View Full Version : NEWBIE: Empty 38gal - buckets of SW and 60lbs live sand in mid of living rm =\

07/28/2013, 02:59 PM
Hello All,

My name is Melissa and I am a complete newbie to marine aquariums so I apologize in advance for the length of this post. Btw, I do some work in aquaculture but after reading through forums I have come to realize that an at-home reef system is quite the challenge and though some things are the same (protein skimmer, mechanical filtration, etc) a lot of other things like live rocks, cycling, and such are completely new to me. Any help at all, advice, etc. will be greatly appreciated.

I am setting up a 38gallon reef tank and have a couple questions that I hope y'all can help me with so I head in the right direction with all this. Currently, there is 35gallons of saltwater sitting in buckets in my living room :worried: , along with 60lbs of live sand, a brand-new Marineland C-360 canister filter., a 250-watt heater, 2 - T5s, and a hydrometer.

1st Question (LIVE ROCK)
I plan to buy about 30lbs of live rock from a local lfs which takes in dead rock and they have a seeding tank where the owner seeds it himself. The rocks that are in this process of seeding are $4.50 a lb and 60%-80% covered in the purple coraline algae. I can get 100% covered rock for $8.99 a lb from him as well. Another local lfs gets premium live rock from key west covered in life and kool things. I can pick the rocks I want right out of his display tank so I was thinking of getting about 10 - 15lbs. for $8.99 lb out of his display tanks for a total of about 40-45lbs of live rock.

Is this a good strategy? Is it too much live rock? Should I buy all the live rock from the guy that gets it from Key West…(really full of coverage and life)?

2nd Question (Marineland C-360 canister filter)
This canister filter, which now I wish I wouldn't have bought since everywhere I have read sumps seem to be the best option. But I bought it over a year ago and can't return it. I opened it up today and it has like 4-5 different trays of media. Ceramic tube things, carbon, floss, bioballs… I was reading that it may be better to run the canister filter without all this media maybe just leaving in carbon and some floss…

What should be my best media setup w/ this filter? Should I run it per factory instructions or try to modify it before starting it up? And will I need a protein skimmer right now if it's going to be Rock-only for a few months while it cycles?

3rd Question (In what order should I proceed and what else do I need for initial setup)
OK so my tank is completely empty. Should I wait till I have purchased my live rock to then put everything in at the same time…. or should I go ahead and put in my live sand and water, turn on the heater, and run the filter… then add the live rock? And once I put in my live rock what else do I need to add in with my live rock so it keeps on flourishing. I heard strategies of throwing in a dead shrimp and such. Do I need power heads as soon as I get that live rock in there? And same goes for the protein skimmer which I mentioned above, is it needed for initial setup.

Thank you in advance for any help you all can offer. :) It is verrryyyy much appreciated!!! I'm dying to get all this stuff off my floor and into the tank :spin2::fish2:


Melissa :wave:

07/28/2013, 04:16 PM
Water - Rock - Sand is the order to put everything in so the rock is anchored by the sand.

You can put as much live rock in as you want or go with a minimalists approach. Some people like the "less is more" view while others love to cram it full. It would all be personal preference. But make sure you have enough to filter your tank. You can also put live rock rubble in your canister so aid in filtration if you don't jam pack the DT.

Now the type of live rock to purchase would be up to you. Just keep in mine that the more life on the rock the more chances of infestation of pests. Obviously they can be controlled but some can be a pain. I am running my tank with 30lbs of dry live rock and 50lbs of live rock. You will get coralline algae eventually so rushing to get it isn't needed. You probably wont like it when it gets on your glass and you have to razor blade it away.

07/28/2013, 07:43 PM
1: The rock from place 2 may have unwanted pests, or surprise visitors! The rock from place 1 may have less of a chance of pests. It's a chance you have to decide on. Myself I used "dead" rock and added only a small amount of "live" rock that I could easily inspect in an attempt to minimize unwanted guests.

