View Full Version : HELP!! Big bad reef

01/25/2010, 06:18 PM
I have to outfit a reef for a tank:

96" long

20" deep

42" high

best light??? Mixed LPS and softies.
400 watt? Or will 250 hqi work?

Best skimmer??? Delect in sump 2060

I have about 15 grand.

Need advice badly.

01/25/2010, 06:47 PM
I certainly hope this isn't a commercial job you contracted for....

Shane Hoffman
01/25/2010, 06:55 PM
Ya, I too am curious. What are the circumstances that lead up to you needing this advice. This sounds like quite the endevour, especially if you are being paid to set up a tank. You should know this stuff already if you are being paid for it.

01/25/2010, 07:07 PM
What nefarious commentary. When all I wanted was support. I know the answers. Everybody knows answers. The world is an information highway. We go on forums to discuss abs find support. You guys are kinda jerks. I hope u don't respond and some people who want to play along and give their two sense without judging hop on board

01/25/2010, 07:18 PM
sorry pheromo but i kind of agree with the guys above, 15 grand is alot of money. to be honest i'm not the most knowledgable on alot of subjects and i'm soon to be setting up a small coral trade buisness on ebay so i'm being a bit condescending but then again i haven't been trusted with 15 thousand pounds.
never the less you've taken the job now so hope the job goes the best it can do and we'll all try and help you the best we can although don't take everybodys advice on here, alot people talk rubbish.
how long have you got to set it up ect?

01/25/2010, 07:19 PM
is it all plumbed in?

01/25/2010, 07:23 PM
What nefarious commentary. When all I wanted was support. I know the answers. Everybody knows answers. The world is an information highway. We go on forums to discuss abs find support. You guys are kinda jerks. I hope u don't respond and some people who want to play along and give their two sense without judging hop on board

You also get everyones opinion on a PUBLIC forum if you want it or not.

Like others said, you should already know this information if someone is trusting YOU with 15k to build them a tank.

01/25/2010, 07:37 PM
Yes totally plumbed. I'm not being given 15 grand My boyfriend told me that's how much he has to finish it. He's overseas and wants me to do it for him so he can have instant reef. I have three weeks to get these components abd get Rock. The suspicion is so ridiculously unwarAnted. And I hope the suspicion doesn't turn into homophobia. Just want some advice. So let's move on so I can get this done right and on time please.

I think 42 high is high. Was supposed to be a fish- only tank but that didn't do it for him.
I think 400s but is it really necessary. Wil 250hqi get deep enough?

I like deltec skimmer but would like advice on that too if anybody has any.

01/25/2010, 07:39 PM
Pheromo, let me explain the contempt in some of these answers.

Every member on this forum spends countless hours learning about every single facet of the reef aquarium hobby -- and the research, experimentation and testing -- to find out the best way to care for these delicate animals. You could spend hours just learning about one single issue, like what lights, what skimmer, what corals, what fish...where to place corals, how to acclimate, compatibility, flow rates, nitrate reduction, live vs frozen food, good vs bad test kits, RODI units, lighting height..and it goes on basically forever.

We all love and cherish the unique animals and the extremely delicate ecosystem we're creating in our homes. We do it because we all love the hobby, and because we'll, we're obsessive. It's not easy, and that's one of the reasons we keep reef aquariums. Anyone can get a 10 gallon freshwater tank and throw a couple mollies in there. We do this because it's difficult and challenging as well as extremely rewarding.

So you can understand when someone comes on here and says "someone gave me 15 grand to build a reef tank. What lights and skimmer should I get?" kind of makes everyone a little upset. As if we're supposed to spend time typing out answers when you're not willing to do the research on your own.

If you do know the answers, how about letting us know what your proposed specs are and then asking everyone else what their experience is with that specific equipment. Instead of saying "what's the best lighting fixture?!!?!?" give a few examples of equipment you're interested in and you'll most likely get opinionated answers.

