New tank--need help!

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by AprylWillis, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    I know that it's awkward seeing someone like me asking for help, but I really want some expert views on a sensitive subject: plants and lighting

    I'm curios as to what a GOOD lighting system is. I'm even more curious as to what an EXCELLENT lighting system is.

    I've been looking at PetCo recently at their lighting products, but I'm very, very iffy on buying anything from there. They are certainly not experts or knowledgable about aquatic life.

    I want to house coral and live rock together. I'm also thinking about adding some more live plants. I currently have macroalgae growing in the tank and it's doing very well. We have live fiddler crabs and hermit crabs and we would like to start the tank off with bottom feeders.

    I want to really build up a new environment and make it a damn good healthy one before I introduce anything to the tank. It's cycled for a year now and I am the proud owner of a 55 gallon aquarium.

    I'm upgrading my ecosystem and lighting system. Any suggestions are more than welcome. You can even email them to me!

    Love,
    "Apey"
     
  2. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    What kind of plants do you have in the tank currently? Do you have a small LFS in your area? They might be able to answer some of your questions. I have a refugium with some chaetomorpha growing under a regular light from a big-box aquarium store.
     
  3. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    Right now I have the typical macroalgae growing. (Sp?) It looks like a lettuce plant. It's all I have locally. Everything else would have to be shipped to me..I just don't know where to buy from?

    I'm also trying to find out what the best kind of light is. I was told an oceanic light is the best for corals, liverock and livestock. Is this true?
     
  4. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Is there a reason that you want to add live plants? What about fake plants? I dont' really know too much about light - I just replaced what came with my tank, one side is white and the other side is blue. I have cuttlefish, which are probably have differently lighting needs than octopus.
     
  5. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Lighting would depend on what kind of corals you want to keep. For SPS you would want MH, for LPS and softies you could go with T5 or VHO or MH. Good lighting and Excellent lighting will also depend on what animals you are keeping, but in general anything from PETCO is not worth having.

    The live 'plants' are a question as well. There are some studies that show some of the macro algae release toxins that will kill sps coral. Also, many of the macros will tend to become pests and take over your tank, choking out your corals.
     
  6. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    I don't know what those lighting terms mean: MH, LPS, T5, VHO.

    Can you tell me where to buy the lighting? I was going to buy an oceanic light from PETCO. It's my only local petstore.
     
  7. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    I didn't have any plant life in my tank before and I know that's what caused poor quality. Fake plants only add up to algae build-up from my experience. I would like to add plants to benefit the living quality of my livestock.
     
  8. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Before I can make any recommendations I need to know what animals/corals you are planning on keeping.
     
  9. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    I don't know, since I have never kept corals. I'd like to get the right kind of lighting for a variety of soft and hard corals.
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Apey,

    I highly agree with Thales. The design, lighting and plant life etc. are very much dependent on what you want to keep. There are a few things that help almost any marine tank, like sumps and refugiums because they add water volume to the display tank but there are even some critters that really don't benefit from skimmers and others that live rock is a big no-no. We can only cater to a small "patch reef" at best in our homes so starting out with WHAT you want to enjoy is the first step.

    You might look around a bit on Reef Central or other more general reef forums (particularly ones with pictures) to start forming a better picture in your mind of the type of marine tank you want to develop. Once you have a feel for where you are going, then you can start to redesign your specific tank to meet the needs of your anticipated critters. There is no, "one size fits most" in this hobby.

    Fortunately, today, almost any kind of set-up can be catered to through internet purchase. Some people are lucky enough (my gut feel is Californians and New Yorkers don't know how lucky they are and think the rest of us have similar choices) to have LFS's that support the marine hobbiests and most chains will have some of the monthly use consumables (salt, carbon, etc) but even these are generally less expensive when purchased on-line. The biggest hurdle is to discover what your tank should look like and then find the proper items to build out the tank vs trying to build out a tank from the hardward side and the choose what fits the configuration. My observation has been that anyone buying a "kit" system and has continued with the hobby, has replaced almost everything but the tank itself once they discovered what kind of critters they wanted to keep.

