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Tyyrlym 03-18-2009 09:00 AM

New 90 Gallon Set Up, Save or Store?
I have had an incredible stroke of luck. My lovely wife was talking amongst her group of toddler mommas and one of the other women had a husband who was looking to unload his fish tank. His 90 gallon salt water set up. The cost? Get it out of his house. That's right, a 90 gallon set up with sump and skimmer for a little bit of manual labor I'd have to do anyways to get it to my house. The downside is that the only person who I can ask about it is my wife who is not all that up on the mechanical aspects of fish tanks. According to here its as long as my 55, deeper, and taller. So it might be a 75, but from the pictures it looks like a 90.

The downsides.

1) The stand is apparently in a bad way. It's one of the old standard fish stands which likely means plywood. The stand either needs some TLC or total replacement so I'm told. If my wife thinks its rickety then its probably really bad.
2) The fish in the tank are... well they're there. I'm not that wild about the idea of taking in someone else's fish. Sure, they're nice fish for sure, but I'd rather build a tank from the ground up how I want it, not tailor it around a couple of fish I get saddled with.
3) Major cyano outbreak. Apparently it's pretty stinking bad. In fact the red algae is a big part of why the owner is giving the tank away, he just can't deal with it anymore and wants it out of his house. The story is that it was his son's tank, his son got married, the tank did not go with the son.
4) I don't know if they have an RO/DI system or even if they do if it would go with the tank.

So... I've got some issues.

The first is that stand. I have no doubt that I can make a stand, I'm not worried about that. The problem is that if I don't build the stand before I bring the tank to my house this is no longer a tank move, it's a total breakdown. I could build the stand ahead of time but I'm not sure what the time line is for getting it or when I could build the stand anyways. Of course I get the stand just when not only is my wife going to be undergoing surgery but my daughter will be soon as well. Both are a week, easy, out of my life during which exactly nothing will be accomplished. This issue with the stand is the leading reason why I'm giving serious thought to not trying to save the tank as is.

The fish, I'm 90% certain that they're going back to the fish store for credit. They're nice fish, but they're not the ones I picked out and if I do have to break down the 90 gallon I've got nothing I can do with them... sort of. Easiest thing to do is going to be to simply take them back, hopefully for some store credit, and call it a day.

The cyano outbreak is scary bad. Bad enough that the thought crossed my mind to not even try and save the live rock, just let it all die and take the cyano with it. This would make for a relatively easy, stress free tank move. Bring everything over. Use the existing stand for firewood. Store all the equipment while I build a new stand. Later on when I'm ready bring it all back out, get some new live rock, use the existing stuff for base rock and start over. The downside is that live rock can get expensive fast. Enough liverock for a 90 gallon tank can get REALLY expensive. Saving what's there would definitely be preferable but with cyano that bad I dunno if I want to start out trying to fight something like that.

So I think I have a couple of options.

1) Just take the equipment. Take the fish back to the shop, let the live rock expire. Use the sand for fill dirt. Burn the old stand. Just hold onto the equipment until I'm ready to get a new stand built and start over from scratch. The downside is that this is probably the most expensive route as I'll need to buy all new live rock. The upside is I can build the stand at my leisure and start over from scratch when I'm good and ready.

2) Try and save it. This means building a new stand, or just accepting the old one. I have a bad feeling about the sand I've seen and am strongly leaning towards getting new sand no matter what. This has the benefit of not needing any new liverock. The downside is that the liverock I'm saving is covered in cyano to the nines and I get to start out my salt water experience fighting it, lots of it. So much of it the last guy was willing to give me more than $1,000 worth of tank and gear just to not have to deal with it anymore. I also have to do something about the stand NOW.

Option 1 is actually pretty attractive. It's the lowest stress option and I can get my hands on a lot of equipment without having to immediately put it to use. I would love a 75 or 90 gallon tank, I think its just the size I want for saltwater. I also get to start from scratch, which I enjoy. The downside is the cash, its the most expensive option.

Option 2 is attractive from a cost standpoint, not having to rebuy a couple hundred dollars of liverock. That's huge. Especially since I'm not exactly overflowing with discretionary income anyways.

What would I do with the tank if I go with option 1? Well right now I know I don't want to get into the issues of a reef tank. That's a given. I don't have the cash to deal with it. I would either go with a FOWLR set up or even... dun dun dun, African Cichlids. I know how to deal with freshwater and making a cichlid tank would be simple and far lower cost than going salt water.

I guess ultimately this all comes down to one question. Do I want to save the live rock and fight the cyano? Any advice? Hopefully I can upload a picture later today.

FTS including stand:

conger 03-18-2009 12:03 PM

thats an awesome opportunity that you've got! What you said near the beginning is correct: a 90 gallon is the same length as a standard 55 (4' long). The relationship between a 55, a 75, and a 90 is as follows: all the same length... 75 is deeper (front to back) than a 55, and a 90 is taller than a 75. So each increase in size between these three increases one of the dimensions of the tank.

In my own personal opinion, going with option #1 is also what I would do if I were in your shoes. You're smart to just get rid of the sand, and frankly truly correcting the issues with the water, which is what would need to be done to get rid of the cyano long-term, could by itself take a long time.

One question though: can you list specifically what equipment you'll be getting? If you're getting a light fixture, a sump, a return pump, a protein skimmer, and anything else, then there's a lot of money right there that you're getting for free. Yes buying new liverock will be expensive, but not as expensive as new liverock plus all the equipment and the tank/stand, if you were doing a tank from scratch without someone giving you the hardware. You're still saving a lot of money. With a 90 gallon, you'll want around 135 lbs of liverock, you can have more if you want. Also keep in mind, not all rock is equal... a solid, smooth, heavy rock isn't as effective as a light, pourous rock that water can fill and flow through.

