75 Gallon Equip Suggestions

Fishlover1984

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Hey all, I’m in the process of researching and planning a saltwater reef tank. I have a 75 gallon glass aquarium with stand ready to go. I have decided that initially I am not going to use a sump. I can always add it later (I have watched a bunch of videos about how to drill the hole and know that my glass tank is not tempered so it should be no issue). I just need to simplify things a bit to get started because I’m overwhelmed honestly by the amount of information and products available!

I would love your suggestions on what lighting and how much for a reef tank (was considering going led, but having trouble knowing how much I need), how much flow and what powerheads or wave makers you would suggest, and any overall other equipment suggestions.

I plan to have a sponge filter (not sure which currently) and protein skimmer (thinking of getting the HOB Reef Octopus Classic 1000).

Would also love suggestions on an RO device.

I didn’t have any other equipment planned, but please let me know if I should be looking at others. I want to do it right as much as I can from the get go....

Additional notes: planning on stocking fish first and adding LPS later. Fish I am pretty sure I’d like (hoping to stay peaceful, community tank for now): pair of clowns, group of green chromis, a royal gramma basslet, purple fire fish, and maybe a wrasse or cardinal fish or something. Would also like some kind of cleaning crew.... shrimp, starfish, hermit crabs... not sure what kind yet. Still working this part out.

Thanks for your help!
 

Jesterrace

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Okay:

1. Avoid Canister filters for filtration as they are the most problematic method of filtration for marine setups. The problem you are going to run into with a tank that isn't drilled is that drilling it after it is all setup makes things much more complicated. I would either make a choice to go HOB and then if you decide to do a sump later going with an overflow box and going that route or simply sticking with HOB. As for the HOB Skimmer, keep in mind you will be taking a big loss on it as you will need to replace it once you go with a sump config if you want the benefit of a sump with an in sump protein skimmer (which are much more efficient than HOB Protein Skimmers).

2. Lighting-There are many options out there all with their own Pros and Cons. LEDs are generally more expensive and range from either terrible to almost as good as a T5 bulb fixture. The advantage to LEDs are pretty obvious, no expensive bulb replacements, lots of customization options on the higher end fixtures and just a generally cool look (you aren't going to get that blueish/purple look that many people seem to go for these days with T5 lights).

Among the favorites for LED on a budget are the Current Orbit Marine LEDs (highly customizable/programmable, but not necessarily the best for growing a wide variety of corals), The 165 Watt "Chinese Black Boxes" under various labels that can be found on Amazon that provide good lighting, but lack customization/programming and can be hit and miss for warranty support if you need it.

If you want a more serious LED light then you venture into the realm of Kessil, AI and Ecotech Marine. Kessil is loved for their deep blue lighting and shimmer effect that they create, although of the "Big 3" for LEDs they are generally considered to be not as good as the other two for promoting coral growth. That isn't to say you can't do it with them, it's just that they don't do it quite as well, they also require an extra $100 controller to get customization/programming features. AI is actually owned by Ecotech Marine and is considered to be an incredible value as they provide a high end solid LED light with full customization/programming right out of the box. Ecotech Marine Radions (particularly their Pro line) are considered to be the Holy Grail/Gold Standard of LED lighting offering an incredible LED light for coral growth, like Kessil though you will need to fork over an extra $100 for a controller and the cost of the Pro models is simply outrageous.

You can go with a T5 which will give you the best overall coral growth light out there (a good one with 6-8 bulbs still has an edge over even the Ecotech Marine Pro line), but you will be very limited on options for the customization of the light and be stuck with a pricey bulb replacement when they are due. They are relatively cheap to buy with a good one being $250-$500.

For me personally, I am a value guy and I wanted what would give me the most options for the money and as such I settled on the AI Hydra 26 HD lights. I have a 90 gallon and run a pair of them on a rail mount above the tank (I recommend the rail or ceiling mount for rimmed tanks as the arms don't fit right on anything but a rimless tank). You would run a pair of them on a 75 gallon as well and they will provide good growth on all but the most difficult to grow corals out there. They run $350 per light plus the cost of mounts. They are fully programmable via wi-fi, have good warranty support, and give you the option of borrowing power from color spectrum that you aren't using and giving it to the ones that you are using. Here is a vid of them in action over my 90 gallon:



As for fish: Clownfish are all semi-aggressive/territorial to some degree no matter what sites claim, so keep that in mind and add them last to your tank. Chromis are a poor choice as they often pick each other off over time and many are shipping with disease these days. The rest of the list looks good, but be aware that any assertive fish will bully that firefish. My Purple was the number one target of every bully I pulled out of my 36 gallon tank and spent way too much time in hiding for my tastes. Personally I would skip the purple and the chromis and go with the other fish on your list. If you want a good schooling fish go with a small school of Pajama Cardinalfish as they will hang out and be peaceful (and won't pick each other off). I keep one by itself and it just hangs out in my tank and doesn't bother anyone and they don't bother it.
 

stella1979

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So glad you're here @Jesterrace

@Fishlover1984 - I can't help much with equipment, as I only have experience with nano tanks with smaller equipment. Lighting is a huge consideration though, and I made a mistake in my build that I'd like to help prevent for others. In a nutshell? I was unhappy with my first light, which wasn't all that cheap, so less than a year in I upgraded. This means I paid for reef lighting twice.:banghead: Don't be like me.

As far as other equipment - You'll need rocks and substrate, a heater or two, and wavemakers. If you plan to someday drill the tank... well, I'd be patient with your build and take care of that before setting it up in the first place. Taking the tank down to drill it will be a much bigger job after your tank is mature and stocked.
 
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Fishlover1984

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Thank you both for great info so far. Loved the video also. Super helpful! I’ve started compiling my shopping list!! Can one of you or someone else tell me if two Hydor Koralia Evolution 1500s would be enough for my 75g?

Also, do I need to have a chiller? Seems mixed when I research...
 

Jesterrace

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Fishlover1984 said:
Thank you both for great info so far. Loved the video also. Super helpful! I’ve started compiling my shopping list!! Can one of you or someone else tell me if two Hydor Koralia Evolution 1500s would be enough for my 75g?

Also, do I need to have a chiller? Seems mixed when I research...
I prefer the Hydor Koralia 3rd Gens as they seem to be better built. I run a pair of the 1950gph in my 90 gallon and they provide plenty of flow. So I would say either a pair of the 1350 or 1950 should be fine for a 75 gallon. As for the chiller? Not unless you live in Death Valley. A chiller is for people who have marine life that need colder temps. Unless you live in a very warm climate you will actually need a tank heater for long term success. If the room/tank is getting too warm then run a fan or turn up the house AC a bit and it will keep it from overheating.
 
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Fishlover1984

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I definitely don’t live in Death Valley so I should be fine. I should have mentioned in the initial post that I plan on buying other basic things (a heater, testing kit, thermometer, etcetera...), but I have a tendency to take these things for granted because I feel completely comfortable choosing them after years and years of freshwater tanks. It’s the more saltwater / reef tank specific stuff that I am a complete newb regarding. But I’m learning and you all are helping, which is great.
 

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Jesterrace said:
I prefer the Hydor Koralia 3rd Gens as they seem to be better built. I run a pair of the 1950gph in my 90 gallon and they provide plenty of flow. So I would say either a pair of the 1350 or 1950 should be fine for a 75 gallon. As for the chiller? Not unless you live in Death Valley. A chiller is for people who have marine life that need colder temps. Unless you live in a very warm climate you will actually need a tank heater for long term success. If the room/tank is getting too warm then run a fan or turn up the house AC a bit and it will keep it from overheating.
I got the 1350’s in my 75 and they provide the perfect amount of flow combined with the filter return.
 

Jesterrace

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Jayd976 said:
I got the 1350’s in my 75 and they provide the perfect amount of flow combined with the filter return.
Not surprised. I originally had a 1950 and a 2450 in my 90 but the 2450 was beating the crappola out of my Euphyllia Corals (which does not make them happy as they prefer a more moderate flow) and was blowing sand no matter how I directed the flow, and even my 1950gphs seem to provide a bit more than the corals want. I only keep them around in case I venture into some corals that demand a higher flow. It's really funny watching my Yellow Tang and Coral Beauty get up in front of them. Like watching a dog sticking it's head out of the window of a fast moving car.
 

stella1979

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I'm going to be the bad guy here and say that I do not prefer Hydors simply because they do not come with controllers. Again, my experience is with a 20g long, so my specific pumps would not cut it for a much larger tank, but here's my experience anyhow.

In setting up the 20g long I first purchased two Hydor Korallia 425's @ $30 each and placed one on each end of the tank. Soon after setup, I became interested in providing varied flow within the tank, meaning instead of constant flow, I wanted to have more of a pulsing motion to closely mimic the ebb and flow in the ocean. Flowy corals like euphyllia look better when they're not being consistently blown in one direction, not to mention, they are happier with the varied flow, so this may also provide better health and faster growth. More difficult SPS corals also do much better with the varied flow. Anyhow, in looking at ways to control the Korallia's I found that Hydor does indeed sell a controller that would allow me to create a better flow pattern in my tank... they sell it separately and it was priced at about $80 at the time. This would bring my total for pumps in the tank up to $140, more than I had imagined spending on this equipment on a small tank.

