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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I am new to the forums as well as reef keeping and thought I would seek some expert advise before buying my tank.
I have experience with salt tanks, but have never had a reef.
I travel often I am rarely gone for more than a week.

I want to create a low maintnace tank that is stable. I would like to do maintnace monthly or at most every 2 weeks. I would rather spend a lot up front to get a good, reliable setup than have to spend countless hours messing with the chemistry. I dont want to have to keep dumping in tons of money and/or time each month. And of course I would like it to be nice looking.

Since I am sometimes gone for a week at a time, is there a good enough system for auto feeding on a reef tank?

Is all this possible or am I just dreaming?

I am considering between a 70 -100 gal tank what should I expect to pay each month to maintain it? food electricity water changes etc?
 

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This kind of reminds me of a project I tried to start. The Idea was to make a sable ecosystem in which each member would take care of the other. In that way i could see how an aquarium would be low mantainence. I got the Idea from a show that used to be on called beyond 2000 where a glass sphere would encase a minnow with some algae and a clean up crew. It was, i was told, completely independant. My idea was to use this same principal toward reefkeeping. Did not go very far. I would be very interested in how people approach this topic thank you for jogging my memory.
 

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good questions,,, ok. back at ya. what kind of lighting, auto topoff for evaporation, ok, auto feeders, ok, sump?? Corals? type? Recirculating skimmer, pumps, heat, have ac at home? test kits
http://www.hobbyoutletsales.com/salifert.html
Yes it can be done, Go slow and ask questions. We will all help you avoide the mistakes we have made, at one time or another :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I figure that I would have to make consessions on what I could put into a low maintnace tank. Obviously some things require more TLC. And just could not survive in a low maintnace tank.

So I guess what I should put in the tank is also a question I should be asking here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So far I dont have a thing. auto top off, Ro, controlers and like gadgets are all things that I am willing to consider if it means I can rest easy when I am away. I live in a cool area so I dont think cooling the tank will be a problem.
 

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I'm also new to the reef keeping hobby. Welcome to trt btw! I wish I would have done like you are doing. Coming here first is the best thing you have ever done. Not only to save money in the long run but to gain experience from people who really know. I hope the folks here can help you with the set up you are looking for.
 

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There are things you could do to have a reef as low maintenance as possible, as someone already mention you can get a Auto topoff system, calcium reactor.
What makes me nervous about the whole thing is that you won't be around to check on it. Even systems that have this gadgets still need to be monitored by a human; there are so many stories about pumps malfunctioning, water level sensors getting stuck and a lot more for me to feel comfortable with a tank that size running by itself.
But I have to say a 24gal Nano cube, which is all plumbed internally and there are no needs for outside plumbing parts may be a better choice. The evaporation rate will not be so great and should anything fail the water is all still in the tank so I will not flood anything. Probably won't need a Ca reactor since the water changes will for the most part replenish all the Ca your coral may need.
I keep thinking that the more gadgets you have the likelihood of experiencing failure of any components goes up. The nano cube eliminates a lot of these failures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hmmm? I was thinking that I should automate as much as possible.

But your thought that with more automation comes more opportunity for failure points is certainly a good one.
 

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Welcome to TRT! a low maintance depending on what you keep,can be some what cheep to very exspensive like run by a computer for everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah I am familiar with those nano's...

I was thinking of getting something like that to start me out... then later as a quarentine tank

I'm of the philosopy more gallons= more stability.

So what i want is a big show tank... about 75-100 gal.
Do you think a tank this size can be done in a low maintnance way?
 

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Tenecor sells tanks with a compartment like the nano on the back of the tank, or just a tank with no sump so you don't have to worry about floods, a sump will make me very nervous to leave completly unatended for a few days at the time.
If you get corals that don't need to be hand feed or inverts that will move too much (anemone) and low Ca requirements you could do it.
 

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You are doing your research ahead of time, which is excellent, don't ever stop reading and asking questions! There are a lot of things you really only learn by setting up a tank, though, so there are some advantages to starting with a nano of some sort as "practice" and then moving up to a larger tank. If you run the nano for a year or so, that can give you a really good feel of absolutely everything that can go wrong, :eek: only on a much smaller, less destructive scale. With this experience you can plan the bigger tank accordingly. Keeping a reef tank requires developing some new habits, as well as keen observation skills. Sharpen your B.S. filter!

