View Full Version : 220 Gallon tank blank slate, do i take the plunge?

07-20-2010, 08:31 PM

Fairly new on here so not too many people likely know me.

I have a fair number of FW tanks running right now but have snagged a 220 Gallon tank. Dimensions are 72Lx24Dx30H

The question is do i want to get into salt with this big of a tank. The initial idea is to make a low maintenance FOWLR to start with and see how things go. Pillar style live rock with lots of swimming space. Possibly BB although i like both BB and sand bed style.

The question is, can i make this low cost and low maintenance. It's a bit of a shift in perspectives in the realm of water changes when i'm used to 30-40% per month of water changes on all the other tanks. Still have a lot to learn but trying to get ideas on what kind of maintenance would be required when starting with a low bio load and decently large volume. Dilution is great and all but realistically what are the maintenance requirements for a 220 with possibly 2-3 tangs, and maybe a trigger or two. I understand the usual impact of triggers on inverts so consideration will have to be taken whether i will eventually move to a mixed reef.

There are a number of topics that i'll need to dicuss as well. Things like a sump which obviously is a very large preference. The tank is not drilled right now although i think i could drill it without much issue. I could build a 2x4 stand to accommodate the sump or i could possibly use the space in the utility room behind the tank to place the sump. This has many pro's in my mind as the room has a floor drain and it's far easier to patch the drywall when it's time to buy a new house than to replace the carpet if there is any flooding. As well this would noise ( and smell) isolate the equipment from the living room that the tank resides in. There would be room to mount an ATO and an RO. Finally no height restrictions for a skimmer and easier access for chaeto pruning and cleaning in general.

Then skimming in general. Can the nutrient export be accomplished by chaeto or does skimming make my life a lot easier with algae control and water quality?

I don't know what the comparison is as far as how much less water can be changed monthly if skimming to assist with nutrient export. Also for removing nitrates what is the best way to do this. RDSB, Chaeto, Mangroves or a combination of any?

Much more to consider but i'll start with this.


07-20-2010, 08:36 PM
I don't think I've seen tanks that large run without sump...drilling is a must in my opinion. With FO you'll have hungry and potentially larger fish making more waste. Skimming will help you out a ton there.

Water changes will certainly be more expensive at that size...I'm not sure how cheap you could run the tank but skimming more aggressively might mean you can do fewer changes saving some money long-term.

07-20-2010, 11:49 PM
Like Brett said: drill it and get a sump.
With a light bio-load and aggressive skimming you could get by with a 10-20% water change per month. So, say aprox. 40 gals per month. Bucket of salt makes 160 gals of SW and cost about $50. Monthly cost of salt = $12 The big monthly expenses are electricity and additives/supplements such as calcium, alk, etc.
P.S. Very few people are able to keep a light bio-load. Nearly everybody overstocks their tanks. It's hard to resist one more fish or coral or clam. :wink:

07-21-2010, 03:48 AM
Agreed on both the sump and bioload will-power issues.

I don't think i would attempt to do it minus the sump.

The other possibility is a nice little 50 Gallon that i have that i could run with a 20 gallon sump.

That tank is 36Lx18Wx18H. Would obviously be a far smaller undertaking and possibly a better way to get my feet wet in the salty end of things.

Far less volume and size would make for easier maintenance and lower costs involved for skimming and lighting as well as water changes. The livestock choices also change significantly.

LED lighting becomes a far more likely option as well.

The choices the choices...

08-11-2010, 02:18 AM
I say go with the 50 gal and 20 gal sump for your first kick at the can. :)
It'll be a much cheaper setup and you can always do the big tank later if you decide.

08-11-2010, 04:45 AM
The question is, can i make this low cost and low maintenance.

Uhm. No.

A tank that size will cost you some real money. You can cut corners and keep costs down initially, but if you go that route you will end up doing everything twice as you upgrade your hardware. The cheapest way to build a tank this size is to buy the hardware you want right out of the gate.

I say go for it, but don't have any illusions of this being a cost effective tank. Your costs will tripple your wildest expectations. It will suck every spare dollar you have for the next 5 years. It will become an addiction.

08-11-2010, 06:29 AM
Agreed that the costs would run quite high if taking the typical route of doing things. But i think i've come to the conclusion that i really don't have the will power required to keep it low tech and fish only with some live rock.

I know myself better than that. It just wouldn't happen. Some sort of small softies would make their way into the tank somehow or other and I'd slowly work myself up to more hardcore drugs... er corals... Soon enough i'd be sitting staring at it for hours and in the few hours i'm not staring at it I would be behind the wall on the equipment side pouring cash into the sump.

I've bought a better camera instead and will be working on photography instead as a new place to spend my need for a hobby. Plus i have a gorgeous little 8.5 week old daughter that i need to take pictures of. :smile:

I'll just do the tank freshwater or a huge paludarium instead.

Here's some of the new hobby to leave off with.

The storm that came through edmonton last night. (straight off the camera, absolutely 0 post processing... I love storms)


08-12-2010, 05:28 PM
I am new to SW so shouldn't be giving advise but I will throw this out there and see what the experts say. If you are planning on doing a FOWLER (with some softies) and you want to keep the water changes down how about a wet dry filter with a large surface area for biological media? The live rock should really help with nitrates but for primarily fish only tanks that may have a significant bioload I was under the impression that large biological surface areas with high flow is the way to go?

I was reading about fish farm indoor recirculation systems where you want to cut down on water wastage due to the high costs associated with water replacement and they use biowheels and bioballs etc in these applications. This includes both SW and FW fish farming. I know when wanting low nutrient environments such as in SW reef aquariums these are now frowned upon but in a FOWLER I would think it would be fine? Would it just depend on the soft corals someone may want to keep?


08-12-2010, 06:36 PM
The question is, can i make this low cost and low maintenance.

That all depends on your perspective. How much money is "low cost" and how much time represents "low maintenance" ?

It's safe to say that SW aquaria are not the least expenive hobby you could find but depending on your financial situation and the time you expect to spend on the tank, it doesn't have to be ridiculous.

I have to agree with Palmer as well -plan what you want to do, in detail. Spell it all out here, in detail. You'll get lots of feedback based on a lot of cumulative experience and then execute your plan. You'll of course make changes and some upgrades along the line but you really want to avoid major upgrades right away that are basically due to a lack of experience and or poor planning.