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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!

This is my first post on this message board, although I have been hanging around here reading past posts and the various articles for several weeks now. First, a little about me, I've been successfully keeping freshwater fish for about 3 years and I'm interested in taking the plunge from freshwater to a marine reef tank. I'm planning on converting one of my established 29 gallon freshwater tanks into a marine nano-reef tank. I've been interested in doing this for quite some time but it all seems a bit confusing to digest at times and it's going to require me shelling out a pretty good little chunk of change. However, I've made up my mind that I'm going to go through with it soon. I do have a bunch of questions that I hope some of you can help me out with. I want to make sure I have this well planned and do it right from the beginning because I know there are a lot of things that can go wrong. I want to do as much right from the start as I possibly can. I'll just go through what equipment I have at the moment and what type of fish and other organisms I plan to keep in the tank so that some of you can offer your opinions and advice on what type of equipment I should get and if I have made good choices in the type of fish and other organisms I plan to keep.

The tank I plan to convert

29 gallon high that has been set up and running as a freshwater tank for just shy of 1 year. It has gravel substrate, a millennium 2000 HOB power filter, HOB heater, and the plastic hood and light strip that it came with and of course a matching stand.

Now, I would imagine that I will probably have to upgrade my lighting for coral. I'm not sure what I will need so any suggestions will be appreciated. I'm also going to get a glass hood to replace the plastic one so that I can cut down on evaporation as much as possible. I will also need to add a protein skimmer and I will likely add more filtration. I've read that a person can use a HOB power filter in a reef tank (or any saltwater tank) and I was wondering if this type of filtration is adequate. If it is I will add a second power filter when I convert the tank to run along side the one that's in it now to provide extra filtration. If it would be best for me to invest in some other type of filter that would be more suitable I'm open to suggestions. I think I will also need a powerhead of some type for water circulation and I will have to change my gravel over to some other type of suitable substrate. I'm kind of partial to that black sand looking stuff that I saw at my LFS, but I would appreciate some advice on this because I'm don't know if there is a particular type of substrate I should use or not. I like the black sand because of its aesthetic appeal. I'm also going to get a saltwater safe submersible heater to replace the old one. Some other items I think I will need include a hydrometer, a saltwater test kit (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, hardness, etc.), some type of salt mix, a suitable container for mixing my salt in when performing regular partial water changes and some live rock but I don’t know how much I will need. If I have left anything out please feel free to inform me.

The type of fish and other organisms I want to keep

Note: below is a list of the fish and other organisms that I like that could live happily in a 29 gallon tank that are reef compatible. I will pick certain fish from this list when it comes time to stock the tank.

Black & White Percula Clownfish
(Amphiprion percula var.)

Ocellaris Clownfish
(Amphiprion ocellaris)

Luther's Watchman Goby
(Cryptocentrus lutheri)

Firefish, Purple
(Nemateleotris decora)

Firefish, Helfrichi
(Nemateleotris helfrichi)

Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab
(Paguristes cadenati)

Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab
(Calcinus laevimanus)

Blood Red Fire Shrimp
(Lysmata debelius)

Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
(Lysmata amboinensis)

Any thoughts or advice will be very much appreciated!

Thanks,

Josh
 

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Pretty In Pink
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First - Welcome to the madness :rolleyes:

1. Have you treated with copper base treatments in the tank? If yes then I would suggest that you get another tank- newer and not had copper treatment.

If no, then you have a start of a nice reef tank.

2. You will need some LR (live rock) your choice, roughly 1lb per gal.

3. You can get some Carib Sea olitic sand, or some southdown (better chance if you are on the east coast) or go bottom less.

4. I would suggest drilling the tank for a closed loop - a SWCD would work great here. I can send you a pix if you want, I drilled our rose tank for this. This way you don't have a PH in there. And since you are drilling, you can make it RR.

5.No cover is need over the top - infact you want evaporation so you can top off with kalkwasser (limewater) to keep your calicum/dkh up. It will help with cooling of the tank - depending on the lights that you willl have over the tank.

