Help Setting Up--LOTS of questions

aquachik

New member
Hi, I apologize before I get started, because I have a tendency to get a little long winded and I have a LOT of questions. Okay. I have a 125 Gallon glass tank (60x18x24) that I have been gradually aquiring equipment for during about a six month period. I am overrun with patience, so there is no water (don't worry). Here is what i have so far:
*RO/DI with UV
*60" Odyssea 3x175w hqi, 2x130w blue cf, 8 led moonlight
*ProClearAquatics 24x10x21 w/150g or 600gph capacity. 4.5g bio area
*SeaClone Skimmer 150 gallon ( I know its crap but my w/d also has 1
*29 gallon aquarium for refugium
*Nitrate Reductor/Denitrifier
And I only have a blurry vision of exactly what I want. But here it goes. I plan on the majority of my base rock being either Aragocrete self-made formations, or tufa rock(which does not exist in my area), and I am going to seed it with about 25lbs of live rock. I will have quite a bit in my refugium as well. I plan on keeping all types of corals (I do have adequate lighting, right?). I think I am ok there, but here is my first problem--Substrate. First off I want to say that I really want to keep a Jawfish. What is the minimum amount of substrate that I must have for this fish? I originally intended on a DSB or Plenum, but 450lbs of sand is a little much for my budget, so I decided that 1-2 inch would be ok, but I am probably pretty wrong. So then I decided to put a DSB or Plenum in my refugium so I wouldn't have to spend as much, but can I still grow all of my important flora like this? I am thinking of keeping mangrove, but that would involve Mineral or Miracle Mud for root supplementation, right? So can either of those things be incorporated into the DSB or Plenum? By the way, which of these setups would be better? Or would I be better off just getting some AragaMud, and if so, would the grain size of this cause a problem with the DSB or Plenum? I want to try and get all this right the first time, because I cannot decide which fish to take out of my imaginary aquarium. My current fish list (just what I would Like to keep, not necessarily what I WILL keep) IMO would be pushing the bio-load to its full capacity, if not farther. So now I'll give you the list of fish that I WISH I could keep, in order of personal preference:
*1 Ocellaris Clownfish
*1 Powder Blue Tang
*1 Yellow Tang
*1 Royal Gramma
*1-2 Yellow Head Jawfish
*2 Firefish (1 purple/1 common) Is this possible? Or will they fight?
Thats it for the must-haves, but I had also wanted Blue-Green Chromis and Yellow Tail Damsels. I do understand that these fish are meant to be kept in at least a small group, so I guess I'll have to scratch them off the list, huh. Anyway, I would reallly like some opinions on how I would go about keeping the jawfish with my substrate issue, as well as help on my substrate issue itself. But there is one more thing I must ask before your head spontaneously combusts lol. I have an empty 55 Gallon tank with a Rena Filstar XP3 and the HOB that comes with the 55 kit. This was meant to be a planted discus tank, but I just can't stop thinking about a triggerfish. If I end up not being able to help myself and decide that this is what will go in the tank, can I keep the filtration on it, but somehow plumb it into my main tank? Or would I have to go buy all new filtration for it and use it as a seperate system? Would I be overloading my filtration if I did that, or would it be ok because of the filtration that would already be on the 55? What I'm asking is do the pros outweigh the cons? I mean with that much more water, It would only make the entire system more stable, right? Or would the additional bioload just smother my main filtration. I plan on having my wet dry in the cabinet underneath my 29 gallon refugium, and I have no actual drilled plumbing (overflow or sump), but I plan on running my main tank water direct to my filter, and my filter outflow to my refugium, and pumping my refugium back to the tank. Is this correct? Any help would be appreciated.:confused: :rollface:
 

