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Manhattan Reefs
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Hi guys,
My name is Stella, and I've been planning my first reef tank for a couple months now. While I've done TONS of research, I have absolutely no firsthand experience. Here is a complete list of the equipment I'm planning on using and my actual game plan for getting this tank up and running. If you guys could take a look and let me know what else I'll need, and/or if anyone sees any issues, I would really appreciate it! I want to start off strong and make as few mistakes as possible.

So far, all I have is a standard 125 gallon tank (72 x 18 x 24), and a 30 gallon quarantine tank with an extra heater and a good sized filter that I'll let run in the big tank until I need it. It will take me about 2 months to save up for all the equipment I need, so I just plan on buying one or two things a week until I have everything I need. After it's up and running and cycled, I plan on keeping it empty for a good while and dosing it with fish food to make sure that I can at least keep stable parameters in an empty tank! Next, I'll add a coral (star polyps?) and try to keep it alive lol. If I manage that for a month or two, I'll add some more hardy beginner corals (one per week?), and then let those guys live by themselves for a bit as well. I haven't planned out the actual fish yet, but I'm sure this will probably take me a good 6 months if not more, so I've got plenty of time to figure it out. I'm planning on adding the most peaceful, hardy reef safe fish I can find lol (one species a week, with a 7 day quarantine period?) but I'll come back later with more questions about that!

Anyways, here is my equipment list.

RO/DI Filter: LiquaGen 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis/Deionization - Aquarium Reef Water Filter System, 75 GPD (

Salt: Instant Ocean Reed Crystal Reef Salt for Reef Aquariums
I'll by a few 200 gallon bins to get started.

API Master Test Kit - Reef,aps,139&sr=8-3

Current USA Orbit IC LED - Loop Compatible (72 in.)

Sicce Voyager 4 Power Stream Pump, 1600 GPH

Unfortunately it'd be tricky to afford live sand and rock, so I'll just have to make my own! I'm in no rush to cycle the tank anyways. If you guys think it'd really be worth the money, let me know.

For sand I'm hoping to use standard pool filter sand:
Fairmount Minerals Pool Filter Sand #20 Grade Silica Sand 50 lbs
I know there's a lot of debate on silica in aquariums, and since reef tanks are super sensitive, I'd love it if you guys could give me your two cents on that or offer a good alternative!

For rocks:

I'm also planning to maybe add one 20 lb bag of natures ocean and one live rock that I'll find at my LFS just for ***** and giggles (can't hurt, right?)

For my sump system, I've decided to just buy a sump tank since I'm no good with DIY.
Pro Clear Aquatic Systems Freedom Reef Sump - 400 gal

I'm not sure if the heater will fit in the sump, but I'll have:
two Fluval E 300-Watt Electronic Heaters,pets,144&sr=1-2
(Heaters are so finnicky!! Even the really trusted brands have like 30% bad reviews that say that they killed everything)

SCA-302 180 Gallon Protein Skimmer (In Sump)
Let me know if you think this is big enough I'm really not sure.

CPR Aquatic CS202 Deluxe Siphon Overflow w/ Lid & Aqua Lifter Pump (1500 GPH)

EHIEM Compact+ Pump 5000 for a return pump (1320 GPH)

I'll have a refugium with live rock, sand, and a bunch of Cheato, and another small light for that.

And for maintenance I'll get some kind of magnetic algae scrubber and obviously a python.

I figure I'll have to wait until I figure out what's in my tank before I can figure out dosing?

Also a good set of probes for temp, salinity, ORP and pH? Does anybody have any recommendations for that? I really don't have a clue.

Thanks so much to anybody that made it through that! Please let me know if I'm doing anything wrong, forgetting something, or even if there's just something you would do differently! I'm so excited to join the world of reef aquariums and I want everything to go as smoothly as possible for my future marine friends!


