Starting a REEF?? HELP!


New Member
I have a saltwater that i just started. I've been cycling it with 2 yellow tail damsels and a couple small snails.I want to do this right before I kill something or add more fish. I've been kinda lost. I just feel like i did everything wrong and want to start over. I'm in school so I've been going as cheap as possible. I have a canister filter in a 55 gallon. And the more research i do, the more i feel like a sump is better, but its so expensive! Can a canister work?
Also i have lighting that just came with the tank, what lighting does a reef need? What is the cheapest option?
What protein skimmer should i use? And is in necessary?
Any help would be very appreciated! Any tips or tricks?
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Well-Known Member
I’d get a hang on the back filter. They are cheap and don’t cause the issues canisters do. Canisters will cause all kinds of issues with nitrates which translates into algae.
I‘d stick with FOWLR just because of the cost of lights for coral and anemones. you can always upgrade lights in the future.

one thing you never do is cycle with fish. It is bad for the fish. The ammonia generated during the cycle burns their gills. You don’t want damsels in your tank any way so you might as well return them now. They are beautiful but some of the most aggressive fish in the ocean. The only fish I’ve ever been attacked by in the ocean while diving. They will harass any new fish you get to death.
since you want to do things right also buy a 10 gal tank for a quarantine. Diseases run rampant throught the wholesalers systems. if you put a fish that has a disease in your tank it will while it out. You can’t always see the disease until it is too late. A quarantine system would include the tank, bare bottom with a couple PVC pipe pieces for the fish to hide In. An inexpensive sponge filter that uses an air stone and air pump, and a small heater. You can do it for $30-40. It will save you hundreds long term. Fish should be quarantined for 30 days. you can just observe and if something pops up treat it or treat prophylactically Before something pops up. You can’t treat disease in the display.


Well-Known Member
What I did with my old 55g was cram in some 1/4" square grid (egg crate sold as lighting diffuser at building supply stores) about 3" in front of the back glass. And of course moved the rocks decorations and so forward. I then added two two tube fluorescent shop lights bout 4" behind the tank pointing forward. I then added macro algae like cheato between the back glass and egg crate.

That way the macro algae balanced out and stabilized the system. Nitrates dropped on unmesureable in 3 weeks and phosphates followed a few month later.

my .02