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FAQs on Reef Set-Up 2

Related Articles: Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Being Conscientious Save money and the reefs By Jennifer Smith, Technology: Putting on the Brakes:  How much is too much? By Tommy Dornhoffer, Refugiums, Reef Filtration, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpFish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, RefugiumsMarine Biotope, Marine LandscapingFishwatcher's Guides

Related FAQs: Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef Set-Up 7, Reef Set-Up 8, Reef Set-Up 9, Reef Set-Up 10, Reef Set-Up 11, Reef Set-Up 13, Reef Set-Up 14, Reef Set-Up 15, & Reef Tanks, Reef LightingReef Lighting 2Reef Filtration, & Reef LivestockingReef Livestocking 2, Reef Feeding, Reef Disease, Reef Maintenance, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive Rock, Live Sand, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems Reef Maintenance Biotopic presentations Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Starting with Reef Additives - 8/13/03 Hello Anthony! <cheers, my friend> I have my tank filled with sea water. I used R/O water to adjust SG to 1022. The tank has only water for the moment.  My pH is  8.00 and I have not measured  my alkalinity yet. <was the RO water aerated and buffered before it was salted? If not, it is a burden on pH and ALK> I have also bought an American Marine  OPR meter and its readings are 325 at daytime and 275 during the night. <if accurate, those numbers a little bit low. The tank may need better aeration, skimming and/or ozone to get in the 350-400 mv range> I am waiting to receive 20 kilos of Indonesia live rock in two weeks and let it cycle in the tank. My questions are:  - When should I start measuring and adding Calcium and Alkalinity Buffers? <from the beginning/always> - I have access to Seachem products but I am confused which ones I should choose (Reef builder, Reef Calcium, Reef Carbonate, Reef Complete, Reef Buffer, Reef Advantage Calcium) and how to use them. <I prefer to use Kalkwasser (pickling lime/calcium hydroxide or oxide) and the Reef Calcium> - I have also read about the two-part additives (C-Balance) but I can not get then from Europe. Is it worth the money ordering them fro USA ? <I thing the B-Ionic brand is much better. These 2=part mixes are convenient... but expensive and still lack many of the benefits of calcium hydroxide (Kalkwasser)> - Are 20 kilos of live rock enough for my 340 liters tank + sump ? I will not use any bio media in the sump. <its hard to say without seeing/knowing the bio-load. The test kits will let you know as you stock the tank early and slowly. Look for control of Ammonia and nitrite as indicators> Thanks and best regards, Thanassis <kindly, Anthony>

Re: New reef set-up questions Hello again. If you ever come to Greece it would be an honour for me to meet you and drink a beer with you. Just let me know when! <the pleasure would be mine, Thanassis :)> As said before I will need about (1200lit) 300 GPH for my tank circulation via the overflow, which can be done with an 1'' tubing. I have read that the capacity of a pump is reduced with the height distance. <correct> So in my case, if I used an EHEIM pump with 1200 lit/h capacity and the height from the pump to my upper wall of the aquarium would be 150 cm (62''), how much reduction of the capacity I will have? <the pump manufacturers have this data (varies by pump) usually on their product boxes and/or web sites. You can certainly e-mail them to get the pump values at "head" (the term for the height/pressure on a water pump)> If it is a lot of reduction then perhaps I will have to use the next model with a capacity of 2280 lit/h. Is this right? <unfortunately we cannot know/remember all of the various pump brand limitations. Simply add up the "head" imposed (one foot of head for each foot of height, plus one foot of head added for every ten feet of run, plus one foot of head for each elbow/angle. All added together to give the total "head"... then look that up on the pump charts> Concerning the DSB in my main tank, would it be better to put a mesh in the middle of it , so that the lower part will not be disturbed by the sand-borrowing creatures, or it is good for the whole substrate to be stirred by the bottom critters ? <I prefer to have no mesh whatsoever... but is you are keeping very aggressive stirring fishes (like goatfish)... then the mesh in the middle may be helpful> Just to understand this right: Can I achieve zero nitrates just with a DSB in my sump/refugium  (which has about the half of the surface of my main tank), <possibly> or it is necessary to make a DSB  in my main tank? <not necessary... but better because it is larger> I am convinced that it is the best bet for 0 nitrates but I still have a small fear about it. Of course my target is 0 nitrates and I do not want to use a nitrate reductor, as some aquarists do. I have a sea urchin in my hospital tank doing well for a month now. I got it from the sea close to my house. It is a very good cleaner and nice to watch but I have noticed that it is destroying the red macro-algae on my life rock. <yes... they are aggressive algae grazers... usually a good thing> Can I put it in my reef when it will be ready or it will be dangerous for the invertebrates and corals? <most species are safe... but you will need to identify the genus/species to be sure> Please find attached the sump/refugium design I have decided to make. -  Is it important to prefilter the overflow water before it drops to the sump? (filter bag or sponge) <I prefer no prefilter if the skimmer is good (allows more raw matter to be exported)> -  I am thinking  not to use a bulkhead on the top of the sump but let the overflow hose hanging in the sump with some kind of cupping to hold it on the sump wall. Is this ok? <seems reasonable> Best regards, Thanassis <kindly, Anthony>

Re: New reef set-up questions 4/23/03 Hello Anthony! I am very close to ordering my tank and sump now, having been able to solve some of my basic questions, thanks to your help. One thing which is confusing me and my LFS as well is the following: Suppose I have an overflow box on the upper back wall of the tank and an overflow hole. Since the water is entering the overflow box it will start filling the box and when it reaches the lower level of the hole (which will be drilled in the middle of the overflow box) it will start draining through the hole. So far, so good. Now we have two scenarios: One is that the water level in the overflow box does not cover fully the hole and the water surface reaches about the middle of the hole, letting air come inside the tubing. <correct... this is the proper and safe running level of a bulkhead. And if the tubing/pipe that drains in to the sump below is prevented (as it should be ) from being submerged... the air will escape quietly and prevent the hole from having backflow/resistance> The second scenario is that the water level fully covers the hole and does not let air come inside the tubing. <Yikes!!! Dangerous> (There is even a third scenario, which I already reject, where the water level rises even higher than the overflow box.)/ Which scenario is the optimal? <the former... and is controlled by the flow from the return pump (which you regulate with a valve on the outflow)> In order to control the flow precisely, I am thinking of having a 2''overflow tubing (I believe that is better bigger than smaller) and a fully submersible SICCE pump in the sump  with a flow regulator on it (1000 to 4000 lit/h) http://www.shopsolution.nl/shop/home.asp?shopid=seameec&deptid=siccepumps, . I do not know much about this pump but I liked the fact that it has a flow regulator on it. <agreed... all good> In order to control the flow to the sump I intend to have a ball-valve right after the bulkhead fitting as well. Thanks in advance, <a gate valve would be much better than a ball valve (ball valves reduce a lot of flow/potential)... and instead of a valve inline that restricts the flow/pump... a teed bleeder line would be even better. See the diagram here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm > Thanassis <best regards, Anthony>

New 75 reef and refugium questions I have a 75 gal tank that I'm wanting to turn into a reef tank. Right now the tank sets empty while I research a refugium. I want to put under the stand so I realize that I have to have overflows and a sump. <I advise picking one function, sump or refugium. Refugiums are best located above the display and passively drained into display. Sumps are better located under stands. A decent mix is additional LR in the middle compartment of the sump.  I suggest reading about marine set-ups and refugiums at WetWebMedia.com.>   My tank doesn't have overflows, so while its empty I want to have some drilled (DIY hopefully). <If this tank is glass, make sure it's not tempered glass or it's not possible to drill. If so, look into sand blasting holes or an acrylic tank.> I know that the overflow rate and the sump rate have to be the same, I want to know what size holes I should have drilled ( would be best) or to have some kind of rate chart. Should the holes be in the back or on the bottom? If I know the size of hole and the rate I can get a pump. <I suggest starting at flow rate for main (10-20X's turnover) and sizing pump(s) from there. Also look into closed loop circulation as a means to increase overall flow without running everything through the sump or refugium. Sumps can handle the flow, refugiums must have a gentle current. A good book wouldn't hurt, and would likely save you much time and money. Most of Anthony's set-up info is available at WetWebMedia.com, do check it out.>    It's going to be a 20 gal under the tank with 2 dividers, 1 on 1 side of the sump and 1 on the other, in the middle I want a refugium.  Currently I have  75 gal, 20 gal, a sea clone protein skimmer for 100 gal, it has a maxi - jet 1200, 2 maxi - jet 1200's, 2 other powerheads rated 150 -175 g/h, a magnum 350 that I'm trading for another maxi - jet 1200, 100lbs of non - silicate sand. I'm going to order 90lbs of Fiji live premium rock once I get this all figured out. Does this all sound ok and thanks for answering all my questions. <Sounds okay, you might keep the canister for carbon/resin use. Research the needed flow rates for the types of inhabitants you wish to keep. Start there and work backward to provide proper conditions/flow rate.  Try the drain/pipe calculator at Reef Central.  Have fun!  Craig>

Old tank new re set-up - 4/21/03 Hi Guys! <Hi Becky. Sorry for the delay. Been a very busy week of mid-terms, work, family matters, and holiday weekend. Did I say work? Oh yeah Anyway, I so sorry for the tardiness of this reply.> My parents have a reef tank that looks like a swamp because it was totally neglected. <Too bad.>  My dad has offered me a "job" taking care of it. <Well, cool if you want to do it and like this sort of blank canvas project.....sucks if you don't> I have a reef tank so this would no prob. <Oh...OK....so this a good thing. Great!> The live rock in the tank is covered with brown algae, and the water is unbelievable. <As in smell, I bet>  Should I leave the rock in the tank and just do a total water change? <I would>  Or maybe give all the rock a rinse job in some seawater, then place back in the tank? <This would be better but may not be necessary. Dunno though, as I cannot see the tank. What do you think?>  They must have well over 200lbs of rock. <Rad!>  The tank's 135 gallons.  The other thing is that the tank is in the wall so taking out all the rock would be a huge chore. <Yeah, sometimes a problem with these types of configurations, although I love the in wall look. Worth the hassle in my book> I'm the one who put it all in there. <Man, what a chore, but very cool>  I think I could help seed the old rock by bringing a piece over from my tank. <Exactly. If the water has been heated and at the very least topped off with fresh water then may not need anything but a water change and general upkeep from here on out>  I have sand with tons of critters too. <Now that I think about it, I would definitely seed both the sand and the live rock>  Any input would be very helpful. <Well, sounds like you have the right idea. Since you have worked on it once before, I think you know exactly what to do. I would treat this as a new tank  by cycling everything in tank, and as soon as all levels are nominal, I would "seed" via your suggestion above. Give it a good six weeks to two months though. The only things I would add at about the third or fourth week would be a clean up crew. Keep the water changes coming. Change the lighting if needed and go from there.> This is going to be my weekend project! <Understood> I love this stuff! <Glad to hear. Sounds like you got a handful there> Thanks Lots! <Our pleasure. Good luck and most of all.....have fun! Thanks for coming WetWebMedia. Paul> -Becky

