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  1. #1
    Getting deep in here Hardcor4x4's Avatar
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    Lets talk saltwater reef tanks

    Specifically filtration. I'm looking at getting a saltwater reef aquarium going again. About 60-75 gallon. Its been probably 15 years or more since I had a very nice 60 gallon saltwater reef tank and was very succesfull with growing corals and keeping it well maintained. Back then I had my wet dry filter in a 10 gallon tank and basically I built my own. added the dividers, made my own bio ball chamber with pre-filter and a protein skimmer and sump at the end with pump to pump the filter water back up to the tank. But these days I see online filter canisters thats everyone in one, well almost everything. But I was wondering if anyone out there has used these canister filters that go under the aquarium in the stand. What do they think of them. do they keep the Nitrites, Nitrates, ammonia, PH, alkalinity, phosphate, bla bla bla bla bla in check and maintain appropriate levels with little baby sitting? Or should I stick with the old style wet dry sump filters?

    I read a couple of the reviews on the canister filters. Like these. and they said when the power goes out the canister filter overflows with water because the pump in the canister stops pumping water up into the aquarium. That would be a big problem. I know with the old style wet dry sump filters if the power went out the filter and sump area of the filter would fill up until water in the aquarium dropped below the overflow siphon cup but would never overflow because the filter was designed to hold the extra volume up to a certain size aquarium before having to get a bigger size filter. I would think designers of the canister filters would have thought of "What of the power goes out?"

    But looking for thoughts on filtration and whats better these days vs years past for saltwater reef tanks. Post pictures of your tank and setup too. tropical or saltwater. lets see em.


    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2

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    Don't know anything about this except for if the power goes out. Thats what UPSs are for.
    Contact me for all your firearms needs. Guns, ammo, accessories, NFA......

  3. #3
    First go with in tank overflow design. Second skip the cannisters and go with a refugium. Get some chaeto from a local club, or even a store. Additionally run a skimmer.

    The in tank overflows will not flood in a power outage. And if you want corals, a refugium helps by supplying pods, you can also run the lighting for the refugium inverse to the tank, which will help balance chemistry as you get your growth when the tank sleeps. I have read some have issues with chaeto, you could find another plant that works for you.

    Even more important, sign up at Reef Central. Ask questions, read and learn. http://www.reefcentral.com/
    2008 JK Unlimited, Detonator Yellow, 6 Speed, Hard Top.

  4. #4
    I don't have a tank running currently, but i'm slowly building up a 225 gallon between all the other projects I have going on. But... i've had a 90 gallon and a 180 gallon running for a total of 16 years in the past. The last couple of years have been my only hiatus from reefing since I had a home to put one in. Its kind driving me nuts not having one going! you just get so used to that water flow sound. I also used to volunteer at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and do equipment maintenance on the wild reef exhibit.

    So... first up, I absolutely endorse the recommendation to join reefcentral.com. Its an AMAZING source of information. I would stop, backup, and spend at least two months pursuing this forum on a daily basis. I don't post much there anymore, but lurk allot and go by Merkur on that forum.

    Once you have a tank setup and running properly, its actually very easy to maintain. I spent maybe 1-2 hours a month on ongoing maintenance and had the systems running well enough that leaving for a two week vacation was NBD.

    BUT, getting it setup and running is kinda of a hobby in and of itself. I kind of think of it like building a totally custom mini-home based wastewater treatment plant, and its more in the scope of say a minor bathroom remodel or maybe a one-ton axle swap on a jeep. not like going to the petstore and just buying a tank, filter and lights. The time and money you spend upfront on a badass setup can make a HUGE difference in how much daily/weekly/monthly maintenance is required.

    Of course... there are a million ways to skin a cat, and people build tanks of all types, so #1 spend enough time on reefcentral to make your own informed decisions.

    Since your considering a 75 gallon, my first recommendation will be to just go ahead and get a 90 gallon. its a minimal change in cost and footprint, but the extra gallons help stability and the extra tank depth (front to back depth not height) makes for a much more pleasing tank.

