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FAQs on Reef Set-Up Systems 5

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Related FAQs: Reef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Systems 3, Reef Systems 4, Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6, Reef LightingReef Lighting 2Reef Filtration, & Reef LivestockingReef Livestocking 2, Reef Feeding, Reef Disease, Reef Maintenance, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive RockLive Sand, Reef Maintenance Biotopic presentations Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Echinoids... Greek for "hedge hog"...

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

All-in-one vs. custom setup; reef       9/30/14
Hi Crew,
I’m in the early planning stages of my first reef tank after having kept a
freshwater community followed by an African cichlid tank successfully. I’m currently considering the Red Sea Max 250 system
<A very nice unit>
for this attempt as I
don’t have experience with and am a little hesitant to jump into a sump system. I’m wondering if you would agree with this approach or if you think I’ll get better experience/results by building a sump system piece-by-piece?
<Either approach will be fine>
One hang-up on the all-in-one is that I would like to
incorporate a refugium at some point and I’m not sure I can do that with the Red Sea Max without significantly modifying the system.
<Not that much of a modification really... can be run externally; elsewhere; w/o much trouble>
As always, your
help is deeply appreciated.
Billy in Boston
<Welcome. BobF, back in S. Cal.>

Pieter van Suijlekom's 18 foot reef tank, actually 6 m    4/5/11
May be some folks on the dailies who would like to drool over this 9:54 minute video of Pieter's tank.
<Will post/share. B>

My first marine aquarium..and researching first! 6/24/09
Hi WWM crew,
<Hello Dave.>
I have been researching marine aquaria with a view to setting up a 200 litre reef tank over the next couple of months and have become completely addicted to reading about different types of fish, inverts, and equipment. I really want to make a happy home for any inhabitants of my tank.
<Ah, well, welcome to the hobby/addiction.>
I plan to have plenty of live rock, a protein skimmer, a small sump and refugia and good water movement, but am finding it very difficult to get accurate information about how many fish I would be able to keep happily in my tank. Sources range from 1" of fish per gallon, to 1" of fish per 5 gallons.
<1 cubic inch of fish per 5 gallons. See:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm, keep in mind it is better to under stock!>
The fish I would ideally like in my set up are:
1 x purple Firefish
2 x ocellaris clownfish
1 x royal gramma
1 x dwarf flame angel - after 6 months of tank stability
1 x long nose Hawkfish
1 x mandarin dragonet - after 12 months of tank stability and as long as the specimen is eating frozen foods and the refugia
Having done my research, I believe all of these fish will get along well with each other and with a reef set up, but the cumulative adult size of all these fish is 26" - approx 1" per 2 gallons. Is this too much?
<I think it is near the limit, but not overstocked. Do pick you dwarf angel carefully, and it does sound like you are aware of the issues keeping the dragonet in a system this size.>
Many thanks for your help, I love the honesty of your responses.
Dave - Portsmouth, UK
<Welcome and thank you. Have fun with your setup. Scott V. Fresno, CA.>

My dream reef aquarium 5/25/09
I know you must hear this a lot, but it really is an amazing thing that all of you are doing with WWM.
<Thank you.>
You and your site sparked my interest in aquariums (especially marine) and I sincerely thank you for that. Recently, I began doing some research into exactly what my dream aquarium would be and I think I've got it now.  Here are the specs. The tank will be made of 1.25" acrylic and will be 120x54x34h, which is about 950 gallons.
<Sounds like a dream tank.>
Flow will come from two 5500gph Rio Polarios and four 450gph Hydor Koralias.
<I would increase this based on your desired livestock. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm>
It will have two skimmers--an ASM G-4X and a Marineland Pro 300.
<The same here, you will need to skim like you have 950 gallons. Understocking is a goal that few of us meet.>
Lighting will be provided by ten 165w VHOs (6 10K, 4 20K actinic).
<This can work, but will limit where you can place the corals. This is one of the few cases I would actually go with 400 watt metal halides.>
It will also have two 500w heaters. There will be around 800 pounds of live rock, most of which will be bought "fully cured". Most of the rock will be from Fiji and Bali. There will also be a 5" medium grade DSB. The DSB will include 100# of cultured LS and 10# of bottom crude from Premium Aquatics and 60# of GARF Grunge.
<Cut the grunge out, Google WWM re.>
Now for the livestock.
Fish: 2 ocellaris clownfish, 1 B&W ocellaris clownfish, 1 black Combtooth blenny, 11 blue green chromis, 1 spotted yellow eye tang (Ctenochaetus truncatus), 1 red mandarin, 1 Firefish, 2 blue gudgeon Dartfish, 3 spotted cardinals, 1 sunburst anthias, and 1 horned blenny.
<Sounds fine.>
Inverts: 20 dwarf zebra hermits, 50 dwarf blue leg hermits, 5 electric blue hermits, 2 fighting conchs, 10 ninja star snails, 30 Cerith snails, 30
Nerite snails, 35 silky Tegula snails, 1 green abalone, 2 yellow sea Cukes, 2 Hawaiian feather dusters, 1 emerald crab,
<Will be predatory even in such a large system.>
5 peppermint shrimp, 3 scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp, 1 orange tree sponge, 1 red sea star, and 1 crocea clam.
Corals: Acropora lokani, Elkhorn Montipora (M. hirisuta), Various Micromussa, various Acan. lords., various Favia, colt coral, maze brain coral, pink A. millepora, yellow A. aculeus, purple and red Blastomussa wellsi, A. suharsonoi, torch coral, A. nana, some Ricordea florida, "Kryptonite" candy cane coral, various corals from GARF, a red veil sea fan, red flowerpot coral,
<Hmmm, careful with this one, even aquacultured.>
red mushroom coral, Heteroxenia, X. elongata, pom-pom Xenia, and a white encrusting Gorgonia.  ALL corals will be aquacultured. I may also add a few others with similar requirements, but this gives you the general idea.  Other possible additions: 1 male Bluethroat trigger, 1 giant Sailfin molly,1 tiger tail sea Cuke.
<Can be done with caution.>
I will also add some ministars, sandbed clams,
<Be careful with the clams, the clams sold in the trade are of a colder water origin.>
reef worms, and reef plankton from IPSF. I also plan on growing several macroalgae species in the refugium. This will include Ulva, Gracilaria, and Botryocladia. The 'fuge will be about 100 gallons but I have not yet decided on the exact dimensions. The water level in the 'fuge will be about the same as in the main display and will have two small powerheads moving water in and out of it.
<So long as these are linked with true throughputs, that is overflow style drains this can work. Do not try to balance flows with the pumps.>
I would love to have your opinion of the setup as well as any suggestions for changes. Feel free to be brutally honest. Also, if you need any more info please let me know.
Thanks in advance!
Until next time...
P.S. sorry it's so long!
<Not too long! Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: My dream reef aquarium 5/25/09

Thank you for your prompt reply.
<My pleasure.>
I will definitely look into more flow and skimming.
I will also leave out the grunge and emerald crab and I will look into those sandbed clams.
<Yes, look before you leap, no matter what the forums say!>
As for the lighting, I'm not really sure what I'll do. I don't really feel safe with metal halides, especially the higher wattage bulbs and with a wooden canopy.
<It is fine.>
I may have rethink the coral selection, tank height, and/or add a couple of lower wattage bulbs. Somehow I'll make it work.
<Well, you can have all you list with the lighting proposed, you will just have to place the higher light needing organisms in the upper third to half of the tank.>
I have plenty of time to figure it out, as this is a dream aquarium and it will certainly be a few years before it is a reality.
Thank you for your time,
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Marine Set-Up/Lighting/Stocking/Compatibility 3/19/08 Hello Crew, <Hello mystery writer> Thanks for all your info. so far. What a great site.... <You're welcome.> Just a few questions for you. My 110 gallon (48Lx30Hx18L) reef that I am about to set up, has no overflow. As for filtration, I was thinking that 120 lbs of live rock, a Emperor 400 filter, and a Aqua C Pro with Mag pump protein skimmer. Would this be enough filtration? <The live rock should take care of the biological filtration and if the 400 is going to be used as a mechanical filter, it isn't going to be enough. Is only rated for 80 gallons at most.> I do not want to get into wet/dry or sumps filtration. If I need a larger filter, what kind would you suggest? Would more live rock be a better choice. If so, how much more? <I'd want to stack the rock at least 3/4 of the way up. As far as how much more, would all depend on the density/weight of the rock. My suggestion for a mechanical filter would be to add another Emperor 400. I personally like the Rena canister filters, no need to buy cartridges, just wash the foam. Also has plenty of room for chemical media whereas with the 400, you are limited to the small amount of carbon contained in the cartridge. With changing these pads weekly, is not very cost effective. A 24 pack runs over 40.00 with shipping, and that will only get you by for 12 weeks.> Water flow would be supplied by two Hydro Koralia 3 (850 GPH) or would this be too much flow? <No> Heat supplied with two Aquarium Systems Visi-Therm 200 Watt Heaters. DSB would be CaribSea Aragamax Sugar Sized Sand 4 in. deep. <I would not go any deeper than 2".> Lighting supplied with a Current Orbit (2) 65w Dual Daylight and (2) 65w Dual Actinic lighting system. <With that lighting and that deep a tank, the soft corals would have to be kept in the upper third of the tank.> Current Livestock: 1 Yellow Tang 4 in. 1 Coral Beauty 4 in. 1 Lyretail Anthias 3 1/2 in. 2 Serpent Starfish Assortment of mushrooms, polyps and Zoanthids 15 snails and red legged crabs 1 Long Tentacle Anemone 1 Bubble Anemone <You're lighting is definitely not intense enough for the anemones. See/read here and related articles/FAQ's above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm> Here is my wish list. I will take any idea you might have on stocking. Two Maroon Clown fish Blue spotted Watchman Goby Tiger Goby Another tang. Which ones would be compatible with my Yellow Tang? <I would not add any more tangs. Although you have a 110 gallon system, the length/width is only 48"x18". Not enough swimming room for tangs as they grow and adding another may be troublesome. You will need to upgrade your lighting if you wish to keep the anemones. A word of caution here in that keeping anemones with non-compatible fish, you will always risk losing fish.> Thanks again..... <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Moving Up'¦to a Larger Tank  2/28/08 WWM Crew, Your website is very well done, and extremely informative. <Thank you.> I've been reading your site for a couple of months now trying to figure out what I want out of my reef system, or better yet what I want to go into my system. Here is what I have currently, a 20 gallon tank with a wet dry filter, 2 power heads with an under gravel filter, 20 lbs of live rock, Corallife 50/50 65watt bulb & fixture. Inhabitants include, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 sgt. major damsel 1 pink tip Haitian anemone 1med/large grape Caulerpa plant, a mix of snails and hermit crabs, 1 cleaner shrimp, and 3 peppermint shrimp. I know it sound like a lot but all of this livestock is pretty small. Which brings me to my next point. All of this livestock is small now, but will quickly out grow my tank. <Quickly being the operative word.> In about a month or so I am going to start up a 72 gallon bow front tank and slowly transfer everybody over. What I have been searching for is maybe a list or something of the sort of what kind of livestock, specifically, can I put in my new tank. I know that this is a broad question, and nothing in life is a sure bet. However, I need a shove in the right direction. First of all, I noticed that a lot of people have a different opinion of just exactly "reef safe" is. What exactly does "reef safe" mean? Does it mean: everybody gets along in the tank from fish to corals to all invertebrates, or does it mean most everybody gets along, with the exceptions of a few critters who like to take samples of their tank mates or just as long as nobody samples the corals, mushrooms, etc. everything else is fair game. <Both definitions fit. What some consider reef safe may pick at inverts depending on the individual fish. Others are considered reef safe so long as you don't have certain inverts in your tank (such as the shrimp). To be truly reef safe in my opinion, all should get along.> I think you know what I'm trying to say. What kind of fish can I put into my tank that will not harm my shrimp, any future corals, my anemone, or chow down on my snails or hermit crabs. <I hear you.> The new tank will have plenty of light for new corals and my anemone. <Be aware it is not a good idea to mix these.> I have taken a whack at a few fish that I am considering; please tell me if they would make good neighbors for what I already have. 2 Hippo Tangs <This tank is really still too small for these. Tangs require a good amount of swimming space.> 1 Magnificent Rabbit fish <These get fairly large and fall into that hit and miss reef safe category.> 2 False percula clown fish <Not a problem.> Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Steve Harris <Keep reading, research each addition thoroughly as you stock this new tank. A few links are included below to get you started, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rabbitfi.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/paracant.htm

Bigger or Better...How Best To improve My Reef Tank? -- 02/28/08 Hi guys! <<Josh>> Thanks for all your help! <<Welcome>> You've kept me from blundering time and time again! <<Is gratifying to know>> Whew! So I am a college student and I interned at a local city aquarium and I was completely dumbstruck by what I worked with and now...I own a growing reef aquarium! :) <<Neat! Though much larger in scale'¦hopefully your exposure to the behind-the-scenes goings-on at such a facility will benefit you now>> The reason I ask the question is because finances are pretty tight so I buy what I can when I can, and am not good at saving up large sums at one time...when that's even possible...so...I own a 20gal tank with lots of live rock, crushed "coral" substrate, Aqualight, Penguin BioWheel filter (thinking of ditching later), and an AquaC Maxi-jet protein skimmer. <<Nice skimmer choice>> I have various corals and a yellow tang <<Ack! Josh, this tank is MUCH TOO SMALL for ANY Tang species'¦ Just 'growing up' in this too-small volume will lead to health and behavioral issues. Do seriously consider exchanging this fish at your LFS for a more appropriate species for this small tank>> and...a scooter blenny. I KNOW I KNOW! I didn't know what he was and I was at Petco, he looked healthy and they told me he was an algae eater....and he was only $8. <<Mmm'¦and none a 'good' reason for purchasing this fish'¦as you hopefully now seem aware. Even so, though also an inappropriate selection for your tank, I give the Scooter Blenny better long-term odds than the Yellow Tang'¦but don't misconstrue this to mean you should keep it, either>> Trying to make arrangements to move him to someone's 300 gal tank. <<Mmm, okay'¦do the right thing and give them the Tang as well'¦if you can't return it for store credit/exchange>> So the question is: I have some money available and was debating on either trying to save for a larger tank (which I will for sure get in the fall regardless) or to use that money to build a refugium/sump. Which one would be better? <<Well Josh, in this hobby especially, 'bigger' is often synonymous with 'better''¦but, there's no discounting the benefit/betterment to be had by just adding a sump and refugium to an existing system either. While money is so tight, you'll likely find it easier (in both maintenance and cost of upkeep) to simply upgrade your current tank with the sump/refugium addition'¦and do some research for proper stocking of the display [grin]'¦and save the 'upsizing' of the display for such time as when you are actually ready and able to make the commitment (so many well intentioned plans just never come to fruition)>> Tank has been running beautifully for over a year now and I am adamant about water changes and testing. <<Excellent'¦in such a small volume of water, being consistent with water changes is your most important and beneficial maintenance practice'¦and arguably, holds true for any size system>> Should I spend the money on bettering what I got now, or hold off and just do that with the bigger tank? <<The former'¦in my opinion>> Second is, the protein skimmer is a hang-on, and I'm not sure whether I would be able to use that in a sump/refugium? What do you think? Josh <<Should work fine, though you will probably find that due to the extra height the water needs to be pushed to reach the skimmer (typically, a sump has a lower 'working volume' of water than a display), you will need a slightly larger pump. Give AquaC a call or send an email and see what they think. Jason and Steve are great guys and will certainly help you with configuring/reconfiguring of the skimmer for best performance. Regards, EricR>>

Questions on setup ideas... LR tank, interesting speculations re.    2/11/08 Dear WWM Folks, <Jacob> First, you have a great site here. There is an enormous wealth of information just waiting to be pored over. I have been looking over the FAQs and using the google tool, but there is such a wealth of information that I am sure I missed the answer to my questions somewhere. I am new to the hobby and have a 24g NanoCube that has been going for about a year now. I am planning out my next tank and realizing that the life that came on my live rock (aquacultured in Florida and uncured) is much more interesting to me than any of the corals or fish I have subsequently added. I am planning a tank based largely on uncured liverock with a minimum of fish and mobile invertebrates added, all consistent with where the specific rock was obtained. My goal, quite simply, is maximum biodiversity. I would like my set up to be as close to a working eco-web as possible, preferably only feeding the bottom of the food chain. <With... light, mineral replacement/supplementation?> I don't have a size or shape in mind yet; I want to go with whatever setup will best achieve my goals. <Can/could veritably be a drop...> My first question concerns how to circulate the water without killing all the wee buggers floating in the water column. My first thought is to use a very low head airlift system. <Ahh! Yes, possible> The plan would be to use an airlift system to move water into a sump on the same level, through drilled bulkheads then use gravity to return the water through a closed loop manifold. I know you can move an enormous amount of water via an airlift but I am concerned that there won't be enough pressure to power the closed loop manifold. <Could be> I have not been able to find any information on this manner of moving water in saltwater aquaria. Do you have any advice on where I might be able to find this information? <In "old books", by Stephen Spotte, Martin Moe...> Do you have any other ideas on how to provide adequate circulation without damaging the micro flora and fauna in the water column? <Yes... see some works on aquaculture... there is a good intro. for pet-fish folks... by Frank Hoff... see the etailers of books re...> Another question I have is: in order to ensure maximum survival of the life coming in on the live rock ,what depth is good to collect from? <Most any/all reasonable depths... inter-tidal to snorkel...> There are a number of companies aquaculturing live rock at various depths and I don't know which environments would be easiest to replicate. <The organisms will "sort themselves out" per the conditions you present...> I intuit that shallower water needs more intense lighting and more current, but deeper water animals would need less light and less water movement which might be better suited to the airlift system but then the problem would be solids settling out in the quiescent zones. Which has the fewer downsides? <Again... you have good ideas... I assure you the life is flexible... some will be favored... persist... What will happen over time re this biota... diversity, abundance-wise?> I guess the main question is, is there any literature on keeping saltwater aquariums where the contents are not stocked, but grow off the liverock; aquariums where the liverock and it's associated flora and fauna is the focus, not the backdrop, of the aquarium? <Not as far as I'm aware... but there might well be... at least tangentially... Hard to search the pet-fish literature as most of it is not picked up by citation services (my usual on-going warning to editors to retain and publish bibliographies... a yes/no benchmark for inclusion here)... You might be the instigator, producer of the first written work/s of this topic> To all the WWM crew, thank you. You have a wonderful resource here and I very much appreciate that you are willing to take the time to answer what must be a large number of often redundant questions. Thank you, again. Sincerely Jacob L'Etoile <I do encourage your looking into an inexpensive low res. microscope... the QX series are to be pursued here. Bob Fenner>

