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Need Help Planning Next Tank - not a DIY person :-(


nitewindes

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My only experience with reef tanks is our current all-in-one nano systems. (1 JBJ and 1 BioCube)

I realize the limitations of our current setup and my difficulty in upgrading what we have any further.

So, over the next few months I am going to begin to plan for a larger tank. I have been looking at RedSea and Marineland only because they seem to have all in one type systems that I can add skimmers and etc.. pretty easily. (or so they seem). Is this a fact or are you really better off starting from scratch and putting your own system together?

I know I want LED's but other than that, just a system that I can maintain.

If you don't have the do it yourself gene, how does one best take on this task? Hire someone? .... then the question is who? Do the local stores offer this service of consultation and installation? Is there a mentor program of sorts??

Knowing what you all know looking back, what would you recommend?

I am already reading whatever I can to try to learn. But the water chemistry is freaking me out a little bit. I do the normal tests on my biocube, but realize if I go bigger I have to get a lot better at it. Maybe I need to volunteer to help clean someone's tank in exchange for knowledge??? Ideas??

Thanks, guys!

Debbie

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I am thinking 36-40 wide due to space available. Higher off the ground better. A bit taller than average and deep enough to do a reef right. I would have LPS and soft corals, zoa,s etc... and a few fish. I am guessing this puts me in the 80-100 gal range but not sure. At that size, I am guessing I will need a sump and refug...???

If I piece together my own system I will need major help in what to choose and how to get it setup.. That is the only reason I was thinking an all-in-one.

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You might check out Dutch Aquarium Systems, aka D.A.S., and AquaVim.com. Both have nice tank/stand setups with filtration systems. D.A.S. is available through a couple of the LFS. Deep Sea Aquatics is also available through LFS and have some nice stands to g along with thier tanks.

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I am also not a real fan of all in ones. Its kind of like getting a tv vcr dvd player all in one unit none of the parts are great but they can get the job done and when one of them goes down its very hard to fix.

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So does RCA offer install and teaching us how to maintain the tank / sump / refug? Since I have never had a sump or refug? I don't know about calcium reactors and kalkwassers... What is kalkwasser anyway and what does it do?

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Calcium hydroxide (kalkwassers) is a caustic solution used to increase alkalinity and calcium. Alkalinity is the ability of the water to buffer itself and resist changes in pH, I personnelly don't use it as I get buffering from arrogonite in my deep sand bed.

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So does RCA offer install and teaching us how to maintain the tank / sump / refug? Since I have never had a sump or refug? I don't know about calcium reactors and kalkwassers... What is kalkwasser anyway and what does it do?

Kalkwasser is German for chalk water. It's basically a lime calcium solution that is dosed into the aquarium to help with keep calcium levels at a high range for sps growth. Most people's tanks don't diminish calcium fast enough to need one unless they have a ton of sps in their tank.

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I am thinking 36-40 wide due to space available. Higher off the ground better. A bit taller than average and deep enough to do a reef right. I would have LPS and soft corals, zoa,s etc... and a few fish. I am guessing this puts me in the 80-100 gal range but not sure. At that size, I am guessing I will need a sump and refug...???

If I piece together my own system I will need major help in what to choose and how to get it setup.. That is the only reason I was thinking an all-in-one.

36x24x25 is 90 gal

36x18x31 is 90 gal tall

36x24x31 is 118 gal

The main purpose of a sump is to hide the equipment, increase the water volume and surface area for oxygen exchange. You don't really need one to be successful but it does have benefits and helps keep things tidy. Same for a refugium; you don't need one to be successful but there are benefits, mostly for pod eatting fish. The choice is yours if you want these things.

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I would really love to do a more natural approach to the system if that is possible. I like the idea of rocks and sand in the tank and plants in the refug all being in a balance. Using natural methods for controlling aptasia and other things. In general, how often do you guys check water quality? Once per week or less or more???

My current test kit doesn't test for calcium. only ph, ammonia, nitrate and nitrate and kh. Should I be testing for calcium too? I do water changes every two weeks about 15%+.

