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Old 11-19-2014, 12:51 AM   #1
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If bigger is better, is there too big for your first reef?

Planning on starting a saltwater tank. I would have been fine with FOWLR and some inverts, but the other half wants corals. Huzzah for jumping in with both feet.

While this will be done extremely slowly and with much research, and asking questions, and research (and did I say research?) a question did occur to me today.

We were initially planning on a 90g. Decent size, big enough for a nice aquascape, and an assortment of fauna. Then I got told by the other half that she wanted a Marlin and a Dory. Clownfish, not a problem. Royal Blue Tang, problem. Now the tank is open to discussion within the house about whether we're sticking with a 4 foot long tank, or can I get a 6 foot tank, at which point I'd probably look at a 180g so she can get her Tang.

So I suppose the question is, can you go too big for first reef? More water volume makes it easier to keep stable, gives more stock options, so other than cost of the build being higher due to size, logically speaking, I'm not seeing a down side. Anyone see a possible issue I'm not that may pop up as a difference between a 90-100 vs a 180?
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:22 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaylNeko View Post
More water volume makes it easier to keep stable, gives more stock options, so other than cost of the build being higher due to size, logically speaking, I'm not seeing a down side.
You got it on the nose. Volume makes it harder to change the water parameters (messing up with nitrates would take one really neglectful owner). And like you said more stocking options in both corals and fish (and inverts if you'd like). And just like you said is you are going to see a big price change. Quite a jump for a tank double the size. But if you have the money (and space) you should do the bigger one. Good luck. I want an 180 but i think I can only get 120 because of space :/
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:23 AM   #3
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I started with 60 gal with fish and corals. After about 3 years upgraded to 150 gal so I have room for 3 tangs and moved my corals to a 29 gal nano cube. I would suggest to get a bigger tank for tangs. It would save you in the long run.
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:36 AM   #4
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A bigger wallet never hurts 😀


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Old 11-19-2014, 01:51 AM   #5
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I don't think you can go too big for a first tank. The most important thing is to do it right the first time! I see your keen for research and that's a great thing the cost is obviously going to be the big issue so you don't want to make mistakes with the initial set up. I say go for it, if I had the cash i would go for an 8ft tank. Ask questions and enjoy the ride


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Old 11-19-2014, 01:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaylNeko View Post
Planning on starting a saltwater tank. I would have been fine with FOWLR and some inverts, but the other half wants corals. Huzzah for jumping in with both feet.

While this will be done extremely slowly and with much research, and asking questions, and research (and did I say research?) a question did occur to me today.

We were initially planning on a 90g. Decent size, big enough for a nice aquascape, and an assortment of fauna. Then I got told by the other half that she wanted a Marlin and a Dory. Clownfish, not a problem. Royal Blue Tang, problem. Now the tank is open to discussion within the house about whether we're sticking with a 4 foot long tank, or can I get a 6 foot tank, at which point I'd probably look at a 180g so she can get her Tang.

So I suppose the question is, can you go too big for first reef? More water volume makes it easier to keep stable, gives more stock options, so other than cost of the build being higher due to size, logically speaking, I'm not seeing a down side. Anyone see a possible issue I'm not that may pop up as a difference between a 90-100 vs a 180?
Personally if I was going to get a 6' tank I would go with the 210 which is the same basic footprint of the 180. The extra height of the tank will allow for higher rock structure as well as the additional volume. I debated back and forth on the 180 and 210 for a long time. I never actually got either tank but given the opportunity and those were the two I had to choose from I would go with the 210.

Just my $.02 worth
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:10 PM   #7
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Personally I don't think the size really matters its what you want to do with it. If you have a huge tank with some zoa's and soft coral your life is going to be pretty easy. You just need to know the basics.

Now, you could have a 50 gallon packed full of sps coral and it would be a lot harder to run than the big tank with easy coral. The more advanced you go the more complicated it gets when it comes to reefs. Its when you make the jump to coral that count on stable parameters that life gets complicated no matter what size tank you have. That being said it's easier to maintain stable parameters (calcium, alk, mg, trace elements) with a large volume of water so going big to start isn't a bad idea.

Cost is a big issue. If you have 180 gallons you're going to want to do at least 18 gallons of water change a week. You'll have to buy a lot more salt than if you have a 90 gallon tank where you can change 9 gallons a week. A skimmer for 180 gallons is going to cost probably double what one rated for 90 gallons would. A 90 gallon tank you could get away with 2 radion fixtuers, go to 180 you'll need 3 at least if not 4. Every cost goes up when you go bigger so you have to decided whether you want to drop $5000 into your tank and not have a Dori or whether you want to drop $10000 so you can (slight exageration maybe but you get the point)...

Not to mention the fact that what happens if you set up a 180 and realize this hobby isnt' for you?

Big pro's and cons both ways, in the end its a personal choice as to how big you want to go. I started with 14 gallons, moved to 50 and now am perfectly happy with a 6 foot 125. I'm glad I started small and learned my lessons on my smaller tanks. My 55 crashed once and I lost the 3 fish I had in it. That lesson taught me a lot and if I had a 125 with like 10 fish it would have been a lot harder to swallow...
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:17 PM   #8
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IMO, bigger is better as long as you can afford the upkeep. I'd shoot for a 6' tank, as that opens up the possibility for more fish. You mentioned Dori and people can do the "Tang Police" nonsense, but I feel that most Tangs (and several other fish) need more room to cruise and a six foot tank works well for that.

My 75g quickly became too small, so I decided to "go big" and got a 240g. I don't ever see myself getting tired of that. I got that about a year ago and have since got a 60g cube and just in the last few weeks got a 28g and a 60g for my son's rooms.

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Old 11-19-2014, 03:07 PM   #9
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I think too big is a size you won't have the time to care (RODI water is slow to produce), or a size that you can't pay maintenances costs.

You just need to fix a budget and choose a size and live stock according to this, or choose what you may want as live stock then determine the price and adjust according to the price you're ready to pay for.

Also in the cost try to include unexpected costs (diseases, QT tank?...)... Also sometime people buy cheap aquariums, and later they think about "Ah, forgot this 200$ piece that could be cool" (protein skimmer for example). "Why not this 500$-1000$ LED lighting system instead of my insane power eating crap T8s"...

My first and only reef is up since one year, I never had a crash in my tank. Just follow the golden rules, and adjust params with care for small tanks.

People say param vary more in small tanks, but I can confirm with good sea salts (I use RedSea Coral Pro) you won't have problems with params except if you're overstocked with xPS corals. Personally I have a good 1400Mg, 420Ca, 8-10Kh° and thoses params don't flukes.
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Old 11-19-2014, 04:35 PM   #10
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A 180 is an excellent tank for a reef. I would not go taller because after all, you'll have your arms in it on a fairly regular basis and you will want to be able to reach the bottom easily. Even if you went with a 90, I would suggest a 75 instead, simply because all you are losing is a few inches of height, which means little to livestock and a lot to you, when your snail or coral frag is upside down on the sand bed
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