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An Equipment Question....or 10


jgf86123
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Hey guys, after spending the weekend up in Seattle with the gf, we came home tonight and picked up Arsonmgf's Visio 40g breeder tank, thanks for the great deal Chris, I appreciate you meeting me, saved us a lot of grief.

 

First, here is a break-down of my equipment list:

 

Visio 36x18x16H euro-braced tank with 2 holes drilled in the back

30g breeder-to be used as a sump/refugium-with 2 holes drilled in the back

Reef Octopus NW 110 protein skimmer

Rio 2100 return pump-rated for 692 gph

2x150w heaters

175w mh currently running 15k XM bulb

 

I have powerheads, but I'm currently trying to work a deal for a koralia 3, or possibly 2-yes, I want a lot of flow in my tank, if possible, the eventual plan is to save up for a vortech mp10.

 

ok, here's my questions:

 

1)What test kits do you guys recommend for a fellow on a bit of a budget, fish wise?

2)I'm planning on picking up the reactors that Scott(Spectra) currently has for sale, they will run carbon in one and phosban in the other, what will I need to be testing for and what else should I look into getting in the way of additives?

3)While it is currently out of the question, what controllers do you guys recommend?

4)Are actinics necessary?

 

Basically guys, what im asking is, is what would you recommend I end up adding to the tank, in the way of reactors, controllers, and so on? Also, what test kits, not just brand, but variety, should I keep? And what salt brand do you guys recommend? I currently use Oceanic, but I'm leaning towards changing salt.

 

I can handle anything, it just may take time before said item is purchased.

 

TIA

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1) I like Elos test kits. Nitrate and Alkalinity (kH) to start with, maybe Calcium too depending on how you handle #2 below ;)

 

2) Have you decided on how you'll dose Ca/Alk? Here's a good article that discusses the pros and cons of several methods. Opinions certainly vary, but IME most supplements are snake oil. Maintaining your Ca/Alk, keeping your skimmer clean and doing your waterchanges will give you much better results than a truckload of supplements.

 

3) I like Neptune controllers. Digital Aquatics is taking a beating for slipping the release dates for their software package and a couple of modules. They're both fine products though, depends more on the specific features you want.

 

4) Nope, but like CA2OR says they can pretty things up and provide a nice dawn/dusk effect too.

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I recommend Elos test kits. They cost slightly more then the low end (API) kits, but are much more accurate and easy to use. The color change on the test kits is also more dramatic so they are easier to read.

 

What are you planning on keeping in your tank? If you are considering SPS/LPS you will need the following test kits: Calcium, Alkalinity, & Magnesium. I would shoot for close to natural seawater parameters.

 

Calcium: 420

Alkalinity: 8 DKH

Magnesium: 1300

 

As far as additives go, I would use nothing other then the 2-part kits from Bulk Reef Supply. They are inexpensive and medical grade. Eack kit for $11 contains enough cal, alk, & mag for probably 3 months worth of dosing for your 40g.

 

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/store/products/calcium-alkalinity-magnesium/two-part-calcium-and-alkalinity-solution/two-part-calcium-and-alkalinity-kit-1.html

 

At this point, I do not think you need a controller. If you do decide to get one in the future, look into Neptune Systems. I have the AquaContoller 3 and am very happy with it.

 

As for salt, I really like the Tunze Reef Salt ($26 for 63 gallons), but no one sells it locally and most online dealers have it on back order. I am going to give Brightwell NeoMarine a try now. I would not worry about a designer salt though, just get whats easiest for you to get...like instant ocean. A lot of people have had really good success with it.

 

The only other thing I can think of that is absolutely necessary is a RO/DI unit. I got mine from ebay (purewaterclub), and it has worked great! It was right around $100. Once I needed to replace the fillters, I went with the ones the Bulk Reef Supply sells.

 

Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions!!!

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1) I like Elos test kits. Nitrate and Alkalinity (kH) to start with' date=' maybe Calcium too depending on how you handle #2 below ;)[/quote']

 

How much do those run andy?

