Discussion in 'Welcome!' started by WCKDVPR, May 17, 2017.


    WCKDVPR Supporting Member

    Just signed up, hello everyone!

    I am new to the hobby but have been researching a reef tank for many months now on the various forums/sites/etc. Looking to get to know some of the locals, bounce ideas off around, and make some new friends.

    Planning on ordering up my reef tank setup in the very near future. I'll need everything, so it is going to be a whole lot of fun. I think am pretty much down to the lighting and trying to make some decisions there as the lighting budget is likely going to impact the final tank size decision.

    Looking at either a 120g (48x24x24) or a 150g (60x24x24) and trying to figure out the best way to light either tank. Original plan is soft corals, clowns, shrimp, and some compatible others. However, I would like the capability to move up to some hard corals at some point, so trying to keep that in mind with the light purchase. I am also planning on using an Apex controller so it would be most preferable to have lighting that is controllable by the Apex.

    Of course, still battling the LED vs T5 choice (a hybrid for this size is out of the budget - at least a new one). Lighting budget needs to stay under $1300. I would consider something that works for the original inhabitants and then add a supplemental light later for hard corals. Thinking a 48" or maybe a 60" T5, or something like 3 Kessil A360's or a pair of Hydra 52s. Worried about shadowing on the LEDs. Help please!

    FYI - family is avid scuba divers, so we all would like this to look as natural as possible.

    This is the current plan for the bigger stuff at this point - I would appreciate any input, thanks.
    Crystal Dynamics 120g or 150g tank, Starfire, synergy ghost, and stand
    Trigger Emerald 39 sump or maybe move up a size if going with the 150g
    Super Reef Octopus 3000INT skimmer
    Snycra silent 5.0 return pump
    Tunze 3155 ATO
    Apex controller with 2 WAV powerheads
    (2) Finnex 500W heaters


    Also, any input on
    - refugium media and refugium lighting, etc.
    - water supply - do an RO/DI setup in the garage - tank will be a long way away from any water source, so likely remote generation and storage with an in-stand 10g reservoir.
    - ATO pump
    - best place to get rocks and sand and critters
    - all the other stuff I am too new to have even thought of :)

    Thanks in advance and nice to meet everyone!

    Best regards,
  2. tankguy

    tankguy BOD

    Welcome Mike , I do have a T5 set up I'm not using. Pretty sure it's a 48 inch. I'm in Hayward if you ever want to see it
  3. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Welcome Mike! I would suggest looking at a DC pump like a EcoTech Vectra L1 or others. I started with a sicce silent 3.5 (or was it a 3.0?) and I found it not so silent. The vectra barely produces a hum.

    I have two radion xr15w over a red sea reefer 250 (35.5x21x20"). I have great growth on my sps and lps, but they do cause a little bit of shadowing from the single puck as evident by the poor growth and color on the front sides of some of my Acros. I have been considering upgrading to two xr30w and mounting perpendicular to get better front-back spread.

    Bulk reef supply is a great place for pretty much everything. Some items can be more expensive then can be found on Amazon, but those are few and far between. I really like their pukani rock (needs curing and cycling though).

    What are you planning for nutrient export? Cheato? GFO reactor? Bio-pellets?

    Where are you located? We are fortunate to have some great local fish stores (LFS) in the area. Aquatic Collection (Hayward), Neptune Aquarics (San Jose), and California Reef Company (Newark) are frequently visited by me (all along my daily commute).

    WCKDVPR Supporting Member

    Thanks Guys!

    I am in San Jose. I have been to Neptune a number of times and been dealing with Jason at BRS as well (lots of good input from BRS and they are not trying to sell me the most expensive stuff either).

    Nutrient export is still up in the air and open to suggestions. Neptune recommended bioballs, others Cheato, so I'm open.

    Tankguy - could you please check on the length and how many bulbs it runs, make/model? Thanks.

    RandyC - thanks for the pump info as this will be in our family room where we can see it all the time, so noise would be an issue - the Vectra M1 ($350 at BRS) is 2000g/hr, which should be more than enough. Reef Octopus makes the Octo VarioS-6 DC pump with 1720 g/hr for $284. Anyone use one of the Reef Octopus DC pumps and can comment on performance/noise? Thanks.