With the nano-tank, give yourself a small budget. Look around, and find the price of everything you want as if it were brand new, from retail sources. Then cut it in half. You can probably find the same stuff (or better) used. Join the local reef club, you are in a large market so there's always people right by you with stuff to sell. Beware of old light bulbs and pumps, as these items deteriorate the most with age. Buy these new if possible, to take advantage of warranties.

The one thing you don't want to skimp on is test kits and RO/DI water...get a refractometer rather than a hydrometer, and get a good test kit, like salifert. practice using these regularly on the nano and you'll be in good shape. Also practice doing regular water changes....the nano is ideal for this because there is little response cost involved (no heavy lifting, cheaper). Also, you will be reinforced more for doing them on a nano, since water changes are the primary means of export. The big tank will react just as positively, but by then, you will have it down to a science, and it'll probably take you half the time to change twice the amount of water.

Alright, I'll get off that soapbox....

As far as the bigger tank goes, I think a 70-100G tank can be kept pretty stable, equipment-wise. (feeding and taking care of the inhabitants is another matter).

The first, and biggest question, is whether you want to run a sump or not. Either way, I would strongly suggest you get a reef-ready tank, so that you can either run a sump, or go sumpless and put equipment in the overflows. You can always add a sump later if you plan correctly. If done right, I think the sump can definetely make the tank more stable. If done incorrectly, it can have drastic consequences. I won't get into all of that now because we'll be here all day. :doh: Just remember that the sump is for equipment and filtration...don't try to rely on it for water movement in the tank.

Which brings me to....water movement in the tank!

Frankly, the smartest move you could ever make would be to buy two tunze streams and a multicontroller, seen here: http://www.aquacave.com/detail.aspx?ID=675 (I'm not necessarily recommending this website as I've never used them, but their prices seem competetive). They are efficent, bulletproof, adjustable (can keep low or high-flow organisms), and produces alternating current which is great for getting detritus out of the tank. Plus, they have a high used market value and will probably sell quickly (hey, you never know). Yes, you need to trade a kidney to afford them, but they pay for themselves in low power consumption (11watts) and loooong life.

Another new alternative is the VorTech, which has the added bonus of a battery-backup that keeps the pumps running for 24 hours in the event of power loss.
http://www.ecotechmarine.com/products/vortech.htm
This could mean the difference between life and death for your critters if you are away for a week at a time frequently as you say. Also, check out this series of articles for tips on other ways to keep things stable while you are away: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-05/gh/index.php

great protein skimming is a must....I'll let others chime in on this...

Maintaining salinity: auto-top offs are a frequently a weak link in the chain, but there are several solutions for this. I just use a TOM aqualifter pump on a timer that drips through a $15 DIY kalk reactor to slowly replace evaporated water at night. This required calibrating the flow rate and timer settings to match the amount of evaporated water. Other systems are more reactive to your tank's conditions, but were either too unreliable or expensive for me. ;)

Maintaining water chemistry:
Kalkwasser or 'kalk' maintains calcium, alk., and increases pH. Dripping it at night counteracts the nightly pH drop and keeps pH more stable. This, like my auto-top off itself, is a "passive" system. A more "reactive" system would be a calcium reactor. A calcium reactor (in or next to the sump, with a pH controller) would do wonders to automatize your calcium and alk needs, once it is dialed in to the uptake of your tank. You must test frequently and keep a log of your tank's parameters to get this dialed in, however. Many people report not having to check it very often after that.

If you want to toss more money into it, there are controllers that can page you when there's a water leak, a pH spike, etc....there are automatic dosing systems to maintain all trace elements... All of this would automatize your tank for sure, but they seem like overkill to me. Learn the tank's character based on its water parameters and its organism's health, and then automate it to suit, if you have to.

(good lord that's a long post...sorry for putting everyone to sleep! :doh:)
 

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Sweet Post Esper!!!

gotta love another Mac guy. :D

as far as maintenance goes, it is really the fish that really make tanks tough to take care of. if you do a predatory reef, than your chances of being able to go a week without feeding are much better. they have no problems and actually quite well being fed only once a week.

you will need to avoid those critters with short digestive tracks. pretty much anything that is a planktonivore. most of these need to be fed at least once a day, some multiple times a day to be happy.

leaving a tank for two weeks between water changes is not a big deal. i do it all of the time. the hard part will be getting a big enough skimmate collection cup to keep up. you may also need to use a slightly brine auto-top off to compensate for the skimmer on the longer trips.

G~
 
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