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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 558
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 11:11 am:       

I started researching SW systems a few weeks ago. I decided that rather than a larger planted tank I would take the plunge and do a SW tank.

Hats off to you reefers! The learning curve is steep. My head is swimming with sumps, refugiums (one of my favorites), skimmers, calcium reactors, lighting requirements, compatibility issues, the list goes on and on...

Based on the books I'm reading, the stores I've visited and the forums I'm lurking in, it will be several months before I even narrow down the equipment I want to use and the live stock I want to keep.

I'm not sure yet whether I will actually spend an entire year doing research (I may) but it's definitely going to be a long time before I'm anywhere near purchasing livestock.

I've been thinking about keeping a journal of my progress. I wish I had the foresight to keep a journal with my freshwater tank. BTW, anybody with experience please feel free to jump in and offer advice or correct any misconceptions I may have.

Here is my progress so far.

I began visiting SW oriented fish stores and asking questions about both freshwater planted systems and SW systems. Iím not in a position to evaluate the competency of the person answering my questions about SW systems but I can get a decent idea of the overall info Iím given if I also ask about FW systems.

I began reading two books. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and The New Marine Aquarium. Again, Iím not in a position to evaluate the specific information provided in these books but I can look at some general info and decide whether it makes sense. For example, one of these books suggests that moray eels might be a good stocking choice for a 120 gallon tank but that you may need to purchase a larger tank down the line. Probably not the best advice for a beginner. Another thing Iíve noticed is that you want to purchase recent publications. The hobby is advancing in leaps and bounds. A ten year old book will not mention recent innovations in technology or system management.

Iíve joined two forums. One national and one local. I am scouring both forums for information. I will probably lurk at the national forum for a long time before I ever post a thread. I canít imagine that there is a single question that I might have at this point that is not already answered somewhere on that forum. I have introduced myself on the local forum already. I have joined the club and will go to the next meeting. Iím already giving away clippings. Iíll have those reefers starting planted tanks in no time.


I have a general idea of the type of system I want to keep and the size I will need. I know that ultimately I will want a full blown reef tank with a few smaller fish. I love the clams which means I am going to need pretty serious lighting. I would like to start with 125 gallon tank but this may not be possible financially (Note: the 135 has the same footprint but is approx 3/4 of an inch higher for a 100.000 more. Seems like a waste of money.) The initial costs skyrocket after you move up from the 48 inch footprint which includes the 55, 75 and 90 gallon tank.

My next choice would be the 75 gallon which maintains the 48 inch footprint without the added height of the 90 gallon. Similar to a FW tank, height does little to add to life sustaining capacity of the tank b/c it does not increase the surface to air contact necessary for good gaseous diffusion and exchange. Height can increase the visual appeal of the tank but it may also increase the difficulty in upkeep as the added depth makes it more difficult to reach the bottom. The other consideration is costs. Depending on the livestock you want to keep, added depth may require stronger lighting, more power heads to increase circulations, more water to change, etc.

Since I would still prefer to do the 125 (actually I would really like to do a 120 with the 60 inch footprint but that tank does not seem to be readily available), I am going to draw up plan for the 75 and the 125. These plans will include the cost of LR and LS and the equipment I would like to have if cost were not a consideration. I will decide b/n the 75 and the 125 based on these plans and any modifications that I can reasonably live with that may bring the 125 within my budget. I will also evaluate my need for any electrical upgrades that might be required if I go with the 125 instead of the 75 and I will need to take into consideration the incidental costs of electricity, water, supplements, feeding, etc.

I have decided where the tank will be placed. I chose an interior wall in my livingroom/office It is one of the few interior walls without any baseboard heating or air conditioning vents close by that would not get hit by direct sunlight. It is close to two electrical outlets. It doesnít offer easy access to the sink in the laundry room but since I wonít be using tap water to fill this tank that should not be too much of an issue.

Thatís pretty much as far as Iíve gotten. I will post again once I have clearer idea of my equipment choices and have rough list for both tanks.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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Rottielover
Regular Member
Username: Rottielover

Post Number: 339
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 06:06 pm:       

Sounds like your off to a great start! (keep reading ;) )

One thing to consider about your floor... If you go with a 120 or 125 remember that water is going to weigh ~8lbs. a gallon figure 1,000 lbs. just in water and tank and stand, then add in the LR , LS, fish etc your tank can easily end up about the same weight as a small car! (about 1,500 lbs. !!!)