Newbie. Reef Set-up gen., lighting   8/28/07 Hello - I am new to the saltwater aquarium hobby/habit & I don't want to have too many purchase regrets. We purchased a 155g glass bow front aquarium (22" deep). We also purchased a heater to use until the system is set up & possibly requiring a chiller. We also have the sump that the store recommended, but don't plan to use any bioballs <smart move for a reef tank> (prefer to go w/ a more natural approach w/ live rock & what not). I don't yet have the skimmer, but leaning toward the AquaC EV240 (is there a more efficient brand?). <Like most the crew, I love Aqua C skimmers. I'm not sure if there's a more efficient brand out there some where, but I can pretty much guarantee you won't regret purchasing an Aqua C.> Is that an appropriate size to accommodate whatever we put in as pets? <Like any other filter type, the more fish you have and the bigger the tank, the bigger the skimmer you'll want to have. I think the EV240 should be fine.> My other question is for the lighting. I have been searching & can't seem to be able to find out if Metal Halide bulbs can be put on a dimmer switch. <Nope, they can't. But you can raise and lower the light. Raising the light even just an inch or two can make a significant difference in how much light gets into the tank.> I'm asking simply because I was going to go w/ the SunPod 72" (3x250w) or 2 - 36", but I won't likely need that much wattage right away. We are not 100% certain what all we want for "pets", but leaning toward an anemone & clown w/ coral (I heard coral can't be too close to the anemone) & whatever is able to be housed happily together. We want lots of color (who doesn't) & preferably a few uncommon & interesting looking fish. <Most anemones prefer more light over less light. That said, two 250w DE MH lights should be plenty (especially if you go with lower K rating bulbs.)> I realize we should choose the critters first, but isn't there a way of just "calming" a fixture down? <Yep, by raising it farther above the tank.> I don't want to have to buy all my little pals or choose them right now. I'm one of those odd people that like to go slowly w/ choosing a pet. <wise> They're an expensive commitment that I don't want to mess up. <Expensive to you, expensive for to environment, expensive to our collective karma'¦ > People say the light is pretty much the last thing to purchase, but I don't want to go months w/ a boring tank or waste money on a "temporary" light. I don't like going small & working my way up. I don't want to "upgrade" later. I really don't want my tank to be limited by the type of lighting I have. The more FAQ's I read the more confused I get. <This is because reef tank set ups are as unique as the people who own them. It's difficult (if not impossible) to have standard answers to FAQ that always apply to everyone.> Am I asking too much or can you guide me to the type of light fixture that can accommodate my wishy washy decisions? I'd prefer energy efficient, but that seems quite laughable in this hobby. <Indeed'¦ at least when it comes to lighting.> Your help would be greatly appreciated. <Generally, it's easier to tame too much lighting than to add more to insufficient lighting. But again, I doubt you'd absolutely need 3 double-ended 250w metal halides no matter what you plan to keep. You should have plenty of light with two (for just about anything). But if you really want the three bulb fixture, you could always raise the light higher up or leave one of the bulbs out.> - - - - Lost in a Sea of Nothing <Best, Sara M.>

How Much Live Rock and Clean Up Crew Needed? 6/4/07 THANKS for all of the valuable information you have for everyone! <Welcome.> I am new to aquariums and working hard at our first tank...a 72 gallon with 40 lbs of Live Rock. All rock has finally cured and my water levels are looking good. My question before I start adding fish is how much Live Rock is needed...do I have enough? <Depends on stocking and other filtration you may have. Usually 1 to 1.5 lbs. per gallon is what is recommended.> This will be fish only w/a clean-up crew...no corals and in the first two years we'll have between 8-12 inches of fish total. <Not a good way to measure it. 1 8 inch puffer adds way more bioload than 2 3' clowns and 1 3' Gramma for example.> Also how big of a clean-up crew would recommend? <Dozen or so snails of various species.> Finally, we love the color provided by coralline algae, does it have any recommended lighting requirements? <Not very demanding, I have got good growth under regular fluorescent lights.> MANY THANKS & Fish Rule!! <Good luck with the new tank, and get a QT tank before buying any fish.> <Chris>

Starting New Reef -- What are Proper Water Parameters?  - 5/18/07 Hey WWM, <Hello, Brenda here.> I am almost ready to turn my tank into reef by slowly adding corals over time. <Very exciting time!> I want to prepare my water parameters first before I add anything. Tank is 36 gallons. I have a 450 calcium level, 8 dKh, Salinity of 1.026, a Ph of 8.3, Magnesium of 1200, and Nitrates at 15. The thing I know I need to get done is lower my Nitrates, but to what level? I was assuming it had to be below 10, and constantly kept under that. <Zero Nitrates is always best.  Your Magnesium is a bit low and needs to be in the range of 1300 -- 1500 to properly balance calcium and alkalinity.> I figured that adding Macro algaes and building a small fuge to fit on the side of my tank would help keep it all under control. <Yes, it will help, so will weekly water changes.> My tank right now is lightly stocked with a Citrinus Clown goby. He eats only once a day and most of the food is consumed. What would you suggest my parameters to be before I add any corals? Is there anything else I should maintain, other than adding doses of iodine and strontium, etc. <Usually there is no need to add iodine and strontium with weekly water changes.  Be sure to test these levels before adding to your tank.  Work on your nitrates and magnesium and you will be fine.> Thanks, Joe <You're welcome!  Good luck to you on your new reef project!>

Thank You For All Your Help -- 5/4/07 Hello Crew, <Matt> After having my first reef tank for a little over a year now, I really have to thank you for all of your help. I just wanted to send you a picture of my 200 gallon reef tank that with your advice and help, is flourishing. Thanks again Matt
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>

30 gal reef tank - Getting ready to ask Questions  3/30/07 Hi, I've been reading a lot on your site and so far my LFS differs a lot in what they say on the subjects, I've researched on your site. I'm having some problems in my tank and would like to ask for some advise and I apologize in advance for my ignorance on the subject and, not researching everything before jumping in the water. It will probably be a day or so before I can respond to have every thing right before bothering you guys and once again thank you very much. Josh <<Josh: Feel free to ask questions.  That's what we are here for.  In the meantime, you can also continue to read the info on the site http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm  Best of luck, Roy>>

180 gallon tank temp  3/19/07 Dear Bob (or any of the other knowledgeable staff), <Jason> I just received a 180 gallon tank that I am setting up as a reef tank. I am moving everything from my current 55 gallon reef tank into the 180 once it cycles. First off I was curious if the equipment I have is suitable. I have 3 MH 250 Watt bulbs with 4 actinic bulbs and 16 moon lights, 20W UV sterilizer, 150  gallon protein skimmer, 30 gallon wet/dry with trickle setup and a 20 gallon  refugium with mud and mangroves and I setup the main tank with a 4" DSB with  half play sand and half live sand with 100 lbs of live rock and 100 lbs of dead  rock. <All sounds good> My next question is my 55 gallon tank I can't seem to get below 82 degrees.   <Not likely using those MH's... and the thick glass insulation...> I've used fans and everything, however my 180 gallon tank seems to hover with the MH on around 74-75 degrees. Is the 74-75 range to cold for the reef inhabitants? <Mmm, I would raise this myself... keep about 78 F... a good temperature for most all... purposes> Finally what is the best rule for amount of fish/inverts  per gallon  in a tank. <Mmm, maybe a cubic inch of biota/biomass per five gallons of volume...> I do not want to over stock on fish and have poor water quality, but  I do wish to add more. In the 55 gallon I currently have: 1 black clown, 2 perculas, 1 tomato clown, 1 yellow tang, 1 scooter, 1 red scooter, 1 mandarin dragonet, cardinal, coral beauty, 2 damsels, 1 brittle star, 1 serpent star,1 flame scallop, 3 peppermint shrimp, dozen turbo snails horseshoe crab. <Do keep your eye on this last... not likely tropical... see WWM re> I've had this setup for over a year now. Can I add with everything I have or is that the limit? Best regards, Jason <Could add a bit more with the new system. Bob Fenner>

The size of a future reef tank  3/19/07 Good day to you, <And you Karine> I'm the owner of a two years old 20 gallons salt water aquarium with a 20g refugium. My stock is a 2 and a half inch Tomato clown (he's around 3 years old, he was a Christmas present, 2 years ago, from my cousin, whom had him for 6 month), one hitchhiker hermit crab that took a ride with some liverock that I bought two year ago and some mushrooms and *Anthelia. Both tanks are full of pods (copepods and amphipods).* I'm planning for a bigger reef tank, but I'm still not sure how much gallons. It wont be for an other 6 month since I have other project in the meantime. I already start looking for design of sump and will add my refugium to the new tank. <Good> My question is, how many gallons would I need for : My Tomato clown 7 blue-green Chromis 1 or 3 Kaudern's Cardinal< http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?pCatId=82> (1 male, 2 females) 1 Dartfish (possibly the *Nemateleotris decora)* *1 Centropyge angel (*Centropyge flavissima, Centropyge aurantonotus or the Centropyge argi) My preference would be the Lemonpeel, but the 6 inch they grow and, I read that they become aggressive later on, it's making me a bit wary with this choice. 1 other kind of Goby (Still thinking about that one) <Mmm, well... "the bigger the better", but something like 80-100 gallons here would be a good minimum> Thank you, Karine <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

No Questions, Just a Picture and a Big Thank You  2/28/07 <Hi Mike, Mich with you.> No questions this time, I just wanted to send you guys and gals a picture of my new present.   <Oooo...Ahhh...Ohhh!> I upgraded to this 75 gallon "reef ready" aquarium from the 65 gallon tank that I learned on.  I have been an avid reader of the articles and FAQs on Wet Web Media for the last 2 years and have tried to incorporate that knowledge into making this a successful reef.   <Excellent!> I have a 1/2 inch deep sand bed in the display with approximately 115 pounds of live rock, 440 watts of VHO lighting, a 37 gallon sump/refugium incorporating a DSB, Chaeto, and Miracle Mud.  An ASM G-1X skimmer does the stinky removal and a Mag 9.5 handles the return to the tank. I had to throttle the return pump down due to the fact that the tank only has a 1" drilled overflow (reef ready, NOT) and my wife would not let me attempt to drill more drain holes (she paid for it so I couldn't argue too much).  I added a Tunze TS07 kit to give me the 20 plus times turnover rate that I wanted.  I kept it pretty simple but, with your help, I believe I have managed a successful and practical set up.  I even cured an additional 50 pounds of live rock with no problems and set up an auto top off system.  It has only been running for a few weeks now but all of the corals seem happy and the fish seem to enjoy the additional swimming room, hiding places, and increased water flow. I have attached a picture that I hope is of suitable size for your server. <Yes, thank you!> I realize that I have a mixed batch of corals but some were bought before I knew better and some were gifts. <A learning process.  Do watch that anemone.>   Thanks to all, <You're welcome.  Thank you for sharing.  Tis a beauty.  -Mich> Mike

Reef Ready?    1/14/07 Hey crew, <Adrian> I recently inherited a marine tank and I want to convert it to a reef tank but I'm unsure if it's ready. I spent a few hours trying to find out what my inhabitants are and still am not sure. I am new to the hobby (this is my first month with my first salt water tank, and my 4th month keeping fish total). I have found a reef club to join and won't be buying any corals until I talk to them about purchasing or trading frags but I wanted to know if I had to remove any of my guys first. I have a purple urchin A black urchin (pics did not come out well) A PJ Cardinal, And a brittle star (camera shy, only got a bit of it's arms) I have included pictures that I hope work well (I cut them down as much as I could). I also included an overall picture of the tank.  I don't want to harm the fish, sadly I already lost a red striped Hawkfish to my filter (he got his fin stuck for an extended period of time). I don't want to lose any more so I have just recently purchased some Nassarius snails, and am holding off on any other creatures until I finish upgrading my protein skimmer, as well as removing the bioballs and converting it to a refugium. Thanks for your assistance and knowledge Adrian <Keep on as you are... reading, investigating... and all should be fine. BobF>

New Tank Setup 1/5/07 Dear Bob, <Hi, Chris with you today.> I have been reading all the information on your Web site over the past month - it is truly fascinating!  <Definitely lots of information.> I would like to build my first reef system with the goal of using biological filtration and creating a stable micro ecosystem which would require a minimum amount of equipment and fancy technology.  I would like to grow corals, invertebrates and have a very light fish load.  <Sounds nice.> I am in the process of building a new 120G reef system and would like you to comment on my design, which I put together, based on the information posted on your Web and in your book. I am attaching a drawing of my system but since I am not sure that it will go through I will also try to describe it. I am planning on using a 120G acrylic tank (48x24x24, from Glass Cages) to which I will add a 48" Calfo-style horizontal overflow with three 1.5" drains. The tank will contain about 180 pounds of mostly Fiji LR, and about 1" of CaribSea Seaflor sand (1.2mm-4mm grain diameter). The water will flow through two of the three drains to  a 27G mud refugium (36x12x13) filled with 1" of CaribSea Refugium Mineral Mud and Caulerpa sertularoides (I will use a 24/7 light cycle).  <May want to investigate using other macroalgae, Caulerpa can be quite noxious chemically.> From there, the water fill flow to a 50G sump (36x18x17) with built in DSB refugium number 2. The refugium number 2 (18x18) will contain about 6-7" of sugar fine aragonite sand (Southland) and Spaghetti Algae Chaetomorpha and Ogo Gracilaria. I will also use a RDP light cycle. <Would use these algaes in place of the Caulerpa.> The third drain will take water from the display tank directly to a protein skimmer (EV120 or CS1-6 or Turboflotor 1000) placed in the sump.  <Fed directly into the skimmer or just the skimmer section?  Would prefer the latter.> Water from the protein skimmer and refugium number 2 will be collected in the middle section of the sump and will be returned to the display tank by two MagDrive 18 pumps (two 0.75" returns) connected to a Calfo-style return manifold. I am also planning on using two 250W 10K MH lamps and four 65W PC actinics. Could you please comment on the design and on my selection of filtration methods, substrate, algae and equipment? Thank you very much for your help. Best regards, Janusz <Looks very nice and doable, but make sure to test the system for overflow during a power loss.  Is quite complicated, and need to make sure all points of failure are made fail safe.> <<RMF couldn't convert the ppt graphic to present here>> <Chris> Re: New <reef> Tank Setup Part II 1/7/07 Hi Chris, <Hi again.> Thank you very much for your response and comments. The third drain will feed to a skimmer section of the sump. I will not use Caulerpa. Cheers, Janusz <Very good.  Good luck with your new tank.> <Chris>

New 150 Gallon Reef - 12/28/06 Hi, <<Hello>> I have been an avid saltwater fish keeper for some time now. <<Cool...me too!>> I have been working on a 150 gal reef setup.  I have several questions I hope you can answer. <<I will try>> First off, I have a 75 gal mud filter setup in my basement that I plan on plumbing to the 150 upstairs, which has been up for 7 months. <<Excellent>> I have tiny cotton ball looking creatures with feather duster like protrusions sticking out the top of them. <<Neat!>> They range in size from pin heads to pencil erasers.  They do not move and are scattered all over the glass, tubing and my plant matter.  My local fish dealer tells me they are sea squirts but I have yet to find anything similar looking on the net. <<Mmm yes, is probably a tunicate...but whatever, likely from the Phylum Chordata for sure>> Any ideas and are they harmful? <<Harmless if not beneficial>> Secondly, My 150 gal tank is only 4 foot wide with a corner overflow.  I want to do a reef setup with fish like  cardinals, clowns, gobies and such. <<Ok>> I can't figure the best way to set the reef up being 4 feet wide and 30 in tall. <<...?  Do look to other hobbyists, hobby books, even public aquaria for ideas>> I'm concerned with the introduction of new fish with limited available territory and compatible coral. <<It is what it is.  As with any system...size, species, order of introduction, etc., will all determine stocking of this system>> Finally, I was thinking about getting pulsing xenia, sticking it to the glass in the back towards the top. <<Can be done, but a word of caution as this animal can become invasive>> I've read  that they go through a die back period, is this true and if so how can I combat this. <<Is a theory yes...and not likely something you can prevent if so...though there is also speculation that the xenia will "grow back" if left alone and conditions permit>>   Thanks for your time, Jerry from Ohio   <<A pleasure to assist.  EricR in South Carolina>

