My 250 gallon hobby!


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Hi everyone!

I am new to the hobby and new to the ARC. I just joined and I planned to become involved in the club to learn about the hobby.

I am in the process of having a 250 gallon salt water aquarium custom built. I have documented my game plan, if you will, and would appreciate any feedback.

Please let me know your thoughts on my plan. Please be completely honest as you will not hurt my feelings. I am still learning everyday about this hobby!

Thanks in advance,
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Hi, Joe, Welcome! Glad you found us! I think your plan looks very well thought out--the tank is certainly a beauty! I'm sure others will have plenty of advice, but I think your lighting looks good, and flow should be fine. I didn't notice whether you listed live rock or not, but you would definitely want a good bit of that as well, maybe 200-300 lbs eventually (or more!). But you don't need to get it all at once. It's just easier to cure it all in you tank if you do it at start up. Going slow is a great idea. You'll have plenty of light for corals but you'll want to let the system stabilize for a good 6 months until you know it inside and out. I would definitely add (first) a bunch of snails and hermits to your livestock list, and I would perhaps worry about the 6-line wrasse with the peppermint shrimp. I actually had one eat my cleaner shrimp while he was moulting once, and the peppermint shrimp are a lot smaller... Other things would be to watch your skimmer closely and see that it's doing what it should. What pump are you using for it? needle wheel or beckett or venturi? where did you get the plans for it?

Oh, you may also find that with that much light and with the LG pumps you will eventually run into heat issues. You can cool with the fans, although I'm not sure if they will keep up or not, but I did not notice what your plans were for topping off your evaporated water. With fans and lights like that, you could lose over 5 gallons a day! If you don't have an RO/DI filter, you'll need one. you can easily rig up a holding tank for fresh water on a float switch in your sump and take care of it that way.

Great work on the stand, by the way. Did you build it? will you build mine???
Welcome! :)

I agree with everything that jessezm said. I'd like to add a couple of points, but will be brief, as I don't want to write a book:

- 30" tank is very tall... I hope you'll be ok on lighting
- The skimmer will be difficult to use, being all black. How do you know what your water level inside is? It's hard to tell from the picture, but it looks undersized for a reef tank. If you plan on having corals at some point, I'd plan on upgrading at some point
- It does look like you've done plenty of research, and are planning on a DSB (with the 4" medium). There are arguments both ways- just make sure you know what you're getting into...
- The lighting looks good, although you may be better off with XM 10k halides and a few more actinics - you'll get more PAR (for color growth) and better depth penetration. You really don't need the actinics with 14k or 20k bulbs, in my opinion (I only run 14k Hamiltons with no supplement, but I'm not 30" deep)
- Many people have the full intent of running a reef tank and starting off with fish. Just be aware that this can be somewhat tricky. It looks like you have all reef safe fish, with the exception of the Coral Beauty and the Flame Angel; they'll nip at corals. And don't think that you'll be able to get them out later... it just won't happen.
- Please don't get the dragonets for at least a year or two. It won't make it otherwise, esp. with a sixline wrasse and other fish that eat it's only foodsource (copepods)

Some positive feedback: (!)

- Your setup looks good and it's obvious that you've put the time into research. Certainly keep up that aspect!
- The ReefKeeper 2 is a great choice for a controller!
- Don't go cheap on the live rock (as in buying too little). Remember that it's your primary filtration, and too little will cause algae problems in the future
- stand and canopy look awesome!

Other tips:

- Like jessezm said, plan to get good live rock and a good amount of it. Also, plan to get a chiller at some point. Even if you can maintain a good temperature, the chiller will provide some extra insurance if the temps get too high.
- I know they're very expensive, but you may want to consider some Tunze's in your setup. If you get them in the beginning, you have a better chance of hiding them in the rockwork. Believe it or not, the pumps you mentioned won't be enough flow for some type of SPS tanks. The Tunze's will give you all you ever need. Also- spray bars aren't typically used in reef tanks very much; not great flow, and too much maintenance (clog with algae fast).
- When you start looking at magnets, go for a Magnavore
- Start from the beginning with an RO filter. Nothing is more discouraging than constant algae, caused by poor water quality
- Come to a Tour of Tanks when you get a chance - you'll learn a tremendous amount at one. Or come see other tanks that are fully setup to get ideas on what you want to do with your own setup.
- 1/2" and 5/8" acrylic seem a little thin (my 26" high is 3/4" thick); please fill the tank outside the first time, just in case. Don't do any modifications of any kind, so that you can call the manufacturer if there's a problem. I've been bitten by this one; please don't skip this step.

Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions. Keep us posted with your progress!
Jessezm and Chris,

Thanks so much for the advice and feedback. Yes, I plan on doing live rock in the system. I have received some feedback to do some base rock and then live rock on top, but it almost sounds like I need to do a lot of live rock since it is a main part of the filtration system. So, I will keep doing my research.

My start-up plan is this:

First, I plan to setup the tank and add the live rock and substrate. Let that run and cure the rock for about 6 to 8 weeks. Then, add the cleaning crew. Let it run another 4 to 6 weeks. Then, add the Blue Reef Chromis. Let is run another 2 to 4 weeks. After that I would then slowly add additional fish and corals.

Of course I would check the water qualities along the way before moving into the next phase. Do you think this is a good start-up plan? Am I waiting too long before adding the cleaning crew?

How many snails and crabs do you think I should add and when? Also, I would rather have the 6-line wrasse so I won&#8217;t get the peppermint shrimp. But, do the wrasse and the other shrimp get along?

