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'inherited' a softie 55gallon


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A friend is moving out of the country, so I bought (for quite cheap) his 55gallon setup. it is currently a 4' 55gallon, display only. came with two powerheads (unknown type/gph), a red sea hang-on skimmer and a HOT magnum canister filter with water polishing filter and probably 50 lbs of live rock. I tossed his old sand (~3in) because it was silicate, I have 10lbs of live aragonite in there, and have 90lbs of super fine arag on its way that I'll add. I'm only using the canister filter to clean up any sand that won't settle, then I'll take it out and go skimmer only.


current stock is short, the polishing filter soaks in bleach for 24 hours every so often and his wife switched to a new fancy bleach that carried a bunch of PO4 into his tank and killed off nearly everything. that was a few months ago, remaining:

1 leather that's divided


orange clown (2-3")

maroon clown (4-5")

regal blue tang (4-5")


It came with a few globe anemones and a crap-ton of aiptasia. he also had a cyano problem (tank was exposed to southern window). I drained the whole tank, removed the sand (finding all the shells from his used-to-be cleaning crew) and scrubbed it down. rock was never dry, about 50% of the water was freshly made, 50% from his old tank. I didn't do anything to the rock except swish it around in the old water to get debris/sand off. I'm planning on using his Aiptasia STOP, and the LFS will be getting peppermint shrimp in tomorrow that I'll get probably 2 of. Many of the aips are really big (probably 3/8"-5/8" diameter), so I think aiptasia STOP is the only answer for them. I can't get filefish or butterfly because of the softies. I plan on getting an engineer goby and maybe a sand-sifting star once the dsb is in place...thoughts? comments? questions? shouts of outrage?


oh, and I tested the water just before acclimating the fish and again after ~24hrs (which was last night). NH3 was ~.25ppm, Nitrite, nitrate and phosphate were 0, alk, pH, Spec Grav were all good

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Additional details: I added a aqeoun circulation pump 500 (to add a little flow and make up for the 250gph canister's flow) last night and the lights are a white (not sure specifically) and an actinic 4' fluor bulbs.


I'm thinking of replacing the skimmer with a seaClone 100. I want to stay fairly cheap, and we're trying to put this on the side of the tank (not the back) because my wife wanted to push it against the wall, but the hood gets in the way for a side-mounted hang-on. so I'm looking for a inexpensive, but sufficient skimmer with a minimal WIDTH, but I don't care much about the depth. Also like the seaclone because I'm considering putting together a 20gallon refugium and/or sump that I would love to put the skimmer in and would like to avoid buying a skimmer today and a new one for the sump.


for the sump/refug:I'm thinking chambers:

#1 small chamber for the drain from tank, partially flowing to #2 and partially to #3

#2 minimal size chamber to hold skimmer, wholly flows to #3

#3 largest chamber that is essentially a refugium, preferably to populate copepods (we would love to support a mandarin goby)

#4 chamber from #3 (baffled for bubble removal) that houses only the return pump.


I'm also thinking of building my own self-priming overflow box, modeled after the cpr one ($120) but taht is only 5" or so wide to fit on the side, leaving space for the lights.

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sounds like you have a good idea of what's going on. that's great! as far as skimmers, i really would suggest staying away from seaclones, they leak and do other annoying things apart from poorly skimming (go with a bakpak instead IMO). have you considered not skimming? not that i have much knowledge on the subject, but many have good results especially with zoas and softies. as far as mechanical filtration, i would caution against JUST skimming, maybe try putting a filter pat in the skimmer for a little added benefit etc. i know many are against them, but a good canister filter (rena, eheim fluval), they can help if you are willing to clean them every 2 or so weeks. just food for thought. good luck!, and welcome to the club.

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You know, it's funny, some people tell me that skimmer-only is great, others tell me not to, I think I will try it due to having to hang things on the sides, if it isn't doing enough, I can use the canister. Big point with theskimmer is that I need it to be very narrow, less than 6" along the tank wall because the hood is ~6" and the tank's ends are only 12".

