Brand new hobbiest - No clue what to do at this point

klwade

New member
All-

First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Kylie (klwade), and my husband and I currently reside in the cold state of North Dakota. I have dreamed of a saltwater aquarium for years, and I finally took the plunge and bought a tank/stand (while my husband is in the corner, shaking his head).

My intentions are to start out with a FOWLR set-up. As I love coral, I do NOT intend to go that direction until I can get the fish portion under my belt, and become comfortable with the requirements that this new eco-system will require of me.

Here is where I am sitting:

What are your thoughts on these purchases? I realize 2 heaters may be over doing it, however, I can always use one for a quarantine tank right?

I intend to use live sand, live rock, and regular (not live) rock. Is the live sand overkill? Or can I "save" money going with regular?

Also, I've heard mixed opinions from MANY sources about a few things:
- Protein Skimmer. Some say that I don't really need one until I venture out into the corals. Is this correct?
- Tap Water vs. RO/DI Water. I've heard about 50/50 on this. Some have told me to use tap, but treat it. Some have said NEVER tap.
- Circulation pumps. I've been looking at a few, but again, some say yes - some say wait for coral.


So, besides sand, rock, skimmer, circulation pumps, and water - am I missing anything that jumps to your attention?

I am on information overload, and although I've been going through the forum and reading up and educating myself - I still feel so lost on a few things, so I figured I would just post...

Thanks in advance for any help that you might be able to provide.

klwade
 

Crusinjimbo

New member
IMO, if your end game is reefing then don't go FOWLR to get there. It may be easier to get to a functioning reef if you focus your energy on understanding reef hardware and discipline. Every question is answered somewhere on this board, search and learn. Good luck!
 

whiteshark

New member
Read all the stickies at the top of this forum over and over. I agree with the above. If you want a reef, go reef. You don't have to add corals right away, but get all the equipment you need for them and dial in the use of them so you're ready for corals in the future. Get you skimmer (necessary IMO), get your RO/DI(yes this is100% percent necessary IMO), get some good reef salt, get powerheads with flow rates that will suffice for the corals you plan to keep. Do not get fine grained sand. You WILL regret it. Get dry aragonite. Live sand is a ripoff IMO.

One thing I'd say is a must, though some will disagree, is an auto top off. This will save you a lot of headaches and will keep your parameters constant.

I'd ditch the hydrometer. Get a good refractometer. Those bobbing and swing arm hydrometers are very iffy at best.

If I were you I'd very seriously consider a sump. They are so, so convenient and add water volume to the system which helps stabilize your parameters. Also, make sure to get some good test kits. While some will argue whether Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate kits are necessary (I think you should have them to follow your cycle), there are three kits you should absolutely have: Calcium, Magnesium, Alkalinity. Look into Salifert kits there.
 

TimeConsumer

New member
This is the point where you need to decide if you want to drill the tank and have sump for your equipment, or if you want to do everything hang-on-back. HOB will save you a little money, but it will limit your expansion and make your tank look cluttered. A sump will require more initial work, planning, and money, but will allow for a lot more down the road.

Only use RO/DI water, not treated tap.
Get a protein skimmer, you'll be happy you did.
I also recommend investing in an auto topoff system for simplicity and stability.
Get circulation pumps, that HOB filter won't be near enough circulation in the tank. Hydor Koralias are cheap and work well, Tunze or Vortech are a lot better though.
As far as the Penguin filter goes, ditch the biowheel part and just stick a bag of carbon/gfo into the filter.
If you do go with a reef, plan on ditching whatever light came with the tank and getting something a little more powerful like a 4x39w T5.
Buy test kits: Cheap ammonia and nitrite kit from API for monitoring your cycle. Quality (Red Sea Pro, Salifert, Elos, etc) Calc, Alk, Mag, Nitrate, and Phosphate test kits.
 

Zimmer

New member
+1 on ATO, sump and refractometer... i didnt't have those things initially and i regret it immensely :sad2: i actually am dealing with salinity issues right now so ATO and refractometer are en route thru fed ex :dance: yaaay!

you will find that even when you think you have everything, you will find something that you think you need..... just try to read as much as you can, this forum is great and there are a lot of smarties out there to help!
 

OrQidz

New member
Although I agree with the above posters that if you want a reef, start out that way, if you want to get into marine with less initial expense and difficulty a FOWLR isn't a bad idea. Outfitting a 60 gal tank for a full reef from the get go is $$$$. Not that any part of this hobby is cheap, but it is a big upfront investment. It's also kind of overwhelming with all the equipment and new stuff.

for FOWLR, any cheap lights will do and you don't need to worry so much about calcium and mag levels. I would still use RO/DI to avoid algae issues. I think a skimmer is a really important thing especially if you are not going to have a sump yet. A refractometer is a good investment as well.

I don't know if live sand is really worth it. If you are getting some live rock that will populate the tank for your biofilter. At the very least, maybe only one bag of live sand and the rest plain sand will save some money. (save now and you can make a nest egg for the reef in the future!)

I'm not familiar with that filter, but you need something that is pretty efficient and will trap detritus which you can then remove. A circulation pump isn't a bad idea either, helps keeps the detritus in suspension so the filter can get it.

Have fun! Keep reading!
 

danil

New member
It could be late but I always give same advise to people who interested to start - get used system from CL. They are always not listening.. and regret later. :)
 

MrTuskfish

Team RC
Be sure to get a quarentine tank and use it with all new fish. Get a couple of good, current books on the hobby. This forum is great, but you can't learn this hobby from a forum.
 

coralsnaked

New member
I dissagree on the FOWLR. Reef tanks are great but so is a beautifful FOWLR.
Then............................................................
when your ready for a reef tank. Either you start a second tank...My favorite method or you incorporate your current livestock into the new ank and sell the old tank to your buddy that has admired it soooooo much !
 

