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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
*Any comments and/or suggestions are always welcomed*


Hi to all new and veteren Saltwater Fish and Reef keepers.
The first bit of advice everyone gives a noob is to read all you can about setting up an aquarium before you actually try,
Well two years later I finally emerge from the depths of the basement dazed and confused and overwhelmed with a plethora of guides and information, not to mention the newest and best products and technology on the market that I can't afford oh and I probably need to shave... J/K :lol:
It has actually only been 3 weeks since I scored my first tank.

I'm 36 years old married 4 years, I have a 14 year old daughter who thinks she 23, a 14 year old son by marriage and an 18 month old boy still in Diapers, a house we purchased almost 2 years ago with projects still unfinished and My plant will be closing down soon to move South of the Border, but Hey, what better time to start a reef tank, right. :roll:

Actually my side hobby is building computers, I sold an upgraded P3 about the same time a couple old buddy's of mine from work decided to get back into Reef Tank Aquariums. Now my buddy, Heavy, already has his 30gal Reef tank established and is begining to add coral and had his first anenome experience... more on that chapter later to come.

Well my other co-worker, Sea Dollar, purchased a brand new AGA 50 gal breeder tank from our LFS, the breeder tank is 36w X 18d X 19t, the 50gal tank rode in the back of his pickup for a week before he decided to upgrade, which opened up the door of a deal to me, so in the grand scheme of things I ended up trading an older computer for a brand new fish tank and a couple of fellow aquarists to enjoy the hobby with, experienced ones at that.

OK, now the 50g is nowhere near that 150g Megaflow one that most of us dream of and a few can afford, but it's a start and as long as I still have the double D's of bills (Diapers and Daycare) I'm on a limited budget :shock:

Let me take some time to posts pics and end my first post here.
Next up, what to do about a stand? :?

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My tank doesn't have a stand to stand on...

*comments suggestions and ideas are always welcomed*

Ok, so now I scored my first tank, I filled it up with plain old City water and
checked for leaks, well it was a brand new unwrapped "made in America" aquarium, something I personally now realize I took for granted, so no leaks were to be expected but a 50 gal tank just doesn't do anything for me just sitting there on the utility room floor :wink:

It was time to do some tank stand shopping, after flipping through the pages of a new AGA catalog and browsing websites, checking craiglist, I decided on an AGA solid pine aquarium stand (oak colored knotty pine) this one most resembled the original 50's knotty pine, I as a man have grown to love that already lined the walls in our basement (the wife wanted to paint them.. not).

As a general rule of thumb, I prefer to support my favorite LFS, but at 2 Franklins and a Grant I started pounding the keys til I found the best deal on the net supply stores and I ended up finding a new one for $180 shipped DHL.
This price is off set by the fact that I happen to sell my second upgraded P3 computer system for $200.
With the 2 most vital components of aquarium set up scratched off my list I can call it a week.

So far I have no out of pocket expenses, I traded my way to a tank and stand set up. I envy those with higher budgets but for most of us the size of our tanks and stands are relative to the space we have available and how deep out pockets are.

If your interested in starting a reef tank, most everyone and everywhere I read states that larger systems are easier to keep stable then a smaller one and between 30 and 90 gal tanks are the best systems for the novice reef aquarist.

So far my out of pocket expenses = $ 0.00
total spent to date
tank = $100.00
stand = $ 180.00
total = $280.00

Someone with more patience than I might can shop around for a used set up from an aquarist who might be upgrading or throwing in the towel and come out cheaper or end up with a larger tank and stand for the same price. It never fails, once you make a purchase, great deals just seem to come out of the woodwork :twisted:

ps- To clarify I have no complaints about the tank stand itself, but it isn't the most hardy of furniture for the money. When it arrived one of the doors was broken, a quick call to the online site I made my purchase and they contacted AGA for me and replacement door and hardware arrived in less that 14 days.