 

2) Have you decided on how you'll dose Ca/Alk? Here's a good article that discusses the pros and cons of several methods. Opinions certainly vary' date=' but IME most supplements are snake oil. Maintaining your Ca/Alk, keeping your skimmer clean and doing your waterchanges will give you much better results than a truckload of supplements.[/quote']

 

Which way would you recommend to dose Ca/Alk? Is a Ca reactor necessary to start out or could I add one at a later date?

 

3) I like Neptune controllers. Digital Aquatics is taking a beating for slipping the release dates for their software package and a couple of modules. They're both fine products though' date=' depends more on the specific features you want.[/quote']

 

How easy are they to use? I know just enough with computers to get myself in trouble, so I am in need of something is foolproof.

 

Thanks andy

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I recommend Elos test kits. They cost slightly more then the low end (API) kits, but are much more accurate and easy to use. The color change on the test kits is also more dramatic so they are easier to read.

 

What are you planning on keeping in your tank? If you are considering SPS/LPS you will need the following test kits: Calcium, Alkalinity, & Magnesium. I would shoot for close to natural seawater parameters.

 

Calcium: 420

Alkalinity: 8 DKH

Magnesium: 1300

 

As far as additives go, I would use nothing other then the 2-part kits from Bulk Reef Supply. They are inexpensive and medical grade. Eack kit for $11 contains enough cal, alk, & mag for probably 3 months worth of dosing for your 40g.

 

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/store/products/calcium-alkalinity-magnesium/two-part-calcium-and-alkalinity-solution/two-part-calcium-and-alkalinity-kit-1.html

 

At this point, I do not think you need a controller. If you do decide to get one in the future, look into Neptune Systems. I have the AquaContoller 3 and am very happy with it.

 

As for salt, I really like the Tunze Reef Salt ($26 for 63 gallons), but no one sells it locally and most online dealers have it on back order. I am going to give Brightwell NeoMarine a try now. I would not worry about a designer salt though, just get whats easiest for you to get...like instant ocean. A lot of people have had really good success with it.

 

The only other thing I can think of that is absolutely necessary is a RO/DI unit. I got mine from ebay (purewaterclub), and it has worked great! It was right around $100. Once I needed to replace the fillters, I went with the ones the Bulk Reef Supply sells.

 

Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions!!!

 

Ryan, with those 2-part kits, what exactly does using them entail? Would I need a reactor for it or what? I am planning on picking up an ATO at some point, but its not something that I feel I must have the day the tank is hooked up, unless I happen to come across a killer deal for one around the time the tank is going to go up. On the Elios test kits, do they come as a group package like the API kits do, or do you need to purchase each test separately? And I'm planning on keeping a mixed reef, SPS/LPS/zoas/shrooms, so i do plan to feed heavy, as I want to get the best growth possible. A RO/DI unit is currently out of the question, I'm actually going to pick up a 55g plastic barrel with a spigot on the bottom and keep it filled with RO/DI water from Rose City.

 

Thanks man, I'll definitely let you know if I have any further questions for you.

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The test kits run about $25-30 each. For Ca/Alk, I agree with Ryan -- I think the two-part solution from BRS is the way to go. It's reliable, easy, and effective... plus, it never runs out of CO2, or gets clogged, or nukes your tank. I'd automate the dosing of two part (using peristaltic pumps) loooong before I'd use a calcium reactor.

 

Programming a controller isn't terribly tough though there are a few got'chas. There are lots of people around here with Neptune and DA controllers, so you'll easily find someone to help you through the rough spots. If you're curious, I suggest hitting the manufacturers' web sites and downloading the manuals... reading them will give you a better feel for the system than I ever could :)

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The test kits run about $25-30 each. For Ca/Alk, I agree with Ryan -- I think the two-part solution from BRS is the way to go. It's reliable, easy, and effective... plus, it never runs out of CO2, or gets clogged, or nukes your tank. I'd automate the dosing of two part (using peristaltic pumps) loooong before I'd use a calcium reactor.

 

Speaking again about the dosing of the 2-part, do I need any extra equipment beyond a way to mix the stuff up and a syringe or something to put it in the tank, or do I have to have a dosing pump and all of that mumbo jumbo?