Refugium Brand Input, comm., other reef improvements    12/3/06 Hello Bob, <Hey David, JustinN with you today.> I need some tank advice and hope you could help. <Ok, I'll give it a go> I have a 90 gallon fish only tank, 6 fish (Blue tang, yellow, Singapore Angel, Foxface, few damsels) 50 pounds live rock in ank and gravel bottom. <I would likely add more live rock to this display, for the overall health and appearance of the tank. Also, your blue tang will need larger quarters eventually.> I use a AMiracle wet/dry sump, and a Fluval as a secondary filter. I have a skimmer too. I want to add a Refugium for water quality and clarity. What brand do you recommend. Aquatraders sells a 24 inch Odyssea with 300 GPH return and protein skimmer; is that OK? I would like to stay around $100. <I have looked at these myself before, and I feel the pump they are equipped with is likely of dubious quality. I would replace it with a MaxiJet 1200, if I were to try one myself. Otherwise, the build looks fairly solid. I'm not certain how effective the skimmer will be, but it couldn't hurt to try. Alternatively, I would consider phasing out the wet/dry in place of an under-tank lit refugium and sump. The cost would likely be about the same as the hang-on-back fixture, and results would likely be better. Assuming you're utilizing bio-balls in your sump, these could be contributing to higher nitrate levels as well.> Also, should I leave my UV Sterilizer in the sump? <Is of debatable use here, some feel is too indiscriminate.> Also, should I get rid of the gravel? <When you say gravel, do you mean standard aquarium gravel, or crushed coral? If you are not using a calcium-based substrate such as sugar-fine aragonite sand or crushed aragonite coral, I would absolutely change this out.> I would like to lessen water changes as an overall goal while increasing water quality. <Lessening water changes is not a realistic goal for the long-term health of your tank. There is no better health mechanism for your aquarium than the replacement of water to replenish depleted earth minerals and remove nitrogenous wastes. That said, the addition of live rock, as well as conversion of your wet/dry into a refugium will likely help improve your water quality. Cheers! -JustinN>

Marine Set-Up/Reef System   11/28/06 Hi all, <Hello Manny> I have had my 55g FOWLR with approximately 70lbs of Live Rock and a 20g refugium with a DSB up and running for over 3 months now and the bug has bitten. I have already upgraded my lighting to an 8x54W T5 system with half actinic and half 10K bulbs.  I want to get various Ricordea and zoanthids as well as a rose BTA to start my mini reef. <Not a good idea mixing anemones with corals.  Anemones have a tendency to relocate, and in the process will be zapping corals along the way.> I have a SeaClone 100 that has actually been collecting rather well *I think* about 3/4 Cup every 2-3 days. Also 0ppm Nitrates My first question is since the Rose BTA vs. zoanthids/Ricordea have 'seemingly' very different lighting requirements is there any site or reference that has a general thriving lumen rate for each type of coral. <Nothing specific that I'm aware of.  Generally speaking, intense lighting for stony corals, moderate for most LPS, BTA's, and Zo's.  You can start here along with linked files above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm> I recently bought a lux meter and would try to place them accordingly.  Or should I just try and put the BTA higher and the Ricordea/zoanthids lower in the tank? <If you insist on the BTA, with your lighting, it could be placed anywhere in the tank.> Also, I have a full system as far as fish go and probably should upgrade my protein skimmer. 1 small Sailfin Tang, 2 black percs, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Six Line wrasse, 1 pygmy angel, 1 Flame Angel (The angels get along well) and various inverts (crabs, snails, & 3 cleaner shrimp). <Your tank has too high of a fish load, the sailfin will grow quite fast and will be needing a larger tank.>   I was looking into the Aqua C Series since so much great feedback is read here on WetWebM and will probably upgrade my tank size down the road. Hence, I would like to buy an oversized skimmer i.e. an EV-240 or EV-180. <They are good skimmers.  Might want to check out the Tunze 9005 also.> Is there any risk in over skimming necessary elements for corals etc.?  Problems with too much gas exchange? <No, regular water changes with a reef enhanced salt should replace lost elements along with your normal reef additives.> Also I read here on WetWebM that placing the filter after any filtration is bad.  I have a wet dry with bio balls and then the water flows to my skimmer in the sump.  Is this bad? <No, but I would gradually remove the bio balls.  Really isn't necessary to use with live rock.> Would it be better to do some plumbing to change this or just leave the sump as is? <Think you are fine here.  James (Salty Dog)> Manny V

Berlin Style system    11/28/06 Hi, <Cheers to you in the UK, Mich here.>   I have a 400 l, not sure what it is in us <approximately 100> gallons am from the UK, marine tank it has about,50-60 kg of live rock in it. I currently have a custom made sump (around 100 l) <25 gallon> consisting of a bio balls (filter media for biological filtration) and a protein skimmer, I am interested in removing the bio balls and going to a Berlin style system. My tank has holes drilled in the back, I would have preferred the holes in the bottom but it was a second hand tank. And as such the flow rate is not as good as I think it could be, <Why not drill more holes?  It isn't too difficult, just go slowly.  Could also check for local reef clubs who may offer this service if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself...it can be a bit unnerving.>  I have a 2500 l <660 gallons> an hour pump but I have to divert half the water back into the sump otherwise it floods the main tank.       I was planning on getting a new sump (around 200 l)<50 gallon> and filling it with live rock. making a chamber on the end for the heater pump and protein skimmer. Is this a good idea? <You could, but you don't really have to.  You could do the same setup in your current sump, with less live rock.> And how much rock would I need? <Whatever you can fit comfortable with all the other equipment.>  I can't seem to find the answer any where.       Perhaps if you could suggest something else more appropriate? I was considering a miracle mud sump or deep sand bed.  <Have you considered a remote deep sand bed for nitrate reduction?  It may be an easier alternative.  Anthony Calfo has written quite a bit on this subject.  Do a search for RDSB and Calfo.  You should be able to make what you have work.>         Thanks Danny  <You're welcome.>
Re: Berlin Style system
   11/28/06 Thanks for the quick reply, <You are quite welcome, glad I could be of help...hopefully, at least.> I'm a bit apprehensive of drilling more holes as the tank has been setup for nearly a year now, <I understand, can be unnerving and may not be worth it.> and my corals are quite well grown i.e. all over the rocks, some onto the sides of the tank even. Would disturbing all this be worth it?  <Only you can answer that question.>       The tank has not got any immediate problems, I have 5 1000 l per hour powerheads moving the water in the tank, its just the flow rate through the filter, I feel the water going through the filter is not being filtered as well as it could be. And am worried as the corals get bigger the water quality may become an issue. <Much of the filtering is done within the tank by the live rock, if your corals are happy, I would not be too concerned.   <On a separate note, when writing into the website, if you could be so kind as to run your message through a spell checker and please don't forget to capitalize your "I's.  Thank you much.   Mich>

Reef Upgrade/Refugium Setup - 10/31/06 Hello. <<Good Morning>> I wanted to say thank you for all your help in the past. <<A collective effort>> Your website is a great source of information and has saved me from making stupid mistakes many times. <<Glad you have found it useful>> I'm writing because I will soon be upgrading my 55-gallon reef system to a 135 with a 55-gallon sump/refugium and have a few questions as to what the best way of doing this would be. <<Okay>> First let me run my plan by you really quickly and see what you think.  I will be setting up the new system in a new house.  I plan on doing all of the plumbing and filling it with freshwater straight from the tap.  I will then run all the filters/pumps to make sure nothing leaks and a day or so later after everything checks out (hopefully) I will add the salt and substrate (0.5inch aragonite to the display tank). <<Sounds fine>> I will then order approximately 100lbs of cured Fiji live rock and place it in the tank.  After a good 6-8 weeks when the ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels have stabilized and a healthy colony of bacteria has started growing, I plan on moving all the inhabitants of my 55-gallon tank in (purple tang, 2 brittle stars, hermits, snails, various soft and LPS corals, and approximately 80 pounds of live rock).  I was hoping I could do all of this at one time, but wasn't sure if it would overload the system with too many nutrient sources at one time.  Any idea? <<Hmm...with what you list, this would probably be fine.  You might consider leaving the old 55 up/operational (with some rock present) for the first 24hrs while monitoring ammonia/nitrite in the new system...to be safe>> I was also hoping to use the 3-inches of aragonite I have in the old 55-gallon system for a DSB (6 inches) in the 55-gallon sump/refugium on the new system. <<I don't see why not>> I will have to mix it with new aragonite to achieve the correct depth.  What would be the best way of doing this? <<I would place the new sand first, and put the "old" sand on top.  Do be aware, you will experience some die-off of the biota in the old sand bed when you move it>> Should I simply move the old aragonite from one system to the other and just throw some new aragonite on top? <<Other way 'round>> Should I mix the two first before placing it in? <<I wouldn't>> I was considering removing all of the old aragonite and rinsing it with tap water really well because I have seen some pockets of accumulated black organics in it before when I removed some of the live rock. <<You could...but aside from the hassle/mess, you will remove all the beneficial organisms that would otherwise seed/jump-start the refugium>> This would basically start the bacteria colony over of course, would this be ok? <<Up to you...but I wouldn't do it>> I was also wondering if a green brittle star in the 55-gallon refugium would significantly affect the copepod population. <<Indirectly possibly...by competing for food stuffs/detrital matter.  May also pose a threat to amphipods, other refugium fauna>> One of the reasons I plan on setting up the DSB refugium is so that it will act as a source of food for my corals and mandarin goby.  I have a green brittle star that recently decided to turn a few of my shrimp into lunch. <<Known to capture/eat fish as well>> I was planning on keeping it and simply separating it from my future shrimp and livestock by placing it in the refugium where it would help stir the sand bed.  Would this be a good decision or should I find a new home for it all together? <<I prefer to keep large predators out of a refugium...defeats the purpose of the "refuge" in my opinion>> Thank you for your thoughts. Jon <<Happy to share.  Eric Russell>>

