By Bob Goemans
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Bob Goemans corresponds with Shannon O'Rourke (Old Bridge, NJ)

Shannon O'Rourke (Old Bridge, NJ) writes...

Hi Bob,

I'm brand new to marine fishkeeping and I'm setting up my first saltwater tank, which will be a future reef. The tank is a 150 gallons, with a three-sided internal overflow in the center back wall. I've been taking my time doing my research on different aspects--it took me six months before I finally decided on my light fixture--and now I'm looking into filtration. So far all I've got is my protein skimmer--it's an H&S A150 rated for a 210 gallon tank. I've been reading a lot about the plenum system, and I'm very interested in setting one up for my tank. I had read in FAMA about using one in a sump versus the main display tank, but unfortunately this won't work in my case for two reasons: one being that I don't have the room in my aquarium cabinet stand for a large sump or a basement to set one up remotely, and the second reason being that the tank is in the living room, so I couldn't put a second tank beside it, without there being objections from family members.

Anyway, my question is this--can I still use a plenum system in the main display? I love the idea of the plenum; I'd like to minimize gadgets around the tank and go for a more natural approach. I decided I'm going to have a sump/refugium custom made to fit inside my cabinet as it's tight in there. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot,

Shannon O'Rourke

Old Bridge, NJ

Bob replies...

Hi Shannon,

Thanks for your letter, and if there's not room for a plenum in an interconnected aquarium, then suggest simply going with a shallow sandbed of about 2 inches in the main aquarium. Plenums require that about 75% of the bed surface not be cover with rock so as to allow monthly vacuuming and surveillance of the bed sand to make sure there is no clumping. Very difficult to comply with, if not impossible, in main displays that are usually crowded with rock.




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