buying from aquarium store and getting ripped off ? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-15-2007, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Do I need a protein skimmer?

I'm reading as much stuff as possible and trying to learn and am REALLY CONCERNED the aquarium store is going to rip me off. Anyways, I want 120 gallon tank, crushed kelp, an anemone and 1-3 coral, 4-8 fish to start out, 4-10 pieces of live rock, and maybe a plant. Will I need a sump and special lights for this? Will I need a protein skimmer? They are telling me I will. They told me I could put fake plants in the tank. Is there anything I need to know about things they will try to sale me that I don't need? I really need to know these answers. Thanks alot. :)
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-15-2007, 04:01 PM
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A 120 gallon tank huh.

Well, first off, get live aragonite sand as your substrate. As far as livestock goes, 120G is a lot of room, you'll be able to get quite a large multitude of coral and several anemones. Unfortunately, you're going to need way more than 4 - 10 pieces of live rock in a 120g setup. The general rule is 1 lb. per gallon, however I would suggest getting roughly 1/5 lbs. - 2 lbs. per gallon for maximum filtration. Be sure to select quality liverock, THIS WILL BE THE BACKBONE OF YOUR TANK, DO NOT SKIMP ON THE ROCK!. What do you mean by plant? Also, a protein skimmer is a definite on your tank. Unfortunately it's an explensive piece of equipment however it is necessary. Smaller tanks under 10g could get away without having one provided one is on top of the water changes down to the minute. A sump is optional, but a good idea in the end since it can only benefit your tank. Lighting is crucial, especially if you plan on carrying certain corals and definitely if you will be stocking anemones. Metal Hallide or T5 lighting is essential, definitely do not skimp on the lighting.

Any saltwater vets that find errors in my advice, please let me know, I'm still learning. :)

Hope this helps!

Tanks: 40 gal FW setup, 10 gal Reef tank.

Old BC8 setup:
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post #3 of 14 Old 11-15-2007, 06:00 PM

It sounds like they are setting you up with the "standard reef newbie" package. All that stuff will definitely make you more successful and allow your needs to grow with the tank. Read up and you'll find out that reefing hasn't really been that successful until the last decade. Huge gains have been made in both the understanding of what we keep and the equipment to make it accessible to everyone.

Buy a "reef ready" or drilled tank with built in overflows. It will make things much easier in the long run. They are more expensive but so worth every penny. You will want a good sized sump, maybe in the 40-55g range. A skimmer in a tank that size can really make the difference between success and a waste of time. Keep in mind that none of this stuff is cheap. You can easily spend several thousand dollars for a nice 120g tank set up. In the end you can spend thousands replacing dead fish or corals or get it right the first time. The expensive lighting is enough to cause most people to rethink their tank experience.

You'll want:

The tank predrilled and overflows installed.

A 40-55g sump. 10-20g of that space dedicated to a refugium would be nice.

High end lighting consisting of at least 2x 250w metal halide and or 4-6 T5 bulbs. Corals are mainly photosynthetic and must have high powered lighting or they cannot make their own food.

A quality skimmer. Good brands are found with Deltec, Euroreef, Bubbleking, Bubble Master, ASM, Octopus. Those are premium skimmers. They cost a bit more but unlike most others, they actually work well. Most listed are trouble free and work instantly without troublesome headaches. Junk skimmers are really not worth even trying out. Expect to pay $400-$1,000 for a nice skimmer capable of 120g. I'd recommend a Euroreef RS180 or RC135.

About 100lbs of live rock. Average price is $4-5 a lb at that high of an amount.

100lbs of aragonite sand.

Return pump for the sump. I recommend Eheim 1262.

Extra flow in the tank. 2 Hydor Korallia 3 or 4's would work nicely.

Tank and decent stand, $1,000
Acylic sump/refugium (Triggerfish sytems as example) $400.
Lighting system with bulbs, (2x 250WMH with 2 T5 actinics) $700
Skimmer $600
Rock $400
Sand $120
Return pump $150
Circulation pumps (Hydor are less costly) 2x Hydor 4 $120.
Salt mix $60
RoDI system $160
Miscellaneous plumbing, hydrometer, testing equip, etc... $120.

Total, about $3,830.

Of course the trick is to look for sales and closeouts. Build slowly over several months, heck my 400g tank is going on it's second year without being set up. This estimate is for a nice looking , relatively easy, no headaches kind of tank. Of course you can cut corners and save a buck here and there but we all know what happens then. Look for deals on used equipment or set ups. Craigslist is full of great deals. You'll often find set ups that someone tried to save a buck here and there, getting frustrated at the lack of success. Having finally gotten sick of throwing money at the hobby they sell everything cheap. A few quick changes can have the system running like they dreamed it would. Trouble is many people begin buying cheap equipment only to realize how poor a mistake that really is. When things break and constantly need repairs or replacement it takes away money that could be used for meaningful purchases. In turn it drains away the good of the hobby just maintaining junk.

