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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. Just joined today after lurking and reading for the last couple days.

I have a few questions, and I'm sure you are tired of the same newbie questions all the time, but if you'll bear with me...

I've traditionally had freshwater tanks, mostly Oscars or ciclids. Since I moved from Arizona, I haven't set up my 29g with anything (this has been two years) and I'm finding myself wanting to get back into the aquarium hobby.

I'm really interested in doing a reef aquarium, because honestly, while just keeping fish is fun, I've always been fascinated by reef aquariums. I did buy "Saltwater Aquariums for dummies" last week, and read it over the weekend. Good help, but left me with lots of questions.

Obviously I don't have any equipment (well, I have everything I need to set up a 29g freshwater system, except for the stand, which I sold). I went to the LFS (see, I have been reading the boards some!) and my wife became interested in a 55g "kit" which has a tank (duh), hood, lights, salt, coral or sand for the bottom, heater, test kit, and a filter (not sure exactly what kind, but it was a two-box setup. One side had some fiber-stuff in it, the other side was more traditional looking, like what I'm used to with freshwater). The price on this setup was about $500.

Okay, now to get to my question (finally, right?) What do I REALLY need to set up a reef system, and what is just "nice to have?" I know a lot of you on here have very elaborate (and expensive) setups, but I'd like to minimize my initial investment while still getting everything I need to "do it right."

As far as what I want in the tank, I would like to have some live rock with all the assorted critters that live on it, some kind of shrimp/crabs, some snails, and maybe some coral, along with some peaceful fish like gobies, blennies, and clowns.

If you answer, thanks in advance. If you could also tell me not only what equiment to get, but actually give me the brand names that you prefer, I'd really appreciate that as well.

Thanks a ton, and I look forward to enjoying my reef tank with all of you!

Travis
 

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What you're really after for a startup is a fish only tank (ie no corals) You are going to need a good protein skimmer and plenty of water flow through your aquarium ( must setups don't come with adequate pumps. What I can not express most is read read and read some more before you start your tank. You will benefit from the mistakes of others. Check out www.reefcentral.com a good site with lots of info. There are may more sites out there and check out as many as you can. Back to your ? You are also going to want to check out the spectrum of your bulb ( even though people don't think this is necessary for fish only tanks) I feel we should try to replicate the natural environment as close possible. Starting with some live rock is a good idea to provide natural filtration. For specifics on what kind of adatives on others minor things that you are goin to need to know I would just look at the library or even better in most circumstance check the web.
 

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hey Lady00 your on a great board why refer to another.????


this is the better site with far more freindly people on it.. :D

while in FW your setups were probably good I dont know exactly what you have but most of that equipment will cause problems in SW. your main filtration in SW is the rock and sand usually 1 to 1 1/2 pds per gallon of water and 4-6 inches of sand in the tank.
SW is very expensive to start up and keep going so if you are worried about money then you might want to do a lot of research on products and ways of keeping a reef. there are many ways of doing it but it is something that is going to take a lot of time reading and researching before you get into it.
but general equipment for a reef.....
Skimmer
Live rock
Live sand
Lighting ( which can get real expensive 200+ for lower end lighting)
lots of books on reef keeping and compatibility]
salt ( of course)
test kits for
PH
ammonia
nitrate
nitrite
calcium
alk
phosphates
and others just cant remeber off the top of my head
and a lot of time for a cycle to start before addng anything.

there are other things but cant remember LOL
but this gives you a little bit of an idea of what is going to be need just to add water to the tank to start it off.

others will add to it so
HTH a little
Mike
 

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a 29 can be a good mini reef but you have to watch the water quality closely it can get out of whach quickly

BTW this isnt to get you not to consider it just an idea that there is a lot to a reef and it doesnt need to be taken lightly but can be done easly when you get what you need.
Mike
 

