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How do I start a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium?

This is a discussion on How do I start a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium? within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> Great score. My first impression is that the rabbits have chewed away all of the sealants. Before even filling it with water let us ...

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How do I start a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium?
Old 10-04-2006, 05:08 PM   #11
 
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Great score. My first impression is that the rabbits have chewed away all of the sealants. Before even filling it with water let us know if the silicone on the inside corners is all still completely intact. You would hate to find it sprung a leak in 2 or 3 months. Depending upon what type of soap you used I wouldn't worry to much about it. Dish soaps are easy to rinse away and will only add phosphates to the tank. Bad but not bad enough to hold you back. Now if you used brake cleaner or engine solvents you are on your own.

You seem to have a true zest for learning about the hobby and diving right in. For your first tank I'd suggest starting slowly. I'd suggets easing into a reef by starting out with a peaceful FOWLR tank. (FOWLR, fish only with live rock) Get yourself a nice DSB, deep sand bed, of Carib Sea Aragonite (if available). Buy as much dry as it takes to fill the tank about 4". You can buy a 20lb bag of "wet" to seed the tank with beneficial bacteria. You can also ask around and get a couple of cups of sand from a fellow reefer. Fill the tank with salt water that you have premixed in a brand new trash can that will only be for this purpose. I'd like to say stay away from the wall about 6" if possible. As time progresses I assume you'll be adding an overflow box to accomodate more hardware. After the sand and water have settle out you can begin buying live rock. The stuff isn't cheap so look in craigslist for people breaking tanks down in your area. Do a yahoo search, salt forum, TN Your City Name, and see if any forums come up in your area dedicated to salt tanks. I have 2 sites dedicated to reefs here in Austin. You can usually find people breaking down tanks offering rock for $2.50 a lb. My friend Monica sells it very reasonable at www.oceanhomes.com . If you can afford 40 lbs at start up you'll have a great start. Add a few devices to add currents, for a 125g I'd recommend Seio M800's, maybe a pair or even 3. For your Fowlr I'd maybe think of getting a nice canister filter, I'd recommend an Eheim 2217 from www.thehobbypalace.com usually about $100 and that's a steal. You'll think about scrapping the canister as your reef becomes more complete. Now wait about a month and let the tank mature. Have an LFS test your water, Ammonia being hte most important part of the "cycle". When ammonia levels disappear you have a nice tank begun. Add a couple of nice fish that you like, do understand that you will probably trade them in later as your reef fills in. A wrasse, a couple of clowns, maybe a naso tang. Stay peaceful and small if possible. While learnign the ropes you want your tank to stay as clean as possible, don't pollute it with aggressive fish like lions, eels, triggers, or groupers. If you decide that fish are for you and that you don't want the headache and expense of corals you can later make it an aggressive FOWLR with some really dramatic fish. Stay away from the damsel dither story. Damsels are the terror of the reef community and are better used as food for your lion fish than an inhabitant of your tank. As your tank becomes more reef like and cash becomes available begin thinking about adding an overflow box of about 1,600 GPH capacity, a nice sump ( a 55g long tank would be perfect as you could easily silicone in a divider for a 10-20g refugium built into the sump without having to add another pump), a nice skimmer like euroreef or ASM, and a good return pump such as Eheim 1260 or an external pump like Dart to return the water to the tank. Once your sump and skimmer come online unhook the cannister filter. After securing a good filtration system lights become the single most important factor after clean water for a reef tank. A standard 125g long should have 3x 250W metal halide bulbs and about 300w of supplemetal PC or T5 actinic lighting. 3 250w bulbs are better than one 400w bulb as each light only spreads out about 20". Once your lighting and filter are running it's time to add more rock. Get it up to about 200lbs if possible. You could save money at this point by buying dry "live rock" as it will seed from your existing tank. After your lights, filter, rockwork come online your DSB should be fully matured and it might be time to start thinking about corals.....

Of course with a Fowlr much of that is not necssary. A good canister or maybe even 4 of them. I have 4 on my 125g. Any old flourescent strip lighting will do as your fish don't even really need the light. a good water circulation via power heads or stream makers like those I listed earlier.

To test the tank I'd definitely set it up somewhere and fill it to the top. It must be a perfectly flat and level surface that can hold 2,000 pounds (your tank will weigh approx 1,080bs full of water) or the tank will warp and crack. You'll need to bail it with buckets or use a powerhead and some vinyl tubing to get the water out. What to do with it? water the garden. You don't need to test it with mixed sea water, plain old hose water will work.
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Old 10-09-2006, 11:32 AM   #12
 
I filled my up my tank thursday, and so far there are no leaks. Therefore I'm assuming that I'm ready to take the next step. I think I'm going to go with a blue background, so I wanted to know what the cheapest way to go would be. I whent to the closest aquatic store and they're very knowladgable (is that right?), however they're a bit expensive. Also, I don't want to paint my tank, b/c I don't want to be stuck with that color. Any advice?
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Old 10-09-2006, 12:39 PM   #13
 
I use a back ground on mine, that goes from a lite blue to a dark blue. Is your LFS the only one around. I had that problem when I lived in Sc. They were the only store around so they were able to charge what they wanted. The stuff wasn't that expensive but you get my drift. For my back ground I pain about $1.99 per foot for mine.
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Old 10-09-2006, 07:38 PM   #14
 
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I've painted them and liked it. I've left many bare and let the coraline cover it.

Spray paint and patience, you can get great results.
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Old 10-09-2006, 08:08 PM   #15
 
My sump is paint and I like the results, I just don't know what it would look like on a main setup. That would be interesting to see what it would look like.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:10 AM   #16
 
If I choose to paint it, would I use spray paint? If so, what kind of spray paint should I buy?
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Old 10-10-2006, 05:41 PM   #17
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javier
If I choose to paint it, would I use spray paint? If so, what kind of spray paint should I buy?
There are paints which can be easily removed. I can't remember what type of paint it was but I'm referring to the ones used by shops to design on their window glass when there are events or special holidays.
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Old 10-10-2006, 06:18 PM   #18
 
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I've just used whatever was available. Some say acrylic works the best. Can't say for sure. I can say that you need to wipe the glass down thoroughly just before painting with rubbing alcahol to rid the glass of oils.
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Old 10-10-2006, 06:34 PM   #19
 
When I used spray paint to paint my sump, I noticed that the sealent wasn't taken the paint. The sparay paint would just puddle next to certain parts of the sealent. If you decide to paint it take pics and post them I think that would be cool to see. As I have never seen one painted.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:09 PM   #20
 
Regarding spray painting the tank, do you just paint the back of the tank or the sides too?
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