Question Making The Jump To Sw, What Do I Actually Need

nikm128

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Been doing lots of research, but considering that most websites I check say it'll cost at least one or several thousand dollars, and lots of people here say that's wrong; I would like to check on what I really need.
For example most sites are like: Sump or don't bother, this ~$200 lighting setup is a minimum, you cannot have a tank without a protein skimmer, If you don't use this thousand dollar RODI pump you're hosed, you must have several powerheads. The list goes on and on, but I'll leave it at that
@ryanr what do you say?
 

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nikm128

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Coral would definitely depend on how much extra work it is to take care of. Doesn't it also somewhat reduce my stocking options?
@Nart I have crushed coral from caribsea on hand and very easy to get if I need more, can I use that instead of sand? Oh and as for tank size, all I'm not using atm are a 20 high and a 55 cube/tall
 

Magicpenny75

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Sump - not needed but allows you to keep more fish due to more water volume, place to hide stuff... like the skimmer
Skimmer - not needed on smaller tanks if you keep up with WC's. They are expensive (everything in SW is expensive!) but if you look at the science it is the MOST efficient way to remove waste before it has a chance to break down. We can't use them in FW because you cannot get the bubble stability in FW that SW has...something with surface tension... but it is the best way to clean the water. Nitrates are much harder on SW critters than FW.
Lights - if you want good coral, yes, get the good lights. If you just want fish and LR and a couple of mushrooms, then spectrum is more important than intensity or you'll wind up with a tank full of algae.
RODI - at least RO. ROBuddie is an inexpensive system that you can add the DI resin to if you want.
Powerheads - your live rock is your filter. The more water you move over it the better it works. Don't get the cheap ones. Suction cups do not last in SW! Magnet mounts are the way to go.
I don't keep saltwater any more, but I, like a lot of people, asked all of those questions when I started, and I spent a lot (A LOT) of money buying the wrong things or the good enough for now things. Put up and tore down four tanks for various problems all stemming from bad equipment. I wound up going with a CPR Hang on refugium (another awesome thing some say you need some don't), and an Aqua C Remora hang on skimmer that was amazing, on a 75 gallon tank with no sump. It worked for me. But I hate noise and a plumbed system was just too much noise for me. It was a lot of stuff hanging off the tank though....
Oh one more thing - get a titanium heater!!! Glass heaters WILL get broken. Ask me about my frogspawn soup one day...

Coral would definitely depend on how much extra work it is to take care of. Doesn't it also somewhat reduce my stocking options?
@Nart I have crushed coral from caribsea on hand and very easy to get if I need more, can I use that instead of sand? Oh and as for tank size, all I'm not using atm are a 20 high and a 55 cube/tall
a 55 cube would be a great tank...big enough to be stable, and cubes can be easier to light, financially speaking. OK I'll shut up you didn't ask me lol I already miss my saltwater tank though. So much to look at all the time.
 
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nikm128

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There's a whole foods by my house that has a giant RO system and I think a DI system too, but they're seperated last I checked. Should I use one over the other if they are seperate? So with live rock...basically as much as I have room for with as much water going through them as possible? Can I run the usual media in an HOB ;ceramic rings and filter floss? The new aqueon pros are now a plastic shatterproof case instead of glass, can I use that? If I'm not going to have coral, can I use the standard LEDs that almost every kit comes with now?
 

Lchi87

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I’d shoot for 1-2 lbs of live rock per gallon. In terms of water, you are shooting for 0 TDS, or total dissolved solids. Using water that is as pure as possible helps keep things like nuisance algae to a minimum. I use a 4 stage RODI unit by Aquatic Life.

For your HOB, traditional media is okay to use. Some use Matrix and live rock rubble, and others even mod their HOBs to grow macroalgae which can help with nitrate and phosphate export. Floss needs to be tossed regularly though to avoid it turning into a nitrate factory. I shoot for less than 5 nitrates. Any heater will do, although once/if you invest in some expensive stock, it might be worth it to get something high quality. It sucks to lose pricey fish and corals due to equipment malfunctions!I started out with a regular old glass heater but eventually upgraded. And if you will not be doing coral, any old light will work.
 
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nikm128

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Wow, that's a lot of rocks, and weight.
I don't plan on doing this, but just curious, what would happen if someone used just tap or just RO water?
Will a nitrate reducing filter work in saltwater since they should be so low?
 

ryanr

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Hi Nikm,
That's a bit of a general question. So many factors involved.

