New aspiring aquarist...

I just wanted to stop in and say hi real fast and ask a couple of questions. I just recently decided to start a saltwater aquarium (more than likely a FOWLR tank) and have begun buying some of the peices I am going to need. As of today, I have a 55gal (48x13) predrilled tank, 2x65 power compact light kit, and a Tidepool 1 filter system. I have not set any of it up yet, mainly because I still need to get a nice stand (which I am actually going to order in a couple of hours, probably an Aqueon Impress).

However, there are a few things that I know I still need, one of which is a pump to use with my filter. For one reason or another, there was not one with the stuff I bought from The Fish Bowl. Do you have any suggestions?

A list of other stuff that I’d like suggestions on would be, heater, power heads, protein skimmer, and possible upgrade to my light kit.

For power heads, I was looking at 2 K3’s (I believe). For the skimmer, I was looking at a Seaclone 150. My goal is to keep just about everything except (for obivous reasons) the powerheads in the cabinet of my stand being that I have the tidepool sump filter.

I also visited Virginia Beach over this past weekend and bought about 25lbs of base rock (bought from Animal Jungle, around 16.5lbs of “Reef Rock” and 8.5lbs of “Lace Rock” for $2 per lb.) I have read good and bad things about the Lace Rock, so I am a little weary about using it, probably going to have to set everything up with just the Reef Rock to start and use some of my saltwater that i mix up to put the Lace Rock in. I have read that it has been known to leech heavy metals, and that the best bet is to keep it separate for a few weeks and monitor the water specs… Any suggestions?

The last thing that I would like some help on would be the kind of floor to use. I have read alot about crushed coral and sand. A lot of what I have read is to just stick with crushed coral, because sand has the tendency to have ‘dead spots’ pop up that could cause havoc. However, one stipulation of putting the money into this tank was that my wife wants to get a mandarin or two, and I have been told they feed on insects that live in the floor of the aquarium. What are your suggestions?

I have been reading quite a bit online about what is needed and I think I have a pretty good idea, but i’d like to get your suggestions mainly because the people who write online may not have the same type of water that us Delawareans have. Especially those of us in mid-western Kent County.

Thanks for all of your help in advance.

Felton, DE

Ok, where to start.

First, it sounds like a pretty good setup you are working on there. I cant really give you advice on what pump to use, I have never used cansiter filters before.

For the rock questions, I have heard of people using both lace and dry reef rock, and I have heard both good and bad things about both. I would say that as long as you are planning on having FOWLR then you should be fine with the rock. If you decide to go with a full blown reef tank in the future and you think its giving you problems, you can slowly switch it out for live rock.

Your lights should be fine for anything short of SPS corals. You should be able to keep any soft corals and most LPS quite happy under PC’s. My advice on a heater is: get one. I dont think that brand really matters for that as long as it is sufficiently sized. The 2 K2’s should be enough flow for now, so that is something you shouldnt have to worry about.

On the topic of mandarin’s, you should definatley wait to get one untill the tank is established. While a sand bed is beneficial for both looks and as additional media for the beneficial bacteria to colonize, what mandarins eat are small copeopods that live in the Live Rock, not the sand bed. If you want to use sand for looks or to help with filtration, that is fine but it shouldnt have any affect on the number of copeopods either way. You dont have to worry about dead spots in a sand bed if you keep the depth of the sand fairly shallow. “Dead spots” only occour in deep (2"+) sand beds, and in shallow sandbeds they are not something that you have to worry about.

I hope this helps to answer a few of your questions…

Ok - quick apology up front - I have ADD and tend t forget most of my responses as I type the previous one, so I will certainly miss a few questions.

Heater - I agree with Icy - but with a small change - get 2 not one. This way when one craps out on you (and it will) you at least have a back-up.

Rock - Fish don’t care as much about heavy metals as corals - lace wil be fine for FO - but keep in minid some heavy metals MAY leach out and in to the silicone - so if you decide to go reef you may have issues down the road.

Lights- Fish don’t need light so your PC lights are more then adequate for a FO

Pump - can’t offer a suggestion as I have never used a cannister filter either. Ask the store, I’m sure they can make a good reccomendation if you don’t get one here.

