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8. 125 Gallon Reef Tank
This solution outlines the necessary equipment to set up and maintain these larger systems and recommendations for advanced filtration systems and peripheral equipment. The guidelines below can be applied to larger systems as well.

For tanks over 155 gallons, choose the
UP2000 Trickle Filter options where the UP1700 Trickle Filter is recommended. UP2000 Trickle Filters have been used successfully on 300 gallon acrylic tanks for both reef and fish-only systems. For heavy loaded tanks over 200 gallons use the T2000 Series Trickle Filters. For the monsters or multi-tank systems should the T3000 Series Trickle Filters are recommended.

Reef tanks should be filled with live rock and the focus and excitement will be on the corals and invertebrates, not the fish. Smaller numbers of less aggressive fish tha won’t feed on the corals are kept in these systems. Do not heavily load these systems with fish but make sure you have algae eaters - either fish or invertebrates. This solution lists the recmmended supplies and equipment for setting up and maintaining the perfect 125-gallon reef tank.

Choose one from a local dealer where you'll buy fish. Since this is the vessel that keeps your your fish alive and your spouse from killing you for damaging the floors, be willing to pay a little more for a quality name brand such as All Glass Aquarium Inc., Oceanic or Innovative Plastics.

Hood/Lighted Hood
Only purchase an aquarium with a glass top. Plastic hoods are not acceptable for saltwater setups. Plastic hoods limit the ability to add extra lighting and do not prevent “saltwater creep” from causing a mess. Standard lighting fixtures are acceptable but opt for higher quality lamps such as the T-8 Reef Sun by Zoomed. These lamps are designed specifically for saltwater. If a heavy blue coloration or stronger lighting is desired, consider purchasing an Aquatic Life T5 HO Link Marine. These great fixtures are available in configurations bright enough to keep corals and they look great.

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Stand or Cabinet
Make sure the cabinet is properly constructed for handling up to 10lbs per gallon of water. If something other than an aquarium stand is used, it should be able to support the weight and hold the entire rim of the aquarium bottom level with no spaces between the rim and the support.

This system requires advanced protein skimming and added circulation. Skimmers should be considered mandatory in these systems. There are two options for the “ultimate configuration” The first opyion leans more toward a “Berlin type” system and it incorporates the UP1700 Trickle Flter and a skimmer. This system will work if the focus is on invertebrates and not a heavy fish load. In “Berlin” style systems the sump is used for housing larger skimmers, carbon etc. Some keepers even remove the bio media once the system is established. It is always best to have a quality built filter, like the Aquarium Life Support Systems units, that can be modified and used for any type of system in the future.
Because the tendancy is to put too many fish in a reef, leaving the media in these packages is preferred. This system can be used for either a Berlin configuration or as is with great results. See below to custom configure a system to suit your individual needs, keeping in mind that protein skimming is mandatory in reef systems.

UP1700 Trickle Filter, Package #2
This package contains everything, including a pump, siphon box and a venturi skimmer, to hook up a UP1700. This great package uses a 900gph submersible pump so it uses less electricity. This package includes:
UP1700RR 3/4" tubing
UP100 Siphon Box
22V Protein Skimmer
Mag Drive 9.5 Pump
Combo 90 I x Mipt 3/4"
Plug 1 Mipt
3/4" I x Fipt
Locline Return - 3/4"


For drilled aquariums:
These packages contain all the necessary equipment to hook up the UP1700. No siphon box is required.
UP1700 Trickle Filter, Package #3
3/4" tubing, no return
22V Protein Skimmer
Mag Drive 12 Pump
Plug 1 Mipt
3/4" I x Fipt
Combo 90 I x Mipt 3/4"

UP1700 Trickle Filter, Package #4
This package contains everything, including a pump and a venturi skimmer, to hook up a UP1700. This great package uses an external pump and includes:
3/4" tubing
22V Protein Skimmer
3/4" x 1” I x Mipt
1" Fipt x Fipt
1" Mipt x I
If space is not an issue then this is a good package choice

Customize Your Own System!