    IMO::twisted:

    Plants will not help much to keep water quality high in a vertabrate environment (fish and other heavy eaters). The closer you come to a FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) tank, the less benefit you will see from plants (other than as food) and the more you need to concentrate on mechanical filtration. If you choose a primarily invert setup (corals with no, or very few vertabrates) plants are one of the things that can give benefit to your system.

    I hope my monolog helps give you some direction. Neal and I remember the frustrations of "trying again".:hmm:
     
  11. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    It does help! Is it bad to add some plants as decoration? I saw some red kelp plant at PetCo for 2$ a clump. They come with free shrimp as a package deal.

    I also found a skimmer for 73-$89 with a 60 day money back guarantee. If I change my mind, the manager said I could exchange it for a full refund broken or not. It's for a 65 gallon and I will be creating a sump from my 20 gallon tank that used to house my fiddler crabs.

    My main question is the lighting. I have been told so many different things. I really want to have fish and some shrimp critters. How well do those work together? I'd also like to start breeding later on, but I know I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm trying to find a light with lunar lighting attached to it.

    Right now I have live rock in my tank, fiddler crabs and hermit crabs. I really wanted to attempt coral, but I'm starting to rethink that. I want to have a beautiful tank, but can I accomplish this with live rock? I want the setting to be as beautiful as its inhabitants and flourish. I mean well.

    I have to replace everything since my octopus died. Everything is so toxic that I'm afraid of using it with fish. I am replacing the skimmer (once caked with gunk...I am assuming this was a terrible skimmer since I cleaned it EVERY day) and the light. It was meant only for the octopus, so I have to change everything over.
     
  12. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I suggest you do some browsing on www.reefs.org in the New Reefkeepers Forum. It will be the easiest way to get a grip on the issues at hand. Just as we on TONMO plead that people do research on cephs before buying anything related to their care, Reefkeepers feel the same about corals. A 'nice variety of soft and hard corals' is not as simple as all that. Different corals have different requirements, and learning about them before buying will not only increase your pleasure and decrease your frustration, but will improve the lives of the corals.

    MH - Metal Halide
    A point source, screw in type of bulb. Generally recommended for the corals/anemones that need bright light.

    T5
    A new type of compact fluorescent lighting that people are having success with on softie/LPS tankds

    LPS
    Large polyp stonies

    SPS
    Small polyp stonies

    VHO
    Very High Output fluorescent lighting.

    Lighting is a complicated issue in the reefing world. Have fun! :grin:
     
  13. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    If you like it, go for it. What kind of shrimp?

    Depends what you want, and depends on what kind of skimmer. A skimmer in that price range generally is not worth buying IMO. They just aren't that effective. You would be better off finding something used. Also, is this from Petco? As I said before, most of what they have is not all that good.

    You really cant generalize like that. :grin: What shrimp and what fish? Some get along great, some don't.

    Depends on the kind of hermits. :grin: Some are fine with coral, some not so much.
    Beautiful is subjective, so if you like it, its great. I have seem some beautiful tanks with no coral.

    What kind of skimmer was it? Often skimmers need to be cleaned often. It means they are doing their jobs.
    How is the tank toxic?
     
  14. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    We didn't know the octopus was dead for about 3 days. We were on a mini vacation at our local cabin. We came home and found him and the tank was covered in his muck and body parts. We quickly took out his body and cleaned out the entire tank--refiltered the water so that it was the purest form.

    The skimmer is a coral life from Dr Foster.com and the other skimmer is called a Prizm Deluxe used on Ebay.

    I really want to introduce peppermint shrimp to the tank and some basic starter fish like clowns. The hermit crabs are blue-legged hermit crabs. I just have plain fiddlers right now. I also have the lettuce plant added.

    I probably sound like an idiot...but I really want to do this right lol
     
  15. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't think anything you have is made unusable by the octos death, and the corals live is better than the prizm (the prizm seems to be widely regarded as a joke).
    For the pep's and the hermits you don't need any special lighting. :grin:
     
  16. AprylWillis

    AprylWillis GPO Registered

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    I don't have a coral life right now. I have a venturi...I think.
     

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