The biggest problem I have with my tank currently is the Anthelia which takes over at the drop of a hat. I trim it back each water change. But the toxins put off from that set my tank back every single time. I wish I could rip it out the rock it is on altogether, but it is on my biggest rock at the base of my whole tank.

How do you guys manage trimming corals that put off toxins??

Thanks everyone for your input! It is helping me SO much!

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Activated carbon does chemical filtration in my reef keeping methods. I lean toward less technology and more biology. I do not test my water, unless there is a problem. I have found that when set up properly, the system operates best when left alone. I use water straight from the aquifier with no RO/DI. In addittion to macro in the refugium, I use decorative macro in the display tank.

Within this hobby, there are many successful methods to maintain captive reef systems. Find a method that suits your personality. There are plenty of mentors on this site. Unfortunately, some methods contradict each other. Pick a method, and embrace it by learning everything about it Do not switch methods until you have mastered it. When I started in this hobby, we did not have the hi-tech equipment that is available today. By understanding the basics, you can get more sophisticated and build on that foundation, if you so choose.

Enjoy the hobby/addiction,

Patrick

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I wouldn't worry about the chemistry side of it too much at the beginning. The factors that vary the most, and the ones you should focus on, are salinity and temperature. Both of which are easily controlled. Ph, Alkalinity, magnesium and the rest of the reef chemistry do stay relatively stable depending on the needs of your reef inhabitants. Most of the time frequent water changes do the job of replenishing "salt" levels in your aquarium. Exceptions are when your aquarium is stock with organisms that use high levels of these inorganics to produce their skeletons(as mentioned above). Personaly I would go with a system with a sump just because it give you options to add mechanical devices later depending on your wants.

As every member here at ARC will tell you, research first and do second. I would buy a book on the hobby and take some time to familiarize yourself with the hobby. There's also a lot of info online here.

(Kalkwasser means calcium/lime(like limestone) water fyi)

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What Max said.

Keep up with water changes and you should be fine, especially with the critters you want to keep.

Research, reasearch, research. Then ask questions. Then research some more.

I'm sure any of the LFS will be happy to setup a system for you. For a price. And then there is us. Most of us will assist for little to nothing; mostly food and drink. :D

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I agree with Patrick once a system is set up you don't have to test it very often. When I first set up a tank that is cycling I test it twice a week. I also tend to test if I have added a lot of livestock to a system to make sure it doesn't need a water change. After about six months of stability you don't have to test it anymore unless you just want to know or haven't done a water change in awhile. Personally I only do water changes once a month at most.

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Thanks, everyone! I am reading "Ultimate Marine Aquariums" right now. You are right! There are as many methods as there are people doing them smile.png . Any other book suggestions?

I use the pocket guide to marine fish and the pocket guide to inverts.

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Julian Sprung & Charles Delbeek wrote Reef Aquarium Volumn 1 & 2 over 20 years ago. IMO the best book to explain how and why is Volumn 3, "Science , Art and Technology".. It has been published for 5 years. It is somewhat pricey. However, it is the only book that you will ever need in your library. I guarantee.

Be careful, this hobby is addicting.

Patrick

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http://www.fishchannel.com/saltwater-aquariums/aquarium-frontiers/natural-coral-reef.aspx

Richard Harker is "old school" and he believes in natural nitrate reduction. I have combined his methods with John Tullock who wrote "The Natural Reef Aquarium". John models his systems around a pivital species are are biotheme. Combine the creatures that exist within similiar conditions. I usually start at the bottom of the food chain with bacteria and detrivores.

http://www.chucksaddiction.com/cleanupcrew.html

Debbie,

If you are interested in natural reef keeping, the above links will introduce this world to you.

Patrick

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Patrick,

Thanks! Those links were great. Lots of good information. The more I learn,l the more I marvel at all of the pieces that make up the ocean's world. I am off to search for books..

Thanks again!