    You'll want the tank to have overflows which drain down to the sump below the tank (which can potentially have a refugium as recommended above). The sump will be the heart of your tanks filter system and mechanics. your primary filter will be whats called a protean skimmer and will be housed within or attached to the sump, then you'll have a primary pump which returns water back up to the tank. The sump is also used for freshwater top-off due to evaporation. any heating or cooling will also be in the sump as well as probes if you go the high-tech route.

    this will require many trips to the Lowes plumbing department...

    aside from the sump system, protean skimmer and main return pump, you'll also need to supply additional circulation to kind of simulate 'wave action' in the tank, lots of ways to skin that cat.

    lighting is also a major topic, LED's have become HUGE these days, though I've always preferred 400w metal halides with VHO supplements, i'll likely keep the halides and ditch the VHO's for LED's.

    people can debate lighting ALL DAY LONG.


    Having a reef tank is a totally cool hobby, makes a great addition to your home and socializing with local clubs has always been a blast. trading coral fragments with other nuts is the best way to end up with an awesome tank. getting with a club after your have your tank up and running and hosting a club meeting (basically a fish geek cocktail party) is a great way to end up with a bunch of coral frags and grow your tank quickly.

    if you want to know anything, just ask away.
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  5. #5
    Getting deep in here Hardcor4x4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eryl Flynn View Post
    First go with in tank overflow design. Yep, I hoping to find someone that wants to get rid of their pre drilled overflows in the corners of the tank. I see a few for sale on Craig's list and on Facebook market place for pretty cheap. People are always selling aquariums cheap to get rid of them and hoping to score a cheap 75-90 gallon tank. Second skip the cannisters and go with a refugium. Yea I was thinking stick with what worked last time I had a reef tank with the refugium design filters. Get some chaeto from a local club, or even a store. I remember that stuff. I had to constantly pick it and thin out of my tank all the time. It would grow like weeds. Additionally run a skimmer. Yep definitely. I think I might even have my old skimmer. I built my own. it worked a a little too well sometimes and i'd have foam/suds all over my filter sump area.

    The in tank overflows will not flood in a power outage. I always drilled a hole in the return line just barely above the aquariums water line so if the power went out the hole would let air in and stop the reverse siphon and then all that goes into the sump filter is what overflows into the overflow corners that have the holes drilled into the bottom of the tank. I did the overflow box or cup and then siphons out down into the filter but ALWAYS had issues with air bubbles slowly building up at the top of the siphon tube and stopping the flow of water. thats when i switched out my aquarium with a pre-driled overflow corners in the back of the tank. And if you want corals, a refugium helps by supplying pods, you can also run the lighting for the refugium inverse to the tank, which will help balance chemistry as you get your growth when the tank sleeps. I have read some have issues with chaeto, you could find another plant that works for you. as cheap is LED lighting now I might look into this option. I used to do metal halides with VHO blue light and good grief that was expensive as hell. $60 VHO bulbs and metal halide bulbs that constantly had to be changed at a cost of $30 a bulb back then got way expensive.

    Even more important, sign up at Reef Central. Ask questions, read and learn. http://www.reefcentral.com/
    Thank you for the link I knew their had to be a saltwater reef forum out there. they have a forum for everything these days dont they.

    thanks.

  6. #6
    Getting deep in here Hardcor4x4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    I don't have a tank running currently, but i'm slowly building up a 225 gallon between all the other projects I have going on. But... i've had a 90 gallon and a 180 gallon running for a total of 16 years in the past. The last couple of years have been my only hiatus from reefing since I had a home to put one in. Its kind driving me nuts not having one going! you just get so used to that water flow sound. I also used to volunteer at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and do equipment maintenance on the wild reef exhibit.

    So... first up, I absolutely endorse the recommendation to join reefcentral.com. Its an AMAZING source of information. I would stop, backup, and spend at least two months pursuing this forum on a daily basis. I don't post much there anymore, but lurk allot and go by Merkur on that forum.

    I still remember maintenance and care of saltwater reef systems very well I just started looking at getting back into it again but noticed the changes in filtration and the new and different filters designs but as a read everyone says this design is the best and then others say no this design is the best. But Iím still going to go and lurk and read up on whats changed and new.