01/25/2010, 07:47 PM
i would spend about 300 of the money on decent books. in the long run 3 weeks of reading is better spent than rushing into it and encountering problems later on. but 3 weeks of reading (good books) won't even scratch the surface.

what flow you pushing?

01/25/2010, 07:50 PM
If you want to be able to house the most light demanding creatures throughout, you would almost certainly need 400w i think, but if you were willing to place the light demanding organisms higher up on the rockwork, and place lps and soft corals lower, in order to save on electricity, i would go for that. IMO it would be more than worth it. I would do 250w with some t5 supp. The Lumenbrite reflectors are well known for providing excellent light penetration, so i would go for those on the mh. Will need a lot of additional flow, maybe Tunze? Need to implement some plan for regulating calcium and Alkalinity...Calcium Reactor possibly? Make sure you don't rush the cycling and adding inhabitants part of the process, if it goes to fast, the life spans of the oorganisms could be unnecessarily short.

01/25/2010, 07:53 PM
with 15k to use, a skimmer upgrade might be useful as well.

01/25/2010, 07:57 PM
she hasn't got a skimmer to upgrade:smurf:

01/25/2010, 07:59 PM
If you think you are going to have a fully ready reef tank that size ready in 3 weeks you are sadly mistaken. Even if by some stretch you got the water LR,LR and everything in the cycle wouldn't be over yet. Most people take months properly setting up there tanks.

01/25/2010, 08:07 PM
Some pictures would help.

01/25/2010, 08:12 PM
she says she's got 3 weeks to get the rest of the equipment and put liverock in, which is doable i think

01/25/2010, 08:23 PM
I would rethink about having a tank that is 42" high. It's a PITA to clean and aquascaping. I would go more deep then high. A 400w will work for a lps and softie. A 250w will not cut it on a tank that high. For the skimmer I would go w/ a Bubble King that the heart of the system. Deltec, ATB is also a good brand. This is just IMO

Shane Hoffman
01/25/2010, 08:25 PM
Ya, I too am curious. What are the circumstances that lead up to you needing this advice. This sounds like quite the endevour, especially if you are being paid to set up a tank. You should know this stuff already if you are being paid for it.

As you can see my comment isnt rude or nefarious in any way. I think you were offended by the " especially IF you are being paid to set up the tank. You should already know this stuff"

I said "IF". Which now it sounds like your not being paid which is kind of the way your message made it sound. I am sorry you didnt like my polite response to your info lacking question.

01/25/2010, 08:29 PM
"The suspicion is so ridiculously unwarAnted. And I hope the suspicion doesn't turn into homophobia"
not sure what you meant by this?
just realised, i've been calling you a she when your a man?

01/25/2010, 09:03 PM
I think it is great that you are looking to help out your b/f! I spent several months researching and asking questions before I moved forward with my 280 upgrade from a 115 and I still managed to screw things up along the way. :)

A couple questions? Is the take 42" in water depth? This seems high, but I have seen some tanks this way. If it's the case, you can get away with 250 but coral would be up towards the top of the tank. If you went with 400 then you would have a bit more freedom but don;t think any SPS would do good that far down.

Can you spend a few minutes and let us know what equipment / supplies you have for the reef tank? Is it reef ready or not? Sump? Dosing, pumps, how's the plumbing, powerheads.. I think you get the idea :fun2:

With a bit more info, we can help with getting things ready. With what others have said, I don't think you will be ale to have fish or coral in the short time frame. It'll take the tank a while to fully cycle to get the beneficial bacteria.

01/25/2010, 09:20 PM
[QUOTE=pheromo;16456089] The suspicion is so ridiculously unwarAnted. And I hope the suspicion doesn't turn into homophobia.QUOTE]

Why would that suspicion turn into homophobia? What does that have to do with anything? I'm confused.

