak, so I figured upgrading the filter, which could be turned into a sump when I upgrade to live rock, would be my first move. <Skip the filter part and just add the live rock.> Also, do you think that built-in skimmer is adequate? <Probably not> I'll probably purchase a powerhead or two as well before adding live rock. Any other suggestions? <See notes above.> Thanks much, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
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 lps 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 fl. 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 ill 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. <agreed... sumps are so very nice for that> Thanks Again, Mike <kindly, Anthony>
Re: Upgrading to Reef
Thanks, Any suggestions for an in-sump skimmer? Mike <sure Tunze or Euroreef for top price and top performance, Aqua C for perhaps best overall (value and performance) and Turboflotor or CPR if you don't mind working a little harder to save a few bucks. My biased opinion is to go for a Euroreef or Aqua C. Anthony>

Re: Suggestions needed If I read this correctly, using a undergravel filter with 2 Penguin 1140 powerheads and my Emperor 400 power filter would be fine. I can afford $200 or so for the wet/dry setup or trickle-type filter.  <correct... but if you can afford the trickle filter, do so... it is MUCH better than the UG setup> Can you suggest a few models of trickle-type filters that might be in a similar price range or anything you would suggest. I know you probably can't endorse any one product, but if you can give me a list of items that I might want to look into, that would be greatly appreciated. <our strong advice is to DIY. They are so easy to build and there are so many DIY wet/dry Trickle filter plans on the 'Net. Just do a keyword search and you will be buried with options. Also look here for great DIY plans for various aquarium instruments: http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html Look 3/4 down the page too... there are half dozen links to wet dry plans (note the prices are estimated in inflated Australian dollars). Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Water Movement & Filtration Hello all you wise people of things that are wet. I'm in need of hearing your views on my next course of action. Since I went my own way before, I bought a Prizm skimmer, only to find out you guys were right, they suck, I am now much more likely to follow you suggestions. My 75 gal tank has the following inhabitants; V. lion 7", dwarf fuzzy lion 4", snow flake eel 14", Picasso trigger 3", yellow tail blue damsel 1 1/2", zebra moray 12", and 14 blue legged hermits, approx 55lbs live rock. The filter is a Tetratec 500. <That and the Prizm is it? Very modest indeed.> After feeding the fish (an every 3 day event) the next day my nitrites rise to 0.2 ppm. The following day they are back at 0. I am thinking it is time for a filter upgrade/addition. <I wholeheartedly concur.> But first, before you ask, no I don't know any other water quality readings, I only have a nitrite test kit, however a complete test kit is on order. <I am glad to hear it.> I think maybe an overflow and wet/dry filter would help keep things more consistent than just the LR and Tetratec. <You may just need more circulation for the live rock to function properly.> It would also add more circulation. But I have read that wet/dry filters manufacture nitrate very quickly and that's not good. <Correct> Would more LR be better? <A little more would help, but only if much more circulation is provided. Else it will do little good alone.> Or am I doomed, with my big eaters, to manufacture large quantities of nitrates and making the many water changes to keep things in check? <That is also quite likely.> I don't know now where the nitrate level is, but I will soon as I said test kits on the way, but I do approx 25% water change monthly. Help as I said I'm ready to listen. Thanks for your time, advise, and the web site.... Jack <I would first add a few powerheads for a total of 750 gph to see if that makes a difference. With your new test kits, you should have a better picture of what is going on. -Steven Pro>

Reef Set-Up Hello, I am trying to get a 75 gallon All glass aquarium set up and I have a few questions. 1. I have a RO/DI unit and I need to know what I can use as storage tank that will be safe for my fish and reef. <My preference is for a Rubbermaid 30-40 gallon garbage can with a lid and the four caster wheel bottom piece for easy of moving around.> 2. Will 90 pounds of live rock be o.k.? <Should be fine.> 3. Is a 1/2 inch layer of aragonite ok for substrate? <1/2" or over 4". One or the other is ok.> 4.I will be employing a sump and an ETS protein skimmer. No other filter media other than the prefilter in the sump. Any other suggestions on this would be helpful. <One a good book, Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" is a good overall basis.> Thanks in advance, John S. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Custom Aquarium Bob, <Bob is off in Cozumel now. Steven Pro with the follow up.> I am planning a Fish only saltwater tank. I agree I don't like "undergravel" filters that's why I am going to use a bio-tower in a sump plus protein skimmers for filtration. My thoughts below though were just my ideas in trying to keep the gravel clean without regular "vacuuming" as a 48" deep tank makes that somewhat difficult. <IME, you will be better of with a fine sand bed, thick or thin. The fine grain size is what is critical as it stops detritus from settling between the grains. -Steven Pro>

