Reef tank without a sump system?

SquidHC

New member
Alright this is my first of probably un ending noob questions that Ill be posting here so humor my absolute lack of knoledge about salt water tanks =D

My wife and I have been discussing building a reef tank for our two children (one of which is our disabled 7 month old) to give them some educational entertainment. After reading alot about it on these forums over the last few days I realize I have my work cut out for me.

I figured Id start at the local pet store. The owner has always treated me well as I have kept a few nice freshwater tanks, as well as various reptiles over the years. I expressed to him that cost was an issue, knowing that reef tanks can be very expensive. He went about showing me a large variety of options from the super expensive to the fairly cheap. He also expressed that having a sump system was not a requirement for a sucessful saltwater tank as long as I didnt mind having a few things hanging off the back of my tank. He then proceded to direct me in picking out the basic equipment that I would need to get set up.

My first question is: Is a sump system required, greatly reccomended, or just something nice and cosmetic for people with more money to spend? If its a necessity to the long term sucess for the tank I can save up some more and work towards it, but if its just a cosmetic plus then I will probably not do it.


Here is a list of what he supplied me.

Tank: 75 gallon all glass tank

Lighting: 2x 65w TruActinic 03 Blue Compact Fluorescent and 2x 65w Daylight 10,000k Fluorescent

Filtration: "Rena" Canister filter rated for 75g tank at 300gph, "CoraLife" Super Skimmer rated for a 65 gallon tank. (I was concerned about the gallon rating of the skimmer but he assured me that it would be fine unless I had ALOT of fish), "Riot" Aqua pump/powerhead 1100 rated at around 340gph

Other: "Kordon" Coral Rubble 40lbs, "Kent Marine" Superbuffer-dKH, "Kent Marine" Synthetic Sea Salt, along with a water test kit and some sort of salt measuring device.

Do you feel that I have what I need to even consider putting water into the tank, or is there a ton more I need to do first?

His basic instructions were to put it all together, put filtered water into the tank, wait like 2 days and put some live rock in the tank, then about a week later we would discuss the introduction of a few fish. As I said earlier I had been sucessful with his advice about reptile care in the past so I kinda just took his word for it.

Oh one last thing, when I put water in the tank what is the best meathod for filtering it? Ive read anything from bottled water to using a "Brita" style just (seems like this would take forever). Any suggestions here would be great.
 

jafish26

New member
Number one thing is to take your time! I have done freshwater for number of years and going to salt you learn to do one thing at a time. One thing you will run into is live sand vs. bagged sand its all up to you but i run live sand. The whole sump thing i ran a ehiem filter for about a year had no problems then this past month i went to a sump. It just gives you more options like a skimmer and phos reactor all that junk you will soon learn about as you get more and more into the hobby. If you dont run a sump make sure you have some live rock as that will do alot of filtering for you. As i said im no expert at this i just started just wanted to let you know what i have learned so far. Hit me up when you get into corals maybe i could help you out with some frags
 

SquidHC

New member
Yeah I intend to do all live rock in the tank. From what I understand that seem the way to go. And I got a skimmer that you can put in a sump or on the back of the tank. I havent seen "live sand" available but the sand he sold me he said has bacteria added and that it will help filter stuff.
 

jafish26

New member
One thing i would highly sug. getting on your tank is a uv sterilizer once you get alot invested into the fish and everything they are very handy to have.
 

SquidHC

New member
Im just trying to make sure to have everything I need to get me up and running and get a few fish in the tank. I will purchase all the cool goodies over the next few months, and as I discover I need them.
 

jafish26

New member
just a thought when i was starting up i got a couple of fish and one of them i bought had ich didnt realize it and he infected the whole tank lost about 300 dollars in fish nuttin makes you sicker to your stomach
 

PatMayo

New member
I would do some more reading. First off, what type of tank do you intend to have? A reef tank, a mixed reef, or a fish only tank with live rock? If you are going to have a FOWLR you don't need the superbuffer. I wouldn't get it at all yet.

