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Old 09-09-2011, 06:37 PM   #1
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Cost Estimates

Hello SW people!

Ok I have an empty 20gal long and may be considering a sw setup. If I did go through it would be my first one and I would be lost.

Obviously my first problem would be cost. What would this kind of setup cost to build/maintain? Does anyone have an estimate for all the necessary materials needed? You dont have to include power and water costs.

Ok so what would I want in this tank. I would not want a FOWLR setup, i think thats what its called, but I would want corals and live rocks if possbile in that small a setup. I also like a lot of invertebates like clams. I have no thoughts about fish as of now.

How hard would it be for a new sw person to maintain these tanks? So if you have any idea to the answers to these questions it would be much apprechiated!
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:41 PM   #2
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Youre looking at a few hundred $$ just for the lights necessary if you want a clam. You can go cheaper if you'll be staisfied with basic easy corals. But clams demand uber light. Live rock and base rock ar from 2.3 to maybe 5.99 a lb and you'd need at least 30 lbs of it.

Theres also a heater and filte involved, a regular hang on back will do for that size tank. A skimmer wouldnt be necessary if you do your weekly water changes.
Add in test kits, refractometer for salinity testing and ro/di water and it does add up kinda quick.
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Old 09-09-2011, 07:51 PM   #3
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How hard would it be to take care of corals? Or possibly clams?

A few hundred for just the lights? darn thats a lot.

I have a filter and heater that I could use. Would definately need live sand and some rocks.

So are we looking closer to $1000 dollars or under?

EDIT: I also have a freshwater test kit, would that work for sw?
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:06 PM   #4
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you woudl need the color card for the test kit, the chemicals are the same but the colors are a bit different.

I would say closer to $500, thats if you get a top of the line light that can handle clams and anemones along with the rock and sand. a refractomer is $30 and you can either buy your ro/di water from your lfs every week or make your own and that unit costs $65 to do that. You can cut some corners here and there but it;s still quite an investment. Now, if you didn't want clams or high light corals then you could get a $150 light and still need the same amount of rock and sand though. These are just guessitmates mind you, but I am pretty good at finding deals and thats where I think you would be at. The 20L tank is 30" too which poses a problem as there arent many to choose from as far as lights. Most go 24" then 36". There are some cheapo lights for 30" and for the higher end stuff youre looking at like $300 or so.

I just did the research for someone the other day for lights.

Plus I started with a 29g which is also 30" across. and had the same dilemma with the lights. I knew I was gonna upgrade so I bought super cheap lighting for the 29.
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180g Reef - 60g Rimless Reef -90G FOWLR- 125g Malawi Cichlids- 40b REEF- 34g Fresh Planted-working on- 20L FOWLR- working on
I have a mix of many different saltwater fish amongst my tanks, but I love my Tangs most of all.
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:24 PM   #5
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Hmm I may have to consider this then. Five hundred may be doable. It will depend on how much the corals and clams cost as well. What kind of lighting would you suggest? Metal halide or somethinf like that? The light would be the most expensive?
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:32 PM   #6
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The light , yes, would be the most expensive. You don't have to have metal halides either. With the right fixture a T5 setup would work as well and not consume all that electricity that MH does. And you wouldnt have to worry about any excess heat from the mh.

What you are looking for is a 4 bulb individually reflected for the maximum light output. A six bulb is available but may be overkill on such a small tank.

here's an example

Aquarium Lighting T5 Fluorescent Light Fixture: AquaticLife T5 HO and Lunar Light Fixtures

Current USA 30" Sundial T-5 Fixture 4x24W + LED - AquaCave

Those are just quick links I could find, with more research and time you can see for yourself. just read the desrciptions.
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Old 09-09-2011, 10:54 PM   #7
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I like that current usa one. Definately going to have to do price research. Thanks for the estimates!!!

Now if i had a sw tank and had it setup and all for the summer, how hard would it be for my parents to take care of it? (i am in college) they really dont want one because they think it will be too much for them (I have 3 tanks but Im going to cut it down to 1 and maybe the sw tank), but they love the colors of the clams and corals and fish.
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:02 PM   #8
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Depends on how well they take direction. You have to do a weekly water change and feed sparingly. If an issue were to come up then they'd have a problem with you being away. Plus you should monitor your water weekly at least so soon after setting it up. They would have to learn how to test the water and then they'd have to make sure the water levels stay good as it evaporates. Just depends on how much work they wanna do.
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:08 PM   #9
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Ah ok that makes sense. I am in college now and they have been taking care of my 55gal and 20 gal. Doing water changes and testing water. I am within driving distance so I will be able to come home if an issue comes up. Is salt water changes a lot different than fresh? Wait corals need to be fed? How do you feed clams? I guess more research is necessary lol
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:17 PM   #10
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You don't have to feed corals they get all their energy and "food" from the light. Not sure about clams though, I would think they are filter feeders. They will have to go to an lfs and get salted water to do water changes or mix it themselves at home with ro/di water. That could be pushing their limits. lol

Unless you come home on the weekends then you can do that part. Also have to show them how to use a hydrometer or a refractometer to check salinity. You also dont' go digging through the gravel or sand when you water change a sw tank. You can skim the surface of the sand but thats it.

Can't you take it with you to school?
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I have a mix of many different saltwater fish amongst my tanks, but I love my Tangs most of all.
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