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-   -   Three Steps To A Reef Aquarium - Step 2 (http://www.3reef.com/forums/reef-aquarium-articles-how-tos/three-steps-reef-aquarium-step-2-a-54476.html)

Matt Rogers 11-11-2008 08:02 PM

Three Steps To A Reef Aquarium - Step 2
 
This is part 2 of the 'Three Steps to a Reef Aquarium' series that started this entire site. Originally written around 1996. These articles were all that 3reef was for a while when it was threestepstoareefaquarium dot com! :)



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Step Two: Some assembly required.
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Sand
When it comes to sand, there are a few popular setup choices these days: a DSB (deep sand bed), or a plenum (basically a DSB that is raised off the bottom of the aquarium with pvc, eggcrate and plastic window screening), barebottom tanks, or tanks with just a couple inches or subrate with or without a DSB in a sump. I used to endorse plenums here, but they have really fallen out of favor and I feel guilty recommending something that may subject you to scorn and ridicule! Heh.
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Now I just have 4 inches of sand in my hex. It's fine. My freshwater plant tank, of all things, has a plenum and it works as well. Either way, I am convinced, will work well if set up properly.
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A sandbed is just one piece of the puzzle and there are people out there with successful tanks using all the methods I have mentioned. Find a method that makes sense to you, stay up on the maintenance associated with it and you are on your way. Read the sand page for more details and make up your own mind.
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Water
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Let's assume you've gotten the whole mess home somehow and have found that special place in your house for your money pit. Make sure that you don't put it in direct sunlight or in any bedrooms (it will make noise). A word on water - do not use tap water! Tap-water often contains silicates (micro-algae growth) and heavy metals (invertebrate meltdown). Use water that has been filtered, such as through a reverse osmosis filter. A good one will remove 98% of the contaminants. If you have any money left over, buy one! I recommend SpectraPure's CSP-DI models like the one pictured here. Otherwise, your local pet shop or grocery store can help. The next thing I would do is have a lot of salt water made up near your tank. Go out and buy a new plastic trash can and make it in that (if you do this a couple days before adding to the tank, that is even better). Then carefully and slowly put some in your tank until you have water slightly above the sand. Tip: put a plastic plate on your sand and pour the water on that so you don't destroy your sand layers.
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Live-rock
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There is a 'natural' filter that is essential to your reef aquarium - live rock. The foundation of any reef, live rock has the surface area and organisms to help stabilize your aquarium. Buy enough that you have roughly two pounds per gallon of water. Do not skimp on the quality of your live rock! This is your 'natural' filter, the lower the quality, the lower the filtration capabilities. Do not just buy 'base' or 'plant' rock. Buy porous rock with heavy macro-algae growth. Plant rock is fine near the top of the aquarium.
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At this point, I would start adding the rock and construct the rock formation. Try not to have a lot the rock surface touching the sand. I know this is hard to pull off, but for ultimate filter efficiency, this is a plus. I have seen people cut cross sections of clear plastic pipe to help with this. Don't worry about having the rock out of the water for a while, it will be fine. You may have to lightly shake or 'rinse' the rock to remove any dead organic matter prior to putting it in the tank. If you happen to see any 'cute' shrimp sticking their heads out of a piece of rock, isolate that rock in another bucket until you can bait the shrimp out and remove the rock. (Mantis Shrimp are not your friend.)
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Leave room around the edges of the tank and the top for good water circulation and ease of cleaning the glass. If you plan to hide some water pumps (hooked up to wave timers, etc..) in the rock for more circulation, this would be a good time to add them as well. NOW add the rest of the water to your tank and turn on the pumps. After an hour or so, plug in the heater. Wow. Check it out! Pretty cool, eh?
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Ok. Leave that going for a couple weeks to cycle and stabilize before adding any corals or fish.
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