Avi

Premium Member
Your intentions seem good, but they are mighty big and I would suggest that you tone them down just a bit in some part. To have a good basic "filtration" system in your 125-gallon tank, you'd be in good shape with the amount of rock you are planning but there are some considerations that, IMO, you ought to make. One is that you should have somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 125-pounds of rock in total. More would be better....something like 150-pounds is a good number. Using base rock is fine, especially if it's a cost-saving measure, but I would say that "seeding" it with only 25-pounds of live rock wouldn't be ideal. That's because it would take a good deal of time for the base rock to be brought into a functional condition. Of course it could be done, but it would take a whole lot of patience that is difficult to have when setting up a reef of the kind you're apparently interested in. I'd suggest that you start off with at least one half of the rock being live rock. It would obviously be more expensive, but there are good deals on the Internet that you could take advantage of. That would speed up the process significantly and contribute to the stability of your system without the very long wait that you would otherwise have to make. Even with the one-half live rock there would be a relatively long wait time until your rockwork, together with your skimmer(s) were capable of adequately dealing with a bio-load of any reasonable size.

As far as your substrate is concerned, forgive me, but IMO, your a bit overzealous in your plan. In order to keep Jawfish, you'd be best to have a fairly deep sand bed, but it isn't essential. If you don't have a deep sand bed, and for that I'd say you need at least 3.5-inches of sand, you can still keep one. Two inches or so of sand, with a compliment of small rubble rock would enable a Jawfish to establish itself in the lower rockwork in your reef. Personally, I'd stay away from the mangroves and instead, create the refugium you intend to for growing a macro-algae like "Chaeto." It's less prone to problems and I think, in the long run, just as effective for nutrient export. Having the refugium that you intend in the 29-gallon tank is all you'd need and I'd pass on the "wet/dry." and use the money that you would have spent on that for getting a better protein skimmer.

As for the 55-gallon tank...Keep it seperate. Combining two tanks into one system is not so easy. Keeping a Triggerfish in a 55-gallon tank will work for a while but they would outgrow that eventually. Rather than combine the filtration with the 125-gallon tank or get a new filtration setup for the 55, though, I'd say that if it's fish only, and you don't have a big bio-load, you can use the canister that you have now. Of course, putting a protein skimmer on it to work with the filter would be good.

I hope I understood your concerns and this makes sense to you.
 

aquachik

New member
Thank you, your honesty has been very helpful. Will have to get more live rock. NO mangroves. Sorry, but already have the wet dry. And what size would you reccomend for the triggerfish. Read somewhere 55 was fine, but I am new, and the internet always has false information. But I do greatly appreciate your help.
 

McCrary

Can't Stop Time
Your fish list looks fine. Did you already purchase the Odyssea lighting, if you didn't than I would suggest finding another company. Marinedepot.com and premiumaquactics.com both have good selection and pricing. The reason that you might want to not use the wet dry is its ability to convert ammonia into nitrate. The system provides a massive area for the cultivation of bacteria which can lead to high nitrate levels that can affect the health of your corals. Seeding rock can be very cost effective, but I have always prefererred to just spend the money and get all live rock to begin with. You could turn the 55 into a FOWLR and use the wet/dry that you were planning on using for your reef.
 

Avi

Premium Member
As I said before, you could use the Filstar canister for the 55-gallon tank if it's a fish only or FOWLR, but it would be a good idea to use the wet/dry on the 55 instead, as Turbo suggests. On the other hand, if the configuration of the wet/dry would permit, you could, instead of using the bio-balls, grow macro-algae like "Chaeto" in that section under an appropriate light, which would be good for nutrient export. I would guess, though, that it would be too small for that so using it on the 55 might be the better alternative. That, however, would require that you set up a sump under the 125-gallon tank. Making your own sump, and having a larger refugium area for growing the Chaeto would be the best thing you could do if you don't want to go to the expense of buying a pre-made sump. You can use a 40-gallon tank for that and you'd go a long way in improving the system that you're setting up. You can go to

www.melevsreef.com

to get an idea of what a sump/refugiun entails, but I can tell you it's a lot easier than you might think and you'd get all the help you need here in RC if you'd chose to do that.

As for the triggers, they can start out well in a 55-gallon tank, but they do tend to grow quickly and they would most likely outgrow it in short order. If you want to get a small one and let it grow until it's too big for the 55, you might want to start with a Bursa or a Humu Picasso Triggerfish, since they're among the smallest triggers at full size.

