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Old 05-22-2013, 11:33 PM   #1
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Recommended first marine tank (Saltwater Reef)

Firstly, thank you so much for the amount of fantastic advice already provided within these forums - I have been scouring them for a couple of weeks now.

I have heard a few different recommendations for tank sizes for a first marine saltwater reef tank ranging from 55-120 gallon.

My lfs builds custom tanks and ensures that you aren't buying off-the-shelf packages with low-end lighting, etc - would you recommend going the custom built rather than the package deal first up?

What dimensions would you recommend for a custom built tank? Am thinking something along the lines of 4x2x1.5ft (90 gallon with lots of floor space).

Looking to house a rock reef with corals, cuc, a couple of clowns, some blennies, and a few other types.

Also - how many fish would you put into your recommended sizing (over time obviously, not in one hit!!)

My main concern is starting too small and not being able to fit enough in it - providing the tank is filled slowly over time would a 3x2x1.5ft (about 60g) be large enough, or am I just going to be frustrated that it wasn't quite large enough?

Your thoughts and advice are highly welcomed, so many questions - but I am researching well in advance of making my initial purchase.

A few additional questions:
1. How much live rock do I need to put into the tank size you recommend?
2. Can a protein skimmer be put on a sump rather than on the main tank?
3. I have cats (the furry kind)... Should I purchase a hard-top hood for tank? Will this impact on a marine reef when people recommend open-tops?

Thank you all in advance!!
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:57 PM   #2
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For your first tank it is recommended to go as big as you can afford, which is easier said than done! I started with a 55g and for the first year or so I was happy with that in terms of starting out, learning the ropes and budget. Now of course I wished I had a bigger one! My 55g does not have a sump and if I were to go bigger then I would definitely do that and yes, one of the excellent benefits of the sump is to house your skimmer and heaters too I recommend you start out fish only until you get the hang of it and can gradually introduce corals down the road. Having said that it is best to get all the live rock you plan on having at the beginning, a good guide for a reef is 1-2 pounds per gallon.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:59 PM   #3
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As for your lid, I would say you would nee protection from your feline friends, I have an open top (that is no glass on the top of the tank) but do have a hood too. I find it gives plenty of room for gas exchange, judging by the amount of evaporation I get!
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panther17 View Post
Firstly, thank you so much for the amount of fantastic advice already provided within these forums - I have been scouring them for a couple of weeks now.

I have heard a few different recommendations for tank sizes for a first marine saltwater reef tank ranging from 55-120 gallon.

My lfs builds custom tanks and ensures that you aren't buying off-the-shelf packages with low-end lighting, etc - would you recommend going the custom built rather than the package deal first up?

What dimensions would you recommend for a custom built tank? Am thinking something along the lines of 4x2x1.5ft (90 gallon with lots of floor space).

Looking to house a rock reef with corals, cuc, a couple of clowns, some blennies, and a few other types.

Also - how many fish would you put into your recommended sizing (over time obviously, not in one hit!!)

My main concern is starting too small and not being able to fit enough in it - providing the tank is filled slowly over time would a 3x2x1.5ft (about 60g) be large enough, or am I just going to be frustrated that it wasn't quite large enough?

Your thoughts and advice are highly welcomed, so many questions - but I am researching well in advance of making my initial purchase.

A few additional questions:
1. How much live rock do I need to put into the tank size you recommend?
2. Can a protein skimmer be put on a sump rather than on the main tank?
3. I have cats (the furry kind)... Should I purchase a hard-top hood for tank? Will this impact on a marine reef when people recommend open-tops?

Thank you all in advance!!
Boy, that's a loaded question. Designing a tank from the ground up with no restrictions, man, you are lucky. But, maybe there are a couple restrictions. First it the floor. A 100USGal tank has about 1000lbs water, about 200lbs rocks, 200lb tank and hopefully 300lb sump. Add on a bit more for stand and misc equip and you have 2000lbs in a small footprint. Most will need to consider floors. Cross as many floor joists as possible ( as compared to running along only 1 or 2) and, if possible, try to be up against a load bearing wall. If you can do that, you can go even bigger.

