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FAQs on Reef Set-Up Systems 4

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Related FAQs: Reef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Systems 3, Reef Systems 5, 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 MaintenanceBiotopic presentationsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Put emphasis on ease of maintenance... Canisters with plastic screws... NOT!

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

Reef setup query Hi crew, I would like your input/thoughts on a mixed reef tank filtration/sump setup. We currently have a 125g AGA tank (72x18x22) as the main display with ~90-100lbs live rock and 1-2" Southdown sand. We have closed circulation loop via Anthony's manifold method. The tank is currently setup with all the gear (including a small 20g sump) under the cabinet. We have 4 fish [yellow tang, coral beauty, maroon clown, small Huma trigger (I know, I know... but my wife just loves him... err her?...)] and a few corals (Acro, leather, zoos, Montipora, xenia, Fungia, mushrooms). <Okay...> I plan on building a new sump/refugium/pumps setup in the crawl space (or rather walk space, ~6-7ft high. Our house is built on a sloping hillside) located below the living room where the tank resides. Do you think there would be any potential problems with having the sumps/equipment in an unfinished (i.e. dirt floor) crawlspace? <Not likely from the dirt... maybe the temperature... I'd insulate the sump/container... maybe with applying sheet foam (from Home Depot, Lowe's...)> I've only ever heard of one other person who used such a setup/location. I'm wondering if mold spores, mildew, etc would be major concern for the system in such an environment? We live in the southeast (North Carolina). <Again, probably not a problem> As for the setup, I am planning on having one of the 2 display tank overflows plumbed to a 5-6' DIY CC skimmer which would then dump water into a 55g refugium (using Chaeto macro with 12 hour reverse lighting) with a 6" DSB (any drawbacks to housing the DSB in the refugium tank/sump?). Water from the refugium would then flow to a 100g Rubbermaid stock tank sump.  The second display tank overflow would flow directly to the 100g sump. In the 100g sump I plan on running a second skimmer (ASM G3) in addition to an old Turboflotor T1000 for an ozone reactor. I may additionally have some dividers in the 100g for carbon and/or chemical media flow through filtration. Water would then be pumped from the 100g sump back up to the main display tank (and round and round she goes). I also would have an auto water top off on the 100g sump (using float switches, peristaltic pump and 30g RO/DI reservoir) run through a Nielsen type Kalkwasser reactor. <Okay... I might limit the make-up water container... to avoid disaster...> My desire is to maximize water quality and hopefully minimize maintenance. <I hear/read you> I'm hoping with such a setup I can limit routine maintenance to once a month (water changes, media, etc). Do you think such a setup (1) Is a good setup for a mixed reef tank? <Yes> (2) Are there better ideas/methods than I've outlined here? <Mmm, not presently> 3) Can you see any other things I may have over looked? I really value and appreciate your knowledge, help and input. Kind regards,  Brian <Perhaps one large mention... a calcium reactor... but this can come later. Bob Fenner> 

Planning Tank Size - 05/26/05 Hi, I currently have an arcadia 150 watt, metal halide pendant, with two actinics. I would like to keep SPS corals, and clams.  I would appreciate your advice to a compatible tank dimensions. Thanks so much for your time. --Ryan <Hi Ryan! Much debate/opinion on reef lighting, much of which can be found here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lgtmarinvfaqs.htm  and at the associated links in blue at the top of the page. I'm not a fan of small reef tanks, and multiple pendants of this type could be used on a much larger system with great effect, but generally speaking I would consider a 20 or 29 gal. aquarium to be a good candidate for a reef display supported by a single 150w DE halide pendant. Regards, Eric R.>

Ghost Pipefish, Gorgonians, Soft Corals, Crinoids Hello Crew!! Your site is AWESOME I have been reading it for months now and am never bored. (sometimes overwhelmed, but never bored) I am in the learning stages of setting up a salt water tank for a retirement project in a few years. I've been researching stocking and hit a snag. If the ornate ghost pipefish are found in sheltered coastal areas or lagoons (as are the mandarinfish!) in the same place as gorgonians, sort corals and crinoids----are we perhaps missing something in the water in these situations? <... good question... perhaps "mud"?> It would seem to me for the pipefish and gorgonians and crinoids not to survive in captivity we must be missing something in their home waters. Has testing ever been done for microscopic items that may be there? <Am sure this has been done... by a few fields of inquiry... not likely part of the popular pet-fish press though> Or relating to them being night feeders, is anything different from standard ocean reefs? <A bit more nutrient rich, warmer... less flow of water...?> Maybe the temps are higher as the water is "sitting" and not getting slammed about as much as in a more turbulent area? Maybe the "muck" builds up there and it has nutrients necessary for survival, that is why they only make it for a few months and die in our more clinically "clean" tanks? <Oh, we are synchronizing... let's go  to the bar for a beer!> Has anyone successfully kept a natural biotope like this for longer than ? a year and had it flourish? <Public aquariums have. Have seen such exhibits in and about Asia> I really want to try, but I'm not willing to needlessly waste life. Any ideas to boost the survival rate of these creatures? <Time to establish, volume, the use of fish-less lighted refugiums...> And has anyone at all kept ornate ghost pipefish? <Yes> Well, thanks for any help you all can offer, I'd love to find a way to make this work!!!! Lisa Steinberger <Would, will be a fascinating adventure... is now! Bob Fenner>

New System- Lots of Questions! No Punctuation? Hi fellas, the more I read the FAQs and articles the more knowledge I obtain - one day I might know enough to have an intelligent conversation about FOWLRs with some of you guys (smile). <I'm more than certain that you can do that now! Scott F. here today> I have several questions regarding curing "Pre Cured Fiji Live Rock" 1) Should I use lights and if so for how long (different answers on forum) <Ask 10 different hobbyists, you'll get 10 different answers! It's truly subjective. If you are concerned about the loss of some photosynthetic organisms during cycling, then go ahead and light the rock. It's my opinion that most of the organisms can rebound in time, so it's your call.> 2) I know a skimmer will help but do you really need a skimmer to cure live rock? I want to use a couple of power heads and a canister filter. <I would definitely use a skimmer during the curing process. When you see the stuff a properly tuned skimmer removes during the curing process, you won't ever consider curing rock without one.> 3) Do I need to cycle my new tank with my new refugium? <All new systems need to develop populations of bacteria to process ammonia and nitrate. There are no shortcuts, but some systems do cycle faster than others.> 4) The going rate for turnover is 10X. I can get that with my wet dry but my extra powerheads will count towards circulation not turnover - will I be ok, or do I really need a canister like a Fluval? (I would like to use the Fluval for double duty quarantine tank and cycling.) <Depending on the animals you intend to keep, I'd be more concerned with circulation. I'm of the opinion that filters that are dependent upon mechanical media require a lot more attention than biological filtration systems. As long as you are paying very careful attention to media replacement, these filters can be helpful. However, I would not rely on them as my primary source of filtration for a reef system. If left unattended, they tend to accumulate nitrate.> 5) Would you recommend using the refugium as an acclimation tank and/or quarantine tank? I leaning towards just an acclimation tank. <A refugium is really useful for processing nutrients from the main system. A quarantine tank is just that- a tank to quarantine newly arrived animals. The quarantine tank is a separate system that should have no connections whatsoever to your display tank. You set it up when you need it and break it down when you're done with it.> 6) Finally I have some old decorative corals that I used at my first attempt at marine life keeping (about 6 years ago). Can I use that in my aquarium and treat it with like base rock? Will it be eventually live rock also? They are pretty cool and would add interest to the tank. <You could. In time, these materials will become encrusted with coralline and possibly other life forms.> Thanks again for being there <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Reef tank - Follow-up, Our Friend Needs More  Thanks for the help, but I have a few more questions that I can't find in the FAQs.  I've ordered the skimmer and some power heads. When I receive them I plan to let my tank cycle for 2-4 weeks with 40 pounds of base rock and a Fluval 204. When the tank is done cycling I plan to add 130 pounds of LR before I add anything else, which will take me 3-4 months because it is so pricey. Would I still have to do weekly water changes within those 3-4 months? < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and the links above> Or can it be less frequent like bi-weekly or monthly? Also I want to save money on sand since LR cost so much, so I plan to buy silica sand for a DSB. <Don't do this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm and the links above> I read on a FAQ that it is harmless. <Then you mis-read> So I'm thinking buying a bag of aragonite from my LPS and place it in my hang on refugium and mix the extra aragonite into the main tank with the silica sand. Do you see any problems with this plan? <Read> My last questions regard my Fluval, since I plan to get a few small fish in the future, should I use the Fluval for mechanical filtration? < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm > I know the foam would need to be rinsed frequently, would once a week be enough? I would like to use the Fluval because it gives me a place to put carbon when ever the water needs some clearing. Thank you for your time, Ryan <Please don't write, read... Learn to use the search tool on WWM, the indices... You need to know much more than we can provide you through this simple question/response procedure... And I/we don't have time for such. Bob Fenner> 

Riff 1000 (Reef) Hi there. I'm an absolute beginner and have just ordered a 125 gallon tank and a Aqua-medic Riff 1000 filtration system. As you'll be aware, the instruction manual is not at all helpful. Do you know where I can find a step by step guide to setting up such a system. I really want to do this myself rather than have someone do it for me as it will help me to understand the 'mechanics' behind it all.  <Mark, here is Aqua Medic's web site. You should contact them with the problem.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome> 

Designing A Reef System To Maximize Success! Hello <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I was hoping that someone could help me out with the right set up? <I'll do my best!> I'm a little confused on the sump situation. I have a 150gal. xh tank(48x24x30). Could you tell me a brand names of a sump and overflow box that is a reasonable price. <Hmm...many different brands available. Do check some of the larger etailers, such as Drs. Foster and Smith, Premium Aquatics, That Fish Place, Marine Depot, etc. and find one that suits your needs.> How much gph should the tank have and what brand name pump would you use? <Another question with no one right answer, really. All depends on the types of animals that you intend to keep. If you're thinking of keeping SPS corals, for example, the current thought is to move at least 10-20 times the tank volume per hour. Many hobbyists choose to move more. Some corals and inverts that like less flow might require 5-10 times tank volume, etc. Depending on your needs, you could utilize pumps from a number of manufacturers. I personally favor Iwaki, Sequence, and Mag Drive myself, but there are a number of other quality manufacturers out there. You may also choose to employ supplemental pumps, such as powerheads, to help increase flow.> I have to pump about 5 feet from bottom a sump to top of tank. I'm looking for a reliable overflow box that doesn't loose siphon when there happens to be a power outage. <I'm not a big fan of external overflow boxes. However, if you choose to go that route, CPR is a reputable manufacturer that makes quality products. Consider having an internal overflow box made for your tank by a professional acrylic fabricator.> So basically, I'm looking to have a sump with a protein skimmer and heaters inside with a pump to return and overflow box to bring the water in. What name brand heater would you recommend and how many watts? <Check out Steven Pro's excellent article on heaters in the new issue of "Conscientious Aquarist" online magazine right here on the WWM site!> Would I put 1 or 2 heaters in the sump? <Depends on wattage and your need to raise temperatures above the ambient room temperature...Might be a better idea to have two heaters of lower wattage, just to be conservative.> I plan on having a couple of powerheads to move the water inside tank. The tank is going to be a reef set up with LR and DSB. I'm hoping you guys can help me out. Andy <Well, Andy- sounds like you're on the right track. I'd HIGHLY recommend Anthony Calfo's great "Book of Coral Propagation" for lots of information on designing and assembling a reef system for the animals that you intend to keep. A great common sense book written by a hobbyist for the hobbyist; well worth consulting before you set up your system! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

Reef tank Hi, I've been reading your webpage and It is really helpful. I have a 90 gallon tank and I plan to make it a reef tank with like 5-8 small fish. I don't want to get a sump because my dad won't let me drill any holes in the tank, and overflow boxes seem to be a hassle because it can lose siphon.  <Yes> I was wondering if you guys would approve the set up I'm planning to do: Aqua C remora Pro "hang-on" 24 inch Aquafuge "hang-on" refugium with light (what should I place in it? live rock?) <This is posted on WWM> power heads to create 900+ gph 100-120 pounds of LR (would I need more?) <Not likely> 4-5 inch sandbed fluorescent lighting: 2- 40W actinic and 2- full spectrum <I would save up, use power compacts if going fluorescent> Also do you have any suggestions of what kinds of corals, mushrooms, etc.. that are good for beginners? <This is also posted... by a few folks... please read through our, others input, keep good notes, talk over with the shops, friends you have in the interest... Patience is indeed a virtue, and you seem to have a good plan here. Bob Fenner> 

