need help setting up my tank.... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-03-2009, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
need help setting up my tank....

ok, im a really rookie when it comes to setting up a salt tank and want to do it correctly!

I have purchased or have:

55g tank

60lb of bio-activ aragonite

cascade 700 filter

2 heaters

plenty of salt

I cant seem to find definate answers to the order and waiting time...

I assume i add the salt first and get that to the corect gravity? (how long should i wait til this is correct?)

then i add my bio-active? Do i rinse off the sand first or just open the bag and add ll the juices?

At what point do i turn on my filter? when i add the salt and then turn it off when i add the sand so i dosent get clogged with all the debre?

and as far as lightiig - i have bought 2 118" - 15 watt reef sun 50/50 bulbs. I was tol that i needed to remvove the plastic inbetween the bulb and the water so its more direct (is this correct)?

Im sure I'll have a million more questions and this site will be my new home page

thanks for any advice
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-04-2009, 12:15 AM
Kellsindell's Avatar
You have a 118in light fixture? that's huge for a 55g

Welcom to the forum.

Good questions. Lets take it from the top.
60lbs of aragonite is good, You're really wanting to get 4-5in of a sand bed, that'll allow for denitrification to work well through it. If you get 2-3in you're asking for trouble.

You need to get rid of the canister and any assortment of filters as such. You can use the canister down the road for using active carbon, but that's only for "in times of need". You're going to need a good skimmer. AquaC and Euroreef are good brands to go with, or if you have a skimmer you have a question about, you can ask here.

what brand of heaters do you have and how many watts are they each? the Rulse of thumb is 3watts per gallon. So you'll need 165watts of heaters, but you will want to distribute burden to 2 heaters rather then 1. So get 2 100watt heaters just in case one sticks on, if they are weaker, they will take a long time to cook your tank, if they are really strong like 2 200watts, then they'll cook your tank before you realize the temp is changing.

Make the water and get the SG correct, testing with a refractometer (they are very accurate), Then put holes into the bag and lower it to the bottom of the tank. When it's there slowly flip it to the opposite side and it'll pour the sand out and keep your sandbed alive (because it's bio-active). Once everything has settled you can start turing on pumps that way you don't start to clog everything up with loose sand.

You can turn your skimmer on during the entire cycle again you don't want to use the canister or hang-on-back filters like pinguin. They do have hang on back skimmers that you can use.

You need to get pumps for flow. NO AIRSTONES for the tank. The skimmer will put O2 into the water so they are not needed. Pumps will allow deadspots in the tank to be non-existent and will keep detritus off your sand. The general rule for water flow is FOWLR at least 5xgallons and if you are going reef 10-20xgallons. In a reef the more the better.

When your are done getting the sand settled, you'll want to get the cycle started (this is when your test kits come in handy you'll need Ammonia [NH], Nitrite [NO3], Nitrate [NO4], and Phostphate [PO4]). Test your water daily and you'll see NH shoot up then drop, then NO3 will shoot up and then drop, and finally you'll see NO4 shoot up and then drop. Once this has happened your cycle has completed starting. To start your cycle, you can use 1 piece of uncured Live Rock (LR), you can use more, but it'll stink for a long time, and it will rot its way into your tank, another method is to use unseasoned shrimp from a grocerie store. Just throw 2 or so pieces into the tank and let them rot for 3days and then net them out and your cycle is started. Nother way to know the cycle is complete is you'll see this ugly bloom of algae called diatomes, that's food for your bacteria and you're ready to add your clean up crew (CUC).

Another thing i want to stress is that you need an Reverse osmosis/de-ionizer (RO/DI) unit for your water source. If you are using tap water and declorinator, you're setting yourself up for failure. If you don't to pay for one and are getting SW from your Local Fish Store (LFS) then you need to get a Total Disolved Solid (TDS) meter to measure the quality of water the LFS is selling you. Having your own RO/DI unit is much cheeper in the long run though.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea...

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post #3 of 12 Old 03-04-2009, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
ok..great reply!

I have 2 100w heaters on opposite sides of the tank.

As far as the skimmer goes, can i add my live sand and let it settle and such and then get a skimmer over the weekend? Or do i have to have the skimmer right away?

