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Unread 2012-11-19, 11:30 PM   #1
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Default Reef Aquarium build thread / how to properly setup a marine aquarium.

I am currently am in the process of setting up another saltwater coral reef aquarium. I Know there are a few people on the site who are into aquariums and some maybe thinking about switching from freshwater to a marine aquarium. I thought it would be a neat idea to make a thread that takes fellow members through the step by step process of setting up a proper saltwater aquarium, what setting up a marine aquarium involves, how much one should expect to spend and just overall information for people thinking of taking the plunge.
Also, If anyone has questions regaurding fresh or saltwater aquariums in general, feel free to post it in here and I will answer it to the best of my ability.
I will also be returning back to work at Aquariums Wholesale on the weekends for the next few months to help fund my new porject, feel free to come bother me.

Background: I have kept saltwater/coral aquariums since 1997. I have worked in numerous fish stores through highschool and college. The coral reef biome as a whole is just captivating to me. My obession with reef aquariums literally almost made me fail highschool, I was totally focused on educating myself about coral instead.

Last spring I took down my oldest reef, I was overloaded with school and work, I began to badly neglect it and slowly all my corals died and the tank pretty much crashed. I sold off all my equipment so it wouldn't be around tempting me to setup another one. I told myself I was done for at least 5-10 years. Well, I have been thinking of a winter project, now that I have a reliable DD I was considering doing a turbo upgrade to my car, but all it took was a visit to Reefcentral.com, after I finished looking at the Tank of the Month thread I knew my winter project would be a new reef.

Beginning: I am going to be setting up a 75gallon reef aquarium that will house the most demading/sensitive corals kept in captivity. I will be using very high end "best of the best" equipment. I will list what a reasonable alternative would be for a beginners setup.
When choosing aquariums many think that smaller aquariums are easier and require less maintenice, this can be true in some cases, however, stability is key for sucess with any aquarium and larger bodies of water tend to have more stable parameters. Reef aquariums in general require high intensity lighting and that means heat, temperature swings, as well as osmotic swings [changes in salinity from evaporation] are a common problem for small marine aquariums.
I recommend people get the biggest they can deal with.

I will come back to this and update it with more detailed info, go through the list of equipment I am using, what each thing does, why its needed and products I would recommend as practical alternatives, I'll also post more on the progress I will hopefully make tomarrow after i pick up the aquarium.

Equipment list so far
_______________
150w ebo-jager heater -29.99
[beginners alt- N/A]
Magdrive 1200gph pump-149.99
[beginners alt- non sump system, HOB filter- 60.00]
octopus xp1000 cone protein skimmer-345.00
[beginners alt- CPR bak pak- 150.00]
48" hamilton belize sun 2x250w HQI 2x 54w T-5 fixture- 999.99
[beginners alt- fish only=standard strip 30.00, easy/intermediate coral reef= 4x t-5 fixture 200.00, Stony reef=LED or Halides 500.00+]
TUNZE osmolator-194.99
[beginners alt- JBJ topoff= 99.99]
Precison Marine Kalkwasser reactor-269.99
[beginners alt- dosing 2 part~$10/per month]
VortechMp40 wave making pump-465.00
[beginners alt- hydro koralia powerheads- 49.99+]
35GPD RO/DI water purifier-220.00
[beginners alt- fish only= dechlorinated tap water, Reef= N/A]
48x18'' Stand-250.00
[beginners alt- DIY= ~100 on wood/screws/hinges

ripping out carpet for wood floors:



Stand [Uber awsome rattle can paint job] chilling with my cacti:



Equipment:

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Unread 2012-11-19, 11:52 PM   #2
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Can't wait to see it come together. Maybe after seeing yours I will finally be ready to set mine up.
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Unread 2012-11-30, 08:46 AM   #3
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Looks like you've got some pretty good stuff.

Whats your thought on leds a few companies claim to have reef capabilities.
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Unread 2012-11-30, 04:49 PM   #4
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want me to sticky this?
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Unread 2012-12-01, 06:40 AM   #5
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Can't wait to see this. I really want to set up my new 55 sometime in the next 6 months.
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Unread 2012-12-04, 04:41 PM   #6
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update: system is running, got the rockscape done (tonga branch FTW!)on the third day I added a pocillopora and a sertiopora frag, both did well. the next day i decided to grab a few acropora frags. System is on day 6 of life, and I already observed nocturnal axial corallite polyp extention on all three acroporids this morning.
going to add some more tonight.

here is some progress pics:





