New 4ft Tank Equipment Planning

Well I have decided to setup a new tank a 4ft x 18" x 20". It used to be a African cichlids fresh water tank. I found them a new home and cleaned up the old tank. Yuck!

The old cichlid tank.

Draining & scooping out rocks

3 hours later... Ta Da!!!

I will keep my nano running as a quarantine tank for when I introduce new fish to the tank. So the next step is put together a shopping list of equipment I need for the 4ft tank;

Need to Get
Already Have
Might build a custom one
L-48" W-18" H-20". 74 Gallons or 284 Litres
Might build a custom one
I have bought two 150 watt Metal Halide lights for $300 including ballast Will also have one actinic mounted in the hood.
Will wait till tank is full of water then judge how many I will need for water movement.
One 300watt heater, was able to heat the old tank consistently.
I have air-conditioning so we will monitor the temperature and see if I need one.

ProAqua external canister filter 1500L/pH
My alternative to a sump, I have filled it with reef balls and one filter sponge. It cost $100 off ebay. $40 for 100 reef balls.

  Crushed coral
For substrate.
Jebo 180, Not the best skimmer, but should work for a while till I get some more cash.

Live Rock
How much? I have no idea...

  Water Storage Container
Large water tub/bin for storing water
  Test kits, pH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, calcium , alk
  Water Collection Containers
I have a lot of 5L water containers I use for my nano tank water changes, but I think I will need larger ones for the new tank.
  Buckets, syphon, backup salt mix

So before I even get close to live stock & coral I have some serious shopping to do.

Beginner Questions
Even though I have set up a new tank before I am finding I have more questions now than when I first started.

What is a sump?
How do I build a simple sump?
Reefkeeping Magazine has an article 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sumps'
Click here to read the article

Melevs Reef
has some great photos of a sump's construction.
Click to view

Can I run a tank sumpless?

From my research yes you can, basically you will loose a bit of extra water volume, all heaters and pumps will need to be in the display tank and that's about it. The flood risk and cost of a return pump was just too high for me. Instead I have decided to buy a large ProAqua external canister filter 1500L/pH($100 off ebay), I have filled it with reef balls (kind of like live rock but compact) and I have left 1 filter pad that I will rinse weekly.

Setting up a quarantine tank:
The ATJ's Marine Aquarium Site has the best & simplest write up on how to setup a quarantine tank.
Click here to view.

How long to cycle?
ATJ's Marine Aquarium Site has some interesting points on how to setup a new aquarium.
Click here to view the article

Do I do water changes during cycle?
I have heard mixed reports about whether to do water changes or not during the cycling process. Some say no water changes will help your tank cycle quicker, but you will loose a lot of organism on the live rock. If you do a lot of water changes then you wont have as much die off on your liverock.

How much live rock?
Tanks run well when a minimum of a third of the tank is full of rock.

How much crushed coral?
I bought large bag, about 20kg I think. I covered the bottom of the tank about 3cm deep.

About MH lighting?
Metal halide lights are a type of light bulb which burns very white and very bright. They require a special fixture and ballast. They are the closest thing we have to artificial sunlight, and are typically used on reefs and planted tanks. They are very efficient in terms of lumens/watt. Do not confuse these with halogen bulbs, which have a very yellow light not appropriate for aquarium use.

General rules for basic reef aquarium lighting (source:

  • Tanks up to 45 cm deep 4 fluorescents (2 white 2 blue or 3 white 1 blue).
  • Tanks 45cm to 60 cm deep 150 watt metal halide lights per 60 cm of tank length.
  • Tanks 60 cm to 80 cm deep 250 watt metal halide lighting per 60 cm tank length.
  • Tanks deeper than 80 cm use 400 watt metal halide lighting or more depending on application per 60 cm tank length.

More advanced lighting for reef aquarium lighting

  • Tanks up to 45 cm deep 150 watt metal halide lighting.
  • Tanks 45 cm to 55 cm deep 250 watt metal halides.
  • Tanks 55 cm to 70 cm deep 400 watt metal halide lighting.

Ultimate lighting for reef aquariums

  • Tanks up to 30 cm deep 150 watt metal halide lighting.
  • Tanks up to 50 cm deep 250 watt metal halide lighting.
  • Tanks over 50cm deep 400 watt metal halide lighting.

Building a custom hood

Connecting computer fans to extract heat

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