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I now have a 210G tank. With i believe a 30 g sump. I want to set it up as a SWFO and have done a lot of research but am having some trouble finding a couple answers. Bought my first tank less then 4 months ago. 50G Fresh water community tank and it has been doing great, now for the first attempt into marine. Did not want multiple tank syndrome so went big.

1. How can you recognize good live rock? I am going to be buying some and i have read that the more porous/ lighter the better. I am assuming there is no problem if you mix different types and think it would be even better because more diversity. I have no idea what the harmful algae or parasites or whatever it is that can be found on some live rock. I do not want to bring anything bad into my tank and i know some people have problems with there tanks and see off the live rock to restart. It could be covered with harmful things and i would be oblivious to it.

2. Skimmers. I think i want a counter current skimmer but i have no idea what brands are good or bad. I would ideally want it in the sump but i am not sure if i would have the space or need to move the baffles. I want to have a DSB Refugium and am going to change one of the baffles as it is. but i would rather it hang on the back then have to give up a refugium. Really would like a quiet one. But on the same note am not going to buy the more expensive models. Depending how expensive the long lasting ones are i may choose one that will need to be upgraded down the road. I see a few on sale in the classifieds but i do not know which to try to buy.

3. Live rock, very pricey with a tank this size. I am planning on gradually building it up but once i add the first batch and it is cycled i would like to add a couple fish. They say 1-1.5lbs of live rock per gallon. but with fish only would i be fine with a much smaller amount amount at first? Or thoughts on this.

4. I have A LOT of sand. 1mm but it is from a fresh water tank so it does not have the buffering ability. I know if i have a lot of live rock that i should be fine, because people do BB tanks. I want to mix it with live sugar sand(to save on money and storing sand) but i am not sure if that is a good idea, what ratio, or if it will create a problem. I take soils class in school and adding less then 50% sand to sand less soils will create a bigger problem then not adding it at all. If it was cheap i would just use live sugar sand and do a DSB. In my refugium i will use live sugar sand for a mini DSB.

5. In some sumps i see spots for probes. What are the different kind of probes? How useful are they?

6. UV filter/ light how useful is it?

7. Opinions on different sea salt mixes to buy?

8. Where is a cheap place to buy salt, hydrometers, food, etc?

Thank you for any input, Will hopefully have it up and cycling this weekend
 

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ORIGINAL FORUM GANGSTER
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im just going to do a quick answer on these for now
1. correct good rock is large in size but not heavy but lots of people have been doing dead rock because of less pests. id maybe mix it 50/50 that way it will seed the new stuff and you could remove pests.
2. not to sure on this one ive only owned two
3.already discussed
4.
5. ph.probe.salinily, temp, orp I believe
6. lots of conflict about u.v. and corals
7. instant ocean is common
 

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Live rock is the filter for the tank, so keeping as close to 1lb per gallon is like putting a 55 gallon rated filter on a 55 gallon tank. Sure you can do smaller filters, but never a good idea. I'm a pretty new salty guy so i could be totally off base here but thats my opinion anyway.
 

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I stuck with the 1lb per gallon rule, and it worked fine, so if I were to do it again myself, I wouldn't deviate from that.
 