But that doesn't mean you have to buy ~135 lbs of new liverock. You can use half base rock and half live rock, and let the liverock seed the base rock over the course of a few months, while your tank cycles and stabilizes.

So again if I were you, I'd go with option #1. Take the tank and all the equipment, then toss the stand and build yourself a new one at your own leisure. Return the fish to the store (maybe save a few bucks off the liverock when you go to buy it later). Completely empty the tank, toss the sand, rinse and scrub the rocks and let them dry (like you said, here's your base rock right here). Scrub the tank as well, just give it a good overall clean, so it's like you just bought a new one and brought it home from the store. With the poor husbandry that it's received in the past, who knows what kind of nasty stuff resides in there that you don't wanna transplant into your own setup.

Let us know what you decide! And don't forget to list specifically what equipment you'd be getting (even makes and models if you can), when you find out. I definitely want to see some pics of this beast, just out of morbid curiosity about how bad the cyano outbreak is :D

Tyyrlym 03-18-2009 12:19 PM

Well there's the pictures. The tops of the rocks are covered in what my wife describes as red slime.

I don't know what all I'm getting, right now it's all been organized through my wife and her friend. Her friend is not responsible for the tank, her husband is, and her husband didn't set it up, he's just been trying to keep it going. So I'm about four people removed from anyone with any real details on the equipment. I'm going to see if I can organize a trip to see the tank in person soon which will answer a tremendous number of questions, namely about the stand and equipment. Personally I'm curious about the lights and whether I'll have a reef ready set up or just FOWLR level lights.

Something I did notice from the pictures is the absence of any powerheads. I'm guessing the cyano problems could be from a serious lack of flow in the tank.

The way I look at it is this. If all I get out of this is a 90 gallon reef ready tank, a sump, and some store credit its still pretty awesome.

onefish2fish 03-18-2009 10:22 PM

its about time you add some salt to your diet.

a few things, a 90 isnt always better as conger stated and im sure your aware a 90 is taller. if you ever wish going to a reef the lighting becomes a factor as there is more light that needs to penetrate to the lower levels of the tank.
i dont know what you need to think about on this deal, its free.

check your messages.

Tyyrlym 03-19-2009 08:00 AM

Yeah, lighting is really the reason why I figured if I ever went salt I'd be getting a 75. I'm not that worried about it right now because if I do anything it'll be FOWLR. Heck, if the light's some cheap piece of junk so what? I got it for free along with everything else. I'll have to buy a better light later, when I go from FOWLR to actual reef but I'll still have gotten everything else for free.

I'm not considering if I'll take the deal. I'm mearly considering what I'll do with it once I get it. Try and save the liverock or just let it die off.

Tyyrlym 03-20-2009 07:13 AM

Well I've been considering what to do with this tank more and more. Option 1 is probably what I'm going to go with, but modified.

There are a few things I'm going to have to have in this tank. Powerheads, a heater, and an RO system. So, since I'm going to have to have them anyways I'm going to go ahead and buy them. Then I'm going to take my empty 55 gallon tank and set it up in the garage. I'll fill it, install some power heads and the heater, and the live rock will go in there. Since it's going to take me a while to get the stand built I really don't have anything better to do. While I try and build a stand and get things to my liking I'll see if I can't wipe out the algae without killing the live rock. Ultimately even if I can't get rid of the algae what have I lost? A few bucks worth of salt? I'd have to buy the RO system and powerheads eventually anyways.

I have to thank my lovely wife for pointing out this solution.

So I guess at this point my big question is how much flow for a 90 gallon FOWLR. I was figuring on two powerheads but hadn't picked a size yet, or even a model.

onefish2fish 03-20-2009 07:25 AM

big fan of hydor Ks as they are cheap and effective.

if i was in your shoes i would go with two K3s at the minimum, if not K4s. your eventually planning a reef and this will prevent you from having to buy two different sizes.

also start looking into a local reefing club. i know florida has alot. you will be able to learn, meet people with the same interests and pick up equipment.

Tyyrlym 03-20-2009 12:16 PM

I may go with a pair of K3s for while it's a FOWLR and if I need more flow in the future add on a third one, though it'd be like $20 more for just a pair of K4's right now. This bears some serious thought. I've got a lot of questions about powerheads... well about everything actually. I've been reading and researching saltwater since I started with aquariums since I knew I'd eventually have a saltwater one. Now it's time to put theory to practice though.

When it does go reef I know I like softies and LPS. There are a few SPS that I like, but none enough to go as turbo powered with the lights and flow that they need.

One thing I'm looking forward to, the day I can bring my boy out into my office where the tank will be and show him a pair of clownfish in it. He'll wet himself he'll be so excited.

Tyyrlym 03-31-2009 06:26 AM

Well, apparently my interest in the tank motivated the current owner to take more of an interest in it. He's decided to keep it and try to make it work. So no tank for me.

Back to merely looking at the tanks in the LFS and sighing wistfully.

Hmm, I wonder what a 75 gallon tank with a 55 gallon sump would cost new...

onefish2fish 03-31-2009 06:54 AM


what i would do is pick up a used 75 and 55. the tank wont be reef ready most likely which is alright because you can drill the back wall yourself. this is what i just did and really the overflow, its small.

add a few peices of acrylic and you have yourself a sump.

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