Refugium Design/System Design/Maintenance - 10/05/06 Greetings from New Jersey, <<Hello from South Carolina>> I am in the process of re-setting up a 110X that will be used as a reef tank with approx. 1" Southdown sand (your input on any aspect of this e-mail as you see fit would be appreciated). <<No worries mate, is what we/I do>> I know the extra-high tank is not ideal for this but it was chosen largely for aesthetic reasons do to the ceiling height of the room. <<I see>> The system has been apart for around two years but I did run it successfully for around five years, constantly evolving the system as time went on. <<Mmm, yes...I tend to "fiddle" with my system too <grin> >> I custom built the hood and have two 400w Ushio 10K  bulbs and two 48" URI VHO 03 actinics approx 12" off of the water line. <<You do realize the actinics will be/are mainly aesthetic at this height...and this is quite "fine" as the 10K Ushio lamps contain more than enough light in the "blue" spectrum for the coral's needs>> I ran the tank for years with 250w 10k Blueline MH bulbs which  were much bluer in color, more pleasing to the eye but I read the Ushios were better. <<A better bulb in my opinion as well>> I bought the 400w at the tail end of my last setup so I can't say I had a lot of experience with them. <<Likely more than you need even with this tank...but should be fine>> I bought them because although I had started with soft corals and LPS I was starting to get more into the SPS and clams down in the sand, and at that time was fearing not having enough light penetrating the deeper water. <<Yes, a not uncommon "fear" among hobbyists...though often unfounded in my opinion>> Do you think this lighting is appropriate for SPS and clams? <<Should be fine, but I think you could have gotten by with the 250s (utilizing Ushio 10K bulbs)>> Would it be too much for softies or LPS? <<Possibly...but you might be able to place these where they receive appropriate lighting (after researching their individual needs of course)>> I have read on WWM that it appears people were over lighting there tanks and nothing more than a 250w MH should ever be used but I'm not sure if this took into account for extra high tanks. <<But for few exceptions (VERY LARGE systems, extra-high fixture placements, deep anemone systems) I am of the opinion that 250w metal halide bulbs provide enough intensity/are completely adequate...especially where double-ended type bulbs are used due to their seemingly higher watt-for-watt output/PAR over single-ended bulbs>> I also have a calcium reactor built by a small local company called MTC controlled by a Milwaukee pH controller which seemed to work great. <<Indeed...MTC seems to enjoy a fairly good reputation among hobbyists...The Milwaukee controller appears to have mixed reviews, but I have used their ORP controller with no complaints>> But once again the more I read the more it seemed everyone was using Kalkwasser for top off (which I did not at the time, just  RO/DI going thru a cylinder of CaribSea Florida crushed coral for buffering before entering the sump), so I built a Nilsson reactor and it seemed in no time most of my plumbing was encrusted with a white-brown I assume calcium. <<Mmm, possibly...  I too use a DIY Kalkwasser reactor in conjunction with a calcium reactor (several years now) and have not experienced "excessive" calcium build-up.  But then my system is larger than "average" (500g en toto) and heavily stocked with SPS...perhaps your system will get by/do better with the calcium reactor alone>> My DKH  was always between 10&12 (Salifert) but I could never find a test kit that seemed to measure calcium right. <<Give Seachem a try>> I had 2 or 3 different ones that never read even close to each other. <<Not unusual...obtain a quality brand (Hach, Salifert, Merck, Seachem) and keep fresh reagents and you'll do fine>> Maybe you could suggest an accurate one? <<Ah yes!  ...think I just did>> Is Kalkwasser a must or would the calcium reactor be enough on its own? <<Will depend much on your stocking density, but the calcium reactor will likely be enough if tuned/used with quality media>> Now for my plumbing dilemma.  I am installing two 100 gal. stock tanks in the basement just below the tank. <<Cool!   Love the extra volume!>> One will be a refugium, it has about 6"-7" Southdown sand in it for NNR I would like to stay away from Caulerpa and keep Chaetomorpha and or Gracilaria to help with nutrient reduction and possibly food for Tangs? <<I highly recommend you choose one or the other over keeping two types of alga in the refugium.  If kept together, the alga will fight/compete for space...releasing toxins/using energy that would otherwise go towards assimilation of organic elements.  If you want "tang food" go with Gracilaria...if you want "ease of use and an outstanding matrix for plankton/epiphytic matter production" go with Chaetomorpha>> Naturally I want to encourage all of the life I can to help naturally feed the main display e.g.. pods, plankton, so I assume I may want a few pieces of live rock in there, a Brittle star and some snails? <<Mmm, the snails are fine/will find their way in anyway, but a brittle star will consume much of the detritus needed/utilized by the more "desirable" refugium biota...I would leave it out>> I will let the tank fill almost completely with sea water to increase total system water.  The refugium will overflow to the other stock tank which will serve as the sump running around half full to allow room for everything to drain down comfortably in a power failure. <<Excellent>> I am only going to be pushing around 750 GPH thru the main display overflow with Durso standpipe (an amazing device, it quieted my overflow down to almost nothing from insane gurgling due to high flow) and down to the  basement.  Additional flow in the display tank will be achieved through two closed-loop systems, each circling 1/2 the tank top (I got the design from your web site. great idea no power heads!!!) each loop has four flexible ball and socket return nozzles. <<Sounds good>> Each loop would be powered by a Mag 12(I have these pumps, might as well use them) this should achieve another 2000 GPH in the tank? <<Not likely...coming from the basement>> I would love to increase flow to the sump but if I drill one more hole in our beautiful hardwood floors my wife is going to kill me! <<Hee-hee!  No worries, 750 gph is quite adequate here>> At first when I starting researching refugiums it appeared all that was recommended was around 2x to 3x flow in the refugium so I was going to split the raw water between the tanks and valve it off to accomplish this flow. <<Ok>> The sump would have a baffle in it dividing the supply water and return water so the MTC HSA-250 skimmer would only skim the raw water coming in, and refugium would dump into the other section with the return to the display tank. <<Sounds good>> After days of reading up on WWM I now fear that even if I let all of the raw water flow thru the refugium it might not be enough. <<No need to fear...I would proceed with your original plan (very similar to my own setup)>> And assuming it is enough it raises another question, if I do that my fear is that the skimmer in the sump would skim off all of the pods/plankton that I am trying to feed the display tank with since I will no longer have a raw water feed to skimmer. <<As stated...go with the original configuration allowing the 'fuge to drain directly to the pump chamber.  If you want/think you need more flow in the refugium, place a small pump in the skimmer chamber to pump water back to the refugium thus increasing flow there.  Just make sure the bulkhead that drains the 'fuge is large enough to handle the flow>> I would prefer not to add another tank upstream of the refugium to put the skimmer in.  I guess I could pump water to the refugium from the sump and let all of the raw water go to the sump but now I have two pumps for any life to survive...not ideal. <<An overrated concern my friend.  Most of the "life" will survive a trip through the pumps, and even the small amount that might be damaged will still benefit/be utilized in the display>> This has brought my planning to a halt and I've spent hours reading on the web and seen so many conflicting designs it prompted this e-mail. <<Again...go with your first instinct/inclination>> I'm trying my best to not keep ripping things apart and buying new equipment this time in a constant pursuit of the perfect system, and spend more time enjoying the display instead of finding fault with the system. <<Indeed...>> For the most part the only other part of the design is there are three 250 watt heaters in the sump, a 1/4 hp chiller all controlled by a Medusa controller. <<Very nice>> The chiller probably won't run  much since all of this extra volume of water is in the basement. <<A benefit>> Auto top-off with RO/DI water. <<Be sure to buffer before introduction>> There will also be another closed-loop pump plumed into the skimmer section of the sump to feed a canister filter for carbon, Poly-Filter or whatever I see fit. <<Neat!>> Do you recommend running carbon at all times? <<I do...a small amount changed monthly or more>> I was planning on lighting the refugium with a Home Depot four bulb fluorescent w/65k bulbs or a PC fixture, is this enough or should I get a MH? <<This will be fine>> I have a lot of what used to be Fiji live rock from the old display I can only assume that it is not Live anymore since it has  not been in water in some time, should I not use any of it or can I use some as base/foundation rock under new live rock. <<You can do this, though best to use all new live rock if possible>> I assume in time it will become live from the seeding of the new live rock. <<Yes, though it will never be "like it was">> Will it always stand out in the tank as not quite the same as the new or will in time it all look like a continuous reef? <<Will not be noticeable in time>> Lastly I would like to run this reef as naturally as possible, there are always so many snake-oil additives and supplements being pushed on us aquarists, are there any that you see as a must iodine? strontium? <<Iodine maybe, calcium/buffer likely...but test for the need before dosing.  If you run the calcium reactor you probably won't need to dose the latter at all>> I have always used Instant Ocean salt mix, I read a lot on the web trashing it. <<A long time quality product...bashed in the current "fad" craze many hobbyists fall prey to.  No need to change in my opinion>> Should I use something else for a reef tank? <<Not in my opinion...is what I use>> I have been using WWM for years and have gotten a wealth of information from it. <<Ah yes...>> I have always refrained from e-mailing you instead of just searching and reading on your site, so I hope you don't mind this lengthy e-mail I guess I just got it all out at once! John <<Not a problem my friend.  Regards, EricR>>
Re: Refugium Design/System Design/Maintenance - 10/07/06
Hi Eric, <<Hello John>> Thanks for your reply it confirmed that for the most part I am on the right track but if you could just clarify a few things I would appreciate it. <<Be happy to>> Is 1" of sand in the display tank too much?  I know if it's not at least 5"-6" DSB for NNR than it should be shallow, just want to make sure it's shallow enough. <<Should be fine...will likely get rearranged a bit by water flow/critters>> I understand that the actinics at 12" off the water will be strictly for aesthetic reasons but that's just what I intended them to be. <<I see>> With regard to the 400w MH, if they prove to be too much could I use some kind of diffuser to cut down on the intensity in the tank? <<Mmm, can't think of anything that would be of real use here.  If this proves to be an issue you can switch the bulbs to a higher Kelvin temperature (generally of less PAR), raise the height of the bulbs over the water, switch back to the 250s...>> Also could you recommend a DIY spot to look for me to build my own moon lights, I understand that the LED's need to be of a certain spectrum and if I do this down the road I want to make sure there would be some benefit not just look cool. <<Of a certain spectrum?...moonlights?  Have never heard that...and have my doubts as to its validity...more marketing-hype if you ask me...  Honestly, your "moonlight" can be as simple as a small low-wattage incandescent bulb left to burn 24/7.  But if you're set on making your own you can try OzReef (http://ozreef.org/diy_plans/lighting/neon_moonlight.html), or buy a book from Amazon on DIY moonlights for about eight bucks (http://www.amazon.com/DIY-Moon-Light-Make-Your/dp/0975311107)...or pull up one of the computer accessory sites and order yourself a low-voltage "cold-cathode" (neon) tube in your fave color for about twelve dollars plus shipping>> As far as the RO/DI top off being buffered I mentioned that it runs thru two 24" cylinders filled with crushed coral, I was led to believe that this would buffer the water. <<It will...but to what extent?  I would test the effluent re pH and alkalinity and assure these are being pushed back up to NSW levels>> I try to keep as automated as possible not only for ease but mainly for consistency in the aquarium. <<As do I>> If this is not adequate buffering can you recommend something fairly automated? <<Mmm, no...will require "manual" additions of a buffering compound to the RO reservoir as far as I'm aware>> Go back to my Nilsen reactor? <<Another possibility, though Bob is probably squirming in his seat as he reads this...>> The only reason I originally built it was due to using the calcium reactor with CO2 I did have trouble with low pH. <<Not uncommon...sometimes a matter of striking the right balance between the tank and the reactor.  If backing-off on the reactor is not feasible, adding a second media chamber reportedly helps with using up residual CO2 and raising the pH of the effluent>> I did not have a refugium at that time, I am  hoping one of this size (100 gal) will help, especially with a reverse cycle lighting schedule. <<Should...some...>> I decided to keep my original plan for the refugium and sump (splitting the raw water) and if the flow thru the 'fuge proves not to be enough I'll have to address it later. <<Good enough...though I suspect all will be fine>> I decided to use Chaetomorpha and am hoping that the flow is enough to keep it "tumbling". <Mmm...Anthony would disagree, but in my experience the Chaetomorpha does not need to "tumble."  I have had mine sitting "static" for more than three years with no problems.  Not to say that "tumbling" might not be better...just not a "necessity">> If I needed more flow you suggested a pump in the skimmer side of the sump to the 'fuge. <<Yes...have used this method myself in the past>> The return from the 'fuge should be big enough I used 2" between   the two stock tanks, but given that the sump is divided in two with the skimmer side spilling over to the pump side to maintain a consistent water level for the skimmer, wouldn't that start draining the skimmer side down? <<Only one way to know for sure...but consider this, the flow "in" to the skimmer chamber will also increase>> Would it be  acceptable to just put a small powerhead in the 'fuge? <<Is what I am doing with mine now>> As far as the closed-loop circulation in the display I did not mention that the two Mag-12s will be right under the tank with only a couple of feet of head (I'm not crazy about this for noise reasons but once again I just couldn't bear to put more holes in my floor!). <<Ah, I see>> I'm starting to rethink the canister filter being pumped in a closed-loop fashion from the skimmer side of the sump.  I have read on WWM that you should not use chemical filtration before skimming, and certainly this design would be taking some of the raw water and doing just that. <<True...but a minor concern in my opinion.  Still, you could do this from the pump chamber if it suits you better>> If I pump it from the pump side of the sump would the chemical and mechanical filtration have a negative effect on any plankton trying to reach the display? <<Some will be lost, yes.  I use two chemical reactors in my sump (between the skimmer and pump chambers) and have observed very minimal "plankton" removal.  The benefits of the chemical filtration outweigh any disadvantage re I feel>> What do you think of simply putting a 50 or 100 micron sock with carbon right in the pump side of the sump, sounds too easy but sometimes we think too hard in this hobby. <<Some folks use this "passive" method of chemical filtration...has some benefit, though much less effective in my opinion than "active" methods of pushing the water through the media>> Do you prefer Lugol's iodine or something like Tech-I from Kent? <<I use/prefer a "Lugol's" solution...must be used very carefully/dosed precisely with care given to how/where it is introduced to the system>> Lastly I think I will just get all new live rock, I will need quite a bit between the display and the 'fuge, can you recommend a place that sells quality rock affordable? <<Several hobbyists in my local marine club have been raving lately about the rock they received from Reefer Madness>> You have been a tremendous help and I am much more confident moving forward with my new set-up. <<It has been my pleasure>> My hope is that with roughly 260 gallons supporting a 110 gallon display I should have a very stable environment. <<Will contribute greatly...assuming all other aspects of good husbandry are maintained>> Have a great weekend!  (Go Yankees!!!) John <<And to you in kind.  Eric Russell>>

Reef Conversion/Stock Selection'¦More Research Needed - 10/01/06 -- Hey Crew, <<Hey Sharon!>> Sorry, I just tried to write and send you an email, but I accidentally pushed the send button before it was finished.  Sorry if it wasted your time.  I will go ahead and rewrite it now, and try not to send it early this time. <<No worries mate...I did see this and deleted the partial message...no harm done <grin> >> I am currently upgrading my 46 gal. bowfront FOWLR tank to a reef. <<Neat!>> I have 50 lbs of Fiji LR in the tank, and another 25 lbs. curing in a Rubbermaid container (I love those things). <<Yes indeed.  But do be careful not to "overstock your tank with rock"...need to leave room for animals to grow/swim>> I am planning on keeping the following livestock: a flame angel, 2 percula clowns, 2 Banggai cardinals, a Midas blenny, a lawnmower blenny, a blood red fire shrimp, a skunk cleaner shrimp, a reef cleaner package, a torch coral, a galaxy coral, a pink birdsnest coral, a neon pineapple tree coral, a white pompom xenia, a thin finger leather coral, a crocea clam , and eventually an anemone (I haven't decided on the species yet, but a suggestion would be appreciated). <<Mmm...before I get started here let me first say "kudos to you" for making a list and asking questions before "jumping in" to a reef setup...but I do think you need to do a bit more research re your species selections.  The fish selection should be fine (though I'm not sure about the blennies coexisting in this size tank), but your coral selection will likely be problematic in this small space/volume of water.  The torch and galaxy corals are very aggressive, possessing long sweeper tentacles with a very powerful sting to clear/keep clear the surrounding reefscape of other encroaching organisms.  The leather coral and the neon tree coral (a photosynthetic Neptheid I presume), while not as "obvious" in their aggression, are still nothing to be trifled with.  These soft corals possess an arsenal of "chemical" weapons that no amount of "spacing apart" will defend against.  The birdsnest coral, and the Xenia will be less problematic than the others.  Now I'm not saying people don't/can't keep a "mixed garden" reef, but as a new "reefer" I recommend you limit your selections to a single species, genus, or even family, until you get your reefing feet under you.  As for the anemone, I don't even recommend advanced aquarists keep a motile invert such as these in a tank full of sessile invertebrates.  If you really want an anemone, I highly suggest you first, research (heavily) these animals/the species you choose, and second, build the tank/environment as a specimen tank to suit this animal>> I am going to purchase a lighting system with a 175w metal halide, two 65w actinic compact fluorescents, and 4 lunar LED lights.  I will use a 150w Visi-Therm Stealth heater.  For water motion, I am going to purchase two 270gph Power Sweep and connect them to a wave-maker along with the Maxi-Jet power-head I already have.  For filtration and skimming, I was wondering what you thought about the ViaAqua Multi-Skimmer.  It skims the water and includes mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. <<Don't waste your money/the lives of your animals.  Purchase a "quality" skimmer (I suggest the AquaC Remora hang-on skimmer...or the Urchin if you will have a sump) and a small canister filter for chemical filtration (carbon/Poly-Filter).  Your live rock will serve as your biological filter>> If you don't know much about it you can find more out at http://www.commodityaxis.com/ProductData.aspx?id=58.  I am currently doing 20% water changes monthly. <<Excellent>> Will this be sufficient for a reef system, or would it be better to do 10% water changes bimonthly. <<The 20% monthly is good>> I test for pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates at least every other week. <<Mmm, would do this "at least" after every water change>> When I upgrade, I will also test for calcium. <<...and alkalinity...magnesium...>> I currently add trace elements weekly?  What supplements do you suggest adding to the reef tank. <<Calcium, buffer, iodine, possibly magnesium...during water changes...and NONE without first testing for the NEED to dose>> What food would you suggest for the fish? <<New Life Spectrum pellets, frozen mysids/plankton, Sweetwater Zooplankton, Spirulina algae flakes soaked in Selcon and/or Boyd's Vita-Chem...all in combination daily...at least twice if possible>> Thanks for the help, Sharon <<A pleasure to share.  EricR>>

Optimal Reef Temperature    9/22/06 Looking for some help....I've searched the web and the many varieties of answers still confuse me. <Many opinions> I've got a 55 gal w/ live rock and the following livestock: toadstool, pulsing xenia, 2 BTAs, 1 sebae, a pair of mated clowns, 3 cardinals, 1 zebra sailfin tang, coral-banded shrimp, and some  peppermint shrimp. What is the "optimum" temperature that I should seek for this reef  set-up? Thanks folks! <Most reefs in the world average about 80-82F, I would suggest about 81F is best.> <Chris>

Deep Thoughts On A Deep Aquarium  8/8/06 Greetings crew from the West Coast of Oz, <Hello From So Cal- Scott F. with you today.> I am about to 'inherit' a setup from a colleague who is moving to the other side of the country and I hoping you can help me decide the best use of the system. <I'll do my best!> Ok, here we go. It is a 150 US gallon tank (Yep our gallons are different to yours!) and measures 48" in length, 24" wide and 30" in depth, it has two MHs (170w Aqua Medic Ocean Light 150s). I will be adding a sump (20 gallon), skimmer etc etc. <Nice sized aquarium, and a good lighting system...> I currently have a smaller (50gal) tank which consist of a sand base, live rock, Bubbletip, Clown, Coral Beauty, Yellow Tang, Fox fish, 3-4 Trochus snails, along with a couple of hermit crabs etc. <A bit crowded in the 50, but it will be nice to have the upgrade!> I am hoping to use this existing stock as the base for the new tank. <Definitely a good start. In fact, you probably would not be putting too many new fishes in the tank after that.> I am hoping to establish a reef setup in the new tank and have the impression from researching this and other sites that there are really only a couple of options of reef types that I can do, primarily either SPS corals or LPS corals, do I have this right? <Actually, no! there are all sorts of "reef" systems you can try. You can do soft coral tanks, Zoanthid biotopes, Seagrass biotopes (my personal favorite), single species tanks, just rock with no coral, or even just all sand...Dozens and dozens of ideas, any of which could qualify as a "reef" system. Find a niche on the reef that you find interesting, research the animals that reside there, and set up your system accordingly. It's called a "biotope" system, and is a great way to run an aquarium.> If so which particular coral type would be the most suitable for the setup? <As above- sooo many choices!> Or alternatively can you give me an indication of what types of corals I should consider for this setup. It is particularly the lighting that I am worried about for this depth tank. (Are there other lighting options I haven't considered?) <Well, the depth is a bit of a challenge if you're going for very demanding "SPS" corals, such as Porites, etc., but many of the more popular and less demanding stony corals can do fine under this lighting regimen, particularly if mounted higher up on the rockwork. I guess the bigger question is, "What kinds of animals do you like?" That's really the bottom line. Just because you are keeping "SPS" corals does not mean that you have to "nuke" them tank with ultra-high-wattage halides. Some have different requirements. Also, you may be able to compensate somewhat by feeding them. As mentioned above, study the types of animals that you intend to keep and work your system accordingly. We've got a wealth of material on this site about lighting reef systems, so you can see that there are many alternatives.> My LFS is trying very hard to sell me 2 more 250's but they want AUS$1500.00 for the pleasure, something I am keen to avoid as I don't have that amount just laying around at the moment! :-) <I hear ya! That's quite a steep price tag! Do a bit of research and look into animals that may do well under a more modest lighting arrangement. You'll find there are more options than you might think!> You guys/girls(?) do a great job, keep it up. <We're thrilled to be here!> Regards and thanks in advance. Hebbs <You're quite welcome! Have fun! Regards, Scott F.>

Trading Spaces- Marine Aquarium Style!   8/4/06 I have a 75 gallon tank with some hearty soft corals, and fish. I would like to move these fish to another tank, possibly a 110 gallon. Fish include Flagfin Angel, Potters Angel, Yellow Tang, two Skunk Clowns, and a Randall's Goby. <Nice fish- but that tank is really maxed out on stocking, IMO. You'll need those larger quarters for these guys in the very near future. I'd think more like 150 gallons, plus.> I also have a 40 hex tank with two Percula Clowns, a Golden Angel, and Yellow Goby. This tank also has two anemones that have divided, I would like to move these fish into the 75 gallon tank, but I don't know if the lighting on the 75 is strong enough for two bubble anemones. The lighting is 220 watts of T5 lighting, the 40 hex has a Coralife 150 tank mount metal halide. <The lighting is probably barely passable with the T5's, for anemones. I am a big fan of T5 lighting, but I think I'd stick to halides for anemones. The bigger issue is the overcrowding that you'll create by moving these fishes into this already overcrowded 75. I'd be inclined to get a larger tank!> If I decide not two get the 110 right know, I would like to at least upgrade the 40 hex that I feel is not a good tank for these fish. Would a 46 gallon 36 inches long be worth it, or should I get another 75 gallon tank, Thanks Ron <I'd go for the largest tank possible, and pay heavy attention to water quality. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Upgrade ... FOWLR to a reef, reading WWM   6/2/06 Hey Crew, <Aaron> I currently have a 49G bowfront FOWLR.  I want to upgrade to a reef tank, but I need a little advice.  I already have an Emperor BIO-WHEEL filter, an Excalibur skimmer, 50 lbs. of live rock, a three inch crushed coral sand bed, a heater, and 2 powerheads.  I didn't mention lighting before because I know I need more intensity.  I want to purchase an orbit compact florescent sight fixture with LED lunar lights and a total of 384 watts.  I wanted make sure that this lighting would be sufficient enough to house a bubble-tip anemone, a Birdsnest coral, Hammer coral, Trumpet coral, some kind of Xenia , and either a Crocea or Derasa clam.  <... I encourage you to leave out the anemone here. Please see WWM re> I am also considering purchasing an Aquafuge refugium.  If I do decide to get one, it will most likely be the Aquafuge PS system.  I will then buy a small light to use with it.  I was wandering if you thought it was worth $250 or not. <If this is for the lighting alone... myself am a cheapskate and would go with a less expensive lighting arrangement. If for all, is reasonable> As far a fish go, I would like to house clown that will interact with the anemone, two Banggai Cardinals, an orchid Dottyback, a flame angel, and possibly a group of three Blue Reef Chromis.  I am also planning on keeping a blood red fire shrimp, many hermits and snails, and something to keep the substrate clean.   I also want a wave maker and a couple more powerheads, and I was hoping you could give me a suggestion.                    Thanks for all of your help,                              Aaron <Am not a fan of wavemakers... What you hint about and more is gone over and over on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Bob Fenner>

