Questions and Suggestions? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 58 Old 05-01-2014, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Questions and Suggestions?

So I've been doing a lot of research around and I want to do a mini reef but I've still got questions and want to make sure that what I'm planning will work out and everything is compatible! So here are the spec possibilities:

10 gallon with 13 gallon sump/refugium (space issues)
13 gallon with ~5 gallon sump with AquaClear 70 Refugium

EDIT: and I just found out that my second 13 gallon in fact did not have a leak as I previously thought earlier today so I could do a 13 gallon with a 13 gallon sump!

I assume the last option would be best?

It will be a reef tank so I've been trying to sort out corals and what works/doesn't work. Mostly I want to stick to easy corals and these are what I've been looking at lately. I will use live rock and live sand. Using liveaquaria as a reference.
Tree Coral
Torch Coral -I understand this is aggressive and to keep it away from other corals.
Sun Polyp Coral

Those are the ones I would really like but of course, if anyone sees any real issue with these, please let me know! These are the other ones I was looking at but unsure about.
Green Polyp Leather
Colony Polyp

Also, are any of the corals on this site worth looking in to? I like the look of the colt coral and the star poylps.

And then potential stocking, going as for my 10 gallon and then if I do the 13 it will just be nice extra space.
The one I know I'm absolutely getting is the Red Ruby Dragonet from my LFS. And then I assume probably only one or two other fish would work for bioload? I have three other choices unless I can add two fish. I also like the look of the Yellowstriped Cardinalfish or White Banded Possum Wrasse or my LFS has these nano bred ocellaris clownfish although I don't know if they are actually nano or just labeled that way. I do trust that LFS though as they usually have a very knowledgeable staff and great selection of fish/plants/saltwater stuff/equipment.

I understand the water change schedule although I haven't researched on how to do them yet. I also understand the importance of keeping water quality good. My tap water is steady at 7.0, will I still need to use R/O water? Also I have 3 dKH and I had issues reading my GH kit today but I think it's very soft if that's the lowest reading...I'll recheck that soon. Do I still need to buffer to raise my KH/GH?

Lighting, what would be best for a tank that is 16 inches deep for the corals that I would prefer?

I think that's the most of it for now, if anyone has any suggestions at all please let me know! I'm open to most things ^_^

Albino Kribensis
Leopards: 1:4 Hawkeye, Luna, Astrael, Dorian, Cullen
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post #2 of 58 Old 05-01-2014, 08:52 PM
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There are a few things here that need addressing and they arent going to be good I am afraid.

First of all, you are very very limited in what you can keep in that size tank even with a sump.

Corals DO NOT even consider until the tank has matured and stabilized, in a small tank it is going to be a lot of work to get it going and stable.

You WILL need a test kit specifically for saltwater and a refractometer to measure salinity. I would highly recommend the Red Sea Reef Foundation kit and a refractometer from ebay. Both will set you back in the region of $40, more for the test kits. The test kit MUST include, calcium, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, Phosphate and general hardness.

Forget about what your tap water parameters are, they mean nothing as you will need to be using RO/DI water. Using tap water in a saltwater aquarium is going to cause all sorts of issues.

Next, Ruby Red Dragonets even though they are technically a blenny are extremely hard to get to eat. You should check with your LFS and make sure it is eating frozen food and not just flakes or pellets, they also eat copeopods which will likely come in the live sand and or on live rock. Clownfish you could do a pair in that size tank but not with much else.

Lighting wise you are going to need, probably your best option an LED light for the corals, but as I mentioned, I would not consider corals until the tank is at least 6 months old if not more.

Calcium supplements as well if you do corals, calcium should be maintained at 420, Salinity at between 1.023 and 1.025 and depending on what extra supplements the corals need, you might need to add Magnesium and maintain it at 1200. pH needs to be around 8 up to 8.4

Poly, Zoas and Mushrooms are all good starter corals.

You will also need something for water movement in the tank. Ideally a few crabs, snails as well as part of your clean up crew.

As I mentioned, it is a challenge to keep a smaller saltwater tank but it can be done with a bit of work.

Hope this helps.

10g Fry / Hospital / QT tank (as needed)

75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)
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post #3 of 58 Old 05-01-2014, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Taz,

Yes, I realized that nano's are limited and it's harder to keep stable but I want this to work and am willing to do what I need to in the end.

I forgot about the refractometer and I do have the API freshwater/saltwater kit if that's any good. I just don't have Phosphate and Calcium which I can get easy.

The dragonet's are eating well, they've been in the LFS for a while now, I was talking to one of the kids about it all ^_^

Thanks a bunch. So I should set it up, add the live rock and sand and just leave it for a while? I'd heard a year's time to wait but 6 months is fine lol.