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Manhattan Reefs
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Queens nyc
Sounds like a good plan. I dont think its necessary to feed an empty tank, once its cycled, its cycled. Add fish slowly as new additions will disrupt the bacteria levels for a short time.keep the quarantine filter separates, no cross contamination. What lights are you gonna run ? And what power heads ? Silica sand may lead to algea break outs, keep that in mind. GSP, Kenya stress, xenia , dont forget zoas are all easy coral to keep, but most of the corals mentioned can spread like wild fire and take over a tank. Best advice is to get a good salt, a refractometer, and good test kit. Hanna or salifert are good. And test often and do regular water changes. Good luck with the tank, it's a great hobby. Keep us posted on your progress


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Manhattan Reefs
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Bellmore, NY
Definitely go with dry rock. There are vendors out there locally and online that may have better deals than what you'll find on amazon. I'd say check out BRS. There are also much better skimmers out there than the SCA. Besides you'll want a skimmer that's rated at double the capacity than your tank. Don't skimp on that, it's your main nutrient export aside from filter socks. I'd also invest in better test kits than the API. Those are good for measuring your cycle, but after that it's useless. Look at the Red Sea or Salifert kits.

Also, I know many people use the siphon overflow, but I'd suggest looking into alternatives. If you already have the tank, can it be drilled with a proper overflow installed?

What's your plan for ATO. This will maintain your salinity as your tank evaporates and is an important part. Tunze Osmollator is the tried and true. There are others now on the market that do amazing jobs.

Good luck. It's an amazing hobby. Remember, nothing good happens fast in a reef tank...


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Suffolk County
I don't know what you plan on keeping as far as coral goes....I know you talked about simple coral such as gsp (which I would keep isolated from your rock work since as mentioned above it can take over your whole display/all your rockscape). If you intend on keeping more sophisticated coral later on I do not feel that the light you listed will suffice. I don't know much about that light but the specs say the 72" fixture is 63 watts (if I am reading it correctly). That is very low lighting. It may be okay for just fish and gsp but if you intend on moving up eventually you would need to replace that, (so give it some thought). Sometimes purchasing something for what you intend on doing is better than purchasing something for now and then upgrading later. When you buy something new and then try to sell it you will be lucky to get close to half price back. Anyway, I would purchase a couple of chromis to help with cycling your tank and maybe boost the tank and cycle by adding some bacteria, (there are some good products out there...I can't think of the names right now...maybe someone else can suggest the product for you). You can also purchase dry rock and sand from someone like Marco rock and then seed both the rock and sand bed by purchasing a piece or two of established rock from someone here who is leaving the hobby. They would also probably be more than willing to give you some of their established sand and that can seed your new sand. Be careful with the sand you selected... I am assuming that your 125 gal tank is reef ready (drilled)? Especially since you have listed a sump. That would be the best way to go. I have a 215 gal tank with 330 gals total system volume and I only use two 300 watt heaters, but my setup is in a fish room with all the other equipment so there is a lot of heat generated in the room. I still think that 600 watts for your setup may be a bit high (I could be wrong). My best advice is to take things slowly, test frequently in the beginning and try to keep things as stable as possible. Mistakes are made by all of us....just try to minimize those mistakes. Lastly, what will you be using for water movement inside the tank?
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papa newbie
Manhattan Reefs
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i don't use silica sand. if you can find it, HD used to stock SOUTHDOWN PLAY SAND - 100% aragonite - from the caribbean. 50# bag was $5. i washed out the fine particles. it was great to buffer and perfect for my sand dwelling wrasses. i mixed it with samoa pink and black lava. it was small enough that detritus stayed suspended to ultimately get collected by skimmer and sock. if a LFS or member would part with a cup of their sand and/or live rock (best if covered with coralline) to help seed yours - many have beneficial organisms - microfauna - living in the tiny spaces to further balance your ecosystem. i lined the bottom of my tank with eggcrate (placed on multiple 3/16" feet - not to trap microfauna in squares) whenever i had large pieces of LR. also, chaeto (or any macro) is not necessary at this point. you don't have enough excess nutrients for export yet. good luck!
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