08-20-2012, 08:50 AM
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Ok, so with 46 you will want:
1) 4"+ deep sand bed, or 1/2" deep sand bed. Since you have a Watchman on the list, I would go 4"+. No less than 4", because that can trap detritus and have an adverse effect on your calcium and alkalinity.
2) I would personally buy about 100 lbs of Dry Rock. You can order it online or go to your LFS and pick it up. Dry Rock is usually harvested from dead reefs and does not have the biological impact that "Live" Rock has. Once you add the Dry Rock to your tank, go to your LFS and ask for five lbs of Live Rock rubble. Try to get him to give you rubble that is jumping with copepods and amphipods.
With Dry Rock, it is not as much about the weight of the rock, but more the appearance: Does it look like 1/2 - 2/3 of the tank volume is taken up with rock? That is about where you want to be. I keep extra in case I need to remove a rock of aptasia or want to start a frag tank.
3) Two powerheads. I prefer Hydor Koralias. I would use two, probably the Evolution 750 and the Evolution 1050. I used to use a 2 & and a 3 (that is the older equivalents of the Evolution series. These Evolution are a little more powerful and able to be hooked up to a wavemaker) in my 46 bow, and felt the flow was perfect.
4) A protein skimmer. I was never good as choosing these. I bought my fair share of skimmers and never felt that they ran well. I used the Prizm by Red Sea, the Sea Clone (I think it is by Marineland), the Coralife SuperSkimmer (Needle Wheel model), and another no name model I bought off a buddy. Never happy. I would probably see if you can get a Super Skimmer (get the 125 gallon model) cheap and modify it as Reefing Madness suggested. If you don't go the sump route, you will use this as a HOB (hang on back) skimmer. That might push a lot of unsightly bubbles in the tank. It will take a lot of adjusting to rectify this.
5) For a new system, I would use a Quarantine tank. This is like a 15 gallon tank that you will store any new purchases until you know they are disease free. Do this bare bottom, no rock. I usually put a few pieces of 3" PVC for the fish to hide in. Use a HOB filter like a whisper and leave them in there for a week or two, depending on if you use hyposalinity treatments to assure they're disease free.
6) Lights. I almost want to say that I hate this subject. There is no good way to determine what light you will need until you fully stock your tank. This will depend on levels of the corals (both difficulty and actual placement in the tank) and the amount of Live Rock you have. In a lightly stocked tank, too much light can be detrimental and create algae, in a heavily stocked tank not enough light will stunt the coral's growth and cause them to be unhealthy. I used a Metal Halide fixture that had two T5HO for actinics and lunar lights on my 46 at one time, and I also used a 6 bulb T5HO (3 Daylights, 3 Actinics) for a length of time. I liked the power consumption of the T5HO's but I hate buying 6 bulbs once a year. 46 Bows are tall, so you need a lot of light penetration. I would say LED, but I don't know how well they operate. I have no real experience with them.
7) Test kits. Once you establish your tank, pH, Nitrite and Ammonia should stay steady. There should be no real reason to test them, maybe once a month or every other month unless something goes drastically wrong. Otherwise, the important tests are Calcium and Alkalinity. Make sure these are in the range of 400-460 ppm on Calcium and dKH 8-12 on Alkalinity. This will be acheived through dosing. I also test Nitrates on a regular basis to make sure that my system is not producing too much Nitrate. With a deep sand bed and an ample amount of Live Rock, my Nitrates should be converted to Nitrogen gas and leave the system naturally. This Nitrate check will help me ensure that.
8) Dose Calcium and Alkalinity on a regular basis as indicated by your test kits. I did 25% water changes every other week to replace trace elements.
Sorry for the wall of text, let me know if you have any questions.