Albino Kribensis
Leopards: 1:4 Hawkeye, Luna, Astrael, Dorian, Cullen
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post #4 of 58 Old 05-01-2014, 11:18 PM
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Check and see if the live rock is fully cured, if it is not then yes it will need to cycle so nothing in the tank while it does.

Api is fine for a test kit although there are better ones, red sea and salifret.

In terms of adding coral, it depends on how well the tank stays stable, if you are prepared to work on it and monitor then you can do them sooner rather than later, although longer the better really.

I would wait on getting the calcium test kit until you are ready to add corals, but it will be needed once you get them and also calcium supplement.

Badxgillen, Wake49 are also salty tank owners so we can help as well of course as the members.

10g Fry / Hospital / QT tank (as needed)

75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)
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post #5 of 58 Old 05-02-2014, 12:09 AM
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First off -I agree with most of what Taz has said and yes in this case more water volume will be better.

Second- All the corals listed will work out for short time in the smaller tank but I may recommend steering clear of the sun coral due to its feeding requirements.The beginner corals on the other site you have linked are good starter corals in my opinion.

Third -You can grow many corals with a couple of T-5 HO bulbs.

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post #6 of 58 Old 05-02-2014, 07:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I'll take the sun polyp off the list then, a shame since it's so pretty too! But I'd rather keep a happy tank and one that is not full of hungry corals!

So I assume this is completely out of the question but I'd figure I'd ask anyway. I live 10 minutes from the ocean, like ocean ocean not a bay or anything. I doubt it, but would I be able to use that water given the correct salinity and whatnot? I assume not because of possible bacteria, other unwanted critters, not stable parameters unless I were to test the actual water lol. I could see it now, whole bunch of people on the beach and here I am with my entire test kit testing the water XD

Anyway, I work in a biosci building and I might be able to get RO/DI water here, hopefully free! How much is that water cost normally from an LFS or wherever you get it?

How will I know if the rock is cured, I assume hopefully it will say it? Where can I get the rock? I don't believe I recall seeing it anywhere in my LFS's so probably online? Any fairly decent cheap places that I could get it? I assume there are differences in rock, anyone care to explain those?

Okay, another shopping list here to make sure that I'm looking at the right things at least. I don't plan on specifically buying from Drs. Foster and Smith right now, but just as a reference since it's all easier to see.
DI Filter this one I'm confused on since I thought RO/DI water filter systems were expensive? But from where I'm sitting it looks like just the cartridge w/gasket and filter is all I need to make my own water? Is that kosher at all? Or am I just completely missing something here lol.
Red Sea Testing Kit Is this the one you were talking about? Or is there another one with ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/pH? Or is it fine to use my API one for all that stuff and then get this for the extra?
Salt Mix I know Instant Ocean is pretty readily available at most stores, is there a different kind of salt mix you prefer and I see there are different types of mixes, should I use the Reef Mix or does it simply not matter in the end?
Sand any specific brand of sand better than the other?
Crushed Coral I actually have a bag of this at home, 20 pounds for help to buffer my water. Would it be useful in the reef tank at all?
UV Sterilizer I know the advantages of using these for sterilizing everything, but would it be worth it in the reef tank or just a nice commodity?
Skimmer can't forget this one! This goes into the display tank, correct?
Wavemaker can I use something like this on a powerhead or should I go for something better?

Oh and something I forgot earlier! Plants! I see there are some wonderful Marine plants including kelp, maidens hair and shaving brush plant that I am interested in keeping. Would I be able to keep them in the display tank with corals (eventually) and everyone is safe? Or is that a bad idea?

Also is there a mixture of calcium and other trace elements like SeaChem's Flourish for planted tanks, that I could use in the reef tank? Any specific brand better than the other?

Sorry for all the questions, I want to do this right.

Albino Kribensis
Leopards: 1:4 Hawkeye, Luna, Astrael, Dorian, Cullen
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post #7 of 58 Old 05-02-2014, 08:11 AM
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It is illegal in some states to take seawater so be careful, some people do, do it but it is far easier making your own. There are lots of unwanted things in natural sea water.

Your LFS will know if the live rock is fully cured or not, you can get dead base rock but it takes longer to seed, you only need about 15lbs for that size tank, so it wont cost a fortune for actual live rock. Nothing happens fast in saltwater only bad stuff, so the thing here is patience.

That DI filter is ok but you would be better off looking at one of these units which is a full RO/DI system, it saves you dragging water from either your work or LFS. They will end up saving you money in the long run. Get a TDS meter as well so you can see the total dissolved solids in the water, eg you want 0 TDS coming out otherwise you risk getting algae blooms. The cartridges need to be replaced every six months or if you have dirty water, sometimes soon.