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Hey Travis , WELCOME, we can take care of you and you wont even have to go to "Other boards" hehehehe. Actually a lot of us are members of many, and I am a former RC mod, and there are a few active that hang out with us:)
Anyway to the question, yes your 29 is OK, IF IT HAS NEVER HAD COPPER MEDICINE USED IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If it has no inverts, fish only :(
IF not you can set up a 29 reef fairly cheap, SW. live rock, PC light retro kits and some test kits along with a nice skimmer like an AquaC remora.
Add an overflow box, a 20 long underneath as sump and a Mag 5 as return pump and its even better :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, so I've figured a few things out. I guess a FOWLR is really what I want. The only thing I haven't seen much information on is this overflow/sump/refugium that most of you seem to have. It also isn't something the guy at the LFS mentioned, nor was it in my (admittedly basic) "Dummies" book. So maybe a little info on that would be nice.

Thanks again for all the information.
 

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an overlfow is simply a means to get the water into the sump or refugium. its drain hole i nteh back of the tank, or a box with a siphon tube and another box oputside, with said drain hole.

a sump, is simply another caontainer you hide in the stand, that increases your water amount, giving more room for error, and helpign to stabilize water parameters (more is easier)

a refugium is a place to grow small critters for food, or to macroalgae's (plants) that will suck nutrients out of the water.

if you look, the very top thread this week is all about refugiums :)

use the search function too, and you'll find lots of info about fuge's and sumps, and overflows.

welcome to trt ! :)
 

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Welcome to the TRT!!!

a 29 is a good shape for a tank. i think it is a better shape than the standard 55. the most important thing here is whether or not copper is in the tank. you might want to test for it if you have ever treated the tank for diseases.

how much of an improviser are you? a sump can be a nice acrylic box or a rubbermaid container. this can be located underneath in your stand. this is where you will place the heater and return pump. i could also hold the skimmer depending on which model you get. to get the water to the sump an overflow is needed. these can be had for around $50. this one is rated to about a 75g tank so you have room to grow.;)

skimmers that people with small tanks seem to like are the the remora and the the bakpak 2R.

the mag 5 pump will make a great versatile pump for the tank.

the lighting is variable. do you want to build a canopy or are you interested in a plug and play version? this will prolly be the biggest expense in the initial setup (not including the LR:funny: ).

HTH,

G~
 

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First of all, don't buy the 55G kit at the store. It's way too expensive and most of the equipments are useless (filter, hood, etc). With $500, you can afford a NICE reef ready system if you keep looking in an add.
If you like the overflow/sump/refugium (the purpose of this is you can add more water volumn in your system. Plus, you can hide equipments like filter, heater, etc), I really recommend you have your tank grill. Go to your LFS (local fish store), have them grill for less than $30. Believe me, it's much much better and worry free later on.
If you keep fish only, you don't need to have a skimmer. Just have good mechanical/bio. filter is surfice.
This is what I had when I first started my fish only tank (46G 2 years ago). I have lion fish, lawnmower blenny, 2 clowns and 2 chromis damsel. They live happily forever. All you need is:
1. Decoration: If you like Live rocks, go ahead but it's extremely expensive. Go to ebay and search for 60LB BASEROCKS. It's only for $40. Then buy around 10-20 lbs of live rocks to seed your baserock. This is the most cheapest way for Liverock config. Price: $40 + $50 = $90 (Shipping fee is not calculated)
2. Heater (of course) existing? Free
3. Lighting: If you plan to keep fish only, your existing light is good enough. Existing? Free
4. Filter: You can buy anytype of filter on the store what have high volumn for mechanical and bio. filtration. I recommend you like a fluval. On ebay for $50.
5. Sand: Looks like you able to buy Southdown sand from Homedepot, get it if you can. Or can buy buy sand from LFS (don't buy too fine sand, it will be blown away around your tank with your filter or powerhead). 30 to 40lbs is good. Price $40.
6. Salt. Price $20.
7. Testing kit, Misc. $100.
If you have $300 to spare, you can start a fish only with live rock on your existing tank. Don't forget to save money to buy fish.
This is just my opinion only...
 