    Sounds like I should visit some LFS's this weekend, like Aquatic Reef and California Reef as I have not been to those yet.

    Best regards,
  5. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Hi and welcome. Join us this weekend.

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  6. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Welcome to BAR

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  7. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Welcome! That's a lot of questions, where to begin. Can I ask why you're looking at a custom tank to start? If you'd like to expand your lighting budget, you'll save a lot of money going with the Red Sea reefer xxl for 150g and xl for 110g. It won't be a ghost overflow, but the dimensions are close to what you are looking for for the 150, and the 110 is a 5 footer. There are threads out there comparing prices and you're likely to save a couple thousand I imagine when all is said and done.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    2 hydra 52s more than enough for 4x2x2. 3 26s would be fine as well if you don't have an opaque center brace

    WCKDVPR Supporting Member

    Thanks All!

    Gablami - the short answer is I am an engineer, so the build and control part of it intrigues me and ultimately, I think it provides more flexibility. Also, my wife wants a wood stand that closely matches the wood in the room, so it needs to be something other than black or white. That said, I have seen some really nice Red Sea systems so it is still an option (stand issue aside).

    If I go with the 60" length 150g, I was thinking an option to start may be 2 Hydra 52s set up lengthwise to get things rolling, and then maybe for Christmas get a third 52 and then turn them all perpendicular - which should eliminate any shadowing. Thinking that would be better than (4) 26s given the 52s longer length would be beneficial when turned perpendicular.

    I am going to the group meeting this weekend, so it will be a great place to discuss options and get input. Looks like Roostertech has a Red Sea System, so it will be great to look at and discuss that option. This is why I am grateful people are providing input before I spend a dime.
  10. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    At 24" deep (front to back), the 26 hung perpendicular would be adequate. Assuming you won't have rockwork from glass to glass that is. 52s will have a lot of spillage unless you have them pretty low. Lengthwise, I would say they cover 30" hung at 10" above water with a water depth of 24".

    At 60", I would sugggest 4 units. Though 5 would be ideal.

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  11. JVU

    JVU Supporting Member

    Hi and welcome! I only recently joined the club too but have been in the hobby for quite a while. I'll follow your thread with interest since I'm also in the middle of a planning for a tank upgrade to a size similar to what you are doing. The folks here are an amazing resource!

    There are lots of issues to discuss, but the return pump is one I can chime in on since I've been researching it. My current setup uses an AC return and has been a reliable workhorse. However, I agree that you should consider a DC return pump. Some items are debatable, but there are many advantages I've seen cited for DC return pumps, including being able to set return flow, better efficiency, lower DC voltage in the water, less excess heat, Apex compatibility. The Ecotech Vectra is a great pump but not Apex-controlled. There are other excellent DC pumps that can be Apex-controlled like the ReefOctopus VarioS. Many would argue you don't need apex control for a return pump (just plug into an on/off outlet), some argue you don't want it because of the theoretical issue of a second failure point. But it seems like a plus to me to be able to change return flow rates for feeding, surges, etc, as opposed to just on/off.

    Since you dive, you probably appreciate the shimmer of natural sunlight. With this in mind, you may prefer LED with as small a point source as possible, like the Kessil lights have.


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  12. tankguy

    tankguy BOD

    Yes it is a Current T5 48 inch 4 white 4 blue $75
    Last edited: May 18, 2017

    WCKDVPR Supporting Member

    Thanks for the continued input. So I took the day off so I could visit a bunch of local stores and come more prepared with questions this Saturday.

    Regarding lighting for what looks like it is going to be a 150g (60x24x24), eurobraced, synergy overflow, tank - note: fixture prices include mounts.
    I went to aquatic collection and they use AI Hydra's over their LPS and some of the SPS, and then T5's over the remaining SPS. They like the AI Hydra lights. Recommended doing a Red Sea plug and play seeing I am new to this. Suggested if I do a "custom" 150g tank to use a 48" T5 (low cost option), or 3 AI 52's ($2100, 405W total), or 4 26s ($1600, 360W).

    Then went to California Reef Company and they use Radions over everything and have some T5's over some of the SPS as well. They love Radions and don't like Kessils, but suggested I go visit Neptune and talk to them about Kessils. As for Radions, they suggested 3 XR30W Gen 4 Pro ($2700, 570W total).