Moving up to a larger reef Hello- First I would like to say how informative your website is. I am currently interested in moving from a 20 gallon reef tank to a 55 gallon reef tank. I am only 15 so I have a budget for the tank and need to spend less then a thousand dollars. <Wowzah! I'm 52 and need to spend much less!> I currently have a mandarin goby, a firefish, and a false percula clown. I have 26lbs of LR and am planning on getting 29 more lbs for the 55 gallon. My corals consist of an open brain coral, some button polyps, various species of xenia, clove polyps, and some green star polyps. I would like to keep only polyps and LPS corals, and maybe some Leather corals if there is not too much chemical warfare. <Only time can/will tell> I was looking at getting a 36" 2x96 watt PC light for the tank which will be 36x18x20 (I think). Would this be enough enough lighting for the LPS, and polyps? <Should be> My main question is about water movement for the 55gallon tank. I was looking at the sea swirl but it seems a little expensive, so I was wondering if the return pump from the sump would be enough to circulate the tank. I am looking at a Maxi Reef 200 sump and around a 700 gph pump. Would this be enough? <Yes> If not what is the cheapest and best way to get enough circulation for the kinds of corals I would like to keep.  Can I just use a few powerheads or should I invest in a sea swirl or a wave maker? Which kind would you recommend? <I would skip on the wave maker, powerheads... the external returns should be fine> I was also wondering if my AquaC Remora with a Maxijet pump would be big enough for the 55 gallon or would I need a bigger skimmer? <I would stick with this> Finally I wanted to ask why it is that in some books they recommend taking the bio media out of the sump? Doesn't this take away all of the filtration? <This is posted on WWM... either use the search tool or indices... under "Bio Media", "Wet Dries"> What is the purpose of a sump without filtration? I would also like to know if a sump is necessary for my new tank because I read on your website that it's not and that would help me stay within budget. How frequently would I have to do water changes if I had no sump? <About the same> Thanks so much for all of your help! Will <Keep reading, keeping good notes Will... you'll do fine. Bob Fenner>

Evolving Reef Tank... Hello there, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> First of all........great web site!! I have spent many hours looking through the FAQ's. <Cool! Glad you've enjoyed it!> I still have questions and am wonder if you might be good enough to shed some light on a situation I have..... <I'll give it my best shot!> First of all after reading your site I made the changes listed below so do you think this set up is worthy? I have already established my 30 gal tall tank with 44 lbs of Fiji live rock. I set the live rock directly on 2 1/2 inches of 1/8 crushed coral. The tank is 6 months old and I have not added animals yet. I am still waiting for the levels to settle. ammonia-.75, nitrite-0, nitrate- 20ppm,KH-5, calcium-400 (I use Kalkwasser (sp) drip at night), ph-8.1, temp 78. I had to rearrange the rock after reading your great web site. I added much more water circulation and a sump with a micro bag with carbon (from what I read I will need to change it every month) and a Mag 3 (250 GPH at 4.5 feet) return pump. I also added a Remora skimmer. I also took out the bioballs. <Good moves. I'm glad that you're tweaking as you see fit. That's a key to success in this hobby!> I figured that I have upset the balance and need to give it time to settle. Is the ammonia spike from the rearranging of the rock? I moved a lot of rock! <Quite possibly. Whenever you disturb the biofiltration, you can see nitrite and ammonia spikes.> Since I set the live rock directly on the substrate and not on the bottom will I get hydrogen sulfide from dead spots eventually? <Not if you have good husbandry habits. I'm not a big fan of coarse substrates like crushed coral, particularly with the depth that you're talking about. I'd look at reducing it to 1/2" or so, or replacing it with a fine oolitic aragonite substrate for denitrification.> Do you think this tank will be ready when the KH and ammonia levels are at acceptable levels? <Sure. Once ammonia and nitrite are undetectable, you can begin careful stocking of the system. KH and other parameters are important, too- but the ammonia and nitrite need to be undetectable..> Where can I buy your great books? <Bob's books can be found at many e-tailers and fish stores, and Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" can be purchased direct from Anthony on his readingtrees.com website, or at many leading etailers/retailers.> Thanks again and thank god for your web site. I wish I had found it sooner!! Guy <Best of luck to you, Guy! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium only 125 I have been running a 55 gal softy & LPS tank going on 4 years now that will rival most SPS tanks, and am now going to upgrade to a 125 gal. My 55 is sumpless w/ a BakPak skimmer minus the bio bale, 55 pounds of live rock, about  a 1 inch sandbed and a CPR 18" AquaFuge with Chaeto, some live rock rubble and tons of pods.  The new tank is not reef ready and will set on the 2nd floor where my 55 currently is. After looking at overflows, drilling etc I have decided to just continue with what has been working for me now. Will a refugium only w/o sump work as efficiently filtration-wise, and what are the pros and cons? Plans are... 1. dual BakPak skimmer or a Aqua C HOB rated for this size tank. Which one do you think?  <I would go with the Aqua C.> 2. 20 gal above tank refugium. My plans are to use an overflow box of some type and use it like my pre skimmer works on my BakPak. The pump will set in the box and pump the water skimmed from the top off the display tank up to the refugium This should help with surface scum.  The refugium will be baffled like my AquaFuge and will gravity feed from the top of the tank back to the display. Will it be possible to put my heater in the refugium?  <Yes, as long as your sure the heater will always be covered with water.>  I am doing this for a couple reasons  1. simplicity and flood potentials are slim. My wife is worried about her hardwood floor and all the plumbing involved with a sump gets crazy.  <I've read many aquarium books and have never read the word "wife".:):)  2. It is working great on my current tank. Please critique and fix where needed. Thanks  <I don't think anything needs fixing. Your plan is sound and this type system is becoming more and more popular. Your live rock will do the majority of the denitrification so I would recommend a minimum of 150lbs of live rock. James (Salty Dog)> 

Reef Decisions...Continued! Thanks Scott. <You're quite welcome!> Yes I was worried about the sand also. I presume the larger the grain the better for blowing however I understand that finer aragonite sand is preferable for N cycling. I have re sent my plan in TIFF and BMP versions. Also in Word DOC. Something should work! <<All three worked.>> Thanks again. Dale <It did work this time, Dale! Thanks. Your aquascape looks like it will be a really nice, open plan. I like the idea of open "islands" of rock. This provides both visual interest and a good way to isolate potentially aggressive corals from each other. I would consider another Tunze on the other side (the area of "concern" that you outline), perhaps directed off of the front glass, to provide some flow in the far right corner. This will be a LOT of flow, though, so my advice, if you go this route is to use the 6100 Streams along with a Tunze 7095 controller, so that you can control the power and pulse time of the pumps.  Yes- this is getting into some pricey stuff, but it really is amazing!. The controllable pumps give you the ability to dial down the flow to a manageable level for your system. You certainly don't want overkill, but it is nice to have the flexibility that these units afford. Another thought I have is in regards to lighting. I'd go with pendants, such as the PFO or Reef Optix series of double-ended MH pendants. They give you the ability to put light right over where you need it, and to angle it for both aesthetic and functional purposes. Please feel free to keep us abreast of your status! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

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Reef Decisions (Pt. 3) Thanks once more.  <My pleasure!> I had ordered the 6000 with controller but can cancel it since it's back ordered. <Unfortunately, many Tunze products are in greater demand than the supply allows!> I will need to check to see how much booty is left in the reef bank to see if I can swing 2 and the controller. <I understand completely! If you can swing it, the 6100's with a 7095 controller are well worth the $$$> I may need to start with one and see what its like in situ. <Certainly...Nothing wrong with that approach!> You provide a valuable resource outside the commercially influenced LFS. Please keep it up. Dale <Glad to be of service! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

215 Gallon FOWLR Hello guys/gals, Need a modicum of help here. Was going freshwater but want to go FOWLR. Tank is 72x24x30. Thinking crushed coral with 150-200#'s live rock (plan to grow lots of macroalgae). The questions are: I have 2 Eheim 2028 canisters that I'm stuck with. Is this o.k. assuming I use a HOB Turboflotor T1000 skimmer (rated 25-250 gallons)? I'm not a big fan of sumps but I know it would probably be better. The fish list would be a Volitans lion, Niger trigger or red emperor, and possibly a harlequin tusk or zebra moray. Any HOB suggestions greatly appreciated!  Thanks, Mike >>>Mike, I'd be happy to help, but what exactly is your question? Your fish list sounds great, and your canisters should be used for mechanical filtration. Use live rock and a shallow sand bed for your biological filtration. If you can swing a sump with a Euroreef or similar skimmer, that is the best way to go as hang-on skimmers don't do such a good job for a tank this size with large, messy fish. Also, water changes will be VERY important with this particular tank. If going hang-on, consider two of them :) Jim<<< 

Question and moral support . . . Hello Crew, <Scott> Just wanted to say what a wonderful site you run. Very beneficial to many people, including myself :) <Ah, good> I just wanted to pick your brains on my current setup, whilst not particularly advanced, I am pleased with it but was wondering if there is any room for improvement and if so, what? (within reason of course). <Okay> I used to have Freshwater tropical fish for 15 or so years and ... well ... yawn yawn, was time to move on. I now have a 400 litre Juwel Rio 400 marine tank that has been setup now for just over 1 year. I have two Eheim 2217 external canister filters (one at each end of the tank). They both turn about 1000 litres per hour. I do not have spray bars, just an outlet pipe at each end. Canister filters have mechanical and biological media from Eheim. I have two 200 watt heaters (one at each end), a Tunze 6060 stream pump blowing current from one end of the tank to the other, a Tunze 3130 skimmer and a UV water sterilizer connected up to one of the external canister filters. I do not have a sump or anything like that. I am very pleased with the setup so far. I have a bed of coral sand but do not use RO water. I use treated tap water. <Mmm, well, thus far, you could add a sump and/or refugium, use R.O. water if there was a source concern> I test the water every 4/5 days and the current readings are; TEMP = 79.8 SALINITY = 1.025 PH = 8.0 AMMONIA = 0 NITRITE = 0 NITRATE = 20ppm CALCIUM = 430 MAGNESIUM = 1250 KH = 8 <All seem about right> I have a few soft corals that are all doing very well. I feed them around 3 times per week. I have 15 or so hermit crabs, a sand sifting starfish, 4 cleaner shrimps, a Clarkii clown fish (about 3 inches), a Lipstick Tang (about 5/6 inches), a dot dash blenny and 6 yellow tailed Chromis (bright blue bodies). Around 150lbs of Live Rock also - just a guesstimate but plenty in the tank. <Sound good, 'cept the Naso, which will get too large for this system> Water circulation seems good to me, although I probably can improve it. I feed the fish around 2/3 times per day a mixture of marine flake food and various frozen foods, plus plenty of seaweed for the Tang. Everything looks healthy to me.  I guess my questions are;  1, Are there any other bits of equipment I should consider buying to improve the environment for my fish/invertebrates? <Mmm, not really... there are pieces of gear you could add... but, regular maintenance will get you what they pretty much can> 2. Do my readings seem OK? So many people I speak to run their tanks at different salinity levels - its hard to know the best level to run at. <You're right where I'd shoot for> 3. I have lots of (what can only be described as red flappy things) growing on the rocks. not sure what these are but they keep being pecked off the rocks by my Tang so I take them out. They feel almost skin like but obviously slippery. Any ideas?  <Likely colonies, thalli of red algae, beneficial> 4. My nitrate level remains constant at around 20ppm and its hard to get the level down. Nothing appears distressed in the tank. Could you suggest anything to lower the level? <Adding that sump/refugium... with a DSB> Any information appreciated. Regards, Scott <Bob Fenner>

Reef Tank set-up Hi Bob,<James for vacationing Bob> I just bought and read your great book, " The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" . There is a lot to absorb there.<Yes there is> I am inheriting a marine fish only tank from my wife's classroom and moving it to our home. It is a 48x13x21" glass tank. I plan to by and cure about 50lbs of live rock for it before the move. She currently has a CPR reef skimmer and HOT bio filter on it. She also has about a 2" live sand bed in it. I already have an Orbit 260 watt PC lighting fixture for it to replace the old 30w fixture. Can you please recommend  a couple of things for me, first should I add another inch or two of sand to this?<Not necessary> Next, what corals and inverts will work in this setup considering the lighting that I already have and will add what ever is necessary for water movement? What would you recommend for water movement if I would like to have some LPS corals, light permitting? <You could keep any of the soft corals and some easy to care for hard corals such as bubble coral, candy cane.> Any recommendations on how to perform the move? Thanks! <Jon, here is a link for you on moving tanks.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm Good luck, James (Salty Dog)> Jon in Wyoming

Re: Wet-Dry modification, reef system set-up Hi. I took the information given me and I appreciate it. Was wondering about that Biowheel. Yes, you said 1/4 of media a week removal....but that BioWheel is big......will it cause a rise in levels? <Not likely... in an established system, plenty of other biological filter media, organisms> And then water will trickle through all the trays but then will it just splash down where that BioWheel used to be? Will that be o.k.? <Should be> Should I put some type of media in there? A sponge of some type? What could you recommend?  <You could, but it will have to be attended to... rinsed, cleaned frequently... perhaps daily> And with hardy corals, not very demanding, 1,040 GPH in my 90 is not enough? <Should be> I understood that 10x [turnover] is sufficient. Yes of course some do 20x, but there are corals that don't like it like that either. <Yes> Without blowing everything away, I can pick spots of stronger and lesser currents. Correct me if I'm wrong on this....do I need more flow? Thanks. Renee <You should be fine... good to find your understanding/realizing there are micro-habitats w/in systems. Bob Fenner> 

