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[BioCube 29] HQI vs. standard BioCube


wanderingbob

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Good Morning Nano-Reefers,

 

I have a BioCube 29 on layaway at my LFS, and will be doing the initial set up in a few weeks. New to reef-keeping, I have had multiple freshwater tanks and a 75G community FO tank in the past.

 

A recent change in my tax filing status has me obligated to pay a princely sum (nearly a month's gross pay) to the IRS by the April 18 deadline. So, I need to make cost-effective decisions regarding the BC29, probably until June or so at the very least.

 

I have been using the layaway time to read as many articles and books as I can find on nano-reefs, including all the articles on this web site and issues of SeaScope on the instantocean.com web site. Based on what I have read so far, I would like to keep soft corals (zoanthids and mushroom corals), because I understand that their light and water quality requirements are not as demanding as large polyp and small polyp stony corals (LPS and SPS). I would also like to keep lots of live rock, hermit crabs, shrimp, and snails as scavengers, and reef-friendly, small fish such as gobies, blennies, a smaller wrasse, and a smaller clownfish. Macroalgae such as caulerpa are attractive to me and I would like to investigate keeping some in the display area.

 

It seems that differences between the standard BC29 and the HQI are: the latter includes a protein skimmer, metal halide lighting, and a refugium. I know that I can purchase a protein skimmer separately and add it to the standard BC29. With the livestock and macroalgae mentioned above, does the superior lighting of the metal halide offer any significant benefit? As I understand it, the refugium can be used to house additional live sand / live rock, algae for nitrate control, or micro inverts as a food supply. If the bioload on my BC29 is limited, are there any significant benefits to the refuguim?

 

If any of my questions are simply naive because of my inexperience, please forgive me.

 

Thanks in advance,

Bob the Builder

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The metal halide lighting is really nice to have then there isn't really any coral you cant have. People will talk about heat issues but I have had zero with mine . The skimmer is garbage that it comes with I never used it and just sold it on ebay. You are going to get people telling you to just buy the regular biocube to save money and do a LED light upgrade when funds permit but most of those upgrades are 300 plus dollars and don't look as nice as halide but thats my opinion. I would save a little bit and buy the HQI if it were me.

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qwiksilver711

when done right, a refugium can be used to help control nitrates. The nitrates can also be controlled other ways, with water changes and such. Now, as for your question with the lighting. The stock lighting will be enough to house zoas and mushrooms in the tank. I will tell you from personal experience buying a 14g bc that I was not happy with the lighting. But you can find good deals on other options to upgrade in the future. I recently upgraded my lighting to a 150watt sunpod, for only 145 bucks. So if you are tight with money right now, just go standard, you can always upgrate later. And yes, it is possible that upgrading later may cost more than just getting the hqi right now, but sometimes that is how you have to do it. also, welcome to nr btw

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when done right, a refugium can be used to help control nitrates. The nitrates can also be controlled other ways, with water changes and such. Now, as for your question with the lighting. The stock lighting will be enough to house zoas and mushrooms in the tank. I will tell you from personal experience buying a 14g bc that I was not happy with the lighting. But you can find good deals on other options to upgrade in the future. I recently upgraded my lighting to a 150watt sunpod, for only 145 bucks. So if you are tight with money right now, just go standard, you can always upgrate later. And yes, it is possible that upgrading later may cost more than just getting the hqi right now, but sometimes that is how you have to do it. also, welcome to nr btw

 

Thank you for the information and for the welcome.

 

So with a properly setup refugium, I could maintain acceptable nitrate levels with fewer water changes? If so, could you give me a rough idea how many fewer water changes might be required? Maybe every two weeks with the refugium instead of every week without? Would one way of doing this be to set up lighting in the refugium and grow macroalgae there? If on an opposite timer cycle from the main display area, this would also help to minimize pH swings day/night, right?

 

Thank you,

Bob the Builder

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Glad to see your reading up Bob. Yes, teh fuge on a reverse cycle will help balance out PH swings and the growing chaeto will eat up nitrates and phosphates. I generally do a water change every 1.5 weeks, at roughly 10%. I just wanted to add, that the Biocube with the PC regular lighting also has the area in the back for you to make this fuge, it is not especially for the HQI version. See my build on page 1. Water changes all depend on your bio-load (amount of waste producing fish) and coral requirements. And yes, the biocube stock skimmer sucks!

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I was looking at getting a Bc29 and for a skimmer the one that seems the best from what I have read is a Tunze Nano 9002. check out inTank for cool ways to mod/upgrade your cube for much better filtration from what I have read so far.

 

I was going to do this, knock out false floors/wall in chambers 1 & 2 discard all stock filter stuff add the tunze w/inTank skimmer cup, media rack from inTank with filter floss, purigen, chemi pure elite (can also do macroalgae/lr on one level if you want)

 

From my reading that mod is imo one of the best out there, it changes nothing ascetically regarding the stock biocube which I wanted but does everything to make the filter/back more powerful.

 

Also the videos courtesy of inTank are very useful at explaining and showing the upgrade bottom of page here

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Update: After thinking about the cost of a possible future lighting upgrade and the extra work needed to scrape the back glass coating off of a standard BC29 to admit light for a refugium, I think I'm going to spend the $200 or so to upgrade to an HQI. I have heard that the protein skimmer is not the best, and I know that I may end up replacing it with a more effective one later. I'll offset the additional cost of the HQI, in the short term, by adding live rock and livestock more slowly. It seems to me that in the long run, the cost of live rock and livestock probably outweigh the cost of the BioCube itself plus any supplemental equipment.

 

Since my interest in growing macroalgae for nitrate control is one of my main reasons for buying the HQI, I want to set up the refugium as soon as water conditions are favorable. The LFS stocks a CoralLife light fixture that is apparently designed for the refugium, but at $90 I think it's a bit pricy to use strictly as a light source for algae. I remember seeing a custom refugium light mod on this site, and I would like to make something like that to provide light for refugium.

 

Bob the Builder

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