6. If you have room, you can add a sump and a fuge, a HOB will work great for this size. The fuge with macro algae in there will help keep your nitrate's down. The macro will use it up.

7. All depends on what type of corals you will want to add later on, but for fish only (what you have listed) your present lights will work.
On the clown fish- it's not reconmended to have more than one type of species in a tank. If you want a pr, then make sure the "other " clown is a little bigger than the other and the same type.

8. More than likely you will want to add corals and then you will need T-5's. With enough T-5's you can have any type of coram you would ever want - including SPS's and clams (well one anyway) or you can go the way of MH , maybe a 175w 10k or even a 250w 10k -20k.

So this is just the beginning - you have come to the right place as this is a frendly boeard not like the big one, RC. I think you still have some more research to do. Checkout the photo forums and see and read what the other guy's are running with the same size tank you are planing on.

HTH and good luck :D
 

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My first reef was a 29, wish I still had it. If you get cured live rock you wont need the hang on filters. Nice skimmer and good circulation should do it. Agreed on mixing clown species, pick one or the other. If you try for a pair I wouldn't put any other fish in, but a clown, goby, firefish should be ok. That would be max for a 29, for safety figure that SW will support 1/4 the fish load as same volume of fresh water.
PS hope you have a line on helfrichi at wholesale, they are not cheap :(
 

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Welcome to TRT!!!!

:wavey:

there are a couple ways of going about this. the all out way, or the give it a try and make sure you really like it. the secound is much less expensive, yet can give you a well running system. the difference will be the amount of stuff in the tank.

the first way involves like wanareef was saying. drilling holes in the tank for returns and overflows and closed loop systems. this can get pretty expensive. all pumps will need to be in-line. having holes cut is expensive. most people end of doing this at some point when they get the hang of reefing.

the other way is using power heads in the tank (ugly but still effective). and using a HOB skimmer. in a tank of that size and a proper bio-load this could be real simple system to run. rely on your LR for most of the filtration. use a ramora or bak pak skimmer for skimming. add a couple moderately sized PH in there and you are good to go. i would say 2 PH with at least 300gph each.

lighting is a fun one.:rolleyes: i like MH's a 175 would be fine for that tank, but they can get expensive and can be problematic with heat issues. T-5's or VHO will get you most of the way their like wanareef has suggested.

as for heaters i suggest an Ebo-Jager. love em. if you are lucky you may be able to fit it into the exit part of the skimmer.

as for salt i like to use Instant Ocean.

stay away from additives.

let the tank sit running with LR only for a couple of months. it will make your life easier in the long run.

i am going with a Bare Bottom in my tank. i think this is where you will need to do the most research. look at the options and decide which substrate option is right for you.

hth,

G~
 

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If I were to do it over again, I would stay with a very thin layer of substrate on the bottom (crushed coral is easy to siphon clean, similar to gravel in a freshwater tank plus it helps buffer the ph of your water, but some people still prefer sand).

dont bother with the glass canopy, take my word for it. it might cut down on evaporation, but all those minerals and salt will be very hard to clean off the glass even if you clean it once weekly, and plus it cuts down on the amount of light reaching the inhabitants. I ended up ditching mine and so have many others. plus in a 29 you probably wont evap more than 1/2 to 1 gallon per day.

I use cpr bak pak hang on skimmers with success, bought both of mine used (one from ebay)

you could probably ditch your hang on filters if you keep your bioload low enough. I sometimes use it to catch larger particles, but also I wish I hadnt put so many fish in my tank cuz it gets really dirty really quickly. so pick your fish well and stick with one or two max. that way you will just need your rock and skimmer for filtration.

and perhaps most importantly. make sure you get yourself a 4 or 5 stage RO/DI (reverse osmisis deionization unit) to filter your water that you will use for top off and to mix your saltwater with. DONT USE TAP WATER. there are things in your tap water that will fuel horrible algae/cyanobacteria blooms and you dont need the headache (keeping too many fish does the same thing).

fish are cool but they get diseases and make your tank real dirty. focus on the reef aspect, unlike me in my first six months in the hobby!

and also dont do like me and skimp on the live rock. get as much as you need from the get go!