 

And as for the test kits, so I'll need roughly 75 bucks for the set of those 3 hmmm? What other kits are recommended? I dont trust my API kits as far as I can pick up our car and throw it. So I know I'm going to need new test kits for PH, nitrite, nitrate and ammonia.

 

How often should I test my water? I've currently been testing roughly once every 2 weeks. If I'm going to be dosing and what not, what is the best frequency with which I should be testing?

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For the two part, you'll just need a small measuring cup -- something like the one that comes with a bottle of nyquil. Bulk Reef Supply's starter kit comes with all that stuff.

 

I wouldn't waste money on pH, nitrite or ammonia kits. If you alk is right, your pH should be fine in most circumstances. Nitrite and ammonia are only important when cycling a tank for the first time then will never be used again. Better to have the LFS test those for you.

 

Magnesium could be worth testing, particularly if you are raising a lot of SPS or have a clam.

 

A decent digital thermometer...

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You should watch this BRS video, it will explain a lot.

 

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/store/brs-tv/calcium-videos

 

You do not need anything more then two 1-gallon jugs and a couple measuring cups that measure ml.

 

I manually dosed 2-part for months before I got my peristaltic pumps.

 

Once you get your parameters dialed, you should test at least once per week. You will probably need to test multiple times per week when you are setting your daily dosing schedule.

 

I test every Sunday and adjust my Cal/Alk/Mag if needed.

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For the two part' date=' you'll just need a small measuring cup -- something like the one that comes with a bottle of nyquil. Bulk Reef Supply's starter kit comes with all that stuff.

 

I wouldn't waste money on pH, nitrite or ammonia kits. If you alk is right, your pH should be fine in most circumstances. Nitrite and ammonia are only important when cycling a tank for the first time then will never be used again. Better to have the LFS test those for you.

 

Magnesium could be worth testing, particularly if you are raising a lot of SPS or have a clam.

 

A decent digital thermometer...

 

Ok, perfect on the 2 part, will definitely be picking some of that up around the time the tank is being put together. Same with the test kits, they will probably be purchased at the same time, straight through BRS. Thanks for those tips guys.

 

Now about that thermometer, do you have a brand you would recommend?

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Ditto on the Neptune. An AC jr would give you 99.9% of what most people need. It has almost a cult status down here in Eugene.

I would go with two powerheads and point them at each other to somewhat randomize the flow.

 

Do you think 2 koralia 3's would be too much flow, combined with my return pump?

 

 

 

How would you guys recommend I do the swap out? Should I fully cycle the new tank and then move all of the rock from my 20 and the fish and corals over, or should I just set it up and move everything into it at once?

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Do you think 2 koralia 3's would be too much flow' date=' combined with my return pump?[/quote']

 

Might be high, might not -- depends what all you plan on putting in there.

 

 

fully cycle the new tank and then move all of the rock from my 20 and the fish and corals over,

 

^ This

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Might be high, might not -- depends what all you plan on putting in there.

 

 

fully cycle the new tank and then move all of the rock from my 20 and the fish and corals over

 

^ This

 

I just want something that gives me a broader flow than a maxi will do, and I've heard the koralias are good for that.

 

And thats exactly what I was thinking about doing andy, besides, it will keep me from buying new corals til its fully ready LOL.

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The Koralias, I had a #3 and a #1 in my 40b with 400GPH from the sump and it was OK so with 2 #3's I think you would be good. If not ya can always get a #2 and have one for spare.

You mentioned that you already test your water, what's wrong with the test kits ya got? If what you are using and doing works for your current tank and your fish and corals are happy why change.

If you don't have a water purifier I would recommend getting one!

As for dosing, how do you do it now? I would think that with the water volume your going to have ( I estimate 55 gallons ) If you did 20% water changes ( 10 to 15 gallons) you would replenish your tank. If you find through testing that once you've added a couple corals n such the water changes aren't keeping up with the demand for Cal and KH then its time to think about dosing. It wont be till ya have allot of stony corals growing that you may need a reactor.

