First (saltwater) aquarium build

mikst

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Some backstory, I have like 13 (freshwater) tanks set up in the house. Good news bad news, my wifey also likes tanks so there's no one to tell me no. :) I also have like 10 empty tanks on racks in the garage, and my shelves look like pet(co/smart) with random aquarium equipment.

Others have asked me multiple times if I want a saltwater and I say no because I don't like the maintenance. All my tanks are ultra low maintenance. Planted, huge filtration, supplement with fertz and buffers, regular testing. I build custom sumps for all my tanks, over head, under tank, in tank (AIO). From a one gallon sump on a 2.5 gallon tank up to a sump for our 46G wedge bowfront. I like to engineer, design, diy stuff. I was recently convinced to dabble in salt, soooo...

I went to the garage and grabbed a 16G bowfront I had laying around and a 5G to use as a sump. Wife asked why I don't just use a 20, but I like the look of the bow. I wasn't able to find a decent stand for it, but a stand I did find happened to have the right dimensions... For a 29G, so I'll be building that with a 10g sump. Plumbing is easy for me, but I've got some things to Learn on salt VS fresh sumps.

A friend gave me a bunch of dry rock, it's in a bucket of saltwater with heater and Airstone to cycle.

Right now I'm just researching and making cardboard mockups of tank/aquascape /sump. So no pics yet, but hopefully soon.

I'll definitely have questions tho!
 
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mikst

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Ok, so I like making sumps. Typically, I keep it super simple for !y freshwater tanks. The water comes down the drain from the tank and dumps in the one chamber on top of the filter media foam. The pipe is under water and if the water gets too low i can tell by the sound. Detritus and food and whatever collects on top, so I typically house shrimp or snails on top of the filter to break it down and keep the filter media clean. The water flows down thru the foam and into a half inch gap under the foam so it has no restriction or channeling. It flows to the pump chamber and up to the tank. Water level is the same throughout the sump.

This is my CAD (crayola aided design) drawing of that.

IMG_20240405_210842.jpg
 
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mikst

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But for saltwater, I wanted a protein skimmer so I needed a chamber that had a static water height. First chamber has the drain and the baffle is high up so it overflows into the filter media chamber like before.

IMG_20240405_210849.jpg

(Edit : that green mass is macro algae)

But then I happened across cryptic refugiums and I am intrigued. That fits with my love of inverts and cleanup crew in tanks and filters and I don't want microfauna ground up in the skimmer, so I'll aerate another way. Thinking of just having the first chamber be the cryptic zone with lots of rubble. The rock would disrupt and slow flow pretty well and allow detritus to settle out for the critters. Got other ideas too tho because instant the critters to be able to reach the return pump
 
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So, originally I was going to throw together a 16 gallon bowfront because I had one sitting around empty and use a 5 gallon tank for a sump. But then it was hard to find a decent stand that fit well with our decor and I did not want to build a stand. One stand I found gave me lots of room but it was so big dimensionally on top that I could put a 20gallon long on it. And I happen to have one of those in the garage empty too. But wait, a 20L is actually only 18 gallons, that's lame. But a 29g has the same foot print as a 20gL soooo, I'm getting a 29g and I'll use a spare 10 gallon I have laying around as a sump. :)

I have some dry rock, previously live rock, from a friend sitting in a bucket of salt water cycling. I picked up some dry rock rubble to build some structures.

My goals are to have a mixed reef display tank. Aragonite sand, plus some nice live rock structures. a diversified CUC of snails, hermit crabs, crabs, shrimp, couple kinds of goby, couple clown fish of course, maybe a couple other fish for some color variety as long as they mesh well. I plan on adding fish very slowly and having a dedicated quarantine tank.

I'd like a variety of some pretty basic beginner corals like gsp (on the back wall so it doesn't take over my structures), zoas and palys on their own island(s), pulsing xenia, some others here and there as I learn what fits well.

I also like some of the decorative macro algae like red oto. Maybe some sponges would be cool. I really want a diverse little ecosystem to help achieve stability and reduce need for export. Ideally I'd like to get as close to nutrient recycling instead of nutrient export as possible. That what I work towards in ally freshwater tanks.

My sump I plan a split channel sump with a normal style refugium/filter media and the other side a fully blacked out cryptic fuge filled with rubble.

That's all I've got so far.
 
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I had a list of quarantine tank items as I intend to quarantine/fallow anything wet that goes into my tank. I've been cycling my rock in a salt water bucket.
I decided to clean off one of my work benches covered in random bits and just set up the QT and cycle my rock and filter media in there. So here we go, I grabbed a filter I had laying around, the Airstone will be stuffed into the filter before the media to help get the water aerated. Got a heater in the tank too. I cut a tight fitting lid out of corrugated clear plastic stuff like you'd see for green house roofing since I had it laying around. I made it to eliminate as much evaporation as possible. I haven't decided on a light, but I have a bin of various lights and timers. Low power to avoid stressing the critters. I grabbed a couple random pvc fittings I had but in the end I'll get some bigger ones before it's actually accepting fishies.

I cleaned the tank this morning, scraped off old algae, used vinegar to scrub any crusties and to sanitize it a bit. After it airs out for the day, I might mix some salt water this evening and put my rock that's been cycling in here.

Please ignore the masking tape lines. I was using this tank as a mockup for various sump configuration designs for the eventual setup.