Next up will be lighting and this one will be my first out of pocket expense.

 

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aquahubby said:
It never fails, once you make a purchase, great deals just seem to come out of the woodwork :twisted:
This is definitely the quote of the day. After you bought your tank stand. We got a new member named HeavycomestheAx who just joined about 3 hours ago and guess what? He loves to build tank stand with woods.....LOL

Anyways, thanks for keeping the project procedure going. Definitely need some more activity on this section.
 

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So you are ready for live rock, sand and salt water right? Oh yeah, lights.
When are you coming to Raleigh? I will give you are really good deal on live rock, crushed coral for your sand bed and we even have a set of Used lights that will work nicely on your 50 setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
aquaescape said:
we even have a set of Used lights that will work nicely on your 50 setup.
See what I mean :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Now there is no way I'm even going to try to attempt a guide to lighting. :?
What I did is I looked up a basic formula to figure out about how many watts I needed based on what I plan to keep in my aquarium.

I decided on a Reef aquarium with fish and soft corals.

Some quick research says if I look at a set of lights putting out 192watts / 50 = 3.84 wpg.

I read in many guides that reef tanks need 3-8 wpg depending on what kind of coral are planned and how deep your tank is, 24" deep tanks are considered common for this calculation.

My 50g tank skids in under the 24" avg by 5" and since I am not planning any
hard corals, 192 puts me in a theoretical safe zone.

Next consideration is the B word - Budget. This is my first out of pocket expense so skimping on lighting gives me more toward a skimmer.
Power compact lights fit the budget and one can easily score a set at the $200 mark, I was looking at the coralife PC's and I really wanted to get a set with those cool Blue lunar lights for night time viewing ( then my tank will match the Blue LED lights that hue my computers in the office )
I couldn't find a deal on a Quality used set ( I was not patient enough to wait around for a deal either ) when I started looking Ebay and came across a popular set of El Cheapo Jebo Lights now named Odysea.
36in wide dual Power Compact bulbs, One set is True Actinic 03 and the other is Bright White Day Light, and 3 blue Lunar LED Lights and stand included, with shipping it only set me back $110

It sounded like a good deal at the time, the lights are nice and I have no complaints with the exception that the mounting brackets need a slight mod to be more secure but nothing I can't handle.

Hindsite I probably should have splurged for a higher quality set but now I have $90 saved back for Live Rock
:lol:

I won't skimp when choosing a skimmer.

So far my out of pocket expenses = $ 110.00
total spent to date
tank = $100.00
stand = $180.00
lights = $110.00
total = $390.00

Projects for the upcoming weekend : DYI sump and stain the Tank stand to match my knotty pine wall and to protect the wood during evaporation.



 

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Overflow on your tank

Hey Aquahubby,
I live near Burlington. Where do you go for fish supplies? Any LFS nearby? I only know of Dubby's and Petsmart (nonLFS). Anyway, I noticed the overflow on your tank. Did it come with the tank or something you obtained? Enjoy setting up the tank. I'll be following your posts for suggestions.
-Pharmboy
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Overflow on your tank

Pharmboy said:
Hey Aquahubby,
I live near Burlington. Where do you go for fish supplies? Any LFS nearby? I only know of Dubby's and Petsmart (nonLFS). Anyway, I noticed the overflow on your tank. Did it come with the tank or something you obtained? Enjoy setting up the tank. I'll be following your posts for suggestions.
-Pharmboy
Hey back at you Pharmboy,
I know a few folks from the camp. I currently work at Kidde the fire extinguisher Co. so you might have heard about our plant announcement,
They (the powers to be) chose to move the manufacturing process to Mexico to remain competitive (and line a few exec's pockets with a phat bonus).

When I refer to our LFS, my buds and I travel to Greensboro to Aquamain.