Re: New reef set-up questions 4/19/03 Thanks Anthony! I am really obliged with your answers. <its our pleasure to help, my friend. One day I'll find myself traveling in your country and we can share a beer :) > My LFS know just a few things about reefs and I could never imagine starting a reef without your help and your advices. I really can not describe my thankfulness to you and your colleagues. <we truly enjoy sharing our passion for this beautiful hobby with folks like you sharing the interest> I have read the "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and I am looking forward to buying your new book "Reef Invertebrates" when published. I have some more questions: - After your answers I start to calculate that if I choose a 1'' tubing for my overflow, I can have a minimum flow rate of 300 GPH, which is about 4 times my tank+sump capacity (50 tank + 20 sump). Is this circulation enough? <it sounds safe and appropriate for the sump loop. But you may want to add some extra water flow in the main tank with a hang-on filter or simple power head to increase total flow overall. The modern guideline in a reef aquarium is 10-20X tank volume turned over per hour> (my LFS say that 1 time is enough!...). <WOW!!!! That is terrible. With such slow flow... algae problems are very common... not to mention poor water quality at large> Of course I will use extra powerheads of inside-tank circulation. I am now referring only to the circulation via the overflow. <ahhh... understood and agreed> - In case I have to use a bigger diameter for the tubing in order to have a bigger water circulation , is it better to have two 1'' tubings in the same overflow box or one 2'' tubing? <one 2" would be better than two 1"> - Which dimensions should the overflow box have? - Which should be the distance of the hole from the lower end of the overflow box? <Hmmm... these are questions that cannot be answered easily sight unseen. My advice is for you to visit web sites like ozreef.org and check out their DIY links and pages for great tips and illustrations with measurements to see what might suit you best > - Concerning the DSB in my main tank, is there the risk of formation of anoxic pockets, where poisonous gas can escape and kill the fishes+invertabrates? <that only occurs when the system is overfed and/or lacks water flow (or other creatures to stir sand naturally). Essentially... it only occurs in neglected tanks> I have read it in some web sites and this is the reason I was thinking of having a DSB only in my sump, where it can be more controllable. <agreed... a small benefit indeed> - I have also read that a plenum is much more efficient in denitrification. Is this wrong? <I have had much experience with plenums... and I do not find them to be helpful or harmful. Mostly a waste of time when applied to home-sized aquaria... better for very large displays> And a question about lighting: - I would like to start right and cover from the beginning the issue "lighting" by buying the right equipment from the beginning. I am confused about the following: since daylight is at about 6500K why do the new metal halides have a 10000K or higher? <because aquarists like the aesthetic look of the bluer colored lamps> I know that we need the higher spectrum but we can provide it with extra blue actinic fluorescent tubes. Is it in fact the higher spectrum areas that the photosynthetic invertebrates mostly need? <not at all... quite the contrary... mostly daylight> Don't we need the lower spectrum areas that much? Or it is so, that the 10000K cover fully the 6500K and offer even more in the upper spectrum area? <anything in the 6500 to 10,000K range will serve you fine... do resist the bulbs over 10K unless you are going to specialize> I see a lot of on-line shops in the Internet and intend to order a pending system soon. I still do not know what combination it should be (MH + blue actinic I suppose , but which Kelvin rate ?). <my advice for a balance or good coral growth and handsome color to lamps is an Aqualine or Ushio 10K lamp. If coral growth instead is your only or primary interest, then the Iwasakis are your best bet IMO> I am not discussing the Watts here, because I feel a little more informed in this area.- Are HQI really more effective than normal MH? <perhaps... I like them very much (the double ended 10Ks)> Too many questions again , but I feel I am starting to have a good idea about all this (thanks to your help!) Thanassis <best regards, Anthony>

RE: Setting Up a Reef  4/17/03 Thanks for the quick response Phil,<No problem!> I love the site.<So do I!> I wish I would have got more advise before I bought the skimmer.<Live, learn, and kick your-self in the butt... :)  > I was under the impression this was a top of the line skimmer. It has a top of the line price.<This is so true of many "crap" items in this hobby.> I started the tank fresh without bio balls, but a local shop had told me to leave them in. I didn't listen. I am not sure yet what type of corals I am going to try and keep. I will start slow. right now I would like to maximize the coralline algae growth on my new rock and start with some soft corals and add color to the tank. how much light to accomplish this,<Between 3-5 watts per gallon is a good amount for the basics.  You should pick up Anthony's book on coral.  It lists all you need to know!> also when do you recommend I add reef janitors?<I'd give it a little time for algae to grow.  Maybe a week or two after you add your first fish.> thanks again!!!<Hope this helps and good luck!  Phil> New reef set-up questions 4/14/03 Hello again! <Howdy!> Just to summarize, after 13 years of keeping a FO aquarium I am now on the process of designing a reef from scratch (my old tank had a crush, so I just gave it away). After a lot of reading in the net as well as some books about reef set-up, I have come up with my first questions, which will help me in the stage of designing my cabinet+tank+sump. My first question concerns the overflow box. My LFS has a little experience with this kind of stuff and they only have built a couple of overflow systems but with a bulkhead hole which is drilled on the upper side of the side glass of the tank (not on the bottom, as I have read in many sites in the internet), Is there a problem with this kind of overflow box? <I personally prefer to have my overflow holes drilled on the upper back wall... never the floor> I am planning to order a 50 gal (200 lit) tank with a 20 gal (80 lit) sump. I am now in the process of designing my sump and I read really a lot in the net (your site plus thereefweb.com). My question is how I am going to calculate the diameter of the bulkhead overflow hole and the respective flow rate of the return pump, so that I do not face overflow problems in my sump. Could you help me calculate this? <we cannot calculate it per se... you simply consult the bulkhead manufacturers specs and then drill enough holes to match the desired flow and pump of your choice (perhaps 500-100o GPH for this tank)> I find it easier and simpler to have the return pump (submersible) inside the sump and not outside of it.. Is there any problem with that? <it adds extra heat and may be a problem (water temperature) in a warm room> Up to now I have concluded that it is safer and more controllable to have a DSB in a special area within the sump, where I can also have some live rock and Caulerpa growing plus some bottom critters (hermit crabs, etc). If I do this I will have just an inch or less of sand on my main tank for the stars, gobies, and other fishes that enjoy a substrate. Is this right? <it may not be enough sand to feed some deposit feeders (over 3" is recommended)> In case I follow the above sump/refugium do I need to build a plenum or can I go also with a DSB ? <don't bother with a plenum IMO... they offer little or no benefit over a static bed of sand> Has it got to be live sand or can I do the job just with dry sand from my LFS, since there is no problem with the creation of pockets of poisonous sulfate escaping in my main tank? I am really confused with this one. <dry sand is fine and will become live in time. Just add a small handful of live sand to seed the dry> I am at the same time designing the stand cabinet of the tank. Since I will have a plenum does the wooden cabinet have to be open on the rear side (practically to have no back at all) in order to avoid the humidity caused by water evaporation within the cabinet? <its nice to have a little part open at least to dissipate humidity. Add a fan if necessary to exhaust humid air> In case I use glass front doors for my stand cabinet , will the light be enough for the living organisms on my live rock and Caulerpa in my sump or do I still need to use lights? <you will need bright lights for certain (5 watts per gallon)> I recently bought an AquaC Remora skimmer, which worked just for a couple of weeks before my FO tank had a crash. I am thinking of hanging it to my sump with its pump in my sump. Will it be ok? <yes> I have read somewhere that it is a good idea to place a glass just below the Metal Halide lamp, so that you get an extra protection for the UV radiation coming from the MH. Is this correct? <yes> Will this extra glass reduce the efficiency of the MH lamp? <little... mostly UV if the glass is think, clean and clear> Many questions, but I feel the more I read the more questions I will have.....(sorry!) Thanks, Thanassis <best regards, Anthony>

Re: New reef set-up questions 4/15/03 Thanks Anthony, here are a couple of questions just to make things for me more clear: <I personally prefer to have my overflow holes drilled on the upper back wall... never the floor>. Do you also make an overflow box, or just drill the holes and let the water come directly into them? <<I prefer to have an internal (horizontal) overflow box around the holes to thin out the overflow water for improved skimmer performance (gets better raw water)>> <we cannot calculate it per se... you simply consult the bulkhead manufacturers specs and then drill enough holes to match the desired flow and pump of your choice (perhaps 500-100o GPH for this tank)>. This is in fact my question (my English is a little bad!) : Suppose I have an EHEIM pump 1250 lit/hour or 550 GPH. Which diameter will be the hole that I will drill? 1 inch or more? Which way can I much the desired flow with the hole diameter? <<your English is very fine my friend... no worries. You have simply misunderstood. The size of the hole you need depends on the tolerances of a given and specific bulkhead. Their are differences in water flow through the "same" diameter of pipe made in different formats (Sch 40, sch 80, Thick wall PVC, sewer and drain pipe, etc). You must simply look for a bulkhead fitting first and then see what it says you can push through it... then add up enough of those bulkheads to match the total flow that you desire in your system. 1" bulkheads can run between 300-600 gph through one hole usually. To be conservative, if you want 1000 gph through your system, you will need 3 to 4 holes drilled (1")>> <don't bother with a plenum IMO... they offer little or no benefit over a static bed of sand>. If I do not make a plenum, would it be ok to place oolithic aragonite sand with a diameter of 1,5 mm  to a height of 8 cm? Is that all or do I have to use 2 layers of sand, one with non-aragonite sand and the upper with aragonite sand? <<nope...it is just as you first mentioned. You can simply place 8 cm of fine oolitic sand in a static bed directly on the bottom of the > My AquaC Remora skimmer is not designed to use ozone. Since I am making a reef I would like to use ozone. Is there any solution to this? <<yes, indeed... there are simply and fairly inexpensive acrylic and PVC cylinder that will work as a reaction chamber for injecting ozone. DO a search for DIY plans for an "ozone reactor" on the web to see if you can find one that suits you>> Thanks, Thanassis <<best regards, Anthony>>

- Set-up Questions - <Hello again, JasonC here...> Thanks, I went to the aquarium store and they explained it to me in the same way, now I have to figure out how I'm going to set it up, bought a couple of books on reef tanks and I want some invertebrates in there, looking forward to it, I may convert my old 55 gal into a sump for this tank and put the goldfish and koi in my pond. <Sounds good.> I really like your DIY website, does anyone use the water pumps from Harbor freight, they are cheap, and seem to work well for a pond. <But are they capable of dealing with corrosive salt water? That is the question that needs to be answered.> What about using an old pool filter canister with pump (with a new filter, I'd never fully Dechlor. the old one) for filtration, would that work (I have an extra), then into a skimmer, into the old aquarium (sump), I would divide it wet/dry w/bio balls, then to the pump, through a uv in case I needed it and back to the tank with a spray wand type inflow. <If you want to build a reef tank, I wouldn't use a pool filter in the system - would filter out items that would be useful to the health of your occupants. The skimmer, yes - the wet/dry, no - the UV, no.> Should I put air stones in the sump for maximum oxygenation or will the skimmer handle it. <The skimmer will accomplish that for you.> Thought about the gymnasium type metal halides if I can get the right color (I can get them cheap) then put them on timers, and 4 power heads, 2 on each side on timers to simulate tide. <The fixtures would work, but the bulb would probably need to be replaced with something more appropriate for aquaria.> What won't work, and what am I leaving out?  I want to build a stand to go over an antique cabinet, then plumb it to a closet behind that wall and set up the mechanicals there.  What about sealing the top of the tank with a glass sheet, but running a couple computer fans to keep it cooler, then hanging the large halides a foot or so above the tank. <How would you do any maintenance on the tank? I wouldn't seal the top.> I also have plans to convert an old minifridge into a chiller if need be.  Wow, hope you can help. <Keep up the research.> Thanks, Jay <Cheers, J -- >

