Please double check my build and a few questions

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
Hi all,

I've been around here and other reef forums for a few months now. *I've been reading and planning my purchases to get a new reef tank up and running. *I have a nice 29 gallon freshwater tank that I've had going for a few years, so I'm not new to fishkeeping in general, but am 100% new to saltwater and corals (I realize these can be vastly different).

I plan on having a few fish, soft corals, and LPS. (Maybe SPS in the future, but not right away). *Anyway, on with the build:

What I have already:

55 gallon glass aquarium (tested to be tempered on bottom, not tempered on all sides)
Stand
48 in. AquaticLife T5 HO Light Fixture - 4 T5 HO lamps and 4 Lunar LEDs
Glass-Holes.com 700 GPH overflow kit + 3/4in return kit

What I plan to get:
Reef Octopus 6 protein skimmer
Mag-Drive 9.5 return pump
2x Koralia Evo 1050GPH powerheads
Eheim Jager 150 W heater
Reef Angel Controller (As a comp sci major, i'm a sucker for open source programming and automation opportunities. *Probably the least "necessary" on this list, but hey... gotta have a hobby ;) )
Building my own sump out of 1/4 in acrylic (identical to Melev's Model B to fit under a 55 gallon stand)
CaribSea Aragonite reef sand (only enough to cover bottom - maybe 1in deep max)
50 or so lbs of Fiji live rock
Mixing my own saltwater from RO/DI (LFS gives away RO/DI free) - using Red Sea Coral Pro Salt

For QT Tank:
10 gallon tank
50 W heater
Aqua Clear 20 HOB filter

Sorry if I missed anything - going from memory here.

Onto a few questions:
I've read that a basic HOB filter is good to use in a QT tank and to simply keep the sponge media in my main tank/sump normally to get a good bacteria colony in it, but what about for the first QT? *If I keep the sponge in the main sump from Day 1, how long until it is good to go for use in the QT? *My assumption is about 5 days after the cycle gets ammonia + nitrites down to 0 (to make sure there isn't another spike)

When initially starting the tank, I plan on having the lights, pumps, powerheads on in normal operation so that I can accurately see how my temperature is balancing. *Should the protein skimmer be on initially as well? *Will this hinder/slow/stop the initial cycle? If not right away, should it be turned on after the cycle completes or wait until the first fish completes its QT time and enters the main tank?

When aquascaping the live rock (which I understand is best placed directly on the bottom glass before sand goes in - that way sand sifting inverts don't destabilize it), what is a good way to secure the rocks to each other and to the glass bottom itself? *I've seen PVC used down the middle to support "extreme" formations, but I will aquascape something more "stable". *I'd still like some sort of putty/glue/etc that will work well for extra stability. *

I plan on keeping a log of water parameters as I go: (daily to monitor initial cycle, then maybe weekly ongoing? *Does this sound like an effective time scale?
Date
Temperature
Salinity
Phosphate
Carbonate Hardness
Calcium
Magnesium
pH
Ammonia
Nitrites
Nitrates

Wow... Long post, sorry about that. *Just wanted to put it all out there. *Any thoughts/input are appreciated. *Also - when it comes to the equipment - I tend to err on the side of "do it right the first time" rather than get something cheaper now only to want to replace it down the road. *That being said, I have no first hand experience with any of this, only third hand experience from reading forums

TIA
-Tim
 

AwesomeOceans

New member
Jesus Tim, you seem like you have a really excellent handle on what you're plan is.

I'll start with the stabilized aquascaping- I would advise against using putty or glue with your rock. If it is holey enough you should not have a problem fitting most pieces together like a puzzle of sorts. Lean it up against the walls of your tank in places and make caves and crevices naturally. It will look nice. My reasoning is because if you ever want to re-aquascape, clean your rocks, clean around your rocks, need to remove pieces, get at hiding fish, or change things around at all- it will be far more difficult than if you can just pick up a rock here or there.

Keep the skimmer on during the cycle. It shouldn't slow it down all that much. And during your cycle- toss some cheap fish like damsels in there. Feed them normally and let them do their fishy thing. They will poop and eat and some might die- if they die leave them in there for a couple days before taking them out. Then toss in your CUC and finally check your levels and put your nice fish in there.

A HOB filter will be just fine for a QT tank. Also- keep this tank bare bottomed and low maintenance. Use water from the main system to fill it up when you need to so as not to initiate a cycle.

