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Old 10-17-2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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Can't make up my mind

Been mulling over this for about a week now, and I don't think there is a better forum on here for this so I’ll go ahead and put it in here.

For quite awhile now I’ve been a college student with no income. This semester I was finally able to get a work study job going and will come into a little bit of loose cash. I won't have a lot over the course of everything, I have a new computer to pay off and I want to save some of it. So I’m thinking I will have about 25-50$ a month, and I don't plan on starting till I have about 100$ or so saved up, maybe around Christmas time.

The purpose for that long intro is that I have a 10g tank right now that I want to setup with...something . Presently, the tank has nothing in it (I’m soaking a driftwood piece in it, just to save the Tupperware I’d normally use). On the flip side, it also has very little in the way of the normal accessories, most of them being cannibalized over the years to help my main 15g tank, most notably the fuse for the light and various filters. So I’m going to have to buy everything that I need new.

I took all my parents random aquarium things when they stopped doing fish a few years ago so I have a lot of random extra stuff, like 5 or 6 different air pumps, 2 extra filters (motor is busted on them I think), about 90 ft of various ages of airlines and tubes (not sure of the safety of them, some of them are very very old), 3 or 4 under gravel filters (nearly useless in my mind) and lots of various other items.

My question comes down to this, I’m thinking off either doing a small planted tank (probably no CO2, and low lighting), a small more "normal" tank with invertebrates as the main theme (don't really like fish very much lol!), or a Small Nano Saltwater tank with just live rock and sand, with a focus on inverts and possible not even any fish. My question to you, the Varied and Aged Wisdom of these Forums, is...which would you suggest?

If it's any help, I don't have extensive knowledge of aquariums, and some of my knowledge is either out-dated or miss-informed, but I have successfully had fish, frogs, Newts and one crayfish for approaching 10 years.

Which is easier and which is more expensive? I originally shied away from saltwater because it appeared to be more expensive and much harder, but my experience of the last couple of days on here says that it might not be as hard as I thought, especially if you stay away from things like Anemones and Mantis shrimp. On the flip side, I thought planted tanks would be fairly easy. While I had originally planed on doing CO2, the complexity and problems people have with it are making me worried, not to mention the ever-present danger of algae blooms and unseen chemicals killing all my plants. And in the end I’m not even sure if the planted tank would be as interesting as the minutia of the saltwater.

At any rate, I’d love if people would give some opinions on the differences between small planted and small saltwater tanks. I'd really appreciate it!
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Old 10-17-2006, 05:36 PM   #2
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Quote:
which would you suggest?
A regular tank. No plants, no saltwater. They won't fit into your limited income. You may be able to fit some low low light plants in the tank (anachis, java fern) but that would be about it. Liverock, even though it sounds simple enough, is very expensive. Inverts (even those little shrimp!) are $10 to $40 a piece. I think you could get alot more enjoyment and spend alot less money with a regular freshwter aquarium.

Just my opinion. Welcome to AA.
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:33 PM   #3
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well...i already have a normal tank..
And maybe i didn't explain myself well enough in the beginning, i'm not a big fan of most fish, and the only fish i like by itself are tiger barbs and those take a larger tank/investment then i have right now.

So you think even a small planted tank is gonna be to hard to keep up with 25$ a month? i know there is fairly considerable output of money to start a tank, but i was under the impression other then CO2 setup, there was very little matenince cost?

Just putting a few plants in my tank isn't going to cut it and is kind of a waste of time in my opinion..a half-planted tank in my opinion looks just that...half-done.

I know alot of the actual items are pretty expensive, but if i spent a good amount on live rock and just added a couple of items, i wouldn't think it would be that expensive. I guess it all depends on if you can have a successful tank with just LR. I guess i may have been right about saltwater being expensive/not worth the effort.

I'd like to get some more opinions, but if everybody thinks the same i'll just save my money for something else down the road. Maybe just save up some money and get the 55g planted tiger barb tank a few years down the road.
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Old 10-17-2006, 07:53 PM   #4
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I think you could do a low light planted tank on that budget. And you could do some inverts in there, which would be neat. You could start with a couple of mystery snails and ghost shrimp and as you saved up do more "exotic" shrimp that might cost $10-$20 each -- but those would get added over time.

A saltwater tank, no matter how small is going to run into some serious money - even the maintenance is going to be expensive since you'll have to buy RO/DI water for it.