New Set Up of Established Tank Currently, I've got an established reef tank that is 5x2.5x2.5 feet. It's got DSB in the main tank with plenum. I'll be moving in a week's time, and am thinking of a different setup. <Okay> Animals that I would like to keep are: minimal fish, 1 carpet sand anemone, 1 bubble tip anemone, 1 magnificent anemone, 80% soft corals, 20% hard corals. With this setup, I expect only light feeding daily. <... can be done, but mixing cnidarian groups can be "tricky"... best to introduce, grow the stony corals a few months ahead of trying the introduction of the anemones> New set up will consist of 3 parts: Main tank (5x2.5x2.5 feet), refugium (4x1.5x1.5 feet), sump (3x1.5x1.5 feet). <Neat, lots of room> Main tank will NOT have any macro algae. Sump will be filled with all sorts of fast growing macro algae for filtering purposes. All equipment will be kept in the sump. <Okay> Set Up Questions: 1. How should the water flow? Option 1: MAIN to REFUGIUM to SUMP. This allows the organisms in the REFUGIUM to have enough detritus to feed on, and the water to be "polished" by mechanical filtration and skimmer in the sump before going back to the MAIN tank. However, any pods from the REFUGIUM might be caught in the mechanical filtration. Option 2: MAIN to SUMP loop with separate REFUGIUM to SUMP loop. This allows most detritus & protein to be removed by the mechanical filtration and skimmer in the sump. However, there might be too little nutrients for the organisms in the REFUGIUM to thrive. <This is best> Option 3: MAIN to SUMP to REFUGIUM. The MAIN tank is tallest, REFUGIUM half way, and SUMP close to floor. As such, for the water to go from SUMP to REFUGIUM to MAIN, I would need to pump water from SUMP to REFUGIUM, and a separate pump for the REFUGIUM to MAIN. As such, this set up is dangerous should either one [of the] pumps fail! 2. Where should I place the DSB? Option 1: In the MAIN tank. This is good for the carpet anemone. Someone claim that it is also good for the soft corals, but I am not sure. However, I am worried about excess accumulation of detritus in the main tank. Also, it is difficult to have strong water flow without disturbing the sand bed. Option 2: In the REFUGIUM. This is good for the pods, etc in the REFUGIUM, and I can have strong water flow in the MAIN tank. However, how should I handle the carpet anemone? Will it take to the rocks, or the bare bottom glass?? <This is best. Easiest to manipulate, adjust> 3. I've got some extra bio rings. Should I place it in the sump for extra filtration? <Yes> Option 1: Yes. Thus, I get more filtration, but I noticed that detritus seems to "dirty" the bio rings easily. Thus, need high maintenance. Option 2: No. Thus, it is less maintenance needed. But, filtration is also minimized. 4. I am planning to significantly increase the water flow in the main tank. Should I evenly increase the flow to the entire tank, or should I do it only for the TOP half of the tank? <Mostly the top, but about half as much in the lower half is about right... in necessarily general terms> Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!! Jason <Sounds like a very nice set-up, great experiences to be had. Bob Fenner> 

A New System Startup! Hello Everybody, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a question and was wondering if you could answer it for me. <I'll sure try!> I'm currently in the process of setting up a 150 gal xh reef tank (48x 24x 30). Would 2 350 Magnum Deluxe canisters, 2 Aqua C Remora with Maxi-Jet 1200 skimmers, 4 Penguin 550 power heads 145gph (2 in back corners 2 behind live rock) be sufficient filtration? <I would use an Aqua C. EV series in the sump, powered by one more capable pump, like a Mag series... Better to go larger on the skimmer, IMO. The powerheads should be okay for water movement. There are other ways to move water, as we have outlined on this site a number of times (such as a "closed loop", manifold, etc.)> Or could I use the Tidepool 2 wet/dry sump minus the 2 canisters? <If your goal is a reef system, I'd choose a sump system with a powerful protein skimmer instead of a mechanical filtration system any day! Mechanical filtration tends to accumulate nitrates over time if you are not attentive to cleaning and replacing media on a regular basis (and we're all guilty of neglecting media changing an cleanings now and then!). You can always add some form of mechanical filtration to supplement the biological filtration at some later date, if you feel it's necessary.> I plan on having 250 pounds of fine sugar-sized sand that should give me about 5-6inch deep sand bed. 100 pounds of live rock. What color does the Fiji pink sand look like under water with 10,000k 250 watt metal halides and actinic blue PC? <Looks kinda whitish-beige to me...The "pink" is really subtle, IMO. Nothing too sexy.> I normally use RO water for my 55 gal and 30 gal but for this tank could I use half tap water and half RO water or all tap? <If it were me, I'd start collecting some large containers or Rubbermaid Brute trash cans and use all RO water. I'd avoid tap water altogether, if at all possible. The potential excess nutrients in tap water can fuel potential nuisance algae outbreaks that would be relatively easy to avoid by using higher quality RO water.> Would 2 300 watt heaters be good? <Should be fine.> Very sorry about all the questions, I got a little carried away. Thanks, Andy  <No problem at all, Andy! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: help w/upgrade please I am so honored, sincerely, Mr. Fenner personally answered my email! Thank you so much for your timely response. <Heeee! You're welcome> I am NOT adding anything to my tank until I get this filtration matter finished, and of course I am biting at the bit to get on with my creation!!. <As I surmised!> I have decided to keep my sump/protein skimmer set up separate from the refugium. After discussing the esthetics with my husband, it would fit the room better.  Anyway, next question, I have also decided to buy a sump/protein skimmer set up rather than make one. Being new to this hobby, I need to learn/read/understand more and feel leaving this to the "experts" at this point in my knowledge base is the smart choice. I am considering 2 systems. One is made by ProClear, specifically the ProClear Aquatics Pro150 Wet/Dry Filter with Prefilter. It is a very affordable setup....description is at this www address - ProClear Aquatics Pro150 Wet/Dry Filter.  However, though more expensive does not mean better, I only want to buy a system ONCE.  The other system I am looking out is about three times as expensive, it's a custom made "LifeReef" compact Berlin sump, can be found at http://www.lifereef.com/frame.html.  I am leaning towards this product because I can, at a later date, add a calcium reactor that will go w/the sump from LifeReef and not have to worry about compatibility, (I just might purchase it all at once), I have no problem spending the money if it is the right system for my set up, and will allow me to keep corals, fish, invertebrates, etc...without having to change the system again...  <Both systems are workable... useful, not too hard to maintain... I do wish Jason Kim (AquaC) made a sump to suit his in-tank skimmers... this arrangement would be better still...> Now, I understand the WetWebMedia crew should not advise which system is better, fear of offending someone... <Au contraire madam, we will gladly spout off re our personal preferences if there are any...> ...however, any info you can give me on these two systems would be greatly appreciated.  <Mmm, this process could take some while, but if it were me, my money, I'd slug through the larger BB's (ReefCentral, Reefs.org) re actual users inputs...> I currently have the 72 bow front filled w/live sand, 96 lbs of live rock (I will be curing myself and adding approx another 45 lbs in a couple of weeks), 2 powerheads, 2 tomato clowns, 2 BTA's (ok, so I might have a problem there), a royal Gramma, a flame angel, a frogspawn, candy cane and a small Ricordea. For lighting I have:  48in Current 4x65 watt SunPaq with Lunar Lights & Fan (2)dual spectrum daylight bulbs, (10,000k and 6,700k) (2)dual spectrum actinic bulbs, (460nm and 420nm) (2) 1 watt lunar Moonlight Independent switch controls for dawn, dusk and lunar lights ultra quiet 3" fan for ventilation <You might want to add one more of these> I know this lighting will not do me long term, but I want to get the filtration correct, then a few months later investigate MH lighting. That will be more letters to the WetWeb crew! Lol. I really appreciate any specific information you can give me, have a great day, Loni <I would be accruing those independent data points... and not give up on the assemble-yourself possibility... Not hard to fit baffles... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Reef Decisions Thanks Bob. I just purchased your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and read where Classic Set Up Mistake number 2 is Thinking too small. <Yes... very common> This made me realize that overall I am letting the availability of a free 75g aquarium dictate everything else. (Tail wagging the dog). <Too often the case in many aspects of life> I can easily fit a 90 gallon in the spot my current 55 is in. I know 90 is still small by most pro standards but its about as big as I can reasonably go in my house. Thanks for all you advice and I love your book. I have also ordered your book on inverts but it's not in inventory and Ill have to wait (patience seems to be a redeeming value reinforced in every aspect of this sport). <You are correct here my friend. If we could bottle the stuff, provide instruction... we'd be bazillionaires... and impatient to spend the money. Bob Fenner> 

- SPS Lighting, Follow-up - Hi there, <Hi.> Are there any websites or links you recommend regarding aquascaping a reef tank? <I'm not aware of any web links for this...>  I read all the related items on WetWebMedia but I still need to know more. <Suggest you invest in the first volumes of both The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium (Fossa/Nilsen) and The Coral Reef Aquarium (Delbeek/Sprung).> Thanks. Ramy B. <Cheers, J -- > 

Reef Decisions Crew- <Dale> Thanks for all your advice. I have been what I consider successful over the last 6 months with my 55 gal glass tank, HOT filter, 40 lbs live rock, good light and agitation, with 5 fish and a few inverts. I'm wanting to move up to a 75 gal reef with coral. I want to really take my time with this and do every thing right. I spend hours reading everything on WWM to learn as much as I can.  I have one fundamental decision to make. I have available to me 2 free 75 gallon tanks. I need to select which direction to go. Here's the choice and pros and cons the way I see it.   Choice 1 - Acrylic tank with overflow complete with sump and sump filtration box. This includes the base which is kind of beat (wife doesn't like) acrylic looks moderately scratch and it will need. The tank is too thin according to what I read ? inch and that concerns me. <Is about minimum thickness... will bow, but not really any concern re failing> I also haven't warmed up to the whole sump idea. I would use sump based accessories. This system has most of what I need. I would need to spend big bucks on lighting and of course a skimmer.  Choice 2 - Traditional glass tank. I would use HOT Remora C plus with external canister filter (Eheim) Much of the lighting can be moved from my current tank. My preference is #2 however is it possible to attain the water quality necessary without a sump based system?  <Mmm, yes> In either case I would also want a refugium. I believe this system will look better. Thoughts? <... Well, may seem a bit disingenuous, but I'd go with BOTH! If only one... I prefer the acrylic... and you will in future months, years... but the wife issue... very important... Either will work my friend. You will do fine, given your obvious thorough, careful approach. Bob Fenner> 

New 120 Gallon Pentagon Tank I have some questions simply because I bought a system with many components from someone and I want to make sure I understand all of it. I've done fish-only tanks, but on a limited basis. I'm replacing an 80 gallon fish only with a 120 gallon.  <Before I address any other parts of your question, let me suggest finding and joining your local marine aquarium society. There will be lots of knowledgeable and helpful folks there.> The tank is a 120 gallon pentagon Tenecor. I installed 3 SunPaq quad 96w retrofit kits (288W) for lighting. I have an R/O filter for water replacement. There is a CY192 Cyclone bio-filter w/protein skimmer. He has attached a large sump to the side of it so the water overflows from the tank into the sump which drains into the filter and is returned to the tank. I have a Fluval 304 that is hooked up to my current 80 gallon tank and I'm assuming I should add that to the new one to increase the filtering. Should I hook it to the tank or just filter out of the sump?  <Sounds like a nice set-up. In sump filtration should be so much more efficient than a canister that the Fluval is probably not necessary unless you want to use it for carbon or some other specific media. All mechanical filters should be cleaned at least weekly! If you do use it, I would suggest running on the sump to keep it out of sight.> I want to do a pseudo-reef setup because I can't go full reef financially. I have about 75lbs of lace rock that have been in the 80 gallon for about 8 months. Will that rock, in addition to adding another 50 lbs or so, help with filtering? Obviously it's not live rock, but isn't bacteria still taking hold in the pores? I've read a lot, but asking direct questions seems to be more helpful at this point. I might eventually add some live rock and live sand to seed the tank, but for now, it will have to be a lace rock reef with small creatures and fish.  <The lace rock will act as media for bacteria, but it will never achieve the diversity of live rock. If cost is prohibitive, please do watch the local paper (or check with that aquarium club!) for used set-ups. A fair price for "used" live rock is usually about $2 or so per pound.> Will some types of corals and anemone's do ok in a setup like that? <Anemones are definitely out. They require very intense lighting. Some corals can be kept successfully though. Euphyllia (torch, hammer, frogspawn), Trachyphyllia (open brain), and mushrooms should all do fine. Just be sure to pay attention to alkalinity and calcium.> This setup also came with a Sweetwater blower that I'm not sure what to do with.  <Blowers are usually for high volume, low pressure uses like airlifts, large numbers of bubblers (without airstones and the like). I would try to find out what the previous owner used it for, and if you can't or don't choose to use it, I would sell it to raise live rock money!> Any help would be appreciated! Clint. Here are a couple things I forgot... In the 80 gallon, I have about 1 inch or so of coral substrate. I plan to transfer that and supplement it with more, hoping the bacteria in the sand will continue to operate. <I don't suggest transferring this unless it contains A LOT of life (small worms, mini brittle stars, etc.). If it doesn't have all of this life, and you still want to transfer it, I would rinse it well in salt water before transferring in order to remove as much of the accumulated "muck" as possible. Otherwise, all of this stuff will pollute your new tank. Rinsing will not affect the bacteria much at all.>  I also have a diatom filter that I understand to be a once in a while water polisher. Does it remove any essentials or just parasites, algae, etc?  <I agree that this is a once in a while filter. It will remove everything from the water that is not small enough to pass through. This includes bad stuff like parasites, algae and detritus as well as good things like plankton. IMO, it is a nice item to have in case of a problem, but is probably unnecessary for routine use. Best Regards. AdamC.> 
New 120 Gallon Pentagon tank part 2 3/22/05
Thanks for your help! I appreciate it. I'm slowly figuring all this out. Here's a few brief questions: 1) The sump is basically empty. When you refer to "in-sump" filtration, do you mean having live rock/media in the sump as well as the filter? The only bio-media is in the trickle filter that the sump dumps into. Is that little box enough filtration for the whole tank (considering that I don't have live rock right now)? <Glad to help! You can use the drip plate for the trickle filter to hold filter pads or you can insert felt filter bags. Either of these will provide many times the mechanical filtration of most power filters. Without live rock, you will have to keep the bio-media for biological filtration.> Right now, the only thing in the sump are heaters and the in/out of the canister filter (which I may not actually end up using). 2) Would it be useful at all to buy 40-50lbs of live rock to seed the lava rock I already have? I'm just trying to find workable options. I keep a pretty good eye on the local paper, but I rarely see used live rock being sold unless it's a complete salt water tank setup.  <Seeding with a small amount of live rock can be very helpful if you are satisfied with the aesthetics. Complete set-ups are the norm, but sellers can often be convinced to "part out" the set up. Also, if you can afford it, you can buy the set up, keep what you want and sell the remaining equipment to recoup your investment or make a modest profit.> 3) I have heard all different opinions about supplementation. With crustaceans, I pretty much HAVE to add calcium, correct? Are there other supplements that will need to be added to keep corals/crustaceans? Thanks for the help! I'll search for the local aquarium society. Clint  <The only thing I supplement in my tanks is Calcium and Alkalinity. Both are very important for any animals that form a calcium skeleton and should be tested regularly. Alkalinity is very important even in fish only tanks for helping to regulate pH. These should be added in a balanced fashion. Kalkwasser works well as do several "two part" additives on the market (Kent's Tech CB, ESV B-Ionic and Two Little Fishies C-Balance). Any other elements can be maintained through regular partial water changes. Good words to live by are "if you aren't testing for it, don't add it!". Best Regards. AdamC.>