Feel free to print this and ask your retailer what they think of what I said.
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-15-2007, 06:18 PM
Matt I answered this reply in another topic area. After realizing the double post and merging them together I read your reply. A very good one at that.
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post #5 of 14 Old 11-23-2007, 05:22 PM
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craigslist rocks for tanks

Check your local craigslist to find cheap tanks people are getting rid of because they are moving. Remember it might pay to spend more for a tank that comes with the extra gear...filters, skimmers, LIGHTS, etc...Got a 72 gal bowfront decked out with all the supplies I would ever need for only $150. Beat that LFS! Also check the wanted/buy/sell area of this forum for good deals.
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post #6 of 14 Old 11-29-2007, 03:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks and apologies

Hi, I just want to thank you all so much for replying and I wanted to apologize for not responding yet. I have been SEVERELY SICK. I think I had the flu. I am starting to feel better today. I will return in 24-48 hours to respond. Thank you all so much. I need you all right now. ha ha.
Angel Leah
Also, forgot to mention and ask about rock.... 120 gallon X 1lb X $7.99 plus tax is around $1,000. If someone hasn't already explained about this, then- do I need to have $1,000 of rock or can I start out with like 10 pieces and add a piece or two once a month by letting the rock sit in a bucket with air for a while. Someone mentioned that. Thanks and like I said I will be back to read and respond in 24-48 hours. Thanks you guys !
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post #7 of 14 Old 11-29-2007, 12:24 PM
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Wow, that's terrible, glad you're feeling better.

I would not add it over time. Every time new LR is added, there will be ammonia spikes due to there be some dying organisms coming off the rock (not all the hitchikers would make it - there are many more deep within the rock that we can't see). Unless it is transferred IMMEDIATELY from the store water to yours - which LR usually isn't. It would be difficult to control these parameters.

Cycling would take ages.

I know it's far easier said than done, but try to get as much as you can in one go.

Tanks: 40 gal FW setup, 10 gal Reef tank.

Old BC8 setup:
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post #8 of 14 Old 11-29-2007, 05:25 PM
$7.99 is a rip off. Period. Most retailers will sell in volume for about $5 a lb or less, that is unless they are an unsavory bunch with whom you should not do business with. I know for a fact that Walt Smith 90lb boxes can be had for about $250 from several different places. 90lbs is the maximum that UPS will touch for regular ship so they've taken advantage of that.

How much rock are you talking about adding per month? If you add 10-20lbs each month and understand you should not be adding any fish or corals to the system while it cures you could pull it off. Most folks wait 4 weeks or less for the cycle to happen, if you can wait 6 months your tank will really benefit. So add 50lbs up front, 20 lbs a month thereafter and don't add fish for 6 months, you should be fine. Also note that you won't need any heavy lighting, only large volumes of flow to keep the micro life thriving.

If you have to shop online for live rock. I knew an online vendor that was selling live rock for about $2.50 a lb until she finally sold her business to someone else. Check around California for rock as that's where about 75% of it is imported.

It may also depend upon what you are attempting to buy. Pukani rock is very expensive, Fiji (which is great) should only be around $4-7. Another option is to buy half of your rock as "reef bones", dry rock that has no benefits. The live rock you add to the tank will "seed" it with bacteria over time.
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post #9 of 14 Old 11-29-2007, 08:16 PM
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I believe Vanuatu rock is among the finest, as it's very light and porous. Expensive though, I've seen it sell for $9.00+.

Tanks: 40 gal FW setup, 10 gal Reef tank.

Old BC8 setup:
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-06-2007, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses :) !

Jeez. I lost this forum. ha ha. I just bookmarked it. Thank you for all your great answers.

"Walt Smith 90lb boxes can be had for about $250 from several different places. 90lbs is the maximum that UPS will touch for regular ship so they've taken advantage of that."

Is that with tax and shipping included $250?

So the LFS was lying to me when he said I could get a small amount of rock and then get more rock from him once a month and cycle it in a container? I wonder why he would say that? Do you think it is already cycled and if I drove it home (around 10-15 miles) it would be ok?

"How much rock are you talking about adding per month? If you add 10-20lbs each month and understand you should not be adding any fish or corals to the system while it cures you could pull it off." I was thinking of buying 11-20 lbs and then buy 4-20 lbs a month. I couldn't have fish in the tank at all if I did this?

Oh, wow. 6 months with no fish? I knew this was a patient person's hobby but wow. Is this totally necessary? Would buying all the rock at one time keep me from having to wait 6 months?

When shopping around California for rock or anywhere else what do I look for in the description? ...just live rock and it should be ok? Do I ask if it is cured or not? Cycled and cured are the same thing, right?

I didn't know there was such a thing as dry rock. Thanks for that bit of info. If I bought half dry rock then would I still have to wait 6 months?
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