Newb to fish tanks/aquariums
So I have always admired a nice aquarium/tank. I have decided to finally have my own. I have done some research and I want to go with a SW reef tank.
Tanks are pretty expensive and so are the materials. I think I am going to pickup a tank this weekend (haven't decided size yet) would like a 55 or larger along with the lights, any filters i need, etc and start with the reef.
Once I have that going I will probably introduce some shrimp, crabs, etc then in the end the fish.
Anything wrong with my plan? Any tips/tricks/suggestions?
Thank you ahead of time.
I v'e kept Nice planted Fw tanks for yrs. It looks like you need a Saltie to help.
1) If you plan on doing a reef, I strongly recommend a sump. An article about sumps can be read here: Understanding Sumps. If you are going to do a sump, the best method is to have the tank drilled with overflows, referred to as "Reef-Ready". Are you getting a reef-ready tank?
2) Your filtration will be Live Rock (1.5 lbs per pound), Live Sand (4" or deeper sand bed) and a Protein Skimmer. A good article about saltwater filtration is here: Saltwater Filtration 101, How it Differs from Freshwater. Some skimmers can be found here: Marine Depot. Do you plan on using the rock/sand/skimmer method?
3) Your lights are going to be a large investment. Right now the industry is going towards LED, but good fixtures are expensive. Acan LED's go for $600 for 18" fixtures. On the other hand, Marineland makes a "Reef-capable" LED that is like $150 for an 18" fixture. T5HO are nice, but you have to watch out for algae and should run a phosphate sponge to deter nuisance algae growth. Metal Halides are also a good option but run hot and can be expensive units to purchase. Lights will depend on the type of corals you want to keep: SPS, LPS & softies. Do you know what kind of coral you want?
You'll also want an RO/DI unit, which removes phosphates and other things that inhibit coral growth from tap water. I made the mistake of starting my saltwater aquarium with tap water, and I ended up dealing with all sorts of nuisance algae as a result. For a while I purchased bottles of distilled water from the grocery store, but it was very cumbersome and expensive.
I put off getting an RO/DI unit for a long time because I assumed that hooking it up would be a very complicated process and require drilling or plumbing, but I finally looked into it and discovered units for sale that were very easy and simple to hook up.
If I were you, I would definitely go larger than 55 since you are considering 55 or larger. I went with a 55 and it didn't take me long to regret it. With a larger tank, you have more options as far as what you can put in it, water quality is more stable (greater water volume takes longer to change), and the price difference between, say, a 75 or 120 gallon setup vs a 55 gallon setup is probably not that much as compared to going from a 0 to 55 gallon setup.
T5HO's have a very short bulb life. I used to have to replace my 12 bulb fixture at least once a year, and at $25 a bulb, that is $300! Plus the bulb has a half life, so it starts to fail (in a sense) before you actually need to replace them. For energy efficiency and temperature, I would go with T5HO's any day over Metal Halide...
LED has a bulb life that doesn't fail for 20,000 hours (almost five years) with some fixtures boasting 50,000 hours! Yes, you have to replace the fixture most of the time instead of the bulbs, but it still ends up being cheaper and you don't have to worry about the bulb losing its life and promoting algae growth...
I wonder if I'd be better off trying to sell the T5HO fixture and putting the proceeds toward the cost of an LED fixture if it's really the case that T5HO fixtures lend themselves toward the growth of nuisance algae and LEDs do not...
i would just like to add, do your research before you commit to a buy.
a 55 gallon IMO doesnt make a good saltwater tank. they are narrow and harder to scape with liverock. a 40 breeder or 75 gallon are both wider tanks, making them easier to work with.
welcome to the forum.
If you do replace the bulbs, don't skimp. I had a 12 bulb and spent around $25 a bulb. At that point I could have bought another fixture!
I just want to do enough research to buy the right LED.
Thanks, Jeff. I'm interested in researching the advantages of LEDs and the right fixture as well. Let's reserve further discussion about it for another thread so as not to hijack steveo's.
steveo, as you can see there are a number of ways to "skin a cat" when it comes to setting up a saltwater tank. Please do ask any questions you may have!
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