01/25/2010, 09:22 PM
I'm curious. The most fun is taking the time to build the reef, watch it cycle, test the water, labor over what fish does what, labor even more over what coral needs what and so on. If your bf just wants instant reef why don't you just take the 15K and pay a LFS pro to set up and stock and maintain for you?
I take joy in my daily and weekly tank duties, that's obviously not what your into. You can also buy a dvd that will play a virtual tank on your large flat screen--I'm sure you have one.

stubby 58
01/25/2010, 09:24 PM
I am not being rude but 3wks like some have said is not long enough . If you do it that fast you are only going to throw the money away and lose alot of livestock , which none of us like to do , it is the main reason why we have tank .


01/25/2010, 09:31 PM
tank is in place ... plumbed ...
blueline 100 on a closed loop: circulation split between chiller coil to a remote 1 hp condenser, and straight return to the tank for flow
open loop, another blueline 100 ... the sump has room for an insump skimmer, which is why i was thinking deltec 2060 ... but if people have great success with another insump skimmer, i would love to hear about it ...
also room for a small pump to feed a phosphate reactor
we can monitor the alk and cal parameters so i was thinking a peristaltic dosing system as opposed to calcium reactor and kalk reactor ... because i'm only looking for to build for him a nice softie/ lps reef ...

its the light i'm most concerned about because i dont want to go 400s since i'm not doing sps, but i'm also thinking 250s might leave a 42" high tank kind of short of PAR down at the bottom .... this is what i really would like some serious advice on ... would the 250 hqi reach down there at a similar intensity to a 400 ... i'm less worried about the top 36 inches ...

mudskippher: was gonna put two big tunzes on the corners, on a controller, with the two blueline 100s i think that would be enough flow, no?

thi7b: oh there is no rethinking it, its in the wall

nualin: thanks for using the word 'contempt'; i'm glad it was palpable to other people and not just me ...

bhammer: thanks; are u saying NO coral would grow on the bottom; i have seen PAR readings of tanks, but not below 36" with any system ...

are there any, or should i buy a PAR meter and read them

01/25/2010, 09:46 PM
i think getting the equipment and liverock in 3 weeks is doable (with our help).
i think she/he (i've got nothing against gay people by the way) just wants her/his boyfriend to come home to something.
which is nice.

Shane Hoffman
01/25/2010, 09:55 PM
If you are able to mount the 250s close to the surface of the aquarium they will work. That being said you would need to invest in some really nice reflectors to be able to grow low light corals at the bottom of the tank.

01/25/2010, 10:13 PM
thanks .... i was kinda thinking of buying a geismann fixture ... but i could use lumenax elite reflectors with 250s ... and than have a few actinics for night viewing ...

01/25/2010, 10:36 PM
I would rethink about having a tank that is 42" high. It's a PITA to clean and aquascaping. I would go more deep then high. A 400w will work for a lps and softie. A 250w will not cut it on a tank that high. For the skimmer I would go w/ a Bubble King that the heart of the system. Deltec, ATB is also a good brand. This is just IMO

I second that. What a pain in the behind that is to clean. Do you already have the tank? In that case, I guess you will just deal with it. You could do some research on what to get, but I can tell you if I was your BF, I would prefer you wait until I get there. Just me though, I tend to know how I want things built.

You could check with some members of Manhattan Reef. I don't know how close you are to there. Someone may be able to help you in person.

01/26/2010, 05:45 AM
Why would you even bring that up. I saw no suspicions even hinting towards that.

Get off your little high horse, not everyone cares about your lifestyle.

YOU obviously have some issues.

01/26/2010, 08:32 AM
96" x 20" x 42" (350g)

4x 400w metal halides w/ 4-8x 54w T5 HO Actinics
4x Custom Built 36 count Cree 3w LED Pendants w/ 40 degree lenses (w/ 4-8 54w T5 HO Actinics)

ATB Model 1050 Cone Skimmer
I-Tech 400 Cone Skimmer

2-4 Vortech Mp40 w/ additional Tunze (2x 6205 w/ multi controller)
Tunze 6305 x2 & 6205 x2 on Multicontroller
Add a Tunze Wavebox
Put Eductors on the Blueline closed loop


For lighting yo will pretty much have to go with 400w halides unless you find a way to get some LED's with 40 degree lenses (most commercial units come without lenses). I would personally go with a cone skimmer, and probably a I-Tech (made in the USA), but you current choice is fine. As for flow, more is better; so I would go with tunzes on a multicontroller, and I would put eductors on the closed loop outlets.