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Unread 2012-12-04, 04:54 PM   #7
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amazing, looks so complicated
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Unread 2012-12-04, 09:45 PM   #8
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Is that sump a 29? Tank a 75?
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Unread 2012-12-05, 02:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbolte View Post
Is that sump a 29? Tank a 75?
Yep, aside from a 37gal it's about the biggest thing you can cram under a normal depth 75gal. Bigger the sump, more system volume/stability, as well as the ability to cram a massive. Skimmer in it, this will enable
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Unread 2012-12-05, 03:10 PM   #10
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Holy crap.... so many things I could screw up haha!
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Unread 2012-12-06, 08:16 PM   #11
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Yep, aside from a 37gal it's about the biggest thing you can cram under a normal depth 75gal. Bigger the sump, more system volume/stability, as well as the ability to cram a massive. Skimmer in it, this will enable
Nice, the 29 fits under there pretty well. I plan to make one for my 75 but its freshwater.
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Unread 2012-12-07, 01:08 AM   #12
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way more complicated then my setup...I got cool bubbly lights though. quite proud of those. however I have no fishes.

your tank looks awesome so far.
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Unread 2012-12-07, 01:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xXSTi-lynXx View Post
update: system is running, got the rockscape done (tonga branch FTW!)on the third day I added a pocillopora and a sertiopora frag, both did well. the next day i decided to grab a few acropora frags. System is on day 6 of life, and I already observed nocturnal axial corallite polyp extention on all three acroporids this morning.
going to add some more tonight.

here is some progress pics:





English?
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Unread 2012-12-07, 01:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xXSTi-lynXx View Post
update: system is running, got the rockscape done (tonga branch FTW!)on the third day I added a pocillopora and a sertiopora frag, both did well. the next day i decided to grab a few acropora frags. System is on day 6 of life, and I already observed nocturnal axial corallite polyp extention on all three acroporids this morning.
going to add some more tonight.
Am i the only one who thinks bible on this comment:

"on the third day I..." Dunno, just went there immediately when I read this.
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Unread 2013-12-22, 01:38 AM   #15
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Any further progress? I just got my first tank setup.
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Unread 2015-12-17, 11:42 AM   #16
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Update.

I had a tank crash last year due to Acropora Eating Flatworms and I lost the battle. I reset the tank this spring and added a few things made a few changes. Its still fairly young but stuff is growing fast.
Here is a growth progression of a Acropora cynthera colony I picked up in July after the reset was cycled.

July 10, 2015


November 3, 2015


December 15, 2015


Acropora Spathulata that has colored up big time since picking it up.







Equipment


Electronics/ reef computer -able to control and monitor everything from my phone or tablet now.




RMD- still have yours setup?
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Unread 2015-12-17, 01:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Update.

I had a tank crash last year due to Acropora Eating Flatworms and I lost the battle. I reset the tank this spring and added a few things made a few changes. Its still fairly young but stuff is growing fast.
Here is a growth progression of a Acropora cynthera colony I picked up in July after the reset was cycled.

July 10, 2015


November 3, 2015


December 15, 2015


Acropora Spathulata that has colored up big time since picking it up.







Equipment


Electronics/ reef computer -able to control and monitor everything from my phone or tablet now.




RMD- still have yours setup?
Looks good man, Yeah, mine is still up. I made the mistake of putting a kenyan tree in there and it has spread all over the place. Doesn't look bad, but there is a lot of it. Still have some mushrooms and some anthellia.(SP?) but lost my zoas.
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Unread 2015-12-17, 02:23 PM   #18
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Looks good man, Yeah, mine is still up. I made the mistake of putting a kenyan tree in there and it has spread all over the place. Doesn't look bad, but there is a lot of it. Still have some mushrooms and some anthellia.(SP?) but lost my zoas.
Nice, how did you lose the zoas? bacterial? or sundial snail/ nudibranch? The zoa market is crazy these days with the names and prices, rastas, safe crackers, gorilla nipples, utter chaos etc etc.

Some of the price per polyp I see people pay is outrageous!
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Unread 2015-12-17, 03:52 PM   #19
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Nice, how did you lose the zoas? bacterial? or sundial snail/ nudibranch? The zoa market is crazy these days with the names and prices, rastas, safe crackers, gorilla nipples, utter chaos etc etc.

Some of the price per polyp I see people pay is outrageous!
I am, thinking bacterial. I just had a lawnmower blenny die and the zoas went right after. That the only think I can think of. I had a macro on em a lot and never saw any pests other than some Astrenia stars and some tiny brittle stars. It COULD have been the Astrenia's, I have a bunch that come out at night, just never spent the money to get a Harliquin shrimp to kill em off.
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Unread 2015-12-17, 04:16 PM   #20
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I am, thinking bacterial. I just had a lawnmower blenny die and the zoas went right after. That the only think I can think of. I had a macro on em a lot and never saw any pests other than some Astrenia stars and some tiny brittle stars. It COULD have been the Astrenia's, I have a bunch that come out at night, just never spent the money to get a Harliquin shrimp to kill em off.
If the Astrenia's were the ones that end up scattered on your glass predominately at night then they were most likely the harmless algae eating type.