I have my 120 in the basement, so it's sitting on concrete on the ground. You may want to find out about what kind of weight your floor will hold.

Also seems like Perfecto is the only one that made a 120 with the 60" foot print, in order to keep clams and SPS corals I purchased a lighting system that was just over $1,000 (Hamilton 3x250 watt MH's)... I had to get an electrition to come over and run me two 20A lines to my tank! (fortunatly he's a member of my local reef club!)...

If you have the time, check out my thread about my 125 (that I later learned was a 120), hopefully I have some stuff in there that will help you out.

Regards, and keep the posts comming!
It's not the size of the dog in the fight... It's the size of the fight in the dog! -unknown
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 560
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 08:22 pm:       

Thanks for the tips Rottie. My house is built on a slab foundation so the floor is solid concrete. I wish I had a basement but no such luck. That's going to present a little bit of difficulty b/c there won't be anywhere to hide the sump other than in the cabinet.

The lights are one of the most confusing aspects. Are your lights under the cap or suspended above the tank? Do they have an electronic or magnetic ballast? Are they only MH or does the fixture contain PC also? Hmmm...maybe I should take a look at your post.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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Rottielover
Regular Member
Username: Rottielover

Post Number: 343
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 09:14 pm:       

Slab floor is good for the weight issue, if you want to hide the sump, you could plumb one thru a wall into another room, depends on your house layout really....

My light fixture is suspended above the tank with chain , I don't have a cap for that tank (looks OK since it's in the basement though). The ballast's are electronic (came with the fixture called "HQI"). The fixture has 3 x 250watt MH's and two 96 watt PC's for actintic.
It's not the size of the dog in the fight... It's the size of the fight in the dog! -unknown
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 562
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 09:21 pm:       

lol. I just finished reading your thread. It was very helpful.

Unless my husband is willing to give up his music room/junk room that ain't happening. :-)

I like the looks of the caps on the tank but don't like the idea of retrofitting anything.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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Rottielover
Regular Member
Username: Rottielover

Post Number: 346
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 02:34 pm:       

If you go with a "cap" you'll almost certainly need to buy "retrofit" lighting. Most of these "kits" are really complete fixtures, minus the outer "holding container". You simply use wood screws to attach them to your hood/cap (though you must be mindful of using good reflectors and following the Manufac. recommendations about how to mount the fixture, IE the heat from a MH could start a fire if you mounted it directly too the wood itself).

Many people build thier own hoods as a DIY project. One guy I just purchased a bunch of corals from built his own hood for a 29gal tank, and used a 250 watt MH bulb for his main lighting and two small PC's for dusk and dawn. Looks very nice!

Depending on the fixture and your hood, some of the fixtures can be mounted into the hood, (so the hood becomes in effect a "skin" to hide the fixture).

If you do some searching on the net you'll probly find a few hundred websites on DIY hoods :-)

Good Luck!
It's not the size of the dog in the fight... It's the size of the fight in the dog! -unknown
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 563
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 03:29 pm:       

Thanks Rottie. I'm just not a DIY person. More a factor of time than desire.

I had some unexpected time today so I started putting together lists for the 75 vs the 125. The lists include LR and LS and a starter package for cleanup critters but no other live stock. I can see why the cost might make someone feel a little green. A full blown reef tank is not for the faint of heart.

Here's my list. Feel free to pick it apart.

75 Gallon

Oceanic reef ready Tank and stand 633.00
Glass canopy 53.99 (If I go with a pendant lighting system)
Cap 219.00 (If I retrofit)
Euroreef skimmer ES5-2 228.00
LR from Dr. Mac's 449. for 90 pds
LS from Dr. MAc's 225.00
cleaning crew pkg from DM's 189.00
RO unit Pinnacle 100 gpd 319.00
2 jager 150 heaters 18.99 each
test kits 25.00 (for now)
refract 50.00
thermometer 4.00
Lighting 800.00
Sump 250.00
powerheads ?