New Reef Setup 20 Mar 2005 Hi  <Hi Gabriel, MacL here with you today.>  I am setting up a 55 gallon reef tank for LPS and SPS corals. I am going to use the RO water from the local water store.  <Have them check their water periodically for total dissolved solids (TDS)>  The ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates read zero, except for the phosphates are around .15. I plan to store prepared seawater in a 30 gallon trash can with a pump and air stones. Is there a way to remove the phosphates from the stored seawater before I use it in my tank?  <You can run a canister or some type of mechanical filter with some of the miscellaneous phosphate removers.> I'm going to use; 30 lbs. Florida crushed coral, 30 lbs. aragonite reef sand by Carib Sea, a Fluval MSF 304 canister filter that pumps 260 gph/1000 gph, SeaClone 100 protein skimmer,  <You might look on the site for SeaClone upgrades>  ... two PowerSweep 226 powerhead wave-makers 190 gph and a penguin 660 powerhead 170 gph to agitate the water surface. I plan to add a UV sterilizer and a CO2 unit. Will a CO2 unit be beneficial to the corals? Do you have any recommendations for a UV sterilizer and a CO2 unit, and how long do I need to wait to add a UV sterilizer?  <To use the UV you really need to determine what you want it to remove. Algae? or parasites? What you want to remove determines the speed that you send the water through the UV.> For lighting, I going to hang an outer orbit lighting system made by Current USA. It has 2x150 watt metal halide bulbs 10,000k each, and 2x130 watt dual actinic power compacts 460/420nm each lamp, 2 fans and 6 lunar lights for 24 hour lighting. I hope to do this with no chiller. I keep my home at 70 degrees. Do you have any advice on how high to hang the light above the tank, without affecting the corals? I know the higher you hang it, the less light intensity you get.  <You can always have it high and then lower it as necessary. Lots about moving lighting on the site. I would encourage you to take a look.> I have around 60 lbs of LR from my last tank, that I want to put in my new tank. I am currently keeping it in a 30 gallon container with 2 powerheads to circulate the water. My problem is the rock is covered in brown and red algae and I don't want to add this to my new setup, along with any bad nutrients that will cause algae blooms or contaminate my new tank. Would you think it would be alright to clean the rock, and how would you clean it?  <You can clean the rock in multiple ways but the easiest is to just have a bucket of water that you dip it in before you put it back into the tank.> Last question, in my last tank I had a hard time growing any coralline algae, do you have any advise on growing this good algae? Thank you for your time, any advise or recommendations will be greatly appreciated.  <It sounds like your tank might be out of ionic balance, water changes should put it right back into place.> 

Good Planning for a Reef Tank 3/9/05 Bonjour Antoine! <bonjour, Dominique> (Indeed a charmingly old-fashioned name over here ;), more frequent in France I think. You guessed I was French-speaking by my name or by my unfortunate "written-accent"?  <a little bit of both :)> Ok, I should have waited until I read the two books this week-end (they are due for Friday...) to write a follow-up , but I can't resist to ask more... always more... until I'm blacklisted by the whole WWM... <no worries> I understand the preference for a biotope. I am very strict about that in my discus tank. I do not even allow a plant that would otherwise fit with the parameters if it's not found in the Brazilian Amazon. Even thought about a strict Rio-Negro tank at some point, but it was getting crazy, impractical and maybe obsessive. <yes... understood... we make the compromises to balance biotope with practical enjoyment of the tank/hobby. As it should be> I thought I would let myself loose with my new reef tank, but it seems ignoring biotope makes it complicated for other reasons... <it is more difficult with reef creatures indeed as many are chemically noxious/combative> 1 - So, from my understanding, the trick is to select "peaceful" (allelopathically speaking) species more than selecting from a single group (SPS, LPS, etc.). <quite correct... and you can cheat a little bit, but not too much> I think that's what I have in my list, wouldn't you agree? <hmmm... from before, no. Montipora and Acropora species often exist in very different niches. The foliaceous/plating forms of the former in contrast to the stout, stubby branches of the latter are quite indicative. Lower light/water flow versus higher light/water flow. This is the reason so many people have trouble keeping the colors of both these popular groups simultaneously> (except for the star polyp you pointed out, which is strangely rated peaceful by Foster & Smith) <Drs F&S ratings are complete bunk in some listings. I just saw them recommending the hydrozoan antler hermit crab as hardy/beginner. Disappointing.> So I remove that one from my list.  You know a peaceful substitute that looks similar? 2 - Carbon will remove a lot of good nutrients/trace elements from water in a reef tank <this is one of the worst rationales for not using carbon. By the same line of logic, we should exclude corals from our reef tanks too ;) They also take out good nutrients <G>. Or put another way... even without carbon, you still need to replenish said nutrients. Point blank - carbon takes out far more bad than good and is almost necessary for long term success. It or some such is needed to maintain water clarity (crucial) for reef corals.> (I don't use carbon in my heavily planted discus tank for that reason, I filter on peat moss...)? I guess you have to do it to remove warfare chemicals and just have to add a ton of additives to compensate...? <water changes alone my friend... good chemical filtration like carbon and/or ozone and water changes for most. Some nutritive additives too regardless of carbon use or not> 3 - I think you stated somewhere that mandarins don't fit well with LPS. <correct... nor with anemones> Should I give up either the LPS or the mandarin? <it would be best> Or maybe those I selected are not that bad. I included my complete detailed set-up/livestock plan at the end of this e-mail. Must admit Bob Fenner already gave a look, but am always excited about having impressions from another expert and it's changed a bit. <true... good to have a consensus> I will buy booster kits from Inland to prepare the arrival of the mandarin. You think I have a good set-up and no incompatibility or strong food-competitors in my livestock/fishes? <tough to say... best to overcompensate IMO with hearty feedings and hearty water changes (weekly)> 4 - If everything is working very fine during about a year, I will be interested in one or two challenges: keeping a mandarin and/or a BTA to match with ocellaris. <the anemone is best kept in its own tank away from sessile cnidarians... but is much hardier than the mandarin> I understand there is a risk for corals with the BTA. <huge> I read the article about BTAs on WWM. Will do everything to minimize the risks. What I would like to know is if the BTA is going to be a big threat to the other fishes in my list and mostly to the mandarin? <both... especially movement among the corals or near the overflows/intakes> If it is so (an absolute incompatibility) I'll simply have to choose between the BTA challenge and the mandarin challenge. <keep either in refugia only for best results perhaps here> EQUIPMENT/SET-UP: -90 gal (48"x18"x24"deep) -Lighting = Hamilton 1x250w MH 10000k (center) +2x96w PC actinics +2 blue LEDs for night -4" aragonite DSB (CaribSea Grand Bahama Reef Sand: 0.2-1.2mm with larger bits and shells) -120lbs of Fiji LR (including a small rubble zone with CHAETOMORPHA) -35 gal refugium (on reversed schedule) with 5" sugar sized aragonite DSB, 20lbs LR, 60w NO 6500k, Gracilaria (tang heaven red) and Thalassia testidunum (turtle grass) -Skimmer =(working at night, when fuge lighted) Tunze Comline automatic 3130/2 -Return pump = Rainbow LifeGuard Quiet One 3000, giving 600GPH -Flow/current device = Wave2K -Heater = Eheim Ebo Jaeger 250w -Hydrometer = Tropic Marin high precision -RO-DI 100 GPD LIVESTOCK Fishes: 1 Clown Goby, Green (Gobiodon atrangulatus) 1 Kaudern's Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni) 1 Ocellaris Clownfish - Tank Bred (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1 Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) 1 Yellow Tang - Hawaii (Zebrasoma flavescens) 1 Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) MAYBE Shrimps/crabs: 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) 1 Sexy Anemone Shrimp (Thor amboinensis) 1 Coral crab (Trapezia rufopunctata) IF I can find one. 1 Pompom boxing crab (Lybia tesselata) Again, IF I can find one. 1 Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crab (Clibanarius sp.) 1 Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab (Clibanarius tricolor) Stars: 1 Marble Sea Star (Fromia sp.) 1 Red Sea Star (Fromia milleporella) MAYBE Snails and other detritivores/algae eaters: 2 Harlequin Bubble Sea Slug (Haminoea cymbalum) IF able to find them. 6 Nassarius vibex + maybe a few Trochus or Nerites (funiculata) + Copepods, amphipods, Mysis shrimps, mini brittle-stars, bristle and spaghetti worms. Corals (a selection among these): LPS -Candy Cane Coral (Caulastrea furcata) -Fox Coral (Nemanzophyllia turbida) -Green Eyed Cup Coral (Mycedium sp.) -Pagoda Cup Coral (Turbinaria) Polyps -Starburst Polyp (Pachyclavularia sp.) -Pumping Xenia (Xenia spp.) -Pipe Organ Coral (Tubipora musica) -Snake Polyp (Isaurus tuberculatus) SPS -Montipora Coral, Branched (Montipora digitata) Others: 1 Crocea Clam, Super Colored (Tridacna crocea) 1 Feather Duster (don't know which one yet) 1 Bulb Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), tank bred. Probably NOT Thanks again! Regards, Dominique (from Montreal) <best regards! Anthony>

Planning a reef system: plumbing sumps, lighting, and blabbing 3/8/05 Mr. Calfo sir how are you??  <very well with hope for you in kind. Do call me Anthony too, please :)> Before hand I'd like to say then for the response and I'm anticipating the new fish book from you and Bobbie boy.  <Hmmm... not sure what Bob likes to be called other than handsome> Ok, I just bought a 75g tank (48x18x20) and I want to do a SPS tank. Mostly Montipora and Acropora.  <do be careful here... these can be very different genera re: needs in husbandry. Montipora often take lower light to produce proteins (colorful pigments) to refract weaker illumination... while shallow water Acropora needs bright light top produce proteins to reflect intense light/UV. They are (!) mutually exclusive if you want both groups to be colorful in your tank (depending on species kept of course... but a generalization). Furthermore... shallow water Acropora often requires much stronger water flow. I suggest you pick one group mostly/only for best long term success> Lighting is going to be done with 7 VHO bulbs...all 46.5" inside a canopy. <keep these no more than 3" off the surface of the water> My question is what spectrum bulbs should I use?? I think 3 actinics and 4 10k Aquasuns from URI would do fine... <2-3 actinic blue are fine... and the 4-5 10K are fine if you do Montipora... but go for daylight instead (around 7K) if you want Acropora> ...but I am concerned that this won't be enough "white" light.  <correct for Acros> As I understand it the actinics really don't do much in the way of usable light compared to a "white" light.  <well... not exactly. When the lamps are too high off the water or the total light scheme favors blue at the expense of daylight... then yes, it is less effective for coral growth. Some blue is needed/desired though> With the corals that are going to be kept wouldn't it be better to use less actinic and more daylight spectrum light?  <yes> On the other hand I don't really think the look of just daylight spectrum light would be too appealing...Would using 7 50/50 bulbs be a plausible solution?  <agreed> It'd have more of a blue tinge to it...I don't know...Could you give me your 10 cents on this please? I've been reading around on WWM and your advice on lighting makes the most sense of everyone's. Not only that but your Book of Coral Prop. also strikes me as one of if not thee best book for current sound advice. <thank you for your kind words, my friend... I do aspire to speak plainly. Or at least clearly with some flowery adjectives to spice it up :)> There are another couple questions on the list. Along with this 75g there's gonna be a sump with a refuge and skimmer area. The first chamber will be a bubble trap area that has bioballs and a couple baffles. <skip this entirely... it is/will be a nutrient trap... robbing matter that could/should be skimmed out instead. Always feed raw water to a skimmer or into a skimmer well/partition first> Next chamber will run into the fuge.  <this is good> This area will house some sea grasses and macro algae in it...In your book you mention that you've bred flowerpot corals in sea grass beds.  <a 240 gallon Syringodium tank to be exact> I was looking to replicate this environment in this refuge, are there any tips you can give to make this happen.  <I feel that a mature (over 1 year old) fishless deep sand bed (over 4") was/is helpful here. Micronutrients and plankters> The chamber after the fuge will house a skimmer.  <this is the worst possible place for a skimmer as most solids get trapped in the bioballs and/or refugium before it. You will have very poor skimmer performance here> Since the refuge area will probably be as big as possible I'm stuck with using one of the smaller Euro-Reef style foamers.  <a fab skimmer> A 6-1 would probably work just fine, however, like Tim Taylor I too need more power.. Ahh Ahh Ahh!! lol sorry.. Ok so would a 6-2 be overkill in this situation?  <skimmer size is not crucial... the skimmer does not know how big of a tank its hanging on ;)> Another option would be to make this into a re-circulation skimmer as well. Water could be drawn off from my overflow pipe into the skimmer. Would this work out or would the water level inside the overflow area be too inconsistent?  <this is THE best way> Once again I'm stumped. Well this has turned out to be quite a letter and I apologize for blabbing. Thanks for the advice. With gratitude, Chris AKA fishtank <kind regards, Anthony>