Glad you noticed the overflow, I'm gonna cover it on my next post, I left it in the pic as a teaser.
:wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanx for the tips and I love Ebaying, especially grabbing a deal by placing my first bid with 10sec left. :twisted:

* All comments, suggestions, tips and atta boys, always welcomed here *

This weekend was a semi success, I managed to stain and protect the stand with a nice coat compliments of minwax.

And to cut and install backdrop for the tank, it's reversable, dark/blue, I found I prefer the blue backdrop for now, I hope it brings out the colors of the future coral reef aquascape and provide a nice ambiance for the Moonlights.

Next project up is an overflow/sump filtration system.

Borrowing on the idea of Pharmboys sump I purchased a 20g High (on sale LFS).
and Bid on and won a SOS tidepool overflow (600gph) 32 bucks + 5 for shipping, thnx EBAY!

Next I cut a scrap piece of Lexan at work to make a cover for the sump.
tomarrow I will cut holes and fit for the flexlines from the overflow and fabricate a "sock" holder and epoxy it like a shelf, actually a dual micron bag filter, one for each pipe.

I will be shopping soon for a return pump, about 500+gph flow and a protein skimmer to mount in sump.
I was thinking of a mag pump and a coralife super skimmer.
So any experiences with these products or suggestions are welcomed.


So far my out of pocket expenses = $ 184.00
total spent to date
tank = $100.00
stand = $180.00
lights = $110.00
overflow = $40.00
20gh sump = $25.00
backdrop = $9.00

total = $464.00





ps. notice the electrical outlet, this will be changed over to a GFCI
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good morning and I hope everyone had a Wonderful Easter weekend!

I managed to score a sheet of egg crate plasticote grating, this can be found for $11.00 at your local HD or Lowes in the ceiling tile isle, it can be used for a foundation in your tank area as a protective barrier in your sand bed to keep your live rock from ever touching the glass bottom. And also used as a shelf divider in your sump (pics later).

I also picked up some plumbing supplies for the sump but this project has been been put on hold ......

This weekend and most if not all of this week will be dedicated to
finishing the electrical wiring, telephone and cable lines I am running through out the basement. Also some hot water pipe insulation installation (say that five times fast) and painting and then the final project .. ceiling tiles.
That will finish off the basement project, then I can call it a finished basement.

Oh I do have a really cool surprise .. my wife just returned from a trade show and she knows a company that prints graphics on vinyl and this year was an Aquarium theme and they specialize in vehical graphics.

Check the photo out. So my wife asked if they could print her out a small sample copy to use as some sort of backgound for my reef tank theme, well when the show was over they delivered a print out that was 6ft tall by 12ft wide! If it arrives undamaged I think we found a reef scene that will cover a complete wall! How cool will that be.

 

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that would make some awesome wallpaper for the wall my tank is on! i see you shop at Aquamains. once you start getting corals, and other livestock, take a trip to Kernersville. they have much better prices on their live stuff. i used to do alot with Aquamains (7 years+), they have gone crazy with some of their pricing!

when you looking to get water in your tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I was hoping to cycle my tank over Easter weekend but wife and I (wife said I) agreed on finishing the projects in the basement first, I'll have to post some pics so no one thinks I'm fibbing :p

My new goal is to have live sand and Rock cycling in the tank by Mothers Day weekend, then I'll look into fish and more after that, if all goes as planned. *crosses fingers*

I have plugs for one LFS in Kernersville and one in Durham, their probably both about the same distance so if I'm close to either one I'll give them a visit, I am also thinking of purchasing some Live rock and Sand online...

My buddy heavy has been getting some coral from a guy in the keys and so far so good and priced very low. He is expecting some Xania today but that one is coming from Oregan, this one might be a gamble LOL...
 

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Lighting Comment, Question

Hi There Aquahubby!

You're doing a real nice job of keeping everyone up on your project :D

I had a question. Earlier, you said "fabricate a "sock" holder and epoxy it like a shelf, actually a dual micron bag filter, one for each pipe". I wasn't exactly clear on what you meant by this. Could you educate me?