New Tank Set-Up Hello Guys, I've been a fan of the WWM site for the past year or so, since I began to re-delve into freshwater and saltwater aquaria. There's SO much information on there that I haven't felt the need to ask a direct question or need clarification yet, it's absolutely great! But, I have decided to take the next step and go for a large size (for a college student) saltwater reef setup and was just curious to see what kind of suggestions you guys could make just to insure things go as smooth as I hope they will. <Glad to be of assistance.> It's a 75 gallon tank with a Prizm skimmer by RedSea and an Emperor 400 by Marineland. <Neither is a good choice for a reef tank. Your liverock will be your biological filter, so the Emperor is unnecessary and the Prizm is too small and ineffective. Two to three large powerheads for a total of 750 gph or more plus a good quality skimmer will serve you well. The Aqua-C Remora Pro is a good choice.> For lighting, I was planning on using three 2-bulb 4' shop lights utilizing six normal output fluorescent bulbs, two 40 watt Coralife actinic bulbs and four 40 watt 6500K daylight bulbs. <I would dump the Coralife lamps for URI or Phillips actinics. Coralife's lose their integrity in a rather short time.> My plan is to aquascape a high-flow zone in the right half of the tank with two additional powerheads aimed at each other and a calm zone in the other half, sans direct powerhead flow (but with a gentle current from the skimmer overflow and indirect motion from the other powerheads). I'm trying to replicate a slice of a reef, with a rough reef crest on the right, blending to a calmer back-reef slope/lagoon to the left. <Ok> (note: the halves aren't physically separated, if you could look down on the footprint of my tank at my aquascaping, it would look like the letter M with two rounded lagoons on each half with a jut of rocks/corals separating the two but with a bit of clearance at the top and about 75% towards the front of the tank, leaving space to allow water and fish movement) <I believe I have a good mental image of what you are doing.> My question is what would you guys place in a tank of that size with that much lighting in each zone? <You are going to be fairly limited by the normal output fluorescents. LPS, mushrooms, polyps, and some soft corals will be ok.> Could that lighting support some SPS on the very top of the rock work, about 6" from the surface, if the lights are only a few inches off of the top of the tank? <There are a few SPS I could recommend that I have grown under NO lighting. Turbinaria reniformis and Montipora digitata are two that I have done well with.> Any potential problems or fatal flaws from my plans that you guys notice from experience? <A few small notes, but nothing not easily corrected.> Any tips and recommendations would be extremely welcome. <In addition to the other items, purified water (RO or DI) will make things much easier for you and less expensive in the long run.> Thanks again for your time and keep up the great work! I really appreciate the help. Sincerely, Dan <Good luck to you! I am sure you will enjoy your new tank tremendously. -Steven Pro>

New tank Hello.. <cheers, my friend> I setup my tank month ago , I used LR to mature my tank. However, my tank is not yet ready. Every thing was great .All the living animals were alive (you can see them). Now I left the town for a week & when I came back I redecorated my tank and I have added some fresh water (I add the Anti-Chlorine and an airstone and let the water set for 1 hour ). I had some work to do so I left for another 4 days. When I came back this morning the temp was about 83F and there was some dead animals (some are alive and seem to do well and some are dead). What did I do wrong? Is it from the high temp or from adding the fresh water or is it from redecorating my rocks (cause every thing seemed really cloudy after ) <redecorating was likely no problem and the water changes are always helpful if the temperature is matched carefully. A big jump in temperature (higher) probably was at least part of the problem. As a new tank, if there is any ammonia or nitrite then that is the bigger problem. Do water changes as necessary to keep the levels from getting too high. Best regards, Anthony>

Shrimp, Substrate, Refugiums Hi Bob <Hello Chris> Thank you very much for the detailed reply, I must tell you I feel much more positive after reading this, it feels like I have a plan now. <You do my friend> Some comments from my side: I never suspected for a second that my fish were inviting the crabs to clean them and now it suddenly makes a lot more sense. I am quite excited about this and I will buy a cleaner shrimp as soon as possible. The suppliers here have mostly 1 species available here, I'm sure its the Lysmata Grabhami, but the Lysmata amboinensis looks much the same so I'm not 100% sure. <Yes, similar... the marks on their telsons are pretty indicative though (if you can get them to turn where you can see them). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/shrimp/cleaner.htm  But either way, I can add one of these guys tomorrow to my tank. I think I might put the 2 hermits in the QT for a while when I do this just in case of any problems. The reason I never had one before was because of the trigger. <Yes... expensive meals> The powder brown tang is actually the 'Acanthurus japonicus', hopefully this is good news. <Yes! Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/GoldRimSs.htm> I have some questions for you about replacing the substrate if you don't mind: "Coral Sand" is the same thing as the "crushed coral" we get here right ? <Actually no... one occurs as what you buy, simply graded, the other is often "mined", crushed, sorted, bagged... look for the former, the sand... in sizes as spelled out on WWM> I still have buckets full of this from my previous saltwater attempt, can I just rinse this and re-use it in my new tank ? <Yes, you could> Would it be better to replace it bit by bit or can I just replace my whole substrate in one day ? <In this system it would very likely be okay and much simpler to just do this all at once> And lastly...My rocks are currently placed directly on the glass and the substrate was added all around it in the open spaces - would you recommend that I rather take out the rocks, cover the whole bottom of the tank with the coral sand and then place the rocks on top of it ? <Leave the rocks touching the bottom... much more stable> Regarding your other recommendations - I will get to work on these tomorrow and report back to you in a week or so. The refugium will be a bit of a practical challenge and the macro algae is something I haven't seen at the shops before, but I'm sure I can make a plan somehow. <Yes... ask about... all you need are some small "starter" pieces... Grow like proverbial weeds... depriving nuisance types of food, compete biochemically with noisome algae... make the system overall much more stable...> Kind Regards and thanks again for your great advice, Chris <You are welcome. Bob Fenner>

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
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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
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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