Many keepers prefer to configure their own systems. Check out the links below and browse the many choices for filters, siphon boxes, skimmers and pumps to suit your individual needs.
• Standard tanks require the use of a siphon box. No siphon box is required for drilled tanks with overflows.

1 Choose a Filter
or Sump
2 Choose a Pump 3 Choose a
Siphon Box
4 Choose a
5 Choose a
for tanks up to 155gal SICCE Pumps View All
Siphon Boxes
View All
ALSS Skimmers

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for tanks 155-200gal
for tanks 200+ gal

Pumps for Additional Current
Added flow is always recommended in a reef setup. Use a SICCE Voyager, or consider the Wave Surfer Controller used with powerheads.

• Hydrometer
This important instrument is used to measure the salt concentration (salinity or specific gravity) of the aquarium water. A good economical and accurate choice is the CoraLife Hydrometer. Another quality hydrometer is the Ammonite Hydrometer.
  • Synthetic Sea Salt
Brightwell Neo Marine, 50# bag, because of its high quality and repeatable performance, is used for all EPA lab testing studies. Tests have shown this to be a superior aquarium salt. For other high quality salts available online, see SeaChem Reef Salt.

For saltwater enthusiasts with an interest in a more precise and sophisticated instrument to measure salinity, the Milwaukee Refractometer with automatic temperature compensation is a consideration.

• Thermometer
Hagen Thermometer, Floating

• Heater
• Keep the aquarium between 76-78°F. The best fully submersible heater is the Hydor THEO UL Heater 150W.
• Grounding the tank
Grounding the tank prevents more sensitive species from getting Lateral Line Disease. The origins of this ailment are controversial. A Titanium Grounding Probe eliminates one of the suspected causative agents.

• Substrate
40-80lbs Choose a CaribSea product. Natural, calcium
based substrates are best for saltwater aquariums.
• Fish Food
Nutrition is second only to filtration importance. Saltwater fish should be fed 80% frozen foods since these foods most closely match their natural diet.

• Water Conditioner
The water must be conditioned and prepped for aiding the slime coating of the fish. AquaLife Complete is an excellent dechlorinator and it detoxifies chloramines if they are present.
• Do not overfeed the fish. Feed fish only what they will eat in two to three minutes 1-2 times per day. Vary the diet. Different types of frozen foods from Ocean Nutrition and San Francisco Bay with VitaChem dripped on them combined with occasional feedings of OSI foods will ensure the health, longevity and color of your fish. It is important to try and duplicate the foods eaten in the wild.

• Starting Bacteria Culture
Use Activate Saltwater. Seeded biological media is sometimes available to speed up the cycling process. Super Porous Filter Media is an excellent media for this purpose.
• Algae Scrubber
Mag-Float 130 cleaning magnet for glass
Magical Cleaning Rod 22"
Magical Cleaning Rod 34"
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• Fish Net
Fish Catcher Net
• Never underestimate the importance of water testing. Fish trapped in water with even small amounts of ammonia and nitrite can die within hours. Water test on a regular basis and be prepared to act quickly is something goes wrong. A Mini Master Test Kit Freshwater & Saltwater contains accurate testing supplies for pH, ammonia and nitrite.
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See All Controllers & Monitors

• Do a 25% water change monthly or a 10% water change twice a month. Remember to dechlorinate the water and adjust it to the same temperature as the aquarium water.

• Always add a high quality dechlorinator anytime tap water is added to the tank. AquaLife Complete is an excellent product that not only dechlorinates but adds important elements to maintain slime coat integrity and reduce stress. AquaLife Complete also detoxifies chloramines if they are present.

• The pH should be 8.2 High quality salt such as Brightwell Neo Marine has added buffers and with proper water changes, pH should be stable. Aquavitro Salinity is sold only at our local store. For other high quality salts available online, see SeaChem Reef Salt or Marine Salt. However, if water changes are being done and pH is a problem, use Marine Buffer by SeaChem. Further information is available on water parameters in the Log Sheet section.

Further Reading:
9. Mixing Saltwater
11. Supplements & Additives
12. Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle

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