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The thing I often overlooked when starting out with skimmers is how hard are they to dail in, Many times the adjustment on skimmers like Seaclones and BackPaks is very difficult to dail in, so you often times have to adjust it all the time, which translates to being a pain and not very effiecent. If your going to build a sump, there are MUCH better options for not much more that would fit into the sump and be MUCH better than a SeaClone or BackPak style skimmer. If your going to just do softies and just a few fish then you might get away with frequent water changes, but if you are wanting to do more corals and/or more fish, a skimmer is highly recomended. I have seen some beautiful tanks that had no skimmer at all, but for me, I chose to have one, and I am glad I did, its a good peice of equipment to have.


I have the Reef Octopus 110 in a 20 Long sump, and its been working awesome, its easy to dail in and keep dialed in, and it pulls out some nasty skimate, and its not much more than the SeaClone or BackPaks.




I have 3 chambers in my sump, first chamber is where the water drains into from the display, and it also containes the protien skimmer, the second chamber (main chamber) is the refugium with cheato, and the third chamber which is the smallest chamber, containes the return pump (Mag 7).


You can also drill the tank and use a Glass-Holes.com overflow and put the 20L in the stand, But you wouldn't be able to push it right up against a wall though...

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Just a thought on a skimmer - check out the Aqua Remora skimmer. Back pack style, thin, and the pump is below the water line so constant adjustment is unnecessary. I had one on my 75 and it worked ok, a 55 would be much better. I now have a Reef Octopus and it does work better, but if your space/budget requires the back pack,look into the remora!

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Just a thought on a skimmer - check out the Aqua Remora skimmer. Back pack style' date=' thin, and the pump is below the water line so constant adjustment is unnecessary. I had one on my 75 and it worked ok, a 55 would be much better. I now have a Reef Octopus and it does work better, but if your space/budget requires the back pack,look into the remora![/quote']


Those though just have like a maxijet powerhead pumping the water right? with an airline tubing that you adjust to control the volume of bubbles it produces? The constant adjustment of the airintake is what I am talking about, I had an Eshopps HOB for a while and any little adjustment to the tank water (Ie top off, evaporation, ect.) would cuase the protien skimmer to not work very well, it just seems many of the HOB skimmers need constant tinkering to keep them working at thier best. The insump skimmer I have, I havn't had to adjust hardley at all...The HOB types seem ok for smaller tanks, but with a 55g+20g sump...seems like you would need a more powerful skimmer, especially if the tank is going to be stocked with fish and anemones and corals....but thats just my opinion...lol

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I think I'm going to take some time to price out a DIY sump and DIY overflow. I'm going to try to build an overflow box that skims the surface on the short side (12") and all the way across the 48" back, then have 2-3 x 1" pipes that siphon out of it to the sump. No, I can't drill the tank (tempered glass), and no, I won't assume there will always pull a siphon. I've always wanted an overflow like this: http://www.reefcentral.org/forums/showthread.php?t=1541946&pp=25&page=121, but alas I can't drill.

so here's the plan:

1: glue 1/4 glass to the top back of the tank and the top-left of the tank to make a ~3in high and ~3 wide trough along the top to skim the top of the display's water into this DIY overflow box

2: at the front left of the tank, on the side, put 2-3 three 1" PVC pipes in that face down, into the top-left overflow section. water will skim off the surface of the display into this overflow chambe. the pipes will arch over the edge of the tank, the first ending 3/4" above the bottom of the overlow, the second about 1.25" above the bottom and the third (if used) about 1 inch above that. all three will have a small hole drilled at the highest point of the arch for an airline attachment.