As far as your lighting, I in my amateur but overly complicated engineer brain, think you made a good choice based on a small amount of personal experience. Let me explain.

Firstly, Power Compacts are very "Efficient". In light bulbs we would define efficiency as "amount of light out for the amount of power we put in". So, when we say a Power Compact is more efficent than a VHO, we are saying you get more light out of 192Watts of Power Compacts than 192 Watts of VHO.

My tank is 36 Long by 24 deep. The 24 deep is important to remember because it is very deep compared to your tank and I am talking about "worst case" comparing my tank as a "

I have a 65 gallon tank. My current lighting is 3 x 55 watts = 165 watts of Power Compacts. Now as far as the "watts per gallon" rule goes, that's only about 2.8 W/G.

Now, I do have one confusion that I have not researched. All of the power compact bulbs of this length are actually marked "55 / 65 Watts". Anyone who can unconfuse (about these light bulbs anyway :roll: ) please chime in. Even if the bulbs were 65's that wouldn't change things much at 3 W/G.

I've only just started stocking my tank. I have a Button Polyp and some Encrusting Montipora that are high-up in the tank on top of the Live Rock and are doing wonderfully. I have a Fungia Disc that is all the way on the bottom that is also doing well. I also have a hitchiker Mushroom on a piece of Live Rock that is growing like CRAZY. So, something must be going OK???

The reason I said that the 24" is important to remember is that the deeper the tank gets, the more wattage you would need to penetrate the depth.

According to a chart I found online ( http://www.thekrib.com/TankHardware/size-chart.html ) your tank's dimensions are :
50 Gallon 36 7/8 x19 x19 5/8

Your tank is only 19" deep as compared to the 24" deep of my 65G and you would be able to place corals deeper in the tank for the same given "watts per gallon" than I would.

The fact that the Fungia Disc is doing well and there seems to be no problem growing other life (that I did not detail) in the "depths" of the tank is very exciting considering the very moderate lighting!

So, that's an engineer's "very simple" :roll: way of saying... I think your lights will do pretty good. Hey, for that price, you could afford to get a second unit!!

On the other hand, I went with "Lighting Gone Wild". I got 2 x 175 Watt 14000K Metal Halide and 2 x 55W "50/50" Power Compact. That's 460W or 7 W/G.

So, in terms of economic efficiency, you got 3.84 W/G for $110.00 or $28.00/W/G. My maniac lighting 7 W/G setup cost $500.00 or $71.00/W/G. So, in terms of economic efficiency, I spent 2.5 times as much as you for my "better high-tech" lighting.
That Rule of Thumb is called the "Law of Diminshing Returns". :?

:twisted: However, maybe my handle shouldn't be "RaleighReefGuy" but "AnyHobbyI'veEverHadPsychoTechNut" :twisted: .

Long-Winded Regards,
Mike

PS: Oh yeah, and what about those "socks" :?: :?:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hiya ReefGuy,

Glad you concour with my lighting choice, honestly if my budget was higher I would have the better lights.
I guess you can call my set up Reef on a Budget :p

Here is a couple of links of pics with the "Socks" I had in mind.
I call em socks but they are just plain ol micron bag filters, we use them here
at work in our wash process and for filtering lube.

Single Filter Bag LINK


Dual Filter Bag LINK

My overflow box has dual outlet hoses and the instructions call for them to
connect to a "T" fitting but I was thinking to maximize flow I would connect them each to their own fitting and run through individual filter bags.
 

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Reef on a budget....

I always think I have a budget too. There just always seems to be a hurricane that comes along and blows the roof off :shock:

I'm really curious to see how your overall sump setup turns out. I forget, are you going to be trickling over BioBalls? Have you found a good deal on those yet?

If you are looking to buy Live Rock off of eBay, which I have not done myself so I cannot vouch for the vendors, I can tell you which East Coast (save on shipping) vendors seem to have the best deal, good ratings and respond quickly to e-mails.

