so here it comes (wall of text be warned)
ok so a few of you know i have played with the idea of doing a nano reef... so i have a million questions and i read up daily but i was also on another forum and thought hey why dont i ask you guys and girls here as you have never steared me wrong in the past? so i am going to copy and past my posts from there and see what you guys have to say..please please please realize that i am totally new to salt water and this is only a concept idea at this point i dont want to rush anything and will go very slow....
here we go...
ok so first off let me give a little of my history in fish keeping. i have been doing fresh water for a few years and have been very successful with it. my fish are healthy and appear happy in their environment. i am a great fan of DIY projects and often learn rather fast how to make most of what i need or want.
recently i have taken to the idea of doing a nano reef and i have started the research process. so i thought long before i actually start setting up things i may ask a few questions to attempt to clarify any issues BEFORE i start... that said
i am considering a 10 or 20 gallon tank
i am thinking corrals, snails, and shrimp only at this time.
cost is a huge factor in how i go about doing things so the more DIY the better
questions i have at this moment are:
do i need a skimmer?
would one help in any way?
i was thinking about an air driven design (do you have any around?)
would a fresh water filter with out media be a good idea for water movement (pros/cons)
so as i have like 5 empty 10's hanging around i am going to decide the best set up or if i am going to empty my 20 then move on from there... all of my tanks have the back painted black (just easier than dealing with that fake print stuff)....
last night i was monkeying around with a few DIY skimmer ideas and i figure if i dont need one it wont be the end of the world if it does not work properly but it will be fun to build and see the results just in case i have a need in the future....
now moving on to the next series of questions:
i have seen others threads talk about using dry rock in large quantity and a smaller amount of live rock to seed it with.. how long does this take and are there any special methods to get the best results... i dont mind going slow so this looks like a good option financially speaking... oh and along these lines what about the live sand could a dry sand be seeded off of the live rock? and should i do the rock first then add sand later or the other way around?
i know i am a total noob but i really am grateful for all your knowledge and assistance....
oh i know this one sound really nuts but as its live (has many micro organisms etc...) does the tank need to be fed in any way other than the lights?
ahhhhh lights i was thinkning about going with those 50/50 bulbs would these be good for corals? they are not to hot and would fit the type of hood i am intending to get (screw in type bulbs not tubes)
oh on another note i was reading up on skimmers and noted the pump tp pull water into the skimmer.. but how does it get back to the tank 1. assuming its in the tank. and 2. assuming it sits out side the tank?
i was thinkning the basic syphon principle but i am not clear on this point.... any info?
if you really read all that THANK YOU....:shock::shock::shock:
newb talkin here but it sounds to me like with no protein skimmer you will have to do exponentially more water changes. Also from my current idea of DIY protein skimmers, I think you should make a DIY sump with one of those 5 extra tanks you have. The skimmer design would be alot more simplified than a HoB skimmer I think. (the sump would need a pump but the skimmer in a sump might only need a air pump [bubble lift principle]
Sounds like cycling can take upto 10-11 weeks if you use a small seed rock. With more live rock the results vary per blogger but it appears to be certainly less than a month. I've read people using as little as 10% seed rock, however it seems like the more seed rock you buy you're also more likely to get some starfish or cool sponges come on the rock. Although for the added price you could also just buy the starfish or sponge.
Feeding depends on your specific tank, you will probably have to "feed" light and calcium for sure (calcium input seems like a weekly chore. I also read that some chorals may want you to feed phytoplankton (can be produced in a refugium or added from a mix.
Lighting-I think i read corals need upto 4.5 watts per gallon. So a 10g would need 45 watts, a 20 would need 90 watts. You also have to account for how deep your tank is and the live rock design(don't let it shade to much of the light). also corals need light in the blue-green end of the spectrum (just make sure the box says its good for corals).
To answer your skimmer design question it depends on the specific skimmer, they appear to use a combination of gravity, bubble flow, and/or a single pump. haven't heard of a design with two pumps yet.