A Sound Plan ... reef stkg, sys. 4/5/06 Hi Crew!!!! okay, I have been researching, researching & researching...after all that, I have decided to just go ahead and make the plunge w/ a 125g tank (55g refugium) to house a green target mandarin....(I figure this project will take me abut a year and a half, if all goes well) I have come up w/ a list of fish/inverts that I think will do well as community and would like any thoughts anyone might have Yellow target goby Scott's fairy wrasse pair Bartlett's Anthias pair... (Will these be too competitive for food w/ the mandarin?) Lawnmower blenny purple firefish mated pair percula clown pair blue-spotted Rabbitfish a toadstool or two for the clownfish xenia and some small polyps cleaner shrimp feather dusters also, what should the depth of the sandbed be?.....can I use silica and seed with live?.....and then seed the entire tank w/ copepods? I know that seagrass needs about a 6 in sandbed....could it be kept in this type of environment?....and would it be beneficial to overall health of the occupants? is there anything I have missed that should be added? any input is greatly appreciated....is this too many fish?....any competing fish in my list?....too aggressive?...thank you all ahead of time!:-)......take care, Wendy.....ps, great site, thanks for sharing <Hi Wendy, Ryan with you today.  Quite a plan you're concocting!  If you're interested in creating an environment that's targeted around a Mandarin Goby, you truly want to eliminate as many pod-hunters as possible.  The Blenny, the Rabbitfish and the Clowns are all great choices- but as you guessed, the others may out-compete, or worse yet, prevent a sustainable pod population from forming if introduced too early.  Long term, you may be able to add these as your refugium matures.   Sandbed depth is up for grabs.  There are conflicting ideas as to the use of them...In my opinion, either go with 6 inches or nothing!  You're welcome to use an artificial sandbed and seed it...But remember that it will take much longer to mature.  Check craigslist for people breaking down reefs- Maybe you can find a steal.   I think you're on the right track!  Good luck, Ryan>

Hi from Australia... reef set-up  - 04/05/2006 Hi WWM, <Adam> Adam from Australia here. I've decided to build a mini reef tank after many years of planning. As an overview, I plan to stock with live rock, some inverts and a few fish (mainly clown fish to keep the better half happy ;) ). I have a AR980 tank (curved front, 1x0.5 x0.5m =~240 L) and I plan to have a sump that will house a mechanical filter, protein skimmer, calcium reactor, heater and refugium (total sump volume between 60-120 L). I have attached a drawing of the sump setup I'm planning. <Looks and sounds good thus far... do take a read through our collective input/s re siphon/overflows versus through-puts that rely on gravity alone> I've tried to read as much as possible but I still have a few questions. I am asking a lot so I understand if you are unable to read the whole thing. DSB I have decided to use a DSB and live rock as the biological filter. I had planned to use 5-6 inches of 0.5-2 mm coral sand. Your thoughts? <Will work> I'll need a fair bit of sand and 'live' sand isn't cheap (or easy to get here at all). Will the sand get enough micro stuff (algae, bacteria, animals etc. ) if I place some nice live rock on top of it? <Yes> If not, are there any 'bugs in a bottle' products that you recommend to help populate the sand bed? <Nope. The LR will "do it" here> As an aside, when first setting up the tank, is it recommended to 'cure' the live rock in the aquarium? <See WWM re... if the tank is "all new" this is the route I would go> Also, can I glue the rocks together so that the structure doesn't collapse/fall? <Can... but generally unnecessary> Lights I had planned to use 1 x 175-250W MH with a 10,000 K bulb as well as 2-4 fluors. I assume this isn't considered a lot of light, but I hope it is ok for most inverts. Your thoughts? (I'd love a clam one day) <Are posted on WWM> Water movement Lots is good so I hear. I'm thinking about 20-30 times the volume of the main tank per hour (6000L + per hour). Is this a good number to aim for? Is more 'bad'? I was thinking that a sequence reef flo dart seemed like a good choice. <Also posted... this is too much water to run over/through a refugium itself> 1) I plan to use a couple of SCWD and 6 outlets to provide some random motion. I was also thinking of adding an Oceans Motions Revolution to each outlet increase the turbulence further. Your thoughts? <Also... posted> 2) I am trying to decide if I do this with one big sump pump or if I use two pumps, one for the sump (5-10 x volume) and then a separate closed system pump to do the rest (no head loss then). Your thoughts? <Are that you should learn to/use the Google search tool on WWM> Water changes After the tank is running, I was anticipating doing a 20% water change every 2 weeks. Is there anything obvious that I have missed or not considered? <Not thus far> Setting up Assuming all of the above is ok, this is my thoughts for the setup: <Should work> Day 1 §         Set up all equipment, fill with water and check for leaks. §         If no leaks, add salt mix to the water and run for one day to ensure it has dissolved and has the right pH, SG and temp. Start skimmer. Day 2 * Turn off pumps. Gently add sand bed. Let settle before turning pumps back on. Day 3 * Check pH, SG and temp. If ok then add live rock (after they have been given a wash and a light scrub in some salt water). Start calcium reactor. Day 4-20 * Check pH, SG and temp as well as ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Turn lights on at around day 6. Now, should I do a water change during this time, or should I let it find its own balance? <Posted... change if toxic...> The tank should be cycled by now I think. Stocking List (in order) Corals -- get a few 'easy' corrals and an anemone and may be a culture of copepods too. -         wait a few weeks (check the calcium levels as well now)  -- Do I need to add any food? <Possibly> Inverts -- get some snails, hermit crabs, shrimp, starfish etc -         wait a few weeks -- Do I need to add any food? <Wait on these another month or two period> Fish -- Introduce clownfish and may be a few other small fish (like a royal Gramma). What do you think? <Should work> Many thanks, Adam Langman
<Bob Fenner, San Diego>

Re: Hi from Australia... reef set-up   4/7/06 Hi Bob, <Adam> First, thank you for your reply. WWM is certainly a credit to you and the others involved. Second, let me apologize for asking questions that you have already answered. <If you looked... no problem> However, I'd like to explain why I asked the questions. It is not from being lazy and it is not because there is a lack of information available, it is because _there is too much information available_.... <Mmm, not possible, probable IMO/E> and it is often contradictory. <! This can be/is a problem... though, if folks do have differing views, reasons (stated) that don't agree... so be it> As for WWM, the FAQ's are so large, it is hard to find exactly what I need. <The fields involved in "ornamental aquatics" are vast... Vast> Again, there is so much info it is hard to distill the "truth". I'm a researcher by trade so I know how to find information, but, on this subject, I don't have the necessary knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak, hence, I asked for help. <I wish, hope you have ideas on how to make improvements here then... how would you arrange, re-arrange this experience? Are there other more-useful indexing tools? A different/additional arrangement of indices? What?> So, I'll continue my search. As suggested, I'll look for more info on: Refugium flow rate Tank water flow and motion siphon/overflow flow rates Lighting (so much debate on this) <Yes> One last direct question. In one of your responses below, you say to change the water during cycling if it becomes toxic. What do you define as toxic? <More than about 1.0 ppm of NH3, NO2...> I would expect that there are going to be detectable amounts of ammonia and nitrite during the process. How much is too much? ..... sorry if this has already been answered too. If so, a link would be much appreciated. Again, thank you for you help and expert opinion. Your sincerely, Adam Langman <Thank you for yours. Bob Fenner>

Reef Planning/Deciding - 02/09/06 Good afternoon all. <<Good Evening Kristen>> First, thank you for your sage advice in all things fishy.  I have read your sight until my eyes have crossed and I believe that every time I have opened this sight I learn something new and informative right along with something new and scary. <<Hee!  Hopefully you keep reading until you're not "afraid" anymore <G>. >> I am returning to the hobby after 3 moves, 2 kids and 3 jobs. <<Mmm, trying to think of something clever to say here...>> Previously had a 55G FO tank with very little knowledge (so long ago that the internet was not yet available) <<Been at this more than 30 years myself...I can relate.>> yet managed to make it survive for several years. <<Hmm, depending on how far back we're talking...keeping marine fish alive for a couple years truly was an accomplishment!>> Bought a reef ready 72 G bowfront with stand for my husband's birthday. <<Okay, gotta ask...was this a gift for him?...or was this a gift "to" him "for" you?>> He and I agreed that before we pour one drop of water in it that we would buy all the system stuff first so we don't have to worry about adding on and replumbing. <<Mmm, am in agreement here...but hopefully you also have a "plan" for what you want to do/animals you wish to keep.>> So, we are building our sump (20 g long w/3 chambers).  Our skimmer will be either the AquaC-EV120 or the Euro Reef RS6-2 plus and we want a calcium reactor. <<Are you sure you will need one?>> My humble question of the day is... which skimmer is best designed to work with a Ca reactor?  I can get the AquaC already fitted with a JG fitting which would minimize having to figure out some of the plumbing on my own.  Yet the Euro Reef seems dummy proof in its operation.  Any advice in solving my great quandary would be greatly appreciated. <<Not so tuff really...choose the one that best fits your space.  Both are quality skimmers and will serve you well...the AquaC can be fitted to accept the reactor effluent directly, true...but if you decide on the Euro Reef, you can easily disperse the reactor effluent in the refugium (is what I do with my setup). Thanks all for your great service! Kristen <<Happy to assist, EricR>>

150 Reef set-up Qs  - 01/23/2006 Hello , and Greetings from Canada...... <"Oh, Canada...">   I would like your comments on the following....    I have a  Perfecto 150 gallon tank with one 7 "corner overflow , and was wondering if this was enough ? <For?> The tank is 48x24x30 . The sump is an All-Glass Model 4 with a Mag Drive 36 , and a Red Sea Prism Pro Deluxe , and  a  902 powerhead for in-tank circulation . Would this be all right ? <...? I would have an a valve to throttle down (and off) the Mag... it may be too much for your overflow here.>    Lighting is a Coralife 48 " professional series , with 2 -150 watt 10,000 k , 2- 96 watt actinic , and 3 lunar lights. I think this is all right , but was wondering if I could use  two strips of Coralife T5's, 10,000 daylight and true actinic that I had on my 55 gallon , or would this be too much ? <Not too much light/ing>    There is 80 pounds of Marshall Island , with not too much coralline yet , and I am getting a 100 pounds of Fiji , to go along with this . Will this be enough ? <Aesthetically? Probably not. Functionally likely so>     Lastly , I have some Carib Sea Arag Alive Fiji pink , (6, 20 pound bags ) ,and would like to add about 80 pounds of Carib Sea "Special Reef " sand , but am wondering about the right mixture , if at all . I can add some crushed coral to this . I am really confused on this . What is your preference ?        I thank you for your input ,              Ted Stasso <Depends on what livestock you intend to keep, what you like to look at. Bob Fenner>

Advice on new reef tank set-up   1/20/06 Hi Crew, <Tom> I'm planning a move to my second reef tank, from an old and scratched 60Lx18Wx24H setup, and would like to ask for your advice on the plan. I'd like to get a custom flat back hexagon, 54x24x24, around 120G. 1/2" acrylic construction, diagram attached. <Don't see> Circulation by two 1" Seaswirls, one in each rear corner. One SS to be fed via closed loop on a 1100GPH Mak4 pump, the other via the built-in overflow to a 30G sump with an AquaC EV180, returned by a second Mak4 to the second SS (will this Mak4 be too much flow through the sump, or is it OK?). <Depends... on size, shape, make-up, configuration...> Main lighting by two 250W Aqualine 10K MH, and one T5 actinic and one T5 blue. Will also have a calcium reactor, Phosban reactor, chiller (and heater) for constant temp. I'm planning a separate 15G refugium on a slow feed in/out of the sump. Livestock will be mostly SPS, a few LPS down low, two tridacnids, and a medium load of fish. Also have about 150 lbs live rock. That's the basic description, can you tell me if I'm heading down the right path? What do you like (or not like) about this setup? What else should I consider? Thanks, Tom <Sounds like a very nice set-up... an impressive shape system as well. Bob Fenner>

Getting Started   12/28/05 Greetings,<Hello Eric> My apologies if this is a duplicate e-mail, I have not had much luck getting e-mails out to you guys. I have been in this great hobby for about a year now.  I currently have a 29g FOWLR and have just purchased a 75g for my next step. I plan on using the 29g for my quarantine tank <Great> and want set up the 75g for a reef system. I have read several hours (if not days) worth of material on WWM and think I have retained enough info to just get started. Please advise if I am on the wrong track.  My goal is to add an assortment of corals and fish.  With my lighting listed below, I am under the impression that only stony corals will be off limits. I plan on letting the live rock and sand take care of the filtering, forgoing mechanical filtration-please let me know if the amounts of LR and sand will be sufficient for this. I am ready to purchase everything I need-just wanted reassurance before doing so. <Eric, you are borderline with the lighting.  Really should be looking at four watts per gallon.  You are around 3 1/2 watts per gallon.> 90-100lb of Live Rock 60lb CaribSea Aragamax Reef Sand AquaC Remora Pro Skimmer w/Mag-Drive 3 Orbit Light Fixture- 4x65W w/4lunar lights (4) Maxijet 1200 Powerheads <Your selection above looks good for all but the lighting.  I'm guessing your tank is 18" high. Its pretty deep for just the four 65's.  Consider Orbit's fixture that includes two 150 HQI lamps or to save money look at the retrofit systems if you are using a custom hood.> Thank you for all the wonderful information, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Eric

Temperature Control in Reef Aquaria  12/17/05 Hi Adam, I need your advice again. <That's what I'm here form hello again Jerry.> The Outer Orbit lights work great! <Glad you like it.> But my tank is now running hot 82.4 degrees with room temp of 72 degrees. I was looking at Pacific Coast 1/10 chiller or Artica Titanium 1/10 or Current/Prime 1/10. Any thoughts on these brands or size on a 125 Acrylic. <On a 125 I would go with at least the 1/5 or ¼. Smaller chillers seem to be perpetually 'ON' and thus even though they are smaller, end up using a lot more energy. As far as brands look into the Titanium Artica made by JBJ.> (120# live rock, 4" sand bed, unknown size wet/dry sump, Top Fathom Skimmer and Little Giant 4-MDQ-SC rated at 810 gallons at 3feet). I do have air conditioning for the house in summer but we usually set it at 78 degrees so I'm thinking a chiller is needed. <Also consider some fans blowing across the surface of the sump or display.> Could I use the sump/skimmer pump for the chiller? <You can, personally I didn't want my return pump being obstructed by other media (I wanted to get the biggest 'bang' out of it), so for that reason I used another pump to put the chiller on a closed loop.> Should I place the chiller in the stand or mount it on the basement wall below the tank? <They are VERY noisy, place it as far away from you as possible, I keep mine in a shed outside.> Thanks again for your help, Jerry <No problem, Adam J.>