:D

PS I'll let you in on a little inside joke, dont put plastic plants in your tank, it drives doug nuts!


:D and welcome!!!!!

--erin
 

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Agree on the Ro/Di unit make SURE and get it, not having it has caused me So many headaches it's unbelievable!!!!!

If you go with sand like alot of us have....be willing to put time into this, b-c it will need TLC!!!

Welcome to TRT!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
WOW! Very positive and encouraging responses! You guys (and gals) have given me a lot to think about as well as a lot of insight. I appreciate and value everyone's input. I will post some more of my thoughts and questions tonight (I'm at work right now).

Thanks a bunch,

Josh
 

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Everyones suggestions have been great. I have a 30-gal that has been setup for about 8 months and I finally feel like I have some control over what happens with it. I commend you for taking the time in the setup stage, we all know how hard it is to be patient with our projects.

My homepage is dedicated to pics of livestock and descriptions of equipment. But remember, there is no one "right" way to set up these tanks, it all depends on what you want to keep (hopefully, mine will someday be a softy tank :rolleyes: ).

I strongly recommend a drilled tank. I cut this corner and most days I regret it. The RO/DI water is also very important.

Good luck, and keep asking lots of questions, it keeps the rest of us sharp,

AEB
 

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Welcome! ditto on the prev comments to your questions,,
check out the archives for info you might be interested in,use the search option etc. a lot of hashing on things have been gone around here on stuff.

Doug's not the only one with the feelings fer plastic plants,,, ;) :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
below is a list of the specific equipment I plan to get for the initial start up of my reef tank. If anyone sees any problems with the equipment I've selected feel free to educate me :)

Ebo Jäger TS Automatic Aquarium Heater (100 watt)

SeaClone Protein Skimmer

SeaTest Hydrometer

2 power sweep 229 power heads (270 gph each)

Fiji Premium Live Rock 27 lbs.

AF Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit

PowerCompact Moon Lite

Instant Ocean Salt

Bare Bones R.O. Unit

Tropic Isle Tahitian Moon Sand (20 lbs. I've decided to go with a thin layer of black sand for my substrate)

-Josh
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I also have one seemingly simple question that I get contradicting answers on. Are the nitrifying bacteria that set up in aquariums that break down ammonia and nitrite (bio filter) the same type of bacteria in both saltwater and freshwater. One person who a is very experienced freshwater and saltwater fish keeper told me that they are the same. However, a couple of other people have told me that they are not the same; they are two totally different types of bacteria. So, who's right?



Josh
 

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josh23 said:
below is a list of the specific equipment I plan to get for the initial start up of my reef tank. If anyone sees any problems with the equipment I've selected feel free to educate me :)

Ebo Jäger TS Automatic Aquarium Heater (100 watt) ... :)

SeaClone Protein Skimmer........... Dont waste your money, get a BakPak or better yet a Remora Pro

SeaTest Hydrometer .....OK but a TropicMarin hydrometer to calibrate it with is a good idea, by the time you buy both you might as well get a refractometer, check MyReef in sponsors list

2 power sweep 229 power heads (270 gph each).......... Again I wouldn't waste the $, notorius for stopping unless cleaned frequently. I would look at a Hagen 802 or the larger pushed thru a SQWD(squid)

Fiji Premium Live Rock 27 lbs...........:)

AF Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit..........I like the Fast test for basic ammonia, nitrite, nitrate Salifert for Calcium, Alkilinity, color chjange kit for pH are a joke:( think about a Pinpoint pH meter at some point

PowerCompact Moon Lite......Not familiar with this one, but if you do PC go 2x55 min 3x55w would be better

Instant Ocean Salt......all I used in 30 yrs

Bare Bones R.O. Unit......OK but think about getting the Tap Water Purifier DI to run behind it(cheap via MO)

Tropic Isle Tahitian Moon Sand (20 lbs. I've decided to go with a thin layer of black sand for my substrate)

-Josh
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Doug,
Thanks again for your input!

