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).

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: http://www.coralplantations.com/pages/lighting.htm)

  • Tanks up to 45 cm deep 4 fluorescent's (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.

Q. Is it easy to setup a small tank?

In my experience the smaller the tank the harder it is to maintain a stable
environment.  You would have to do weekly 40% water changes and have only 2
small fish. Lighting for fish only, 1 fluro is fine, they just need light to
see you could maybe have a few mushrooms or coral that don't need light like
sun coral, you would need to feed them daily. If you want corals you will
need something more powerful. I used to have 4 fluros over my 2 foot tank
and corals barely survived. A fluro bulb is only 18 watts. Once I put the
same coral in under 150 watt lights it really started growing.  Its a
similar concept to having plants indoors, most will survive but if you put
them outside in real sunlight they will thrive.  As far as a filter goes I
would recommend a external filter filled with live rock, its a clean and
compact way of having a similar setup to a sump you may have been reading
about, that way you have a little extra water volume plus more rock for
bacteria and critters, this will help keep your tank stable. plus 1
powerhead (a filter pump without any wool or sponge) for water movement in
the tank, enough flow so you don't get algae but not too much to blow your
fishies away :) maybe 2000 litres /hr or smaller

Hope this helps, a small tank is possible but you will have to dedicate more
time and move a little slowly so the bacteria has time to build up before
you add fish.

Q. Do you know what the situation is with the live rock etc, does it need light for the bacteria to grow well or just water flow. I intend on keeping a clown and or one other fish maybe a fire fish or mandarin etc, Did you have a lot of issues when using small tanks like I am attempting?

A. Live rock will have some bits of coral or plants on it that may die under low light but if you do water changes it shouldn't foal your water. Heat was a issue I struggled with, it depends where you live I guess. those fish should be fine, one mistake i think i made with my small tank was siphoning the gravel, i didn't realize i was sucking up all the good bacteria and causing the water to be unstable, so that may have caused problems, in my 4ft tank i never siphon and i don't have any trouble with water quality. if you must siphon because there is poop sitting everywhere then only siphon the surface of the gravel and only half the tank.
my advice would be buy the biggest tank you can afford, more water you have = more stable environment and less water changes :) it really is less work with a big tank.



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