On your fish list....You might want to reconsider the Firefish. I've found that they're very easily intimidated fish and being in a tank with a Powder Blue Tang may well be too stressful for them. Oh, and as to the Ocelaris Clownfish, I'd recommend getting a mated pair from the outset. Your tank is definitely big enough for it, and you could add a few others if you chose.
 

MJAnderson

Premium Member
As for the live rock...

If you've been patient enough to acquire equipment for 6 months and not rush into throwing fish in water, I think it's ok to seed with 25lbs of live rock. If you have limited funds I'd suggest that and spending the money saved on a better skimmer. It will take a while to seed the other rock, but that just means a slower rate of fish introduction.

As for the substrate, sand isn't that expensive if you go the Southdown route (which I think is called OldCastle Sand now) if you can find it in your neighborhood. I think it was $8 for 50lbs.

http://www.crabstreetjournal.com/products/substrates/playsand.html

Oh and I agree with the other posters about not using the canister filter and wet/dry.
 

Avi

Premium Member
If I can put another 2-cents in just to clarify what might seem a little confusing about the use of the wet/dry and the Filstar canister....IMO, you can use them in a fish only tank. These kinds of filters do just what there's a concern about here...foster some nitrates. That's as opposed to using live rock and a good protein skimmer in a reef tank for the filtration, supplemented by a refugium where macro-algae like Chaeto or some kind of Caulerpa would be used for additional nutrient reduction. That's the kind of filtration that's generally recommended for reefs because it is the most nitrate control-effective method, and invertebrates in a reef, like almost all coral are very sensitive to traces of nitrates.

Fish, however, are not as sensitive and can handle some traces of nitrates so if you use a wet/dry or a canister in a fish only tank, even if it were to generate some traces of nitrates it wouldn't most likely pose a threat to them....that is, if all of your other water quality measures like regular water changes with nitrate-free water, are taken.

Ideally, all marine tanks whether fish only, FOWLR or full reefs should use the live rock'protein skimmer method rather than the wet/dry, canister, powerfilter, etc. for filtration because it's just plain better to do all you can to keep nitrates at the very possible place. But, if you wanted to use the wet/dry or the canister, IMO, you could on a fish only tank like you plan for the 55. In that case, just test regularly for nitrates to make sure they don't even approach a level that would be a cause of concern for even fish alone.
 

aquachik

New member
So you guys are saying that even with the nitrate reductor inside the wetdry, that I just won't have any success in keeping my nitrates down? It is also built so I can set it up alone, or inline with the filtration. Would this make any difference?
 

Avi

Premium Member
What kind of nitrate reducer is it? I just purchased one and it's a day away from being hooked up and running so I can't say from personal experience, but I had done a lot of reading about denitrifiers before I bought mine and from what I can tell, they are effective. How effective is difficult to say and you could certainly try it out and see.
 

MJAnderson

Premium Member
I guess the question is having one piece of equipment that introduces nitrates and one piece of equipment to reducing them when there is no need to introduce them in the first place?
 

Avi

Premium Member
While you may have a denitrifier, aquachik, and you could use it, I have to agree with MJAnderson on that. I have one, like I said, but that's because even with all of the measures we've talked about that discourage nitrates, I still have a consistent 10ppm. The only thing that I don't do, and soon will, is use RO/DI water for water changes. I measure my tap water regularly and it's always at 5ppm. So, I'm not all that convinced that using the RO/DI would make the difference. You, on the other hand would be taking the chance of continually generating nitrates if you use the wet/dry on your reef. I'd have to say that it wouldn't be the best way to go, even with the denitrifier.
 