Ordering tank, understanding Mr. Fenner: <Mr. Uscio> I am hoping you would take a few moments to answer a few short questions from a relatively new hobbyist. Your previous advice has been excellent. I am in the process of upgrading reef tanks from a 75 sumpless reef to a 120 72 x 24 x17 inch glass tank from Glass Cages. My problem arises with my lack of experience with sumps and overflows. <You'll soon have a bunch more> I wish to house mainly soft corals with a few scattered LPS. The tank may be bare bottom. The shallow tank will be lit by t5 lighting. I will be running two SEIOs blowing from each side of the tank inward. I have to instruct Glass Cages when I order about the specifics of my overflows. This is where I am confused. <Oh?> Should I go with one center overflow with one 1.5 inch drain and one 1.5 inch return? <I wouldn't... > Please keep in mind simple is my key word. If I go this route, what size pump or gph would I push? What would you recommend. I have to order the tank in 2 weeks for shipping. Thank you for your time. Mike <Mike... there are MANY other issues you will want to be aware of here... than how many holes, where placed... This is NOT an arena where a simple operant understanding will "get you by" (e.g., just push down on this lever and it'll make it go forward)... I STRONGLY encourage you to read re Plumbing, Overflows... Refugiums... WAY before you give instructions here concerning the cutting of the tank... See this part of WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to "plumbing", read the article, the FAQs... go to "refugiums"... do the same... Take down good notes... others have had similar questions answered, HOWEVER, each case is different... BUT you will greatly appreciate the time you invest here. Bob Fenner>

Setup for 55gal reef Howdy guys, I've had a FOWLR for a few years now and going to setup my new 55gal aquarium for a reef. I'm interested in keeping just softies, LPS and maybe even a anemone (like a bulb, Condy, or a sebae), with minimal fish (maybe a clarkii pair, and a yellowtail damsel or yellow tang)<The tang will soon outgrow the 55.  I wouldn't recommend it.>  The setup is about 200lbs sand (mix grade, not live), about 90lbs (give or take a few 10 lbs or so) LR from my 90gal FOWLR, 2 Hagen 802 powerheads on a wavemaker powerstrip,<Good idea> CPR BakPak skimmer (reef model), JBJ 260w PC light system, and no sump (worked wonderful for my FOWLR). 1st question is, even with the 802's being setup on either end of the tank with the wavemaker switching between the 2, is the water movement too much since the 802's are rated for 400gph? <Absolutely not, I use a 400 in my 29 mini reef.> I've got 402's that's rated 270gph if the 802's are to powerful.  2nd question (kind of a multi part question), As for the lighting , right now I have the 4 bulbs set up as 2 10k's in the rear, and 2 actinics in the front. is this the best position or should I switch'em around? <I'd probably stagger them, but I don't think it makes a difference to the inverts.> Is this the best type of lighting? <It's good> I've done a lot of reading and thought maybe even doing 2 10k's and 2 50/50's to give me a little more daylight, would this be better or just say heck with the actinics and maybe even go for a total 4 10k setup? I can't afford MH, so their out of the question. <I'd do three 10K's and one actinic, John.  James (Salty Dog)> John

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

Mixing Things Up! (Creating a Mixed Reef Environment) Guys, thanks in advance for your opinions/knowledge etc. I have just setup and currently cycling a 110g tank, with about 70lbs of live rock, 40lbs live sand, and three small blue damsels. (Eventually I'll be moving from my 44g a 6" Niger, 4" Huma, a clown, and another blue damsel). <Rough crowd...but interesting!> I have a canister filter designed for a 200g tank, and only the original 48" light fixture with two of the store sold 40W (Aquaclear, MarineGlo type lights). <As with all mechanical filtration systems, be sure to clean and replace the filter media often, to avoid them becoming nutrient "traps" that can degrade water quality.> I also have a Cyclone 100 Protein skimmer that I'm planning on kicking off when all the levels zero out (will this be enough for this size tank? <Do run a skimmer continuously. It's your best ally against lapses in water quality, short of frequent water changes.> I got it for my 44g tank and I hear that it might be enough?). <I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with this unit, but when sizing skimmers, I'd always try to shoot for one that is slightly oversized for your setup. On the other hand, ANY skimming is better than NO skimming!> The original purpose of the tank was to go with a FOWLR, but now I'm thinking about adding a few selected invertebrates after the fish are settled in (in about 2 months or so). What I'm imagining is a mixed environment with more of fish-only with a few inverts. Could this be done realistically with my setup, and if not, what do you recommend I improve on in order to accomplish this type of an environment. Thanks, -Nalaka <Well, Nalaka, first and foremost, I'd make sure that the Triggers don't make a feast of your corals and/or other inverts! I have seen a number of "mixed" systems with Triggers that worked out okay. However, you'd need to select a hardy group of unpalatable corals to resist their grazing...not an easy order to fill! Pretty much all shrimp, snails and small crabs will be delicious snacks for these guys. Better to just use live rock and synthetic corals, IMO, if you want to keep these fishes with the animals. Also, for most photosynthetic organisms, you'll need a lot more light than the 40 watt fluorescents can provide. Give some thought to what you really want to keep, and rework your stocking plan to meet your goals. Let us know if you have any additional questions! Regards, Scott F>

- No Plenum, No Problem? - Dear Crew I have had a mixed reef tank for four years now. I regularly take cuttings from my soft corals to the LFS. My stonies however don't seem to be doing so well. I have recently been adding Kalkwasser in conjunction with a calcium reactor as I am getting 40ppm uptake in calcium per day from my massive profusion of coralline covered live rock. This seems to be turning the stonies back to growing levels as the calcium levels are now a constant 440ppm per day (alongside a pH of 8.4). Now my question is this (changing the subject somewhat). Would having a plenum from the start have benefited my system?  <Or perhaps just a deep sand bed... there are folks on both sides of this fence as which is "better" but I say they're both useful and worth pursuing.>  I have ALWAYS had 10-25ppm nitrate in this system since forever. Could this nitrate level be stunting the coral growth (now I have a hammer coral that is growing nicely since Kalk additions).  <I'd say most certainly - nitrates in any concentration above 5ppm have been known to cause problems with invertebrates.>  My LFS (who is very well informed) says that a plenum isn't a necessity, other reefers say they are an absolute necessity.  <Again, I think you could rework this system and push your substrate depth to about 6 inches. It wouldn't kick in immediately but it would help tackle those nitrates.> I'll be honest it leads me to believe that nitrate isn't that big a problem in a closed system and we worry far too much about it.  <There is much research out there that is contrary to that opinion. And more definitively, there is zero nitrate on the reefs of the world; that should be an indication.>  Although I can see how a plenum may prevent mulm collection in dead spots, of which I have a lot in my reef system. Just wondered what your thoughts were.  <Please read our articles on deep sand beds, I think you'll find them most useful.>  An experienced UK reefer who has kept at it.  Jim <Cheers, J -- >

Moving tank, lighting/sump questions Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 First off, I'm amazed at the info I've learned from streaming through all these pages. Thank you ahead of time again. <You're welcome>  Moving to Florida and must break 180g down. Possibly several months before I will be able to restart.  Unfortunately will not be able to save LR but can reseed it. Current FOWLR, next set-up to be reef (some SPS, Mostly LPS, 1 xenia, 1 clam). tank is 72x24x24.  After sandbed water column will be 20". Currently looking at the Coralife Aqualight pro HQI 3x150W DE HQI, 4x96 Act. Obviously will replace MH lamps w/Aqualine bulbs. Will this offer enough light if specimens placed at appropriate heights, any good or bad remarks\reviews for this product?  <I haven't read anything bad yet.  I see no problem with the lighting. You will have about 4.7 watts per gallon. The HQIs are almost a must for a 24" deep tank.>  Or should I purchase another manufacturer I plan on adding large refugium and closed-loop water flow to hit around 20x turnover, but having some problems with schematics currently, any thoughts?  <If you mean 20x flow in the tank by way of powerheads, it may be a little too much for some corals.>  I want to plan ahead. Any thoughts on placing my skimmer AquaC EV240 outside my sump (changing water levels in sump tend to really play havoc-awesome skimmer though)?  <Why don't you create a constant level area in your sump by means of a baffle.>  You have always been so helpful. I print out a ream of FAQ and just read and read, then reverse paper and print on other side-another 2 inch stack of FAQs. Wife thinks I'm crazy.  <We are all crazy in this hobby. My father asked me years ago how much a certain fish was, and I told him $38.00, and he looked at me like I was nuts. Anyway, good luck with the move. James (Salty Dog)>

Starting a 90 gal reef... Hi, I'm starting a 90 gal reef tank. I'm new to the hobby, but I have been reading a lot about it in the last weeks. WWM has rapidly become my favourite source of information. I have a specific question here, but I will also give you my detailed set-up. Most of the equipment I have not bought yet. I still feel insecure with my set-up and your hints and impressions on my future set-ups are of the greatest value to me.  My "specific" question regards establishing a plankton friendly system. I would like to get the most plankton friendly return pump and skimmer, if there is such thing. <Mmm, not so much pumping (currently), but skimmers, yes> For the skimmer it is said that Tunze are the most gentle for that matter. ETSS pretends that their patented downdraft skimmers are even better to safeguard plankton. By the way are they noisy skimmers (downdraft skimming doesn't sound like a very silent system...). <Yes> And what about the return pump? I have no clue on which one to use to go easy on microfauna and could not find much on the net on that topic.  <Turns out, most all centrifugal pumps allow the passage of a majority of micro, macro-plankton...> From what I read on WWM I conclude that a 6 or 7X the volume of tank will be a good compromise between good circulation and microfauna safeguard, is that correct? <Mmm, turnover not really much of a practical factor> When should I run the skimmer (if I get a so stated "plankton friendly"): all the time, 1 day a week, at night? <Depending on other aspects, most likely best to run continuously... you can/could experiment having the unit cycle on/off during the dark hours of night> I want to set my refugium on a RDP schedule. Ultimately, I want a mandarin fish. Which would be better: skimming when the refugium's light is on or when the display tank's light on? <When the tank is on... much more macro-planktonic activity during night/dark hours> Ok, here is the complete future set-up:  -90 gal display tank: 48"x18"x24"(deep) -Sump with a 25 gal refugium, drilled overflow and return over the top. -4" DSB of CaribSea Aragamax Grand Bahama Reef Sand: 0.2-1.2mm in the display tank -6" DSB of ? same Aragamax (or if you have any suggestions...) in the refugium <Same> -Wave2K for water movement  -Lighting :1x 250w 10000K MH + 2x 96w true actinics PC + Blue LED night lighting and three timers -RO-DI 100 GPD -Heater Ebo-Jaeger 250w <Two of these> -Return pump ? : 7x tank volume -Skimmer ? -What salt do you recommend? <Tropic Marin number one, Instant Ocean two> Many many thanks! Regards, Dominique <You've been studying... Bob Fenner>