What kind of setup do you have?
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Unread 2015-12-17, 06:19 PM   #21
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If the Astrenia's were the ones that end up scattered on your glass predominately at night then they were most likely the harmless algae eating type.

What kind of setup do you have?
Its a 60g cube, overflow system, Reef Octopus Skimmer, 20g sump. 2 Jeabo WP25 wavemakers. Crushed coral bed, about 60lbs of Marshall Island live rock.
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Unread 2015-12-26, 09:52 AM   #22
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Its a 60g cube, overflow system, Reef Octopus Skimmer, 20g sump. 2 Jeabo WP25 wavemakers. Crushed coral bed, about 60lbs of Marshall Island live rock.
Nice, if you ever want to give some SPS a shot I have a few frags I'll let you have for free. Some easier ones like Green slimer acro and ORA hyacinth birds nest.
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Unread 2016-02-24, 01:03 AM   #23
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Just figured I would update, about Christmas time I was woken up in the middle of the night from my skimmer making a horrible sound for some reason and got up and unhooked it. Well, me being the dumbass, I forgot about it until about 3 weeks ago when I noticed I lost a couple of fish and the tank was looking kinda funky. Also found out my heater went out on me as well. When it rains it pour and you really pay for neglect. Soooooo...I went into recovery mode. Tests showed all Parms were okay but nitrate and it was through the roof, make sense with no skimmer going. Water dropped down to 68, luckily I had a brand new EJ150 to throw in it right away and got it back up to temp. Got the skimmer out and gave it a good vinegar soak and cleaned up and reinstalled and running. Then busted out the ole vac and vacuumed the crushed coral bed to get rid of as much detritus as possible followed by a good size water change. The nitrates still aren't gone, but they are going down. Have also been dosing with reef bio-fuel to make those nitrates skimable.



Well that also sparked my next adventure.... I am getting ready to buy a used 90g bowfront tomorrow. I will be resealing it before setting it up since I will be moving it upstairs to the dining room and last thing I want is an older bowfront springing a leak in my dining room. I am just planning to move everything over from my 60g to this. My sump, skimmer, heater, light(will end up buying a second unit), wave makers, live rock and part of my crushed coral bed.

I have already pulled a lot of that kenyan tree off my rock, but this will be a good chance to get the rest of it off. All my rock is extremely expensive Marshall Island rock so I really want it to look nice in the new tank.

I am also going to be really rinsing out my crushed coral bed as much as possible and adding in some dry reef sand with it in the new tank.

Over all I am pretty excited about the upgrade, but nervous about doing the tank reseal. I have talked to several people who say its very easy, and watched about all the youtube videos on it I have found. I just hope it all goes well!


Your tank still goin well?? I think at some point I will be wanting a reef computer for this one, what one are you using? Any dislikes?
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Unread 2016-02-24, 06:49 AM   #24
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Sorry for your troubles mate, my tank is still doing really well, had a bit of cyanobacteria pop up when I started dosing vodka, but it's settling down. Reef computer I chose was a reef keeper, I had a neptune AC3 on a previous tank and it was kind of a nightmare, so I decided against their new apex, very happy with my choice, the reef keeper is easy to program and update.

Sealing a tank is pretty straight forward aND easy, the real tricky part is doing it neatly, that can be very challenging.
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Unread 2016-02-24, 04:19 PM   #25
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Sorry for your troubles mate, my tank is still doing really well, had a bit of cyanobacteria pop up when I started dosing vodka, but it's settling down. Reef computer I chose was a reef keeper, I had a neptune AC3 on a previous tank and it was kind of a nightmare, so I decided against their new apex, very happy with my choice, the reef keeper is easy to program and update.

Sealing a tank is pretty straight forward aND easy, the real tricky part is doing it neatly, that can be very challenging.
Glad all your stuff is goin pretty good.

I ended up passing on that bowfront. If it were going in the basement I would have felt more comfortable with doing the reseal. But being in my upstairs dining room I don't want as big of a chance of a leak...I know there is ALWAYS a chance. I ended up going with a 90g they have over at Paradise for just a bit more with a stand and 40g breeder sump. Seals on the tank looked good so much less worry there. Plus the stand is wired up with a bank of outlets and switches already which will be nice. And there us some dry sand in the bottom so one less thing to buy there, will just add a bit of mine in here and there to seed it.

Really love the looks of those bowfronts, but just started reading too many horror stories of the bottom fronts springing leaks and was worried a simple reseal would turn into a full rebuild and didn't want to take that on.

You on FB? If so shoot me an add. Ryan Moffitt.
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Contact me for any of your photography needs and current photoshoot specials. R|M|D Photography
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