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Discussion Starter #1
Might get flamed here for posting this but I thought I'd share. This is my first forray into the salty side. I have both a 10 gallon and a 75 gallon planted tanks, and just got a steal on a 55 gallon mature saltwater tank, fully stocked.

55 gallon marineland standard
eshopps overflow, sump, and in sump skimmer
separate refugium
a few powerheads
about 75 pounds of liverock
about 75 pounds of live sand
aquaticlife 3xt5ho light, with 2 actinics and 1 10000k, moonlights
Clarkii clown
Pajama cardinal
neon damsel
a bunch of invertebrates
a brain coral
some zooas
a tiny mushroom frag

took me 9 hours to break it down, move it home, and set it back up. More info to follow. here are some pics. I'll begin with the set up. You have stand placement once it was cleaned, empty sump under the tank, and all the livestock containers waiting to be put back into the tank. enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Here you've got the tank half full once it was cleaned and put in place
and a couple shots of the sump/skimmer and refugium. The plumbing isnt exactly the way I would like it, but to change it i need a new return pump probably. I have an extra overflow box, but the refugium drain isnt large enough to accomodate. I'm gonna have to think about it for a while. It works for now though.

The flow is in this order: overflow from main tank,
to filter sock in sump,
to in sump skimmer,
there is a ac 50 pump in the sump that pumps the water into the refugium,
drilled overflow in the refugium goes back into the sump filter sock
return pump post baffles
back into single return to main display.
main display also has an ac50 powerhead and a koralia 750 powerhead for circulation. Bringing it to about 1100 gph roughly.

I'm still very new to this but as of day two, specific gravity is at 1.025, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, ph 8.2. phosphate and nitrate tests to come. The owner said that the skimmer and chaeto have been working so well, he has just done top offs with a single 15 gallon water change every month. With the fairly deep sand bed, and massive amount of chaeto he said the phosphates and nitrates have been for the most part undetectable. We'll see if I can keep that up.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Total cost of the setup...$200. No lie. Included extra salt, buckets, a whole array of dosing supplies and a double supply of testing kits for just about everything under the sun. It's honestly more than I even know what to do with. I know a bit about salt keeping, as I've researched it for a while, but the offer on this tank came up out of nowhere so I had to jump on it. I don't really know how to dose and stuff, and feeding the corals will be a a learning process, but they're pretty hardy and easy varieties. The fish are trained to eat pellets so that's good.

I figure as long as I can keep everything working, the skimmer running and the refugium running, I should be alright while I research further. it's a mature and cycled system so right now it's kind of on auto pilot, as it has been for the past year. It's very clean and designed to be very low maintenance. The owner has been doing one 20% water change a month for the past year for crying out loud. I've gotta get a RO/DI unit now, and probably think about setting up a quarantine tank at some point.
 

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Those button polyps are beautiful. I did reef tanks from the mid 90s until about 5 years ago and I think those are some of the coolest I've seen. I've heard there are some great ones on the market now.
 

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You gat a great deal. When I got interested in planted FW tanks I was intimidated and I had 10+ years experience with reef tanks. You'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Phosphate test 0-0.25 ish, nitrate 0ppm. The bad news...not but two days after I have the tank set up, it has to be moved. After hearing numerous family complaints about how the light is too bright, and the tank is too loud, it's gotta be moved out of the living room an into the office. What a pain. At least I know how to do it though and it shouldn't take too long. Now that I have the plumbing down and what not I should be able to knock it out in half the time. I tried explaining to the family that to grow corals you need actinic lights and a specific photoperiod. They insist that we can just turn the light on when I'm the only one here an when it's family time the lights go off. That just won't work, so, off to the office it goes with my other tanks that have been banished from the front of the house ha ha.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
In my haste I hadn't really looked closely at the light. I saw only one 10000k bulb and actinics. I assume it was a 3 bulb fixture. It's actually 4 bulbs and the owner was running 3 actinics and one 10000k. I swapped that first bulb so now I have white, blue, white, blue. Photoperiod is programmed to be actinics only from 8-9 am, then the whites come on and I run all 4 bulbs till 7 pm, then back to just actinics till 8 pm, then only moonlights From 8-midnight. Darkness from midnight to 8 am. I run the refugium light from 8 pm to 8 am opposite the display lights. It is just a single 15watt cfl, which I will probably soon ditch and get a two socket incandescent plastic hood and put two 15 watt bulbs in it.
 

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Salt water tanks intimidate me at the moment. I just hear how sensitive and demanding they are.
Nah, I would go as far as to say it is on par or lower in demand than a planted tank if you stick with soft corals.