Well, a couple of months went by and my friends here were talking about how much they love the Jebao SW-2, which retails for about $50 and the controller is included. Less than four months into my build, one of the Koralia's just stopped working, and couldn't be fixed. Simply said, I was no longer impressed with Hydor, though I am aware that many are. I replaced that broken Koralia with an SW-2 and really loved it. I still couldn't control the other Koralia, so I still didn't have the flow pattern I wanted. Still, a couple of SW-2's is cheaper than Hydors plus a controller, so not long after I replaced the working Koralia with a 2nd SW-2. I finally had the alternating flow pattern I wanted and I could swear that my corals were happier and there was definitely a boost in growth rates.

Now, the SW-2's would not cut it for a 75g tank, but I do know of another 75g owner that is very happy with a couple of SW-8's running at half power in his tank.

This is only my experience, and not an argument, just a little fyi.
 

Jayd976

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Hydors do have a controller. I have one on mine granted it’s an upgrade. But I bought it on Black Friday where if you bought two pumps you got the controller included.
 

Jesterrace

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The
stella1979 said:
I'm going to be the bad guy here and say that I do not prefer Hydors simply because they do not come with controllers. Again, my experience is with a 20g long, so my specific pumps would not cut it for a much larger tank, but here's my experience anyhow.

In setting up the 20g long I first purchased two Hydor Korallia 425's @ $30 each and placed one on each end of the tank. Soon after setup, I became interested in providing varied flow within the tank, meaning instead of constant flow, I wanted to have more of a pulsing motion to closely mimic the ebb and flow in the ocean. Flowy corals like euphyllia look better when they're not being consistently blown in one direction, not to mention, they are happier with the varied flow, so this may also provide better health and faster growth. More difficult SPS corals also do much better with the varied flow. Anyhow, in looking at ways to control the Korallia's I found that Hydor does indeed sell a controller that would allow me to create a better flow pattern in my tank... they sell it separately and it was priced at about $80 at the time. This would bring my total for pumps in the tank up to $140, more than I had imagined spending on this equipment on a small tank.

Well, a couple of months went by and my friends here were talking about how much they love the Jebao SW-2, which retails for about $50 and the controller is included. Less than four months into my build, one of the Koralia's just stopped working, and couldn't be fixed. Simply said, I was no longer impressed with Hydor, though I am aware that many are. I replaced that broken Koralia with an SW-2 and really loved it. I still couldn't control the other Koralia, so I still didn't have the flow pattern I wanted. Still, a couple of SW-2's is cheaper than Hydors plus a controller, so not long after I replaced the working Koralia with a 2nd SW-2. I finally had the alternating flow pattern I wanted and I could swear that my corals were happier and there was definitely a boost in growth rates.

Now, the SW-2's would not cut it for a 75g tank, but I do know of another 75g owner that is very happy with a couple of SW-8's running at half power in his tank.

This is only my experience, and not an argument, just a little fyi.
Just me personally but I do believe that there is a difference between the standard low flow Hydor Koralias and their higher performance 3rd gen line. The build quality is significantly better than their lower flow options and Jebao just doesn't seem to offer as many options in the over 1000 gph department.
 
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Fishlover1984

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Okay, I have a new question!! Do any of you feel that a certain salt brand is better than another? Or, are any salt brands to be avoided? I've read a few things that say any brands now days are fine to use, but I'd like to check to be sure. I'm thinking of using Instant Ocean or Reef Crystals currently... Thanks!
 

Nart

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I'm assuming it's the traditional 4 feet long 75 gallon tank.

I agree with Jester.
Drilling and plumbing the tank later on after you get the tank going is going to be a lot more difficult and also a lot of your HOB equipment will kind of be obsolete. because once you have a bottom sump going, most of your equipment will not be HOB and will be in the sump working.

May I suggest something?
Why not look into a pre-drilled, reef ready tank? It's a tad bit more money, but you are provided with a overflow baffle, and all the necessary overflow plumbing.
all you have to do is either assemble the pipes down below yourself or ask the people there to gather all the piping for you. so all you do when you go home is Teflon tape wrap all he threads and it's ready to go. I recently just did that with my 60g tank set-up. I have no idea how to drill or plumb to a sump down below. So I knew I wanted a "reef ready" tank. I walked out with the tank and stand for about $450 and like extra $30 with all the plumbing of valves, check valves, etc...

