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Old 02-22-2014, 01:56 PM   #11
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Folks tried to talk me out of a 20...I'm glad I did it anyway. Keep up with the maintenance and you're golden.

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20 gallon nano-reef torn down to make way for the 40B Reef (original thread and current update).
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:37 PM   #12
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I have a 20g mixed reef as well and it is a very very low maintenance system ever since I added a 10g refugium. I put WAY more effort into my planted tanks.

I would say skip the HOB / Canister altogether and go with powerheads instead. Adding a refugium will make your life a lot easier as well.
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Old 02-24-2014, 03:51 AM   #13
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I highly discourage anyone new to salt water tanks to get anything under 75gal and if space is limited a bio cube is the direction I would say would be a safe bet
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Old 02-24-2014, 03:58 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jeh1487 View Post
I highly discourage anyone new to salt water tanks to get anything under 75gal and if space is limited a bio cube is the direction I would say would be a safe bet
A 20 is a safe size to go with. It's even safer if you add a 10g refugium. It's a very very common tank size when starting the saltwater hobby. While a larger tank is easier, a 20g is not a difficult tank to maintain. Just keep an eye on parameters and keep topping off the water and everything will go swimmingly.
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:03 AM   #15
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I disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinion and what they think May or may not be common
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Old 02-24-2014, 06:07 AM   #16
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I disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinion and what they think May or may not be common
You are completely correct. But I'm of the mindset that people shouldn't get scared away from a very very rewarding hobby based on the fact that smaller tanks can be more difficult which they can. It's completely feasible to start out with a smaller tank, but people just have to be sure to keep a closer eye on parameters than they would in a larger tank.

Allow me to outline my experience with my 20g reef.

I started out buying cured live rock and added my pair of clowns 4 days after the tank was set up. Two weeks later I added a firefish and some zoanthids, and mushrooms. Early on I started getting the common nitrate spikes that happen in new tanks. They spiked up to 40ppm and I was doing twice weekly water changes to keep them under control.

At this point I added my refugium and some grape caulerpa. It was growing nicely and controlling the nitrates when it suddenly went sexual and spiked my nitrates up to around 80ppm. A few water changes and pulling out the dying caulerpa along with tripling the amount of light in my refugium remedied that. Two weeks after that my nitrates bottomed out and I have yet to have a reading above 0ppm nitrate despite heavy daily feedings and no skimmer. Bi weekly 20% water changes is the only maintenance I do on my tank anymore along with harvesting the absurd amounts of macro algae. I have been handling my tank this way for the past 8 months and am growing all types of corals along with acropora.

A 20g tank is feasible imho as long as you are ready to do a quick water change and test your parameters weekly. If I had a larger tank I doubt there would have been quite as large of a parameter swing but on that note its WAY easier to do a 50% water change on a 20g tank than a 75g+ tank to handle any abnormal parameters.
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:08 AM   #17
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I will repeat what I said earlier...people (mainly here on AA, which kind of surprises me) kept trying to discourage me from doing a nano tank as a first tank. Here is why I disagree with your statement re: not doing a nano for your first tank:
  1. Are they more work? No. You still have to do your weekly PWCs just like with a larger tank. The smaller volume of the water change is easier to handle for starters.
  2. Do they require more/less "dedication"? No. Regardless of your tank size, you still have to check your params and make sure they stay in check. Yes, they can swing out of range more quickly, but if you keep up on your maintenance, you won't have a problem.
  3. What about cost? Getting into a nano is a good way to see if you really want to go whole-hog, without sinking a ton of money into it. I started simple, with just the tank and a HOB for Purigen. I added a small HOB skimmer because I wanted the extra filtration, but it isn't a necessity. You could easily get away with a tank, live rock/sand, a heater, powerheads, lights and fish/coral. No need for anything fancy.
Starting small is a good way to get your feet wet (pardon the pun). If you like it, great, you can upgrade, and carry over most of your equipment. I'm in that process now. If you don't like it, you don't have to worry about having sunk thousands into a big setup that you will take a bath on when you try to sell it.


There are lots of great books out there, too:
The Nano-Reef Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Reef Systems under 15 Gallons by Chris R. Brightwell | 9780793807178 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Marine Aquarium Handbook: Beginner to Breeder by Martin A. Moe | 9780982026212 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble


I read those two and dove in. Granted, I have had lots of experience with freshwater, but the knowledge gained from those books was invaluable.


Don't let folks discourage you into doing what you want to do. If you want a nano, either because of cost, space, or the "want to see what it's like" aspect, do a nano. It's your tank. Folks are here to help if you need it.
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:50 AM   #18
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NEVER. EVER. Let anyone tell you that Nanos are too hard for beginners. I started off with a 20g, and it's easy. Yes, things can sway easily, but theProblems aren't really hard to fix, you can easily do a 50% water change, and get rid of anything quickly. You couldn't do so in a 75 gallon. You won't have to worry about dosing. The sizes are great. Sure, they can be expensive, but so is everything else in this hobby. I will never do a tank that isn't a nano. They are by far my favorite. The 20g long model is excellent. It leaves plenty of room for the fish to swim, and it's easy to get light to the bottom for corals.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:07 AM   #19
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I disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinion and what they think May or may not be common
You have a number of posts trying to sway people away from nanos:
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...=6191548&pp=25

And your opinion is just that, your opinion, and yes, you are entitled to it. However, in a hobby such as this, it's bad mojo to tell folks that may be on the edge about starting a tank to begin with that the tank they want to start is "bad".

Instead of being critical w.r.t. the tank size, state the facts, which will still make your point, but without coming across as being negative or "scary" to the folks that may be new to the hobby:
  1. Parameters can swing more easily in a small tank. Keep up with the water changes and you won't have a problem.
  2. Yes, you are limited to what fish and how many you can keep, but that keeps the initial cost down. There are still plenty of fun, pretty, and interesting fish that can be kept in a nano. Some folks may not want fish, maybe just a 5g pico coral only. Others may want FOWLR, where the params can swing a little bit.
These two things are your common points that you've made in multiple posts but without saying "discourage" and "highly limited" or "Nice tank for being so little" (which sounds incredibly derogatory to me).

This hobby has enough detractors out there. Encourage, don't discourage. It's good for the hobby, good for the rest of us in the hobby, and (assuming aquacultured livestock) good for the environment.

So, to the OP:
If you want a 20 long, go for it. It's a great size to start. Check out this one:
August 2013: Evansimp 20 gal & 40 gal Reef - Aquarium Advice
Whether he knows it or not, Evan was my inspiration to get a 20 and start my first tank. His TOTM was well deserved.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:29 AM   #20
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I highly discourage anyone new to salt water tanks to get anything under 75gal and if space is limited a bio cube is the direction I would say would be a safe bet
We have the space. Placement is just the problem at this point and money. I'm sure I could find a decent price 75 gallon on craigslist but everything else for saltwater tank might be more difficult to come by without going over my budget.
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