Setting Up a Reef  4/14/03 Ok I have read your site so much now I think my eyes are starting to bleed.<LOL.. I hear ya.> First time questions so I hope I don't wear out my welcome.<Nah, we're a great group of people.  It must be something in the water... LOL.  Pun intended.> To much controversy in what I read and what local shops tell me. I have had very successful fish only tanks but I am now bored.<That's how I was.> Just started a new 90 gal reef tank system which is up and running with 80lbs Fiji live pink sand.<GREAT!!> I ordered 98 lbs of Fiji live rock and only received 46. which has been in the tank for about two weeks. Should receive the other half today. I bought a red Berlin 25-250 skimmer and placed it in the sump and started it today.<Sounds good so far> my questions are: Bio balls or no bio balls<I would slowly remove them over a few weeks and replace them with live rock>,skimmer started now or do I wait<Start now>, Is this skimmer ok for this set up<I'm not a fan of this skimmer, but others have used it with no problems>, Is this enough rock.<I think so> lighting now?<Do you mean turn it on?  If so ya turn it on.> if so how long and how much.<10-13 hours is good.  How much.. depends on the corals you want to keep.> Thinking about a ice-cap 660 system. ok<ok...>, Base rock or no base rock.<Really doesn't matter> my tank is an all glass system with corner overflow. Is one discharge enough current?<Probably going to wanta add a few(?) powerheads, IMO> I use a quiet one pump and I have it gated down because the flow was extremely strong . Also how can I quiet down the overflow.<There are a few ways, search on WWM for "Durso Standpipe".>  Thank you, any help would be greatly appreciated... Robert<Hope this helps Rob!  Good luck!  Phil>

Lighting The Way (Reef Tank Lighting Schemes) Hello Crew, <Scott F. at the keyboard tonight!> Hope all is well with you. Here are my tank specs: 55 gallon AGA w/built in corner overflow (3/4"); Durso Standpipe 90-100lbs LR (mix of Fiji and Gulf) 220 watts PC (2x55w 10000K/Actinic 03; 2x55w 6700K) 24 gallon DIY sump AquaC Urchin Chemi-pure; Polyfilter Mag 9.5 return pump; sweeping powerhead in tank (no problems) Parameters: Ammonia=0 (Hagen), Nitrate<5ppm (Hagen), Ca=433.44 (LaMotte), Alk= 4.0-4.5 (SeaTest), pH=8.3-8.4 (SeaTest), Temp: 76F Livestock: 3 Damsels 1 Tomato Clown 1 Orange Spotted Goby (Valencia) 1 Lawnmower Blenny Blue Legged Hermits, Astrea snails, Sallylightfoot, Mithrax crab, Unidentified Crab, 3 Peppermint Shrimp Corals: 3" Brown Acropora sp. (near top of tank) Mushrooms (bottom of tank) Green Open Brain (bottom) Blastomussa Colony (bottom) Xenia (top) Cabbage Leather (top) Yellow Polyps (middle of tank) Greenstar Polyps (middle) This setup was started in June of last year. No deaths except for a couple of tangs. No additives since November of last year, except Iodine weekly. <Additive manufacturers will hate you- I love you! I agree with the school of thought that advocates testing for anything that you add to the tank!> Water change 5-10 gallons weekly, top-off with buffered/aerated RO water. I just bought the two 6700K PC bulbs; not aesthetically the best, but I wanted a "full" spectrum set-up for coral growth, etc. I need to replace the other two bulbs with either 2 Actinics or 2 new 50/50 bulbs. <Totally your call here. I like the PC "true actinics", myself> Borneman stated in his book that most coral growth can be attributed to light in the "bluer" spectrum. I hope I am not taking that out of context. <No- there is a lot of evidence to that end, and Borneman knows whereof he speaks! Some corals don't respond as well to "blue" spectrum, but many will benefit> Which of the two light bulb choices could my corals have adequate growth/survival rates with? Or, without going the MH route, what other lighting schemes would you suggest? <I ran a very successful soft coral/lps system exclusively with 96 watt PC's...After much experimentation, I found the "sweet spot" with a four bulb configuration of 2 true actinics and 2 50/50's...The corals responded wonderfully, and the aesthetics of the tank were great!> Also, I am planning to build a fishless refugium. Would a 15 gallon DSB refugium be sufficient for my system (for algae growth and 'pod reproduction)? <Sure! I like the idea of a remote DSB in situations where you don't want the 4-6 inch bed in your display. You'll still reap all of the benefits of the in-tank DSB (denitrification, etc.) with a remote DSB.> Thanks kindly, Randy M. Yniguez, MA, LMHC <A pleasure, Randy! I think you're going to do well with any of the lighting schemes that you're considering! Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Stocking A Small Reef System Hi there, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Just curious if this stocking plan will work with my 37 Gallon tank. I've got 30 lbs. of LR, LS, built-in Eclipse filter, Remora Pro Skimmer, Power Compact Smart Lite Retrofit (65 watts) & a Rio 200 Air Pump. Are there any major compatibility issues or problems with anything? Thank you for your help. Week 1: -1 Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) <Nice animal to start with> -5 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs (Phimochirus operculatus) <I like the idea of adding herbivores/scavengers before the fishes> Week 2: -1 Bi-color Angel (Centropyge bicolor) <Not one of the better choices for Centropyge angels for a few reasons: First, it's one of the potentially larger ones, reaching 4-5 inches (too large for this tank, IMO). Second, it has a rather spotty reputation for hardiness of late; if a specimen has been properly collected/handled, you'll have a better chance for success, but this is not always verifiable. Finally, adding a Centropyge angel to a newly established tank is not a great idea, IMO. They need a good growth of algae and fauna on the live rock on which to "graze"...this takes time to become established, so I'd hold off on adding an angel for a few months, at least. BTW, I'd certainly go for one of the smaller Centropyge species for this sized tank, like C. argi or C. fisheri..> -1 Flower/Ricordea Mushroom (Discosoma species) a.k.a.: Disc Anemones, Flower Corals, Mushroom Anemones <Good hardy corals to start with (mushrooms, that is). If by "flower corals", you mean star polyps or "yellow polyps", then go for it...> Week 3: -1 Canary Fang Blenny (Meiacanthus ovaluanensis) <A nice fish for smaller tanks> -1 Finger Leather, Sinularia (Sinularia species) <an easy soft coral that will do nicely under good PC illumination> Week 4: -1 Burgundy Linckia Star (Burgundy species) <I'd go for a brittle star, myself...more useful, and a lot less touchy than Linckia species, IMO> Week 5: -1 Percula Clown-False (Amphiprion Ocellaris) or  1 Percula Clown-True (Amphiprion Percula) <Great little fishes!> -1 Carpet Anemone (probably Stich. gigantea) <I'd pass on the anemone- not needed for the clownfish, and requiring very strong illumination and highly stable water conditions...Take it slow, like you've planned-make a few minor adjustments to your plan, and you'll be fine. Have fun, and good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Growing Pains (Stocking a Up-And-Coming Reef) Thanks so much for your response.  I also put this message on your chat board and basically got the same response.  We have a pink tipped Haitian anemone.  I just don't understand why my LFS would not tell me to buy a stronger lighting system.  They seem knowledgeable and we have been telling them we are new to this and they know we would have bought pretty much anything they suggested in the beginning.  Problem is I don't have much choice as there are only a few places around here that sell marine animals. <Well, one good thing- I'd certainly say that Condylactis anemones (which I believe your specimen is) are among the hardiest anemone specimens for captivity. Also, they are fairly abundant in their natural environment, so the impact of their collection is not quite as great as say, carpet anemones, or other species. That being said- they still require a high level of attention to do well in captivity...I also don't know why the LFS didn't recommend more light; perhaps there is some misconception as to their requirements...> Anyway, regarding the anemone and clownfish, as I said the one larger fish stays with the anemone while the smaller one keeps trying the other aggressively shoos it away.  I want the smaller one to be happy too. It doesn't give up.  It has found a hiding place in the rocks but keeps trying for the anemone.  Can I put another anemone in the tank (once I get better lighting)?  Does it have to be the same kind? <Well, I am not a big fan of multiple anemones in a relatively small system. the potential for aggression (yep- I said "aggression"- as in chemical warfare and/or cannibalism) between the two is too great. In time, there is a good chance that your smaller clownfish will become a male in this pair, and the female (the larger of the two) will probably allow him into the anemone at some point (assuming that they pair off), so just make sure that the little guy is eating and not being injured by the other one> We plan to eventually put more live rock, some coral and over the next 3-6 months, fish wise, we are looking at tangs and/or angels, <I'm not a big fan of tangs in smaller tanks, so do consider the ultimate size of the species that you are interested in, and your ability to provide for its needs in the long term. As for angels- I love 'em- but if you intend to have corals, you may have some problems with them nipping and/or eating the polyps. Study the fish you intend to keep very carefully, and make sure that you are okay accepting the potential "trade off" in keeping these animals> maybe one each of blennies, a Hawkfish and Pseudochromis. <These are much better choices, for the most part; they stay small, are generally not overly aggressive, and do very well in mixed fish/invert systems> We saw an electric scallop but don't know much about them.  I appreciate your thoughts and comments. <They don't do well in captivity...Avoid them! How's that for some advice! LOL...Seriously, they are most difficult to keep alive for long periods of time in captivity, and I'd say that they are really not good choices for captive systems> Thanks, Sue <No problem, Sue! Glad that you are growing and learning in the hobby! Just take it slow-read a lot, share your experiences with others, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Help for new reef set-up Greetings,      I am currently starting my very first saltwater/reef aquarium, using a 37 gallon Eclipse with the built in hood and power filter. Substrate is the ubiquitous sand (not live) and I just put in 12 lbs. of live rock to start off the cycle. My question concerns the ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY equipment when it comes to a reef/fish operation. I already know about the importance of good lighting, so I will not be skimping on that at all. My dilemma is that my LFS tells me that the best results come from utilizing a wet/dry trickle filter with sump, and that no other filtration can match this. <IMO, the media in the trickle filter will lead to elevated nitrites down the road. If adding this type of filtration, I would use a simple sump as a place to 'hide' the mechanicals and add some mechanical filtration, like carbon etc and increase volume> The local worker, who is very helpful and well meaning, also mentioned that having this set-up meant I didn't need to use a protein skimmer since it would kill too many bacteria, both good and bad. <Hogwash. A high quality protein skimmer is a critical piece of filtration equipment in a reef> He also tells me that the trickle filter basically meant I can/should stop using the power filter that came attached with the system. However, I have also encountered people who have reef systems who do not use the trickle filter but are getting along with a power filter. As a rookie to the saltwater side (and most books do not specify the "real deal" in this dept.) please tell me what you think the optimal set up is. I am willing to spend some money on the higher end equipment, but I also want to know if I can be successful and thrifty at the same time (aka use the same filter, etc). Thank you for your patience! <Here is what I would do. Keep the power filter and run it as needed, add a GOOD skimmer, and add a sump if you have $$$$. Do a search of WetWebMedia for skimmers and sumps to get some ideas. BTW, kudos to you for researching and asking questions BEFORE you start. Continue this practice and you will be rewarded. Hope this helps, Don>