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I support the replies above.
A FOWLR is a nice way to start. Not too expensive as an actual reef. It'll give you enough experience, and will allow the reefing bug to take over and you can eventualy upgrade your system to become a complete reef, or even better, save a few bucks to start a reef from scratch. Go for it man! You have a great group of people to back you up and give you plenty on help, so keep the questions coming :beer:
Welcome to TRT!
 

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When you get a Heater, dont just buy a normal heater, i was always afraid of them breaking, so buy a Titanium heater, you can get one easily from Pet Solutions the magazine. They or much more expensive, but no worries in the long run. If you get live rock or from Jeffs Exotic Fish he is very cheap and very reasonable. He's not too expensive compared to a lfs, or Liveaquaria.com. An awesome water pump is the RIO HyperFlow water pump, you dont have to worry about any fish, vert, corals, or anenomies getting killed because there is an opening at the bottom, very worth it, but quiet more expensive. Yes you can get base rock, but order it from Hawiian rocks cheap, but not bad rock. But thats what i use, so obviously you use a different system, but thats my opinion, but good luck in your tank. Have fun, but expect hard days in keeping it.

Brandon
 

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binylee said:
I really recommend you have your tank grill. Go to your LFS (local fish store), have them grill for less than $30.
What kind of sauce do they usually grill it with? Should I ask for a nice hollandaise or a garlic sauce? ;)
I knew you meant to say 'drill', but I couldn't help but poke a little fun... :D
 

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fyi on tank drilling. also check local glass shops. i'm getting my tank drilled at a glass shop instead of the lfs. only 8 bucks per hole
 

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Reefer Addict said:
binylee said:

What kind of sauce do they usually grill it with? Should I ask for a nice hollandaise or a garlic sauce? ;)
I knew you meant to say 'drill', but I couldn't help but poke a little fun... :D
Hi... hi... hi... I was having chicken BBQ. I guess it was too yummy....
 

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My first salt tank was a converted 29. It was really basic, but let me have some damsels. I loved it. I have learned a lot in the last few years since then, mostly from great people like around here. I currently have a 29 and a 20. The 29 has stabilized quite nicely, although I have put a lot more effort into it than I did my old one. Somehow, everything made it through that first time, and now I am hooked. Have fun, and keep reading :)
 

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First you will find I disagree with a lot of people. I guess that comes from having tried sooo many different things to see if they worked or not.

Your 29 can be set up cheaply and nicely, depending on what you want to keep and how nice the setup has to look to you and your wife.

You do not need a skimmer, even for a reef. More and more people are tossing them and their tanks run as good as ever in most cases.

You do not need a sump. I no longer set up any tanks with them. My personal opinion is way to high of cost and too many possible problems for the few benefits.

I use a simple Emperor hang on the back filter, preferable the 400. It runs $45.99 at Drs Foster & smith (1800-443-1160).Or at www.DrsFosterSmith.com . Remove the bio-Wheels.

You can run a BiteLite or a SmartLight by CustomSeaLife over the tank and even keep Some low light corals like Mushrooms. Will need Glass or plexiglass between tank and light.

For Sand go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy play sand. Find some people who will give you some of their sand.

Get a 9 for $99 from www.IPSF.com . Get the live sand activator and the live critters from the choices. When ready to order e_mail me and I will look at what they currenmtly have and be happy to make recommendations.

LR you can start with a few pieces from and LFS or buy some on line. You can add more as you have the money.

I use EBO-jagger heaters. Have been for years. Cheap but very good. Under $20.00 at Drs Foster & Smith.

That is about all you need to get started.

Ray
 

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Well, where to begin...
You do not need a skimmer, even for a reef. More and more people are tossing them and their tanks run as good as ever in most cases.
Well, from what I've seen, it's mostly people that are running refugiums or have some sort of 'other' nitrate removal (such as clams or xenia) that are ditching them... I don't think it's wise to say that you do not need a skimmer, especially on a maturing tank.