Edit: the air pump won't live on the lid, it'll be on the bench. I have a one way check valve in the air line to prevent the possibility of back siphon if power goes out.

Also, when I'm not actively quarantining, I will probably keep this going and just turn the heater off.

PXL_20240413_142453983.jpg
 
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Went to a friend's house, he has a 330gal tank, to do some work on his sump. He gave me some chaeto and it came with friends! I now have a brittle star and 3 or 4 bristle worms. Probably some copepods. Got the qt set up and put my cycling rocks and everything else in there. Salinity is spot on with red sea salt. Nice 77F for temp.

So I guess this is my first sw aquarium :) I love it and it smells amazing, like monterey bay or pb in San Diego.

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So, originally I was going to throw together a 16 gallon bowfront because I had one sitting around empty and use a 5 gallon tank for a sump. But then it was hard to find a decent stand that fit well with our decor and I did not want to build a stand. One stand I found gave me lots of room but it was so big dimensionally on top that I could put a 20gallon long on it. And I happen to have one of those in the garage empty too. But wait, a 20L is actually only 18 gallons, that's lame. But a 29g has the same foot print as a 20gL soooo, I'm getting a 29g and I'll use a spare 10 gallon I have laying around as a sump. :)

I have some dry rock, previously live rock, from a friend sitting in a bucket of salt water cycling. I picked up some dry rock rubble to build some structures.

My goals are to have a mixed reef display tank. Aragonite sand, plus some nice live rock structures. a diversified CUC of snails, hermit crabs, crabs, shrimp, couple kinds of goby, couple clown fish of course, maybe a couple other fish for some color variety as long as they mesh well. I plan on adding fish very slowly and having a dedicated quarantine tank.

I'd like a variety of some pretty basic beginner corals like gsp (on the back wall so it doesn't take over my structures), zoas and palys on their own island(s), pulsing xenia, some others here and there as I learn what fits well.

I also like some of the decorative macro algae like red oto. Maybe some sponges would be cool. I really want a diverse little ecosystem to help achieve stability and reduce need for export. Ideally I'd like to get as close to nutrient recycling instead of nutrient export as possible. That what I work towards in ally freshwater tanks.

My sump I plan a split channel sump with a normal style refugium/filter media and the other side a fully blacked out cryptic fuge filled with rubble.

That's all I've got so far.
Eureka! I like your insight on reef husbandry. I suggest you start a tank thread and I shall follow your progress.

PS: I have one caution for you: Don’t rely on check valve at air pump to prevent backflow of water from tank. Assume it will fail at the worst possible time.

“Edit: the air pump won't live on the lid, it'll be on the bench. I have a one way check valve in the air line to prevent the possibility of back siphon if power goes out.”
 
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Doctorgori

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Welcome,
SW can be costly and you can get caught up in all the advise and minutia… If I got one piece to give its try “hand dosing” at least initially …
good luck
 
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mikst

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Welcome,
SW can be costly and you can get caught up in all the advise and minutia… If I got one piece to give its try “hand dosing” at least initially …
good luck
Thank you! I will definitely be hand dosing first with lots of manual data collection to look at trends before I set up anything automated or dripper related. I think it's great advice tho, can't just set up an auto doser if you don't know what your tank needs!
 
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mikst

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Eureka! I like your insight on reef husbandry. I suggest you start a tank thread and I shall follow your progress.

PS: I have one caution for you: Don’t rely on check valve at air pump to prevent backflow of water from tank. Assume it will fail at the worst possible time.

“Edit: the air pump won't live on the lid, it'll be on the bench. I have a one way check valve in the air line to prevent the possibility of back siphon if power goes out.”
Thanks! Husbandry is important in sw or FW aquariums, gardening, nature. It's important and builds healthy mini ecosystems.

As far as check valve, with the air pump on the lid above the sump height, it should never back siphon, it should have an immediate air siphon break at that point. The check valve is a bit of silly redundancy because it came with he air pump. And they definitely will fail. I usually use siphon break holes in my return line at the water line for my sump tanks.

You suggested starting a tank thread, I thought that's what I was doing with this thread, did I put it in the wrong area?
 

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“You suggested starting a tank thread, I thought that's what I was doing with this thread, did I put it in the wrong area?“

I post a lot of comments. Disregard that one.

My comment of check valve on air pump was addressed to your comment about air pump on top of tank was temporary and you were moving it elsewhere.
 
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mikst

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“You suggested starting a tank thread, I thought that's what I was doing with this thread, did I put it in the wrong area?“

I post a lot of comments. Disregard that one.

My comment of check valve on air pump was addressed to your comment about air pump on top of tank was temporary and you were moving it elsewhere.
Ohhhh. Gotcha, yeah it's still up on top. Seems the best place really. This is just for the qt. I'll aerate the main tank with wave makers, tumbling drain, and a small water pump with venturi in the beginning of the sump in first chamber where drains are.
 
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mikst

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Slow going on the display tank and sump build. So, I thought, I have a qt set up cycling with rocks, might as well get some coral frags rolling!
Went to the local store, asked them to test my water and it was in good shape, so I found some palys I like, a mushroom, and a hunk of gsp. The gsp came with another brittle star, yay! I thought I killed the little feller when I dipped them since it fell off, but it seems alive and kicking.

Anyway, my palys started opening up quick. Yay!

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