Reef Tank Set-up Hi Bob and crew, I'm designing a new 150g (60x24x24) reef tank to hold LPS corals, some small fish (1 mandarin, 2 purple Firefish, 1 fairy wrasse, others undecided yet), and possibly a few clams. <Wait until well aged for Mandarin--food supply to become established without predation.> It will be in my bedroom so my first priority is noise and I live in Southern California so electrical use is my second priority.   <So using power to induce the hum of motors and water gurgling is bad?  I thought the noise lulled me to sleep! But seriously, a 150 with clams and LPS will use some power for pump motors, lighting for LPS and clams, heat in winter and cooling in summer. Not really much room for compromising here...> Could I get your advice on the following issues? 1) For filtration, can I avoid having a sump and instead use lots of LR, a DSB, and strong circulation from powerheads in the main tank?  There will be a large refugium (100g) with a EuroReef PS under the tank, but there will not be much flow through the refugium (200-400gph). <More LR, LS etc. is surely good. I would replace refugium idea under tank with sump with LR as sumps are designed and intended, well, as sumps. That is, under the tank.  Refugiums are meant as a multiple purpose filter/nutrient export/pod production, etc. placed *above* the main and passively draining into main. Flow through sump only needs to be sufficient to provide good turnover to skimmer/filtration. Main circulation can be done with powerheads (a little unsightly), a closed loop, more overall circulation, etc. The circulation in the main is the primary concern if filtration is sufficient.> My thinking is that lower flow out of the tank -> smaller pumps -> less noise and electricity.  Using powerheads means no head for the pumps -> smaller pumps -> less electricity.  Does this sound good or am I deluding myself? <A little. There is no compromise for needed filtration flow and overall flow in the main tank. Powerheads are not silent, add heat to the water, and you have to look at them. Combined they can use more power and make more collective noise than one correctly sized pump.  And in So. Cal. add more heat.  Chillers use power and make noise as well!  The other part of this compromise is less water volume, less flow, less water/temp stability.> 2) I would like to use a Durso standpipe to cut down on noise.  Do I need to have an overflow box for this or can I just make an intake filter for the standpipe? <For best noise reduction, use an overflow box and then the Durso intake can be below water level, reducing water noise and getting best flow rate.> 3) I'm interested in building a concrete wall for the back of the aquarium (like what is found in professional public aquarium setups) to hide all the plumbing and create a natural coastal wall look.  I can't find any information on how to do this, any experience or pointers? <Do check out WWM for concrete curing issues and perhaps coatings (epoxy, etc.) for concrete. Look into Alkalinity/pH issues with concrete. This has been done, so the info is out there.  I read about a 2000 gallon concrete built-in last year, I think it was in FAMA?  Also, with such a permanent set-up, I would advise a central sump/filtration with pumps, perhaps closed loop circulation, no powerheads.> 4) Lighting: HQI MH or T5 VHO fluorescents?  I'd like to go MH, but I can concerned with heat (leads to fans + AC -> more electricity) and the cost.  If MH do you have any opinions on whether electronic ballasts are worth the additional cost? <MH. Light output per KW is far more efficient with MH, therefore it is actually less power used. Wattage depends on depth. I love VHO but for power efficiency you will be able to run less wattage in MH to get the same light from much more VHO wattage. You may still consider Actinic VHO for looks/rendition/appearance.  MH will be raised higher, less heat to water, more room for a fan or two.  David, it's So. Cal. it will 105 in July. (you're not in the Valley are you?) You will need the air no matter what!> Thanks for any help and I can't thank you enough for your excellent website!  David Wangerin <A pleasure my friend, have fun!  Craig>

Tank size okay? Hello, I  have a 55 gallon tank that measures  the typical 48X18X12, and was wondering if  its size is okay for a reef system, I have about 11/2 to 2 inch of sand and  have  260 total watts of lighting(2-65 watt Actinic and  2-65 watt 10,000K) I understand that wide and shallow are the way to go in tanks for reefs, but when  I got this tank last year I was only going to do a fish only tank but have changed my mind and would like to turn to reef system.  Thank you for your help!   Bruce      >>Hi Bruce.  I see no problem why you couldn't make a nice reef tank with what you've got.  I would make the sand a deep sand bed, since you're at least halfway there, and go for a generous 3"-4". The lighting sounds good, filtration would be your next consideration, which is going to be partly determined by what you've chosen to do and the current tank. Marina

Nighttime lighting on reef 2/26/03 Dear WWM consortium: <is that what they call beer-drinking buddies nowadays... a con-sor-tee-um. Fancy that :) > Quick question. I want to install a couple of small bulbs inside my canopy to light my reef tank at night with a purply/blue/reddish hue......nothing bright. These lights will come on 1/2 hr before my actinics turn off, and I'd like to know what types of "moonlight" lights (manufacturer/brand) you suggest to do the job. <for purely aesthetics with economy/efficiency in mind... the new fiber-optic LED lights get my vote> I hear incandescent "party lights" run very hot, <that's just silly <G>. Ya.. they do indeed run "hot" and produce heat as it were... but your tank would experience a drop in temp at night from your day lights being off if it were not for your heater kicking on every night (more than by day if at all). There is no way that a single incandescent bulb can offset or exceed what your day lamps throw. Who was the turnip that told you that one <G>? Incandescent moonlight is cheap and easy. Just not too efficient in the long run.> and I am uncertain how small they make power compact fluorescents with a deep blue/purple/reddish bulb in them.   <hmmm... actually, I have seen some dark blue 9 watt pc.s> I only have like 6" to work with here <don't we all... if we're lucky> on each end of the canopy. <oh... right. Sorry. The light fixture. Ahem... LEDs would be cool... but a 9 watt pc like those old mini-might lights (junk) would be very fine if well made> Thanks a bunch. Steve <best regards, Anthony>

- Moving to a larger tank - <Greetings, JasonC here... I clicked send a little too quickly last time ;-) > Hi there I have been to your website in the past many, many times and would like to thank you for all of your help. I have a question about a reef tank. I have a 125 gallon tank right now with approx 230lbs of rock in it, VHO Lighting and all the other equipment. I have 3 hammer corals, 2 torch corals, 2 colt corals, elegant coral, 2 open brain corals, 2 bubble corals, 1 pearl bubble, 3 frogspawns, 3 doughnut corals, star polyps and an assortment of mushrooms. I am planning on getting a 280 gallon tank. 72"x30"x30". I am going to use a sump system on this tank so I can hide the heaters skimmer etc out of site. I am going to use three metal halides (I am thinking two 10,000K and one 6500K with standard actinics). The tank will be built for me with overflows and returns drilled. Is there any suggestions you can give me to help make this tank more manageable for a reef set-up? <Sounds like you've got a good handle on it.> Number of returns, placement, etc. <Very hard to be specific here... general answers like more circulation is better than too little, more heads are better than one... etc.> My biggest concern is I like LPS Corals and need a gentle current for them. <You might want to cut back a little on the lighting then, or go for lower wattage lamps. Likewise... lowering the current too much might cause stale areas in the tank. I think you'd be surprised to find many of these corals in areas on the reef where the flow is much higher than in most tanks... I wouldn't be too concerned.> I am going to use a 2400GPH MagDrive pump for my sump return. Is there anything else I should ask the LFS store might overlook. <Perhaps just redundancy... the ability to take a pump out of line to clean it but still retaining circulation, stuff like that.> Thanks, Ian Roff <Cheers, J -- >

- Reef Setup - Hi Jason! <Howdy.> Hope you're doing well tonight. <As far as I can tell...> No questions this time.  Just wanted to respond, and thank you.  You made my night. <Glad to hear it.> I've been stressing over the fact that I just found out that the tank I purchased, Oceanic's 75G "Reef Ready" (Yeah right), <Do you know what "reef ready" means? I don't.> has an overflow that will only accept 750 G an hour.  Since I can make up for this to a certain extent with power heads, I feel better. <Honestly, there isn't an overflow that I know of that will handle more.> I guess I could find a way to use both the return and overflow pipes for return, and then rig my own return, but If I can get by without, I think that's what I'll do. <It's still a limitation of the holes/slots in the overflow box inside the tank...> A slight rant: It really makes me mad that the "Cadillac" of tank makers pull this kind of crap. <?> It's bad enough that they insist on selling a wonderful 80W light fixture with the tank (unless you special order the tank), which by the way takes up pretty much the whole area and leaves no room for extra lights. Please, 80W, for reef ready?! <Depends on what you want to put in the reef... you expected metal halide perhaps?> And get this.  The light is about 1/4" too big to fit in under their canopy!!!!  The nerve. <Let them [Oceanic] know.> I'm going to stick with it, but I'm pretty disappointed that this is what I got for $300.00 for more than the "lesser"  brands. <Dude, relax and breathe deep for a minute or two. Just compare the thickness of the glass in an Oceanic tank to any other on the market... you'll see where the majority of that extra $300 went. I've owned Oceanic tanks in the past, and I've always been very satisfied with them, I think you will be too... lighting is another matter, and one that you can easily fix.> Thanks again for the advice, and thank you for letting me vent.  Have a wonderful night! <You too.> Thanks, Eric N. <Cheers, J -- >

Slowly moving towards a reef I have had a fish only tank for the past 6 years, and am in the process of preparing my tank to support gorgonians, anemones, shrimp, polyps, mushrooms etc.  Would you agree that these are good specimens to begin with before trying any corals?   <the polyps (Proto-/Palythoa and Zoanthus) and the mushrooms are very good and hardy choices. The gorgonians are highly variable ranging from hardy to nearly impossible to keep alive. Please (!) be sure to avoid aposymbiotic species (Red orange, yellow and anything with white polyps). Stick with brown purple and grey species. Anemones are an entirely different story. Never to be mixed with sessile cnidarians (they are motile) and most require higher water quality and brighter lighting than most corals! Species tanks only for gorgonians please and after you have gained reef experience. Too many anemones die prematurely> Do these specimens have the same requirements as hardy corals, except that slightly more forgiving?  My head is spinning trying to figure out how much and how often to supplement calcium, iodine, and strontium.   <it shouldn't be that difficult my friend. Iodine dosed in very small amounts daily. Strontium is not needed. And calcium as necessary (test weekly and maintain target of 325-450ppm. I recommend Kalkwasser> At the suggestion of a well known LFS in the North East (The House of Fins), I purchased the EVS B-ionic system, and 'Reef Solution' by Ecosystems.  Are these good products?   <I like the ESV very much (but shake this and all 2-part solutions VERY well before Every dose, else they become separated and misdosed). I personally wouldn't take or use the Ecosystems product for free. Unnecessary IMO> How long before adding my first 'reef' specimens should I begin using these additives?   <no rule here. Calcium is dosed as needed (Ca testing).> The B-ionic is relatively expensive when compared with Kalkwasser, so I think I will switch to Kalkwasser after I finish the B-ionic (Can you recommend a brand?).   <Kalkwasser is more tedious to use, but has many benefits over all others. Read up on it well before using. Have you seen my primer article on Calcium and Alkalinity here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm many other good reef articles here and beyond on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Latest%20Articles.htm> I have also learned that Kalkwasser eats away at alkalinity, What should I use to keep this up, Kent SuperBuffer?   <Completely inaccurate... Kalkwasser actually indirectly Supports (!) alkalinity. So much so that some people need little or no buffer additions . Still... test Ca hardness to be sure when to dose buffer> Since I plan to move slowly, I am thinking of adding a gorgonian, an anemone and a few shrimp to start for the first 3 months or so.  Does this light load of inverts change the dosing of supplements?   <no anemones for at least 2 years or until you get a dedicated tank for it with no other corals or anemones. Also resist getting a clown for the anemone at least at first (more harm than good to the anemone). Seek a brown Sebae or a bubble tip anemone first> (I currently have a 90 gallon w/ LR curing in a garbage can, Blue Linckia, crabs, snails, 2 cukes, and an assortment of damsels and clowns, 1 yellow tang).  How does my plan sound? <sounds like you have a blue Linckia that may starve my friend. Most needs mature reefs over 1 year old with aged live rock. Please target feed this sea star several times weekly for its survival. The cucumbers are also at risk of starving on immature livesand> Any suggestions are much appreciated. <as per above my friend. Overall though it sounds like you are on a good track> My biggest concern is a regiment to help me maintain consistent levels of these critical additives with which I have no experience.   <in that case, simply conduct 25% weekly water changes and sleep well knowing that for the first 6-12 months you will be doing better with wc's than any supplements could provide> Thanks for all your help, I'm sure your advice will save me many $ and headaches down the road. Adam Best regards, Anthony>