If you plan to have a FOWLR then the filter system if most likely just great. If you plan to have a reef system probably not so good. It will create nitrates which you do not want in a reef tank. You can do a reef tank or a FOWLR tank with a sump. You may have some additional issues with algae, but then again you may not if you feed lightly etc.

If I were you I would decide exactly what type of tank you wish to have and then do some more research.

I would read all the threads on this thread. It will give you one heck of an eduction. Then once you have read all this and you intend to have a reef tank, spend another month in the chemistry forum before you do anything to get an education on how to keep your water parameters straight.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1031074

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=239848

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=550860

Don't be in a hurry.

Regards,

Pat
 

Vitaly

New member
Welcome to the hobby and RC. I have been at it for about a year and love it.

First piece of advice is to see if there are local reef clubs in your area. There are a number of clubs that are on RC. There appears to be a gourp called the

<CENTER>
Pacific Northwest Marine Aquarium Society
http://pnwmas.org/
</CENTER>

Local reefers are a great source of unbiased opinions and cummulatively will be a greater resource than any LFS. I am not bashing LFS's...just saying that the local reefers will be more accessable and probably more knowledgable. Moreover, there are often local reefers selling and trading their equipment.

<B>1)</B> Regarding your first question, <I>"Is a sump system required, greatly reccomended, or just something nice and cosmetic."</I>

I am of the opinion that it is not required, that it is mostly utilized for the asthetics and convenience. I have had systems set-up both ways. I have seen spectacular tanks with and without sumps. If you have the space for a sump...than it is great. It lets you conceal most of your equipment (makes for a nicer display) and makes dosing a bit easer...as your additives will be well mixed/diluted before reaching your display.

A sump does not need to be expensive. You need a tank (can be old/scratched/foggy...as long as it holds water)...a way to drain water from the display into the pump...and finally a pump to return water from the sump into the display. If you do include a sump...just realize that you will need to do a bit more planning to prevent possible floods from occuring.

<B>2)</B> Regarding your equipment...I think you are in good shape, unless you decide to add a sump (then you need the items mentioned above).

You got a good sized tank, 260 watts of lighting, filter (do not use bioballs), skimmer, and a powerhead. That covers it for the big equipment. The only things that seem to be missing are a thermometer and a heater (unless it is warm where you live).

I assume the substrate is the Coral Rubble. "Kent Marine" Synthetic Sea Salt sounds like your dry salt that you will be using. The salt measuring device is probably a hydrometer. It will be your best friend.

I think you should plan where you want the tank in your house. I am sure you are aware the the key considerations, as you have freshwater tanks (low traffic, away from AC/heaters/vents, away from windows, etc). Then plan where you will place your equipment...and start filling.

A bit of advice on live rock. Many LFS's seem to have a huge mark-up on live rock. I strongly recommend you look online for local reef clubs or for online vendors. I bought about 100 lbs of live for for $3/lb from a person breaking down their tank.

I think the "week later" for fish introducation is a bit hasty. I tihnk you will need at least 2 weeks to complete your nitrogren cycle (assuming you get established, cured live rock).

<B>3)</B> Finally, regarding the water sources. Many LFS's will sell RO/DI water...usually for $0.49-0.69 per gallon. I would also encourage you to check your local supermarkets. Many of them have the self service water stations (like Culligan). These are usually RO and UV sterilized...sometimes DI...and will sometimes include TDS reading at the station. The local store here sells the water for $0.29 per gallon if you have your own container. Also, you can buy your own RO/DI unit and set it up in your home. Though you may want to wait before investing in that.

Hope that helps. This is a great hobby. It wil hopefully be fullfilling for you and nuture your childrens imaginations.
 
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SquidHC

New member
First off, what type of tank do you intend to have? A reef tank, a mixed reef, or a fish only tank with live rock? If you are going to have a FOWLR you don't need the superbuffer. I wouldn't get it at all yet.

Although Im not 100% sure the diference between a reef tank and a mixed reef tank, my goal is to have a tank containing some soft corals and other inverts, as well as fish.