Best of luck!
~Sam
 

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
Jesus Tim, you seem like you have a really excellent handle on what you're plan is.

Thanks Sam. Like I said, I've been around this and other forums simply reading for the better part of two months. I figure I'd rather try to find the answers myself (they gotta be out there somewhere, right?) rather than ask people to answer questions they might have answered 2 days ago for someone else.

I'll start with the stabilized aquascaping- I would advise against using putty or glue with your rock. If it is holey enough you should not have a problem fitting most pieces together like a puzzle of sorts. Lean it up against the walls of your tank in places and make caves and crevices naturally. It will look nice. My reasoning is because if you ever want to re-aquascape, clean your rocks, clean around your rocks, need to remove pieces, get at hiding fish, or change things around at all- it will be far more difficult than if you can just pick up a rock here or there.

You make a good point here about the "portability" in the future. I can easily see myself fiddling with the design down the road. This would make it easier.

Keep the skimmer on during the cycle. It shouldn't slow it down all that much. And during your cycle- toss some cheap fish like damsels in there. Feed them normally and let them do their fishy thing. They will poop and eat and some might die- if they die leave them in there for a couple days before taking them out. Then toss in your CUC and finally check your levels and put your nice fish in there.

I don't think I'll be throwing damsels in there - I don't like what I've heard about them being aggressive. Since I don't plan on keeping them in the future, I wouldn't want to bring them into the tank in the beginning. I'll try to look for fishless cycle methods for the initial cycle.

A HOB filter will be just fine for a QT tank. Also- keep this tank bare bottomed and low maintenance. Use water from the main system to fill it up when you need to so as not to initiate a cycle.

I'll keep it BB and low maintenance. To prevent a cycle in the QT, should I wait until the main cycle is done in the DT before I transfer water into the QT?

Sorry, mostly trying to get the timing/order of operations (so to speak) down while i'm waiting on what will be a small army of fed ex boxes lol.

Thanks again Sam!

-Tim
 

Entropy

Texas Reefer
Premium Member
You can cycle your tank with the live rock you plan to add. Assuming you are getting it from Fiji is some round about way it will come to you anywhere from mostly live to sorta live, but what organisms that die will provide you plenty of material to start and complete the cycle.
 

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
You can cycle your tank with the live rock you plan to add. Assuming you are getting it from Fiji is some round about way it will come to you anywhere from mostly live to sorta live, but what organisms that die will provide you plenty of material to start and complete the cycle.

Are there better live rock selections to pick? I have quite a few LFS around me, so hopefully they have multiple types. I don't want to order it online due to the sheer weight and cost of freight ($100+).

TIA

-Tim
 

Waddleboy

New member
Are there better live rock selections to pick? I have quite a few LFS around me, so hopefully they have multiple types. I don't want to order it online due to the sheer weight and cost of freight ($100+).

TIA

-Tim

There are pros and cons to live rock remember that. Live rock is good cause it helps start a cycle and such but it also can come with hitchhikers that can harm your tank. Im more of a dry rock kind of person and then seed it with 1 live rock, or borrow a rock from someones sump, or something. That being said i use some live rock on my first set up. I did 65lbs dry and 15 lbs live? Something like that so you can get a small amount of live rock and it might save you on shipping
 

ajcanale

New member
Wow, it's really nice to see someone who has done some in depth research and outlined their plans with such detail.

Anyways, a few question/comments....

48 in. AquaticLife T5 HO Light Fixture - 4 T5 HO lamps and 4 Lunar LEDs
Have you decided on what mix of bulbs(10k/superactinic/blue etc) you might use?

Mag-Drive 9.5 return pump
I think a 9.5 would be overkill, I have a 9.5 on my 90 and I have to cut it down to about 70% for my drain to handle it. A Mag-Drive 7 should be more than enough for a return line on a 55g.

2x Koralia Evo 1050GPH powerheads
Look into a Vortech MP40 or a couple MP10s if you have the funds. They are pricey, but IMO they are one of the best things going in the industry, and are something you will eventually want. I only mention this because of what you said at the end of your post.

Eheim Jager 150 W heater
Depending on your climate, you might want to go +1.

CaribSea Aragonite reef sand (only enough to cover bottom - maybe 1in deep max)
Any particular reason only 1 inch?

how long until it is good to go for use in the QT?
There are too many variables to give any sort of accurate estimate.