Size. Bigger is better (that's what she said). With a 4 ft tank, you'll be limited in the type of Tangs that you can keep, and most people want a Tang. A 6ft tank opens up the list considerably. Width. A 18" wide tank is nice, but landscaping is earier and better in a 24" wide tank. Depth. Most people don't want to get their arms really wet working in the tanks, so they are typically 20" or less deep. However, some of us like the picture frame aspect and a very large viewing area which requires a very deep tank. Mine is 31" deep and I have to shut the sump off to drain some water out of the tank to access the bottom if needed. A huge PITA, but worth it in my mind for the viewing frontage. It comes down to personnal preference.

Custom tanks. Although very nice, probably 2-4 times more expensive than buying a used tank off craigslist.

Rocks. You will need 1-2 lbs or rocks per gal to house the bacteria. How much exactly comes down to the type of rock and how porous it is. Also, Live Rock weighs more as the pours are filled with water vice air. Live rock is also WAyyy more expensive ($5-10/lb) than bulk ordered base rocks. Personally, if I were starting a new tank from scratch, I'd go with no more than 10-20% LR, and the rest base rock. That just means your cycle will take much longer (up to 2 months) and you will have to add fish slower. But good things come to those who wait.

Sump. Highly recommended, and you can add ALL the extra equipment down there, including skimmer and heaters.
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:00 PM   #5
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A lot has already been said, but I agree with getting as big as you can afford. I also agree with the 6' long, 2' deep idea. Those dimensions open up a lot more possibility for fish. Especially if you want Tangs.

I have a 75 FOWLR now and I already regret not going 120 or even 240.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:40 PM   #6
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I would certainly search Craigslist before buying anything. Many folks get into this hobby and bail out because of moving or apathy. You can take advantage of this and get a system for dimes on the dollar. Bigger is better, but also more expensive to acquire, stock and run. If tangs are one of your selected must have species, just be careful which ones you buy for the size tank you have. Some get big enough that a tank that is hundreds of gallons is still too small. Otherwise the sky's the limit.
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Old 05-24-2013, 11:17 PM   #7
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Thank you for your helpful advice

Firstly, thank you to you all for your help Ingy, TheTodd & Gregcoyote

Flooring - not an issue as I am in a single-story built on a concrete slab.

Tank Size - Considering 100 gallon - 48"x24"x20" (Would love to be persuaded that 18" is high enough - much prefer the look of a 'landscape' than the portrait - although I can understand why some people like the taller setups.

Sump - I am completely sold on the idea of a sump - putting skimmers, heaters, etc into it is a great idea, although the majority of the Live Rock will still go into the main tank as I want a reef-setup with corals eventually - I realize that I will still need powerheads, etc - but I am assuming that the use of a large sump means my bioload in increased (I will be using this to decrease the stress on the tank rather than an excuse to overfill the main tank).

Tangs - Considered a bonus if I can have one - plenty of other gorgeous fish that I can have instead, and a reef aquarium is more important - having said that, if you have any recommendations for Tangs that would be suitable in that tank I am all ears.

Base Rocks over Live Rocks - Where would I get base rocks from? I am visiting a couple more lfs tomorrow for a look around so will ask, but the main one I looked at seems to only have Live Rocks for sale.

I have a few ideas on fish and lots of other questions, but I thought I should see out the rest of this thread first, and then I will create my new one, probably after I go visit the lfs's tomorrow.

Thank you once again for all of your experience and advice.
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Old 05-24-2013, 11:30 PM   #8
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For a couple of tangs and staying around the 100 gallon mark I would do something like 60" x 20" x 20"
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:05 AM   #9
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Tangs like Kole, Two Spot and Tomini would do fine in something that size. The six foot tank would be more for all the others. Same idea for angels. Dwarfs would be okay, larger angels need much larger tanks. Overall, there are lots of fish that would do well.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:32 AM   #10
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I think your 100 gal custom should work out very nicely. For rocks, online is cheapest, but I have no idea what is available down under.
For fish stocking ideas, live aquaria has a great website for viewing, information and tank recommendation. BUT, when you enter your tank size select 90 gal instead of 100. A std 90 gal tank is 4 ft long, whereas I believe their database has a 100 gal tank 5 or 6 ft long. For tangs, that makes a difference. A fish suitable for a 90 gal tank is suitable for a 4' tank. That is what you want. There are many nice looking tangs in that category.
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