For starters, you do not need a skimmer. You also do not need a motor to run a moped, but pedaling is far more exhausting to get to the same destination.
Maybe that analogy is a bit extreme. You have raised a few questions that can be answered in conjunction. You ask if you can use a HOB filter (empty) for water circulation. You certainly can (although if doing corals, you will want more flow than that), and if you throw a bag of carbon in the empty compartment, you can bypass the skimmer. Make sure that you rinse the bag as not to have detritus collect around it (this can result in a Nitrate and Phosphate spike) and replace the carbon on a regular basis. Activated carbon does the same job as a Protein Skimmer, just by different means. They both are a method of collecting Dissolved Organic Compounds (DOCs), but the Skimmer removes them from the water through the proccess of foam fractionization, whereas carbon absorbs the DOCs.
The Live Sand (as long as you are using a Deep sand bed of 4-6") and the Live Rock (about 2/3 of the volume of your aquarium, visually) will form the main part of your filtration. This will carry the normal load of the Nitrogen Cycle in a Marine tank. The aerobic bacteria on the surface of the rock and sand will reduce the ammonia and nitrite to nitrates. The anaerobic bacteria seeded deep in the rock then reduces the nitrates to nitrogen gas, which leaves the system naturally. The Protein Skimmer or Carbon will remove DOCs to reduce the work of the live sand and rock, but also because DOCs have a direct effect on Alkalinity. And Alkalinity is a property that you will have to familiarize yourself with in a tank so small.
As for the lights. Water quality is far more important than lighting in a tank as shallow as a twenty gallon tank. Any Power Compact or T5HO unit will sufficiently light this tank and corals will survive under these choices. But if Alkalinity and Calcium are unstable, that can be far more disastrous.
So when you say "corals, shrimp and snails" you mean no fish, ever?
The corallife 5050 20 watt PC bulbls will work fine on the 10 gal. But I do disagree on the 4-6 inch deep san bed. The surface of the 4-6 inch deep sand bed will be aerobic but the deep parts will become anaerobic which is bad. A sand bed of 1/2 inch would be far superior. There is still plenty of room for all the little critters and bacteria to colonize in the sand bed. also a thinner sand bed is cheaper. If you don't believe me on the shallow sand bed watch this vid:http://www.youtube.com/user/ipsfdotc...27/aLNj-JxYigM i also have a 29 gal reef with 5 fish a ton of coral and no skimmer. It can be done. I do a 3gal weekly water change.
The 4-6 inch sand bed was specifically recommended b/c it would anerobic which is the only layer that nitrate fixating bacteria typically inhabit. There are some arguements as to some drawbacks that some people don't prefer, however you'll need to provide your argument before you just say its "bad."
thank you all for your replies it looks as though the plan is changing a bit .... looking at moving my cichlids on out and going to use the 29 gallon tank HEHEHEHEEHEHe...... aside from snails corals and shrimp i really have no intention of having fish at this time.... my big worries are filtration, lighting, and the basic sand and rock issues.. i am considering the following plan:
get 40 pound of live sand....
make or get dry rock (some cool how to's on line and as i want to go slow soaking the rock for 28 days to be safe is no big deal...
a small amount (1-10 pounds) of live rock to seed it all....
hey bearwithfish, looks like you're on the right path, be sure to keep us updated! -I'm very curious as I'm considering starting my first saltwater tank and I like your plan so far
i will but keep in mind i am not on as often as i would like and that i am going in ultra slow motion so i dont mess it up (well to badly any way)... just posted the convicts on craigs list so i can get the tank clean and start the adventure off..... let see how soon they go.... oh good deal i just got a text i may be able to trade for some live rock WOOOOHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOO!!
Considering the size of the aquarium, though, I think that you would do just fine with a shallow sand bed and a good amount of Live Rock. Like I previously said, the same proccess goes on deep within the live rock, as there is a depth with very limited oxygen that harbors anaerobic bacteria.
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