Inverts Good Afternoon, <Good evening!>     I am in the process of stocking (slowly) my Reef set-up. I have been very careful to read up on the compatibility of the fish I am adding (with each other and with the reef). <Very wise!> I don't have a lot of information on invertebrates however. I recently read a FAQ on your site regarding the mixing of inverts (differing lighting and circulation requirements). Before purchasing any of the inverts, I make a point to ask the owner of the LFS about it's hardiness (or lack thereof) and lighting but I am now seeking more information. I have a 45 gallon (tall) glass aquarium. It measures 12"W x 24"T x 36"L. If I hadn't already had the tank (from an earlier set-up) I would have gone shallower. <24" is deep. If you had a 4" or 5" sandbed it would help.> I use power compacts - two 55W blue actinics and two 55W 6750K white bulbs. This gives me approximately 5 watts per gallon. <This would be on the low end for high light animals.> My LR comes to within approximately 10-12" of the top of my tank. My lights sit directly on top of the tank. I have a tank turnover of almost 25 times <Good to hear...> per hour when I have my mechanical filter going (once a month or so) and almost 20 when it is not in use. The flow is somewhat varied. Not including the fish or the clean-up critters, I currently have a squamosa clam, a flame scallop, <I know flames are cheap and easy to buy, but they do need to be fed. Good luck keeping this one long term (as in years)...> a leather umbrella coral, a frogspawn coral, a couple of polyps and feather dusters that hitch hiked with the LR and a Red Sea Pom Pom (I assume of the Xenia family). <Heteroxenia> I have stayed away from the maxima clams and any hard corals due to my lighting and inexperience. <Another wise choice.> The pom pom, the leather coral and the frogspawn <Euphyllia divisa: One of the better hard corals for a tank like the one you describe.> are all near the top of the LR. <Good.> I have started adding Iodine with the addition of the Pom Pom. <Are you testing for the amount of iodine in the water? You really need to so the limits will stay within reason.> I have 2 questions; with the given set-up, have I introduced any inappropriate items? <I don't see anything that should cause a problem. Be careful about mixing hard and soft corals. Many hard corals from the Scleractinia family have sweeper tentacles. Don't place them close to other corals. Corals from the octocoral family use chemical weapons. Not a major problem if you have a good skimmer and use a little bit of carbon.> Do you have any suggestions or comments regarding any new additions with regard to hardiness and/or compatibility? <The choices are so numerous...I won't go there. You are making excellent choices so far. Continue your search at WetWebMedia.Com> Thanks for your help. Your site is an invaluable tool. <Thank you for sending these thoughtful questions. It is our pleasure to be of service. David Dowless>

New Reef Questions (Lots of 'Em!) Hi, <Hi! Scott F. here tonight!> Quick questions.  What are my options for a 55 gallon glass tank as a reef environment replication? <All kinds of options here-you can simulate a rubble zone, patch reef, etc. The possibilities are endless!> (would like inverts) (first time marine, about 2 years FW experience, current 20gal FW, 55 gal empty). I realize that I will need a sump, a protein skimmer, LR in the tank and some in the sump, LS in the tank, powerful fluorescent lights between about 6500 and 10000K, at least two heaters, and some sort of in tank water circulation. <All can be used- depends on your goals and the animals you'll keep.> I have also determined from what I have read that I will need to cycle this with just light and LR for upwards of 3+ months. <Shouldn't take that long...> I will also need to make at least weekly 20% water changes <20% is a serious water change on a weekly basis!> ( can I do this from the sump WO disturbing the tank?) <certainly> How deep should I make the LS bed be, and does it need an open space below it? (gravel concept filter?) <Either 1/2 inch or less, or more than 3 inches> Also I have heard that tufa(CaCO3) can be used as substrate, as long as, you do add some LR, and some of the bagged bacteria reef mud products, what are the considerations with using tufa. <Can be used as "base rock" Make sure it's free of contamination.> In the great basin of the US there are lots of it just waiting to find a new home. <As above> How important is it to have a RO/DI unit? <Can be critical if your source water is poor quality> Would a simple charcoal and sand column and a days wait be sufficient (water is from a well in an alkaline basin gravel aquifer). <Check with your local fish store about measures used in your area to prep source water> How much "Emergency saltwater" needs to be kept on hand? <No hard and fast rule> How crucial is a UV light? <Depends on the animals you keep- can be nice to have, but lots of people get by without 'em> What about those "Calc-Reactors" I have heard of, and can they be had via DIY projects? <They are beneficial for many systems, can be a DIY project> Also, as water volume is important should I make one of the 3 sided wood fish tanks to have something in the 200 gallon+ size for the effort required of a reef system? <Bigger can be better, IMO!> I am considering using a plastic (Rubbermaid) tub for the sump, how important is it to paint it with something like a non toxic marine boat paint? <As long as it's "food grade", should be okay without coating of any kind> What are my options for reducing the cost of lighting? <Really too many to cover, here!> When can I make DIY projects and when should I just buy it off the shelf? <If you are handy- go for it!> Where can I find pictures/diagrams of sump systems that have incorporated failsafe redundancy? <Check the DIY site, OzReef.org. Thanks, Jesse PS, picked up the following small library on eBay recently (The Moe book looks the most complete, though each seams to have a bias). "Reproduction in Reef Fishes" by Dr. R.E. Thresher 1984 "Reef Fishes of the Indian Ocean" by Dr. Gerald R. Allen and Roger C. Steene 1987 "Fishes for the Invertebrate Aquarium 3rd ed" by Helmut Debelius 1989 "Advanced Reef Keeping" by Albert J. Thiel 1989 "Exotic Marine Fishes 8th ed" by Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod and Dr. Cliff Emmons 1988 "The Marine Aquarium Reference System and Invertebrates" by Marin A. Moe, Jr 1989 "The Marine Aquarium" by Dick Mills 1987 <My friend- you sure have lots of questions! That's good- 'cause you've come to the right place. WetWebMedia.Com has literally hundreds of pages of content that can address just about everything you brought up here- and in much greater detail! Why don't you dedicate yourself to an hour or two a day of surfing the WWM site and reading up on these things! It's a lot of fun, and you'll learn plenty! And pick up a copy of Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation". They'll provide a solid base of up-to-date information that you'll benefit from greatly! Good luck!  Scott F.>

FOWL To Reef Dear Crew:         <Scott F. here tonight> I am in the process of converting my 58 tall FOWLR predator tank (wow what a mistake- way too small) into a reef tank. <Glad you learned that early on!> I currently have 100 pounds of LR and just added a 5 inch aragonite DSB.  Should I seed this with "live sand" or save the money? <If you seed it with just a little live sand, you'll be fine. All sand in a system like this will become "live" in time!> All of the fish were returned to the LFS, the moray ate the Powder Blue, so not much to return. <Yikes!> I have a CPR skimmer with pre-skimmer and bubble trap, and I create circulation with two 600 gph power heads, I may also use my two 200 GPH power heads depending on total turbulence.  I plan to purchase either a Champion or Hamilton 4x96 watt power compact hood.  I also plan to add the 24" CPR Aquafuge with PC lighting.  Do you think that using miracle mud in the refugium would be worth the expense? <All depends on what the refugium is being used for. If you're simply trying to cultivate macroalgae, yes it would work. But if your goal is to produce plankton and provide a safe place for delicate life forms, it's not necessary, IMO> I am planning on LR and macro algae (to be named later). <No Caulerpa, PLEEEZE!> I do not and can not have a sump, and I am worried about calcium.  I currently use 2 part b-ionic and I am worried about keeping levels in check.  The wife would like to have an anemone >and clownfish, clams, scallops, and assorted corals.  I am aware that trying to keep SPS with anemones will not work, how about LPS. <Can work. Why don't you try an inexpensive Condylactis anemone for your first try? They are gorgeous, and much more hardy and forgiving than some of the other species. Anemones require great attention to lighting and water quality.> Also, do you think that I will have enough light for the clams? <If placed high up enough in your reef, yes, but I'd go with one of the species that is not as demanding in regard to light> If I do not have an anemone will my lighting and calcium dosing be enough for SPS corals also is there an animal that might host the clownfish and have a shape similar to an anemone without the associated problems? <When you ask this, I assume that you mean that you will keep SPS in the absence of the anemone, and will dose a 2-part solution? If so, it will work, but you really should look into a calcium reactor for the long run. There are a number of possible "surrogates" for anemones, but it really depends on what the fish want! I've seen clowns take up residence in Sarcophyton leather corals, Elegant Corals, etc. Keep in mind that many tank-raised clowns have never seen an anemone, so it may not interest them. I've heard a lot of disappointed people when this happens. You simply don't know what an animal will or will not do! They don't have to answer to us!> Are there any major problems in my plan that you can see or additions that would make the system appreciably better. <Just study your additions carefully. If you are really going to go SPS, consider metal halide lighting and a calcium reactor for the long run. Your current plan will work, but these two items might make you and your high-light-loving animals happier down the line!> I have ordered Anthony Calfo's coral prop book. <My personal favorite> Is there a good book for coral species information and combination? <Do look for a copy of Eric Borneman's coral book> Finally two last odd questions.  I had a UV filter on the old setup, should I leave it in the new system and run it, run it only if there is a problem, or remove it all together as it will kill all of the microscopic food for the corals. <I'd probably omit it from your setup> And lastly do you think that I could stick my heater in the refugium to hide it. <Should be fine> Sorry for the length of this email, but I would like to do as much as possible to make this a stable and safe environment for my new housemates.  Thanks James <You've got the right idea! Keep studying and learning! You should be fine! Have fun!  Scott F.>

Mini Reef I have two very well established reef systems that use live rock and protein skimmers with no other filtration. I have had excellent success with these two tanks (a 30g and a 40g) for the last three years. I would like to try a 12 g mini reef. I was wondering if I might be ready for such a system. I imagine the only advice you'll give is to not overstock the system. I mean they sell them, so they must work successfully for some people, right?  <The same can be said for many things. You can buy a Tiger cub for $300. Does that mean everyone can keep one in their backyard?> The mini reef has built in wet/dry and protein skimmer and power compact lighting. the only modification I might make is to remove the bio-balls from the wet-dry. What do you think? Are you just totally and adamantly opposed to these small systems? It seems from your website that everyone recommends against these systems.  <That's because they are too small, inherently unstable, hard to keep cool (Doesn't tend to be a consideration in mid-October, but think August 1st. and 98F outside) and need almost constant maintenance to make up for their too small volume.> I'm dying to try one, though! My two established tanks have had no problems, zip, zilch, zero. Am I taking that much of a gamble? <It's your time and money, but IMO they would be better spent pushing the other end of the spectrum where the possibilities are better, are less work, stress and overall cost. Craig>