    Once you have a tank setup and running properly, its actually very easy to maintain. I spent maybe 1-2 hours a month on ongoing maintenance and had the systems running well enough that leaving for a two week vacation was NBD.

    Ya I remember setting up my system so it would be self sufficient for a week or more while Iíd go on vacation, camping and just leave for a week.

    BUT, getting it setup and running is kinda of a hobby in and of itself. I kind of think of it like building a totally custom mini-home based wastewater treatment plant, and its more in the scope of say a minor bathroom remodel or maybe a one-ton axle swap on a jeep. not like going to the petstore and just buying a tank, filter and lights. The time and money you spend upfront on a badass setup can make a HUGE difference in how much daily/weekly/monthly maintenance is required.

    Yes, if you donít buy the right equipment and/or skimp on equipment that $1000-$1500 corel reef will be dead within a couple weeks and then you wonder why everything keeps dying.

    Of course... there are a million ways to skin a cat, and people build tanks of all types, so #1 spend enough time on reefcentral to make your own informed decisions.

    Since your considering a 75 gallon, my first recommendation will be to just go ahead and get a 90 gallon. its a minimal change in cost and footprint, but the extra gallons help stability and the extra tank depth (front to back depth not height) makes for a much more pleasing tank.

    Thatís why I liked Oceanic Show tanks they are deep front to back a little shallower then usual so light isnít lost to corals at the bottom of the tank. Biggest thing I want in my aquarium is the pre-drilled overflow coner(s) so I can do away with the possible air bubbles stopping the siphon flow. And then a deep, front to back aquarium so I can build a nice sloped reef wall.

    You'll want the tank to have overflows which drain down to the sump below the tank (which can potentially have a refugium as recommended above). The sump will be the heart of your tanks filter system and mechanics. your primary filter will be whats called a protean skimmer and will be housed within or attached to the sump, then you'll have a primary pump which returns water back up to the tank. The sump is also used for freshwater top-off due to evaporation. any heating or cooling will also be in the sump as well as probes if you go the high-tech route.

    Yes cause I will not deal with an overflow box then siphon up and down into the filter again. Nothing like coming home from work or school (MANY years ago) and the flow of water has stopped. I may look at building my own refugium filter again too. Theyíre not that hard to do if you know what to do.

    this will require many trips to the Lowes plumbing department...

    aside from the sump system, protean skimmer and main return pump, you'll also need to supply additional circulation to kind of simulate 'wave action' in the tank, lots of ways to skin that cat.

    I used a simple power head in the back of the tank to just circulate water.

    lighting is also a major topic, LED's have become HUGE these days, though I've always preferred 400w metal halides with VHO supplements, i'll likely keep the halides and ditch the VHO's for LED's.

    people can debate lighting ALL DAY LONG.

    Iíve looked at LED setups that for less then $100 that you put on top of your tank and plug it in, program times of when to turn on and off and they simulate sunrise and sunset with blue, red and white light and can even burn a low blue light during the night to simulate moonlight. LEDs are good for 50,0000 hours.


    Having a reef tank is a totally cool hobby, makes a great addition to your home and socializing with local clubs has always been a blast. trading coral fragments with other nuts is the best way to end up with an awesome tank. getting with a club after your have your tank up and running and hosting a club meeting (basically a fish geek cocktail party) is a great way to end up with a bunch of coral frags and grow your tank quickly.

    if you want to know anything, just ask away.
    Thank you for your information and help. Iíll go take a look at reefcentral and do some reading.

  7. #7
    vb's Avatar
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    Crap, i now have an interest in something i would not have considered on my own.
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  8. #8
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    Ive wanted one for years but have always been scared off by the time and maintanence requirements. Having said that, it has been years since i have looked into it so things may be a lot more automated and easier to deal with now.
    From the only state in the USA where O'dumbass failed to carry a single county. :hail:

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by creepycrawler View Post
    Ive wanted one for years but have always been scared off by the time and maintanence requirements. Having said that, it has been years since i have looked into it so things may be a lot more automated and easier to deal with now.
    Maintenance is really not that bad, again it just depends on how thorough you are with your setup and what you want to prioritize while building it up.

