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Complete Newb Planning a 120G FOWLR setup. (very long)
I'm still in the planning process. Just want to mention a few of my ideas and see if anyone has any advice. I have been reading relentlessly since January trying to soak it all in.
I'm not exactly sure yet what is going in it as far as livestock I still have to compile my list and figure out the order of things, but it will start as a 'fish only w live rock" tank and may evolve to a reef tank down the road when I have proven to myself I have what it takes. I was looking at a 90G as an option but am leaning toward the 120G because it's very deep front to back and will allow a more 3 dimensional setup of the live rock and shallow sand bed i am planning to put in there. Unfortunately I cannot go bigget than a 48 x 30 footprint tank because the tank will be in my office at work. The 120 will allow a more three dimensional rock arrangement and a larger number of better hiding spots for the livestock while still allowing the front of the tank to be kept open for those that like to venture away from the rock a bit. BTW I plan on getting 100lbs of Marco Rocks "Key Largo" rock and some sand from them too and seeding hopefully with ~20lbs of live rock from one of my Uncles three 300G tanks. He's the reason I'm interested in all this madness.
I plan on drilling my own tank and have researched the drilling process. I have been planning the overflow and plumbing recently and think I will have to build my own overflow box if I go with my idea. I have worked up a rough model of my overflow and return plumbing idea for others to scrutinize. I'd like to put a 36" overflow with two drains over most of the length of the rear top of the tank with a return at the top of each end of the tank. I am thinking that I want the overflow to drain straight down via two PVC tubes and then out the rear glass near the tank bottom to improve water flow as opposed to out the rear top glass. I am slightly worried about leaks having bulkheads low in the tank and do not want 120G of water on the floor and dead fish when I arrive at work the next day. Being I have no experience in this hobby yet, is this a bad idea? Are bulkheads problematic/leaky not reliable?
I still have to do some lighting research. I'm looking for affordable lighting for a FOWLR setup that would not have to be replaced but possibly added to if/when I add coral and turn it into a reef setup. Anyone with lighting info please pass it along.
I spent some time in the hardware store looking at plumbing parts and am leaning toward using vynl tubing and brass ball valves outside the tank. They feel more precision and easier to operate than the crappy PVC valves and truthfully I like the idea of hose clamps and tubing vs PVC tubing and PVC cement. I would like to be able to flow 300 gallons per hour through the system.
I will be building a sump from a 20G long tank. The sump will have the following... An Input chamber that leads into a skimmer chamber. I am leaning toward the Marineland in sump Protein Skimmer 300. The output of the skimmer will flow through a bubble trap and then feed a 5 to 8 inch live sand/rock bed and algae refugium which is where my heaters (stealth) will live . From that chamber into the return pump chamber. I will have a feedback to the input chamber so I can control flow. I have not decided on a pump yet and am still looking at ideas for the return pump but I'd like to have some adjustability in the flow rate. Any suggestions here would be great.
I think I have room for an additional 20GH tank in my stand which will be set up as a multi purpose tank. The primary purpose of this tank will be to collect RO/DI water from the RO/DI filter and will eventually (this can be set up later) as an auto top off that will feed fresh water to the sump when it's low. The other purpose of this tank is going to be for partial water changes. My return from the tank to the sump will have a T & a couple valves in it and a path to a drain that is already plumbed behind where I will place the tank. I can leverage the fresh top off RO/DI water in this tank and mix my salt in before a change and get everything ready then with the turn of a couple valves pump the new water into the system while the overflow water temporarily goes down the drain.
I do have one other issue I want to ask about. My office has a very large desk area I'd like to put my Q tank on and set up. I still need to put a little more thought into my Q tank. I saw at a LFS a Tetra 10G starter tank that comes with a filter a heater a canopy and a light fixture (a few other little items as well) It was intended for FW but I think I can use most of it for a SW Q tank with maybe minor mods. The price is $50 and all the parts in it add up to over $75 seperately. Has anyone started a Q tank with one of these kits or have any advice.
Anyway these are some of my thoughts as to my incomplete "master plan". I am almost ready to start my shopping spree and get the physical ball rolling. If you have made it to the end of this thanks for hanging on I know it's really long. hopefully by May 1st I'll be up and running with a few fish. Any thoughts would be welcomed.
Hi Nick and welcome to the forum. Hopefully we can help guide you along. You have done your research, which is awesome!
On the sump, you describe this: drain line / skimmer / refugium / return pump
I suggest this: drain line / skimmer / return pump / refugium
Use a ball valve on the return pump to direct a portion of the return to the refugium. You don't want a high flow rate going through the refugium, and this method allows you to cut it back as slow as you want, and solves the problem of wanting a return pump with an adjustable flow rate.
Next, the return bulkheads. Have you considered placing the return on the inside of the overflow box, using pvc to direct water back into the tank? This will solve any concerns over leading.
On the quarantine tank.... I agree you need a 20 gallon. A 10 is really small for the fish you will be considering.
Thanks for the welcome. I've been lurking here for probably a month or so. just wanted to have something to say before I opened my mouth and put my foot too far into it.
Love the idea of the refugium where you suggest. I had seen a few sump designs like that but that was actually before i realized that that would be the best method to go with from the start. I actually remember thinking to myself that if I was any good at this I would progress to that later. Then I pretty much dismissed the idea. That was probably about three weeks ago. The more I read the more I realized a refugium was probably the best thing to do from the start but then forgot i saw plans laid out like that. I'm going to go that route now that you reminded me of it. Still thinking about the overflow/return plans, not sure what I will do there yet.
I Just took a closer look at a 20GH for the Q tank and that would be do able as the footprint is only slightly larger than a 10G. What about the "kit idea" seems like package deals are priced much better even though I may not use some of the supplies at all. Surely the tank, filter (in some form) the heater, and the canopy light fixture may be useful for the Q tank.
Thanks for all your responses so far, the day is nearing,
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