Sand vs CC - Crushed Coral is a pain in the neck. It has to be vacummed out regularly or you will end up with so much junk in the substrate that you’ll never be able to get your parameters stable.

Mandarins -you should really consder getting a refugium before gettng mandarin. they are veracious eaters and wi quickly decimate a pod population if there is not a seperate area for them to grow and reproduce. Also - I would not get a mandarin until at least 6 months AFTER you set up the refugium.

ope that helps at least a little.

BTW - Welcome to the club.


the tidepool is a SUMP filter, not a canister. pump should be figured to turn the tank over 8 - 10x per hour or so. so 550 gph minus head pressure. i would assume somewhere around 8-900 gph would be more than enough for a 55. if u r doing fowlr, then lighting isn’t a huge concern really. 130 watts on there is more than enough. i personally always liked the seaclone skimmers, seem really easy to set up, dis assemble, and clean. the heater MUST be submersible. salt water is an entirely different animal than fresh, and non-submersible heaters are very short lived in saltwater. besides, the submersibles are usually way more dependable. i would say to stray from the “stealth” heaters.i have seen a number of them separate from the cord right at the top of the heater and fry the tank. no idea why, but i have seen it. substrate seems to be a personal preference thing, everyone has a theory. seems to me, both have ups and downs, and they usually equal out. (imho) i really like the pourousness of the reef rock, the lace is hit or miss. some pieces are real nice, some are kind of dense and solid. i personally haven’t heard anything about it leaching, but that doesn’t make it not true. otherwise, TAKE YOUR TIME… patience is your greatest tool in setting up a saltwater tank.

welcome :Welcome) me and icy are dover locals so we are close. sounds like you are thinking ahead. good start already. ok i agree with all said already and will add my 1 1/2 cents < cant afford 2 cents :TWOCENTS

Sand vs CC - Crushed Coral is a pain in the neck. It has to be vacummed out regularly or you will end up with so much junk in the substrate yes i agree. crushed coral sucks, if alittle is used to mix with sand fine but dont use much. it will always settle to top. then you are left with big pieces of crap and sand is burried underneath. i made this mistake and slowly am replacing crushed coral with sandso use a good white sand

for the pump i would use a mag 9 or something equal too for reurn pump. not sure what footprint you have left in sump.

you will want to wait 6 months or so for manderian for sure. get fuge started and get some cheato ect going to build up pods first. i had a manderian for over a year…fat little sucker but he ate himself to death. ate all pods then starved to death. so you need a large supply for these to fluruish.

i have a thread on here in market place with a stand and canopy in black for a 55 gallon. in great shape if you are looking for used that is,

fish-welcome to Drc

Welcome, and you are off to a good start. Keep asking questions, it is the best way to get experinced answers.
I didn’t see mentioned anything about a RO unit to make good fresh water. You should probally consider getting a unit. Good luck and enjoy

Hey man, welcome. I have a heater and a pump that I’d give up for next to nothing. PM me if you are interested. I’m in Dover also.


Thanks everyone for the quick responses. It gave me a few more things to think about. I did pick up a pump later after I posted the message. Its a Quiet1 2200, rated at 581gph. Local fish store said that I needed something around 550gph and this one only cost me like $40. Sounded a little cheap and worried me, but I was assured by someone that worked there that it was a quality pump and I shouldnt have any problems with it. Their assurance may not help much if I end up with 55gallons of saltwater in my dining room floor, but I was willing to listen to them. lOl

Again, thank you all for hte responses, and I hope to pick your brains more in the near future.

Felton, DE

Welcome Billy. Glad you found us and hope that we can help you.

One of the best suggestions I could probably give you would be to try and pick up a good bit vs reading on the internet. The majority of the people who pass information around on the net are new at the hobby and just passing along what they learned from some LFS(Local Fish Store) that likely didn’t know what they were talking about.

My first suggestions would be to consider your tank a reef tank always and then you will run into no snags in the future. If you purchase big fish that are not reef safe(most of which would outgrow a 55g anyways) later on you would be faced with the dilemma of getting rid of a fish your wife is attached to before you can run a reef tank.

