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Old 01-24-2012, 07:09 PM   #1
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Advice for a Newbie - How Big? How small?

Hi Everyone,

I feel like I have a thousand questions and not able to formulate them all... so I figure that this would be a good place to start. I have the philosophy that there's no such thing as a stupid question, except the one you don't ask.

Anyway, to make a long story short, my wife and I are looking to set up a saltwater aquarium in our home. I have been reading up every resource that I can get my hands on, and I have visited two major LFS stores in town and am considering our options. We are only just moving into our new house, and are willing to take the time to get things started off right.

One of my first "stupid" questions comes in the value of the so-called starter kits when it comes to an aquarium. One of the local places has a packaged kit deal which includes the AquaEuro 28 Gallon starter kit, which comes with the following:
  • 28 Gallon tank
  • System and filter
  • Protein skimmer
  • 20lb live sand
  • koralia power head
  • Salt 50 gallon mix
  • Hydrometer
  • 100W Stealth heater
  • Stick on thermometer
  • Test kits
  • Step 1, 2, 3, tank buster and reef fx water conditioners
  • LED moon lights
  • 2x36 Watt lighting
  • Plus 10% off coupon for live rock
They also have a RedSeaMax 130D as well. I am both intrigued and wary about such kit systems as to how effective they are as aquariums. I've had experience with aquariums in the past, but I am a titch rusty.

Another option for us to go is to buy a tank/stand (there's a 37 gallon cube-type that has some appeal), and then slowly piecemeal the parts we need doing all the necessary research ahead of time. I can see the advantage to that of customizing our own filtration to our needs, and possibly making use of a sump among other things.

I realize that I should have stated what our goals are up front. Ideally, I would like to eventually move to a Reef Tank, as challenging as it will be. Clownfish being our "signature" fish, but of course with the whole ecosystem underneath it to support it.

Another question I have has to do with depth of tank vs. width. Are we better to get a wider tank, or one with more overall depth?

I think these are at least some of the questions I want to start off with. I've been immersing myself in the various articles and such. I'm patient, and we're not going to start committing larger chunks of money to this until we've had a chance to do our homework.

Thanks for putting up with our stupid questions.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:21 PM   #2
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If you don't mind me asking, how much for the kit? Some of those things aren't needed exactly. Like the hydrometer. You want a refractometer for about $15 more to get an accurate salinity reading which will be important in that size tank. The skimmer is probably not needed if you do your weekly water changes, I dont use one on my 29g cube.
The lighting you listed is minimal in my opinion as to keeping corals in the future.

As a side note, bigger in saltwater is actually better. The parameters of the water tend to be more stable with more water volume and it gives you a much better selction of livestock to choose from. Length and depth, back to front are what i consider when looking for a tank.

Oh, BTW Welcome to the forum!!!
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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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Old 01-24-2012, 11:21 PM   #3
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The tank kit is $489 Canadian, plus another $169 for the stand. When we looked at them tonight, one of the questions my wife had is it better to essentially buy things piecemeal, to get the components we want, rather than what comes in an existing kit. One piece of advice I've read is don't buy the cheap stuff, so I was wondering if this kit would fall into that category.

We are going to take our time with this, getting as much advice as we can. However at some point we do need to dive in, so to speak.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:15 AM   #4
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The bigger the better, don't short yourself of room for things!
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:47 AM   #5
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Everyone ends up moving up in gallons. Save yourself the frustration of another cycle- and the heartache- and get as big as a tank as you can fit in the house. Lol. If possible- use sites like Craigslist to find someone else who is getting out of the hobby and get all the equipment at a lower price so that it is even more affordable to upgrade the equipment that you feel is needed. Ive never been a fan of "kits" because most of the items are not needed or the lower end items that the store is just trying to push out to a newbie.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:58 AM   #6
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I concur , great advice.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice so far. We move into our new house on the weekend. Part of the discussion is where best to locate the tank, and how big the tank might be. I'm thinking there's about three possible locations that would be good. Our house faces east-west with large windows, but no windows at all on the south side of the house, and what windows are on the north side are well sheltered from sunlight. However the windows on the west side for living room and dining room are very large. How careful do I have to be about sunlight?

When we settle on location, we can decide on tank limitations and what we can plan for. As big as we can afford is certainly reasonable. I think also, given that we would certainly not be able to have room for say a refugium and sump in a separate room, our filtration will be limited to what can be stored in the cabinet below. That puts an upper limit on how big we can go.

Also, glass or acrylic?
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:41 PM   #8
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I have a 220 gallon tank with a 55 gal refugium underneath with plenty room to spare. There is no set rule on the size of a refugium- just go as large as you can fit underneath the tank. My tank is 5 feet from my sliding glass doors. I put up some sheer curtains and the sunlight that does seep through us not affecting the tank. I have had glass and acrylic and I now prefer glass. It doesn't scratch that easily. Sure- acrylic scratches can be buffed out- but it's a pain to do- TRUST ME! I've done it a few times!

If you find a spot that's at least 6 feet that can be set aside for your tank- that's your best bet- you can get a 225.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:19 PM   #9
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I'm expecting anything over 75 gallons is going to be too large for the space we will have. I'm anticipating 37 to 65 in various configurations will be likely candidates. Also, I know that I can order tanks with a built in overflow, or I can purchase a hang-over-the-side type. The price appears to favour the naked tank with separate overflow rather than one built in... But that could be just that I saw a good deal in a tank and stand ($300 for a 65 gallon tank and stand).

I'm expecting to pay as much on filtration as I am in the tank, if not more so.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agatheron
I'm expecting anything over 75 gallons is going to be too large for the space we will have. I'm anticipating 37 to 65 in various configurations will be likely candidates. Also, I know that I can order tanks with a built in overflow, or I can purchase a hang-over-the-side type. The price appears to favour the naked tank with separate overflow rather than one built in... But that could be just that I saw a good deal in a tank and stand ($300 for a 65 gallon tank and stand).

I'm expecting to pay as much on filtration as I am in the tank, if not more so.
Depending on where you live if you are patient then check Craigslist over the next couple weeks and I almost guarantee you will find something for a fraction of the price I got my drilled 46 bowfront full setup for $125 that's including things like skimmer sump/refugium sterilizer etc
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