You do not need a sump. I no longer set up any tanks with them. My personal opinion is way to high of cost and too many possible problems for the few benefits.
Well, I somewhat agree with you, but not for the reasons you specify. A sump is not something that is a 'must have', especially if you like having ugly equipment hanging all over the back of your tank. The cost is also minimal. I constructed my sump with a 10-gallon Walmart tank (cost $9.89), a MagDrive 5 ($39 at PetSolutions), some plumbing parts from Home Depot (about $20), and a couple pieces of plexiglas from the local glass shop (about $10). I also built my own overflow box for about $15 in parts. I don't think $100 is too much to spend for something that makes the tank look 100% better and adds to overall tank stability by increasing the volume of water.

I use a simple Emperor hang on the back filter, preferable the 400. It runs $45.99 at Drs Foster & smith (1800-443-1160).Or at www.DrsFosterSmith.com . Remove the bio-Wheels.
I wouldn't recommend this for reef filtration except to run carbon occassionally... maybe it would work okay for a FOWLR tank.
You can run a BiteLite or a SmartLight by CustomSeaLife over the tank and even keep Some low light corals like Mushrooms. Will need Glass or plexiglass between tank and light.
Again, I would only recommend doing this if you're only doing a 'fish only' tank, since lighting is probably the single most important part of your reef tank... after all, about 75% of reef species are fully or partially photosynthetic.

For Sand go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy play sand. Find some people who will give you some of their sand.
This is great if you want a lot of fuel for diatom blooms... diatoms use silica like crazy for building their skeletons. Aragonite-based sand (such as southdown) breaks down over time releasing calcium into the water which helps in coral growth... play sand won't do that. Also, sand from other reefers tanks will look totally out of place if you use a silica-based sandbed, since 95% of reefers out there use the aragonite-based sand I mentioned before.

Get a 9 for $99 from www.IPSF.com
This is good advice, but I think that some GARF grunge from garf.org would be a better value (if you can figure out how to navigate their website and find the place to order it).

LR you can start with a few pieces from and LFS or buy some on line. You can add more as you have the money.
The only problem with this is that every time you add rock you put the tank back into a cycle again... you won't be able to add any live creatures until the cycling process is over... it's better in my opinion to add it all in one shot. You can get semi-cured live rock off ebay for cheap, and shipping is usually included. I went this route when I put my tank together and spent about $300 for 70 Lbs of live rock (a mix of Fiji and Tonga).

Sorry to disagree with you so adamantly RayPollett, but it's tough enough getting started on a reef without people giving wildly conflicting advice on how to go about it. I don't think the word 'cheap' and 'reef' should be mentioned in the same sentence... ;)
Usually, if you go cheap, you'll be sorry... there's just no way around it.
 

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"Well, where to begin..."

With my first sentence.

"quote:
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You do not need a skimmer, even for a reef. More and more people are tossing them and their tanks run as good as ever in most cases.
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Well, from what I've seen, it's mostly people that are running refugiums or have some sort of 'other' nitrate removal (such as clams or xenia) that are ditching them... I don't think it's wise to say that you do not need a skimmer, especially on a maturing tank."

Not so, it is people with all types of reef set ups. I have a number running over a year with no skimmer, no sump and no refugium. Others are doing it too.

"quote:
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You do not need a sump. I no longer set up any tanks with them. My personal opinion is way to high of cost and too many possible problems for the few benefits.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, I somewhat agree with you, but not for the reasons you specify. A sump is not something that is a 'must have', especially if you like having ugly equipment hanging all over the back of your tank. The cost is also minimal. I constructed my sump with a 10-gallon Walmart tank (cost $9.89), a MagDrive 5 ($39 at PetSolutions), some plumbing parts from Home Depot (about $20), and a couple pieces of plexiglas from the local glass shop (about $10). I also built my own overflow box for about $15 in parts. I don't think $100 is too much to spend for something that makes the tank look 100% better and adds to overall tank stability by increasing the volume of water."

I think it's a great amount for someone on a buget. Heaters are hid by rock and the water uptake for an Emperor 400 takes less room than most of the overflows used with sumps. It is also easy to hid behind rock.

