Am I missing anything and what are your suggestions?


New member
Hi everyone,

I'm finally ready to get another fish only saltwater aquarium. I had a 125 gallon in the 90's but everything has changed and I vaguely remember what I did. I went to about 12 store and finally purchased much of the set-up basics. I think I got a nice system: 125 gal tank w/ 2 overflow/returns, solid wood stand, a pro clear wet/dry premier 300 sump, oct 150 protein skimmer, Stream 6500 air pump, fluvial Aquasky lights, glass top cover. I haven't purchased the salt, sand or live rock yet. I'm confused about all this "live" sand/rock/water. Another store told me about their previously live rock and said I should get them and have them in the sun to fully dry out. At $5 less per pound, I took the bait and bout 65lbs of it. Mistake?

So I am seeking help and information. I'm wondering what else I need in order to begin setting up my tank. I also have not purchased a heater either because I'd like some suggestions.

Thanks you for your time and any suggestions you may have!

Vinny Kreyling

Premium Member
Lori, What are you going to keep in the tank?
Wet Dry filters are sort of old technology now and air pumps are generally not used anymore in saltwater. Live rock provides filtration for the tank. The rock you bought will be fine after a sun bathing episode but you will have to cycle the tank biologically. I would suggest a "Herbie" style overflow system found here: Enough for now ask more later.


New member
Live sand isn't really worth it. Its basically got good bacteria in it when they package it. Save your money and get something in a smaller grain size (not crushed coral) and then get someone local to give you some of their sand to seed your sand bed.

I too started with old "live" rock. I swished mine in clean ro/di water and then let sit in the sun for a week. I did this for about 3 weeks and then used it. Everything was good and I had no algae issues.

You've bought a lot of equipment already, but you may want to look into an RO/DI unit to make your own water at home. It saves lugging gallons of water around and you've got a good volume of water there.


New member
I personally think that a good RO/DI system is the single best equipment upgrade you can make to a salt water setup. Combine this with a steady water change schedule and it gives you a solid baseline condition. An RO/DI system will drastically reduce the amount of nutrients you are introducing into the water which means you should be able to keep your nutrient levels very low.

The thing about live rock is that it isn't just a 'put it in and forget it' type of material. Yes it provides an environment for denitrifying and other bacteria, but you still need to export the nitrates and excess nutrients via some method. It's good to have as part of an overall ecosystem but you still need to maintain the system as a whole. Algae is just nature finding its own way to consume those extra nutrients that are not otherwise being used by the ecosystem.

If your export is less than the amount being introduced, over time the rock and sand will accumulate all those nutrients, which you may not notice until the problems become out of control. It can take a surprising amount of time to get all those bound nutrients back out of the tank. The more rock and sand you have is the longer it usually takes for problems to get real bad, but also the longer it takes to solve them.

A lot of people running fish only still use bare bottom tanks simply because without sand and rock, all your nutrients are either in the water, the filter, or the fish. So It's a LOT easier to get rid of excess nutrients with a simple water and filter change. But you really need to keep a closer eye on the water parameters as without the rock and sand you're more prone to having swings in the water chemistry. Do an aggressive water change, or big servicing on your filter, and you'll definitely get an ammonia/nitrite spike in a bare bottom tank.

Personally, I think the rock is a good idea for a fish-only tank. I may only do 40 pounds or so for your setup, and only a thin substrate on the bottom. Enough to keep it easy to clean and provide some buffer, but not so much that it'll soak up a lot of nitrates over time.



Team RC
Hello Lori can you post a picture of your sump? The best advice for purchasing dry goods for your tank and keeping on a tank is Build Threads, great information there.