As far as budgeting for a SW tank, and more specifically, a mixed reef, in Australia the general guideline is about $1000 (AUD) per foot of tank to do it well (including tank, equipment and stock). And, it's not far wrong. My setup was a bit extravagant and probably equated to a little more than 1k/foot.

The issues with price are generally related to size of tank, in that a wider tank will need a wider light fixture which will cost more. Greater volume requires bigger skimmers, bigger powerheads, more heaters etc etc, so the cost goes up, not much we can do about it.

I'm not one to say you "must" use this, that and the other for a setup. To me, it comes down to how much you understand your method of setting up the system, and the pro's and con's of an approach.

What I will say is that there are definitely pieces of equipment that become 'necessary' as the size of the display increases. Example, in a nano tank, you may not need powerheads if you have another way of providing flow, however in a larger setup, there's simply no way to get the flow required without using powerheads.

Skimmers, not really necessary in smaller setups or even in larger FOWLR systems, however, in a larger mixed reef, I would say they are necessary, as without them, it'd be a nightmare to be doing daily water changes. Which then leads to sumps, the bigger the setup, the bigger the skimmer, and bigger skimmers are generally only available as in-sump or external fed from sump, so now the sump kind of becomes a requirement.

So it all comes down to the size and type of setup. Soooo, what exactly MUST you have???
Well, I'd say:
1. A clean, pure water supply
2. A method of providing adequate flow
3. A method of nutrient export
4. A source of light that will sustain your corals
5. A method for testing parameters to ensure the health of the system.

How you achieve those things is totally up to you.
 
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nikm128

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What are the odds you could ballpark how much more I'd have to put into the tank to transition to a FOWLR tank?
I already have the tank, filters, heater, lights, half the substrate if I can use it, air pumps if I need them, and somewhere to easily get RO water.
I've tried budgeting this myself, but like I said originally lots of places I've found like to push super expensive equipment in your face. Hopefully you can help
 

Lchi87

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What are the odds you could ballpark how much more I'd have to put into the tank to transition to a FOWLR tank?
I already have the tank, filters, heater, lights, half the substrate if I can use it, air pumps if I need them, and somewhere to easily get RO water.
I've tried budgeting this myself, but like I said originally lots of places I've found like to push super expensive equipment in your face. Hopefully you can help
I’m gonna quote a post from my own thread here so you can see the breakdown of my initial expenses. A member had asked and so:
Okay : here is your list.

-10lbs of live rock $75
-Hydor koralia powerhead $25
-caribsea bamini pink sand $20
-a refractometer $20
-nite out $16 ( bacterial supplement, not needed but it helped boost my cycle)
-seachem matrix $10
-10 gallons of sw $12.50
-5 gallons of RO $2.50

And I just ordered this because testing with my freshwater kit is aggravating my OCD lol:
View attachment 401776

So that brings us to.. $231. Not too bad?
Hope that is helpful to you!
 

ryanr

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I can't really ball-park it. And if I did, it would be on the high side as I prefer quality over price.

You need to tell us how you want to set it up.

As for equipment, I used Tunze and Eheim, Maxpect for lights. I can't comfortably recommend other brands as I haven't used them.

EDIT: For an idea of cost of my system, jump onto Bulk Reef Supply, and price up the following:
Display Tank: 66G Custom built 3' x 1.5' x 2', with starfire front and side panels
Substrate: Caribsea Arognite Sand
Water Source: Instant Ocean Reef Crystals mixed with RO/DI, RO/DI for top-up
RODI Unit: Australian made 4 stage with dual TDS meter
Live Rock: Approx 40kg [88lbs]
Filtration:
- 72L [19G] Sump (Custom built)
- Tunze 9011 Skimmer,(can be used in sump, or hang on)
- Eheim Compact 2000+ return pump,
- 2 x Tunze 6055 power heads on Multicontroller,
- Carbon Dosing for nutrient export, TLF Reactor with bio-pellets powered by Aqua One pump
- TLF Reactor with Rowa Phos, powered by Eheim Compact pump
Heater: 2 x 150 Watt Eheim Jager, Temp: 27C (80F)
Lighting: Maxspect R420r 160W 16000K
 
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nikm128

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I’m gonna quote a post from my own thread here so you can see the breakdown of my initial expenses. A member had asked and so:


Hope that is helpful to you!
Very helpful, thank you! Where do you get your live rock though, I've never seen it that pricy at my lfs?
I can't really ball-park it. And if I did, it would be on the high side as I prefer quality over price.