Dozer1one

New member
Holy moley, now im over whelmed:headwally: lets take it one step at a time,
1) clean the inside of your tank with vinegar and water solution as well as your new equipment
2)pick your substrate (Previously mentioned, arogonite will turn live anyway save your money) once you get it rinse the shi* out of it and put it in your tank
3)aqua scape your rock (if your going to do tall structures you will need some epoxy or pc pipe to get them to stay, search on theese forums for those things before hand
4)fill that sucker w water RO DI defenitly and let your filter run to clear it up, it will be cloudy for prob about a week, the hob filters arent that great, but will work for now
5)then in the following days pick up some power heads, as previously mentioned the hydors are ok for a great price here's a link for a good cheap supplier that every one here uses http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/hydor-koralia-evolution.html . 2 of the 550 gph would give you great flow in that size tank
6) As the tank is cycling you will have plenty of time to read up on maintence, get a test kit at this point , and check your parameters as you go to see where you are at during the cycle

Dont overwhelm yourself before you even get started, follow those steps and dont jump ahead (like adding fish after 2 weeks) untill you have a better understanding of marine aquatics, ask any question you can think of right here and use the hel! out of google and local fish store, and you and your family will have a ton of fun without dying animals and wasted dollars LOL
GOOD LUCK,
Dozer
 

klwade

New member
Thanks everyone for your input! Overwhelming to say the least! :)

Okay - so get a skimmer, RO/DI water, powerheads, refractometer! Check! I will look into these!

Not quite sure about sumps or ATO's yet however. I never realized how much moola went into this hobby. Don't get me wrong - I knew I would be looking at some - but we are getting up there in price. It's all worth it in the end though, right!?!

Looking at when I definitely need along with what I already have - I feel as though my tank is going to be super crowded with all these HOB items. I currently have a HOB filter (Marineland penguin), and 2 heaters that are suctioned to the walls. When I add a skimmer - that's more items to take away from the natural beauty. How are you all over-coming this? I have a cabinet, but there is not a ton of room to store things... Would pictures help you better?
 

JohnnyHT

New member
Reefcleaners has a really good deal on sand. 40 lbs of sand for $30. Extra $5 with a code (it's on the website). I just started myself. :) On day 8 of cycle.
 

whiteshark

New member
A good guide to go by for pricing is about 30$ per gallon. That's about what you can expect for a reef tank. Of course you can cut this down by buying used equipment and doing as much diy as you can, but you just don't want to skimp and buy cheap new stuff now. You will regret it down the road.
 

klwade

New member
Be sure to get a quarentine tank and use it with all new fish. Get a couple of good, current books on the hobby. This forum is great, but you can't learn this hobby from a forum.

Anything you would recommend in particular MrTuskfish (books)?

I may be showing my newbieness (is that even a word) here, but I've been reading up on sumps. I am intrigued! In a nutshell, just to make sure I get this - my sump goes in my cabinet, and all my supplies go into the sump (i.e.; skimmer, heater, filter, etc?!?). Do I still need a filter if I have a sump?

If I decide to go the sump route - do I HAVE to drill the glass or is there a way to get around this? Like I said...I'm showing my newbieness here. We all had to start somewhere though right?!?

Thanks all for your replies!
 

whiteshark

New member
Anything you would recommend in particular MrTuskfish (books)?

I may be showing my newbieness (is that even a word) here, but I've been reading up on sumps. I am intrigued! In a nutshell, just to make sure I get this - my sump goes in my cabinet, and all my supplies go into the sump (i.e.; skimmer, heater, filter, etc?!?). Do I still need a filter if I have a sump?

If I decide to go the sump route - do I HAVE to drill the glass or is there a way to get around this? Like I said...I'm showing my newbieness here. We all had to start somewhere though right?!?

Thanks all for your replies!

I think the look of a drilled tank is much nicer than one that isn't drilled, and can be made much more fail safe. That said , many people (including myself for 6 years) have run hang on overflow boxes with no problems. So to answer your question, no, it is not necessary to drill the tank. You just have to make sure the overflow you get can handle the GPH of your pump.

They look like this: http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/catalog/product/view/id/1346/

Not that I'm recommending that particular one, but that's just an example. Essentially there is a box that sits on the rim of, and inside, the aquarium attached to another that is outside the aquarium. A pipe connects the two over the top of the rim of the aquarium and water is fed, via a siphon, from the box in the aquarium to the one outside then down to the sump.

The sump can go in or out of the cabinet. Wherever you want it. It's nice to fit it in the cabinet because it hides everything, but space inside can be limited depending on the particular stand. Some people put a tank on the first floor, drill holes in the floor and run pipe to a basement sump where it is then pumped back up a floor and into the aquarium. This obviously requires a much larger pump but it gives you tons of space while still hiding everything and reducing noise. I'm renting a place right now so I have my sump outside my stand, on the same floor, for easy access and ease of dismantle in case I have to leave.

No you don't need a hang on back filter with a sump. What I would recommend is an in sump skimmer, as big as will fit, and a couple small media reactors for gfo and carbon. I like the Two Little Fishes Phosban reactors. I have two 150 models on my 27 gallon cube, one with gfo and one with carbon. Those three things, with your live rock and sand, will make up virtually all the filtration you need. You can also make a section on the sump a refugium and grow macro algae in it. The algae uses up phosphates so it's another part of your nutrient export. It also gives a safe haven to beneficial critters like amphipods which will then make their way into your display tank and become a great food source for your fish.
 
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