90 Gallon Reef  - Deux Hello James, Thank you for the prompt response Salty, <You may>  .. if I may. I was expecting to have a longer wait. Just to clarify some of the information regarding my tank for you. I have only 1 power head running in the tank. I felt there was a fair amount of circulation between my skimmer and the Eheim. Do you believe my tank may benefit by further increasing the circulation?  <Collin, a good rule of thumb for circulation is 10X tank volume, in your case, 900gph. Keep in mind this would include flow rates from canister filters etc.> My project this weekend will be to build a canopy for my tank. I will investigate replacing the current florescent ballasts with VHO. I also plan to include a dual fan setup for cooling and have the lights raised approximately 9" above the water surface. This seems to be the optimal level, according to information I have picked up throughout the Wet Web. Do you have any further suggestions regarding this setup? Do you foresee any problems with this setup that I may avoid now?  <Just keep in mind that you want to suck the air through the hood and not blow it across the water.> I have heard it may be more economical to have Central Air installed than to get a chiller! I'll be monitoring the temp very closely I will need it at a constant 79 degrees.  <I guess when you look at the cost of a chiller large enough for a ninety, it may be worth checking on. If the option exists, and the tank is in a smaller room, you may just want to install a window A/C. I have heard some people use a small refrigerator, (the dorm type size) and coil up flexible tubing inside of it and run a slow flow through it. Seems to work OK.> I have been reading John H Tullock's Natural Reef Aquariums and find it to be an excellent resource. I would like to find another book that has detailed information about Coral, Invertebrate, and Fish species grouped by their marine habitat. Are you aware of any such writings?  <The Reef Aquarium, Volumes I & II, in my opinion, are an excellent reference for corals, clams, and whatever. It's done by Julian Sprung and Charles Delbeek. They are kind of pricey, $63.00 at most internet stores. Have you looked at The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Bob Fenner? Also a good reference book.> Thank you once again for your willingness to impart the knowledge you have accumulated. I look forward to hearing from you....  Collin

Reef Tank Questions (2) Hello to everyone at WWM <Nick... do you know Ed Lovell in Fiji?> First of all I'd like to say you have a really great site here and it has been very helpful in the past. Anyways, before I ask you my two questions here is the info. on my tank. It is a 90 gallon tank with about 1/3 of it live rock. There are several corals including Colt, umbrella, finger, multiple polyps, and several mushrooms. I also have a Maroon Clown, a good sized Hawkfish, a Foxface, a regal tang and yellow tang, a flame angel and a marine Betta. Also two Sally lightfoot crabs are in the tank. Question #1 I am considering buying a Coral Beauty to go along with the Flame angel. The Flame angel is 3 inches long and very passive, and the Coral beauty is slightly smaller (mainly because if a fight broke out I would want the Flame to live). I was wondering if these two would fight or if I'm dreaming. <Mmm, might get along in this size, decorated system. I give you 50:50 odds.> Also the angels have 24/7 food as a piece of romaine lettuce is kept in the tank for the fish to eat. What are your thoughts about this. <This terrestrial green is worthless nutritionally... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm  and the linked files (in blue, above)... consider using marine source dried algae instead... the LR will supply most foods for these fishes> My next question concerns the Betta. He has been in the tank for over two years yet he never leaves the live rock except on occasion, not even to eat (yet he's still alive) is this normal for a Betta and is it likely he'll ever stop hiding. Thank you in advance for all your help. Nick <Quite normal behavior for this species, group... they do hide all day long in the wild. Bob Fenner>

Upgrading to 150 gallon reef Greetings. The amount of useful information on your site is unbelievable. Thank you. Am interested in your thoughts about the set-up I am in the process of creating: specifically what should I be on the look-out for and/or where does it appear that I am going wrong? Ultimately, I intend that it become an SPS tank, but for the foreseeable future, 12-24 months, it will house the critters from my existing 60 gal reef, plus some new livestock to fill up all of my new space: pretty basic soft corals and a reasonable number of colorful fishes for the little kids' enjoyment. I tend to keep a larger than average fish load, since they are what really keep the kiddies interested, but as they (the kids) get older and attention spans increase (any advice here, or do you limit yourselves to ocean-dwelling creatures!?), I hope to be able to reduce a bit. We'll see... Tank is 150 gallons, 72" X 18" X 29", with 2 built-in overflows. Pre-drilled 1" outflow and 3/4" inflow. Stand will be homemade with 4X4 lumber all around. I plan on about 200 pounds of live sand on the tank bottom, no plenum per your advice, plus a similar load of live rock. Intend to install bottom layer of rock directly on tank bottom, with sand surrounding. Also, a portion of the rock will go into the refugium (see below). As mentioned, I have an existing reef set-up which will be dismantled upon set-up of new tank. All of the contents will go into new tank. Your advice for this transfer? Will I be able to avoid all or part of the cycling process? Should I transfer any water? Anything I should not transfer? Lighting will be by 8X96W power compact in 2 hoods. They come as 4 white and 4 blue, though I plan to retrofit to 6 white and 2 blue, mostly because I have it in my head that it will look nicer that way. I foresee possibly needing to upgrade here in the future once I am ready to begin adding more difficult-to-maintain inverts. Thoughts? Overflows from main tank will dump into 40 gallon tank underneath, set-up in three parts: 9" for in-sump skimmer (planning on AquaC EV180 or 240, though not purchased yet. Your advice?), followed by a baffle, followed by 16" for a refugium, followed by another baffle, followed by 5" for in-sump return pumps (a pair of Mag Drive 9.5. Space under the main tank will preclude an exterior pump). Sump will have a float switch (Reef Fanatic?) linked to a 15 gal tank of limewater for topping off . The refugium area is a quandary: mud? sand? algae? mangroves??? rock? (definitely), What about a plenum here? Because of the less-than-ideal location of the refugium in the middle of the sump, rather than separately (as always, this is a space issue), I am particularly keen on your advice here. Inside the main tank I will place a few (2,3,4?) Zoo Med 228 power heads. I know you usually recommend against power heads, but I will be able to hide them behind my construction materials and do not anticipate a heat issue, so for now... As an aside, I am in support of your rules regarding grammar and punctuation. In addition to making your jobs easier, it is a common courtesy that is too soon disappearing into the technological abyss. Again, many, many thanks for the great service you provide, -Chris Ginter >>>Greetings Chris! Your plan sounds like a winner. When transferring rock from an existing reef tank, cycling is usually minimal to non-existent. Do be careful though, especially with sand from your old system. Here, I suggest using a small amount of sand from your old reef, maybe 15%, and make the rest new sand. This will avoid possible nutrient issues and algae spikes in the new tank. You can then add rock SLOWLY to the system, just a piece at a time until you have the desired amount. I have no experience with the skimmer you mention. I use a Euroreef on my 150 gallon and am quite happy with it. As far as the refugium goes, what substrate you use here is not critical in my opinion. The area is too small for starters to gain any kind of deep sand bed benefits like you would with a larger bed. My advice, a layer sand consisting of mixed grain sizes to allow different critters to colonize it, some rock, and some macro algae - I recommend Chaetomorpha as it won't go sexual and crash. Then light the fuge to allow the macro's to grow and absorb nitrogen and phosphates from the water column. I don't recommend against power heads. :) By all means use them, just be aware of what kind of current you're producing with them. Try and point them at each other to create turbid areas of you can. Lighting? This is tough because it really depends on your time frame for adding other inverts. If it were me I'd start the tank down the path to being SPS tank now rather than waiting. You can still stock the tank with fish, and if you stock smaller species you can put a greater variety in a tank this size. This also saves you the hassle and headache of catching and getting rid of fish later. For this tank I'd recommend a 3x250 watt double ended HQI fixture, in the 20K spectrum. Almost everyone I run across that puts money onto power compacts regrets it sooner or later. They mourn the output of money that could have been applied to the metal halide fixture they planned on getting eventually anyway. I see this over and over again. Why not put the money into a metal halide fixture? It's going to cost you more to replace those PC bulbs anyway down the road. For now if you want easier species, you can add Euphyllia (frogspawn, hammer and torch corals) which have movement and are very attractive. The metal halides will also allow you to keep any Tridacnid clam you might want. :) Hope this helps, and I appreciate you taking the time to correct spelling and grammar so I don't have to - you score points for that!  If I missed anything feel free to fire back. Cheers Jim<<< 

My system plan: Reef expert please! A 29 gallon tank that will house LPS and softies. <Stop! This is too small a system period... and mixing these two groups of stinging-celled animals in it too much of a challenge> Lights are the 2x65 watt orbit and an Aqua C Remora skimmer. I have considered a 150 watt halide but can't quite get around the heat issue. The wife isn't going to let me hang it from the ceiling so it will have to be close to the aquarium. Halide or PCs? <The latter> Tank is 18 inches deep. Does everything sound workable so far? I want a sump. I'm going to drill a 3/4 hole for the overflow and a 3/4 hole for the return or should I match the inlet and outlet rating of the pump? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm re plumbing... and the linked files (above, in blue)... this plan will not work> Eheim pump (the 500+ GPH model will be used). Do you think that's too much going through a 10 gallon sump? Should I go smaller on the pump? <... see WWM re> Larger sump won't fit. I'm going to plumb this thing with the return pvc going across the back of the tank kind of like a closed loop with a cap on the end. I'll drill holes in the pvc so that it will act as a spray bar in an effort to get circulation in those hard to reach places of the tank. The holes will be pointed in different directions and I might add flare nozzles. The spray bar is the reason why I think I need the 500+ gph pump. Fish are going to be small...and stay small (gobies, etc. and a few shrimp).   <Good> I think that's it. Any suggestions for improvement? You da bomb! Thanks for all you do! I know it's a lot of work... Dave <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reef1.htm and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/small.htm and the linked files... and take good notes... and... we'll chat. Bob Fenner>

New Tank Setup ** High Priority ** <Ooh> First of all I would like to say thank you for such a great website!!!! I have had fish only salt tanks in the past and this is my first stab at setting up a reef system and I have a couple questions. Below are the current parameters on my tank. Setup Jan. 15, 2005, 72 Gallon Tank Wet/dry w/ Aqua Surge 3500 Pump (660gpm)Excalibur Venturi Protein Skimmer, 48" American Aquarium light w/ URI Actinic White 50/50 bulb, 2.5" Aquarium Base - 40lbs Aragonite sand & 20lbs Arag-Alive Aragonite sand, 20lbs Base rock, 5lbs Fiji rock, 2 Damsels, 1 Percula Clown, 1 Emerald Crab, Temp 77.5, Ammonia - .25 from day 1, Nitrite * 0, Nitrate * 10 up from 0 on day 1PH * 8.2 Alkaline * 8KH, Calcium * 300 The questions I have are: 1 * I am adding 5ml of "Kent Marine" Calcium Buffer A & B to the system each day and have not seen the Calcium level raise at all. Should I add more? <I would NOT... wait for the ammonia to be zip, zero, nada for a week or so before adding any such "supplements"> 2 * Over the last 4 days I have had a large amount of Brown Algae grow on the live rock and gravel in the tank. From what I read this is normal and will go away over time. <Yes> Would you suggest getting some "Scarlet Crabs & Astrea Snail" to start to address this and if so how many of each would you suggest. <Do NOT add any further livestock for that same week as above> 3 * I want to ultimately want to have a reef tank and would like a recommendation on lighting. I would like to keep the cost under $400 if possible. I was looking at a 36" Aqualight Pro, 1x 150W HQI + 2x 65W Actinic + 2 Blue Moonlight LEDs. even though my tank is 48" wide. Thanks for your time. Troy Cherry  <Should be fine... have you read through the marine lighting materials on our site? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm  Bob Fenner> 
Re: New Tank Setup
Thanks you the quick response Bob. <Welcome> Just so I'm 100% clear you recommend to STOP adding the 5ml of Calcium Buffer altogether until ammonia levels go to zero.  Troy Cherry  <That is correct. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

75 Reef tank Hi . I got a couple of questions about my 75 reef tank. I am unsure of what lighting to go with. I plan on keeping some soft corals, polyps, and some mushrooms. I might want to put a clam in there in the future. I was wondering if VHO or power compact would be better. I have been looking at going with 4 VHO or 4 power compact.. <The latter overall> Also I am not sure of what size bulkhead I should go with to get the right flow for my tank. And my final question is I am not sure of what is the best type of return pump. I want a submersible to go in my sump. Thanks for your time.  Adam <Thank you for yours. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pumpselmar.htm  and the blue linked files above... much to learn... take your time. Bob Fenner> 

Reef light and water flow questions: upgrading 1/11/05 Anthony I would like you're advise on this one.  I currently have a 90 and 65 gal plumbed together.  I pretty much have all the corals I want in these two tanks, (well there's always room for the ONE UNIQUE ONE that I don't have yet).  I plan to transfer them to my custom Starphire tank 54" Lx 30" W x 24" H , soon as I decide on what to run for equipment. First off let me tell you what I am keeping , for the most part I listen to you're advise on not mixing different corals.  What I have in my tanks are frogspawns, hammers, torches, lobos, trachys, Favias, Cyanaria, Scolymia, bubbles (cats eye and rice) Acanthastrea, an elegance coral that I've had for three weeks (time will tell, but its my favorite coral of all time)   <three weeks and still in quarantine, or do you mean 7 weeks... three weeks since out of the 4 week QT period? <G>> a maxima clam and crocea clam (both near the top in a low flow area in my tank) , and I do have two Acro pieces.  But its 90 percent LPS.  I currently keep them under a 48" Spacelight in the 90 gal, and its got 2 -150 10K DE MH. Had them under this for years <all good> Will I need different lighting?, another MH ?   <nope... not unless you plan to move the corals much deeper than where they are now under the same lights (water depth)> Giving the tank measurements, and the corals I want to keep, what do you think?  I've thought about the T-5's over the new setup? <very nice lights indeed> On to my next dilemma, my tank has two 1 1/2"  for the overflows, and two 1" returns.  I also had the tank drilled on each side of the overflow 2/3's the way down for a closed loop suction inlet.  Since it had euro bracing around the perimeter I had that drilled on each side of the overflow as well, was thinking sea swirls for the closed loop returns....   But I have come across some other options, the ocean motion 4-way used with an Amp Master or Sequence pump.  Would that be too much flow for my LPS corals that I'm currently keeping? <not too much... nicely diffused by the device as well as the tank size> I could put a valve on each of the 4 outlets to throttle them down, or even run a bypass line off the pump discharge to cut down flow..... I use Mag Drives now but want the random flow for this new tank without powerheads.... Am I going to have too much flow for these corals,  do you have a good suggestion for this?  Or am I ok with this??  Thanks soo much for you're time. <all good... no worries. Anthony>

