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Future Saltwater Tank

Dec 10, 2018
So, I have only owned freshwater tanks and currently do not have a saltwater one. I would really like to get into saltwater within a few years or so, and I am a bit overwhelmed with all the info I've been gathering. First off, I live in a rural area and use only well water, which is filtered through an RO unit. My water is soft and I've had really good luck with all my freshwater fish. I have an empty 75g I would like to use as my first reef tank. I would really like to keep it simple and not complicated. What do y'all recommend for lights and filters? For now, I know these tanks require a deep sand bed, wave-makers, protein skimmers, RO/DI water, and frequent water changes- is there anything I'm missing? Please educate me, any advice helps.
Mar 15, 2016
If your on a budget you can buy cheap Chinese LED black box lights. If money isn't a issue radion xr15w or Xr30w.

Your list looks good

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Board Member
Apr 20, 2017
Spring Branch
Welcome to MARSH. Keeping a saltwater tank is not all that much different than a freshwater system. The single most important things I can tell you is to do research and be patient.

For the tank, first thing to do is check the glass walls and make sure they are not made with tempered glass. There are videos on how to do this on Youtube. Joey - The King of DIY has an excellent video showing how to do this. The reason for this is the tank you have now likely is not drilled or setup for a reef system. So you will need to look at installing an overflow box o some type and this will require drilling the tank. It's not a difficult thing to do, just make sure to research it well first and have all the tight tools. You will also need to be somewhat proficient with plumbing PVC so you can setup the drains and return(s) for the sump.

Your sump is where the magic happens. This is where all your mechanical and chemical filtration takes place as well as providing a place for nutrient export via macro algae (if you decide to run that). It is also where your skimmer is run from as well as your main return pump(s) are kept. For a 75G you can get by with a smaller sump one like the Precision Marine R24, but space is cramped so a bit larger sump is recommended. Skimmers heh.. Well there are a ton of them available with a myriad of features. The best thing to do is look at the Bulk Reef Supply videos on skimmer testing and decide what would be the best for your system. You might be best to decide the skimmer first then get a sump that it fits into well.

Sand beds, well I am not a fan of them and they are not required to having a thriving reef tank. I have never run a bed deeper than 1-1.5" in my tanks. It makes it easier to keep clean, and all but eliminates the potential issues associated with a deep bed.

Wave-makers are your primary source of water flow in the tank. The size and flow output that you would need are all dependent on what type of fish and corals you intend on keeping. For example in my 75 that is a LPS dominant tank, I am running a pair of Jebao PP4's (the smallest ones they make) on either end of the tank. They are linked so they alternate flow across the entire length of the tank every 30 seconds. I only run them them at about 40% of max power and that is more than enough for my critters. Again research on the types of pumps and what you intend on keep ing will need to be done to find the best options.

Lighting.. Well this where most people tend to have the single largest investment. If you are not planning on keeping corals any time soon, then the best option is a cheap 10K FOWLER LED for $40-60. This will provide plenty of light for the fish. If you plan on having corals, then plan on spending anywhere from $200 - $1500 or more for lighting depending on if you are going to run T5, Halide, LED or a mix of them. LED's if you have a large budget, then Radions are some of the best out there. AI Hydras or Prime HD's would be a close second. Cheaper options include the Photon v2+ by Reef Breeders or even black box options. They all have their advantages and dis-advantages.

I know this is a ton of info, but if you want to do it right these are all things you need to research and consider. Don't be afraid to ask questions either as we're all here to help. One thing to remember is all new tanks will require a fair bit of maintenance for the first 3-6 months until the tank starts to mature and gets to be rather stable. Once that happens you will only be spending a few minutes a day on the tank with a a couple hours every other week doing big jobs like pump or skimmer maintenance etc.