How much live rock are you going to buy? Did you have any particular type in mind?

I know it's been much more expensive, but I really liked buying my Live Rock locally for two reasons. 1) I loved being able to cherry-pick my rock. 2) I kept some money in the local economy - maybe I'll be lucky enough for some to come back to me. Oh yes, and #3 - I just couldn't wait :roll:

I know you mentioned in the thread somewhere approximately where you live. Do you live anywhere near Raleigh? Tropical Fish World has had some pretty good sales on Live Rock. They've had it for $4.99/lb. quite a few times on the weekend which was unannoucned in advance i.e. you would not know unless you walked in.

On Easter weekend from Sat-Mon, Tropical Fish World had Live Rock for $3.99/lb. that came by coupon via e-mail!

Personally, I'd rather pay the $4-$5 a pound and buy in small increments locally than take a chance by mail order.

So far, I only bought two "live items" by mail order.

1) I bought some "Live Sand", "Live Rubble" and MacroAlgae off a guy on eBay. The Chaetomorpha (MacroAlgae) looked real good. The rubble and sand didn't smell all that great. However, daredevil that I am, in it went. So, live or dead, I added 5 pounds of rubble to my sump and dumped 2 pounds of sand in my tank. If it was dead, it's "live" now.

2) I bought some snails off eBay from a guy here in Bath, NC. I ordered 75 and he must have sent me at least 125. They were all real fresh and healthy.

I think the bottom line with live stuff and shipping is "short and sweet".

From what I know, Live rock ships really well. The guys at all of the storees tell me that they receive it in boxes and let it sit for days and it still comes out fresh. The importnat thing is that it be kept wet.

I think the bottom line for me is going to be that I will never buy anything live from anyone that is not close by or is not going to be shipped ASAP which can be real expensive.

Oh, one other eBay buying tip... Just because the buyer's info says a particular location - don't take it for granted that they ship from that location. One guy's location was Texas which was 2 days by UPS ground and would not have been too bad on shipping for Live Rock. For some reason, out of the blue, I decided to ask him where he is shipping from. He told me he is drop shipping from California. I affecionately call UPS ground from California "Pony Express". That package could have been en route for 7-10 days!! Not quite what I had expected :evil:

Best,
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yikes, I'm glad you brought that up about drop shipping, so many ebayers now are just ebaying for somebody else ect.. That will remind me to always email first and ask. Our LFS (greensboro) was selling LR for $7.99lb not my idea of a good deal.
I live in Burlington, when I am ready to buy LR I'd be glad to drive if I know of a place in Durham or Raleigh or Kernersville that is running a special.

I been doing some reading on this site Melev's Link
for sump ideas, I decided for time and cost to make my first sump from
an AGA 20g High but I am sure I will experiement with a custom acrylic
sump in the future for when I evenetually get my BIG Tank :wink:

PS No bio balls planned for this project, the live rock will be my natural biofilter
 

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aquahubby said:
Our LFS (greensboro) was selling LR for $7.99lb not my idea of a good deal.
I live in Burlington, when I am ready to buy LR I'd be glad to drive if I know of a place in Durham or Raleigh or Kernersville that is running a special.
they do cut you a break when you buy in bulk. you can get it for as low as $6.49/lb if you get 25+lbs. LOL i got my LR from them (i know who) before i knew what LR was supposed to look like. i would not by any from them again. im going to have to hit the Kernersville shop soon and see how theirs is looking. they just recently started curing in their own vats. but i think they are 5.99lb then it drops the more you buy.
 

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Sock Filter...cool

I searched for info on the sock filter. Pretty elegant, yet simple idea. I believe you let the overflow water pass into the sump, where it then drains through a porous filter bag suspended on a tray. This easily removes large debris from the water while aerating it in a small size container. This bag can be removed, rinsed out and reused again and again until it rips. Nice.
 
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