If you plan to have a FOWLR then the filter system if most likely just great. If you plan to have a reef system probably not so good. It will create nitrates which you do not want in a reef tank. You can do a reef tank or a FOWLR tank with a sump. You may have some additional issues with algae, but then again you may not if you feed lightly etc.

Im not quite sure where you were going here?

Thanks for your time =D


Vitality, I have chosen what I feel will be a great location for my tank.
 

Shagsbeard

New member
You're going to get lot's of random advice, because you're just starting out. Read a lot of stuff. Don't go back to your LFS until you do.

My bit of random advice? Take the canister filter back. You don't need it, and it can actually cause more harm than good. Your skimmer, live rock, and circulation are all you need for proper filtration.

I disagree with some of what Vitaly said up there... You should get a refractometer rather than one of those swing arm hydrometers. Much easier to use and more accurate.

A sump has many more advantages than simply getting equipment out of the way. It keeps the level of water in your main tank constant. It provides a place to grow algae which helps with water quality. It stabalizes pH by allowing for nighttime lighting where it won't bother your fish or people in the room (pH drops at night... complicated...) It allows for better aeration without putting bubbles in your tank. All sorts of reasons to have a sump. You don't need one, but the benifits are definately there.
 

davocean

New member
I would check here b4 purchasing anything.
A canister is not the prefered source of filtration for reefs.
And Pc's are not either.
Coralife skimmers are good, but you should have got the 125 at least.
Substrate should be reef sand, not crushed coral rubble.
Canisters and CC rubble are known to cause higher nitrates, fish can deal w/ this, but corals don't like it.(that's why someone said OK for fowler, which is fish only w/ live rock, no corals)
You can "get by" w/ this equipment, but it's not what I would have started you out with.
I would say powerheads to move water, 1-2lbs of LR, and a good skimmer is a good start.
Good water source is also key to success, no britta, RO or preferably RO/DI
I 've run sumpless for years, but with a sump you have better choices on equipment, less clutter in tank, a place for a refugium.
Alot of LFS are behind the times or getting rid of stuff.
Check here for the best info, and read,read,read!
Good luck to you.
 

Wrench

New member
I would study at the library and online for a few months. Take your time setting up the tank. I jumped in rather quickly and would like to go back in time to re-do some things. Unfortunately they happen to be things that can't be redone once the tank is up and running.

IMO I wouldn't do a reef tank without a sump. They don't add much more cost to the system and they're well worth it. They hide all the equipment and increase the volume of the tank which is always a plus. Under a 70g tank I'm sure you've got room for at least a 20g sump setup. I would get an empty tank and use a kit from eBay to turn it into a sump/fuge. I noticed a huge difference in my reef system when I added a refugium. Water clarity and quality got 10x better. There's nothing worse to me than a heater and skimmer hanging off the back of a tank.

For your setup and intentions, I would go with the following;

3" aragonite sand bed. Not CC. It will be a nitrate farm
1.5-2# of good quality live rock per gallon of water.
A bigger skimmer. The coralife isn't the most efficient skimmer out there so a bigger unit would suit you better
More light. That amount of PC light wont sustain many corals.
Look into T5's.
Ditch the canister. Use plenty of flow and a skimmer to handle the filtration.
Get a few powerheads (Maxi Jets are good for the $$$) for flow in the tank.


Don't forget all the small stuff. You'll need test kits. pH, Alk, Ca, Mg, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate to start. Use quality kits like Salifert to assure accurate results. They're $15-20 a piece. Use good salt mix. Instant Ocean or Reef Crystals. A lot of reefers here like the Reef Crystals more than IO with a reef tank. You'll need supplements too. I use Reef Advantage and Reef Builder along with Iodine all by Seachem to maintain the levels in my reef tank. There are many others but I find that system works good for me and it's easier. I would get an RO/DI unit for water supply. For under $200 it's worth not having to worry about contaminants like phosphate and you can easily integrate an auto top-off system.