Set-Up for Corals Surfs up Bob!-I have currently had my 18 gallon marine tank set up for 5 months with about 20 lbs of colorful liverock and 3" of crushed coral as my substrate. I've just been running the filter (w/ carbon) with the liverock all this time with no hurry in adding livestock. I just recently added a Seaclone skimmer rated up to 100 gallons 2 weeks ago and has been running at full speed, which I can already tell was a good investment. <As long as it is collecting dark skimmate almost daily for you, I have no problems with it.> My filtration is a Tetra-Tec 150 filter and an extra little Rio pump for extra circulation. My lighting is a 2x36 watt power compact 4 or 5 inches above the water (1 daylight/1 actinic). I use Reef Crystal salt and the only supplement I add is strontium 2x/week. <Probably not all that useful. I prefer to dose to maintain calcium and alkalinity and somewhat for iodine.> I'm not much of a supplement junkie.. haha.. <Me neither> My question is: I was wondering if my tank (hardware) is ideal for supporting some coral? <It will work for some.> I am mainly interested in pulsing Xenias' and toadstool leathers. <Xenia's are fine, the Toadstools get rather large for your modest size tank.> I've did my research via reading your FAQs and have a good idea on how to keep them and about my setup. And I do have a test kit and plan on raising my pH and alkalinity levels. <I don't believe you mentioned those, but ...> -I have also seen you mention calcium reactors, is this necessary for a system this small? <No, a two part supplement will serve you better.> -Do you have any input on other hardy corals I could support with my system? <Mushrooms, zoanthids, polyps, etc. all will need propagated to control growth.> Inhabitants: (just bought 4 days ago) 1: med. coral banded shrimp 3: turbo snails 4: red-legged hermits *soon to purchase a small Foxface before the coral* <This fish grows way too large for this tank.> -Also, I was wondering if you knew of any sites that had a really good (detailed) compatibility chart?- (fish, inverts, corals, etc.) <Nothing comes to mind, but do keep searching.> Thanks dude, Jason in Florida <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Set-Up for Corals Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your input, and have second guessed getting that Foxface. Instead, I purchased a coral beauty which is very much eye pleasing. -Jason <A much better choice. -Steven Pro>

Anemone & Inverts with Trigger I have a 75 gallon tank with a few damsels, 1 niger trigger and an anemone. Plan to add maroon clown soon. Considering adding more inverts to spruce up the tank. Since my setup is relatively simple (no special high-dollar lights), any suggestions for inexpensive, easy to care for inverts which could mix well with these fish? <No, thanks for asking! If you do not have intense lighting, then your anemone and any other photosynthetic invertebrates you attempt will be doomed to die. Add to that, your tank houses a Trigger and many other inverts are potential food items for it. -Steven Pro>

Large Reef Tank Design Questions Gentlemen - I have written to you in the past with questions concerning things in one of my tanks ( I have 4 - 1 large predator, Two Reefs, and a micro reef). I write today on a different topic and hope either you can help me or point me towards those who can assist me. Feel free to forward this to anyone you deem appropriate I'm a high tech guy or had been for the last 15 years (until this years layoffs - No I opted out instead of fighting it out with the rats on a sinking ship, you know eventually they will turn cannibalistic). Any who to make a long story short, there are 9 of us good friends and coworkers who all sold their souls for stock options and cash for a minimum of 10 years each. After opting out of this each of us was tired of the rat race of that lifestyle ( constant travel to exotic foreign cesspools - aah vacation is so much different than work isn't it). All of us spent this time transferring the industry from the US to everywhere else it was cheaper to do it (quite a few strange places I will admit - Japan, Korea, Malaysia, France etc) so it is truly a sinking ship here domestically - We decided to form a group to build a business just for fun but that we could experience our old sense of self worth - So we created the Los Vatos corporation to build something similar to a Dave and Busters but less glitzy and more affordable to the average man (because even though each of us made 6 figures we all complained that a $250 night out with the wife and kids to have a good time is just plain outrageous). I digress though so on with it - We created this corporation and are in the process of designing our first family entertainment center with the concept of letting everybody have fun at a fraction of these other places, while introducing our hobbies / interests to the world at large (cold beer, nice cars, video games, billiards, good food, water, fish). All but 2 of us a coastal creatures who grew up on or very near the water 4 from the Texas gulf coast and one each from Northern and Southern California. The poor guy from Phoenix doesn't know what he missed). Where do you guys come into it ??? Well my partners know of my fascination with Saltwater (another partner is a freshwater guy with multiple biotope aquaria his best is a local Texas one) as such they gave me a space 40 feet long by 15 feet deep in our restaurant waiting area / entry bar to create an aquarium of large scale - Here is where you guys come in - I have this big space and a general idea of things, however I would like to do a more natural setup sliding away from technology as much as I dare to ensure my charges well being - I am collecting information on the "Ecosystem Approach" as my micro reef works this way - It had been running as such for about a year before I ever heard of it and it is generally agreed between my friends it is the best looking of all my tanks. Size constraints do not allow me to convert the other 3 tanks to this method to test it on a grander scale. All these run just as is Bob's book. In short while not on par with you or your cohorts I may actually know a couple of things, but I am smart enough to know what I don't. I've read about Richard Harker's 2000 gallon aquarium and envision it's construction along similar lines, but I wanted to pick you guys brains with the question -- <our pleasure to help> If somebody walked up to you and said here is this space 40' X 15' X 12' - I want to build and aquarium for myself - What would you do? <many possibilities here. I take great pleasure too in system planning and conceptual designs. I covered some such dynamics in the first chapter of my Book of Coral Propagation... even more dramatic designs in the second volume (early 2003). I have also consulted a few large public aquaria on top of many private systems as well. It would be my pleasure to dream with you. Without haphazardly spewing stream of conscious fantasy designs... let's do this up right. Let me trouble you to send me a simple photograph of the allotted space (or draw a diagram if you like). I'm looking to get an idea of the surrounding environment and its likely integrity/functionality with the system and its application... looking for access to drains, water supply, electricity, etc.> I eagerly await your input or direction and fully respect that this is not a question so easily answered  <agreed... not in a simple e-mail. Lets see a basic floor plan or photo of layout and that will open the floodgates for the imagination. Fair warning... expect dramatic from me :p > and I also want to add I want to do this myself not to save cash in a commercial venture but more along the lines of I dream of it. <understood and admired, my friend. I believe this to be true for what so much floor space could otherwise be used for commercially. I'm looking forward to chatting more. I also noticed that you are in Texas... I'll be in Dallas 9/26-9/30 at MACNA (www.dfwmas.com). Perhaps we can chat even more there if you'll be making the trip to that great marine conference.  With kind regards, Anthony Calfo> PS: feel welcome to call me at 412-795-XXXX. We can chat more So you don't think I'm a crank with nothing better to do than waste your time - Here is my personal information - (512) 257-XXXX if you call I will be happy to call you back and expand a little on things - It's tough to catch my vision in an email. 37 years old Electronics Engineering degree (specializing in the manufacture of semiconductor chips from sand to Pentium 4) XXXX North Cannes Drive, Cedar Park, Texas (Austin suburb) 78613  Ric Raley Do not be afraid to try new things Amateurs built the Ark  Professionals built the Titanic

Reef Lighting Bob and Crew, <Anthony here> Your web site has been extremely helpful in my endeavors. I am presently converting a 180 fish only system that I purchased used. I have upgrade the filtration to support the necessary flow rates for a reef system but I am struggling with the lighting.  <and easy quandary> I would like to be able to grow SPS, Soft corals, and clams.  <SPS and clams require the highest light of all reef animals as a rule... the soft corals vary...running the gamut from very low to very high. All will depend on species> Can MH bulbs be placed under and canopy that is only 6 inches from the top of the tank? Or our PC my only option?  <if the tank is glass and we are talking 150 or 175 watt MH, then 6 inches and no closer is OK. If acrylic tank or higher MH watts... no go. PCs are fine quality lights but only for shallow to medium depth tanks. not all SPS and clams will thrive without higher intensity bulbs. All depends here on placement of the tank. My specific recommendation if the tank is glass is to have 3 175-watt 10K Aqualine MH lamps. You need no fluorescents or other bulbs... they will last for perhaps as much as 3 years before needing to change bulbs, corals will look and grow well.> I am purchasing a chiller irregardless of which lighting system I go with. <if necessary... but not because of the MH lights.> Thanks, Mark <best regards, Anthony>

New Marine/Set-up Hi Mr. Bob, (hope u r doing well) I have a 125 gall with LR it has been cycling for 5 days. I went to LFS and I decided to have a REEF system .Any way, the man said that I should have a powerful lighting for my tank (about 3-5 Watts per gallon) .So I went to a lighting store and got 400 Watts Metal Halide. I will get the other things too ( trace elements....etc). Am reading your web site now (daily). What do u think , can I have a REEF system?????? <Don't see why not? Keep studying until your assessment is the same. Bob Fenner>

Reef Set-Up I have a 125 gallon reef tank. I am using 2 emperor filters, 2 802 powerheads, 1 Bak-Pak (it is for 70 gallons). Should I buy one more? <That or upgrade to one larger protein skimmer.> The fish I have in the tank are two banded shrimp, five turbo snails, four scarlet crabs, four ocellaris clowns, two tomato clowns, one Foxface, one yellow tang, three Firefish, three scissortail gobies, one yellow blenny, two Sailfin mollies. I am waiting on my metal halide lights and my three bulb tentacle sea anemones. <Please read up on anemones, their care, their dismal record in captivity, and their removals ecological impact here http://www.reefs.org/library/article/r_toonen8.html -Steven Pro>

Upgrading Reef Tank Just a quick question to whom ever may be replying this fine day. I bought a glass 55g from my friend with a huge Fluval canister (fp300) for a hundred bucks. I currently keep an 18g nano with only soft corals. Ideally, I would like to be able to keep SPS and Clams and such in the 55. Here is the plan: overflow box to 20g long for refugium using CPR Bak-Pak for all filtration 60 lbs sand with plenum under deep sand bed 45 lbs rock Hamilton 4ft hood with 2-175w MH and 2-110w VHO actinics Here is the question: Can I use an overflow for most of my circulation and get by with maybe a couple of powersweeps? <First, it depends on the overflow. Most are rated for how many gph they can siphon/handle. You would want at least 500 gph, approaching 1000 gph for SPS. Secondly, if you do need powerheads, I would recommend you pick another brand. I like Hagen and Aquarium Systems models.> If so how big of an overflow box (tank not drilled) and what sort of return pump can I use? <500 to 1000 gph for a drain and an external pump rated for 500 to 1000 gph at your head pressure/height.> Will a big RIO in the refugium create a lot of heat? <Not a lot, but in combination with your hood, it could contribute to overheating problems.> I live in Colorado and lately the temperature approaches 90*F everyday. I can't afford a chiller. My nano gets up to as high as 84.7, but shows no ill effects from this temp. <That is definitely pushing it. I much prefer to operate no higher than 82.> Any input is always greatly appreciated! <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Re: Upgrading Reef Tank Will the Bak-Pak be enough filtration with the plenum for denitrification? <Just to b clear, the Bak=Pak does not perform any dentrification. It is a protein skimmer combined with a W/D for nitrification. It should serve you well along with your liverock. It is possible, given enough liverock, that you will not need the bio-bale media at all.> I've read recently a theory that corals grow best around 75*F <Strange, most current thinking is to push the temperatures higher, 82-84*F, to maximize growth. I prefer to play it safe though at 78-80*F.> and my colt and Kenya tree have blown up since the warmer weather. Also what brand of pump is nice and quiet and reliable if I go with an external model? <Iwaki. -Steven Pro>

