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Ok I have scraped together my "reef" fund for quite a while and I figure I have $5K to drop on my reef. I am looking for ideas for spending the money on equipment. I am planning on placing a 180 gallon tank in my basement under my stair case as a built into the wall unit. I will be making a custom stand and cutting the dry wall/installing the in-wall tank. I have 4 feet of space behind the wall to work with.

I am planning to start the tank out with LS mixed with dead sand and 200 pounds of cured LR. I plan to add alot of easy softies to get the tank to get it going after it cycles. Ultimately I would like to place frags of hard corals and maxima/derasa clams with a few fish.

With this amount of money what would you recommend as far as:
circulation/filtration
protein skimmer
lights
sump
chiller
calcium reactor
monitoring equipment( I already have a pc ready to use )
automation eqipment

BTW I'm not looking to have to spend all my $ =). So please feel free to let me know what you think is optimal but not excessive.

My last reef tank was 10 years ago so I am really behind in the technology department. Thanks in advance for the help :p
 

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We had a contest not too long ago that centered around exactly what you have planned. 5K and a 180 gal tank. I tried to find the contest link but was unable to find it. Is the link still active for the conests? If so can someone post it here for reference for Dr. King?

Oh, BTW..... WELCOME!!!!!!

Banana time.....
:banana: :banana: :banana: :banana: :blob: :blob: :banana:
 

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Welcome!!! I live out in Coatesville- so it is nice to have another reefer here in Chester County!!!!! I strongly recommend going to the Frazer Zoo (on rt 30 in Frazer) and talk to Mike- He is awsome, he helped me setup my first tank and I have had great success! He also has a 180 setup with all kinds of good stuff in it for you to check out. Once again, Welcome!


Mike
 

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WELCOME!!!:D :dance: :beer: :dance: Glad you found TRT! Well... I'm kinda new to reefing so I'll let some of the experts reccommend the devices. Oh and that link would be helpful. But just my .02 on lights. If you could i would get a fixture that you could put on a pully system so that you can lower it to the height you want, and pull it out of your way to get your hands wet! My favorite part! :D Anyways, in the hood ideally you would put 2 250 watt Metal Halides (150s will do but if you can get 250s, 400s are good for entirely hard corals, but still not "necessary") and actintics(96 watt :confused: ) which are nice because they have a different spectrum for the corals, come on before the other lights and go off later and i like the color they add. That is what I have. I'm getting ready to add 2 96 watt "daylight" bulbs to the tank. IMO the halides should be on about 5 or 6 hours. Having the daylights allows the "daylight" photoperiod to be 12 or 15 hours or so.
And as far as sumps, I would go with a Berlin sump instead of a wet/dry. You won't need a wet/dry once the live rock becomes "active". It will just become a nitrate factory. A berlin sump allows for a lot more room to place filtering media, protein skimmers, etc. You can always take the wet/dry media out, like i did, but if i had known i would done things differently. Just my thoughts, i'm sure the experts can point you in the right dirrection! ;) Nice to meet you Dr. King, and good luck!
 

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Reefdude5 said:
...in the hood ideally you would put 2 250 watt Metal Halides (150s will do but if you can get 250s...
1 bulb every 2 linear ft, so 3 would be more appropriate if you decide to use MH. Before you go gung ho, spend about $30 and buy John Tullock's book, "Natural Reef Aquariums" in which he describes much of what you're looking for. In his book, Tullock describes several biotopes and the creatures intended for each one, along with equipment criteria recommendations. Before you spend a lot of cash, you will need to decide what type of reef aquarium you want, and which specimens you will want to collect. At that point, you will be able to make rational decisions about your equipment selections. It may seem mundane (until you have to spend the cash), but even the lighting will depend on what type of biotope you want to emulate.

As far as the lighting goes, MH is prolly closest to natural sunlight in terms of the amount of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)/energy transmitted from the bulb through the water to your specimens, although visual appearance will have an effect on your decision as well. Depending on your biotope, less costly and more energy-efficient lighting may be more appropriate for your system.

Regardless of your decision, there is a large reservoir of experience here to help you make the decisions on equipment choices and apropriate short cuts (like easy DYI projects) that will make your money go the farthest.

HTH
 

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Defintly a good idea to plan the tanks biotope, the lighting and circulation for softies will be a lot different(usually cheaper) than a tank setup for SPS, for those you will want a lot of light, 400 wattx3 as Tom said will work well for virtually all the SPS and most clams. The clams can do well in a well lit slow current lagoonal tank, where as the SPS will like a lot of light and a lot of current.
To start with softies as you suggested I would go with a 660 Icecap ballast driving 4x110 VHO tubes minimum. 2 ballasts driving 2x 6foot would be better. You can add Metal Halide lighting later if you go for clams and SPS
For a sump I would try and find a 40 gal breeder tank or any suitable container that will hold the skimmer of choice, a heater and other odds and ends. For a return pump I would try to match the flowthru rate of the skimmer, it wont be as high as the rated capacity of the pump due to resistence. I would get a really nice Beckett type skimmer to begin with, rAather than trying to make do with a lesser one. Return pump with around 5-700 gph rating at head heigth should work OK, then set up a closed loop system, with enuff return outlets to give you the flow rate yyou want. You can go small for softs and then switch to bigger pump later on, just figure in and set it up for the high flowrate to begin with. This should get you up and running with fairly minimal cash outlay, but expandable to accomodate higher flow and light loving corals without having to scrap the old stuff and start over.
You can use Mag pumps for return,skimmer, and closed loop, fairly reasonable price, and in wall , noise wont be a big deal. You can always go to external pumps later, but if you think you might, then you may want to go the acrylic sump route, its easy to drill compared to glass. HTH, and Welcome :D
 
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