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1. How can you recognize good live rock? I am going to be buying some and i have read that the more porous/ lighter the better. I am assuming there is no problem if you mix different types and think it would be even better because more diversity. I have no idea what the harmful algae or parasites or whatever it is that can be found on some live rock. I do not want to bring anything bad into my tank and i know some people have problems with there tanks and see off the live rock to restart. It could be covered with harmful things and i would be oblivious to it.
A: being live rock you just need to buy rocks from an established tank. lighter/porous helps on less heavy tank when comes to large aquarium. You shouldn't have any harmful parasite if it comes from a cured established aquarium. However, if you buying them from LFS, there is a chance to bring those in, that is why keep your tank fishless during the cycle phase. There is really not much control over what you are going to bring in the tank. Things can grow out of LR. I had a mantis shrimp sitting in my LR for over couple years before it start coming out. I am sure it was too small to be seen and it stay hidden most of the time. That is also beauty of SW aquarium is that you probly never know what is gonna comes out of your LR. That being said, you can lower the chance of having those issue by buying mostly dry rock and seed them with few piece of LR that you can be sure they are not infected by anything. 2. Skimmers. I think i want a counter current skimmer but i have no idea what brands are good or bad. I would ideally want it in the sump but i am not sure if i would have the space or need to move the baffles. I want to have a DSB Refugium and am going to change one of the baffles as it is. but i would rather it hang on the back then have to give up a refugium. Really would like a quiet one. But on the same note am not going to buy the more expensive models. Depending how expensive the long lasting ones are i may choose one that will need to be upgraded down the road. I see a few on sale in the classifieds but i do not know which to try to buy.
A: IMO skimmer is not needed for fish only aquarium. water change usually helps and fish mostly can tolerant a higher level of nitrate and phosphate.
3. Live rock, very pricey with a tank this size. I am planning on gradually building it up but once i add the first batch and it is cycled i would like to add a couple fish. They say 1-1.5lbs of live rock per gallon. but with fish only would i be fine with a much smaller amount amount at first? Or thoughts on this.
A:I don't suggest add LR in different phases. however I am sure some people would do it that way. The reason why I don't like it that way is because everytime you add new LR or LS, your tank will undergo small cycle that can have ammonia spike. I don't think there is anyway to prevent that simply because when you take a LR out of water even by few minutes, there are some bacteria would die off and that create ammonia. You do have a large water volume which might help to make that impact a lot less.
4. I have A LOT of sand. 1mm but it is from a fresh water tank so it does not have the buffering ability. I know if i have a lot of live rock that i should be fine, because people do BB tanks. I want to mix it with live sugar sand(to save on money and storing sand) but i am not sure if that is a good idea, what ratio, or if it will create a problem. I take soils class in school and adding less then 50% sand to sand less soils will create a bigger problem then not adding it at all. If it was cheap i would just use live sugar sand and do a DSB. In my refugium i will use live sugar sand for a mini DSB.
A: I would suggest change the sand to crush coral for fish only aquarium, I think that helps buffer your aquarium a lot. You also can try to go with DSB with regular live sand. That would work with the LR to form a good filtration system.
5. In some sumps i see spots for probes. What are the different kind of probes? How useful are they?
A:mostly PH and temp I think, these are good to have items no a must if you don't do calcium dosing, which I see no purpose at all in your case. Your salt mix should keep the proper PH up along with the sand and LR.
6. UV filter/ light how useful is it?
A: These are all secondary units. You can go no light even if you don't need to see your fish during night time =D. what I try to say is that, this is only for your personal preference. Having a good light would bring out the color of your fish.
7. Opinions on different sea salt mixes to buy?
A: Instant Ocean would be a cheap and good start since FOWL (fish only with live rock)tank doesn't need those supplement that often.
8. Where is a cheap place to buy salt, hydrometers, food, etc?
A: plenty place, cost of the salt pretty much the same across, anything else you should have no problem find them from ppl here in the buy/sell section.

On top of those, I would suggest include a large refrugium. It does some of the skimmer duties, add food source to the tank for your fish.

Those are my 2c so someone else might give more different opinions. welcome to the SW world, you would find there are many waysto get your aquarium work, having a large aquarium is a great start and saved you lots problem. GL!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for the replies! An Update. I changed the sump to suit a fresh water aquarium( more room for a refugium 22", tighter bubble walls 2", less compartments for filters) WOW it took me a long time to make sure i got off all the old silicone. I checked Rona, Home depot, and 2 fish stores for aquarium grade silicone and only found one that is prob not ideal but i read the reviews on it and sealed it. Finally found the silicone i wanted at king eds, so if the baffles fall apart under pressure i can fix it.