Reef Set-up HELP! Warning:  Long Email!!! Hi!  First off, kudos to you folks for having this site available for all of us bumbling hobbyists trying to navigate our way through the aquatics landscape.  Secondly, I have to preface this by acknowledging that there is no one "right" way to set up a reef.  So on to some basic questions... I just purchased a 120-gallon Oceanic tank with dual corner overflows (60 X 18 wide X 24 tall).  The tank has a canopy with 2x96watt PC and 2X250 MH lights.  My first questions are about the lighting: Since all the bulbs that came with the tank are 2+years old, I am replacing them.  My questions are, 1) since I am not made of moolah, what are the disadvantages of buying a $30  MH bulb off of eBay versus a $70-$90 bulb made by Ushio, XM, Aqualine, etc?  Since I have to buy two metal halides, I know this could get expensive very quickly. 2) secondly, between the MHs and the PCs, what K ratings would you suggest? >The trend seems to be going to the 10K metal halides< I was thinking about two Actinic PCs and two 10K MHs, and running the cycle with the actinics on in the morning, then the halides come on and go off in the evening, and finally turn off the actinics at night.  Thoughts?>Wouldn't leave the actinics on for more than 12 hours< Okay, now on the rest of the system:  One of the overflows runs directly into a 50 gallon refugium below the tank, which is lighted by a 96W and a 28W PC (am I right in thinking of getting 6500K bulbs for Chaetomorpha/other macro? what would you suggest?).>I would use 10K's here also<  The water circulates in the refugium and then is pumped via a 1200 gph pump directly back into the tank.  The second overflow is plumbed directly to a Tidepool sump (through the wall in my closet), where the water passes through the trickle filter, and then on to an Aqua C EV protein skimmer in the sump part of the Tidepool powered by a Rio 2500 (must be the old EV--the gate valve is near the base of the skimmer)--Stop!  I know what you're going to say--I should get the water to the skimmer first, and I'm working on that problem, it's just how the system was set up when I bought it...  Anyways, the water is gravity-fed into the refugium, where it circulates and gets pumped back up to the tank.>If your not using filter pads in the sump, it really doesn't matter feeding the skimmer first< So a few questions about the set-up: 1)  what should I put in the refugium?  I have like 300lbs of live rock sitting in tubs right now while the aquarium fills.  should I put some in?  Oh, I forgot to mention the refugium has a 4-5 inch sand bed.  Also, what kind of algae/critters should I add?>Oh, maybe a few blue leg hermits, sand sifting star, some live rock, you should get some copepods with the live rock where they will multiply without any enemies in the ref< 2)Should I eliminate the trickle filter part of the Tidepool and just make the whole thing a skimmer box, or should I try to make a skimmer box that overflows to the Tidepool? (I think I know the answer...)>That would be to your liking< 3)I plan on getting a calcium reactor in a few days.  I'm looking at Knop, Korallin, and a local co. here in GA called My Reef Creations, ever heard of them?  The former are a bit pricey for me, but I may be able to spring for one if it's really the end-all be-all... what should I look for in an unknown reactor?  Oh, and where should I put it?  The EV doesn't have a fitting for the effluent--should I just run it into the sump/skimmer box, or the refugium?>refugium< 4) I've never had a skimmer before and this one doesn't come with instructions.  Help!  I'm not sure where the water level in the sump/skimmer box should be, or how to properly adjust the skimmer/how to tell if it's adjusted correctly.  There is a gate valve that controls the water flow on the way out and a ball valve that adjusts the flow of the Rio 2500 pump, and there are two air holes on top of the box part of the skimmer but there are no flow controls.>you normally want to adjust the skimmer so a darker skimmate is removed.  If it is light in color you need to reduce the output flow< 5) I've discovered a potentially serious system flaw:  the whole system is gravity fed with the recirculating pump pushing water back into the main tank.  If the power fails and the pump stops or fails, the refugium will overflow with the amount of water it takes to drain the tank down to the stand pipes in the overflows (my guess is about 30 gallons).  That would not be good.  any thoughts on how to prevent such a disaster?>If the pump is size correctly and you are using standpipes, that shouldn't be a problem.  Fill your tank up to the top of the standpipe, then add water into the sump so then if a power outage occurs, you can't overflow the sump< 6)  my last questions is about cycling.  The system was up and running when I bought it, but apparently the guy had changed the water only twice in two years, and the skimmer did not look like it was being used correctly (he had the gate valve closed enough so that the skimmer wasn't really skimming much).  Last summer his system crashed when the temperature in the tank reached 90 degrees (it was upstairs in a hot room in his house).  He last a lot of life--virtually all his corals and all but the hardiest of fish perished.  When we broke down the system on Saturday (Jan 1), there was tons of Cyano in the refugium and display but not much else in the way of life.  Salinity was 1.020, and I was unwilling/afraid to find out any other parameters.  When we broke it all down, we put all the rock into tubs w/out water, and put the sand in another tub w/out water.  The rock and sand stood outside in 50 degree weather for about 8 hours until I covered it all with water I had saved from the tank.  I brought the three tubs inside my house where they still sit in still water waiting to go into the tank again.  Today, the tank is filling slowly from my RO/DI unit and I plan to put the rock and sand in as soon as I get some salt mixed up in it.  My question here is do you think I will have completely lost the bacteria/life in the rock,>temporarily, and I would scrub the rock lightly and rinse to minimize reintroduction of the Cyano< and what do you think I should expect in the way of cycling the tank (i.e., full cycle until I can put the fish in or can I put them in as long as the skimmer is working properly?)  The reason I ask is that I have all the survivors--2 maroon clowns, a 2-striped rabbit fish, a blue damsel and fancy damsel, and a lawnmower blenny--in a 30-gallon quarantine tank that hasn't cycled yet either.  I'm running a power filter and aerating and using activated carbon, but am anxious to give them some more space.>You need to cycle the system and check ammonia levels after 21-24 days since you probably had a lot of die off on the rock, actually, I'd let it run at least a month, no lighting at all< Please let me know if there is anything I need to clarify.  And I want to thank you in advance for just bothering to read this rant, let alone offer your guidance.  Oh, and Happy New Year!!! Yours, --Jesse James

Reef set-up My main goal in my 75g (48*18*21) aquarium is to maintain mostly stony corals and clams… with some soft corals here and there. My current set up includes, 2 PFO 250watt DE HQI metal halide pendants, with 1 96 watt power compact light. I have a Knop C calcium reactor and a PM bullet one skimmer, and a Pacific coast chiller with my maroon clownfish and 3 green Chromis from the previous set up (survivors). Also in my sump I have a refugium, with various  algae and 2 mangroves growing under a 96watt 10k powercompact  that comes on opposite times of the main system lights. I set the temp about 77 degrees is that pretty decent??? <Yes> I have just restarted my tank again… (I know a pity) but I have much more experience and I have learned from prior mistakes.  My question is that I have the system up and running my calcium reactor is currently on and my PH in the days is about 8.32 (Pinpoint Ph monitor) and @ night about 8.17…. <This is fine> I don't have any coral in the tank currently just live rock and live sand…. Would it be o.k. for me to leave the reactor on or am I taking a risk of tanking the PH because there is nothing to use the available calcium in the aquarium. <I would leave it on. A disclosure: my wife is the N. American distributor of Knop Products... but I would leave whoever's reactor on> … My other question is I have a test kit for alkalinity… but its in the KH form, most sites that I have seen indicates 7-11 dKH how would I convert that to KH or what KH parameters should I have. <These values are fine. You can find the conversion to other units of alkalinity on WetWebMedia.com or the Net period> I am headed in the right path??? From  ***Chris*** <Yes. Read over WWM until you have confidence in your set-up, choices, path here. Bob Fenner>

LR, DSBs and powerheads... oh my! Morning and happy holidays to the crew!! <Evening, M. Maddox here in lots of pain from rock climbing, and now forcing down a lovely glass of whey protein while answering some questions (nasty stuff unless you throw in ice cream :D)> I'm trying to plan for Christmas by making a list of things to get with all my gift cards (hopefully). <Well, you could always give them to me... ;)> I'm very confused though. As you all know already I'm quite new to the marine life, (FW old timer though), and I want to install a powerhead to increase flow since you all stress the importance of circulation, so what kind/ size should I get? <As powerheads go, and depending on the budget (from cheapest to most expensive) Maxi-Jet's, SEIO's, and Tunze are the best bet for reef tanks...though internal pumps aren't the perfect solution.  Both the SEIO and the Tunze broadcast water in a wide cone rather than a laminar stream, so they are recommended>  Also get a new skimmer... what would you recommend for a 54 gallon, type/size? <AquaC remora (or urchin if you want an in-sump, always nice) hands down - they're great!> And also add a DSB. <DSBs=good> Does live sand and live rock require special lighting? <No ma'am, if you're not worried about coralline\macro growth> if so what kind/size? Should I add anything to the water like supplements or anything? <oh, first reef tank here?  Well, calcium additives are a must, Seachem's reef complete is nice, other than that, I wouldn't worry about it...frequent partial water changes make up for a lot!  Definitely pick up a copy of Bob's book, and Anthony's, as well as peruse our archives, and check out www.reefcentral.com while you're at it> I currently have about 20lbs LR in a 54 gal. corner tank, filtered by an Eheim 2215 canister, and the only light I currently have is the fluorescent light that came with the setup. I have been trying to research all this but end up with a headache since I don't really understand how everything ties together and what requires what to thrive. I appreciate the patience and help. It is truly an enjoyable hobby when done right and I'm trying to stay on the right track. thank you for the answers in advance. <Hmm, get 20-30 lbs more rock.  Also, you're going to want some more water circulation than you currently have.  I would also remove the bio and sponge media from your canister, and use it for chemical filtration only (high quality activated carbon, phosphate remover, et al).  You are also going to need much better lighting (Power Compacts, Very High Output fluorescents, or Metal Halide, depending on what you plan to keep).  You want about 20-30x water turnover per hour in a reef aquarium if possible. Teaching you the basics of the reef aquarium would take more than an email, Ms. Heather, so I definitely advice purchasing a few good books (www.readingtrees.com), reading the archives of this site, ignoring LFS advice (j\k - but most of it is pretty bad), and reading what others have to say at www.reefcentral.com> -heather <M. Maddox> P.S. happy belated b-day to Michael M. (21 in 2 months myself)! <You're too kind. Happy (early) 21st! Still haven't had the chance to get...ah...consume alcoholic beverages.  Work all weekend, then more rock climbing on Monday - gotta love the self torture!> Tell Bob to enjoy his next dive.. hope to do something like that myself someday. <Same here...we students are all poor :D> Sorry, I forgot to say what kind of fish I have just in case it makes a difference, I have one blue regal tang, <Will outgrow your system fairly quickly, if it hasn't already, find a new home ASAP> one yellow tang, <ditto for this guy> a coral beauty, and two tank raised percula clowns.. oh and a blue damsel. <I had a perc and a blue damsel in my first tank :)> -Heather <M. Maddox>
Re: LR, DSB and Skimmers oh my... part 3 (for M. Maddox) :)
(this is XXXX@grayhill.com.....writing from home instead of  work) <An honor to server you :P>     This is really for M. Maddox... I wasn't quite  clear in my first two e-mails and I do apologize for that. <NP> I don't have a reef  setup (yet).. <Good you were scaring me> just fishes and live rock. As you could probably tell from my last  question I'm way too green for a reef setup yet. So knowing I do not have a reef  setup do all your answers still apply? Get the sandbed yes/no? special lighting  yes/no? more LR yes/no??? <LR yes, DSB, preferably, lighting is not an issue with FO> Does LR and DSBs need special lighting besides the  standard fluorescent that I have? <No ma'am>  Oh, and powerhead yes/no? <More circulation is always excellent, so yes...and tangs like a like of water movement> And also my tangs  are barely an inch and a half or 2 inches and I am upgrading in march to a 120   gallon... (already in the making)... sorry for the lack of info and the   inconvenience.. (did I spell that right.. sorry a little late here) :) Thank you  again in advance for your advice... g-night <My pleasure.  Good thing you had a future home for them.  You almost got it right, I'll leave it unedited for the record ^ ^.  Good luck, and send us pics of your reef tank when you get everything set up> -Heather <M. Maddox>