    My maintenance and setup was about like this. The first couple of months can be a bit more maintenance intensive, but it really chills out after the tank is well established.

    Daily, clean front and side glass, feed fish, drink a beer after work and just stare at the tank. about 10 minutes whenever you want, easy to skip a couple days whenever and if you go out of town for a week or more its not a big deal with a well established tank. There's kind of always something growing for the fish to snack on depending on what you keep.

    Freshwater (the minerals don't evaporate) top-off can be one of the most persistent pains to deal with, but its also the most common task to automate. How much top-off you have to accommodate depends a lot on your setup, big hot lights and lots of water movement combined with our dry air can easily result in a couple gallons a day on a mid-size setup. The ideal setup that i've ran is to have an RO/DI filter system setup to automatic float switches. This pretty much makes the top-off a non-concern except for servicing the filter system once or twice a year.

    Water changes are about the biggest maintenance PITA, the general rule of thumb I've been taught is to do about 10% about once a month, but opinions on this can very greatly and people can get a little religious about it and cover both ends of the spectrum. Typically i'd do about 10 gallons at not less than one month but not more than two month. using 5 gallons water jugs you can get pretty efficient with filling the jugs with RO/DI water, mixing them up, pumping 10 gallons out of the sump and dumping the fresh mix back into the sump. other than waiting for the water jugs to fill, I could bust out the water change in about 15 minutes.

    I setup my protean skimmers to drain to a 5 gallon bucket, so again this is about a monthly task, and probably the grossest aspect of the while deal. A good running protean skimmer basically produces waste not dissimilar from babyshit, so dumping the waste bucket and disassembling and cleaning the skimmer is by far the least pleasurable job, but again only monthly and doesn't take that long.

    If you keeping a lot of corals dealing with the calcium demands can be a little bit of labor. For years I did a lot of testing and mixing of kalkwasser and other additives to keep the corals happy, but eventually I caved in and setup a calcium reactor. This took the calcium maintenance from a near daily fiddlefest to something i checked up on infrequently and about every 6-8 months i'd refill the calcium media and have the CO2 tank refilled.

    Allot of the maintenance varies a whole lot depending on what your keeping, when I had a tank over-brimming with SPS corals there was a lot more to worry about and you need to keep the tank super stable. At another time my tank was a reef with few corals and larger hardier fish (mostly a lionfish and a snowflake eal) and I could really slack off a whole lot.

    You have to kind of love to do it though, but the bar is not set that high. If you think, "hey, spending an hour or so once a month intently messing with stuff sounds like fun!" then your good to go.

  10. #10
    Getting deep in here Hardcor4x4's Avatar
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    Well i've seen enough pictures, plans and DIY how too's on how to build your own wet/dry trickle or refugium filter I can grab a cheap 20 gallon long tank and get the aquarium safe silicone and put in my own dividers with Plexiglas. I still have my protein skimmer from my last reef tank. just some filter media and I should have a filter. and a couple pumps, small one for the skimmer and larger one for the return line. I can find LOTS of 75-90 gallon "show" tanks (deep front to back) but they are not drilled in the bottom for overflow boxes. I'm wondering if a glass place, if I can find one willing enough could drill a hole in the corners or 1 larger hole in the center back. Unless I happen to find a Plexiglas tank and then I can drill it myself.

  11. #11
    Getting deep in here Hardcor4x4's Avatar
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    Water. Our tap water here in Northglenn is hard and more or less sucks for fish so looking at how to fill this tank with safe water. and do safe water changes. last time I had a RO filter i could hook up to the kitchen sink but it took ALL DAY to get just 20 gallons of water. Is there better RO filters now a days that dont cost a bunch and can filter water a bit faster? and portable that i can just pull out hook up to the sink. filter water and then store the RO filter away that doesnt require an appliance dolly or 4 people to move.