Back when I was 12-13 I had a nano cube with a few soft corals and a few polyps and a crap ton of fish and inverts. Now if I could run it being 12-13 doing maybe 1 WC a month or so then anyone can do it lmao.

Nice steal OP, I would have jumped on it just like you did lol. Reef tanks are really fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks man! Grats on getting the go ahead to start you own as well. Ive done a little to the tank. Added more liverock. Moved around the corals. Stirring up the sandbed in the move, moving the corals around, and changing the bulbs did a number on coral health. The brain coral got so bleached it turned almost white. It's slowing working its way back to the purple color it is supposed to be. I'll take some decent pics on Friday and update the thread then.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Update

Lots of updates, though the tank probably doesn't look that different.

I thought I knew a decent amount about saltwater tanks until I started encountering alot of pitfalls people have. Since the thread started I've had a massive cyano outbreak, phosphates skyrocketed, cleanup crew dieoff, and just general frustration and learning. It's been very rewarding so far.

The tank has been heaterless...so I got online and ordered two eheim jager 300 watt heaters and one 75 watt version (for the quarantine tank when that gets used). I keep one 300 watt in the refugium, and the 75 watt in the sump along with the skimmer, refugium pumps, return pump, GFO media bag, and a cycled sponge filter. I wanted to put both heaters in the sump, but the 300 watt is just too large. It fits in the refugium, and while the flow going through there is a little slow, it's better than putting it in the display tank as far as I'm concerned. If it becomes an issue, I'll move it if necessary. The house ambient temperature is about 75 degrees, and with the pumps, the tank is about 79 during light hours, and probably down to 76 during night time. I am hoping the heaters will keep it at 79 degrees 24/7.

I used the second 300 watt heater to replace the heater in my 75 gallon planted tank.

That update was done today actually.

Like I said, phosphates and cyano became an issue. I suspect this was from stirring up the sandbed in the move and not rinsing it. I've started running a GFO media bag in one of the sump baffles so it gets decently high flow. It has seemed to help. It's not as efficient as a phosphate reactor, but it has lowered them substantially to where the liquid test reads zero. After learning, I realize liquid tests are useless in saltwater tanks because they don't test for the range you're looking at, but results don't lie, and the cyano is all but gone.

I did two months of weekly water changes of 15 gallons, switching to Reef Crystals salt. That has helped maintain calcium at 420 and alkalinity at 9 dkh. I also aquired a spectrapure csdi 60 unit with all new filters. So with a combination of switching to RODI water, weekly changes, higher quality salt and GFO my water quality has improved substantially since I got the tank, and the corals are recovering. The brain coral is less bleached and you can see from the picture is getting some of its purple color back. The hairy mushroom still isnt doing so hot, but still lives so hopefully it will bounce back. My watermelon and dragon's eye zoas are healthy looking but havent been reproducing. Hopefully that will come soon.

I'm growing alot of macroalgae in the main tank as you can see. It was on the rock which I love and seems to grow pretty well

I've added some hermit crabs and a couple turbo snails to cut down on the biofilm since it is unsightly. I removed ALL mechanical filtration from the tank. Some people swear by sponges and filter socks, but i didnt want to be bleaching and replacing them on a daily basis, and I've seen enough convincing evidence that if you run your skimmer well, and maintain water quality, you dont need socks and sponges. I haven't noticed any negative effects from doing this, and it is less maintenance. I have actually noticed more pod growth in the refugium and my rock flower anemone appears to be looking fuller. I am really aiming for the tank to be fairly self sustaining, and to get down to one monthly water change, feedings, and top offs only. No dosing or other maintenance. So far so good. Anyway. Here are some pics!

Sorry, even with a dslr camera, my photog skills are aweful, but you get the idea. this camera at least captures the color more accurately. The actinics freak out my phone's camera and it all looks like blacklight pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
One more thing I forgot to say I upgraded. I had been using three separate swing arm hydrometers. Each gave a different reading so when mixing salt water and setting the tank salinity to the water line in the sump, I typically went with the middle reading. They're a pain in the butt to use and take forever to fill, read, pour, rinse, refill, retest, ect. Especially with three. I recently purchased one of the nice VitalSine seawater refractometers and calibration solution. Holy smokes. My target specific gravity was 1.026 using the hydrometers. The actual reading was 1.031!!! I heard those things were inaccurate and that while stability is key, that reading is way out of ideal parameters. So over a couple weeks testing and water changing I have adjusted it down to a true 1.026, or 35ppt. This should also improve coral health. Moral of the story, before anyone even thinks about buying a glass box and putting a single grain of salt in it, get an rodi unit and a seawater refractometer. Period.
 
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