Live Rock and UG filter???
I have a 125 gallon fish only marine aquarium established about 4 months now. I have a coral beauty, a flame angel, 5 yellowfin blue damsels, 4 4-striped damsels, 3 ocellais clowns, 2 tomato clowns, 1 high fin (banggai) cardinal, a yellow tang, 2 firefish gobies, 2 green chromis, 2 chocolate chip sea stars and 1 brittle star. All fish are (currently) small. I have an Eheim 2028 filter with appropriate substrate and chemipure in the top basket, a wet-dry Eheim 2229, an Aquaclear 110 filter with charcoal, a submariner UV sterilizer, a Red Sea deluxe protein skimmer, a Magnum 350 and Magnum H.O.T. (both with micron cartridges that I change weekly), an undergravel filter with 3 strong powerheads (crushed coral gravel), and a phosban phoshate reactor. After all this was established, I read about and decided to add some live rock just for the tang and angels to have algae to nibble on (and for the additional filtration). I don't intend to grow a reef tank or corals.
My question is: Can I (please?) just add live rock to the aquarium with some additional lighting? (How much lighting?) I really don't understand the reason some aquarists say you can't use live rock with a UG filter or wet dry filter. Please enlighten me. Also, please let me know what changes I would need to make to successfully add live rock.
I really enjoy and appreciate your website, and would be grateful for any advice you can give me. Thanks, Val
Don't worry about some of the stuff you've read. Trouble is no 2 systems ever work out the same. You don't need strong lighting at all to keep "live rock live". You need fish that poop. The bacteria really don't care about the light. You will need some sort of lighting to get coraline algae to grow, the purple stuff. You won't need to dose any sort of calcium or alkalinity supplements as your fish won't pull them from the salt mix.
My only real concerns are:
1) That is a whole lot of fish to be added in 4 months. Don't be surprised if there is some die off in the next few weeks as fish stake out their areas. I would not add any more fish for awhile, let them enjoy the large tank without having to bump into each other. Remember that small fish grow into large fish.
2) The bangaii are used to being in packs while small. I'd either bring up the numbers to 5 or return the 1. That being said think about the biological impact of adding more to your very young tank.
3) UG filters will bring much headache in the future. They continuously fill up with waste until one day it goes off like a bomb. This can be the same for fresh or salt. Think of it like a canister filter that cannot ever be removed for cleaning, eventually it'll turn bad. They are unmaintainable. The rumor is that they are good for about 1 year and then BAM nitrites and ammonia sky rocket. Are you "pushing" or "pulling" through the UG filter? It is widely agreed upon that you need to push through them. Old style power heads pulling through the sand bed tend to trap the most waste.
4A) Your filtration is overwhelming. The Prizm is not doing much but using electricity, they are the bane of the industry. They just don't work well. Not to mention that I just don't think that a HOT skimmer is going to be good for a 6' long 125g tank. The water with the proteins will never be where it needs to be for a Prizm skimmer to remove it. For a 125 I'd be trying to figure out a way to add a sump under the tank with a nice skimmer. I say this because the nasty water floats on top, Prizm skimmers can never actually get this from the water, not even with the crappy adapter as the water level in the tank can vary everyday due to evaporation. An overflow box will keep the sump saturated with "top water", the same water that the skimmer needs. It wouldn't need to be a huge sump if only being used as a skimmer box. A 40g would fit a nice skimmer and return pump. With your intent for so many fish you might do well with a good sized refugium to help absorb excess wastes from the fish. A good fuge will have about 200-300GPH flowing through it with 6.5K bulbs. The 6,500K bulbs provide the perfect lighting spectrum for algaes to grow in. These "contained" algaes will absorb the nutrient content and "starve" detrimental algaes from growing in the display. If you grow caulerpa algae your tangs will love you. Just reach in there every night and pull a small amount out and toss it in the display. They will eat it up, excrete the waste and more will grow in the fuge as it intakes that waste creating more algae "food".
4B) I broke up my comments about the filtration into 2 parts because I first wanted to address my concerns about the filtration and then I wanted to comment about the amount of filtration. You've done a decent job of setting up a "FOWLR", fish only with live rock, tank. I'd be worried that with so many filters and as you said, weekly filter changes, that it will become overbearing in the future. This stuff is so much fun when we first get going but then as months pass we tend to become complacent. Miss a filter change and everything keeps on living, well then you begin to ask yourself why you spend so much money on filters so often. Your work load increases or family cuts into maintenance and suddenly you realize those filters you changed weekly have not been changed in month. So think about that with the canister filters and HOT filters. Ask yourself if you'd be better off with 2 Fluval FX5 filters or 2 Eheim 2230 or 2260 filters. My 125g freshwater has 4 Eheim 2217 filters, 1 2260 (Yeah the 7g monster), AND a sump for aeration and biological activity. Yes it is overwhelming at times. The goal is to get another 2260 and remove the several smaller canister filters. That way once a month I can clean one of the filters instead of several small filters.
Your tank will only be as successful as you make it, if it becomes "to much work" then some of the maintenance will begin to slip. This hobby is only as fun as we make it. That's why all of my tanks are as "maintenance free" as possible.
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