I have thought back and forth about the lighting and heat issues. advised that if I use the fans that I would not need a chiller. So, what I was thinking was to start out without it and see how it goes. I keep my house around 72 degrees. But, I will certainly keep it in mind and will probably add the chiller to just be safe!

No, I did not build the tank. I wish I did! It is being built by a guy in Seattle, WA and shipped to Atlanta.

I had the same concerns with the skimmer. I will talk with the guy building my tank to see what his thoughts are on this. I may ask him to leave it out and purchase a clear one. So, I will keep this in mind as well. For the current skimmer I was planning on using the Little Giant 2-MDQ-SC for the pump. But, are the LG good? If not, could you recommend another? I plan on having 3 pumps (as of now) all external in a bulkhead with a fan.

As far water goes. I have a whole house water filtration system. It is a carbon, settlement, softener (sodium free) and UV system. I also have an RO in my kitchen, but it only has a 5 gallon reserve. For now it is only drinking water and I know that 5 gallons will not be enough. So, do you think I need a RO/DI if I already have the whole house system? Should I just test my water quality to start? I don&#8217;t have plans of yet for topping off the system. I thought I would do it manually, but 5 gallons a day could become a major chore. The room the aquarium is going is next to my garage. So, what I could do is get a 25-50 gallon tank with a RO/DI filter and store the water there. I wonder if I could install a pipe through the wall for an automated top off system. I was also thinking about getting another reserve tank for salt water. If so, I could install a pump to pump the RO/DI water into the salt tank and mix the water there and then also install a line from the aquarium from the salt water for water changes. I would also need a drain line installed from the tank. Do you think all this is possible and would you do this?

Thanks again for all the help!

BTW Chris... what did you mean about your comment about my DSB? I thought 4" was good???
Hi Welcome to the forum

You are correct, 4 inches is a good depth for a dsb. I do believe Chris was just making you aware of the potential extra care needed to maintain a dsb .ie sandstirring stars or cucumbers and such. You are definately on the right path because its apparent you have done a lot of reading and preplanning.

Only question is where will tank be located and have you addressed the additional weight issues involved with the system in your home. Plan on an additional load of close to 2 tons
Hi... Thank you! Yes, I have been doing a lot of research. I don't want to cut corners and I want to make sure I do things correctly the first way. I could see how this hobby can be a very costly expense if you start out on the wrong foot.

The tank will be located on the 1st floor on my home. My house is on a concrete slab, so I think it should be ok.

Thanks again,
Yes, Broreefr is right- DSB's have their own pros/cons. The thing that always scares me about them is that they can crash after a couple of years, and bring your whole tank down. I think DSB's are a good idea, but not necessarily in the main tank. You may want to consider a "remote DSB," where you use a smaller tank or bucket or whatever so you can take away the DSB without affecting your critters. You can do a search on for remote DSB to read more about it.

Your startup plan sounds perfect. Plan on not turning on the lights much until you add the fish. That'll minimize the amount algae growing during those phases. The time scales will depend on how fast your tank cycles, which always depends on the quality of live rock, etc. When nitrates drop close to 0, you can move to the next phase. With very good live rock, this can take as little as 2 weeks. But plan for 4-6.

I've heard all kinds of different numbers for critters. I'd say get 100 astrea snails, and maybe a dozen ceriths and dozen nassarius snails. If you like hermit crabs, get maybe 2 dozen. But definitely the astreas. Remember, they do need to eat, so don't be afraid to add a small amount of flake food on the bottom if you don't have any algae. Our sponsor has a good selection.

You may want to test your heating issues before you add any livestock, to get an idea of how hot things will get. Everybody hopes they won't need a chiller... those that do get one sleep better at night. :)

Sixline wrasse and peppermints will be fine. Sixline and any dragonettes won't work. Most dragonettes are too difficult anyway, so I wouldn't recommend them in any case (I have simply chosen to not keep them myself for this reason).

I'd highly recommend dropping the skimmer from him and getting a better one. I push MyReefCreations (MRC) products because I like them (and a sponsor), but they are expensive. Other people can offer suggestions on other great products.

My personal experience with LG pumps is limited. They're "ok" - not great, but not horrible. Sequence pumps now rule the big tanks because of reliability, cost, and flow. MRC also sells them. Be aware that the LG pump that you have allotted to your current skimmer choice won't work on a beckett-style skimmer (such as MRC). You may want to match your skimmer pump when you figure out your skimmer.

Also- Almost all Sequence pumps use 1.5" or 2" inputs and outputs. You won't want to restrict flow, so I'd have all your holes drilled for a 1.5" bulkhead (2 3/8" hole?). You can always add an adapter to make them smaller, but you'll never want to restrict a 1.5" intake from a 1" hole. At least make them larger to have options (if this is still an option).

Yes, I'd still get an RO filter. Get or borrow a TDS meter from someone and see for yourself. Unless you have a distiller, you won't be able to match RO water. Auto-topoff can be figured out later, but yes, you'll definitely want to plan for it. This can be a simple float valve to as complex as a switch and separate pump- both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I think your idea of having the separate containers for RO and saltwater, and a pump/drain from the tank are all great ideas. I do this myself, using a 65g and a 25g from">US Plastics</a>.

re/ expensive hobby- it's expensive even when you get started out on the right foot! Just be careful of dumping thousands in the tank, meeting algae, etc right away, and getting discouraged- it happens a lot. Research and patience are the cures...
WOW.. Welcome to the forum crink. I'd love to see your setup with the automation system.