McCrary

Can't Stop Time
Avi- What kind of nitrate reducer did you buy? Is it like a fluidized bed reactor or something?
 

aquachik

New member
I also have the MA sulfur denitrifier for aquariums 50-250 gallons. I was wondering, would it work out for me if I kept the wet/dry and just replaced the bio balls with rubble rock from my main tank once established? It was a fairly large investment, and after all the reading that pointed toward getting one, I am devastated to now know that it will only cause bad things to come. I have decided :sad1: to do away with my hopes for jawfish and firefish and have only a very thin layer of sand in my main tank to cover the floor in front of the rock. Please if there is any way to make my wet/dry work for me, ANY suggestions would make my day. Oh and turbosnail, I have already purchased this lighting, but would still like to know about possibly having to purchase another instead. What were the exact problems with these lights? Are they just really poor quality or is it something to do with the way they are wired up or something(cuz my husband is a licenced electrician and can easily fix any electrical problem that it may have. I still have never turned the light on since my does it work test when it came out of the box. Oh and one more thing; I think someone mentioned a 40 gallon refugium. I already have the 29 gallon with the wet/dry set up underneath it. So is my refugium useless(too small) too? Man I feel so stupid for not reading any forums from this site before my initial purchases...looks like I messed up pretty bad all around huh. I guess the one and only thing I can say on my behalf is at least I'm patient enough to not have found any of this out through trial and error like many newbies..or at least thats what I would like to think anyway.
 

Avi

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8113835#post8113835 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
I also have the MA sulfur denitrifier for aquariums 50-250 gallons. I was wondering, would it work out for me if I kept the wet/dry and just replaced the bio balls with rubble rock from my main tank once established?...I am devastated to now know that it will only cause bad things to come...Please if there is any way to make my wet/dry work for me, ANY suggestions would make my day.

Stephanie...don't be devastate because it isn't something that will lead to failure at all. The bio-balls would be the problem, and you're not using them so not to worry, at all. It can be replaced by live rock rubble and you won't have the undesired consequences that the bio-balls could bring. Simple as that, so there's no reason for concern. The one thing that I'd watch out for though is the possibility that the skimmer that your wet/dry came with, even together with the use of the Seaclone that you have, may not be as effective as a good quality...and somewhat expensive....skimmer would be. So, use the wet/dry as a sump, watch for signs like elevated phosphates and nitrates once the tank is cycled and the tank's stocked with fish and inverts. If it is, then reconsider about getting a better skimmer. No reason not to go with what you have now.


<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8113835#post8113835 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
I have already purchased this lighting, but would still like to know about possibly having to purchase another instead. What were the exact problems with these lights? Are they just really poor quality or is it something to do with the way they are wired up or something..

I’ve read somewhere here in the RC forums that there may be something regarding the wiring that can lead to problems. This thread will give your husband the information that needs to be considered:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=924028&highlight=odyssea+light


<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8113835#post8113835 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
Oh and one more thing; I think someone mentioned a 40 gallon refugium. I already have the 29 gallon with the wet/dry set up underneath it. So is my refugium useless(too small) too...looks like I messed up pretty bad all around huh.

When you sit back and consider that the wet/dry is perfectly usable as a sump for storage of things like pumps, heater, etc. as well as providing more water volume to add to your system's stability, so long as you don’t use the bio-calls, as I said above, and in addition to all that you have this 29-gallon tank perfectly and amply usable as a refugium for growing Chaeto, you really haven’t screwed up at all. Just be sure to chose the right bulb for that...when you're ready, you'll get that advice right here in RC.

You have to remember that there are many different configurations that will lead to a successful reef. I don’t think that there are any two that are identical. So, just because your refugium would be separate from the sump is no handicap at all. I'd like to have that luxury. In addition to all this, the denitrifier that you have would be a second line of assurance that any nitrate problem that you might have, even in the absence of the bio-balls, is already available. Man, you did pretty well.
 