Reef Aquarium Setup 12/14/04 Hello Anthony, <Hi Charles> First of all I would like to thank you for your advice which you have sent me previously, very helpful! <always welcome my friend> Now, I have something else which I would like to ask, First of all, regarding tap water, why is it so bad for a marine aquarium because everyone recommends reverse osmosis water.   <tap water is not inherently bad, but even when it is without contamination (phosphates, nitrates, etc.), it is still variable seasonally (even weekly!) in its overall composition and mineral content. Thus, the seawater you mix up is also variable and at the mercy of whatever the municipal authority sends you down the line! Worse, adding mineral rich tap water in place of pure evaporated water contributes to an eventual accumulation or skew of water quality. IN a phrase, using purified water like RO or DI for evaporation and new seawater mixing gives consistency that is much needed in your delicate marine home ecosystem> Our tap water's hardness is approx. 30 with a high chlorine content level.  Chlorine is easy to eliminate but if you eliminate chlorine, what else is actually bad in tap  water which needs to be removed?   <again... really just a matter of consistency even when the tap water does not carry in fertilizer to grow dreadful nuisance algae in your tank <G>> I know some people who use tap water for a marine aquarium and I'm in a bit of dilemma over this. <indeed... some people have good quality tap water and use it safely for years> I have a 100 gallon aquarium with a 30 gallon sump underneath.  Water from the main aquarium is going through the first partition where there is a 'fine' sponge then next to it the second partition consists of water which feeds the protein skimmer (Aqua C EV120) <there really should not be any filter, sponge or otherwise between your raw incoming water and the skimmer. This is handicapping skimmer performance I am sure. Do remove the sponge> then I have set up the middle partition (***15 inches wide x 15 inches long x 8 inches high) and the last partition where there are two return pumps, one of the pumps (900 gallons/hr) return to the main aquarium while the second one (1700 gal/hr) returns to a closed circuit loop with 7 'T' 32 mm outlets.  Regarding this setup, what type of jets do you suggest and where can I buy them from (I live in Malta and I don't find them locally).   <you can just make a closed loop manifold with many small plastic pipe tees for effluent jets (see the article on WWM called "Goodbye Powerheads) with the google search tool on our home page). Or... if you want to have more high velocity jets, you can gently heat the ends of your PVC plastic pipe and crimp them with pliers to make flare tip jets for water to blast out of> I bought my protein skimmer from Marine Depot and they supplied me with their in-store catalogue and as they have various types I don't know which one to buy for good circulation, what would you suggest? <Hmmm... are you referring to powerhead water pumps instead as "jets". If so, do resist using too many or any of these (see the article above again for detailed reason why). Instead, rely on your large sump return pumps> I also intend to install a calcium reactor, what do you think of the Korallin calcium reactor model C-1502?   <it is a popular brand> I intend to connect a CO2 cylinder to it (which I already have as I had a tropical fish aquarium before with discus fish). I'm close to finishing my plumbing more or less this weekend I'll be done with all the leakage tests, I think all's well it seems, do you think 4 inches of crushed coral in the main tank would be enough <if this crushed coral is larger than 1 mm grain sizes, the depth here is too great! It will trap too much sediment over time. Use finer grain sand (under 1 mm) or use a shallow bed of crushed coral (less than one inch)> and I was going to buy cured live rock, do you think 10 kg.s would be enough to start off with? <its best to put most all of your live rock in the tank at once  to reduce algae spikes from repeated introductions later. Also, never cure your live rock in the display with sand... always do it in a bare bottomed tank for screening, better water flow, pest and predator removal, etc. Else you can foul your substrate> As I've heard that some people say that you should put live rock in the main aquarium instead of in the sump as you can't see it in the sump or do you think that if I put crushed coral and live rock in the sump (where I have explained previously as being the biggest middle partition 15 in w. x 15 in l. x 8 in h.***), <there are many possibilities here my friend... do consider your options to make a refugium in the center sump portion> it would be a better combination as I don't intend to put light over the sump.   <yes... an unlit refugium would be fine here just as well... to grow zooplankton> If I don't put crushed coral in the sump, it only contains aquarium equipment, completely empty of filtration just filter sponges). Thanks a lot for your help and I'm sorry if I've written at length. Best Regards Charles Galea <best of luck and life to you, Anthony>

Refugiums and Setup Questions Hi, I'm new to saltwater, <We all were at one time...you should have seen my first tank!> but old to freshwater, <Exact opposite for me...I went from bettas to a marine tank> and I just had some simple questions about refugiums.  You guys have so many specific questions up on the FAQ, that it makes a somewhat newbie confused.  Anyways, I'm a big DIYer and just built myself a wet/dry filter in sump setup.  I just was looking for some opinions to tweak the setup.  I'm building a new aquarium stand for my 55 gallon tank.  Right now it's fish only.  When I get the money it will be FOWLR and then in the future when I can afford lighting, it will be reef.  <Know how you feel, poor student here ;)>  Anyways, I figure a cheaper method of getting something to watch and grow other than the few fish I have swimming around is by incorporating a refugium. <Quite so, I love refugiums, and have spent a good bit of time watching it>  I have a lot of questions but before I ask the refugium questions, I have a few questions for the main tank.  I have a regular 3 inch sand bed, not live or anything.  I kinda rushed into starting up the system, but took a long time to cycle it before I added fish.  Didn't realize the importance of live sand and such as I have read on the web.  I am thinking about adding live sand actuator from IPSF.  Good or bad idea, or would it just be a better idea to replace the sand completely? <Seeding it should do fine, and while you're at it, raise the level to about six inches for a denitrifying deep sand bed, then add about 10 lbs of live sand to activate it, and stir once a day for a bit> Also, I have heard pro's and cons of the use of a plenum, thoughts on this? <Jaubert and Sprung recommend it saying it works a bit better than not using a plenum (Advanced Aquarist July 2003 I THINK but I'm probably wrong) but it isn't necessary> Perhaps adding lives and actuator and then adding aragonite sand or crushed coral on top? <No crushed coral, grain size is too large...aragonite or sand is fine> Live rock issue... When adding live rock, some people say it is best to keep it off the substrate so to use pvc or similar material to lift it off the substrate?  Yes, no, maybe so? <I don't worry about it, if your sand is live enough you shouldn't have to> Some say cement the rocks together to keep a catastrophe from occurring?  What kind of cement or just avoid this idea completely? <liquid epoxy...you can if you want the added stability> Okay, on to refugium questions, sorry too much information on the web that is controversial. <Yep, not a problem>  Here is the idea, Overflow box from the main tank to a refugium that is built into the cabinet.  Not a carpenter but like I said before, I like building stuff so it should come out pretty nice. <Nice, build be one too! :P>  From the refugium, then it will flow down further to a Berlin Classic Protein Skimmer, and then into the wet/dry filter with a PolyFilter mechanical filter that I already have built. <no need at all for a wet\dry in a reef, in fact, they aren't recommended.  Use good circulation\live rock, and turn your wet dry into a sump\refugium\chemical media area.  Wet\dry filters are actually "too" efficient, and will result in excess nitrates...trust me, you'll hate it if you use it>   Then from that, the return pipe back into the main tank via a 500 gph pump. <Excellent, flow is good - just make sure you break it up a bit and don't use it as a straight 500gph nozzle> The refugium will be a custom built tank I have going with a volume of 18 gallons.  The sump I have below is a 20L aquarium I got for cheap at an LFS that will probably be filled about with about 10 gallons.  I have a submersible 300w heater in the sump.  E-mail is getting pretty long, sorry guys, but here's the questions.  What kind of substrate should I use in the refugium?  Crushed coral, aragonite sand, what?  Plenum or no? <Aragonite\sand, never crushed coral.  Don't worry about a plenum, but you may as well have a DSB in there about 5-6 inches thick>  Also, how easy is it to grow that Tang Heaven stuff off IPSF because I might order some of that to feed to my yellow tang. <Not sure what this is, what species is it listed as?  I highly recommend Chaetomorpha algae, easily acquired from hobbyists on www.reefcentral.com for ~$10 for a ball of the stuff> Will it be easy to grow in the refugium?  What color is best?  Is this stuff even good? <Contact them for species information and let me know what it is>  All the LFS around me don't really carry marine plants and for the most part the stores are way overpriced compared to the net.  A Berlin class protein skimmer was like 300 in the store. <As always, they must pay overhead costs>   What else should I put in the refugium and where can I get it from? <see above>  A lot of the online sites have fish and invertebrates but I haven't found a whole lot of places that sell macroalgae and other stuff to put in the refugium. <I'd get some GARF "grunge" from www.garf.org, and their refugium starter kit as well>  What do you think of the setup I described earlier? <Sounds good as long as you take out the bio media from the wet\dry and add 40-60 lbs of live rock as the first thing>  Anything to add or tweak?  Also, what really are the benefits of using activated carbon and should I incorporate this into my design? <Small amounts of quality carbon are most definitely recommended...half a cup or so changed once a week should do it>  Any information you can provide me with will be appreciated, and I thank you in advance.  <Not a problem, wish I had found me ten years ago! :P  M. Maddox>

Converting a 55 to a 75 reef tank Hi Bob this Ron from R.I. its been a long time since I emailed you. I have a   55 gal fish only tank. I would like move to a 75 gal fish only tank and would   like to use the filtration I am already using , a Eheim canister pro 11 the   larger one, a Prizm Delux skimmer and two power heads. The fish include   Acanthurus angel ,2 hippo tangs, 1 yellow tang, a coral beauty, and a maroon  clown. Would like to add a potters angel or an Auriga butterfly when I move to 75   gal tank , also I have about 35 lbs of live rock. Can I run the 75 gal with just live rock , protein skimmer and power heads or should I include Eheim pro2 or  buy a wet dry, tell me what you would add or subtract . << I think live rock is the most important aspect here.  I wouldn't buy a wet dry, but I would add a refugium.  That will increase your biological filtration, and you should be ready to go. >> also how much light would  I need without going crazy, << On a 75 gallon tank I would use two 250 watt HQI halides and two 48" VHO actinics. >> live rock will be  included. <<  Blundell  >>

Reef Tank Setup Hi Everyone Getting ready to make a major jump, 55 gal. reef to a 157 gal. reef  and want to run a few things by you to see if I'm on the right track. For lighting there will be 3, 250 watt HM bulbs with a splash of VHO. For filtration a 250 gal. wet/dry system and a ETSS 600 pro series skimmer (can I use one large pump to run both the wet/dry and skimmer?), about 400 lbs of reef sand seeded with one 40 lb bag of live sand. This is where the planning is at this point, any other tips would be appreciated. Thanks Robert >>>Hello Robert, You don't need the wet/dry, it's superfluous on a reef tank with live rock. Lighting sounds fine. I wouldn't use the same pump for both the return and the skimmer. At least, I've never seen it done it this way. I certainly wouldn't do it, it actually complicates the issue in my opinion. Get an appropriate sized pump for the skimmer, and an appropriate sized pump for the return. Cheers Jim<<<
Reef Setup Tips
thank you for such a quick response to my question!! I did find out today that what I found in my tank is indeed a bristle worm and also found out that they can be harmful if allowed to grow too large, so I'll just have to keep my eye out. thank you again. one more question though if don't mind, please. I've had my marine aquarium up for about 8 months and also have a FW setup that I've had for about two years. I am interested in maybe starting a reef tank. any helpful hints to the beginner. my tank is a 54 gallon corner tank. I have a red sea skimmer and an Eheim 2215. any suggestions on how to get started and any extra filtration I might need? thank you much. your website is great guys!! >>>Hmmm...well rather than write you the tome of an email it would take to tackle this subject in detail, I suggest you start by purchasing one of the many good books that are out there now. As far as a few tips go -  1. Don't skimp on the lighting trying to save money. Get the lights you really want when you start off, otherwise you just end up spending much more money in the long run 2. Go with a shallow sand bed, in the 2" range. 3. Your live rock and sand are your filter, you don't need the Eheim. 4. Red Sea skimmers are among the worst on the market. Invest in a better one if you can. Good luck! Jim<<<

New Reef Tank Setup I am in the process of designing a new reef tank.  I currently have a 36 gallon (bow front) reef and although it has provided me with a vast amount of knowledge I feel that it is time to set up a better system.  The tank will be a 55 gallon (36x18x20) that has an internal overflow.  So my first question is how big should the drain and returns be to not have to use powerheads in the tank and what size pump?  I plan on having water drain to a sump where the skimmer and heater will be and then pumped back into the tank.  So basically all filtration will be accomplished with live rock and a skimmer.  Is it possible to do a bare bottom tank?  My local fish store uses this method with great success.  Lighting will consist of four 96 watt compacts which I think will light the tank nicely.  Now when all the equipment is ready to go and I start transferring rock from the old tank is it possible to lightly scrub off undesirable algae in a bucket of saltwater before putting it in the new tank?  Now for the real issue.  I have a mantis shrimp living in the rock.  How do I flush it out of the rock so he does not take residence in the new tank?  Thank you for your time. <Hello, MikeB here.  I would suggest running some power heads in the tank regardless of how much filtration or turnover you have in your sump.  It is good to have a high water flow so detritus does not settle onto the corals and live rock.  Generally, I would like to turn over my tank 5-7 times an hour with ten being optimum.  That is not always practical though.  A bare bottom tank is achievable there are just different things to look for.  Try doing a search for Berlin style reef keeping.  That should answer most of your questions.  As far as the algae goes.  I have done your suggested method before with great success.  If your tank is healthy and the Phosphate is low then it will be hard for the undesirable algae to grow back.  Good Luck. MikeB.>

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