  12. #12
    Getting deep in here Hardcor4x4's Avatar
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    Maybe this RO filter? https://www.amazon.com/iSpring-RCC7-...n+system&psc=1
    says it does 75 gallons a day. thats a lot better then the 20 GPD one i had years ago.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Hardcor4x4 View Post
    Well i've seen enough pictures, plans and DIY how too's on how to build your own wet/dry trickle or refugium filter I can grab a cheap 20 gallon long tank and get the aquarium safe silicone and put in my own dividers with Plexiglas. I still have my protein skimmer from my last reef tank. just some filter media and I should have a filter. and a couple pumps, small one for the skimmer and larger one for the return line. I can find LOTS of 75-90 gallon "show" tanks (deep front to back) but they are not drilled in the bottom for overflow boxes. I'm wondering if a glass place, if I can find one willing enough could drill a hole in the corners or 1 larger hole in the center back. Unless I happen to find a Plexiglas tank and then I can drill it myself.
    Drilling a tank is really pretty easy to DIY and is also NBD for almost any glass shop. When I had my 90 gallon I built DIY overflow boxes out of plexy and drilled the back for the overflows and for my closed loop circulation pumps. If you want to DIY it i'm sure you can find some excellent tutorials on reef central, but in a nutshell you use a ceramic type hole saw, build a dam around the hole with modeling clay to hold cooling water and then drill very slow to allow the bit to grind out the hole. If you want a glass shop to do it, i'd find a smaller shop that does a lot of small custom stuff like shower enclosures, i'm willing to bet the going rate is about $20/hole. Just make sure its not tempered glass, most aquariums do not use tempered, but in some cases the bottom will be.

    If you need to verify tempered vs. float glass, either look at the glass through a polarized lens or sunglasses, or lay a ruler edge on the glass. Float glass will always be nearly perfectly flat, while tempered glass will have some degree of roller wave distortion visible with the ruler or mottled color visible with a polarizer from the cooling jets in the tempering oven. to enhance the polarizing effect place a laptop or tablet screen behind the glass. (side note, my day job is in part as an expert consultant on the glass industry in construction).

    As for the refugium, they are a REALLY great thing to have, but I also wouldn't stress to much about incorporating that into an initial build. I've always gotten systems up and running with just the live rock and skimmer and then brought the refugium online after the tank was established. Honestly the biggest benefit i've had with a refugium is feeding the fish, not the water quality of the tank. Its nice to have a good algae supply to hook the tangs up with, and I think a refugium is necessary if you want to keep a Manderin fish. For basic water quality, sure its beneficial, but not hardly necessary.

    I AM a big fan of a powerful protean skimmer though. what model do you plan to use? awhile back there was a lot of back/forth about skimmer design and a lot of older designs have fallen by the wayside and current skimmers are vastly more efficient and effective. not all older designs sucked though... I run AE Tech ETSS skimmers, though now out of business and not nearly as efficient as the latest designs, they are insanely powerful and easy to service so they maintain a bit of a cult following.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardcor4x4 View Post
    Water. Our tap water here in Northglenn is hard and more or less sucks for fish so looking at how to fill this tank with safe water. and do safe water changes. last time I had a RO filter i could hook up to the kitchen sink but it took ALL DAY to get just 20 gallons of water. Is there better RO filters now a days that dont cost a bunch and can filter water a bit faster? and portable that i can just pull out hook up to the sink. filter water and then store the RO filter away that doesnt require an appliance dolly or 4 people to move.

    Maybe this RO filter? https://www.amazon.com/iSpring-RCC7-...n+system&psc=1
    says it does 75 gallons a day. thats a lot better then the 20 GPD one i had years ago.
    Float switches are your friend! I used float switches to keep a 10g full of RO water and then a separate float switch to use this to top off the sump for evap, but this also allowed me to always have 10g of water available for water changes. This way it didn't matter how long it took to fill. My last RO system was also pretty slow, and was getting pretty old so i just gave it away when i broke down that tank. As i'm working on the new tank i'll eventually be shopping for a new system as well, but i'll admit that I haven't done much research yet on what is currently out there. The system you linked certainly looks the part though, and wow prices have come down!

    my tank project is kind of stalled at the moment, currently busy rebuilding the ZF6 trans in my truck, then i'm on to building a turbo kit for my wifes ride (2.3 duratec powered escape), but hopefully then i'll get back onto the tank build again. Pretty stoked about it, going with the big tank and actually putting my sump and filters in the basement below the tank instead of in the stand.

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