    Then went to Neptune Aquatics and everything there is under Kessils. They suggested 3 A360W ($1500, 270W total).

    Talked to BRS and they suggested a Giesemann Aurora 48" LED/T5 hybrid ($2300 with bulbs, 436W total). For lower cost, a Giesemann Matrixx 48" 6 or 8 bulb ($1100 or so with bulbs, 452W total for 8 bulb).

    So, just like reading the forums and hence my apprehension on what to use.

    Is there some baseline PAR number I should be looking for, with the understanding that it all depends on where I put what coral?

    I like the idea of LEDs due to long life/low heat and I can control some of them with the Apex. As JVU said, the shimmer is nice as that is the way it is when diving. The sun is just far enough away to be considered a point source.

    So close to my original budget, looks like that narrows it to 3 A360W (270W) or 4 Hydra 26 (360W). I can control the Kessils with the Apex. However, this is the lowest total output power of all the suggestions. If I went that way, I guess at some point I could add another A360 if I needed more..............

    On the bright side, Crystal Dynamics has a sale going on for certain tank + stand combos. They have their 150g (60x24x24), Starfire, eurobraced, 20" synergy overflow, with their stand (choice of styles/finishes to make my wife happy) and adding doors on both sides of the stand for just under $3000. Neptune actually just received one of those tanks so I got to look at it real close. It is a real nice tank. I could grab that tank from Neptune, but would still have to wait for Crystal Dynamics to build and ship the stand. Or just wait for the tank and stand together to come from Crystal Dynamics

    I'll start a build thread when I actually decide on things and start placing orders. Still battling the lighting question and some odds and ends, like will I for sure need a reactor or should I wait and see what the water looks like, what to put in the refugium, those types of things. I agree to go with a suitable DC pump, that makes sense especially with the Apex, thanks for the heads up.

    Best regards,
  14. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    It's too bad I don't have more time. I'd build you a custom stand.

    WCKDVPR Supporting Member

    Thanks so much for the kind thought, I'm OK buying one though.

    Will you be at this weekends meeting?

    Best regards,
  16. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Welcome Mike, being new to the hobby can be very daunting especially as you look at all the equipment and you didn't just win the lottery and have nearly bottomless pockets.

    My suggestion is to look at the various setups at stores and use that as a gauge for what you might like in an aquarium, then take what you see with a huge grain of salt since a store like Neptune has a full-time staff that maintains them as well as a store full of goodies to put on them. Think about what fish you might like when thinking about dimensions, think about what corals you might like when thinking about lighting and flow. The biggest issue new people get into though is they see these nice tanks and think they can have that immediately, that stuff takes time... often years to get, and lots of TLC. It's not like the Tanked show where come in and look at your instant gratification aquarium!

    As far as choosing lighting, unfortunately the market is flooded with choices making it much more difficult then when I started in the hobby, where it was go super cheap with power compact bulbs, or do T5s, Metal Halides or some combo. That said, look at other tanks on this site, Kris has a nice 290g tank and uses Kessils but he uses a lot more than 3 on it, Mike (el Presidente!) uses AI Sol fixtures which are "antique" compared to the current generation of LEDs but they still work for his needs so who cares if they aren't the latest and the greatest. Most lights out there will do fine for keeping corals alive, how much they grow is usually what you could nitpick/debate about. Plus decide on what features you really want your LEDs to do. Also don't be shy in looking at fixtures not made by Kessil, Ecotech or Aqua Illuminations (same company makes both), you'll find more options to squeeze into a budget.

    p.s. Flagg, I haven't forgotten about you either, and who knows by the time I get my basement finished you might have time :D

    WCKDVPR Supporting Member

    Thanks sfsuphysics,

    I understand this is for the long haul, that is part of the fun. I'm trying look at everything, these brands just keep popping up the most.

    Best regards,
  18. Wlachnit

    Wlachnit Vice President

    Welcome! Wow...yet another Mike in the club. I think that makes four Mike's that I know.

    Anyway, if you were to have a canopy, you would have more choices and could put together different components which could save you money.
  19. Wlachnit

    Wlachnit Vice President

    I meant to mention that I have a Crystal Dynamics tank. Aside from the lead time, I have been happy with it. Happy to give you my perspective tomorrow at the BAR meet.

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