Reef Tank and Traveling - 12/13/2005 Hello all, <Hello, Bryan, Sabrina with you today.> First your site is an absolute gem for information concerning "reefing", thanks for all the hard work. <Thank you very much for these kind words!> Is it possible to maintain a reef tank while also traveling for business? <Likely so.> I currently have a 58 gallon oceanic, 192 watts of actinic and 10,000K lighting (the tank is less than 24 inches deep), a Remora protein skimmer with surface skimmer, a Rena Filstar 3 with the addition of Rowaphos, <I, personally, would omit this, or only use it when you need to run chemical filtrants - the canister could easily trap decaying organic matter and detritus and end up causing you some nitrate issues as a result....  I would instead try a hang-on-back power filter for constant use (empty) and/or occasional use for chemical filtrants.> oscillating power heads for water movement, 2-3 inches of reef sand, <IMO, better to be less than an inch or more than four.> and 35lbs of live rock. Are there any tasks that could be or should be automated? <What tasks are you currently performing regularly that you wish to automate?  I would look into doing an automatic top off almost certainly, for starters.  Lighting, of course, should be on timers.> Are there corals or fish I should stay away from? <Anything that needs great attention to feeding - Anthias, for example, would be a horrible choice.> I currently have two false perculas, a lawn mower blenny, a cleaner shrimp, a serpent star, and a medley of crabs and snails. There are also two stands of Xenia, which have been present for about a month and doing well, and a few mushrooms just added this week. I was looking to add an elegance, frogspawn, toadstool, starburst polyp, tree or colt leather, and possibly a brain. In way of fish, a six line wrasse, and maybe a goby/ shrimp combo. The fish will be fed small pellets while on the road via an automatic feeder, and a mixture of frozen while at home. <The goby may be very difficult to wean onto pelleted foods - they tend to be very skittish once paired with their shrimp.  I would be a little (well, okay, a lot) concerned that the automatic feeder just wouldn't cut it for this fellah or his retiring shrimpy pal.  Anything that is generally a little tough to feed is going to be a tough option.> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks,  -Bryan <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Whole new tank  12/14/05 Dear WWM crew, <Hiya Randy!>      This question is more of a chronological nature than anything else.  I am new to saltwater, but very experienced in fresh.  While I'm sure I have the devotion necessary for the hobby, I'm just as sure I don't have the funds to start in an ideal way. <No reason to rush!> My goal is to have a thriving reef tank with a mix of soft and stony corals. <Worthy goal and a good challenge.> I plan to start with a bare bones system and add as financially possible. <Pretty common approach.> I already have the tank (218 gal reef ready) and 55 gal sump/Caulerpa algal scrubber. <NICE.> I will also heat or chill as necessary. If I fill this tank with 4 inches of fine mixed grain live sand <No need for it ALL to be live sand. A few handfuls of live sand will inoculate a sterile bed and have it tip-top in just a few weeks.> and the appropriate sand critters/gal will the system survive in this bare bones manner until I can afford to add live rock a piece or two at a time. <Fair enough.> If so, what type of lighting would I need for the main tank while it is sand only, <None.> when I start adding rock, <Full-spectrum fluorescents work fine.> soft corals, <Depends on the species...> and finally hard corals? <REALLY depends on the species.> At what point do I add a skimmer? <Before/when you start getting live rock.>  What other 'goodies (UV sterilizer <Nah>, types of calcium supplementation <Very big question, but don't need to worry about it for quite a while.>, etc.)' and when to add them, do you recommend?  Besides monetary reasons, I am hoping that this approach will allow me to acclimate myself to each stage of the reef building process, as right now, even after 2 months of sponging up info, I still feel like a saltwater fish out of water. <Let me recommend you try out our forums! http://WetWebFotos.com/talk - you'll gain a lot from chatting with the friendly folks (and crewmembers, including myself) in the Saltwater Newbies forum!> Thanks -- Randy from Florida <Cheers, Zo from California>

So you're goin' for a reef eh? - 12/11/2005 Mr. Fenner, <Actually Josh today. Bob is out and about, so I'm sorry that we're just now getting this out to you.> Hello. I just recently found your site on the internet and must say I am most impressed. <Glad you've enjoyed it. Hope that you'll find much more use for it in the future.> It seems as if you are the biggest help to people like myself who are mere novices. I have a 125gal going from all-fish to FOWLR in process after moving right now (still waiting on the last 90# of live rock to cure) and in the mean time my fish are cooped in a 35 gal set up. <Glad to see you've read on curing LR. So exactly how "cooped" are we talkin'?> My question; to turn my 35, being 20in deep, into a reef tank can I get good results with VHO lighting instead of metal halide? <Yes. VHO or PC. Of course all will depend on what you ultimately wish to stock. I would not put MH lights on a 35.> Also, is it imperative for me to run a sump and/or refugium or just ample liverock? <Sumps and refugia are not "musts" but they are an extremely useful adjunct. LR is the same way, but none of these take the place of your regular duties.> First time with a reef and I have TONS of questions. <I think you'll like this move, but take it slowly. Read through our Marine FAQ's, particularly the set-up, filtration and lighting for captive reefs. Much to absorb/analyze. Many paths to the same goal. Grab some coffee; there must be "hundreds" of FAQ's to each "one" of your questions.> Thank You So Much, Jeff Gilmore <You're welcome Jeff. Have fun! - Josh>

Reef Equipment  12/10/05 Good Afternoon, <Hello, evening now. Adam J here with you.> I have been enjoying the saltwater hobby for about 2 years now. I started with a 11 gal nano cube and for the last year have been maintaining a 29 gallon FOWLR tank (no major catastrophes-thanks to all the research available on your website). <Glad we could help.> I am now planning on jumping up to a 75 or 100 gallon and trying my hand at a reef system. I have searched to no avail on wetweb for help with my question-my apologies if this info is posted somewhere-I may not be using the correct search words. I have found a set up kit (minus the tank & stand) that includes the following: (I have deleted the small no brainer items) Amiracle Maxi Reef W/D filter (MR-100) <I'm not a fan of wet-dry on reef tanks, much rather utilize the space as a refugium.> TurboFlotor 1000 multi protein skimmer <Not to keen on this product either, would rather use a more quality brand like Aqua-C, Euro-reef or ASM.> 48" Aqualite Pro Double ended HQI metal halide, compact fluorescent and blue moon glow led lamps <Depends on what coral you want to keep but overall a decent fixture.> Maxi-Jet Wavemaker system <This is pretty good to.> As you can guess this kit is quite expensive and I am wanting to ensure that I am getting what I need, and not falling for a marketing ploy. <These products can work but they are not what I would choose.> If the above items are not what you think I need, would you please give your recommendation.  I have really enjoyed the info you have on your site and look forward to hearing from you. <Good luck with your new set-up.> Thank you, Eric Mullins. <Adam J.>

Conversion to Reef and Skimmer Selection 12/1/2005 Hi, <Hello Rob.> I have a 55 gal FOWLR tank that I would like to turn into a reef setup. <Welcome to the addiction.> I currently have a ViaAqua canister filter and Prizm skimmer. I intend to remove the canister filter and add a refugium <Great move.> and new skimmer (probably modify a 20 gal tank to contain a protein skimmer and the refugium) and rely on the skimmer, refugium and LR for filtration. The tank is not drilled, so I would have to use an over flow. I've read mixed reviews on your site. Have you had any experience with the CPR or Marineland SOS overflows? <Generally not a fan of any hang on overflows but I know people who have had success with those manufactured by CPR and All Glass Aquariums.> Also, I was hoping you might be able to recommend a better skimmer than what I have now. I have been considering the Turboflotor 1000 or Aqua-C Urchin. Would these be good options? They seem to get a lot of good review on your site. Most of the stores in my area seem to carry the Coralife Superskimmer, CPR Bak-Pak and Pro-Clear Aquatics skimmers. Do these work well? <The Aqua-C Urchin will easily out perform the others you have listed.> I appreciate any help you can provide. <Hope this is what you were looking for.> Thanks, Rob <Welcome, Adam J.> 
Re: Reef Conversion and Skimmer Selection  12/03/05
Thanks for the response. <Quite welcome.> One quick follow-up question. For the size setup I propose, would you recommend the stander Aqua-C Urchin or the Urchin Pro? <If you have the resources I always say the bigger the better, I don't "believe" in over-skimming.> Would the Pro skim too much? <See above.> Thanks, Rob <Welcome, Adam J.> 

Planning tank...input, mandarin dragonet  12/2/05 Hi all, <Hello Rod, James here today>  I appreciate your website! I have been doing research and planning on a new tank for next year....my 20L reef is getting a  little small for me. So any input would be appreciated, as well as answers to a few questions at the end.... Planned setup is as follows: a 60x15x15 "main" reef tank (58 gallons), lit by 4x65 watt PC's (2x dual daylight 2x dual actinic).  Overflow from this tank splits into two. One out current leads to a 20L, then to the 30 gallon sump. The other flows directly to the 30 gallon sump. The flow path in the sump is first a 125 gallon rated needlewheel skimmer before a weir, then a live rock/Caulerpa refugium (as large as I can make) and finally, heaters and a return pump to the main tank.  <Sounds good> I plan to stock as follows: mostly soft corals and LPS, maybe a few SPS near the surface. A clam or two, <With your lighting you will have to go with derasa clams, others require a higher light output.>  a fire shrimp (2?) cleaner shrimp (1 only), 2-3 small featherdusters, a Bispiralis, and a sea cucumber (my reef tank vice) (plus a hermit and snail clean up crew, of course). There will be plenty of live rock in the main and 20L tanks (as many pounds as I can fit and still make it look not really really full), and a 3-4 inch sand bed. The fish in the tanks are planned as follows: for the "main", a clown pair (Yellowstripe maroons or percula), a six line wrasse, a yellow headed jawfish, a  citrinus clown goby, a firefish, a clown goby or red headed goby, a royal Gramma and if possible, a mandarin dragonet. An angler will reside in the 20L. My main concern is with the mandarin. I think he will have enough room and rocks, and 108 gallons of stability. Once the tank is established, and hopefully copepod- full, will there be enough pods left by my other life for a mandarin? Will that amount of live rock (I realize the amount is vague) sustain enough pods?  <I suggest you seed the tank with pods available from online shops. Once that is accomplished, I'd wait a month to insure a healthy supply of pods.> I read conflicting results about whether copepod nauplii will make it through a pump (it'll be a Magdrive, if that makes a difference); will they survive the that rigorous, demanding passage to the giant promised tank on the upper level?  <You may lose some, most cling to the rocks.>  What do you think about my fish selection  <I'd eliminate the jawfish, too many other fish with aggressive eating habits.>  (I do tend to get caught up in the moment, hence I have learned to plan far in advance to not give in to impulse)? Will the  clams filter out the nauplii?  <Not enough to matter, clams produce most of their own food.>  I am pretty open to advice. I would like to recycle the 20L reef as a mini reef for the angler, but I know he may be demanding and poopy,  <I'd eliminate the angler also>  <<Eliminating anger is the first step towards tranquility.  Marina>> so that tank may be swapped out, a home for another sessile predator, a clam tank if it doesn't eat all my copepod nauplii, or just a mini reef like it is now. But if there was a small adjustment I am overlooking for a mandarin, it  would be nice to know in advance. Same for if it wouldn't thrive there at all.  <With a healthy pod population the mandarin will survive. Do not suggest more than one.> Thanks for everything, I really enjoy the site.  <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)> 

Big Reef Tank, Lot of Questions  10/5/05 Hi all and bless you for your work, <Thank you.> After about 5 mos. of reading your site and the resources you recommend (great books), I think I'm ready with some questions that need your attention, please. <Okay.> 1.) Why is a 2" sand bed a "nutrient sink", but 4" not? Won't both accumulate detritus even though the 4" provides NNR? < This is an area of large debate but I'll give you some general info. 2' is not enough for a significant amount of nitrifying bacteria to build up, only in Deep Sand Beds of 4' and more (preferably 6') do you get the 'effect' of a Deep Sand Bed.  The DSB will trap and break down detritus. If you do not wish to use a DSB just use 1' of sand or less for aesthetics.  Anything in between like 2' will just accumulate the detritus but not break it down and thus you'll end up with nutrient problems.  Another way to handle detritus is to never let it reach the sand bed. You can use high flow rates to keep the detritus suspended so that whatever filter system you have can take it on rather than leaving it in your tank. I suggest you do more research so you can decide for yourself.> 2.) My tanks dimensions, 84"X24"X24" coral and appropriate small fish. NO sps, anemones or clams. I will choose from softs and LPS. Not sure yet which will be predominant. Been getting (from LFS's) and references somewhat ambiguous info. regarding lighting. While at one of my LFS's the owner showed me 2 300g reef tanks that were side by side. He said one was using 4 400w halides, the other 4 250w HQI halides. He asked me to point out the 400w tank. I pointed to the brighter of the 2. It was the 250w HQI. I was somewhat surprised. <I'm not surprised the smaller profile of the 250-watt HQI allows the owner to use a more efficient reflector.  This makes it more efficient than a single ended 250 watt MH and arguably as efficient as a single ended 400 W MH.> With this in mind, I absolutely love the glitter lines of the halides, so I'm asking you for some help in choosing an appropriate number and wattage. Since the 250w HQI were as bright as the 400w, would the 150w HQI provide as much light as 175w halides? <More so in my experience.> Would 4 of either the 150HQI's or 175 regular be OK on my softy, LPS tank or do you have another recommendation? <I prefer the 150w HQI but either will work fine for what want to keep.> 150HQI is of course my preference as lower operation cost involved. What think you folks? <Well just for pure aesthetics I think some actinic lighting supplies by VHO or T-5 would look awesome when run in conjunction with the MH bulbs.> By the way, over the last 4-5 mos. I've been regularly visiting 4 LFS's. 2 of them have had to completely break down 300g reef tanks due to cranks in the glass. One completely collapsed the other had a traveling crack starting from the top. Another tank developed a small leak and needed a break down to repair. These were excellent, well-known manufacturers of glass tanks. Just a warning for my fellow aquarists. Deal with scratches (if not careful), NOT with disasters!! Glass for small tanks only IMHO. <Well living here in Earthquake country I've always dealt with acrylic myself.> God Bless Peter Rossetti, Lakewood, Ca. (getting ready to spend a lot of doe!!!) <Oh your not to far from me, in Earthquake country too. Adam J.>

One Last Sanity Check - 09/02/05 Hola Crew... <<Hi John...yep, EricR again.>> My Fiji biotope is about to become reality.  The 150 gallon display tank (48x24x30) and the 45 gallon refugium mounted underneath in the stand (30x18x20) have been circulating plain old tap water for two days while I sort out the flow pattern in the display tank using neutrally buoyant strips of confetti. <<neat!>> Three tubs of 200 gallon Tropic Marin Pro-Reef salt and a brand-new 55 gallon plastic trash can are at the ready to begin the process of establishing what I hope will become a vibrant community of life. <<Exciting...ain't it>> I think <deep breath> I'm ready to take the plunge. <<Ahh...the anticipation is electric...>> Fortunately, my local HD (Brunswick, GA) had aragonite play sand in stock and I was able to get four bags for less than twenty bucks. <<Lucky...haven't seen it around here in SC for more than a year.>> Using 1" PVC pipe and 90 and 45 degree elbows I have made  some sturdy stands to firmly hold live rock pieces just above (hopefully at the top of) a six inch DSB. <<Not necessary IMO, but okay.  I prefer to put the rock on the bottom of the tank and then add sand, but your method is fine...and preferred/recommended by some.>> Here's the plan I want to float <heh> by you.  I want to drain all the tap water from the system and refill it with salt water mixed to 1.025 SPG. <<Again fine, but not necessary.  I would merely add salt mix to the existing water.>> Then, one week later I want to get 50 pounds of uncured live rock and 50 pounds of live sand from Fiji via an e-tailer, along with a handful of Chaeto for the refugium and put them in all at once to start the curing cycle.  There will be a six inch DSB in both the display tank and the refugium, with a reverse lighting cycle from the display tank for the 'fuge. <<excellent>> I have an AquaC Remora Pro protein skimmer and a pound of charcoal in the raw water receiving chamber of the refugium.  I know I will probably need another hundred pounds of live rock, but the budget, she won't stand in one month :-) <<Be careful with how much rock you add.  Keep the rockwork open and don't get hung up on "filling the tank" with rock.  Sometimes less is more.>> The additional live rock will be added in 20-50 pound bunches over a couple of months, after a curing period in a separate container. <<Ahh, good>> Once the system has cycled, nothing goes in without first spending a month in quarantine! <<Very good to hear my friend!>> My decision to use uncured rock and sand came from a desire to create a Fiji biotope with the maximum diversity of organisms as is possible given the unavoidable losses in shipment. <<Yes, understood...did the same thing myself.  Be aware the process can/will be nasty/smelly.>> Some 'nasties' are inevitable, but that's all part of the diversity of life. <<Most likely in the form of nuisance alga.>> Questions arise: <<ok>> 1) Should I wait on adding the Chaeto until the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate cycle has stabilized? <<Not at all.>> 2) Should I use the tank lights while curing or keep it dim in there?  The Chaeto in the 'fuge will definitely need light, but what about the display tank ? <<Keeping the display dark while curing the rock is fine...even desirable.>> 3) Once the water has cycled I want to add a 'pod collection from IPSF to the main tank and assume they will spread spontaneously to the refugium and begin happily making more 'pods in the Chaeto shelter...is this a realistic approach? <<It is, though I would do the reverse...add the culture to the refugium and let them spread to the display as the 'fuge is where your base population will need to establish.  Although, since you will be leaving all fishless for some months this point may be moot.>> I'm planning on nothing but inverts in the system for the first 3-4 months to get the ecology firmly established before adding hungry predators. <<All good.  But be aware, the "inverts" will be as predacious as any fish.>> Lastly: 4) IPSF seem to like Ulva algae to promote 'pod replication...is it compatible with Chaeto or will allelopathy wars break out in the system ? <<Best to use a single specie of macro algae, like everything else you put in this tank, the alga too will compete for space.>> The completed biotope will have Fungia (sp), Zoanthus (sp) and Briareum (sp) for corals, Lysmata wurdemanni and Lysmata amboinensis with Calcinus elegans inverts, maybe a Linckia laevigata or Astropecten polycanthus sea stars (not sure about these) and finally Pterosynchiropus splendidus, Sphaeramia nematoptera and Pseudocheilinus hexataenia for the 'fishies' SWMBO wants to see swimming around. <<My wife likes the fishies best too.  Okay, a few comments... The shrimp and especially the hermits will be hard on any emerging life on your live rock, and I'm not even sure those hermits fall in to the broad category of "reef safe".  As for the stars, I would replace the Linckia specie with a Fromia specie...much easier to keep/more appropriate for captivity...and "don't" get the sand sifting star...will decimate the biota in your sand bed in short order.  Now to the fish...the tank will not be ready/mature enough for the mandarin for a year or more...the Pajama Cardinals are an excellent choice and perfect for the selected biotope, as is the sixline wrasse, but be aware the latter will become the terror of the tank and will make it very difficult to add similarly sized/shaped fish down the line.>> I think she will be surprised that the display tank will only have 4-6 fish! <<Mmm...look in to Siganus uspi (Fiji Foxface)...is endemic to Fiji, will grow to about 9" thus making a very nice "centerpiece" fish, and if anything like mine, will be very peaceful/well behaved.  Some consider the Foxface to be inappropriate for reef tanks, but I consider it worth the risk and haven't regretted my decision for a moment.>> Still trying to track down the right herbivorous snails from Fiji, just need to do more research. <<Wouldn't bother...just get whatever is easily/commonly available (likely from the Atlantic I know, but of small matter.).  I'm partial to Cerith and Nassarius snails for help with detritus.  I consider herbivorous snails a waste of money, and you will find the Astrea specie to be little bulldozers knocking all your corals out of place.>> Thanks again to the crew at WWM for hosting such a great resource, along with all the 'virtual' hand-holding.  I appreciate your assistance, along with your sage advice. John <<I look forward to hearing of your progress.  EricR>>