However, if you don't know what you are doing you really are going to want someone experienced to help you out. And face to face is a lot easier to understand then over the Interweb.

01/26/2010, 08:42 AM
what about using lumen bright reflectors to punch the light closer to the bottom?

01/26/2010, 09:16 AM
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01/26/2010, 09:28 AM
I think even though your partner is saying he wants softies only, I'm sure once the reef bug bites him, he might want some other corals, so like others have mentioned I would go ahead and opt for the 400's, hell Id go even higher if available, I mean 15k is a very high budget and why not get everything you need. T5's as others have mentioned are another option as well, and they have great PAR and long life, and you can get the same output in less wattage.

Also, and please don't take offense but when comming into a forum of such a specialised hobby, try to remember your here asking for help, so humility plays a key role, boy I learned my lesson on this matter with Unix/Linux chat forums, if you come in demanding asnwers someone might just nuke your comp for kicks, atleast here the most you get is little backlash commentary.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor, you and your partner will find this hobby to be amazing and fascinating at once, and quite possibly be so enthralled with it, you become hooked like the rest of us.

I would spec wise have a custom alluminum frame light rail built on pulleys or chains to be lowered and raised for tank cleaning and acclimation.

I would def go Lumenarcs and mogul bulbs on magnetic ballasts.

Led moonlights hooked to a lunar cycle.

Actinics 420nm old style VHO for color and growth.

Skimmer well for 15k, go Bubble King period, why not it will cost you 3k but you'll never need another skimmer as long as u n tank are alive.

just my two cents.

Brooklynite here.

david pinder
01/26/2010, 09:35 AM
Do have some knowledge here in large tanks since I have one 180" and 1 120 inches long. You will love having the large tank in that it will be much easier to maintain. What equipment you need will depend on what kind of corals you are going to keep. And there placement. My problem with metal hgallides is the heat issue, they were heating up the whole place. A year ago I went to t5 s and have been very happy with them. I have over 300 corals in my system and they have done well and are growing.

01/26/2010, 09:53 AM
I would suggest 250w metal halides, but get a ballast that works with 250watt or 400watt bulbs. That would allow a lighting upgrade with minimal cost, if you find that 250watt isn't enough.

I think the 250's might be enough for soft corals and a few LPS for right now. I'm betting that zoanthids and palys would like that light level towards the bottom of the tank, at least.

If not... you'd just have to upgrade the light ballasts and bulbs if you had a ballast that handled 400watt.

I think it's feasable to get the tank up and running in 3 weeks... you could get everything done but not add corals or livestock, and let the tank settle down for a little bit after that. By then, your guy would be back and you and he could pick out fish and corals at that time.

If I was trying to do what you're trying to do, and I added fish/corals within the 3 weeks, I'd have major losses. Not saying that you would, but I would.

01/26/2010, 02:12 PM
42"... what kind of rockwork are you planning on doing? Even for softy/lps, that water has to be crystal clear. I would def think about adding ozone (which the new deltecs have ports for) I would go bigger than the 2060, they also have them as external. remember with the new deltecs the 20 stands for width in mm and the 60 is height. they have 3070 and even a 3070s.

