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Old 03-01-2005, 03:59 AM   #1
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New to the hobby

I'm so new to the hobby it's funny. I'm still in the reading stages. I've heard and read contrary information. What is the best size tank to start out with? I've heard everything from 40 gallon low/breeder to 56 gallon columns. I'm really confussed. I know there is no perfect answer. I just want to make the right decisions. I don't mind spending a little money. I just want a nice heath system. Please help me with a little insight in what might be the best: tanks, stands, and filtration.
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Old 03-01-2005, 06:27 AM   #2
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Wait until you've been in the hobby for awhile. The contradictory and various opinions on issues just keep on getting funnier...and more numerous...lol.
I think it's because each and every system is very individual and what might work for one person may not always work for another. Here are some simple guide lines to follow...

The larger the tank, the easier it is to keep good water quality. Hex shaped tanks don't have much room for healthy gasous exchanges between water and atmosphere. So rectangular tanks are more beneficial for having a larger surface area for these gasous exchanges. Also, rectangular tanks give the fish more room to swim and gives more room for available territory (allowing you to have more critters without them ripping each other apart for space).

Choosing between a glass tank and an acrylic depends on what you plan on putting together and what you can afford. If the tank is going to have a lot of rock work, you'll be better off with glass. Acrylics scratch real easy. They also cost more than glass and may warp over time. Another downfall to acrylics are the openings at the top. There's very little room for anything.

Filtration is easy, though the kind of filter depends on what you plan on having. Is this going to be a reef tank? Fish only tank? FOwLR? In any of these situations, you will want to have a protein skimmer or refugium. If this is going to be a reef tank, then all you really need is a protein skimmer or a refugium. No additional filtration needed. If other than a reef, an appropriate size canister or HOB filter in addition to the skimmer or refugium would do just fine. Under any and all circumstances...avoid undergravel filters.

I do suggest reading about deep sand beds (DBS) and how they can help control nitrates. This can be very useful in a tank with lots of rock work. DSB can eliminate the need for vacuuming the substrate for solid waste, though partial water changes will still need to be done routinely as well as maintaining the filter.

What ever questions you have, always ask...and keep on reading.
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Old 03-01-2005, 08:42 AM   #3
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Welcome to AA!

If you can, go with a 75 or 90g. Great size, but as soon as I set my 75g up, I wanted a 125g.

Read Robert Fenner's, Conscientious Marirne Aquarist, decide what you'd like to have ultimately, and buy equip (tanks size consideration included) accordingly. You want coral? Fish only? Reading a bit will help you decide. Certain coral needs certain lights. Certain fish don't do well with coral, or other fish, and etc, etc.

Develop your game plan before you buy anything.
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Old 03-01-2005, 10:19 AM   #4
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Get the biggest tank you could possibly afford (maybe even a little bigger, lol) because a week after you have it running you'll be wishing you had the next size larger. Narrow tanks (ie 55g) are very difficult to aquascape. Another thing to consider is that tangs aren't suitable for tanks under 75g (so if you have your heart set on Dori or Bubbles) you won't be able to responsibly have one if your tank is too small. Also with stocking a saltwater tank they recommend 1" per 5g of water. That adds up to very little fish when you start adding it up. It is little enough on a 120 (24") that I can't imagine having anything smaller!

Decide FOWLR or Reef, make your fish wish list and *then* figure out how many gallons you need
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Old 03-01-2005, 10:27 AM   #5
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Get the biggest size you can afford. I have a 90 gal right now and happy w/ it. Im sure I will want a bigger one soon. I think my next tank is going to be atleast a 200 gal. GL
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Old 03-01-2005, 10:43 AM   #6
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And price everything first. Because a typical full reef system runs about $20 per gallon of tank capacity, and that's not counting any fish or corals...just the tank, stand, lighting, live rock, skimmer, heater, power heads.
If you add a refugium and/or a sump, that adds a good chunk of cash too.

I don't want to scare you off, but I want you to be aware that a good 75gallon setup will likely run up to $2,000
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Old 03-02-2005, 05:26 AM   #7
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Thank you all for your advice. I have been reading The New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paletta. It seems to be an informative book. He recommends a 40 gallon tank for beginners. I don't know if this is right or wrong. It seems to be a good size for my budget and expertise. What do ya'll(sorry it's the southern in me) think about FOWLR as opposed to a reef tank with a little fish. Would it be easier for me to do one or the other? Can you reccomend any other good books for beginners?
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Old 03-02-2005, 06:00 PM   #8
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Start with FOWLR and leave yourself some room for upgrade. Reef is generally something you grow into anyway. Lighting will determine if one is easier to do than the other though FOWLR will be more tolerant of nitrates than the corals in a reef setup. If you stick to reef safe fish moving to corals will be easier down the road.
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