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mongerman 05-11-2008 10:01 AM

Please comment/critique on my planned tank setup
After extensive reading and gathering feedback, I've come up with a drawn plan for my "fish and invertebrate with live rock only" tank. Its kinda different from the norm, since

1. My overflow compartment does not have holes drilled in
2. I plan to reuse my canister filter despite incorporating a sump

Without further ado, here are the plans


1.Where is the best place to put the skimmer, UV and activated carbon?

2. What sort of additional biomedia would be good, and which
compartment would be the best position to place it?

3. My canister filter is currently for FW. What should I place in it for a SW

I would greatly appreciated other comments and critique on how to improve this setup. Thanks a million

conger 05-11-2008 11:43 AM

hey mongerman, I like the general idea of the setup. I do have a couple of pieces of advice to offer:

1) in the main-tank overflow section, beware of how low the water level is in the overflow compartment; if its too far below (too far = more than a few inches I think) the top of the wall that the water pours over, you may have a low of unwanted noise from the water trickling and splashing. In other tanks that have an overflow compartment with holes drilled in the bottom, typically something called a "durso standpipe" is used to raise the water level in the overflow section as close to the top of the wall as possible to minimize this noise... since I don't think you'll be able to use a durso standpipe with your setup, just be aware of the possibility of noise, and try to figure out a way to fill the overflow compartment with as much water as possible.

2) the skimmer should go in the first chamber of the sump, where water is coming in from the overflow. The second chamber should be your refugium, if you planned to have one, and the final chamber can simply be your return pump. I guess if you are going to have a hang-on-back style skimmer, the you might be able to have it hanging on the main tank, working out of the overflow section. But either way, the skimmer should be placed as "early" as possible in the filter path.

3) the UV unit should probably be placed on the return path to the main tank, on the output the return pump in the final sump chamber. I've heard some people say that if you will be growing copepods (I think) or other natural foods for your fish in the refugium, then the UV unit may kill those, but then again others say thats not true, so I don't know which is the case. If you're like me, and are using a refugium only for nitrate export and not for growing food for your fish, then its a non-issue. Unless someone else comes and yells at me for being wrong, I'd suggest planning on putting the UV unit on the return path to the tank.

4) I don't really think you'll need additional biomedia, assuming you meant pads or sponges or the like, if you plan to have live rock in the main tank. Liverock can provide all the biological filtration that you need, I'm pretty sure. Some people also put liverock or liverock rubble in the sump, but I think thats unnecessary if you'll be having it in the main display. I've heard that 1 lb to 1.5 lbs of liverock per gallon is a good rule of thumb.

5) not sure about the canister :) have to wait for someone else to chime in on that

6) as far as activated carbon, I guess I'm not really sure... ideally you'll want to force the water to flow through it, and not be allowed to flow around it, so however you can achieve that will be fine. I guess maybe in the later stages of the filter, like wedged in the bubble trap of the sump would be decent, if you can get the carbon to span the width of the sump (again, to not allow the water to flow around it). But having said that, I don't think activated carbon in a necessity. Unless you know there are chemicals in the water that need removal, you might decide to not even use the carbon.

Hope this helps!

mongerman 05-11-2008 07:18 PM

Thanks for the comments. One thing I noticed that many people on forums advocate having just live rock as biomedia. Coming from the FW point of view however, the opinion is that there is no such thing as too much filtration. One of the fears is that waste could get trapped in typical biomedia material and constantly release harmful chemicals, but if I can eleminate that problem what could i add to the sump?

Pasfur 05-13-2008 07:13 PM


Originally Posted by mongerman
. One thing I noticed that many people on forums advocate having just live rock as biomedia. Coming from the FW point of view however, the opinion is that there is no such thing as too much filtration.

This isn't a case of too much filtration, it is the case of the wrong type of filtration. Unfortunately, in the FW world you are taught that the biological filter ends with the production of Nitrate. This is true, because the bacteria which grow on your biological filter in a FW aquarium do not have the ability to break down Nitrates.

In a properly set up saltwater aquarium, this is not the case. We are fortunate that in a marine system the biological filtration process is complete, breaking Nitrate down into Nitrogen Gas, which escapes the system naturally. This is accomplished with Live Rock and sand. The addition of any other type of Biomedia will only degrade the water quality, not improve it.

Think about this. There are many types of "filtration" in the FW aquarium. Specifically, some ion exchange resins are designed to soften the water, while others are designed to harden the water. You don't use both. You use the one that does what you need for your particular setup. This same concept applies to Live Rock vs. BioMedia. Are you trying to reduce the buildup of Nitrate or not? Obviously, yes.

On a side note, the buildup of detritus in the biomedia is also an effective argument against biomedia. However, you are correct, it can be overcome. In a FW live plant aquarium, this would make a nice thread topic.

conger 05-13-2008 07:44 PM

one more thought on the topic of biological filtration, and I guess its as much of a question as it is a statement: since you only grow as much bacteria as is needed to support your bioload, just because you add more biomedia, or in other words surface area on which bacteria can grow, it doesn't mean you'll have 'more effective' biological filtration. (?)

Like, if you have more than sufficient surface area in your liverock, then adding additional media in the sump wouldn't do anything as far as breaking down ammonia and nitrites. But if you're not careful, you might be creating just one more thing to clean/maintain as time goes on, to avoid buildup of detritus, etc.

Just a thought, anyways :)

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