My second suggestion would be to break up your posts on the forums. Lots of people when they read multiple questions while they are getting ready for work or just checking there e-mail won’t take the time to respond. If they can type two word responses you get a lot more responses. People on the internet are often lazy or busy. Just a little tip to get more bang for your buck out of the forums.

I am not sure about the rock, but the test kits for all the possible metals that could do harm may be hard to come by and expensive. I have never used anything labeled “Lace Rock”.

I would look into upgrading your skimmer in the near future. 3-4 months into things when you have a decent amount of fish you may begin to start to keep your nutrient levels down. You’ll be fighting algae and high nitrates and one of the easiest ways to keep both down is with a good skimmer. 95% of people who have used Seaclones wouldn’t consider them a good skimmer.

I have seen systems run with crushed coral, but for a reef tank I would suggest either bare bottom or aragonite/sand. I would use about an inch to an inch and a half of either and you are likely to not get dead spots. One the tank is well cycled you can add Nassarious snails and a fighting conch to stir the sand. I have seen reefs run with crushed coral, but more most well read experienced reefers, authors, and speakers would suggest against it.

As far as the water Delawareans have if you are working towards eventually running a reef then it really doesn’t matter as you are probably eventually going to be looking into an RO unit.

I would agree with icy to wait on the mandarin. The 55g would likely be a bit small for it in the long run anyways, but in a young tank it is always a bad idea.

With heaters I prefer the Visa-Therm Stealths as they don’t break as easily and have worked well for me. That being said the majority of them work the same and I have only found one type in the past that was actually cheap, they were made by a small company I believe and they clearanced them out over 5 years ago, so you will likely not ever run across them.

Just curious how did you find the DRC?

One of the most important things to consider when looking at the size pump is the size of the bulk heads. I would not suggest trying to pump 550gallons through a 1/2 bulk head that has an even smaller pipe connected to it. Try to find the smallest diameter in your plumbing and do your calculations that way. On the left hand side of this link( there are some calculators that can be helpfull. Start a new thread to tell us what your head height is(from where the pump would be to the display), what size holes or bulk heads are drilled into the tank and where, and if there is a hole in the tidepool to connect to or if there are no holes in it.

Quiet One pumps are pretty good pumps I have used them a good bit in the past and may be hooking one up myself later today. Not sure if your tank can drain quickly enough as I don’t know enough about the tank, but my biggest suggestion would be to test things over and over again. Plug in and unplug the pump. Get a fill line on your Tide Pool.(I would start to refer to your Tide Pool as just a sump and more of these guys will not get hung up on the type of sump it is and not be able to give you advice)

Glad you found us, keep hitting us with questions and good luck.


Thanks for the information. I will keep all of thet in mind. I actually saw or heard about the DRC on the same day. A friend of mine at work who has a saltwater aquarium mentioned the Delaware Reef Club and said to check it out, and when I stopped by The Fish Bowl to buy my stand, I saw business cards with the DRC on it, which reminded me to check the forums out. I will start a new thread with my other questions.

Thanks again,

Yay! All our work getting the business cards out is helping. :slight_smile:

As long as your drain line can handle the flow of the pump, the quiteone should be more than enough. I personally know that a quietone 3000 needs to be tuned back a little to handle the flow that can go through a 1" inside diameter bulkhead. The one you have should put you just about where you want to be without much noise.

Hey Billy, Welcome to DRC!

I think everyone has got most of your questions taken care of, but. I want to stress the fact that you are going to build a reef tank eventually. My tank was going to be a FOWLR and I was SET on that. A month or so in and I quickly realized that I wanted a FOWLR…with SOME reef stuff, then even quicker I realized I wanted a full blown reef in my basement. Build it for reef and buy your things for reef, spend the $$ correctly the first time.

[quote=“icy1155, post:12, topic:1238”]
I personally know that a quietone 3000 needs to be tuned back a little to handle the flow that can go through a 1" inside diameter bulkhead. [/quote]

This could change slightly with head height… perhaps on a small tank on a home made stand it was too much, but would it be too much on an extra tall stand holding a 90g tank? An additional 3 feet of head pressure can effect the GPH output significantly.