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aquachik

New member
Your knowledge is so very appreciated right now, lol. Thank you. I have done some more thinking (this time along with my husband's .02), and have a few more questions for you, after all I'm sure you love being asked the same things over and over again!
Ok, so first things first, utilizing my wet/dry system in this manner with the rock instead of bio media, does it matter how the system is specifically built in order to do this with benefits? The bio area still will not completely fill with water right?so I just put enough rock to sit beneath the surface of the water level?
Second, there really is no question other than I guess I went really wrong with the skimmer situation huh? And if and when I had to replace the skimmer, (I don't foresee being able to make my money back on either, so both will be kept) which one (or both) would you reccomend I replace with it?
And finally, my husband decided that some of my choice fish did not suit his taste, so we have come up with a modified fish list that I would like you to take a look at.

*2-(mated pair) Amphiprion Ocellaris (Clownfish)
*1-Paracanthus Hepatus (Regal Tang)
*1-Zebrasoma Flavescens (Yellow Tang)Could I possibly have more?
*?-Pterapogon Kauderni (Bangaii Cardinal)How many is best?
*?-Gobiodon Histrio (Green Clown Goby)Again, how many is best? Also, do these Gobies need deep sand to burrow like the Jawfish? If so, how deep, and would it have to consist of crushed coral also such as for the Jawfish?
Would you reccomend that I EVER in the far far future would be able to keep a green Mandarin in my tank?
Also with the Cardinalfish, would I not be able to keep Any shrimp at all, or are there specific types that would be bothered?
One more thing, what would be the minimum size tank to house one Balistapus Undulatus (Undulate Triggerfish)with plenty of live rock? And would my canister filter, along with a HOB work for this setup? Also If I ever upgraded my protein skimmer I would have one for this tank, but would it be needed?
 

Avi

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
utilizing my wet/dry system in this manner with the rock instead of bio media, does it matter how the system is specifically built in order to do this with benefits? The bio area still will not completely fill with water right?so I just put enough rock to sit beneath the surface of the water level?

Well, I don't have much familiarity with that specific filter, but I believe it has "eggcrate" on which the bio-balls are designed to sit. I'd take that "eggcrate" out if it's removable and also remove the foam rubber in there, too. You can add the live rock "rubble," that should be submersed, but I actually don't believe that it is essential to bother with it, assuming that you're going to have a good amount of live rock in the tank. Whatever room you'd have in that wet/dry for "rubble," wouldn't permit enough to have a significant effect so I think it's just a matter of preference rather than effectiveness. On the other hand, it couldn't hurt, if you get my drift. Some of the pods that would collect in there would probably retreat to the rubble if you siphon off any detritus that collects on the bottom of the sump.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
Second, there really is no question other than I guess I went really wrong with the skimmer situation huh? And if and when I had to replace the skimmer, (I don't foresee being able to make my money back on either, so both will be kept) which one (or both) would you reccomend I replace with it?

I'm not sure I understand the question but I think you should try going ahead with both of the skimmers that you have now. Together, they may be sufficient, though since neither is one that are generally recognized as being a quality skimmer, only trying them out and testing the water would tell. If that doesn't answer your question, please try once more.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
take a look at.

*2-(mated pair) Amphiprion Ocellaris (Clownfish)
*1-Paracanthus Hepatus (Regal Tang)
*1-Zebrasoma Flavescens (Yellow Tang)Could I possibly have more?
*?-Pterapogon Kauderni (Bangaii Cardinal)How many is best?
*?-Gobiodon Histrio (Green Clown Goby)Again, how many is best?

I wouldn’t attempt to have more than the two tangs you’ve already mentioned. They grow very quickly and some turn out to be very aggressive.

My personal opinion is that the Bangaii Cardinals turn out to be very boring. They tend to stay in one place rather than swim around, and so I’d never get any more…though I did get some among my first fish. The number can be problematic depending on whether you wind up getting males and or females. If you get two and they turn out to be males one will kill the other, the same with three if two turn out to be males, so I think your odds would be best starting with at least four to have a probability of getting more than one female.


<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
do these Gobies need deep sand to burrow like the Jawfish?

No, not at all.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
crushed coral

I suggest that you don't use crushed coral. It has a tendency to collect detritus and serve as a place where nitrates and phophates are released into the water of the tank. I used to have that and changed over to a shallow layer of sand and it made a big difference for my reef.