So far, the total costs are approximately 3,100



I would really like to do a 125


Oceanic reef ready Tank and stand 978.98
Glass canopy 71.00
Cap 290.00 (If I retrofit)
Euroreef skimmer RS6-2+ 418.00
LR from Dr. Mac's 623.75 for 125 pds
LS from Dr. MAc's 375.00
cleaning crew pkg from DM's 189.00
RO unit Pinnacle 100 gpd 319.00
3 jager 150 heaters 18.99 each
test kits 25.00 (for now)
refract 50.00
thermometer 4.00
Lighting 1,000
Sump 320.00
powerheads?
total cost approx 4,200



Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 577
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 06, 2005 - 09:54 pm:       

The local club that I joined has been an incredible resource. They cut my cost by offering to seed a dead sand bed for me. They advised me on which components of the system I should avoid cutting corners on and which could be made cheaply and easily. They have even offered to help with the plumbing.

I have also volunteered to help with the club project - a 55 gallon reef tank at my local senior center. It gives me the opportunity to learn how to care for a reef tank before I set mine up. If I do this for a couple of months before mine goes up I'm hoping I'll have a little bit of a jump start.

Right now it looks like I'm going to go with a 120 foot print. That way I'll have more depth to aquascape the tank.

I'm looking at two MH pendants with 250 watt double ended bulbs. This setup is relatively inexpensive and gives me more flexibility over the a one unit fixture. I can add a pendant if I ever get a larger tank. The pendants are also less expensive than the one unit fixtures. I was also advised to get the next model up on the Euroreef Skimmer so this is going to increase the costs a bit but I am going to make up for it by building my own sump. The other piece of information that I learned is that the caps for the oceanic tanks are only 6 inches from the water line. this is important b/c it makes it difficult to retrofit the caps with MH light fixtures. The lights will overheat the tank requiring more money down the line when I have to buy a chiller to cool the tank down.

Right now it looks like the total startup can be done for under 2,900 on the 120.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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cindy
Moderator
Username: Cindy

Post Number: 6169
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 06:53 am:       

I can't imagine the lighting is either less expensive or even easier to set up on a 5' footprint than on a 6'. I am also not a DIY person, and I have a FW 120 and wish to high heaven I would have gotten the 125 instead when I bought it. After attempting various configurations of staggered 4 foot bulbs and/or fixtures (and I do not want a 6 foot fixture overhanging each end) I finally went with a centered 4 foot fixture with 220 watts of compact fluorescents that leaves the ends of the tank slightly dark. An acceptable option with FW, probably not with a reef.

Good luck, and please keep up posted. I am anxious to see if you are happy with the 120 in the long run. I dream of the 135 cherry oak tank I have seen at PETsMART, it's proportions are something like this (larger) 215 gallon reef tank:

215 cherry oak reef

Hey, if you are going to dream,...dream BIG!



"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 578
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 08:56 am:       

Cindy, the 120 I'm looking at now is 48 x24 x 25. I did initially want the 5 foot 120 because it wasn't as overwhelming to me as the 6 foot 125. After researching the lighting I came to the same conclusion. It would be difficult and more expensive to outfit the lighting on a five foot tank.

To be honest, I'm still harboring dreams of a 180. I didn't meet nearly the resistance from my husband that I expected when I floated the idea. If I can get over my feeling of being overwhelmed I may end up with that 180.

Is that your tank in the photo? It's beautiful.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 596
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Monday, March 21, 2005 - 09:15 pm:       

Well, I'm still planning. I started helping to care for the reef tank at the Sr. Center. I have not had a lot to do since the other members of the club drop by on a regular basis.

I'm still wavering b/n the 120 and the 180. It's not the start up cost that are daunting as much as the long-term costs. I have heard/read that running a large tank (180+) can range from 50.00 a month to 200.00. I'm inclined to believe its somewhere in the middle.