Plankton generation vs. Organics 9/2/05 Hi Bob, I'm in the planning stage of a 6'X2'X2' SPS tank. I keep changing my mind after reading the "LATEST" information. So this tank keeps getting put off. I am going to make a decision this week and that's it. I hope you can help me out and I thank you in advance.  <Please don't get hung up on whatever the latest rage is.  As you have already seen, something new will come along tomorrow.  In most cases, the minor pros and cons of your choices are insignificant compared to good general husbandry.> My goal is to maximize coral coloration and growth. These are my options: 1. Use 6 " of sugar fine sand in the display and 6 " of sand in the fuge( 4'x2'x2'). Also, add Chaeto. to this fuge to enhance plankton production. 2. Use the ZEOvit system to provide no organics. I have read about the greater coloration using this BB system but I have never seen a tank. 3. I don't know if it is possible but, could I use the ZEOvit system with a remote DSB. <All of these options have their benefits.  The ZEOvit system will not result in "no organics", in fact the system is targeted at minimizing phosphate and inorganic nitrogenous wastes.  There is no reason that I can think of not to combine the ZEOvit system with a refugium.  I would consider this the best of all worlds... all of the benefits of ZEOvit (if you believe in them and can afford it) combined with the plankton generation of a refugium.> Bob, I'm not trying to rush into any important decisions but, this tank will never get started if I keep reading the latest articles.  Thank you. Sal  <I would compare this situation to computer shopping.  As soon as you choose a model, a better one will come out tomorrow (or the price of yours will drop).  At some point, you just have to make a move!  Do keep in mind that there are many aquarists succeeding with all kinds of systems... ultimately, they succeed because they have good husbandry habits, not because they do or don't have sand or do or don't use ZEOvit.  Kudos on doing your homework, and good luck!  AdamC.>

What Came First...The Tank Or The Refugium? - 08/28/05 G'day Crew... <<Howdy!>> One last question before I start mixing up 300 gallons of seawater.  Right now my Fiji reef biotope is very much a 'virtual aquarium' with an empty 150 gallon display tank mounted over a 45 gallon refugium. <<Excellent!  I too went the biotope route a couple years ago.  I have a 500 gallon (375g display) Fiji reef biotope.  Is good to hear someone else is doing the 'tope thing.>> I want to get the system up and matured for a period of 2-3 months before beginning to add coral and fish over the next year or so. <<Ahh, yes...the system will be all the better for waiting.  The longer the better my friend...shoot for six months or longer fishless.>> Display tank is 48 x 24 x 30 with a six inch DSB. <<A great start...>> The refugium is 30 x 18 x 20 also with a six inch DSB. <<Very good!>> Intend to use an AquaC Remora protein skimmer on the back of the refugium along with Chaeto for nutrient export. <<Mmm, a few things come to mind here.  Firstly, Kudos on the Chaeto!...second, great choice on the skimmer manufacturer, but I think you need to look in to a larger model (AquaC EV180)...third, you don't mention a sump so I'm guessing the 'fuge is serving as both (not ideal, but can be done).  Be sure to section off with the tank return/skimmer compartment first, refugium second, and return pump compartment last.>> Two 1200 gph circulation pumps in the display <<...?>> with closed-loop return and a 300 gph return pump from the refugium.  Plumbing tests with tap water are scheduled for Labor Day (US holiday on September 5th this year).  Also gives the system a chance to settle into place once the mass of the water is added. <<A good idea.>> Given this "tabla rosa" <<Clever...had to look it up but...clever.>> I began pondering the start-up strategies available. Should I:  1) Fill only the refugium first and let it cycle and become and established NNR system before filling the display tank and bringing it into circulation. Or 2) Fill both tanks, and let them both cycle before adding macro algae and critters to the refugium. Personally I am leaning towards #1 due to a (possibly misplaced) belief that an established refugium would make an ideal source of biota which would automatically inoculate the display tank over a period of a few weeks all by itself. <<My suggestion is to fill both tanks and go ahead and add the Chaetomorpha (with associated biota) to refugium.  No need (or desire) to keep the DSB in the display waiting.  Additionally...see if you can get a couple cups of sand from fellow reefers to add to/inoculate the sand beds in your tank and refugium.  This way both sand beds are maturing while the tank cycles.>> My research here at WWM has lead me to believe that the livestock contained in one of the reef clean up / detritivore kits available from the various E-tailers would provide enough biological load to keep the system self sustaining and thusly avoid any feeling of pressure to get the display tank stocked all hurley-burley. <<agreed>> One final question; how long would it take for 2-3 pounds of live sand to inoculate and activate the other 150 pounds of sand the biotope will contain?  Having been battling weeds in the yard during this long, hot summer my guess is it will be days / weeks rather than months? <<Hmm...does happen rather quickly...several weeks to be sure.  All will be ready when the tank is cycled.>> Thanks again for the great help and advice at WWM ! John <<A pleasure to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

Reef: Research, Equipment, Research, Circulation, Research - 8/4/5 Hi, my name is Travis. <Hi Travis, Oh no, they set us up the bomb! ;) - Ali here..> Let me take a moment to explain my situation. I started out with a small tank and a big Oscar about 6 months ago. The Oscar got moved to a bigger tank, and he outgrew it. Then he moved to another bigger tank, 75 gallons, and he got ich and died. Six months ago when I bought that Oscar, I had never owned a fish. Now all I think about are aquariums. Anyway, after the Oscar died, I decided that Oscars were not my bag. So what do I do after failing at my first attempt? <Grab several cups of coffee and start researching?> I decide to go with a reef tank. I know, go ahead and laugh, I'm an idiot. So I've got this 75 gallon tank. I put a layer of crushed shells mixed with aragonite sand in it. I then build up the back with lava rock as a base for my live rock that I'll eventually get. I fill the tank with water and mix in the salt mix, and that's where things get complicated. In my effort to get everything right from the start, I will not buy a single live organism until I know everything is set up exactly perfectly. <Good, however your current set-up needs to be looked over and altered, continue to browse this site along with www.reefcentral.com for proper reef tank filtration methods and do some reading. I highly, highly recommend you pick up Bob's The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and read, read and read some more.> I had a Marineland 350 Biowheel filter and a Marineland Magnum 350, both of which I was planning to use on this saltwater tank. I was given advice against BioWheels, so I moved that filter to my other freshwater tank, and I returned the Magnum 350 to the store so I could afford more important items. I then bought what I thought was a good protein skimmer, a Prizm Pro Deluxe (a.k.a. garbage). So the skimmer did not do anything other than fill the collection cup with water and leak, so I returned it. Then I read some more, and decide I need a reverse osmosis unit, as my tap water is high in nitrates (about 30 ppm out of the tap). I also have a "wavemaker" unit that is pretty much 3 295gph powerheads plugged into a power strip designed to alternate them. <Run your powerheads without the wavemaker. This type of 'wavemaker' decreases circulation within the tank, do a search on this as well...In a nutshell a wavemaker "stops" circulation and then turns it 'on' again. Not a very good method and unfortunately many aquarist fall victim to purchasing these devices. A better option would be to purchase, say for example 4 MaxiJet 1200 powerheads and position one powerhead in each corner of the tank. Position the nozzles so they are all pointing to the center of the tank, causing the currents to collide with each other and essentially creating chaotic and random flow/circulation without 'stopping' the circulation.> Now you know what I know, and here is where I get to my questions. What do I need to buy to get my system set up. I will help by suggesting things that I think I need, but am not sure about: I have no stand, but the tank is resting on a very sturdy dresser that is the perfect length. Do I need a real stand? <Here is a picture of one of my old reef aquariums from 4 or 5 years ago... A standard 50 sumpless gallon tank placed on an underwear drawer: http://reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/8980ProjectReefOLDTANK.jpg So, no you don't 'need' a stand if you are going sumpless, however if you plan on ever adding a hang on the back overflow box, you will need a standard aquarium stand in order to place your sump underneath.> I now have no protein skimmer: what is the best model for my size tank? <Best hang-on skimmer the market now would probably be the AquaC Remora Pro> I do not have a plenum, sump, or refugium: which would be best to keep my nitrates low? <3-5" FINE grain sugar sized aragonite substrate (CaribSea Aragamax select) along with high quality live rock, good quality skimmer, lots of circulation and a low fish bioload.> I plan to only house coral, and coral safe fish/inverts that thrive in average to moderate lighting, because metal halide is out of the question: how many watts do I need? I saw a 90 gallon glass tank with a pine stand/canopy in the paper for $300, is this a good deal? Is there anywhere that can just tell me step by step what I need to do to set up my tank, and what brands of what equipment are good? <The internet, especially this site and reefcentral.com have a ridiculous amount of valuable information. You need to be assertive and take action - READ, research, then do it again. Don't expect everyone to do it for you.> I have no local fish stores, so it's all pretty much internet for me, and I never know what or whom to trust. Also, please while answering my queries keep in mind that I would like my tank to look nice and function well, but I would also like to be able to afford to put a fish or two in it sometime this century. <Good luck Travis, I'm sure that if you continue your research (how many times have I used that word?), purchase the proper equipment and utilize the proper husbandry techniques - your new reef tank will be a long-term success. - Ali>

Re: General advice on a 90 gallon reef tank 7/31/05 Thanks for your reply. The more I read and visit your site the more I am impressed. <Indeed... counter to what most westerners seem to believe, there is summat of altruistic behavior... free worthwhile (accurate, significant, meaningful) input here> In reading your FAQ's. I have a few specific questions myself. If I have large quantities of LR, 150 lbs, in my 90 gallon tank, why would I need to add additional LR to replace my "bio balls" or in the new refugium/sump that I am adding? <Mmm, you don't... though "the more, the merrier"> Wouldn't the quantity of LR be sufficient in the main tank? <Likely so> Should I remove all of the "bio balls" and replace with LR? Why or why not? <... posted... I would actually (in your circumstances), use a DSB, macroalgae... not have more LR in the sump> I read that you are against having power heads or pumps in the main tank. I understand why. If you rely on only the main return, is this going to be enough and dispersed water flow? <Depends... on pump and plumbing...> I personally do not like having these power heads in the main tank but thought it necessary for effective water flow and distribution.  Could you explain the difference between a refugium, plenum, and DSB? <Posted on WWM> I am taking your advice and I have done the following and would like any direction you can give me. I have removed most of the "bio balls" from my trickle filter. I am in the process of building a refugium/sump to be connected to my existing trickle filter. I can only fit a 10 gallon tank in the stand with my wet/dry filter. I know that a 10 gallon tank is small, will/could it significantly add to the filtration of my system? <Yes... but is of concern (the size/volume), should your power or pump fail... the issue of transit volume overflow...> My plan is to make this 10 gallon tank a 24 hour lighted sand bed with macro algae. After reading the great importance you put on a skimmer, I am in the planning stages of building a new skimmer out of some 6" and 4" acrylic pipe that I have. <... do look into "store bought" units... some are well-engineered, constructed...> Once again thanks for your willingness to help. Any direction or assistance is greatly appreciated. Dallas <Keep studying my young friend... you will do fine... learn/remember that this interest/activity is not a "destination" that you "get to" or arrive at, but an ongoing involvement in your awakening/unfolding consciousness, enjoyment. Bob Fenner>

Sump Thoughts... actually just random notions... writing instead of reading... another instance 7/30/05 Dear Crew,     I currently have a 30 gallon "pre-reef" system.  It contains a rough 55 lbs. of LR, a .5" deep sand bed, A Penguin 350 filter, a SeaClone 100 skimmer and a few various hitch-hiker inverts.  I have been going over loads of info. about sumps and was wondering about a few things.  First, currently I am using a ten gallon tank as a Plenum only sump. (The plenum takes up the entire floor of the sump)  Since I'm worried about overflows I had a question.  If I ran just enough water through the sump to submerge the plenum, roughly 4" from the bottom (I don't have a deep top layer because it is in the sump), and a little higher to be able to pump the water back out, and then drilled a hole in the J-tube and connect that to the air intake of one of the power heads would this be relatively safe?   <Ah, no> Or should I buy one of those hang-on continues siphon overflow devices?   <You could> If not, do I really need the sump? <Only you can answer that/this> I ask because it would be nearly impossible for me to put the sump higher than the main.  I plan on having the following inhabitants: 2 True Percs', 1 Royal Gramma, Plerogyra sp., Wellsophyllia sp., Lobophyllia sp., Euphyllia Glabrescens, Fungia Repanda <Won't all go in such a small, crowded system> If I do weekly water changes of say 15%, and light feeding would my nitrates be okay? <Likely not> If not, any suggestions of what else to do?  Suggestions on something else?   Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks,  Andrew <... help yourself... read re sumps, marine filtration... on WWM. Bob Fenner

So-called "Reef-ready" aquariums 7/30/05 I was just introduced to the term "reef-ready" by Jeff at LifeReef.   <The term is laughable to many experienced aquarists. I find these aquariums tend to be minimalist yet overpriced. Normally have inadequate water flow capabilities too. Check our WWM archives and those of big message boards like Reef Central for the term/phrase. You will read more details for concerns about such displays> I understand it is basically corner overflows inside the tank. <Yep> Jeff suggested this set-up was fairly industry standard for advanced, professional set-ups.   <I respectfully disagree. And I have nothing to sell you by the way. Even my books are so low profit as to be no significant motivation. Heehee... unless I really needed a dollar badly <G>>> I find no mention of reef-ready tanks in Robert's book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist.  Why not?   <Check the copyright my friend... things change in time and books pay poorly yet are expensive to produce ;)> I found some references to reef ready aquariums at   http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-01/gt/index.htm  , which also suggested this was an excellent set-up.   <OK> Please comment on whether or not I should be specifying, "reef-ready" when I purchase a 220 gallon cold (50-55 degree) saltwater tank for installation at the Pioneer's Home in Sitka, Alaska. <Just check the math yourself my friend... a 1" bulkhead can handle 300 gph quietly, 600 gph noisily (unless modified ala Durso or Mega). So... for a 220 gallon aquarium that needs conservatively 10-20X turnover of flow (most reefers do much more than this). 4000pgh adds up to a whole lot of 1" bulkheads which none of the so-called "reef-ready" tanks have. So, that leaves us with a small pump running a weak (and quiet - that's good) loop of around a 1000 gph through 2-3 standard drain holes in a sump loop. You can do this... but at least need to drill one larger hole for a 2" bulkhead, for example, to tap a pump into the display proper for a closed loop to do the bulk of the water movement needed in this tank. That's presuming that you are willing to return the water from the 2" line fed CL pump over the top of the aquarium as in a perimeter manifold (see the thread on CL perimeter manifolds stickied at the top of my forum at reefcentral.com for a long list of threads on this topic).> All specimens will be from local waters and the rock will be as alive as it can be.   <wow... fascinating. Truly so :)> Thanks, Kris Calvin <You do know that it is illegal to collect the cnidarians, yes? Above all... obey the fishing license regulations. Best of luck, Anthony> New Setups And Calcium - 07/27/05 Having read pages of your dialogue with other reefers, before I ask you anything, I have to thank you for all the stimulating advice/discussion. <<We're happy to help...>> I just completed a wooden stand designed to support a 55 gallon tank over a 75 gallon tank.  Over the next month I will set up a refugium in the 55 to gravity feed the 75 main display (80 lbs. of rock) and filter the entire arrangement with a small 20 gallon sump (approximately 24") under the 75. <<Great!...love the fact you're adding a large (respectively) 'fuge.  Would like to see a larger sump (you'll eventually wish you had the extra space...for media reactors, etc.), but I'm glad you're not doing it the other way around.>> My original plan was to install a plenum and DSB (6") in the fuge using the method prescribed on your website, and a DSB (5") in the main display with sugar sized aragonite sand.  I am aware of the benefits that can accompany good water circulation, bugs, and detritivore kits in conjunction with a DSB. However, this will be my 1st tank. <<So glad to see you're doing some research.>> I have a few questions.  First, is this too much DSB? <<Not in my opinion.>> Second, is there anything that I can do while setting up the plenum and DSB in the 'Fuge that might induce the release of more calcium into the system from the aragonite in the substrate? <<Other than not rinsing the "fines" (these will dissolve more readily) from the sand, no.>> Or is there any other substance that I could scatter in the DSB substrate that might be naturally dissolved by the normally occurring gasses/processes in the DSB resulting in the release of more calcium? <<The aragonite sand is already your best option.  Why all this concern with calcium at this stage?  Your tank will have plenty of calcium from the salt mix/aragonite in the system during the cycle period.>> Third, what method of dosing calcium would you recommend for a beginner with this kind of system? <<Frequent partial water changes...really!  Until the tank is stocked and you have an idea (through testing) of the demand on your system for calcium, etc., frequent partial water changes will supply what you need.  If your testing determines you need to supplement calcium, the two-part additives work well for small dosages (gets expensive otherwise), else you might consider Kalkwasser or adding a calcium reactor.>> Thanks again. <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Starting new tank 7/20/05 Hello crew. <Hi> I have a 90 gallon hexagonal flat back with two built in overflows draining into  a wet/dry system (don't know what brand). the wet/dry system in turn pumps water into my ETSS evolution 500 which is powered by a mag 9.5. outflowing water will enter a 20 gallon tank, which I will be using as a refugium, then water returns back into the tank. I have an estimated 644 watts in powercompact lighting and 110 watt VHO. <Lighting is more than sufficient.> My intent is to have corals. At least one Acropora. maybe about 150# live rock. 2" sand bed. numerous blennies, gobies, Chromis( mainly small fish) and maybe a tang, some sand stirrers. No money for a calcium reactor yet, and I'm kind of iffy on using it. seems complicated. I was just wondering if i can dose calcium supplements manually.<Certainly> Would it be a problem for the corals? <No>, or is a calcium reactor a must have for a reef system. <Not a must have.  Something else to tinker with.> Tank water will be moved by 4 maxi-jet 1200. well, anything else you think I would need to run a reef tank?  <I would not advise a tang in a hex.  They need more swimming room than the hex can provide.  Do a google search on WWM, keyword, "setup" and "corals".  Please capitalize your "I's" and beginning of sentences in the future.  It sure saves our editor time in correcting these before posting. James (Salty Dog)>