All in all, I'd say your planning stages are off to an excellent start. Also, solid choice of a skimmer and +1 to adding a Refractometer and Auto Top Off to the list.
 

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
Have you decided on what mix of bulbs(10k/superactinic/blue etc) you might use?

The lighting came with: 2x 54w 420/460 bulbs, 1x 54w 10,000k bulb, and 1x 54w 460/620 bulb. I can independently control the following groups on its built in timer:

420/460 actinic
10,000k white

420/460 actinic
460/620 blue/purple

4 Lunar LEDs

Probably going to keep these bulbs until I settle on a light cycle and specific tank inhabitants



I think a 9.5 would be overkill, I have a 9.5 on my 90 and I have to cut it down to about 70% for my drain to handle it. A Mag-Drive 7 should be more than enough for a return line on a 55g.


Look into a Vortech MP40 or a couple MP10s if you have the funds. They are pricey, but IMO they are one of the best things going in the industry, and are something you will eventually want. I only mention this because of what you said at the end of your post.

What circulation (gph) should I be looking for from my return line once it enters the tank? Ive been mapping out the plumbing and using the head loss calculator to target around 500 gph. (I remember reading that 5x to 10x is desirable)

My thought process was that I'd get a pump that can handle the 10x and then dial it back if needed (using a T split off the return line running direct back into the return area of the sump with a ball or gate valve on it. That way I cam dial it back without putting extra pressure on the pump itself)

Along the same lines, what gph flow should I be achieving with the power heads? I plan on running them with the reef angel to create random wave maker patterns.


Depending on your climate, you might want to go +1.

Might be worth it. What I really need to do is figure out the ambient temp in my apartment (no central air). Right now the closest I can approximate is somewhere between Satans hot tub and the inside of an over cooked hot pocket ;-)


Any particular reason only 1 inch?

Not sold on the DSB idea. Need to research more. Figured I'd start with enough to cover the bottom and give any eventual (possible) sand sifters something to work with. Still looking into this one. .


All in all, I'd say your planning stages are off to an excellent start. Also, solid choice of a skimmer and +1 to adding a Refractometer and Auto Top Off to the list.

Ahh yes, refractometer is on the list, just forgot to add it here. And the reef angel will handle ATO on two pumps and a float switch for each. One for the DT and one for the QT (when in use). So two separate ATOs just run off of one controller.
 

Waddleboy

New member
The flow of your tank will be based on what you put in. Fish only need light flow. Softies and Lps is 20-30x and sps is usually >50x
 

Michigan Mike

Freedom costs a buckofive
Sounds pretty good really. From experience I wouldn't use fine sand, try caribsea special grade reef sand, it's a little larger grain and doesn't blow around like fine sand. Even though live sand is usually a tiny bit larger than fine ' dead' sand.
 

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
The flow of your tank will be based on what you put in. Fish only need light flow. Softies and Lps is 20-30x and sps is usually >50x

The tank will have a primary focus on corals. Softies and LPS for the foreseeable future. SPS may be somewhere down the road, but not soon enough (1 - 2 years out) to warrant the >50x flow right now. Ideally if/when I choose to put a few SPS into the tank, I could add another powerhead or two to achieve the desired flow.

Do you think its worth the hike up in price to jump to the vortech? I can find the MP10W around $230/ea, but the evos I can find around $45/ea. If I run the EVOs with the Reef Angel, wouldn't I be achieving much of the same function of the vortech? (aside from the amazing fact of removing wires from the tank)

With the evos controlled by the reef angel replicating wavemaker patterns, is the variable speed on the vortech worth it?

Sounds pretty good really. From experience I wouldn't use fine sand, try caribsea special grade reef sand, it's a little larger grain and doesn't blow around like fine sand. Even though live sand is usually a tiny bit larger than fine ' dead' sand.

I've been bouncing back and forth between the CaribSea Aragonite reef sand, CaribSea special grade and the arag-alive special grade. Are there any good threads going right now on substrate choices?
 

medic155

New member
+1 on the Mag7 for return pump. I have a Mag12 for my return, but my sump is 8 feet down in the basement and running a carbon reactor. I used a Mag7 when the sump was directly under the stand
 

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
So after toying with the head loss calculator, I'm sold on the mag7. Should return 431gph.

I did more research on the vortech mp10. From what I can see, it looks like running a single mp10 is possible and will be sufficient for LPS growth in my 55 gallon. And only $150 more than the originally planned 2x evo.

