55g Acropora build - Help needed

Sep 16, 2019
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Before I start, I would like to say that English is my second language, so excuse any grammar mistakes I make.

This will be a build thread for the new ~55g build I have in the making. My last tank was a mixed reef with solid success, but I have quickly realized that I like SPS corals way more than softies/LPS. I have kept soft corals and LPS for 2 years without problems, with solid colors. When it comes to SPS, I have only kept them for a few months before having to break down the tank due to a very busy year in my life and knowing that my next build would be SPS dominated.

Seeing how this is only my second tank, with the first one being mostly DIY, I will be needing help from members here. Any tips are appreciated!
The goal for this tank is a predominantly SPS reef, mostly Acropora with a few LPS/Zoas at the bottom. I have never kept any Acropora in my tanks, so this will be a real challenge for me. Hopefully, with your help, I can make it a successful tank!

Seeing how I am still in college and my budget is limited, the equipment is not top of the line brands, but will hopefully work fine.

Tank Equipment info:
40x18x18 glass tank,barebottom with white foamed PVC on the bottom glass, drilled, with 2 1-1/4 inch drain lines, with an appropriate stand
32x14x14 DIY glass sump, with the first section being a refugium (cca 15% of total system volume), folowed by filter pads on egg crate, skimmer section and return section
45 pounds of reef saver rock, dry, which has been curing for 3 weeks in a bucket
2 Jebao DCP 3500 return pumps (930gph each pump, having 2 for safety reasons)
3 Jebao SOW 8 wavemakers (max 2245gph per pump, right now I have 2 but will be buying 1 more) - should give me max turnover of 125x
Coral box D300 plus skimmer rated up to 130g systems
150w UFO LED grow light for refugium which will light chaetomorpha algae
ATI Sunpower 6x39w
Eheim 200w heater on a controller
ATO system
Jebao 4 head dosing unit

Other Equipment info
50gpd RODI system

I am planning to do 10% weekly water changes with detritus siphoning, having high flow, with high nutrient import/export and high bio load (as high as my equipment can handle, that is..)

The tank should be up and running in a few weeks. Until then I have no pictures.

Now for the questions:
1) Will ATI Sunpower 6x39w be enough for 18 inches wide and 18-inch deep tank? I am looking to grow various SPS, mostly Acropora in top 2/3 of the tank, with some LPS and Zoas in the bottom 1/3.

2) Is foamed PVC reef safe? I was thinking of putting on the bottom glass panel for looks, and to protect the glass from rocks falling.

3) I have been curing my reef saver rock for 3 weeks now, with a few pieces of live rock from an established tank. How long did you guys cure your reef saver before adding it to a display tank? I am not smelling any rotting organics, the rocks look very clean.

4) How many fish would I be able to fit into this setup? We are talking about small fish, up to ~4inch in length.

5)I was planning to add first corals around Christmas time (~4 months after I have started curing/cycling my dry rock), and add most of my fish until then. When did you guys start having success with SPS in tanks started with dry rock? I have heard that dry rock tanks take awhile to get mature enough to support colorful SPS corals. I am in no rush to get corals, just would like to have a timeframe in my mind.

Thank you in advance!
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Jan 29, 2019
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Oxford, Pennsylvania
Afraid my sps experience is incredibly limited.
The live rock really seems to help the dry mature faster though.

Love your setup. Those are some serious drains!
Great on you having dual return pumps. Only thing that comes to mind is that 200w heater will have to work pretty hard. You might consider adding a small backup heater and maybe an inexpesive temp controller.

I have that same fuge light and it works very well.

What is your most favorite type of reef tank?

  • SPS dominated

    Votes: 172 21.8%
  • LPS dominated

    Votes: 58 7.3%
  • Soft Coral dominated

    Votes: 26 3.3%
  • Zoa dominated

    Votes: 16 2.0%
  • Mixed Reef

    Votes: 489 61.9%
  • Fish focused

    Votes: 13 1.6%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 16 2.0%

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