I'm going shopping tomorrow. I'm going to see if I can find all of these items at a LFS at a price that is comparable to what I get them online for. If I can't find them all at a LFS at a comparable price I will simply order all of the items from Dr. Foster & Smith. I've dealt with them several times in the past and feel that they have very competitive prices and top notch customer service. So, I would feel comfortable getting the items from them if I can't find all of them locally at a competitive price.

I will re-state the items a final time and I will take this list with me when I go shopping tomorrow :)

Ebo Jäger TS Automatic Aquarium Heater (100 watt)

The Bak-Pak 2 protein skimmer

Portable Refractometer

Hagen 802 powerhead

All-Glass Black Versa-Top (I don't like the thought of not having a hood on the tank so I've decided to go ahead and get a glass hood)

fasTesT Saltwater Kit
Multi-Kit
Alkalinity Kit

PowerCompact Moon Lite or 2 builbs 55 watts each at least or better 3 builbs 55 watts each

Instant Ocean Salt

Bare Bones R.O. Unit

Tap Water Filter

Tropic Isle Tahitian Moon Sand
(15 lbs. of black sand)

Some type of container for mixing my salt and water (rubbermaid trash can???)

**27 lbs. Select Fiji Premium Live Rock
**I will not get the live rock until I have set up my equipment, added my saltwater, and made sure the temp is stable.


Josh
 

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josh23

Most use the Salifert test kits, as I do and are easy to read and administer, and are reliable from batch to batch. (well except sometimes they make a boo-boo but that's human) Sometimes you can find a powerbuy on another forum - did I say that :confused:

the test kits that are the "basic" one's IMO:
Calicum
PH
Nitrate
Nitrite
dk/alk
Phosphate
Ammonia
:confused: :confused: I'm forgetting one here (brain something or another)

hth
 

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Rubbermaid Brute series are less apt to leach nasties as I recall.
You will want to clean it out real well before using it for water storage. I used a box of baking soda and water , clean rag and wiped the inside of it out, then let it fill to brim, sit over night then flushed it, dumped and rinse a few times.
This helps remove traces of mold release or any other stuff from the mfgr process, DO NOT WASH WITH SOAP
 

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ditto what Doug said on the R-Maid brute cans,,
do a search on them here , and you might find a store SKU ,so you can make sure you get the right one,,,the heavy grey one is what you are looking for,,,prob the most expensive one at the Home Depot, Lowes etc.,the roller base for these cost about as much as the can,,but if you need it, it's well worth it ,,,
 

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Josh, I agree with everything excwpt the skimmer, if your going to stay with that size of tank, get the Seaclone, but if you think you may upgrade down the road and you have the money then get the bakpak, I've got a 75gal, the smallest I've ever had was a 55gal, and the seaclone has alway's worked great for me and still does, what I messed up on was the Ro/Di unit, that's something you really want to invest in. As for the glass tops, I understand that you may feel uncomfortable without it, but it will keep alot of the heat in that tank with that compact, so you should go without the glass tops...

Question: Is the reason your wanting the glass tops? Do you not have a canopy for the top? If not the I can understand you wanting the glass tops!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
rogerthmyers, at the moment I don’t have a canopy for the tank. Although, I'm probably going to invest in one after I get all my essential equipment and live rock bought (just to do the conversion from freshwater to saltwater reef I'm figuring it at around 700.00-800.00 and I already have the tank and stand! lol). The main reason I feel uncomfortable not having a hood on the tank is because I'm afraid of debris and other things falling into the tank. The going hoodless idea is something I'll have to be acclimated very slowly to lol. Does that make sense? I'm leaning more towards going with the bakpak skimmer, but the seaclone is much much cheaper and a lot of people say they are good skimmers for a smaller tank. I'm not sure which one I will get, I haven’t made up my mind 100%. There seem to be mixed feelings about the seaclone. I don’t plan to upgrade to a larger tank for a long time (at least until I'm finished with college and have a bigger place with more room for tanks, probably 2-3 years at least) I'm going to the LFS in a bit, I'm excited! I do want to thank you all for all of your help and advice, I appreciate it very much.

Josh
 
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