Debbie

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Strive to know your water chemistry, it aid's the tank in many way's.....maintaining stability is pretty much the main reason. Know your tank and it's inhabitant's, your coral's will tell you what is missing......you will learn that your pulsing xenia not pulsing usually tell's you your alk is low..... monti cap lighten's up....check mag etc. You should alway's know what your tank is consuming on a weekly basis(which breaks down to daily consumption), as far as alk,ca and mag are concerned. It doesn't matter what you keep, just try to provide as closely as possible, the same environment that your coral's live at, in nature.

Cheers,

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I would really love to do a more natural approach . . .

I would reiterate Subsea's reccomendation to get Delbeek and Sprung's "The Reef Aquarium" Vol III. They have a chapter on the different filtering methodologies and go into more detail than Palletta's "Ultimate Aquariums", not that I don't like Palletta's book as I highly reccommend it as well. The first two volumes would be nice to get also but now that they are going out of print expect to pay an arm and leg for new. An axiom I took to heart along time ago is the more complex an ecosystem the better it's stability. With this in mind I would encourage the inclusion of a sump and/or refugium.

. . . how often do you guys check water quality? Once per week or less or more??? . . . I do water changes every two weeks about 15%+. . .

Very haphazzardly myself but when first starting out I urge people to test everything including water source before and after adding salt to it and before and after a water change. The more experience you have with what happens to the chemestry in your aquarium and how your animals react to it the better you will be able to identify problems in the future. After time you'll develop an "eye" for your animals and most likely be able to judge by how your animals look without testing. You should still test periodicly since established and healthy corals have the ability to acclimate to conditions which might kill a new addition.

. . . The biggest problem I have with my tank currently is the Anthelia which takes over at the drop of a hat. I trim it back each water change. But the toxins put off from that set my tank back every single time. I wish I could rip it out the rock it is on altogether, but it is on my biggest rock at the base of my whole tank.

How do you guys manage trimming corals that put off toxins??

Thanks everyone for your input! It is helping me SO much!

This is a good question! I've got Anthelia in several tanks but have never observed what you see in your tank but my tanks are quite a bit larger than your current system. I would second the reccommendation to use carbon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, it appears I am heading toward the 112 - 150 gal range... YIKES! I am thinking a cone shaped skimmer, (ease of cleaning), a sump and refugium. That way I will be able to put lots of live rock in the sump and not have to bombard my display with it. I like the look of a little open space. Corals, softies, leathers, bubbles, torches. Inverts: basic CUC and really want clams. Can LED handle clams or do you have to have metal halides?

Or.... will clams and softies be at odds with each other lighting wise? Maybe one at one end of the tank ?? Ideas?

I am thinking a tank controller and auto top off. Wave maker and plenty of flow .. Other thinks I am forgetting? If I keep going, I may have to drive around in my tank with as much as its going to cost.. ha ha ha. Oh well! Its only money. :-) Anybody hazard a guess at the price range I am at?

I am off to find a copy of The Reef Aquarium....

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Anybody hazard a guess at the price range I am at?

Quite a bit! LOL

Prices will vary - size, quality, new, used.... lots of variables.

Here is a start:

Tank - $200-600

Stand - $50-$250

Sump - $50-275

LED Light fixture - $350-750+ (each)

Controller - $200-500

Skimmer - $175-500

Return Pump - $50-125

Powerheads - $25-250 (each)

Heaters - $24-75 (each) - you need 2

Auto topoff - $50-150

Fresh water reservior - $10-50

Plumbing parts/hoses - $35-200

Liverock - $3-8/lb

Sand - $0.50-1.00/lb

Livestock - how specific are your tastes and how deep is your wallet/purse? lol

If I can give you some advice - Make a budget and stick to it. Get to know a LFS well, find one you like and trust.... they will save you money in the long run. Focus your budget on the tank/stand(you see it everyday) and the skimmer. Consider T-5 lighting instead of LED lighting if you run out of budget. Most people do a smaller tank, then upgrade to a bigger. It can be a good way to go.

Good Luck to you. You found a great resource in the club.

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