You need to tell us how you want to set it up.

As for equipment, I used Tunze and Eheim, Maxpect for lights. I can't comfortably recommend other brands as I haven't used them.

EDIT: For an idea of cost of my system, jump onto Bulk Reef Supply, and price up the following:
Substrate: Caribsea Arognite Sand
Water Source: Instant Ocean Reef Crystals mixed with RO/DI, RO/DI for top-up
Live Rock: Approx 40kg [88lbs]
Filtration:
- 72L [19G] Sump
- Tunze 9011 Skimmer,(can be used in sump, or hang on)
- Eheim Compact 2000+ return pump,
- 2 x Tunze 6055 power heads on Multicontroller,
- Carbon Dosing for nutrient export, TLF Reactor with bio-pellets powered by Aqua One pump
- TLF Reactor with Rowa Phos, powered by Eheim Compact pump
Heater: 2 x 150 Watt Eheim Jager, Temp: 27C (80F)
Lighting: Maxspect R420r 160W 16000K
No worries, I'm sure that's a very complex question. I'll be honest though, I'm not positive about the setup yet as I was put off by the prices I was seeing
 

Katie13

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I got 10lbs of live rock for $30. I'm about to order some dry live rock off of Amazon. It's 40lbs for $50.
 

Lchi87

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Very helpful, thank you! Where do you get your live rock though, I've never seen it that pricy at my lfs?

No worries, I'm sure that's a very complex question. I'll be honest though, I'm not positive about the setup yet as I was put off by the prices I was seeing
So your total would be even less . It was from my lfs. I probably could have spent less on it but at the time it was my best option. Their LR was already kinda cycled and pest free and the sw itch was already so strong, so I went with it. Different kinds of rock go for different prices also.
 

ryanr

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No worries, I'm sure that's a very complex question. I'll be honest though, I'm not positive about the setup yet as I was put off by the prices I was seeing
No problem... It's hard to figure it out. If you decide to go with a sump, you'll need to add a little extra to the budget for plumbing (PVC pipes, bulkheads, unions, ball-valves etc).... Probably $50 to $100 (no idea how much in the USA)
 
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nikm128

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I know I'm majorly jumping the gun here, but one fish I knew I wanted to have one day as soon as I saw it was the flame angel. Would I be able to have one of those and what could go with it if I can?
 

Katie13

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I know I'm majorly jumping the gun here, but one fish I knew I wanted to have one day as soon as I saw it was the flame angel. Would I be able to have one of those and what could go with it if I can?
They need a tank at least 36" in length I believe. It would depend on the dimensions of your tank.
 

Jesterrace

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I would say a 3 foot long tank is adequate for a Pygmy Angel (ie Cherubfish, Flameback, Fisher's), but is too small for a Dwarf Angel (ie Flame Angel, Coral Beauty, Potter's). Dwarf Angels need a fair bit of swimming room as they are very active and the Flame Angel tends to be one of the more aggressive Dwarf Angels to boot. I had a Flame Angel that I had to give the boot after a few weeks from a 30 inch long tank. Within seconds of being released in my tank it kept my Firefish pinned in it's burrow, chased my Diamond Watchman Goby and attempted to bite my Scissortail dartfish (Strangely enough it never bothered my Mandarinfish). It also started nipping at my Corals and so I gave it the boot. I now have a Coral Beauty in my 4 foot long 90 gallon and it is a near model citizen. The point is that with a Dwarf Angel your chances of success with aggression go down quite a bit when they don't have a 4 foot length to run as they get cramped and more aggressive and the Flame Angel is a bad fish to cramp up. If you had a standard 4 foot long 55 gallon it would be better.

My recommendation is to stick with a Pygmy Angel (specifically the Cherubfish as it tends to be the best behaved of the bunch) if you really want an Angelfish. If not hold out for a a longer/bigger tank.

Also generally I consider a 55 gallon to be the tipping point for a sump and it's best to have a pre-drilled tank for a sump. Hang on overflow boxes can be a pain. In some cases it's best simply to go to your LFS and buy a used saltwater setup, that way you save a bunch of money and can get just about all the mechanical equipment you need in a single purchase.
 
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