Taking the saltwater plunge- newbie Q's
I just recently joined this forum after checking out several others.
I've had 55g FW tanks for years, community and cichlids, and my wife and I decided we wanted a SW tank. Our LFS (I'm still catching on to the lingo around here, lol) was going out of business and I got what I think was a really good deal. A used 125g tank, 80# of LR, wet/dry with plumbing and media, Mag 1200 return, aragonite substrate, hanging light canopy with 3 VHO bulbs, 2 jager heaters, and very nice homemade stand for $175.
I plan on FOWLR. As I started cleaning everything I used FW- a rookie mistake- but have since been curing the LR in a kiddie pool and it is showing signs of life, so I guess I didn't kill everything!
I've looked around the forum at other newbie's questions- some helped, some didn't- so I thought I'd begin my own thread "diary". I have some questions.
The first applies to the initial water fill. I called another LFS that delivers RO water for a fill and they quoted me a price of...$500!!! Five hundred bucks?? Are you KIDDING me??!! So that option was out, and I started looking at RO units on EBay, and through research I discover the ratio of RO water to wastewater is 3:1 to 4:1! I try to be environmentally conscious and the thought of wasting 375g of water to gain 125 disturbs me. I have no way to capture and store that much wastewater for future use.I understand not using tapwater, even with conditioners. So...
Is DI water acceptable? I can get it from a local grocery for .19 a gallon and haul it 10g at a time. I still plan on getting a RO unit for topoffs. Or how about plain well water?
When it comes time to fill the tank, can I fill it about half way, mix the salt, place the substrate and LR, then finish filling in smaller mixed batches?
Circulation- A very learned friend has a system on his 15-year established 250g SW tank that he made. It consists of PVC pipe running along the back and sides with holes drilled in it and a pump to push out detritus. I'd like to do the same- good idea? Powerheads- how many, what flow rate? I understand the principle of eliminating dead spots, but is there a given formula to go by?
Lighting- As I mentioned, I have a hanging canopy. I'm considering placing it on top of the tank, but I'm concerned about the weight- it's made with treated wood and has to weigh a minimum of 80#. Too much weight? If placed on the tank the lights would be about 10-12 " from the water's surface- too close?
Substrate- I'm sure I destroyed any possible life in the aragonite. Will the LR organisms spread to the sand, or should I buy a small amount of live sand to seed what I have?
I know I've gone on a long time, and I apologize. I like to be thorough, lol. We're excited about our first SW setup and want to make as few mistakes as possible- even though I've already made some!
Thanks very much!
Is your tank RR(reef ready), also called drilled?
You did get a geat price for what you did get. I'm glad you are looking and getting an RO/DI unit for someone who's never been in the SW mindset, and for being conscious about the environment. Unfortunately it does have a horrid ratio. DI water is perfectly fine, infact we normally use RO/DI water in the SW community and not just RO water.
Ebay isn't always the best place to get an RO unit and the filters required for the unit can be proprietory. If you get them from other places like, marinedepot.com, drfosterandsmith.com, premiumaquatics, or reefgeek.com they all come with the standard in the hobby and can be interchangeable no matter what kind of unit you aquire. As for the well water... You will need to get a TDS (total desolved solids) meter. It'll tell you how poor the water is before you use it. It'll also give you a heads up when you need to replace the filters on your Unit.
The way it should be done is either mixed inside the tank with no substrate or LR in it, or mixed outside of the tank and pumped into the tank. The best way to do this is to pump it onto a platter that's on top of a bag(trashbag) and fill it about half way. Then add your LR and finish pumping into tank. The reason you do this is to keep your sand from blowing around. How much sand will you have in your tank? 1"? 5"? most prefer to have a what's known as a DSB or deep sand bed. It's extremly effecient and before your sand starts taking in water it starts at 5" then settles in at 3-4"
Glad to see you're using sand and not Crushed coral. You don't ever want to use that as it causes a bunch of issues that i'm not getting into.
Your lighing is more then ok. Since the tank is a FOWLR the lights are just there to illuminate it. Your VHO's will put out a lot of heat so having them high off the water is your choice, but it'll keep the heat farther away.
Circulation, yes your friend has a great method. It's actually the reason your have the wet/dry and a mag 1200. Did it comes with an overflow box? or again is the tank pre drilled? Just want to make sure that you take the bio-balls out when the times comes.
Pumps is a difficult thing, yes you want as many dead spots as possible, but the general rule of thumb is 10xGallons. so you have a 125 you need 1250gph in the tank. In a reef tank it's 20-30xgallons.
Thanks very much for the info, kells!
Yes, the tank is drilled, with 2 overflows in the rear corners.
My substrate is aragonite, which I thought by definition was crushed coral? The stuff I have is definitely cc. Why is that bad? I should use sand instead?
Why and when do I want to remove the bio balls?
I'm excited about learning all this stuff!
You have aragonite then you have crushed coral which is actually gravel sized. It collects many baddies in there and causes issues in the tank. Again you don't have this so don't worry. What you have is still considered sand because it is so fine. I use it too and in my build thread, Kellsindells build you'll see it.
You need to remove the bio-balls before you put water into the tank. They do the same bad thing as crushed coral, which is store detritus and causes issues in the tank.
It's awesome you have a RR tank. You need to use Understanding Sumps to get some good info about what you're going to be using the Wet/dry for or your own made sump. wet/drys are fine, but if you were to take a 55g tank and use it as a sump/refugium it'll add more water volume to the tank and everyone knows that the "solution to pollution is dilution" ;-)
I looked at your build- very nice, btw- and your substrate looks finer than what I have. Here are a couple of pics.
Oh yeah, that's crushed coral chunks. You'll need something finer then that. Filtration works through the substrate so it'll need to be thiner then that to fully work.
Oh, and thank you for your compliment. Please feel free to ask me any questions in my tank thread also i have a 2.5g tank that's coming along nicely. 2.5 Pico Build
" Filtration works through the substrate"... are you thinking I'm using UGF? I'm a little confused as I thought aragonite crushed coral was an ideal substrate?
It is, but not when it's chunks. How about a picture that's taken farther back rather then that close. Perhaps the size is throwing me off because of how close the shot is.
Unfortunately I think mine is just chunkier. There's a quarter in the pics for reference, though it's a little hard to see.
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