2XAl's 90 Gallon


Salt Addict
Hi All,
Wanted to start a thread to keep track (and show off) my 90 gallon reef build and also wanted to get some input. I currently have a 55g corner that took a serious step backwards when my family went on vacation and we had someone who would have 'no problems' watching the tank take care of it. (read: Mistake) Well I decided to use this opportunity to finally turn a 90g freshwater tank we had into a reef tank. I have the tank about 75% full right now with saltwater and just added the top layer of substrate this morning. I am going with a deep sand bed and eventually plan on moving all the critters from the 55 into the 90. I have 130# of rock showing up today, as well as a friend of mine gave me about 15# and eventually we may add some of the LR from the 55 as well. Currently we have a MH with 2 actinic T5 fixture over the 55 (I believe its a 30" fixture with 24" bulbs, heres a pic of the 55 before the vacation recession:

Anyways I want to use the MH fixture on the new tank because frankly I'm trying to do this on a budget, but of course the fixture will be too small on its own for a 4' tank. What would you guys recommend for supplemental lights? I was thinking about centering the MH fixture than getting a couple 18" LED's to put on either end and put the front to back. Thoughts?

Here is a teaser of the 90 right after the sand went in:

I'm hoping when I get home from work the sand is somewhat settled and I can do some rockscaping. At the very least I am going to find some cardboard with the same footprint of the tank and see what we can come up with.

Please feel free to leave any comments, I have pretty thick skin and would rather you guys steer me clear of any potential problems.

If you are running MH, I would supplement with T5's. ATI Blue+ and Purple+ are my favorites and they have crazy high PAR.

Why the decision to go with a deep sand bed? Typically this is not the best idea, especially in the display tank. Potential for disaster later in the tank's life. With the skimmers and stuff available today, deep sand beds aren't needed. I would play it safe and stick with a 1-2" sand bed.

Looking forward to more pics!
Hi Dennis- Thanks for the light recommendations I Will look into those. I guess I went with a deep bed just because I have used it in the past with success and my thought process was if it worked for me before I don't want to reinvent the wheel on this tank. I will say I strayed from my norm a little bit on this one because I topped off the deep sand (about 2"-3", maybe not as deep as some others I have seen) with some coarser stuff.
Ya, i understand that if it aint broke dont fix it. ;)

True DSB's are at least 6".

Ahh ok, I learned something today, I was definitely not planning on going that deep with it.

Thanks again Dennis, I appreciate your input as you obviously know what you're talking about! :D
The sand bed would have to be 6" at the minimum to promote anaerobic bacteria growth.

Anything less than that wouldn't be enough.

Anything more then about 2" can become a liability and difficult to keep clean/turned over.

This setup sounds like it's going to be really awesome. I can't wait to see some more pictures! :-)

Edit: Oops, I should have read the other replies.
Ok guys looking for some opinions... I have a lead on a hob overflow (can't drill my tank), 20g sump with bioballs (on the fence about the balls) and a little giant return pump all out of a 90 gal for $200. Seems like a good deal to me, do you guys agree?
No, that is not a deal. You dont want the bioballs and some overflow really are terrible and you have no idea the conditions of the pump.

For pretty close to that you could buy all new, quality stuff and probably have a much better setup
Hi little fish, thans for your input first and foremost. I have been looking and the cheapest quality overflow I can find is $120 and the pump $150. The cheapest sump I can find is $200. Can you recommend where I can get these things for close to $200?

I would get this overflow: prefilter box, siphon box, overflow box, siphon overflow, Eurobrace, Euro-brace, Euro-tank
It is expensive, but worth it. The peace of mind about not having to worry about the siphon in a power outage or when working on your tank is huge. Trust me on this one. It sucks to be constantly paranoid about a power outage.

This pump:Sicce PSK-1000 Professional Protein Skimmer Pump w/ Needle Wheel (880 GPH) - at FreshMarine.com

And buy a used 20 gal tank from cragslist or wait till petco has their $1/gal sale and then silicone and baffle materials should run you about $20.
Then put together following this: https://www.livingreefs.com/sump-101-a-t42783.html

You might end up spending a little more, but i bet its going to be nicer than the set up you are looking at buying. Especially once you end up replacing the pump and overflow box because its old and makes noise (pump) or keeps you up at night (overflow box)

I guess it could be a good setup, but id like to know exactly what type of overflow and how old/what type of pump it has before buying any sort of sump setup.
Thanks Little fish, I'll read up tonight and make a realistic cost list. I may go look at everything anyway at least to see what condition it's in and to see if I can get some ideas.
I did some research and while I dont have a lot of money, I definitely dont have the time to make a custom sump and I'd be forced to spend at least $150 on building supplies and a pump, so I bought a sump, overflow, pump, skimmer, and plumbing for $200:
Oh and a couple of local reefers pitched in an gave me some rock as a start on the new tank... Big thanks to them, but still waiting on the 130# from fed ex.
Ya, that should work fine as a sump but I would remove the balls. Castrate it if you will. ;) Skimmer will go where the balls are, and the other section is your return section.
still waiting on my damn rock to show up grr... so I aquascaped in my mind with a purple sharpie and about 10 sheets of paper (all I had was purple OK). OH and I got a nice 4 bulb 4' T5 bulb on its way, pretty excited!
Hi All, I got the lights and rock set up, I started cycling about a week ago by adding some live rock to the base. I have some brown algae growing but all my levels are still at 0, anything I can do to speed this up or no?
Hi Guys, looking for some input. I tried adding about 10# of LR to start the cycle. I got impatient and threw a table shrimp in for good measure. Once I saw the ammonia start to register on the scale I took the shrimp out. (in there total probably 4 days). Since then the ammonia has stayed where it was (barely on the scale, maybe .5) and I never saw a nitrite or nitrate spike, they still test perfectly blue and yellow. Obviously I am hesitant to add anything since I didn't see a complete cycle, but now even my base rock is growing green hair algae. There are no live inhabitants in the tank, and it has been left alone, just topping off some water, for about 5 weeks. Where did I go wrong?
LOL castrate.

Anyways, you should at least be seeing some NO3 at this point. Are your test kits old? What brand are they?