<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
Would you reccomend that I EVER in the far far future would be able to keep a green Mandarin in my tank??

Sure. You’d have to wait at least a year…most likely even longer if you start out with such a small proportion of live rock to base rock. But eventually, the pods that come in with the live rock that you start with will multiply in your reef and in your refugium and then there’d be no reason not to get the Mandarin. I have a 120-gallon reef and I started out with 100% live rock…120-pounds and waited a little less than a year.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8117489#post8117489 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
One more thing, what would be the minimum size tank to house one Balistapus Undulatus (Undulate Triggerfish)with plenty of live rock? And would my canister filter, along with a HOB work for this setup? Also If I ever upgraded my protein skimmer I would have one for this tank, but would it be needed?

I wouldn’t try it with less than a 75-gallon tank myself. I do think you’ll be all right if you have a good deal of live rock, to use those two filters. I would watch the nitrates and so long as they don’t go above 20ppm, I doubt that you’d even have to get a skimmer for that at any time.
 

aquachik

New member
Ok, so I would do better just to sell the wet/dry and build a sump from 20L aquarium or smaller(it has to fit in the cabinet of the 29g stand) instead?
I was just asking If i do end up having to buy a better skimmer, and the wet/dry is kept, which cheap skimmer should be replaced with the expensive one?
That's what I figured with the tangs. That's quite ok.
Ok If I replace the cardinals with yellow tail damsels, how many should be kept?
And I understand about the 75 gallon, but just out of curiosity (I like ALL triggers) is there any one of these that I could keep in my empty 55?
 

Avi

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8121574#post8121574 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
Ok, so I would do better just to sell the wet/dry and build a sump from 20L aquarium or smaller(it has to fit in the cabinet of the 29g stand) instead?

What I was trying to say was that so long as you don't use the bio-balls that come with your wet/dry, it would essentially BE a sump so I don't think it's worth your while to bother changing it. And, that's especially if I understand you right that you would be at the same time using a seperate 29-gallon tank as a refugium. If I misunderstood, and you wouldn't have the seperate 29-gallon tank as a refugium AND the wet/dry without the bio-balls as a sump, then I would sell the wet/dry and get the biggest tank you could fit underneath the reef and set it up as a sump/refugium.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8121574#post8121574 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
I was just asking If i do end up having to buy a better skimmer, and the wet/dry is kept, which cheap skimmer should be replaced with the expensive one?

If you decide to buy a better skimmer than either of the one you now have, and you decided to keep the wet/dry and use that as a sump, I'd use the skimmer that you have on the wet/dry and replace the Seaclone with a better quality, more effective skimmer. Remember though, that you have to either plumb the skimmer that you would get in the (wet/dry)sump if you keep it, so make sure that there's enough room for the "footprint" of any skimmer that you might get. For example, my Aqua-C EV180 has a "footprint" of 9" X 5.75" so that would have to fit into the sump conveniently. Otherwise you could plumb the skimmer outside the stand which is what I did. Skimmers have different footprints so I'd look around at different recommended skimmers and see if any work for the setup that you plan. If none do fit into the wet/dry, and you don't want to plumb a skimmer "outside" then that may go into your determination as to whether or not get rid of the wet/dry and replace it with a roomier sump.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8121574#post8121574 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
Ok If I replace the cardinals with yellow tail damsels, how many should be kept?

I hate to be a shatterer of dreams but I'd recommend that you don't put any damsels at all in your tank. There are plenty of threads here in RC that talk about this and while some people have success keeping them, most people find that as small as they are they turn out to be devils and don't make good community inhabitants. I'd say that if you want to have a group of some kind of fish in your tank along with other fish, look into the different kinds of Anthias. They're colorful and don't pose the possibilities of problems that the damsels do.

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8121574#post8121574 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by aquachik
And I understand about the 75 gallon, but just out of curiosity (I like ALL triggers) is there any one of these that I could keep in my empty 55?

I think I mentioned the Huma Huma and the Bursa as the best choices because of size.
 
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