I've been looking at ETS skimmers rather than the ER skimmer. It uses downdraft technology forcing the water through consecutively smaller tubing until it creates a high pressure stream over a bunch of bio-balls thereby creating lots of tiny bubbles. Here's the skimmer and sump I'm currently considering.

http://www.superskimmer.com/Skimmer%20&%20Sump%20systems.htm

I've also been trying to see different set-ups. I'm amazed at how differently some of the sytems are configured. Some of the "reefers" I've met are over the top. One guy plumbed the entire system other than the 120 gallon tank(sump, pump, phosban reactor, skimmer, 150 gallon stock tank, etc) into his basement. I almost changed my mind when I saw his set-up. :} He thinks its a shame that I don't have a basement and considers me "stand-bound" b/c all my equipment will have to go under the stand.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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cindy
Moderator
Username: Cindy

Post Number: 6388
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 08:30 am:       

Oops! I wasn't ignoring you, Erin, I just hadn't been back to this thread in a while. That pic was a tank for sale on e-Bay and I thought it was so beautiful I saved it. I won't allow the SW bug to bite hard enough for me to start setting up the reef tank I dream of, very similar to that one, until I retire in a few years. Until then, I'll have to be satisfied with reading Rottie's and your threads here. Good luck and keep us posted...and thank you for taking the time!

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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David
Junior Member
Username: Bigwave

Post Number: 37
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 06:55 pm:       

Question:

Where does the $50 to $200 monthly expense go for a SW tank?

I can understand the extra Salt from water changes, and food, but neither of those should be that expensive. New lights every 6 months or so, but that also I would think is not too bad. Where does the other money go?

I would love a SW tank in the future, and your insights into cost would be great, thanks!
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 604
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 08:59 pm:       

David,

Check out this thread on RC.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=533407

The major cost is electricity. MH lighting is expensive to run. The more wattage you have the more expensive it becomes. The you have your skimmer, pump, any reactors you may be running, co2 if you have it, fans, RODI units, etc.

Another cost is water.

There are also other incidentals that always pop-up with this hobby such as filters, carbon, supplements, co2 re-fills, medications, live-stock replacement (hopefully not often). The list goes on-and-on. I can see how someone could easily spend two hundred a month on a large tank. I can also see how someone might think they are only spending 50.00 a month b/c they have not considered all the costs.

There was another site I found that did a detailed graph of the operating cost of various metal halides 250 v. 450, power compacts and power compact metal halide combinations. Unfortunately, I did not bookmark that site. If I come across it again I will post it here.


Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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David
Junior Member
Username: Bigwave

Post Number: 38
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 09:58 pm:       

Wow, thanks for that link. Now I will have to go home, and block that site so my wife never sees it!
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 608
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - 08:54 pm:       

Well, the issue of electricity costs got my wheels turning. I decided to start a thread on the my local clubs website about operating costs and find out what the electric bill is running for people in my locality. Can you hear the screeching breaks and the sound of my jaw dropping? . 150.00 a month for 180 gallon tank was the response across the board. That is only in electricity. No more fooling myself that I can run this tank on 75.00 a month.

I'm glad to know now rather than down the line while I'm struggling to keep the tank running. So, I'm either back to a seventy-five or I need to wait until I find my horse a retirement home.

Talk about depressing!
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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cindy
Moderator
Username: Cindy

Post Number: 6429
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 09:35 am:       

I'm a bit skeptical of those figures. We don't pay that much for our whole house in non-A/C months, with 4 tanks and lots of electronic toys and lights and stove and 'fridge, etc...

We pay 6.55 cents per KWH during the day (peak hours) and 3.24 cents per KWH during the night (off peak) during most of the year, a bit higher in the summer. Even at summer day time rates, it would take a whole lot of equipment to run up the KWH necessary to increase your bill by $150 per month, more than 1500 KWH, or 1,500,000 WH per month, which would be 50,000 WH per day, or almost 2100 watts per hour...will all the electrical doo-dads on your proposed 180 add up to almost 2100 watts? Maybe those people were quoting their entire bill for those months, rather than figuring tank costs alone?

What are you paying per KWH where you live? Is it substantially higher than our rate?



"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 610
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 10:08 am:       

That was my next line of questioning. It seems these guys are running 400 watt MH with closed loop systems which require a heavy duty pump. I have not asked about every gadget they are running yet but I imagine if its made for a reef most of them have it.

I'm going to have to get down to the nitty gritty details. I'm starting to look at specific watt consumption now. (what is the formula for converting watts into KWH concumption?) Our KWH rates are 6.08 cents per KWH. We are not on a peak plan (yet). The ditribution and transmission charges are tied to the KWH usage so those charges would also increase.

They were talking about the tank only.

As a side note, my KWH consumption went up 85 kw per month when I added PC lights to my 55 gallon tank.