I picked up the salt you suggested and mixed it. I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the bubbles inside the hydrometer that kept changing my readings. Looked online and the miracle cure for me was filling it up slowly on an angle. Newbie mistake.

1. I picked up a saltwater test kit that may be overkill. Besides the typical; ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and high pH. What should i test for? kH, gh, phosphate, calcium, carbonate, iron? I do intend to move into corals in the future so i do not mind holding onto some. But which should be tested in FOSW and which when i have corals? and are any of them useless tests? The kit cost 99$, its the nutrafin master test kit. I will return it and get the typical saltwater test kit if it is mostly useless and buy the extra needed bottles.

2. The probes. Is it more useful to have the electronic pH and Salinity probes than testing with the drops/ hydrometer?

3. Once the sump is cured I am going to put live sand in the refugium. I will also have some polyester hypoallergenic quilt batting filter and a bag of carbon. When i have a bigger bio load i will get a skimmer and maybe a UV light filter. Does this sound like enough filtration with the live rock in the tank? Any suggestions on changes i should do?

4. Also i was reading on a forum that you typically use a different dechlorinator for a salt water aquarium because you want to remove other elements besides just chlorine... true? recommended? What would i want to make sure it removes? And i was trying to find out more about DO/RI water. I am guessing it is a machine that removes everything out of the water?
 

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1. Large, porous, don't need 1lb/gal, invest your money in a good skimmer and reactors. I'm setting up a 160g system and I'm only using about 30-40lbs of rock

Hydroton reactors ftw

2. Buy a good skimmer, you'll regret not getting a good one, good inexpensive skimmer that would work good for you is a used vertex in-180

3. Too much liverock impedes flow which will make you skimmer less efficient, flow is key

4. Use course sand, it can handle more flow and fine sand just makes a mess. Doesn't need to buffer the ph, the salt has buffers in it

5. Probes IMO arnt worth it, expensive and need to be replaced and or re calibrated too often. I've never tested ph in a reef tank and tds tells you nothing

6.

7. Instant ocean. Cheap, works good never had a problem with it

8. Invest in a refractometer, they're 50$. I buy my salt at king eds, can't beat their prices
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Crushed coral will become a detritus trap and not be good in the long term. You can go bare bottom (not my own preference) but if you do sand, use a larger size/grade and NOT sugar-fine which will blow everywhere because it is too fine and light.
 

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o my god that sounds complicated to much so for me why not the the simple rout ?
and answer to 4 its a tap water conditioner you use to take chlorine out some thing like prime is what i use you just add it to new water
you can also buy an air stone and buble the new watter that worked for me when i needed to treat with copper in my fish only system prime and copper is toxick together
 

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yes I agree, FO suppose to be very simple and easy, you don't need to stress yourself out. Especially when you have a 210G, that pretty much solve 90% of the problem as long as you don't stock 50 yellow tang in it =p
 

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210g! Sweet! I'm sure you will have a great first SW experience with this bad boy than with a little nano. I have my 120g running for almost 2 years now. Until now I still don't have any fancy equipments like probes or controller.

I started using a refractometer for salinity check then went back to a basic $8 hydrometer since I found that the readings are pretty much the same. Im just too lazy rinsing n drying it plus u storing it in that fancy case. Just too much work for me! Haaha!

As for testings, I only check salinity on my FOWLR. Since your tank is new, you should also be checking ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. On my Reef, i also check phosphate, calcium, and carbonate. Oh n temperature of course!

Starting with RO (RO/DI) water and adding a nice skimmer in the near future is a good investment (although I don't have a nice one) if you are planning on adding corals. I'm sure you will do reef one day.... How can one resist on not adding "a few" of those beautiful corals!? Its just a matter of time! And once you start adding one, you cant stop! Lol.

The trick is keeping the system at top shape so it is reef ready. Its always easier to maintain n service a tank than to fix it when problem occurs.
 
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