3: All three pipes will drain into sump, airlines will be attached to a maxijet that will pull the air out of the pipes if/when the siphon breaks, pumping into the display (to prevent overflowing the sump if the return pump dies)

4: sump will have drain chamber, skimmer chamber, fuge chamber and return chamber, total 20-30gallons

5: return pump rated for about 150-200gph at 4' head pressure (actual pressure probably 2.5-3')


the only way I think I can get a flood is if the siphon is broken in all three pipes and then the maxijet goes out, preventing the siphon from recovering.


this is essentially the same as the CPR CS50 overflow box, but instead of using the one siphoning chamber, it uses separate pipes that will can pull varying amounts of water at a full siphon


After finishing the design and cost estimates for my plan, I'll decide if I'm going to do it soon. If so, I'll wait to replace the current skimmer. If I'm not gonna do it yet, I'll probably call the seaclone ok for now.

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It's not the depth FROm the tank that I'm concerned about, it's the depth along the tank wall that I need to minimize. we've pushed the tank flush against the wall (except power cord depth, which is basically the baseboard. the skimmer (or overflow box) will go on the side of the tank - 12" wide, minus the hood (~6").


If I don't add the sump at this time, I think I'll go with the seaclone (prob replace with sump and new skimmer in the not-so-near future). If I add a sump, I'll get a more decent skimmer.


btw, it's current only lit with two 32w T8's (one white from coral life, one 460nm actinic)


Just a thought on a skimmer - check out the Aqua Remora skimmer. Back pack style' date=' thin, and the pump is below the water line so constant adjustment is unnecessary. I had one on my 75 and it worked ok, a 55 would be much better. I now have a Reef Octopus and it does work better, but if your space/budget requires the back pack,look into the remora![/quote']
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  • 2 weeks later...

ya, I've changed lots of water so far. skimmer is pulling darkness out, but VERY slowly. not surprised since about 80% of the water is new in the last 3 weeks and it's all brand new sand. a CUC is next, maybe a couple fish, then after I get a new lighting fixture I'll get nemes and corals.


It's far from show-worthy right now, but if it ever looks half-decent, I'll be happy to show it off!

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  • 7 months later...

this is a long-overdue post here, and probably the last post (as things will move to the 90 in my sig before too long)


picked up a yellow tang, 5 chromis, emerald crab and an ugly-as-all-get-out sea hare yesterday. I can't seem to beat the HA and some diatoms (nitrates usually 10ish), so hopefully the sea hare (and tang) will help. saw the hare going after a bunch of diatoms and the tang picking at some HA last night...hopefully that continues.


electrician will be out this week, hopefully be getting the built-ins up this weekend (they need a sanding and 1-2 more coats of paint) and start doing plumbing next week. with a little luck, I'll have a running 90g with 55sump by the end of the month!


current stock:

~65lbs of rock (have another 40 or so cooking for the 90)


short-spined urchin

2 porcelain crabs (super awesome!)

1 emerald crab

1 tiger conch

1 chestnut snail (Garret's got the coolest inverts)

skunk cleaner


cabbage corals

fuzzy maroon mushrooms

waiving hand coral (anthilia) - thanks for ID, GarretM!

sea-foam palys (Kimberlee)

red palys

misc zoas (thanks Josh!)

green-bay pakcer zoa (badx)

red/green acan frag (5ish polyps) (Kimberlee!)

more gsp than I can shake a stick at

coraline like I never hoped for


true and false perc clown pair

wheeler's watchman/randalls pair

yellow tang (2 months at TPA, one day in my tank, ~3in)

5 chromis


running a 4-5" dsb, should be ~3" in the 90

PCI ~200g hang-on sump skimmer (Jeramy) -in prep for the 90 move

2 PH ~1100gph (plus skimmer), planning to be at ~2000-3000gph in the 90 (plus ~350 gph return)

64 watts of T8 (1 bulb 8k, the other actinic), have 432w of T5 HO for the 90

optional GFO reactor for future 90

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Which electrician did you use? I'm looking to get a couple of extra circuits installed just for my tanks in the future and could use someone relatively inexpensive locally.




I can't promise inexpensive, but he's very good, thorough and knowledgeable. I'd trust him, hands down.


TJ at EC, PMing is # to you.

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