Fish only to fish/reef Hello! <<And hello to you.>> I was wondering if you could give me a few specifics on gradually moving from a marine fish only aquarium towards a fish/reef aquarium. I have a 125 gallon setup. After a MAJOR disaster while I was away for 2 weeks a couple of years ago, the tank is doing well and it contains a Grey Angelfish, Blonde Naso and Powder Blue Tangs and Damsels and I would like to get Personifer and Imperator Angelfish when I upgrade the tank size. There is a considerable amount of live rock, almost enough to cover the back glass, but I add more little by little and have no idea how much it adds up to in lbs. I am planning on moving within the year and would like to move up to a 375 gallon acrylic tank and I have read quite a bit about making base rock from cement and other materials and curing it for six weeks and monitoring PH and I will be pursuing that to help save the reefs and help save some bucks as well as upgrading to a larger home made protein skimmer. I am doing quite a bit of research before I get and continue to stock the new tank and I was wondering if you could give me a little info. I would like to add a few colorful corals eventually as well as more fish and would like to know more about low light and other corals and compatibility with Angelfish for the most part because if it's OK with them, it's OK with the Tangs and Damsels. It would still be a fish aquarium primarily and will use sand and live rock, a wet/dry filter, the protein skimmer and assorted Rio power heads to keep the water healthy and mobile. The tank I have in mind would be only 24 inches tall and 30 inches front to back, allowing a large surface for oxygen exchange and less distance for the light to travel. I normally run 50/50 fluorescent bulbs, doubled with actinic fluorescent bulbs standard output. (A double bulb light fixture the length of the tank). I have some highly effective fluorescent light reflectors I have been saving for the day I actually make this project happen and will build the light fixture and was wondering this double fluorescent setup would be acceptable to any Angelfish compatible coral if they were closer to the water surface or lower or if this amount of light is completely unacceptable for any coral. <<Well - what is the output wattage of the lamps - this will help you determine whether or not a given coral will thrive under this light.>> I am also concerned about which corals are safe for the fish as far as them getting stung and killed. <<Actually, you should be more concerned about the angels picking those corals to death. There are very few large angels that can be trusted around any coral.>> I guess filter feeding corals would be safer in that respect, but although I have had aquariums for 30 years and the last 14 have been with saltwater fish, I know extremely little about corals, their requirements, feeding types etc. other than the names of a few and my main concern is that whatever life I put in my aquarium, I am responsible for, so I don't want to add a fish, coral or creature that wouldn't have a serious chance of thriving. I have had 75, 220 and 150 gallon tanks previously and I'm at 125 now due to current space, but with 375 I will be able to get seriously creative and If I do my homework now, no time or life will be lost later, so if you can give me any advice on this stuff or give me more websites as educational as yours or tell me of a book that answers these types of questions, please get back to me. <<Well, similar to any other quest for knowledge, there will be no 'one' source of information. There are many books, and many websites. Do check through WetWebMedia as there are many, many articles here.>> I have also noticed that Aquarium supplier/store standard output fluorescent ballasts are seriously more expensive that the Home Depot standard output fluorescent ballasts. Can you tell me what the difference is between the two. <<Perhaps the ballasts at the LFS are for power-compact or VHO fluorescents? Perhaps they just need the profit margin.>> Is there a water resistant issue? The ballast is in the top of the canopy, so I don't imagine there would be a serious water issue and can't see an obvious reason for the price difference. Isn't a 40 watt ballast 40 watts in any ballast? <<No... a 40 ballast for standard fluorescents is different from a 40 watt power-compact ballast, which is different from a VHO ballast. All the bulbs are fluorescent, but they are quite different from each other.>> Sorry about the length of the email. I wanted to give you as much info about my situation to base your input on. Thanks, Rich <<Here's a good place to start your reading: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm http://www.WetWebMedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fixtures.htm http://www.WetWebMedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/index.htm You might also want to pick up a copy of Eric Borneman's book, Aquarium Corals which is a great guide for selection and husbandry of the various corals available to hobbyists. Cheers, J -- >>

Tank Dimension Hi Bob & all the experts, <Greetings, my friend> I setting up a new reef tank. The dimension are 4 x 3 x 2-1/2 ft. Please see attach gif file of detail. 1) I would like to know is it applicable for a reef tank ? <indeed a very nice size for convenient lighting (it is not too deep at 30" or less) and rockscaping (it is nicely wide) 2) If not, which are the best solution if I want to view it in 3 way (i.e. front & back, and one of the side which is 3 ft long) <I think the dimensions are very good and can make a beautiful display> 3) How much light and how strong the powerhead got to be ? The tank is about 220 gallon. <lighting will depend on the needs of the invertebrates you keep, but three 175 watt Aqualine or Ushio 10,000K metal halides who be fine for general reef lighting. Add actinic blue bulbs for aesthetics only if you like. For a tank with more SPS corals, consider two 250 watt Iwasaki Metal halides instead (again, blue actinics optional). As for water movement... the more the better. I recommend one or two large external pumps hooked up to a manifold with tees/nozzles above the tank rather than having 4-7 powerheads in a tank this size> Thanks again. Regards Danny
<kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Deep Water Reef I'm taking a step away from the usual sun-drenched reefs that we try to replicate, and researching what would be needed for a deep water reef tank. I'm not surprised that there is very little information out there on this type of setup. That's why I have come to you. There are many aspects to this tank that need to be discussed, but I'll try to limit for now and ask only about the lighting. The tank will most likely be a 120g. I'm not sure at what depth I want to replicate, but inhabitants I am considering are: Anthias (squamipinnis), some species of flasher wrasse, perhaps some species of Gramma, basslet, or Hawkfish. Corals would obviously be non-photosynthetic, such as gorgonians, sponges, Tubastrea. The more research I do, the more I will be able to narrow things down. I'm not sure exactly what depth I want to replicate, and I'm not sure if it's that easy to replicate a specific depth in the first place! Regardless, I am assuming VHO's would be the best option for this type of thing. My questions are: <If you are looking at keeping non-photosynthetic inverts, lighting is definitely a secondary concern.> --Can you have too much light over this type of tank? I will probably have ballasts to power 4 bulbs...should I go with less? --What would be a ideal bulb combo? If I have 3 bulbs, I was thinking 2 actinic and 1 10k. If I have 4 bulbs...what about 2 actinic, 1 10k, and 1 20k? <I think you would not need anymore than 2-3 lamps with a heavy emphasis on actinic lighting.> Thanks for taking the time to read this and any answers you can provide. Also, if you know of any resources for this type of thing, I would love to hear them! Ron Skylstad <No particular references come to mind on deep water reefs, but do look for various writings on growing green water, rotifers, refugiums, and other live foods. Martin Moe's books would all be a good starting place. Let us know how it turns out. -Steven Pro>

Filter System for Reef Tank II Hi Steven, Thank for you comment. I would like to know the pro and con of this system I mentioned below. I had seen many articles on undergravel filter and their con are  -Detritus trap, ( wastes collect in the gravel requiring frequent  cleaning)  -Carbon dioxide poisoning, (builds up near the bottom)  -Low bioload handling  -Prone to NTS, (new tank syndrome)  -Non-reef compatible, (fish only)  -Unstable pH requiring constant buffering, (acids and Co-2  build up causing a depression of pH)  -Live rock not recommended with this filter, (not enough  O-2 again)  -Frequent water changes to export accumulated nitrates  and phenol oils, etc.  Does this apply to the filter driven by power head. Will debris trap on the substrate? <Yes> I need your help. Because I am setting up a 4 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 reef tank and I do not know if there is any method that can filter out debris on the substrate? <Far better to use a fine grade of sand and vigorous circulation to keep detritus in suspension to allow its removal via skimming.> At present my 70 gal tank only use the dry/wet method and I need to siphon out the debris using another power head. Is there other method that I can filter out the debris easier. <Far too much to communicate in a short email. Please look through the various writings on WWM. To start, my preference for reef tanks is purified water, DSB, liverock, protein skimmer, vigorous circulation, and appropriate lighting.> Thanks again, Danny <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Going reef-ish Dear Crew, <And you> Starting over in my 55 after losing most of my fish to ich (the usual -- didn't get the quarantine tank until too late -- gory details already in previous mail). So, decided since I was essentially starting over, I would REALLY start over, having read TONS and decided I could make better choices. So... 4.5 inch DSB went in over the weekend (about 15 lbs of "reef" aragonite and almost 90 of sugar sand -- thank you Anthony's book for extensive description), 60 lbs Fiji cured LR went in Tuesday night. LFS had some SUPER cute pearly jaws that I was in love with. They and a longnose hawk are in quarantine (heh!) and doing groovy. Read this am in the daily FAQ's that brains corals and Jawfish don't mix well. Also saw the one about Brittlestars/Jawfish. What would be good "beginner" choices in corals that would fit with what I already have fish-wise (besides mushrooms)? I will probably only add 1 other fish to this system (thinking flathead/sunburst Anthias 4 or 5 months down the road... good idea or bad?) <Good. Please read: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/serranocirrhitus.htm> Also, one of the e-tailers has a "package" that includes flower anemones (Epicystis crucifer) from FL/Caribbean. They say they are easy and do not require intense light (also saw this on one of the anemone FAQ posts -- the easy part). My question is how aggressive are they (looked in the FAQs and couldn't find much -- happy to read a link if I missed it)?  <Perhaps avail yourself of the posted Google Search Tool on the WWM Homepage> Can I have them AND easy corals? Current lighting is Custom Sea PC 2X 65 watt 50/50 full day/actinic. It can't be upgraded (per CS), but I do have room on top to add another of the same down the road (it's skinny). Working my way through Anthony's book to be educated BEFORE I buy... and going slowly. <A good approach> thanks as always! Rebecca <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Reef set-up questions Hi Guys, <Cheers, Bill... Anthony Calfo in your service> I have encountered a bit of a set-back with a small reef that I have started and was hoping you may give me some advice. Here's the set-up: 29 gallon, 55wt 50/50 PC (is this enough lighting for easy reef creatures i.e. mushrooms, bubble coral, etc?),  <yes... likely fine for such low-med light symbionts> Whisper 300 Biofilter, Sea-Clone Protein Skimmer,  <upgrade the skimmer or do small weekly water changes at minimum> about 10 lbs. live rock and 25 lbs. live sand.  <more rock would be nice too... even if outside of the display as in a refugium or sump> Livestock: Arc-eyed Hawkfish, Ocellaris Clown, Giant Condy, Irregular white bubble coral.  <FYI... hawks in general can be rough in reef tanks toward other desirable reef denizens (shrimp and crabs especially tasty)... and the arc-eye gets huge!!! 8" long is quite possible and very aggressive... will outgrow this tank, do rethink. And the anemone is a problem in most reef tanks. They are motile, but typically wait until you go on vacation before they move across the tank stinging and killing most other coral they touch until they make it to the powerhead or overflow where they get trapped and die... Yikes. I would never recommend any anemone for a reef... especially a small reef> (The coral was doing excellent with the current light - until the mishap I will soon tell you about - so I assume the lighting is ok, but not sure). I was using tap water (residential private well, no chlorine). The reef seemed to be doing very well, anemone and bubble coral were expanding nicely since they were put in - looked beautiful (set up was 4 mo.s old). Hawk and Clown were good. This is where I goofed.... didn't have a quarantine tank (I do now). I bought two more fish; a dwarf Flame Angel and a Purple Firefish Goby (I was planning on that being the end of the fish load). I took my chances and put them in the main tank. The Angel soon showed signs of Ich (not sure what exact parasite) and the Firefish followed. I had read that Metronidazole worked well with parasitic infections and was reef safe. <I agree with the reef safe part (relatively speaking) but find it to be mildly effective. I have indeed recommended it before, but only for support, not primary therapeutic agent> The local shops didn't have any on hand, so I purchased some generic Metronidazole tablets from a local vet, which obviously contain more than just metro. (the inert ingredients are not really inert chemically, but I don't think any of those ingredients would have caused any prob.s - hard to say for sure.)  <you are correct... I agree. Metronidazole from the vet is fine (inert harmless) but the tabs from the vet are usually double strength (500 mg) compared to ones sold for fish (250 mg)> I dosed the main tank with the proper dosage of metro, in a crushed tablet form. The anemone and coral looked very dead, the anemone shrunk from softball size to quarter size overnight, the coral was stretched out over its skeleton with mouths gaping. I have done many water changes over the past month since dosing (fish since removed and treated with CopperSafe - another issue I won't bore you with, saved hawk and clown, lost angel and Firefish.) The coral bounced back fairly quick, not back to 100%, but looking very good and will eat whatever I feed it.  <excellent> The anemone "comes and goes" daily, eating ok when expanded - but not great. I have changed enough volume, to have changed the total tank vol. (29g) over a couple of times in the past month. The metro definitely had an adverse effect and I won't do that again. I didn't help the ecosystem with the large water changes either, but needed to dilute the metro.  <agreed> A few days after dosing, the whole tank turned brown. Had some beautiful macroalgae prior to dosing (think Caulerpa sp.) that, after dosing, developed a crusty brown coating and stopped growing all together. May have been diatom skeletons - don't know. The problem I am observing is that still about a month and a half later, I am still battling brown "algae", using distilled water doesn't seem to help much. It is filamentous (stringy-threadlike, longer strands - not short like green hair). I would have thought the diatom skeletons wouldn't have formed like this, so I don't know what it is (lack of experience). Frequent vacuuming and water changes is helping.  <very aggressive protein skimming can "cure" most any such nuisance algae within weeks (2-4) if the skimmer is of good design and can be tweaked to produce dark, daily skimmate. Any well designed skimmer can... you definitely need a better skimmer my friend for nutrient export. The water changes are generally a great idea, but they are also bringing in fresh minerals nutritively (for coral and nuisance algae).> Also developing very small amount occasionally of what appears to be Cyanobacteria (pinkish) a bit on the substrate easily (am keeping a good eye on water quality - all params fine (no NH3, NO2, NO3, PO4 - pH good). I wonder though, if the PO4 or NO3 have been generated and tests are neg because they are being metabolized by the algae, etc.  <and the Phosphate tests generally read inorganic only and most any tank can have a lot of untestable organic phosphate> I understand the Cyano is due to poor water quality, but it appears to be almost gone now. The macroalgae is still alive and appears that it will live, but not really growing too much, just holding and very "dull in color and texture". Coral and anemone "ok" and fish appear fine. The biggest issue is still the brown algae, never had prob.s before treatment and had some decent green growth. The only green stuff growing much now is some bubble algae (looks like Valonia). Any ideas what's going on here - never had brown prob.s prior to treatment - or was I just lucky). Has fairly strong fishy amine odor since dosing, even though tests are neg. How long after "shocking" a marine system like that does it usually take to come back around? Are they any suggestions you can make - I am new to marine systems since about 5 mo.s ago. Thank You, Bill Prevo <a daily producing skimming is pivotal in most marine systems... upgrade my friend. kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Fish Only To Reef Conversion Hello Bob, Steve or Anthony, <Steven this morning.> I hope you can help. I am interested in converting my fish only tank to a reef tank. I would like to keep some fish and soft corals for starters. The aquarium is a 55 Gal. tank. It has a corner wet/dry that houses some bio media. I have a 24" Amiracle counter current skimmer. Lighting is a 220 watt PC hood. The current live stock is a maroon clown and about 20 Nass. snails. There is about 1 1/2 inch of sand and about 30 lbs. of lava rock in the tank. All is great with the tank except for the occasional algae bloom. I would like to get some live rock and sand.( for now 50lbs. of live rock and add 2 inches of sand) Do I get rid of the lava rock and keep the sand that I currently have? <I would be inclined to start fresh, new rock (50 lbs. total is fine) and sand to 4-6".> Also, the bio media in the wet/dry is not accessible, it is housed in acrylic. I would like to remove the media because of the articles that I have read that they help in raising nitrate levels. Do I try to cut the top of the filter to take out the media? (I would prefer not to do this, I would be scared to crack the tank somehow). <Yes, agreed can be dangerous.> My main concern is not to harm the maroon clown. He is over six years old and he is the first fish my wife and I bought together. If you don't think I can do the conversion without hurting him I will not do the conversion. <No, I think you can do it. Get fully cured rock from your LFS, else cure the rock yourself in a separate vessel before placing in the main display.> Thank you in advance for your help and for having, in my opinion, one of the best web sites for aquaria care. A new friend, Dan <Glad to make your acquaintance. -Steven Pro>