Marineland makes reef ready tanks as well as Deep Blue.
Deep blue reef ready tanks will generally cost a bit more due to higher quality in silicone and glass.
I think when I was looking at Marineland reef ready 75g tanks, it was only about $280-300 for the tank.

Here's my build thread of my reef ready tank:
Mightynanotank's 60g Cube
 

Jesterrace

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I agree with Nart, a pre-drilled tank is really the way to go if you want a sump. I have a 90 gallon pre-drilled marineland tank with a corner overflow and Aqueon also makes pre-drilled tanks. I personally lucked out as my LFS sells tanks at cost (plus a 20% discount that they get for bulk orders), so I got my 90 gallon pre-drilled for $238. I recognize that not many people have this option in terms of a deal on the tank, but it's worth the money in the long run.
 
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Fishlover1984

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Thank you, both. I had looked into more complete kits, like that from Red Sea Reefs, but not tanks that were just predrilled for a sump. That's a great suggestion and I love Marineland so I'm definitely going to check into these.

I came up with another question in the meantime... what is your recommendation in terms of tank coverings? I know it is best to have a screen covering if needed for jumpers to allow water surface to be as exposed as possible, but I'm wondering what I do to create a cover if I go with HOB equipment? Would covering the surface with a screen lid minus the back inch-ish be enough to prevent jumping? That's my best thought currently....

Also, @Nart, your tank is awesome!!
 

Nart

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You can buy lid screen mesh kits online, like from Bulk Reef Supply. Or you can just buy the mesh netting from BRS and get the rest of the aluminum window frames with some 90 degree connectors and make your own. With HOB equipment, typically you'll use two 90 degree connectors to create the mesh lid that is a custom fit to your application.

Or, you can buy custom made acrylic lids online, from Octo Lids, Artfully Acrylic, or Top Lids that I know of off the top of my head. Basic custom acrylic lids will generally run around $200 shipped.

Trust me on this though, if you're going with a 75 gallon tank. Do it right the first time by either getting the tank Reef Ready/Pre-drilled or drilling it yourself.
All those HOB and attach to the back stuff will quickly add up and make your nice looking reef tank look weird. Especially with bigger tanks, the equipment is bigger and quickly becomes an eye sore, but that's just me.
Things you'll miss out on with a typical HOB tank is water surface skimming capability, hiding all your equipment, nice size refugium, and added water volume to the tank.
Definitely, don't rush the process in getting the perfect start with your ideal tank and not settle for an 'okay' type of tank just to get started.

You probably already know, but look at the amount of HOB stuff you'll have on your back glass right off the back and all the wires.
HOB filter, two big heaters, HOB protein skimmer, power-heads, HOB reactors, HOB refugium. and then you'll have wires from lights.
Just from my experience and 2 cents.
 
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Fishlover1984

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Yeah, I have definitely thought about just how much equipment I would need to hang and what that might look like and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet!! My concern is that, in my mind at least, setting up a sump with all the equipment included in it seems more complicated and leaves a lot more room for error (in setup, ordering parts, leaks, etc). That was the reason I wanted to start off with HOB equip. I think if I actually had a friend or someone I knew in person that could doublecheck my work (and not require payment... because it's already expensive enough!), I would just go for it. But sadly I don't...

Acrylic tank covers are okay to use? But not glass? For some reason I thought pretty much everything but the mesh was discouraged. Thank you for the help
 

stella1979

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I have a low tank and toddlers... I use glass. lol I'm fairly certain the reef is still well oxygenated and it cuts down on evaporation. Even with the glass, a little one dropped a couple vitamin C tabs in not too long ago. No harm, but I'm not taking any chances with a more open style just yet.

Edit: Oh, and the other reason glass is not so great is because it will get spots and salt creep on it, which in turn lowers the lighting corals are receiving. I still go with it for my reasons and just keep it clean.
 

Jesterrace

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stella1979 said:
I have a low tank and toddlers... I use glass. lol I'm fairly certain the reef is still well oxygenated and it cuts down on evaporation. Even with the glass, a little one dropped a couple vitamin C tabs in not too long ago. No harm, but I'm not taking any chances with a more open style just yet.

Edit: Oh, and the other reason glass is not so great is because it will get spots and salt creep on it, which in turn lowers the lighting corals are receiving. I still go with it for my reasons and just keep it clean.
I have glass tops on mine as well for the same reason, even though my tank sits much higher (about 5-6 feet from the top of the tank to the floor), but the kids can still climb step ladders. That reminds me, I need to clean the tops again.
 
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