"quote:
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I use a simple Emperor hang on the back filter, preferable the 400. It runs $45.99 at Drs Foster & smith (1800-443-1160).Or at www.DrsFosterSmith.com . Remove the bio-Wheels.
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I wouldn't recommend this for reef filtration except to run carbon occassionally... maybe it would work okay for a FOWLR tank."

You won't, I highly do. It is cheap and works great. Good water turn over, ( about 15X for a 29 gallon) Good aireation. And room for Floss, Carbon and other media when needed.

"quote:
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You can run a BiteLite or a SmartLight by CustomSeaLife over the tank and even keep Some low light corals like Mushrooms. Will need Glass or plexiglass between tank and light.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Again, I would only recommend doing this if you're only doing a 'fish only' tank, since lighting is probably the single most important part of your reef tank... after all, about 75% of reef species are fully or partially photosynthetic."

Well lets see, what can be keep under a BriteLite on a 29. A 29 is usually 30" if I remember correctly. That means 1 65WPC over 29 gallons. I run britelites with 2 65WPCs over 55 -60 gallon tanks. They are bright enough for Mushrooms, Anemones (BTA &LTA) yellow polyps, green & brown Polyps, Sponges, Leathers, Pink Zooanthids from Tonga.

"quote:
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For Sand go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy play sand. Find some people who will give you some of their sand.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is great if you want a lot of fuel for diatom blooms... diatoms use silica like crazy for building their skeletons. Aragonite-based sand (such as southdown) breaks down over time releasing calcium into the water which helps in coral growth... play sand won't do that. Also, sand from other reefers tanks will look totally out of place if you use a silica-based sandbed, since 95% of reefers out there use the aragonite-based sand I mentioned before."

That answer is idiotic. And combined with the other answers you have given, you have shown your complete lack of knowledge of reef tanks. We have hundreds of hobbyist who use Silica sand in reefs. We have hundreds of hobbyist who use the Play sand I've said to buy. The composition of the play sand is fine. So is the size.

"quote:
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Get a 9 for $99 from www.IPSF.com
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This is good advice, but I think that some GARF grunge from garf.org would be a better value (if you can figure out how to navigate their website and find the place to order it)."

Having used both I stay with IPSF

"quote:
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LR you can start with a few pieces from and LFS or buy some on line. You can add more as you have the money.
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The only problem with this is that every time you add rock you put the tank back into a cycle again... you won't be able to add any live creatures until the cycling process is over... it's better in my opinion to add it all in one shot. You can get semi-cured live rock off ebay for cheap, and shipping is usually included. I went this route when I put my tank together and spent about $300 for 70 Lbs of live rock (a mix of Fiji and Tonga)."

You really don't know what you are talking about do you. You are not going to throw a tank into a cycle that"you will not be able to add any live creatures until the cycle process is over". What a joke! If a tank is set up correctly you are not going to hardly even detect the cycle when you add LR a piece or two at a time. People add pieces of LR to reef tanks at the same time as animals all the time and hardly see even a same cycle.

"Sorry to disagree with you so adamantly RayPollett, but it's tough enough getting started on a reef without people giving wildly conflicting advice on how to go about it."

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with me. I do have problems with people who pass on the same old Bull as fact. I dislike people who talk about things when they have never done them, or even tried them; and say it can not be done that way.

" I don't think the word 'cheap' and 'reef' should be mentioned in the same sentence...
Usually, if you go cheap, you'll be sorry... there's just no way around it."

If you do not know what you are doing that is coprrect. If you are talking about cheaply made equipment, you are correct. I would never knowingly use cheaply made equipment. If you are talking price - Most expensive is not always the best way.

Reefer Addict, you really do not know what you are talking about. You have probably set up only a couple of tanks, all pretty much the same way. Anything else you've decided can not work. Well I've seen thousands of tanks set up hundreds of ways. Some worked and some did not. I had my failures while playing with different set ups over the years. I've used probably 15 or 20 different substratas in tanks and talked to hundreds of tank people, you'd be surprised at what works, both on the SW and the FW side. Some of the best reef tanks I've seen over the last 40+ years, according to your post could not work.

Ray
 
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