The refractometer you have is good also, you NEED to get the calibration fluid though which is listed with that. It is is essential for that refractometer to calibrate it properly.

You dont need a UV sterilizer in that size tank, water changes are going to be your main way of keeping good water. In my opinion it is a waste of money getting one for that size tank.

Kelp, no they get to about 10" high and can spread like weed. Brush plant should be ok but needs to have supplemental iron and trace elements.
Nothing in freshwater can really be used in saltwater, you need to get saltwater specific supplements. Prime water conditioner is one that can be used but I would not use Flourish. You need actual Calcium supplements once you start doing corals.
I would recommend this as well for keeping your dkh at optimum levels.

In terms of water movement, one or two powerheads would be sufficient.

Skimmer is a bit of an issue, on a tank that size many people dont use them, but ideally if you are keeping corals then you should have one.

Plants, I would just get some Cheatomorpha for your sump, waiting until the tank matures some before adding anything to the display tank, it is personal choice but in a small tank it takes away viewing the fish, if they are in the display tank.

Sand or crushed coral as the substrate in the main tank, ideally sand if you plan on doing corals. It is easier to place rocks which will likely come with zoas if you get them eventually. You can use the crushed coral in the sump to help buffer the water.

One thing that hasnt been mentioned is how are you planning on getting water to the sump? Drilling the tank or with an overflow? You will need to work out water levels in your sump, so that it doesnt overflow with a power outage. Then you will need a return pump capable of keeping up with the overflow or greater. This is also why I suggested you get your own RO/DI unit as you are going to be replacing water lost to evaporation in the sump probably daily. This shouldnt be tap water as that can cause algae issues or cause your nitrate levels to spike.

Saltwater you want to aim for zero on nitrates and particularly phosphates.

Patience though is going to be key, it will take some time once you get the tank running before you can add anything so dont rush.

10g Fry / Hospital / QT tank (as needed)

75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)

Last edited by Tazman; 05-02-2014 at 08:13 AM.
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post #8 of 58 Old 05-02-2014, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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Oh no no, I didn't mean to USE Flourish, I meant if there were any that were comparable in the sea world. Like how it is a concentrated formula of most of the trace elements we need for planted tanks; is there a formula that is similar for calcium and such for reef tanks. I definitely know I cannot use freshwater stuff in the reef tank!!!!

I do plan on doing an overflow for the sump although I know it's not as easy or nice as drilling. Unless I find a premade tank that's cheap enough or I find someone who can drill the tank, it will most likely be an overflow. Any ideas for something to use to return the water?

Albino Kribensis
Leopards: 1:4 Hawkeye, Luna, Astrael, Dorian, Cullen
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post #9 of 58 Old 05-02-2014, 09:04 AM
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I was going to chime in but taz covered most of what i would have said, I still will add my 2c
I nice choice for a light would be a par38 bulb full spectrum on a gooseneck. I started in a 10 g and i never used a sump on such a small tank. But its more preference. I also never used a skimmer, most small skimmers arent very effecient. However i did use a aquaclear 70 with a little modification as a refugium and put purigen as my filter media along with filter foam. And as far as powerheads go i used a small rio pump. Oh and a maxijet 600 might work depending on your overflow. I will suggest that you drill a hole in the return line just about or at themain tank waterline to prevent a flood in the sump in case of power failure

KillaVixens Reef Photo's

Last edited by Tazman; 05-02-2014 at 09:43 AM. Reason: Partially edited by Moderator to remove link to another forum. I will PM it to the OP.
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post #10 of 58 Old 05-02-2014, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks killavixen! I was actually looking at your salt tanks last night, loved when the anemone moved and you moved the rocks along with it; I really loved the look of it ^_^

Yeah, I think I may use the AC70 for a refugium as well instead of it in the sump. I was looking at those nice mods of the AC70 where they glue the mesh over the return and make a nice section for the refugium and then I could still put the heater in the filter there where it's divided, it looked nice all around so I'll probably do that. Phew, this is going to be a very full power strip huh? Powerhead/wavemaker, filter, heater, two lights, oh I guess it's really not much, never mind! lol

So I'm still a little confused on the sump part, just starting to understand more from reading on Wednesday. So the overflow part still baffles me so any explanation on HOW to do that would be great; I understand the point of it of course, just need to know how. I was reading the sticky on understanding sumps and I'll probably reread that soon. So then water goes into the sump and then gets out with a water pump like the rio pump? And then that goes into the powerhead in the regular tank? Am I on the right track at least?

Albino Kribensis
Leopards: 1:4 Hawkeye, Luna, Astrael, Dorian, Cullen
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