01/26/2010, 02:27 PM
Ok so here's my .02! :-)
start out with the fish only and slowly get some softies...
It'll take 3 weeks to get the rocks, sump, skimmer, lights and fish in there anyways.
If you plan to get hard corals (SPS) in the future then spend the lions share of your money on the lighting and skimmer. But don't get the corals until the tank is significantly older.
I think you can get him some nice easy and less expensive corals (so you won't feel bad if they die) and make it look full and appealing.
Once you have the fishes and the rock and everyting is grovin', throw some various colored mushrooms, Xenia, a colt coral, some zoas in there and it'll look nice and lively!
and save some of the $$ for more corals in the future :-)
You should put too many in too quick anyways....
I spent the first month of the tank with nothing in there but rock, sand and 3-5 damsels, in 100 gallon tank...
Tnak needs ot cycle for at least a month before you add anythign nifty in there.
I'm sorry I swear I'm not trying to bum you out or take the wind outta your sails! It'll all be beautiful in the end!

01/26/2010, 02:30 PM
Oh and don't forget your clean up crew, snails, crabs, maybe a brittle star fish etc.
Don't get them until your tank is done cyling though there won't be much for them to eat! How fun, setting a up a new tank I have tank envy!

01/26/2010, 02:32 PM
I would do:

4 400 Watt lumatek/galaxy ballasts
4 large lumenbrite reflectors
supplementary T5 or VHO if you wish

6 vortechs
2-4 tunzes for dead spots

Skimmer (not sure what your dimensions are)
Alpha cone 300
18 or 24 inch base SWC cone skimmer

Apex Controller

That is your basic stuff. 15K on just equipment is more than enough. If you have that in your budget I would guess that the extra cost of running 400W is not really a concern.

01/26/2010, 02:33 PM
Oh and I have T5s with Geismann bulbs on my tank and I really like them!
I knew I didn't want Metal halides becaue of ht eheat factor, and T5s with good
bulbs and enough of them (6-8) and you shoudl be able to grown dang near anything! :-)

01/26/2010, 02:55 PM
going to need many more than 6-8 T5 bulbs, this tank is 8 foot long. I would use 10k halides also.

01/26/2010, 03:08 PM
going to need many more than 6-8 T5 bulbs, this tank is 8 foot long. I would use 10k halides also.

Damn! you're right. I didn't see the post with the 8 foot long in there...
I don't think that you need the halides though. Even if you do go to SPS corals you don't HAVE to have halides.

01/27/2010, 07:01 AM
Thinking about your dimensions again.. I would go with 2x 8 bulb (54w) ATI Power modules. Thats what I would do if I where you and I think you would save more money that way and less electricity.

01/27/2010, 02:07 PM
Don't even waste your time with T5's on a 42" tall tank. They will not penetrate to the bottom. Unless you just want to add some color. I would get 400w MH if it was me.

01/27/2010, 02:36 PM
I'd go for the 400's on the lighting. Initial investments are always highest, but it will be double down the line if you decide to switch gears and go with more light loving corals. Also clams and things are light loving, so more is better. How about solar tubes?

Also I'd probably go with Tampa Bay Saltwater live rock "the package" it has the most life on the live rock, and will get the tank cycled rather quickly. The logistics would be staggering on a tank this big.


01/27/2010, 02:40 PM
my tank is 34 "h and 36"w. i am running 400w with lumenbright reflectors and am having no problem keeping maximas and croeceas on the sand bottom. i would recommend this set up in deep tanks all day long. it gives you the best range of lighting options with out limiting your coral capacity. i also spread mine out on 2' centers. i would not recommend this, i would go not mroe then 16 " centers on the reflectors for best coverage. i have bright and dark areas but overall it looks good. heres a pic of my set up for reference.

01/28/2010, 06:50 AM
I think no matter what you do now (in a rush) you will want to keep some thing different in your tank that will require some different set up, or you will realize you could have done it a better way & will want to change it any way. So, as you set it up keep that in mind & try to do things in a way that can easily be changed, because if you are like every one else it will be changed.

I started with a 30gal reef, learned a lot, did a lot of research, made a few mistakes, then started planing & setting up my new tank, a 180sps. Redid some of the plumbing more than once, moved lights around, changed fug to frag tank, & most I know have changed more than I have. It is a real challenge to set up a reef, much less to do it in a rush, or for some one else. The good news is, sounds like you started with a good idea of what it might cost to set up a nice size system. Good luck!