08-13-2010, 03:33 PM
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as for t5s i personally like the icecap retrofits but only if you have a canopy to mount them in.. it also involves another DIY project.
as for filter socks and having to much live rock in a sump, i feel this is the same concept as having a filter floss/bio balls. the rock in a sump is a slow flowing area so debris is allowed to catch, build up and then break down into nitrates/phosphates.. and the sock needs to be cleaned constant, just like filter floss would. they do "polish" the water though, as long as you dont mind frequent cleaning of them.
its pretty easy to silicon baffles into a used tank.. they wouldnt even need to be 100% water tight ( as long as the actual tank is ) although i make mine with a complete seal. its also pretty easy how they work too. water goes in, flows into area with skimmer, flows over then under then over ( bubble trap ) before going up the return pump. the bubble trap keeps bubbles from entering the display. you could also add a refugium to the sump to, which i personally would.
inlet/ refugium | bubble trap| return pump | bubble trap | skimmer/ inlet
so i had 2 inlets and the return pump in the center. the refugium sides inlet goes into a small box to prevent the deep sand bed from being disturbed.
the bigger the sump the better. this means more water volume for your tank. i had a 46 bowfront w a 40 breeder sump once. granted i also knew i was upgrading the display tank at the time of constructing a 40 breeder sump, but it made the 46 run so much smoother having double its volume. ofcourse you dont need a sump this size but bigger is better when it comes to sumps. keep in mind your skimmer, carbon/phosban reactors, heater(s), and possibly a return pump will be inside the sump. you may also want a refugium section with sand and a macro algae ( which i suggest chaeto )
the hydor K powerheads are pretty good IMO. if you like the look of these, want to spend alittle more money and get something alittle better, look into tunzes. if you want to spend even more money you can go with a vortech but these cost an arm and 2 legs plus they cant be angeled and only "aim" straight. ive also heard people say they're noisy if not lined up straight but they do look pretty cool. honestly the hydors would fit you perfectly, which i suggest. 2 is ideal, one on either end of the tank. back when i had the 46 bowfront, which was a mixed reef i had a mag9 on the return pump from the sump, 2 hydor K #2s and 1 or 2 #4s going. thats alot of flow but it worked well for me. id say 2 #4s would make a good start for you.
a RO/DI system is a reverse osmosis filter that removes chlorine from the water. a TDS ( total disolved solids ) meter will tell you how filtered it is, and the closer to ( if not ) 0 the better.