New to Saltwater, need lots of advice!

JosephM

So I am planning on converting a 29 gallon tank to saltwater. I want it to be a reef tank. I have full customization available as I will be building my own stand. I was thinking about building a 20 gallon sump. Will this be worth my time and money? First compartment would be intake through some socks, then a second compartment with skimmer, then live rock with macro algae attached (heater will be in here), then small compartment for optional carbon or purigen, then bubble trap filled with sponges (mechanical filtration), leading to return pump. Thoughts?
 

Jesterrace

So I am planning on converting a 29 gallon tank to saltwater. I want it to be a reef tank. I have full customization available as I will be building my own stand. I was thinking about building a 20 gallon sump. Will this be worth my time and money? First compartment would be intake through some socks, then a second compartment with skimmer, then live rock with macro algae attached (heater will be in here), then small compartment for optional carbon or purigen, then bubble trap filled with sponges (mechanical filtration), leading to return pump. Thoughts?

I would say it all depends on how committed you are to the setup as it would be a fair bit of wasted effort if you just upgrade in the next year or two.

Don't get me wrong, sumps are great and I have one on my 90 gallon setup, but one of the benefits IMHO of a smaller tank is that the sump setup isn't needed.

If you are committed to this setup though and don't mind drilling the tank and plumbing it then a 20 Long would make a great sump for that tank. I would skip the sponges/carbon and purigen though. Sock, Skimmer and Macro Algae (Chaeto), light and a return pump will be plenty for a healthy tank. The other stuff is just likely to trap stuff you don't want and cause problems in the long run.
 
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JosephM

I would say it all depends on how committed you are to the setup as it would be a fair bit of wasted effort if you just upgrade in the next year or two.

Don't get me wrong, sumps are great and I have one on my 90 gallon setup, but one of the benefits IMHO of a smaller tank is that the sump setup isn't needed.

If you are committed to this setup though and don't mind drilling the tank and plumbing it then a 20 Long would make a great sump for that tank. I would skip the sponges/carbon and purigen though. Sock, Skimmer and Macro Algae (Chaeto), light and a return pump will be plenty for a healthy tank. The other stuff is just likely to trap stuff you don't want and cause problems in the long run.
What other maintenance would I need to do in order maintain a top notch reef tank. Any skimmer recommendations?
 
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Jesterrace

What other maintenance would I need to do in order maintain a top notch reef tank. Any skimmer recommendations?
It's your call but an Auto Top Off System can certainly make things easier for you. Water Evaporates but salt doesn't, so to combat that you have to add fresh RODI water to the tank to keep salinity levels balanced between water changes. An Auto Top Of System (aka ATO) has a float valve and with a pump it auto dispenses RODI from a jug as the water drops to a certain level. This way you only have to worry about refilling the top off jug maybe once every week or two rather than having to manually top off the water every day or two. RODI system is almost essential IMHO for a top notch reef tank (or at least an RODI Water Source). As for the Skimmer, Reef Octopus is a pretty safe bet. Some like the bubble magus skimmers as well as they are a bit cheaper. I will say that any skimmer that comes with a feed timer controller is a big plus. I say this as someone who has a skimmer without one and it's kind of a pain. For return pumps I can cannot recommend the Jebao DC Series pumps enough. In terms of bang for buck you are going to be hard pressed to beat them. Not only are they quiet and pretty reliable they also have the feed timer and 10 speed adjustable flow so you can dial in the flow that is best suited for your tank rather than taking a guess at what general capabilities might work best for your size of tank. For that sized setup this guy would be plenty:

https://www.amazon.com/Jebao-Marine...keywords=Jebao+DCT&qid=1606020199&sr=8-2&th=1
 
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JosephM

Jesterrace thank you so much for all of that! I think just a couple more questions and I’m off on my quest to save money and start building. What size skimmer would you recommend? Is a 150w grow light sufficient for the refugium or am I better off with a full spectrum light? What overflow box do you recommend? I was looking at the Marine Depot Overflow box OF-300
 
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JosephM

And I’ve seen a lot of contradictory stuff online. What do you think I should do in refugium substrate wise. Ceramic blocks, crushed coral, live sand, bare bottom, mineral mud, small live rock? Should I introduce any pods into it?
 
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Jesterrace

Jesterrace thank you so much for all of that! I think just a couple more questions and I’m off on my quest to save money and start building. What size skimmer would you recommend? Is a 150w grow light sufficient for the refugium or am I better off with a full spectrum light? What overflow box do you recommend? I was looking at the Marine Depot Overflow box OF-300

This guy might be the way to go given the narrow dimensions of the 20 (I assume you are doing a Long): Reef Octopus Classic 110 Space Saver Protein Skimmer - Marine Depot

As for the grow light, with LED wattage doesn't matter as much. I do fine with a 100 watt grow LED and any of the cheap grow LEDs from Amazon will work. I DO NOT recommend any overflow box as I feel that drilled is really the only way to go for a sump (hence my comment above about a drilled tank). Overflow boxes can be problematic as they are usually are siphon based which makes them prone to clogging and overflowing when you don't want them to or not overflowing when you do want them to. Drilled takes all that hassle out of the equation, but you will have to drill the tank or puchased a used reef ready setup.
 
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JosephM

This guy might be the way to go given the narrow dimensions of the 20 (I assume you are doing a Long): Reef Octopus Classic 110 Space Saver Protein Skimmer - Marine Depot

As for the grow light, with LED wattage doesn't matter as much. I do fine with a 100 watt grow LED and any of the cheap grow LEDs from Amazon will work. I DO NOT recommend any overflow box as I feel that drilled is really the only way to go for a sump (hence my comment above about a drilled tank). Overflow boxes can be problematic as they are usually are siphon based which makes them prone to clogging and overflowing when you don't want them to or not overflowing when you do want them to. Drilled takes all that hassle out of the equation, but you will have to drill the tank or puchased a used reef ready setup.
Okay thank you. For now I will run a double refuge and if I’m noticing too much organic build up I will invest in a slimmer. This may seem stupid but I’m having a hard time finding how to drill my tank. Do you have any links or describe how I can do it? Thank you!
 
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Jesterrace

Okay thank you. For now I will run a double refuge and if I’m noticing too much organic build up I will invest in a slimmer. This may seem stupid but I’m having a hard time finding how to drill my tank. Do you have any links or describe how I can do it? Thank you!

The first thing to do is check and see if your glass is tempered. Tempered glass=shattered tank if you attempt to drill. Generally with the smaller commercial tanks they aren't, but it's best to know for sure. This tells you how to tell if it's tempered or not:

How to Tell if Your Fish Tank is Tempered Glass | Glass Fish Tanks

If it isn't:

 
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