Trying to plan a 125 gallon, stand 7/4/05 Hello, crew.  Warning, long email ahead.   I'm starting work on setting up a 125 gallon reef with mostly soft corals & zoanthids with only a little stony coral (frogspawn, and I'd like to add a hammer and one or two very hardy SPS fragged from local reefers).  I'm hoping to set up a 25x4x12 hang on tank refugium for 'pods and a sump refugium for Gracilaria.  I'm also willing to wait up to nine months after adding live rock to stabilize the ecosystem before adding any fish. <Don't need to wait that long.  Your bio filtering won't develop till you add some fish.>  I'll break my questions up into three areas: Stand: I've gotten two pieces of advice on my stand, exact opposites.  The stand came free with the tank from another reefer, who apparently used it successfully.  The two 18" sides are solid walls of 3/4" x 5/2" vertical boards reinforced by additional crossboards the same size inside. <Sides sound strong enough> The four corners are 3/4" x 13/4" and the center span is supported by two more of these on each 72" long side, breaking the sections into thirds, and two 3/4" x 9/4" cross braces reinforce the top of the stand.   This seems way too flimsy to hold up to a literal ton of glass, reef sand, liverock, water, canopy, and animals.  One forum poster said it wasn't, another said it's an accident waiting to happen.  If I add 2x4's to the four corners and back braces, would that be significantly more stable?  I could also add 1x1s to the front outside without redesigning the stand's doors and reinforce the inside under the cross braces.  Any other thoughts for making this feel less flimsy would be appreciated. <I'm guessing with live rock, sand, water, weight of tank, you are going to be around 1500 lbs not counting the weight of the fish (heh heh). If you divide that weight into six supports it is around 250 lbs per leg, not that much weight per leg.  And, if the gent that used it had no problems that should be proof enough.> Plumbing & Flow: The tank is marked with AGA's green tag, meaning that it is all tempered glass, but AGA says that it is more likely that the tank is not tempered on the back, as they do not generally make all tempered 125s.  However, since my wife does not want to wrestle it back upstairs from the basement, get a friend to help transport it to a glass shop, and then have it break... I'm going to give the best siphon overflows I can find according to Reef Central reviews a try.  (I have a 15 gallon I can use in my sump setup that has a 12"x6"x9" baffle that I can put a Supreme Mag 9.5 in to return only a gallon or two in case of a siphon break.  I realize this part is much more prone to failure than a drilled tank, but I'm willing to give it a shot and maintain it.)  I wanted to explain this to put my other questions in context. I would like to supplement the sump with a closed loop & return manifold.  I've received advice on forums both to submerge the Mag 12 I'm thinking of using and to plumb it inline with a pipe sticking down into the tank.  Which would you guys advise in my scenario?  I don't think I can use an overflow and don't want to chew up livestock. <Sounds OK> I'm planning to use an ASM G-3 skimmer.  I'm hoping 700 gph is enough flow going to the skimmer to merit this one.  If not, I could also use a Remora Pro to supplement an in-sump skimmer long term, but then I'd probably wait to set up the sump until I have all the pieces more permanently in place and rely on the Remora while no fish are stocked. Fish: My wife gave me a list of fish she'd ideally like and the more I look at it and think of adult fish, the more I'm convinced it's way too many.  I'm trying to figure out what we can and shouldn't do, so I asked her to prioritize all the fish and I'll let you guys guide me.   We are transferring the following from our 45 gallon reef to the 125 once it is ready (and if all are still alive): 1 Brazilian Gramma, 2 pajama cardinals, 2 ocellaris clownfish, 2 neon gobies The following are fish we'd like to add if they could all be supported, listed from most important to her to least: 1 pacific blue tang, 1 yellow tang, 1 yellowhead jawfish, 1 spotted mandarin dragonet, 3 more pajama cardinals, 7 blue reef Chromis, 1 sixline wrasse, a dwarf angel (coral beauty or flame), 2 saddleback clownfish, 4 more neon gobies, 1 Scott's fairy wrasse, 1 fathead Anthias, 1 blackcap Gramma She would like to use the 45 gallon for a maroon clown and a longnose hawkfish once all fish and desirable inverts are transferred to the 125.  She'd also like a second dwarf angel in there (whichever isn't in the 125). <It's difficult to give a number of fish.  So much depends on the individual size of each fish and the size they can attain full grown.  My rule of thumb is one cubic inch of fish per five gallons tank size.> I have already gotten an almost new 10K 250 watt MH for putting in this tank and am planning to put that in the center with two 20K 175 watt bulbs on the two sides.  I'm hoping that will be enough light to have a clam while still leaving the sides of the tank hospitable to mushrooms and other lower light corals.  No anenomes planned at this time. <You are going to be a little low on lighting for clams as you are at 4.8 watts per gallon.  I'd like to see 5.5 watts per gallon for clams, but, in your scenario, being the 250w is in the middle and the 125 is not a tall tank, you may get away with putting the clam in the middle somewhere.> I realize that understocked is better, but give me an idea of what would be safe and what would be pushing it with these fish, so I can point my wife to an expert opinion.  Also, if any should be added in a certain order amongst the very peaceful fish, please let me know. Thank you so much for all your work to help us not hurt the creatures we keep. <Start with the peaceful first.  Also check out "marine setup" and "fish compatibility" along with "stocking levels" on our Wet Web Media.> - Ben P.S.  Sorry for the multiple page email.  I err on the side of too much info. <No problem, Ben.  In the future try and condense with just the necessary info.  James (Salty Dog)>

55 Gallon Non-Photosynthetic Tank Hey guys, I'd just like to ask a few questions about some issues that I have been having trouble finding any information on. As the subject says I will be starting a 55 gallon non-photosynthetic tank in a few weeks. I will be building everything myself including my own Aragocrete rock. I will be using a phytoplankton reactor to constantly drip a freshwater Nanochloropsis culture into the tank as top-off water, so as to provide a constant food source for the corals. I will not be using a protein skimmer because I want a high nutrient level in this tank. So to assist in filtering the tank without a skimmer I will be using an environmental gradient system in the tank and creating a cryptic zone populated by sponges, tunicates and bi-valves that will use dissolved organics and phytoplankton for nourishment. The tank itself will have a strong flow but the cryptic zone will have a very diffused and much slower flow, it will also have limited entryways to prevent large particulate matter and detritus to building up inside. I have been doing as much research on the subject of environmental gradients and trizonal filtration as I can find online, but I am having trouble finding more information since it is still a mostly unused concept in reef keeping. <Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tyreecmatv1.htm> This tank is going to be populated by a variety of carnations, tube corals, gorgonians, sponges and feather dusters, most of which are noted for being difficult to keep in a reef system. I believe my elevated nutrient levels should provide a good home for these corals and I'm just looking for any information that anyone can provide. Thank you for any input.                                                                                                     Mike Janosko <As you will see, by reading my brief review to Steve Tyree's book/s... there is substantial input to be had by searching here... A worthwhile project... easier to do in larger volumes. Bob Fenner>

Planning a pond and large reef system in southern Cal. Dear Mr. Fenner, <Joe> I live here in San Diego, and am in the process of planning out 1) a freshwater pond, and 2) a marine reef aquarium. <Ahh, Carly Simon's "Anticipation" is coming into my sound-memory ego... but that Bono song on the Bose head-set is pervasive> The pond is project one, to be executed shortly, <"Keep digging..."> and the reef aquarium, to be executed about a year from this summer once I feel that knowledge acquisition is complete and the finances are in order (300 gallons, double sided in a thick wall, with the entire wall above and below dedicated to the aquarium and its maintenance... somewhat expensive). <Worth it> Anyway, the questions: 1. Which pond/koi places in and around SD do you endorse? <Mmm, been out of the biz for too long, but I do know that I would attend a few of the local Koi Club meetings and ask around there... get bids... look at the folks work... Not too hard to "be your own general contractor here... lots of good folks... e.g. KRC for rock... to help> 2. Which places do you endorse for reef/saltwater aquaria? <Ron Elander at Octopus' Garden is honest and competent. Victor at VJ's also on Convoy, seems to know what he's doing and is a pleasant fellow. Some of the folks at Pat Hurley's Aquatic Warehouse and Fountain's know what their stuff... and Chris at Vet's Pets out east...> 3. Are there clubs you find value in? <Oh yes! As a matter of coincidence, the local marine club is meeting at our house in Mira Mesa this coming Tuesday... and the fellow that heads it up (Maurice Bullock) and I are heading up to L.A. to visit folks in the trade on Thursday... You're welcome to come with us> 4. Finally, do you operate a business here? <Did so with many wonderful friends for a couple of decades... but retired from actual "work" in 94...> Joe Kraska San Diego CA USA <Bob Fenner>

New pond and reef system in SD <"Keep digging..."> Several days with a concrete saw and a jackhammer to dig out the previous owner's work... <Ughh, no fun> no taste in ponds, I say (plain gray? and you shaped it like that? and plumbed it how?!) but I secretly suspect he consulted a structural engineer for the concrete. <Heee! Like Point Loma H.S. demo... school was said to be earthquake unsafe... company went BK in trying to break-up, remove concrete...> Now that I know quite a bit more, I suspect this one screams "concrete guy" and not "pond guy". Lots of people probably try to save money that way, eh? <Ah, yes, or largely blind ignorance> Anyway, I'm building the pond, every last piece, by hand. Myself. The level of fanciness I desire simply isn't in the budget otherwise, and I'm really enjoying working with my hands. <Yes!> And the price per ton over at KRC ain't really that bad, as you say. Funny you should mention, was there for the first time today. :) <I have a very strong intuitive sense> I was wondering which stores you'd endorse for fish and supplies, not contractors. I find myself in the unbalanced position of knowing more than I'd care to about the various online services, and basically nothing about my local area except what I can find in the yellow pages. :) <I see... unfortunately just individuals at, not actual stores... RonE at Octopus' Garden, Ed at Aqua Fauna, Chris at Vet's Pets, Judy (Hoffa) at Fountain's... livestock varies, but they will know re...> ><Oh yes! As a matter of coincidence, the local marine club is meeting at our house in Mira Mesa this coming Tuesday... Tuesday, say you? When? And open to visitors? Joe. <Please see here: http://www.sdmas.com/ actually... just did, and there is no meeting notice... though there is contact info. to MauriceB... Yes, open to all... Seven PM (or slightly earlier) on... in Mira Mesa. Bob Fenner>

Nano reef setup - 6/7/05 Hey guys...great site.  If I want an answer, I normally come to search. <Me too> I have more specific questions than normal about my upcoming nano tank. I thought I had my bases covered, but I've already ordered the corals and now I realize (after doing even more research) that I still need to iron out some finer points. <Should always try to do this before ordering livestock, mate> Here is the deal.  I'm starting a standard 10g reef tank with one Coralife 96w quad 50/50 lamp. I may supplement with DIY LED moonlights...and the room gets pretty decent indirect daylight. <Don't like the indirect sunlight method tends to add alga> I'm just planning to use power heads for internal water movement and I'll be doing 10-15% water changes once a week with additional RO top-off. <Excellent> I have no plans for fish...but maybe I'll break down at some point for something small. <Good idea> Tank is being filled tonight with water and mixed.  I'll add sand tomorrow.  I plan to add full cured live rock from LFS the next day (this will be transported home in pre-mixed and heated saltwater). <Will likely still need a cycle of a few weeks in my experience> Going this route, I don't expect much of a cycle. <I tried this and still went through a fairly large cycle and break in period> My corals will arrive 1 week after the live rock goes in.  Will this be sufficient for any mini cycle if I'm very careful about the rock I purchase? <Could be but I just don't trust it. Keep the water changes up for that week and during the first few weeks of coral acclimation> I may add some shrimp in a few weeks...but just the coral to start. <Good enough> My incoming baby frags: 1 Montipora digi 2 Montipora caps 1 Montipora undetermined 1 candy cane 2 green star polyps 1 Acan (not lord...not so reef trendy ;-) ) Do you see a problem with the mix? <I don't personally, but some on here might have issues or at least discussed their view readily though exchanges in the past. Be mindful of the star polyps as they can be aggressive growers and will over take some corals>  With the timing? (it's very tight, I had to bump up my timetable to jump on stuff someone was selling who was leaving the hobby) <I don't like the timetable but I guess it is worth trying. Maybe you will have luck> ...and if too tight, should I enlist a friend to hold these for me until I get a "real" cycle completed? <Do frequent water changes and test the water frequently>  I don't have anyone super close to help...so the coral would have to travel again when they got to me if I wanted to send them off for temp boarding. <Try the above. Test water frequently and change water frequently> I know I'll need to feed the candy cane and Acan... I'm thinking Cyclop-eeze and/or DT's...any other good foods? <I would not worry too much about feeding. Maybe try small mysids and squirt a few of them (direct feeding method) on the coral. Not too much. One thawed cube of Mysis should last you a week or more> The GSP may mean I add a hang-on filter to run at night only (noise reasons) with carbon to polish the water and remove any toxins. <Skimmer is helpful and carbon may help but you should definitely experiment with it. See if you notice a difference with your inhabitants>  I'd feel my way through any dosing (Kalk, iodine, etc) AFTER I see how the water tests turn out over the first few weeks and if I notice visible effects on the livestock without supplementation. <I do not use any supplementation at all ever. Just do your water changes should sufficiently replace the necessary elements> Do you have any feedback on this set-up or are there pitfalls you may foresee that I'll have to deal with? <The lighting may be OK for the corals you have but you may notice color change. Other than that acclimate slowly, then move them closer to the light (as needed for the coral) as soon as you see consistent polyp extension. Once glued in place leave them be. Don't move them around much in a panic. Seems to stress them out even more> Other suggestions?  This is my first reef...so please criticize to your heart's content...I can take it. First and foremost, I want the little guys to live when they get here. <Be prepared for some loss as there is a lot of stress in shipping, chemistry changes between water, lighting, tank environment in general. Don't be afraid to frag any of these corals. Keep us in the loop if you are confused. Do as much research as you can and always research before buying any animal and have the necessary requirements before hand. Welcome to the world of addiction. I can't get enough of it myself. Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul> Thanks! -  Matt

Saltwater/Reef temperature 6/2/05 Management of SW reef aquarium temperature in San Diego, CA: I've been reeding WWM, best single hobby information source on the net as far as I can tell!  <Thanks!  Glad you think so.> Anyway, I'm gearing up to do a SW reef tank, taking lots of baby learning steps about the various techniques to run a healthy tank. I have three related questions.  <Kudos on your patience and looking before you leap!> What should I expect the natural temperature swings of an otherwise unregulated tank to be in San Diego?  <This is hard to say, since it depends heavily on your lighting, the temperature that you keep your home, the number of submersible pumps, air movement, etc., as well as how you manage your proposed outdoor sump.> How do these compare to allowable ranges for SW reef tanks, generally.  <IMO, 80-82 is the ideal range, perhaps a bit lower for fish only and a bit higher for reefs.  Avoiding large sudden swings is the most important goal.> Finally, the placement of my aquarium would allow me to build an outdoor sump through a nearby wall, holding approximately 200 gallons.  The appeal is size as well as a convenient way to pop a lid and harvest and dispose of Chaetomorpha.  How concerned should I be that this might turn into a heat exchanger for my aquarium?  Joe Kraska  <An outdoor sump will definitely affect your temperature control strategy, but could be used to your advantage.  In the winter, the sump could be kept covered and well insulated to retain heat and in the summer the insulation and cover could be removed to improve heat dissipation.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

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