TAKE YOUR TIME! Patience is the best tool a reefer can have. Once you're setup, let the tank cylce completely. You'll end up with a nice balanced system in the long run. Use the time to arrange everything in your tank the way you want it. Once you add corals and fish it gets very difficult to do any aquascaping or make changes so make sure you like it ;) Plus it helps pass the time while the tank is cycling :)
 
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PatMayo

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9270557#post9270557 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by SquidHC
Although Im not 100% sure the diference between a reef tank and a mixed reef tank, my goal is to have a tank containing some soft corals and other inverts, as well as fish.

Sounds to me like you are going to have a mixed reef. Some soft corals, inverts and fish. A pure reef tank is just that, corals and maybe inverts and no fish. Fowlr is fish and live rock no corals.

On a mixed reef I would lose the cannister filter unless you wanted to use it for carbon only and run it periodically. As stated before it can be a nitrate source.

Refractometer is the way to go for a reef tank. Swing arms are much to inaccurate in most cases.

As stated previously about the sump, many advantages. Is it absolutly necessary, no, highly desirable yes.

If you are going to use good cured rock you may not have a cycle at all. I didn't on my tank but I waited 1 week anyway before adding anything. If you are going to cure the rock in the tank, it will probably be closer to 6 to 8 weeks.

Continue with your research and read the threads.

Good luck!!

Regards,

Pat

Im not quite sure where you were going here?

Thanks for your time =D


Vitality, I have chosen what I feel will be a great location for my tank.
 

jecarl2

New member
Don't buy the cannister filter. If you have enough live rock you wont need it. I have a 90 gal, no sump, no cannister, and a hang on skimmer, and every thing has been fine for about 9 months now.
 

PatMayo

New member
It's all about bio load. If you overload the natural filtration or artificial filtration, you will have problems, regarless of your set up.

Regards,

Pat
 

mister crabs

New member
check out pnwmas.org for extra local help....lots of great members that can answer questions in addition to the info you will find here
 

jpitch

Premium Member
Welcome to the world of the complicated, possibly expensive, sometimes frustrating, and definately addicting. I'll throw my 2 bits in. I started my reef tank a little over a year ago. Cost was somewhat of a factor in my decision making process so I understand where you're coming from. I'm going to jump around on several topics so bear with me. Once again, my personal opinion here:

1) Don't get the canister - unless you plan to keep it clean often, the potential for the filter to start producing excess nitrates is a factor that many in this hobby choose not deal with

2) Get the sump - there are so many reasons why it's EASIER that you should do it. I'm going to assume you're going to have your tank on a stand and have room underneath therefore you should have room for a sump. Increasing water volume, having equipment such as protein skimmer, auto-top off, heater, filter bags, refugium, return pump, and such makes life a lot easier. Not a necessity though. If you don't mind these items sticking off the side of your tank then that's your preferrence.

3) don't get the CSS65 - the CSS125 has a differrent needle wheel design (I believe) which is better. Additionally the CSS65 has been known to go whacky and flood out a tank.

4) Don't get crushed coral - over time the substrate will increase your ph. The vast majority just buys sand. You don't even need LIVE sand. Your live rock with populate your sand over time, thus saving you a LOT of money.

5) Determine what type of reef tank you want. Lighting is a huge factor, not only to the corals, but to your wallet as well. If you plan on keeping SPS(small polyp stony) corals then the lightiing you picked out won't be nearly enough. Your selection will accomodate button polyps, ricordias/mushrooms. Choose now what you want and save yourself money in the future.

6) Adding fish 2 weeks into a cycle will cause debate with people because you're cycling your tank. It can take up to nearly 2 months to complete your cycle! Exposing fish to this process might lead to long term detrimental effects, thus defeating the purpose of an educational and aesthetically appealing show piece for your family. Also, do a lot of research on what fish you want to keep. Angels are beautiful fish but if you plan on a reef you won't want one.

7) It's not mentioned in here but do you plan on a deep sand bed or just enough sand for show? Some fish require enough depth because they burrow.

That's all the time I have at the moment. I'm at work and my break's over. HTH!
 
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