Everything You Need
I titled the last part of Reef-A-Palooza “Everything You Need” because that’s what you can get at Reef-A-Palooza.
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The first thing to do is a little visualization and planning. Are you going to need a sump? I recommend one, preferably the largest one you can manage under the tank or somewhere nearby. I see a lot of thanks with everything crammed in underneath in the sump. I can understand if this is in a living room and it’s a piece of furniture. But if it’s not a piece of furniture, if it’s something you’re doing for it’s own sake, there’s no need to cram it all under the tank. My best system had a refugium for plants and animals to the side of the aquarium, what they now call a Display Refugium, and the sump below the tank was just for the skimmer, a reactor and a UV.
Be very thoughtful about the plumbing and the entire configuration and don’t skimp. If everything is not crammed under the tank, adding, changing or modifying something like a Lifeguard UV filter or media reactor system makes it easy. Try to plumb for an easy water change method whereby you can get the water into and out of the tank easily. Buy or make a stand so that the height makes it easy to get your arm into the tank if need be. (Check out Julian Sprung’s aquarium.)
Be sure your system is solid enough for a power failure and a vacation. You want to have the ability to go on vacation and have someone do just a few simple things to keep it going for two weeks without worry.
If your starting out you can get a tank from JBJ. If you’re a more advanced you may want a Red Sea Aquarium. Both offer pre-configured or DIY systems. The next critical things are lights, and you can get those from EcoTech. EcoTech also has the pumps you’ll need. Two Little Fishes Stax Rocks and the Alternative Reef offer places for your corals to sit. Bulk Reef Supply has dry live rock and wet live sand. You can get live rock if you don’t really have a plan as far as what you want your final tank to look like. Live rock gets a lot of bad press from experienced reefers who know what they want in their tank. But if you want to explore the real reef from your home live rock will be more of a learning experience. Talk about it with experienced reefers before you decide.
Once your tank is set-up with the rock, lights and filtration let it sit for several weeks before populating it with coral and fish. If you’re anxious don’t get anything too expensive; perhaps some neon gobies or a coral banded shrimp or cleaner shrimp, hermit crabs and snails will give it some life and help you get past the two or three weeks needed to get the reef going. Booster cultures such as FritzZyme Turbo Start 900 will help shorten the time.
Please comment about this or any of my notes in the Reef-A-Palooza forum.