30 gal cube saltwater newby needs advice


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My background: I've been messing around with freshwater off and on for the past 15 years. I have been in the freshwater planted tank scene for the past year and a half. I have always been afraid of setting up a saltwater tank, but then it all hit me about a month ago....For all this time/effort/$$$ I put into a planted tank, I could be enjoying a beautiful saltwater tank.

My equipment on hand:
30 gal Oceanic cube w/stand, Rena filstar 3 canister filter, Orbit PC 2X40 lights - one 6500k and 1 dual actinic bulb.

29 gal regular w/stand, Rena filstar 2 canister filter, DIY 2X55 lights - both 9325k

What I want:
To begin with I would like a live rock tank w/a few fish such as clowns, gramas, chromis, and/or a blenny plus some inverts. Not too many fish, just a few happy ones. I would like to eventually add a few corals. I would rather go with the 30 cube because it is much nicer looking than the 29 gal.

What I know:
I know that it takes time to setup and cycle a SW tank. I am in no rush. I have spent a month so far just reading up. I really would like to go with a sump so that I don't clutter up my tank w/equipment and just to make life easier. But I don't want to drill holes in my tank and I'm scared of a HOB overflow box malfunctioning and flooding my floor. Is there a way to prevent a HOB from malfunctioning? If I need to I can use the canister filters and just plumb in the heater, but is this a bad thing over the sump? My canisters are really quiet and I love them and I have this longing feeling to incorporate them into my setup. But this may just be to justify the money that I spent on them.

So for now my 30 gal cube is just sitting there all cleaned out and ready to have sand, water and live rock added. I am just looking for some one on one advice that can help stear me in the right direction. I have been calling around for live rock prices at some LFS around my area. I have come up with $6.99 for premium fiji, $9.99 for Tonga, and $8.99 for marshal islands LR. Can I find it cheaper, but still good quality elsewhere? I guess the advantages of buying at the LFS is that it should be cured and ready to be added to the tank.

Well any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

This post is double posted on the TRT forums.
Well, first off, Welcome to ARC!

Secondly, let me preface what I am about to say with: I am a newbie myself and so much so, that I don't even have my tank up and running yet. But, like yourself, I have spent alot of my time researching and planning.

So here goes:

I would definitely drill your tank. HOB overflow boxes from what I have gathered aren't the best way to do things. There are numerous threads around that detail how to drill tanks. First and foremost, you need to see if where you will be drilling is tempered glass. If so, then it's a big no-no. If not, then do some research and either do it yourself, or if you don't feel comfortable with it, try your local fish store. Most charge per hole and it isn't too terribly expensive. From what I have heard, somewhere around $25/hole.

Not a whole heck of alot more I can tell you about cube systems. But on equipment, live rock and sand and all, check the For Sale forums. Their are always people breaking down tanks and/or getting out of the hobby where you can score great deals. Somewhere around $2-$3 for live rock is a good deal, you just have to be patient and persistent in your searching, but eventually it will pay off.

Other than what's stated above, the only other thing I can tell you is read, read and read some more. Be patient and do things right the first time. Ask as many questions as you need to and utilize the search functions. Everyone here is super friendly and glad to help.

And if you are lucky, you might be able to lure some of the knowledged hermits out of their secluded dens to help you out.

Good Luck.
Our Next meeting is on Oct. 10.. Come and join. It is better to talk face to face and there are alway people there that have, or had the same setup as you do.

AS for HOB overflow. I would say drill your tank then use an overflow.
I have a 55gl tank that can not be drill and nearly quit reefing because of the overflow. It never spill water, but it a pain to clearn and it does not do the job as an drill tank would.

We have an forum call want to buy. There you can post a list of what you want. I am sure somone will have it laying around and could give you a good deal on it.
The bottom of my tank is tempered glass so I will not be doing any drilling. Overflow boxes scare me and my wife doesn't like the idea of possible flooding of fishwater on our carpet. So I'm going against everyone's advice on a sump and going sumpless. I will try to buy used live rock and try to buy the best skimmer I can with the savings. Does anyone know of a good skimmer around the $150 range that will work for a setup like I'm talking about? Keep in mind it is 30 gallons. If I can't keep the water clean enough for the hardiest of corals, then I guess I will be doing a FOWLR.

Any other sumpless people out there with smaller (30 gal or less) tanks that can help me by telling me what to do and not to do?
The bottom is tempered glass, but what about the sides? You could drill on the side and use that.
:welcome: to the ARC site!!

If you do a reef setup, ditch the canister filters. They will cause nitrate issues. It's one of the hardest things to do when going from FW to SW, but you can do it!! Best to keep a reef natural and allow live rock, sand, and a powerful skimmer clean the tank.

I also agree with getting an AquaC Remora.

Post pics if you have some.