Your tank will probably have a Diatom bloom for a week or so but there shouldn't be any cycle, just go slow in adding bio-load. I would definitely get more LR before adding any bio-load!

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Reef, I currently use API test kits and I just dont trust them. I want more dependable test kits. As for the dosing, I've read that it is better to dose something like 2-part than it is to add all the individual trace elements. Plus, I want to make sure everything stays at the proper levels, with very little to no fluctuation.

 

And for the tank swap, I'd rather not take the chance on losing either of my current fish, my melanarus and bar goby are quite special to the 2 of us and would be hard to replace. So, therefore, I will be doing a full cycle on the new tank, especially since I'm planning on adding 15lbs of live rock and am planning on using nothing but new sand.

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Ok, so, time to look back and take stock.

 

It looks like the things I will need to finish this project are:

 

Plumbing supplies

Digital Thermometer

New Test Kits-Ca, Alk, Mag, Nitrate, PH

New Powerhead-K2 or K3

2-part dosing regimen from BRS

15lbs Live Rock

40lbs Sand

 

Now I would like a brand suggestion on the thermometer idea, so feel free to chime in guys, and if I've left anything out, please let me know.

 

Thanks for all of the input guys

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I'm pricing one now, just to see what im getting myself into, but, I seriously think that the next big ticket item bought will be a vortech after the tank is up and running.

 

149.95 aint a bad price at all, especially for what it does. [language filter] you andy lol you just had to get me looking, now im wanting one. Hmmmmmmmmm I could always put off putting this tank together until we can afford both the controller and the vortech.......I wonder if I can convince the gf of that idea though.

 

!#)%(*%#@)(&^#@%@#)(&^@#%@)(&^$%#@$@# computers

 

ok, let me try this editing thing again.......

 

So, I pulled up a check-out cart on Neptune's website, and got this price:

 

AquaController Jr acjrser $149.95 1 $149.95

 

And then, after reading more, I found this price:

 

Starting at $174.95 the AquaController Jr base unit delivers the highest price performance ratio in the industry and brings truely affordable aquarium monitoring and control to tanks of all sizes. The AquaController Jr has the same great programming configuration language of our higher end controllers as well as the temperature and pH monitoring and control, lighting and pump/powerhead control. The Jr is now available with an optional serial port so that it can be connected to your PC. With AquaNotes Lite, our free Windows software permanent records and graphs of the datalogs arepossible. In addition the AquaController Jr is able to.

 

If the 150 is the price, I feel fairly confident in being able to talk the gf into allowing me to spend that extra money, in a couple months, not right away, but, that would mean putting off the build. Or, should I still start the build, but buy the controller when it is affordable, for me, not in price, the price is quite affordable for what it does. [language filter], I'm confused now and I hate that feeling lol.

 

What should come first, Vortech or ACjr? Should I go with an MP10 or an MP20? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

 

thanks again guys

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allrighty, so, skip the ph test kit, only worry about nitrate, CA, alk, and mag, right?

 

now, what brand digi thermometer? or will my old school one work for now? its a standard glass thermometer.

 

andy, what do you know about building sump/fuges?

 

so I'm looking at getting the vortech first, then worry about the controller, no worries there, thats much easier to handle telling the gf LOL

 

she wants this tank set up more than i do, and anymore delays will put my jewels ina vice, if you know what i mean lol

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Old school glass thermometer is probably better than a cheap digital. I measured a Hagen and a CoralLife digital against a good quality digital kitchen thermometer and both were off by a couple of degrees.

 

I built my sump/fuge from a 20L glass aquarium. My next will be made from a couple of 5gal fermenters bought from the local homebrewing shop, plumbed together with uniseals and a true union.

 

Fancy sumps are fun to make and show off, but are a real pain to maintain IME. It's hard to get them clean, you can't remove them from the stand once they are in there, if they crack you're completely hosed (full tank teardown to replace?), and they're tough to change once installed. A couple of food safe buckets (the fermenters) are easy to remove (close the union and unscrew, take out of the stand) for cleaning, replacement, modding, etc.

 

The only downside I see is that they look completely and totally low-rent (laugh)

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