Originally Posted by Rhino
Just as the title says, I am in need of everyone's help. I have been keeping freshwater tanks for about 2 years now. I have considered, for quite some time, diving into the world of saltwater/reef aquariums. I have been doing lots of research rather than just diving right in. I originally planned on using a spare 10 gallon I have laying around for a nano reef tank. However, with this being my first attempt, I find it best that I use something larger than just a 10 gallon This will allow me more room for errors that I am sure will arise.
Just to give you a quick briefing as to my long term goal. I am wanting to put together a reef tank. I don't want anything crazy fancy. Just a nice simple setup. Before you all even say anything, I have looked into the Biocube systems. I like the design aesthetically, but long term if I want to make upgrades I would be extremely limited, even with all of the mods available. Back on track, I am not as concerned with what fish I have so much as I am what corals I can keep. I would like to have: Ricordea Mushroom, Toadstool Mushroom Leather, an assortment of Zoa's, Candy Cane, Torch, and Frogspawn all immediately come to mind. No doubt I will find others along the way as well.
Tank wise I am considering a couple of different options right now. I have an Aqueon 36 gallon bowfront setup as a planted tank already. I have considered breaking it down and using it. If I go this way I already have the stand, 2 Aquaclear 70's, and a 30" Current USA Nova Extreme fixture(dual bulb). I doubt I will be able to use the light fixture because the tank is so deep. I love the look of a bowfront tank, but with the tank being deep it is kind of a pain to work in.
The other tank I am considering is a 20 long. I love the foot print of the tank. Since it is shallow it would make scaping and maintenance a total breeze. I know my fish choices and amount of fish I could keep would be much more limited with this tank but I am totally fine with this. My main focus is going to be the corals. I am just going to have fish to get the full reef effect.
What are your thoughts and opinions?
Well I'll start by saying I too was in the same position you were in about 6-7 months ago. I wasn't sure if I wanted to just get a tank at the Petco dollar a gallon deal and just buy everything separate. Then I looked into the all in one tanks and still wasn't sure. So I just sat back for a while and did some research and looked at some tanks at LFS
and looked at some friends tanks and for me my mind was made up for 2 reasons.
1. I love gadgets and mods
2. The all in one set up of the bio cube 29
For me that was it.
I got it, set up and started my mods.
inTank mods like there media rack, the Tunze 9002 skimmer and I even did the airline mod to the skimmer. Then I did the lights. I gutted the stock hood and dropped in a LED
light system so I can grow any coral I wanted. My wife did have influence however since the tank is caddy corner in the master bedroom. We both like the sleek look with the hood on and the stand. I tried it with out the top and a different light fixture but that added too much light to the room. Again this I just what worked for me an the fact that I LOVE modding things and I'm a huge DIY guy so cutting the hood and tearing apart the back chambers and doing the airline mod was what made me happy. Bottom line is this. You have to find what works for you and also what you can afford. Did end up paying more then if I bought a tank and equipment separate? Maybe...
You still have power heads, skimmer, sand, live rock, heater, salt, additives, light, thermometer, and then If you bigger you may wanna look into a sump or refugium then you'll need a light for the refugium. Then money for corals, fish and don't forget maybe a clean up crew. Shrimp, snails, hermit crabs, maybe a reef safe star fish the list goes on.
Not sure if this will help you but hopefully it will enlighten you on the all in one tanks.
I linked some videos of my tank and a few pictures just to show that with some mods you can grow some pretty nice corals and have a pretty killer tank.
Oh and about the more room for error thing. I do agree BUT there are many many members here with bio cubes of all sizes and nano cubes of all makes and they'll tell ya of your consistent with your weekly water changes and test your parameters you'll be fine. I do a 5 gallon water change every Friday and I've been fine. I don't dose anything I can't test for(a good rule to follow) don't over feed and just maintain the tank to the "T" and your set.
To say even after modding a Bio cube or other all in one tank you would be extremely limited in what you can have as far as corals I think would be false except for room. But with the mods at your finger tips I think you'd be surprised at what you can keep in the tank.
Also I just wanted to touch on lighting. It can be tricky but not hard. It was an easy mod that took 15 minutes and with the timer and real time ramp up from morning to ramp down to moonlight then to total darkness I couldn't resist. Pricey? Yup! But I just had to do it. Here's the link of the light I use but there are many many other options BUT if you go with a tank set up an want to grow all kinds of corals your gonna want one of these type of lights anyway. LED
's are pretty popular but aren't the only light that will grow coral, it's just really popular right now.
These are two popular ones.
Good luck in your journey and I hope some of this was helpful.
One more thing some of the corals you mentioned are in my tank and as you see are doing rather well. You can check out my album for more close up pics of some corals including some of the ones you mentioned.
And again good luck