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Old 10-16-2004, 01:35 AM   #1
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Am I Getting Hosed?

I've been researching setting up a SW Aquarium for a week or two, reading books and online resources. I finally went to a local aquarium shop to do some pricing and ask a few questions. I was surprized by a few things.
I'm planning on a 55 gal FOWLR tank using the LR, skimmer, and a cannister filter (for extra help). The guy at the store told me that cannister filters are really for freshwater, and I don't want that. What I want is a wet/dry filter. He was very insistant on this. He then told me that a wet/dry, skimmer, LR filter set up would run me about $1300, and for the whole thing (tank, hood, stand, etc) I should plan on about $2000 to $2200. Does this sound right? From the pricing I did online, it seams very high, and the insistence on the wet/dry vs. cannister doesn't match up with what I've read. Am I getting hosed?
It's really disappointing because out of the other shops and pet stores I've been into that are near me, it's by far the cleanest, most professional looking place. But I felt like I was trying to buy a car.

Any advice would be great. I realize that you could really drop a pretty penny. But I'm just looking for a mid-range. Not bottom of the barrel, but not top of the line either.
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Old 10-16-2004, 02:33 AM   #2
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Well, the total probably isn't too far off. The numbers I've seen tossed around are $20-$30/gallon, and mine's right in there. Most everyone here will steer you away from the cannister (except for extra flow) and the wet-dry (they have a reputation for causing nitrate problems) and to a sump/fuge instead (way cheaper if you DIY). Just for reference, here are my prices (in CA):

75 AGA w/ overflow $200
Euroreef ES5-3 (think that's the right #) $215
PC lights: $260
Stand (DIY) $250
Sump (329G) probably around $125 all told
Sand $150
120 lbs LR: ~$700
Test kits: $100
Heater: $20
4 Maxijet 1200: $75
Overflow kit: $50
Salt and water mixing/storage stuff $100
Books: $150

Dang. I didn't start with the intention of being so detailed but once I got going . . . .I've never looked at it all at once before. Yikes. I have to go lay down now.

HTH
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75-gallon SW tank with 29-gallon sump
Euroreef ES5-3
2x Maxijet powerheads
Mag drive 9 return
Coralife 4x65 Lunar Aqualight
120 lbs rock from liverocks.com
1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
2 black Ocellaris, Squish and Smudge
3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
10-gallon tropical
29-gallon with two goldies, Carrot and Orangehead
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:11 AM   #3
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Fish stores luuuuv selling w/d filters. $500 for an acrylic box filled with plastic balls. In all honesty, they are about the easiest and best "filters" you can just plug into your tank and let run. And as long as you keep them clean they'll take care of two thirds of the chemical filtration you need, as long as you don't mind the production of the third filtration rather than it's elimination, as they can really crank out the nitrates. If you really want one, you can build one with walmart parts for about $20-30. It's not as pretty, but works the same which is more important. And I'll make the same offer to you that I make to anyone wanting to build one. You build it and I'll give you the bio-balls for it if you cover shipping. Please please please, someone get those things out of my closet.

You can get a broad price range depending on what you want, how patient you are, how much foot work you're willing to do, and if you're willing to do some work yourself. My first tank, a 55g main with 10g sump, dsb, and 60lbs rock ran about $500, or about $7.70/gallon. This is for hardware only, no livestock. I used a walmart stand/canopy, did my own lighting and 'fuge. I started with a w/d I built, but changed it after about a year when I learned about dsb and lr filtraton.

My current tank is a 112g display with a 29g fuge, DIY stand, canopy PC lighting, and RO filter. I'm not running a skimmer on this tank as the dsb/fuge/lr combo is keeping my 'trates below or at 10ppm with 8 fish. I'm into this for about $675, or $5.50/gallon. I'm going to be doubling my lighting before too long to about 500-600 watts, so all told around $875, or $6.20/gallon. But I got a deal on the tank, used for $50 and built all the woodwork and did retrofit kits for lights. It took a couple weeks to get everything built and put together, but there's no way I could have gotten this tank put together by someone else for anywhere close to what I spent. I'm pretty happy with it, especially considering I haven't built anything with wood in about 15 years. My camera is older than dirt and destroys the in-tank colors, but this be it. It looks much nicer in person.

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Old 10-16-2004, 02:12 PM   #4
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You can get 120lb of base rock from hirocks.com for $160 and pick up a couple pieces of "real" LR from the LFS (or liverocks.com) to save yourself a few hundred bucks.