Go with a low / mod light invert tank and you'll do fine I think. The most expensive item will end up being your lights, but if you have a hood with regular screw in bulbs you could do compact flourescents as replacements.
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Old 10-17-2006, 09:21 PM   #5
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Regular lights for a 10g are 15 watts, so you'd have enough light to grow java moss, fern, anubias, and crypts (even if you want to go higher, CF lights for a 10g start at around $50, which isn't too bad). A lot of people go all out on their planted tanks, but I don't know if high lights, CO2 and ferts are really worth it for such a small tank. But you could still do something very attractive without all that, and there are several examples from members here. If you learn a few of the aestetic principles of aquascaping beforehand you could come up with something dazzling.
I'm like you. I'm beginning to prefer inverts over fish, and a tank with a few snails and shrimp can be every bit as fascinating as a nano reef. It just has the benefit of being cheaper
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Old 10-17-2006, 09:42 PM   #6
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I would recommend a alternative tank which is a tank where you put any fish that are either too agresive, being picked on too much, or have a deceised mate and you can use their breeder tank for someone/thing else. This is useful for anyone that owns 2-5+ tanks and is pretty much mandatory for anyone that owns more than 10. I have over 45 and have 3. They also work to see if you like a new plant in an aquarium. In each of mine, they recieve a new plant every 2 weeks. Therefore, 1 tank has over 9 different plant species/genuses at any given point in time. The other 2 have anywhere from 3-7 at any given point in time.
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:20 PM   #7
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Smaug, I agree with the others that a low light planted tank would be great. The main point of my post was that I would not attempt a saltwater tank with that budget. Sorry for being confusing, which I was! Sometimes my hands think faster than my brain...or vice versa.

Honestly though, I think a sw tank could be done IF you stretch it out over a few months. Sand (which is optional, but a sw tank is easier to care for with sand) is about $15. Salt about $20. Lights (anything, if you don't want corals) will run from $20 to $100 depending. Liverock...say average is about $8 a lb. Would cost you around $80 to $120 depending on amount. Powerheads...I'd get atleat 2 for a 10 gallon about $15 a piece. Then comes the inverts, which are usually more expensive than the fish for some reason. It can stack up... If you want to do this more though, then go for it! It will take time on that budget though, to make it work.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:46 PM   #8
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I agree. I currently have a 12gal swt in place and it has run me over $300.00 and the only fish I have is 2 perculia clowns. I intend to get several more.
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Old 10-19-2006, 11:51 AM   #9
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I would also say low-tech planted. Yes, it will cost more than a "plain" aquarium with plastic plants, but you already have that, and this will be a fun new challenge. Check out some of Purrbox's nano-tank threads for inspiration.

As for buying plants, you can probably get everything you need through the barter/trade forum here at AA.....if you keep your eyes on it and be patient, you can find almost anything, for very reasonable cost. As your plants grow and need to be pruned or thinned out, you can even make a little money back.

I have a 5 gallon tank on my desk with a 10 watt screw-in CF bulb. I use plain gravel with some root tabs. I do add very small amounts of fertilizers which may or may not be necessary based on the plants you have. Due to the low light the plants don't grow quickly but this can be a good thing if you're busy (my high light tank is quite the handful). I also have no CO2 on this tank, but a simple DIY setup is extremely inexpensive anyway. A rough cost estimate for this tank, including fish and plants, is well under $100. Compare that to my 10 gallon FOWLR which cost $300+ so far.

With a heavily planted tank and low bioload, you don't need a big filter. An air pump is actually counterproductive since it helps gas out any CO2. Besides the tank and light, a heater, some gravel and root tabs, you don't need much. Your monthly maintenance costs should be very low. I don't think I've spent a cent on my 5 gallon since I set it up and finished adding livestock.

Keep asking questions here.....and remember that half the fun is figuring out what you want to do with that empty tank!
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Old 10-19-2006, 12:02 PM   #10
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I agree that once the initial cost of a planted tank (low tech to DIY) is out of the way, the maintenance cost is really low. I probably spend $5-10 a month at most "maintaining" my tank. Of course I don't just maintain. I keep buying all of those "pretty new plants".
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Old 10-19-2006, 12:48 PM   #11
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Ok it seems that this thread did have a purpose after all lol!

That was my original goal, just a low light planted tank to have some experience for when/if i'm every able to get a bigger planted tank years down the road.

The only reason i started having doubts was cause your SW guys made it look so easy
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Old 10-19-2006, 04:41 PM   #12
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SW, especially fish only or FOWLR, is pretty easy. My FOWLR tank is a lot lower maintenance than my high-light planted tank. But SW ain't cheap!

BTW I am a starving graduate student on a tight budget, so I think several times before spending anything, and do my best to get the best deal on whatever I need. I bought my 55 gallon on Ebay, most all parts online, fish from the local LFS, and most plants from Aquabid and other AA members. MTS is a tough disease when you're limited for space or money!
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Old 10-19-2006, 05:54 PM   #13
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My sw tank is a BREEZE compared to my planted tank.
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