Well i think it really comes down to what type of setup you really want. If you want to do a reef then it's gonna be a pretty penny, the most expensive items are lighting, an rodi
unit( it's a literal super filtration system, highly need it for a reef or any saltwater IMHO
) and a skimmer. Rember you get what you pay for in this hobby. But you can also save money by waiting on deals.
Anyway i think if your really devoted to doing everything needed to run a saltwater aquarium then even a novice can do it.
Alright first thing first: what type of system do I want
- a fish only with live rock (I recommend this if you want to do a reef tank later.) this is where no coral is involved at all. It's a pretty good way to mature your tank while saving up for those expensive lights that reefs need
Next; fish only- only fish literally an dry rock if that
Reef: everything an coral basically
Alright, once that's done start researching researching and researching. Plan everything out. Also the bigger the better but a lot of the bigger fish are not reef Safe so keep that in mind when you eventually stock.
I currently run a 10g Nano reef that's been very successful an i trying to upgrade it for my b-day (apparently setting up a new 10g FW
is not allowed but getting a 4ft tank is haha) ok anyway, you have to be pretty strict in all saltwater water changes. A day either way is not the end of the world but you can't let it go the whole month without it.
I also run a HoB
an plan to do the same thing in my 55 until I'm ready for my sump next summer. I use a 20g aquaclear that I rinse the media with tank water weekly. Always rinse the media or things will start living in it that you don't won't it to
Power heads, you need them. Wave makers are great but one of the objects you can upgrade to when your wallet recovers from the cost of everything else.
A good quality heater, plain an simple, no fish stew
Next substrate and live rock is also needed. I always go with live sand so you already have that bacteria in it help stabilize the tank. Now some live rock is needed but not all of it. Dry rock will become live overtime an you can save some cash by buying bulk dry rock from eBay an such
One more question, do you want a deep sand bed, a shallow sand bed, or a bare bottom.
I prefer a shallow has it keeps pockets of gas from forming as quick and looks more natural
Buy a good test kit, it's your life lien
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