And for the pumps, how many should i have and where should i locate them in my tank?

thanks again
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-05-2009, 01:16 AM
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You don't need it immediately, but you will need one eventually. Spend the most you can now. Skimmers are as good as their price. If you pay $70 it's prolly going to be crappy, if you payed $1000, it'll prolly be too strong. Find something close to $200 or so for your tank size. it'll suit you well. Again i rec. an AquaC or Euroreef, but there are many other brands, but check the reviews.

you need 550-1000gph of flow. Korelias are good as are Maxi jets (MJ's). I currently use 2 MJ1200 and 2 MJ900's in my tank and keep SPS and soft corals. I have mine pointed at eachother on the end of each side, but as long as you have few dead zones then it's all up to your imagination. I'd get 4 MJ1200 if i were you. I am going to get 3more because they are very useful when doing a water change, you can just pump the water out rather then sucking on the end of a hose.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea...

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post #5 of 12 Old 03-06-2009, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
alright, i have order 2 maxi jet 1200 pumps. I have added the bio-activ sand this afternoon and started my pumps up again. My salinity is 1.023-1.024 and the temp is a stead 78-79. Ok, so i assume i should get 1 piece of uncured lve rock and place it in the bottom of the tank. How long after the rock is put in does it tke to complete the cycle (3days)? Then after this step what should i do?
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-06-2009, 03:00 AM
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your going to need 70lbs of live rock if not more. a cycle will take about 1-2 months.
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-06-2009, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
so i should get all the likve rock right now?
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-06-2009, 10:04 AM
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its not required to but keep in mind the rock is going to jump start your cycle AND will be a large part in your natural filtration. 1 1/2-2 lbs of quality pourus live rock with good flow, water changes, possibly a deep sand bed (which i suggest) a quality protein skimmer (read reviews, some are garbage as others golden) and even carbon/phosban reactors, a sump/refugium with macro algae but NOT a mechanical filter like HOB or canister filters.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-07-2009, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by jeff20578 View Post
so i should get all the likve rock right now?
Because you ask this question, i think you are still not fully understanding the concept of filtration in a marine aquarium. Lets expand a bit.

In a FRESHWATER aquarium, filters are designed to break down waste with an end result of Nitrate accumulation. Water changes are used to keep Nitrates low.

These filters are not practical for a saltwater aquarium, for 3 reasons:
1) The size and frequency of the water changes required to keep nitrates near zero would be extremely time consuming, and even more expensive.
2) SW fish require more stability in their environment, and do not respond well to frequent or large water changes.
3) The process of waste being broken down (biological filters) and the process of mechanical filtration (filter pads) cause changes to alkalinity, pH, calcium, magnesium, borate, and phosphate. All of these changes make it difficult to properly stabilize the system for long term success.

As a result of these difficulties, the SW hobby uses a natural form of filtration. A protein skimmer, live rock, and deep sand bed are the basics for a successful marine system. The skimmer removes the bulk of the organic waste. The live rock processes biologically any waste that is not removed by the skimmer, but continues the biological breakdown by turning Nitrate into Nitrogen Gas, which leaves the system naturally. Finally, the live sand offers denitrification of NItrate, and a safehaven for copepods, amphipods, and other natural food sources to multiply.

To properly achieve this method of filtration, you must have the proper size skimmer, 1-2'' of live rock per gallon of water (depending on density), and 4-5'' of aragonite sand (no more no less).

The "cycle" will take several days to weeks, depending on your live rock source. LIve rock which has already been in an aquarium will likely have loads of beneficial bacteria and cycle the aquarium within a few short days. Live rock at the LFS, which originated from the ocean a few short weeks ago, will need time to "cure" before the aquarium can cycle.

Curing of live rock refers to the die off of organisms on and inside the live rock which occurs during shipping from the ocean to the LFS. This can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the rock. If the rock has a strong odor, it has not cured.

Finally, and MOST IMPORTANT, is this question... "When does the tank mature?" A mature aquarium is one that is ready for most fish and corals to be added. You have to visibly watch the aquarium to answer this. A test kit won't tell the entire story. A mature aquarium has cycled, has passed the stage of a diatom bloom, has coraline algae growing and spreading, has Nitrates that have risen and dropped to zero or very near zero, and has an abundance of copepods, amphipods, etc, and has stable and somewhat predictable calcium and alkalinity levels. This process takes 5 or 6 months. You should want a mature aquarium before adding anything but the easiest to keep of marine fish.

Last edited by Pasfur; 03-07-2009 at 08:11 AM.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-12-2009, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
ok - I have just set up 2 new mj 1200 filters. I noticed that i can adjust the air tube to let in more/less oxygen in the tank. Obviously with more air it shows more bubbles. My question is, how much air should i allow into the tank? And as far as placement in a 55g tank, would opposite sides of the tank be ideal for them?

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