I bought my tank/stand and cheap hood from an LFS, and got everything else online at marinedepot or drsfostersmith. Saved a TON.

STill though, SW is expensive!
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Old 10-16-2004, 02:31 PM   #5
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2000 bucks will be about right.

you will probibly come in at arount 1500 bucks, but if you plan for higher you won't be suprised. You can, of-course, build the stand, hood, and sump yourself and save some money, but if your not real handy with building stuff (like me) You are probibly better off purchasing your stand and hood from a manufacturer

I , myself, am using a Magnum 350 canister filter on my 37 gallon tank and so far so good!. It works very well, and so far no problems with water quality! For a 55, I think you could get away with using a very large canister pump no problem, but you will ultimetly want to upgrade to a sump before its overwith.

Just a note: I spent about 1200 bucks on my tank before I added the first fish. So if your asking if there is a cheap way to do it the answer is no. not really.
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Hardware: 37 gallon SW tank and stand by Oceanic Systems, Magnum 350 Pro Canister Filter (half carbon), CPR Bak Pak 2R skimmer, Maxijet 1200 Powerhead, RenaCal 150 W heater, Compact fluorescent lights with moonlights. 40 lbs of liverock, 3" sand bed.

Software:2 Tank-Raised Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Purple Firefish, 1 Electric Orange hermit crab, 18 Blue Legged hermit crabs, 8 or so Nassarius snails, Xenia, Blue, green, and Green Striped Mushrooms.

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Old 10-16-2004, 02:35 PM   #6
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indy, I have got to see more pics of your tank. I love the dimesions!
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Hardware: 37 gallon SW tank and stand by Oceanic Systems, Magnum 350 Pro Canister Filter (half carbon), CPR Bak Pak 2R skimmer, Maxijet 1200 Powerhead, RenaCal 150 W heater, Compact fluorescent lights with moonlights. 40 lbs of liverock, 3" sand bed.

Software:2 Tank-Raised Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Purple Firefish, 1 Electric Orange hermit crab, 18 Blue Legged hermit crabs, 8 or so Nassarius snails, Xenia, Blue, green, and Green Striped Mushrooms.

Click here to vote for AquariumAdvice.com: The friendliest, fishiest place on the net!

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Old 10-16-2004, 03:41 PM   #7
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You can also look into get some parts used. I got a 65 gal acrylic tank, Black acrylic hood/stand, 3ft long acrylic wet/dry, a 175 gal rated PS and much more at a flea market for $325. I had to upgrade the lights for corals and do so more work to get it to all work. So $200 for 4x96 PC lights (on ebay) and $90 for 60lbs of base from hirocks.com and $200 for LR for LR.com. $10 for 80 lbs of Playsand and $30 for 20lbs of Live sand. About $50-75 in extra parts like plumbing and power cords and other stuff. Then $50 for salt and other supplies to get going.

So I'm sitting at about a grand and thats on the cheap. I would think $2000 is not out of the question for all new stuff.
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Old 10-16-2004, 06:25 PM   #8
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Not to far off on price it depends on your area also. If your getting LR a sump would be much better then a w/d and you may be saving a few bucks by going with a sump.
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:11 PM   #9
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I'll agree with not needing a canister and that you shouldn't bother with a wet/dry. If your LFS asks how you plan on filtering your system, tell him you are using the Berlin Method with relies on the LR, LS and other natural processes for filtration and it has been a proven system.

As far as prices I'll outline my entire set up here with about what I paid:

55G glass: $100
2-2x65PC lights:$300
Mag5 pump: $50
2:402 PH: $60
3 stage RO filter: $150
LR: don't remember... probably around 2-300
Whisper HOT Filter: $30
Heater: $20
Test Kits: $100
Salt... not alot, $30ish for a bucket I think.
Mag FLoat algae scrubber: $20

8O ick! I've never added it up before... probably a bad idea! LOL
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Old 10-17-2004, 05:47 PM   #10
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Thanks for the feedback everybody.

So, of course, this leads me to questions about a sump in my setup.
If I were to go that direction, considering I plan to have the LR/LS in the display tank, what would I need to include in the sump besides the skimmer? Do I still need some type of mechanical filtration? Then what would that be in a DIY sump situation?

There are so many options to sort out, it's all so confusing!

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