Sebae, neon goby, Acclimation to new light Hello Bob and Crew... <Crew says hello...Bob says "eat jet fumes" as he's taking off for Australia <wink>> Just a few questions to pass the day.  <I usually eat chocolate with orange juice for this, but ask away. Anthony> I have had my Sebae anemone for appx. 1 year now and it is quite a centerpiece in my system. It is occupied by my tomato clown, and feeds readily on pieces of squid about twice per week.  <excellent husbandry> This Sebae quickly changed from white to brown in my system, and I took that as a good thing, I believe it is development of symbiont algae as a result of my lighting.  <absolutely... you saved a dying animal indeed> My question is this...My Sebae doesn't seem to have as long of tentacles as many others I've seen in pictures, etc..  <Jason, Jason, Jason... it's not the size of the tentacles that counts, its the motion of the ocean. Seriously. Water movement is often the limiting factor in polyp extension in cnidarians. I suspect that you have good to string movement if the tentacles are shorter. Bright light will encourage this as well (favorably)> It has doubled in size since I bought it, but the tentacles are for the most part about 1-1/2" long. Near the mouth some of the tentacles are about 1/2". Is this abnormal, and would it appear that my anemone is lacking something either nutritionally, or photosynthetically?  <nope... all sound like great signs to me> I currently have 220w PC lighting over this system. It is a 50 gal flat-back hex.  <see... I wouldn't kid you <wink>> One other thing, this anemone does move frequently. For the first 9 months or so it sat in one place, but recently I elevated my LR off of the DSB using egg crate and PVC. I was thinking that it is looking for the perfect spot in the water column, but wasn't sure. By the way, this anemone can move quite quickly if it chooses. Sometimes as much as 12 inches or so in an afternoon. <not a great sign. Often does so because of aging bulbs or a dirty lens/glass canopy... do check. Fluorescents last 6-10 months by most estimates. If yours are a year old, I wouldn't go much longer> Next question...I just purchased a neon goby for additional cleaning duties (also because my research says that they are great fish!). Since introduction I haven't seen the little bugger (1"). I only have a yellow tang and a tomato clown for fish so I don't think it was sushi, Maybe just hiding out to get used to things. <maybe he's dead> Lastly, I was thinking about adding 1 175w MH to this system. Would this be overkill? I'd like to try my hand at some of the hardier SPS but is 220w PC enough if it's placed high in the column? Thanks in advance for your input. Jason Harris, MARS member and avid reader of WetWebMedia.com <Anthony Calfo, apprentice to life... <The PC light isn't too shabby for a foray with SPS if the bulbs are fresh and you keep the SPS in the top 10" of water as you suspected. I like halides better if you are going to commit to shallow water scleractinians. With new PC's and/or a new halide do acclimate the tank slowly to the be bright light. The following is an article soon to be posted on WWM o the topic: 

Question for you :) about lighting and other things... I went with VHO bulbs with the built in reflectors, so far I have two VHO actinics and one 96 watt Compact Florescent (the beast from AH supply) but plan on adding another 96 watt Compact florescent and allowing myself to add 2 more VHO's (possibly 50/50's even though I have 5 more actinics at my disposal) in the next 2 weeks.  <Daylight colored lamps will grow most coral better faster and the 50/50 bulbs are plenty blue enough... resist excessive actinics unless housing deepwater symbionts> I just hooked up my calcium reactor at a rate of one bubble of co2 per second.  <not much of a gauge of performance... do test outflow pH and alkalinity/calcium of the system over time> I do have another question, because of my limited space I had to hook my protein skimmer up so it's return came back into the tank direct. This is causing alit of air bubbles (small) in the tank. Is this a bad thing? <can be very irritating to some coral (like Alcyoniids "leathers")... simply pass the effluent water over/through a small portion of plastic bioballs (cup/cylinder) to act as a baffle and diffuse the bubbles> Thanks, Scott Allen <with kind regards, Anthony>

My name is Jonathan (general reef set-up) YEA I AM BUY A 300GAL TANK IT COME IN TWO WEEK I WANT TO DO A REEF TANK CAN YOU HELP ME IF YOU CAN TIME CAN YOU TELL ME HOW WILL YOU SET IT UP WHAT WILL YOU USE <Jonathan... please first research livestock and husbandry articles and FAQs on this site, and also consider buying some good reference books. Several of the advertisers on this site sell the newest and some of the finest books on reef aquariology. I'm thinking that the Nilsen and Fossa or Borneman books would do you good (besides my book <wink>). We can't possibly tell you how to set up your tank before you have a specific list of animals and their needs. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Adding my site to your list Hi Bob, I was wondering if you would like to add my site to your list of links. I think you will see that my site in very informative about setting up a large reef and I have answered a ton of questions (well I'm sure not as many as you have!) on setting up and maintaining a big tank. Thanks Jim www.Mr4000.com <Will do so. Thanks for bringing this to my awareness. Bob Fenner... this JavaScript loads slowly>

Reef at the Petco... I am writing because I am fairly disturbed by a new development at the PetCo where I work. I had expressed an interest in expanding our saltwater section by adding a reef tank and selling corals. Well my managers have now decided that they would like to give it a try. However, they insist on setting it up cheaply. I do not believe that the system they are proposing will work, but I only have a year and a half of experience working with reef tanks. I know that the corals will not thrive in the system they want to set up, but their argument is that the corals only have to live long enough to be sold. The system that they want to set up is as follows: a 29 gallon tank with an Eclipse System 3 on top for filtration and lighting. The bulbs in the Eclipse will be replaced with one Marine-Glo (for actinic light) and one Aqua-Glo (for full spectrum light). The substrate will be crushed coral; although, I might be able to convince them to use live sand instead. The thing that bothers me the most is that they REFUSE to use live rock. They want to use lace rock that has been cleaned by spraying it with a high pressure hose, then bleaching and dechlorinating it. They also don't see any value to using R/O or distilled water (it's too expensive). They believe that the corals should do just fine using tap water. On the plus side there won't be any fish in this tank, so the build up of nutrients from feeding and fish waist will not be a concern. Do think that there is any way that this set up will work? Will we be able to keep corals alive until they sell (hopefully not longer than one month)? I was only planning on stocking low light corals, such as mushrooms, leathers and star polyps. I am starting to regret even asking for the tank. I would much rather send customers somewhere else to buy coral, than keep corals in a tank where one will die for every one we sell. Thank you very much for taking the time to address my concern. I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Sarah < Sarah, Lorenzo Gonzalez here, doing my darnedest to fill in for Bob while he parties naked in Singapore... just kidding. I'm sure he's studying/working/photographing like crazy... :-) Sounds to me like you really do have the right idea, and the right attitude toward the creatures you'll be responsible for, and the customers who'll hold you responsible - especially if all you ever sell is just barely alive 'enough to be sold'... But I also think that with the right corals, and careful TLC, the system can be successful. Even with the 'dead rock' and tap water. Here's my recipe/additions to the system you've described.

  • 2x 100w heaters: decent ones, carefully calibrated, plugged into different circuits.
  • 1x small damselfish (Chromis, domino, 4-stripe, etc) or 2 really teeny ones.
  • 4-5x Astrea or similar snails
  • 1x medium sized powerhead blowing cross-current to the Eclipse

Feed that tiny damsel very, VERY lightly, and change 1 gallon of pre-mixed, aged water, THREE TIMES A WEEK - and carefully top-off with fresh water every single day. Absolutely no additives or chemicals other than maybe a dechlorinator in your pre-mix tap water. Keep a close eye on the corals, if any one 'goes sour' you can NOT leave it in a tank this small to rapidly poison the rest of the inhabitants with decay residuals (ammonia). If you don't get any live rock or live sand, you need to let the system run with the crushed coral, lace rock, and fish, for at least 6-8 weeks before you start stocking the corals. No rushing! Best regards and good luck!

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