where to start

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where to start

Post by buttercuo on Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:57 pm

I have a 55 gallon tank that had fresh water fish in it. I want to do a salt water tank. I know nothing about setting it up or what I will need. I need advise on what to buy. How much living sand will i need and what kind of filtration system. also what are power heads and a skimmers.

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Re: where to start

Post by Nannook on Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:04 pm

Oh boy, how exciting. You are starting right with the 55, considered to be a beginner tank, so much can be done with them. Do you know if you want fish, or fish and coral, or coral only? The reason I ask is the lighting, filtration, etc are different with each. You should probably read read read. For it is SO different from fresh water. The water ought to be very pure, reverse osmosis filtered water is recommended. it is good to have a sump, a small aquarium under your display tank (DT) that provides filtration and a pump that will recirculate the water to and from the DT. I have a 90 gal aquarium and a 20 gal aquarium for a sump or also called a refugium if they are planted. In order to get the water to and fro you either need to have a drilled 55 (rare) or use some type of overflow box to provide a siphon area for your pump to pull the water off the 55 to your sump. This can all get a little overwhelming, I had fresh water for many years but only in reef keeping for 3 years. You need very porous rock to provide structure for the planktons, bacteria, etc, the clean up crew vital to a thriving tank. The clean up crew is what makes your sand or your rock "live". Most rock or sand that is moved will have a die off of the organisms and you will have to start "cycling" them with new organisms anyway. You can hold off on the skimmer until you get a few fish, (months from now) and a single power head would be adequate to start out. I believe the recommended amount or live rock is a pound or more per gallon of tank. (the more porous the better) and sand is optional. Some people prefer bare bottom tanks so they can suction out the detritus easier. Well this ought to answer your question and cause many more questions. Good luck welcome to the club and patience I cannot stress enough patience and read read read.
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Re: where to start

Post by blennieluvr on Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:44 pm

I'm sure you can find guidance here but to help us assist you, we'll probably have to ask you a lot of questions too. To start out with, what did you keep in that tank before and was it ever treated with copper?

Also, while you ask questions here and get answers, read as much as you can. This article, http://www.melevsreef.com/overview.htm, gives an overview of setting up a reef tank and the different equipment needed. By the way, the tank is actually a really cheap part of the initial investment so be prepared for some upcoming expenses. However, you can collect stuff as fast or slowly as you want or can afford and just set it up when you get everything you need. You will want to learn patience anyway. This hobby will go better for you if you go slow and enjoy each step. Some people rush things and end up with problems. I am setting up a new tank (my 3rd) and it's been up for about a month and still has nothing but rock, sand and water in it.

Another thing you might want to get a feel for and share with us is what type of critters do you want to keep? There are a large variety of marine tanks from fish only to ones with only soft corals which generally the easiest corals to keep or some people establish an SPS (small polyped stony coral) dominant tank with a more rigorous maintenance level. Some people go for somewhere in between. Amount of sand, lighting, etc can vary quite a bit from one type of setup to another and are also somewhat dictated by preference. There, unfortunately, isn't a one size fits all type of approach.

Let me also say that it's great that you found us as having hobbyists who have "been there, done that" help defray the costs of mistakes and increase your chance for making this hobby a really satisfying one. So, please do continue to ask questions and we'll do our best to help you figure this out as we go.

Oh...might I also suggest watching these vids that Bulk Reef Supply put out to help people learn how to setup a tank? BRS are based in MN and they're awesome for saltwater supplies and equipment. There are other saltwater stores that we can suggest too but we'll save that for later.

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/video/series/view/start-a-saltwater-tank-series/

We'll have a meeting soon and maybe you could make the trip and attend. There's nothing better than seeing a setup or two for yourself and talking face to face with other "reefers" to get you going on the right path!

Again, glad you found us!