2: I used a can filter for a bit. I would use ceramic media, carbon, phosphate remover (whichever brand you prefer) and maybe rock rubble in the last 2 trays. Or nothing at all. Or more of the above

3: I would go water first. If unmixed you can mix in your empty aquarium(please use ro/di water). Then pumps/heater etc (test for leaks and such). Then rock (cycle and watch for unwanted pests). Then sand.

07/29/2013, 07:12 AM
Hi Trent! Yup most people say to go with that first choice in rock, the one that is being seeded. I'm just going to start with that seeded rock and wait a while. I can visit that second store down the line and pick rocks out of his display tanks if I like any particular one. I'm assuming if he has them in his display tanks he's gone through the trouble of cleaning them out. Thanks for your help!

07/29/2013, 07:16 AM
Thanks 3$$$J.... your advice #1 is what I decided will be my plan of action on live rocks.

How did the canister work out for you? I'm just about to put mine on ebay and just lose some $$$ on it so I can invest in sump materials. Not sure yet.


07/29/2013, 09:37 AM
If i am not mistaken, today is petco's last day of the dollar per gallon sale ...get yourself a 20g long tank...spend 30 at lowes on baffles and your sump is done!

07/29/2013, 11:00 AM
Thanks CK! Would a ten gallon refugium w/ the special mud work? My lfs has this setup and his water looks awesome. Also, if i have a sump/refugium would it be worth it to keep that canister filter as extra water flow? Maybe put some carbon in there?

Green Chromis
07/29/2013, 01:56 PM
:fish1::Get the rock with the most life on it. The greater amount of life on the rock, the better the tank will be in the long run. You want the greatest amount of biodiversity you can find in your tank. :fish1:

07/29/2013, 02:11 PM
Thanks CK! Would a ten gallon refugium w/ the special mud work? My lfs has this setup and his water looks awesome. Also, if i have a sump/refugium would it be worth it to keep that canister filter as extra water flow? Maybe put some carbon in there?

by special mud are you thinking miracle mud perhaps? i've seen some people use this, but it has always seemed to be unnecessary to me.

i started out with a canister filter, due to some questionable advice from a salesperson, but ended up ditching it and putting a sump together.

while the canister did provide more water flow, powerheads really do a better job in that department. as for the carbon, i will periodically toss a filter bag with a cup or so in my sump every once in a while if the water is cloudy, or something is a little smelly, but generally speaking you don't really need it with a live rock setup and skimmer.

07/29/2013, 06:15 PM
With your sump you don't really need to do a refuge if you don't want to. There are benefits of having one yes, but they aren't a necessity. I do not run a fuge and my tank has been on a road of growth now that amazes me every day.

07/29/2013, 08:07 PM
Thanks All!!

Blindzide, I really liked the idea of plants as part of filtration. My lfs plants them into the mud though he says its not necessary. I really liked the concept though. He told me if I get the materials together ( he gave me a list) he could help me put it together and he can order the mud for me.

Mondo bongo ... Not sure if it's special mud. I looked up the website my Lfs gets it from, it's ecosystemaquariums

Feeling frustrated w/ this brand-new canister filter... Agh!!

07/29/2013, 09:58 PM
When I started my tank First I filled my tank entirely with tap water. run the leak test and the like with cheap tap water, nothing worse than finding an issue and dumping all your saltwater to fix it.
I went with dead dry rock, and a single live rock from a trusted tank (local club board member gave me a piece from his tank) Aquascaped with the tank dry, then added my substrate (used sand from another club member, I did not rinse it, just poured the stuff in place, stink and all, and filled it with my saltwater. With a new tank, you dont have to cook the dry rock, the decay on the rock will help speed your cycle along, mine took 3 weeks and I didnt do the dead shrimp or anything like that, and my tank is nearly totally sterile, only a few pineapple sponges, no bristle worms or other detrimental hitchikers.

After the tank is filled, then run the canister (think of it as a little nano sump), and lights if you want to. I ran my lights just to get that diatom bloom over and done with before I had fish in the tank.