My question is about placement of the mp10 in the tank. Does height matter? I realize much of the flow is decided by the aquascape of the LR in the system, but since I haven't planned that out yet, I'm looking for some "best practice" advice on the setup.

My initial thinking is to center it vertically and horizontally on the left side glass, having much of the flow split over LR in the center of the flow to provide front and back flow. Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

-Tim
 

ajcanale

New member
My question is about placement of the mp10 in the tank. Does height matter? I realize much of the flow is decided by the aquascape of the LR in the system, but since I haven't planned that out yet, I'm looking for some "best practice" advice on the setup.

My initial thinking is to center it vertically and horizontally on the left side glass, having much of the flow split over LR in the center of the flow to provide front and back flow. Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

http://ecotechmarine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/FULLMANUAL_Revision1.1.pdf
-Page 33

Also, I don't think one MP10 would be enough to properly circulate a 4 foot tank.
 

Waddleboy

New member
So after toying with the head loss calculator, I'm sold on the mag7. Should return 431gph.

I did more research on the vortech mp10. From what I can see, it looks like running a single mp10 is possible and will be sufficient for LPS growth in my 55 gallon. And only $150 more than the originally planned 2x evo.

My question is about placement of the mp10 in the tank. Does height matter? I realize much of the flow is decided by the aquascape of the LR in the system, but since I haven't planned that out yet, I'm looking for some "best practice" advice on the setup.

My initial thinking is to center it vertically and horizontally on the left side glass, having much of the flow split over LR in the center of the flow to provide front and back flow. Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

-Tim

Height can be adjusted. The higher the more surface agitation. Lower closer the sand. Its preference on where you want it

http://ecotechmarine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/FULLMANUAL_Revision1.1.pdf
-Page 33

Also, I don't think one MP10 would be enough to properly circulate a 4 foot tank.

It may work for what he wants. If he does the drain and MP10 on the same side and the return on opposite it will give him two types of flow in the tank. One from the MP10 and the other side the return. As long as no SPS go in there it should work. An MP40 would be a better option but an MP10 could work if done right. I also think two MP10's are better than 1 MP40 in a tank that size
 

tj1627

I Dated a Robot
It may work for what he wants. If he does the drain and MP10 on the same side and the return on opposite it will give him two types of flow in the tank. One from the MP10 and the other side the return. As long as no SPS go in there it should work. An MP40 would be a better option but an MP10 could work if done right. I also think two MP10's are better than 1 MP40 in a tank that size

That is similar to what I'm thinking. I know I eventually want two powerheads in the tank, but looking at finances, an extra $250 puts me over budget (unless i dip into the slush fund that I have set aside for initial inhabitants, possible medicine, food, etc.)

I think instead what I'll do is start with 1 mp10 and in a few months go for a second mp10. No SPS in the foreseeable future, so should be good to go there.

So you're saying I should have (for instance) the mp10 positioned on the left glass, the return line on the rear glass left side (angled towards the right to push along with the mp10?), and the overflow on the rear glass right side (to pull water away and further aid the mp10?).

The more I think about it, the more I'm realizing that by the time the tank cycles and the QT time is done, it will be about time to be able to buy the second mp10. But, I don't like to count on "possible" future things, so I want to make sure this setup with a single mp10 will suffice. At least in the short term.

TIA
-Tim
 

Waddleboy

New member
That is similar to what I'm thinking. I know I eventually want two powerheads in the tank, but looking at finances, an extra $250 puts me over budget (unless i dip into the slush fund that I have set aside for initial inhabitants, possible medicine, food, etc.)

I think instead what I'll do is start with 1 mp10 and in a few months go for a second mp10. No SPS in the foreseeable future, so should be good to go there.

So you're saying I should have (for instance) the mp10 positioned on the left glass, the return line on the rear glass left side (angled towards the right to push along with the mp10?), and the overflow on the rear glass right side (to pull water away and further aid the mp10?).

The more I think about it, the more I'm realizing that by the time the tank cycles and the QT time is done, it will be about time to be able to buy the second mp10. But, I don't like to count on "possible" future things, so I want to make sure this setup with a single mp10 will suffice. At least in the short term.

TIA
-Tim

yes that could work. I would rather put the mp10 on the left. Drain on the right. And return on the right. The mp10 will push more water and water colliding will make more random flow rather than unidirectional. I like randomized flow better but this is just my opinion. The way you described will work too.
 
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