By Bob Goemans
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Bob Goemans corresponds with Shannon

Shannon writes...

Hi Bob,

Thank you so much for offering to help me out with setting up my tank.

It's going to be a future reef tank with fish and lightly stocked with corals. It's 150 gallons and measures 48"long by 24" wide by 30" high. Right now I'm getting all my equipment together as finances permit and so far I have a protein skimmer, two Tunze Stream pumps for circulation, and my light fixture, which is a combination metal halide (two 250W DE lamps) and T5 VHO actinic lamps with lunar lights. As I mentioned in my previous e-mail I'm in the process of having my sump/refugium being built to go in the cabinet below the tank.

I'm excited with the prospect of adding a plenum to my system. I was thinking of using "Reef Renovators" to build one for me; I had seen their ad in an issue of FAMA. I think I may have to have it made in two sections because my tank has a center brace across the top and has a large internal three-sided overflow. Do you think this would be okay? And is there a particular brand of aragonite you could recommend for plenum use?

I'm hoping to have the tank filled and cycling by mid-to-end July of this year. I have an RO/DI unit and I was planning on filling the tank with water and then mixing in the salt, once the plenum is in it of course. Should I add the sand first and then fill the tank, or vice versa? I've been a bit confused on that one. Then once the tank is filled, I'm going to turn on my circulation pumps to mix in the salt for 24 hours, and then check the specific gravity and temperature. Once everything is stable then I'll add the live rock. I have two freshwater tanks, so I'm somewhat familiar with the nitrogen cycle. After water parameters remain stable I'll add some snails to help with algae.

What do you think so far? Let me know if there's anything I'm forgetting. Also here's the list of fish I was planning on adding to the tank in order of introduction:

* 1-Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge bispinosus)

* 2- Common Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

* 1- Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus)

* 1- Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani)

* 1-Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus)

* 1- Female Bluechin Trigger (Xanthichthys auromarginatus)

Once again, thank you so much for your help! It's deeply appreciated.


Bob replies...

Hi Shannon,

Having Reef Renovators build the plenum grid, in two sections so you can get it into the tank, is the way to go. They make a good product.

If you use the aquarium as the vessel to mix the seawater, then do so with nothing else in it. Then install the two sections of plenum grid, with about a quarter inch space between its edges and aquarium sides. Make sure no air is trapped beneath the grids. Then place the sand on top of it, and suggest using the CaribSea crushed coral that comes from the 'Caribbean,' as that contains aragonite, whereas the crushed coral coming from the US mainland is mostly calcite. Wash it thoroughly a few times in a pail, and then place the sand in a plastic bag, close it, and lower it into the aquarium. Then gently open the bag and allow it to flow out and spread as needed. That way it won't cause too much cloudiness and you'll be able to work in the tank if need be without guessing too much.

Turn on your equipment, except for a protein skimmer, which should not be used for the first two weeks, as that would slow the nitrification cycle. After things settle down, add the live rock, but at this time, do not add animals needing to feed on algae or detritus, as there will be none. Snails and possibly the Lawnmower Blenny are animals that should be added when needed, which may be a few months into the future. Otherwise everything except the Trigger can be added slowly, with it the last to be added.

Hope this helps,



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