One option is to change the critters I want to raise from the hard corals and clams to critters that don't require as much light and go with lower wattage MH lighting or PC lighting. I could also invest in a tunze stream system and forego the closed loop. The Tunze stream consumes approx 45 watts (I'm not sure if that's per month or per year yet).

Or...

I could go with a smaller system and brighter lights.

I have not given up hope yet.


Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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cindy
Moderator
Username: Cindy

Post Number: 6432
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 12:17 pm:       

If it is rated at 45W, that should mean 45W per hour, not month or year. 1 KWH would mean 1000 watt hours, or you could run that 45W Tunze stream for a little less than one day (22.2 hours) for 6.08 cents, less than $2 per month.

The more I thought about it after I left to feed my crew breakfast, the more I realized that if they had a large reef system with top-of-the-line lighting, they could spend that much, but I doubt the average SW owner would.

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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Heather
Moderator
Username: Heather_sanders

Post Number: 1617
Registered: 01-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 08:32 pm:       

Erin, www.reefcentral.com has a cost calculator on the homepage of their site, here's the link:
http://www.reefcentral.com/calc/tank_elec_calc.php

Great work on your research so far, you have a head's up on most people already. :-)
My advice on whatever lighting system you choose, is watch for rising temps, pendants used with glass tops will keep the water hot, if you are worried about UV rays, most pendants come with a uv sheild installed and tanks can run topless or with a top along with a chiller. Canopies (caps?) can also keep heat in, use computer fans and if needed find out if people with systems similar to yours need chillers to keep their water cooled. Bigger tanks are easier to keep the temp down so you may not run into trouble anyway...



Talk about fishless cycling, I'm just plain fishless!
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Erin
Regular Member
Username: Shay

Post Number: 612
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 09:34 pm:       

Heather, thanks for the advice and the link. I'm not sure how I missed that calculator on RC. It's wonderful.

I'm planning on going open top. I was advised against the cap and I really don't want to run a chiller if I have a choice.

I'm going to spend a few hours this weekend computing the electricity costs with the equipment I've been considering and then try to figure out why the tanks I'm hearing about vary so much. I started working on it this afternoon with the information from Cindy's and the equipment I am considering should be a little less expensive.

Thanks for the help.
Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That's me. - Dr. Seuss
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Erin
Advanced Member
Username: emc2

Post Number: 726
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 11:27 am:       

Looks like I'm getting a tank. Some one is selling a 65 gallon tall tank and stand plus the following equipment and fish for 100. A lot of the equipment is probably junk but I'll see what I can do with it.

100 pds of fiji
2 protein skimmers
trickle or cannister filter (obviously has to go)
heaters
VHO lighting (needs new bulb)
refractometer
thermometer
power heads
test kits
calcium
salt

yellow tang
damsel
coral beauty
lion fish

Sounds like way too many fish in a 65. I'm going to have to rehome some of these guys obviously. Maybe I can trade an lfs for the tang and the lionfish.

I'm so excited!
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cindy
Ancient Plus
Username: cindy

Post Number: 6872
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 10:38 pm:       

You can't pass up a deal like that...congratulations!



"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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Laura
Regular Member
Username: roseh

Post Number: 646
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 10:52 pm:       

Awesome price for so much stuff! And while the tang may be too large for a 65g, the lion may be ok with other small fish if it's a dwarf species. Smaller lions can be really cool additions to a reef :-).
That's not how you spell CHEESE!
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Erin
Advanced Member
Username: emc2

Post Number: 728
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:08 am:       

Thanks. Actually I did pass it up which killed me. The presient of the local reef club told me that it would be an uphill and expensive battle to make this thing into a suitable reef tank. Then I would not be able to use most of the equipment on a larger tank. :-(

The lionfish was huge and overfed. Poor guy looked like he was suffering internal organ damage from over eating.

This threads has become anticlimatic.
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cindy
Ancient Plus
Username: cindy

Post Number: 6885
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:31 am:       

Then maybe you should let this thread die. Then, when you find the right tank, just start a new one.

Sorry it wasn't the right tank this time, but better you found out now than after throwing a lot of money into it trying to make it work. From what I've read, you''ll find the right one soon enough - probably before you are completely ready anyway...

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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