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Old 12-25-2007, 11:31 PM   #1
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Help Newbie with Decison

I'm a new member and have spend quite a bit of time reading through old posts. A few weeks ago(when I knew very little) I decided I wanted a 72 gallon bowfront. I went to my LFS and was blown away by a $2500 price with everything but fish included. This also inluded compact flourescant lighting. I guess I thought the tank and stand was the biggest expense. Anyway, being a beginner and not knowing how much I'll get into this I think that may be too much money. I'm now considering a 46 bowfront or the Red Sea Max 34 gallon Tank(this has everything included for $999). If the 72 gal was $2500, how much less would a 46 be? Obviously less live rock would make some difference but I assume other components would be less as well? Would the maintenance be easier on a smaller tank? I've been a little scared off reading about peoples processes for water changes. I also don't really want to use R/O water. I'd really like to stick to tap water. Which one do you think this beginner should choose? I know some people will respond that I should do a FW tank but I don't really want to do that.

Please help me make a decision. I've wanted an aquarium for a long time but i'm not sure how in to it i'll be. I'd hate to spend $3000 and find out I hate doing the maintenance or I'm always killing my fish.

Please help. Thanks

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Old 12-26-2007, 12:44 AM   #2
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Obviously... you're the one to make the ultimate decision. Here's what I think I'd do if I was you.

Make a list of everything you'll need for your system - tank, stand, heaters, skimmer, powerheads, sump (if applicable), power strips, lighting, timers, live rock and substrate, test kits, refractometer, thermometers, mixing tubs/heaters/powerheads for salt water storage, etc. Everything. Then methodically research each thing and figure out what brand/size you want to put in your tank. Check internet stores for prices and jot those down and you'll end up with a nice shopping list.

This does two things for you. It forces you to research all the components that go into a system and learn pros/cons and various brands and perhaps their reliability and gives you a basic starting point for what it's going to cost you. I say "starting point" because there is always more "stuff" that you'll need, or have to rebuy because you decided wrong.

The other thing it does for you is buys you time! Sounds like you need to mull this plunge into aquarium keeping over a bit, and this keeps you involved in the project, forces you to learn learn learn, and gives you time to really decide if this is something you want to do. Unlike other hobbies, it's tough to just "get your feet wet" to see if it's something you like. Sure... smaller tanks (10-20g) are less expensive to get going, but require more frequent maintenance than bigger tanks. There's just less volume of water to work with and water parameters (salinty, pH, temp, alk, Ca, etc) can vary much more quickly. Many beginners start with small tanks because they think they will be easier but it is exactly the opposite case. They eventually get frustrated and walk away from it all.

There's a thread here somewhere that talks about how much $$ people have put into their tanks. I tried to find it because I think for costs, it'll give you a good idea what you're getting in to. But I can't find the thread. Maybe someone else will have better luck with the search. It can't be more than 6 months old.

Anyway - I will say that a 46g would be easier to do water changes on, just because there's less water to change. I have a 46g, and do a 4+gallon change per week. That's just one bucket full of water, so it's no big deal. BUT... if I had it to do over again, and I had the room to do it, I would've gotten a bigger tank. Even with a 46g though, it'll be easy to put $3000 into it in the first year.

If you haven't already - get a couple books and read them before you decide if this is something you want to do. One is Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" and the other if Robert Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Both are great overviews (Paletta's being an easier read, and probably should be read first) of the hobby and might give you more insight to help make the decision.

And of course keep asking questions here! Welcome aboard!

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Old 12-29-2007, 02:32 PM   #3
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I am also very new to this hobby and am having a great time already. I can tell you there is no way I would have never even thought about getting into this if I had to buy everything at the LFS. I purchased my tank, stand, sump, pumps and a ton of other stuff used from someone that had moved and decided not to set up his tank again. I saved over $1000.00 by buying these things used. Since then I have bought some things from the LFS and other things online, including Ebay. Some people may not like buying used but I didn't really have a choice and I have been very happy with the purchasing I have made.
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Old 01-03-2008, 01:42 AM   #4
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i do know something that will save you a lot of money!!!! TAKE YOUR TIME!!!!! im sure everyone on this website can agree with me, and it cannot be emphasized enough... take your time.. when you add a fish wait a month to a month and a half to add another fish so the biological filtration sorts out and can do what it has to... it will save you money and fish deaths.. also... research every fish before buying it, you can never know to much about this hobby... GOOD LUCK and welcome
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Old 01-03-2008, 03:36 PM   #5
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Kurt did a great job of spelling things out for you there! Great advice! I spent nearly 6 months researching and re-researching things before getting into this hobby. The #1 thing that scared me was the cost of everything involved. I was a new father at the time and money was tight! Doing research and talking with the people here I found that I could do exactly what I wanted to do and not break the bank all in one shot.

The LFS is ALWAYS going to be more expensive for equipment. I bought my tank at PetCo, it sat in my house for a month while I built my stand. I started out with sand, 1 piece of LR and PC lighting. Over the course of 6-8 months I slowly added more LR and more equipment. This hobby is an ongoing upgrade process. New equipment comes out revisions and changes to existing things come along. As Kurt said there is always something out there that you will need. Even those guys that have thousands of gallons systems are always upgrading and improving there setups.

Ebay is a great place to find equimpment. A lot of the things I have for my tank, corals included, have come from ebay. Don't jump in and buy something without reading about it, ask questions here and find out what people think of it that have used it.

My tank has been up for nearly 3 years now and I have a little over $4000 in it. The largest single purchase I have made so far was the tank it's self. All the other things I have added to it have come a little at a time.

As for your maintenance concerns, my suggestion is to go as natural as possible, meaning a sump with a fuge (macro algae) in your system. I have no canister filters, power filters or any of those items running on my tank. I have LOTS of LR a large skimmer and a 20g fuge packed full of maco algae to keep my tank balanced. I also do PWCs every other week no matter what. I started out with the 72g Bow as you mentioned you wanted and have since added a 55g tank to the system I have a total of 175g of water volume now. The larger the tank you start with the easier it will be for you to keep up with it.

Just remember to take your time, research and ask lots of questions. You don't have to break the bank all in one shot to get into this very rewarding hobby!
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