(Well, I typed this all up, got interrupted in between and then when I posted, there was another response already so this might be repetitive but I am posting it none-the-less. Wink )


Last edited by blennieluvr on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: where to start

Post by buttercuo on Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:08 am

I want to do a reef set up with clown fish and my daughter wants a star fish so I will have to have a star fish. In my tank right now there is some minnows and gravel or rocks from the pet store. i used my tank to hold my fishing bait. I have never treated it with copper. i did treat it with methylene blue. thanks for the link

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Re: where to start

Post by Nannook on Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:40 am

Don't be afraid with the cautionary advice and the flood of information. There is a LOT to this hobby, but the up side is the most amazing results you can possibly imagine. The learning that takes place with your daughter (and you) will capture the imagination and creativity of you both. You will never see the ocean the same way again. Cammie advice is better than mine. Ask your questions you have a family now that want you to succeed. And everyone has extra "stuff" so if you look and ask you can frequently get free or cheap or trade stuff. I need to thin out my corals they are growing too big.
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Re: where to start

Post by seaponygirl on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:16 am

Hi, one of the nice things about this group is the lack of politics. Lots of good advice, lots of advice on what won't work, like loading the whole tank the day it is set up. It is a very sharing and understanding group. Great for us Newbies. I have had my set up for about a year. I had saltwater back in the Dinosaur days.
I think the biggest expense is your lighting. I am a fan of LEDs. It's hard to decide which way to go, LED, Halide, or T5 (fluorescent types).
I recently set up a 45 gallon and got the powerheads that alternate to make a more natural current. Love those, the fish and soft corals do too.
Have fun and as everyone says read read read. And ask ask ask. We all have been there done that. Toodles

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Re: where to start

Post by Nannook on Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:46 pm

Aquatraders.com has cheap lights. They had some quality issues a few years ago. And I have gotten some bad replacement bulbs. I emailed them right away and they sent replacements free of charge. I got a decent metal halide light for my 90 for 200 bucks. It has been going for 2 years with no issues (i replace the bulbs every 6 months) I get 3 bulbs for the price of one name brand, free shipping. I have some LED's on my 29. It does ok, but the "shimmer" the growth, it is just amazing and you cannot beat the halide 20k.
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Re: where to start

Post by blennieluvr on Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:11 pm

buttercuo wrote:I want to do a reef set up with clown fish and my daughter wants a star fish so I will have to have a star fish. .... i did treat it with methylene blue.

If you're going to have clownfish, you might as well plan for an anemone or two as well. Smile They have a very cool relationship with one another. "Nems" are easy to come by in this northern club too. However, I would not put either nems or starfish in a new tank. Personally, I would say wait for at least a year. Both require a very established tank to thrive. For the nems, you want good lights...T5, LED or halide. Absolutely no PC's. Smile I made this mistake when I started so I can say that from experience. Actrually, I made the mistake of getting a nem and a starfish too soon as well. So...you just avoided all those costly errors by me making them first!

I do not know what methylene blue is but I would suggest researching carefully as contaminants can be really hard on a reef. I'll try to remember to look it up too.

As for minnows and gravel. Ew! (kidding) That's going to need a really gooooooood cleaning but don't use soap. Vinegar is OK. I have washed my stuff with regular tap water but I always rinse with RO water afterward. If you don't already have one, I would highly suggest that be one of your first purchases unless there's a fish store (often referred to on forums as LFS, local fish store) in your area, sometimes they sell RO or RODI water so you can get by without buying your own filter unit. However, hauling buckets is a pain and in my opinion, one of the worst reef related chores. I hate carrying buckets!

I hope this is all helping. Keep us up-to-date on things.
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Re: where to start

Post by icereefer on Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:08 pm

One thing I would mention to if your just wanting to keep it simple with a Pair of clowns,Like Cammie mentioned a Nem and starfish a year or better down the road,you may want to just look into a small cube tank or if you like the length of your 55 go with a 75,90 or 120, for any of theses tanks your 55 gal could be modified into a sump for one of them sizes mentioned,
like Mentioned the 55 gal is a good starter but you will find using LR "live Rock" as your Bio filtration as Narrow as the 55 gal is it's hard to a range your rock and harder to come up with free swimming area's for your fish, if you have places for your fish to hide and a good swimming area for them they will stay stress free and happier and healthier they will be.
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Re: where to start

Post by Raul Badillo Jr on Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:19 am

I will agree with Jim on the 55 as I started with it...way narrow. Id say a 75G or 90G to keep it 4ft long. Also I suggest you do not use an external overflow.....I had a 15G leak once....not pretty. But the tank could be drilled and a internal overflow box from Bulk Reef Supply would be better. Its easy. As for a sump I suggest a 20L. Its small but will work and gives you room under your tank inside the stand. If you got carpentry skillz then make a canopy with front side access to your tank. Enjoy this part as to me..its the most exciting besides watching your tank grow
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