Hi thanks in advance for any advice and sorry if I'm too wordy. I am currently planning my first saltwater tank. I did take care of a reef tank many years ago with my dad but it was a very different experience as we lived in the Caribbean on an island with no LFS
, used seawater for water changes and rainwater for top off and found our own food for the fish/inverts. We had good lights and a wet/dry filter, lots of coral and inverts but if something looked sick we just put it back where we found it so kind of a low maintenance/low pressure experience. What I would give to have those days back. Fast forward to now I have 4 freshwater planted tanks (one is invert only) and live in Rhode Island so it will be a little more complicated this time around to have a reef tank.
At any rate, my question is this, do I practice on a nano tank first or just go big from the start? I am trying to learn as much as I can and plan for equipment to do this right. I have learned from lots of mistakes in freshwater tanks. I am patient and willing to do this slowly and spend some money (but not crazy amounts) to do this the right way. I have a large aquarium stand now that was originally going to hold a 55 gal
freshwater tank but I have decided to use this for a reef tank. I am giving the 55 gal
tank away and am looking into a 90 gal
reef ready tank from Glasscages that would fit the stand I have (which I really want to use, it was custom built for me with massive pool table legs from a 1800's pool table. You could park your car on this thing and not worry about stability issues and it looks cool. Pictures later.). The stand doesn't have a cabinet below the space is open, I wanted to do a display refugium/sump with a variety of macroalgaes and maybe a mangrove or 2 because I still like dealing with plants and I can't hide this space so may as well make it interesting in a different way from the reef tank. This room will be our family room where there is a wood stove which is something else I may need to consider/worry about ... it is on the opposite side of the room from the tank but we do get some soot from the stove...
I am starting to realize how much of an investment this will be and am a little scared to jump in with both feet financially on a big tank where I will spend thousands to get it started, what if I end up not having time or not liking saltwater enough to keep it going? Yes I can resell but I'd rather not. Also, the large tank will go in a room currently being renovated and the flooring is not done. It can stand on the subfloor safely now but I will have to move it or lift it when the flooring goes in probably 6-8 months from now so that will delay my start a little more than I wanted (or I get my husband to just do the floor under the aquarium for now and finish the rest later which is not ideal either for many reasons).
What I was hoping to do was start a 30 or 24 gal
nano now (I was looking at the Innovative Marine all in one tanks). I was going to buy an ATO and RO
system at the same time with potentially a protein skimmer and start cycling with dry rock and maybe a small amount of live rock from my LFS
. I would keep this tank in my bedroom or kitchen and would keep it going even once the big tank is up either as a grow out tank for corals or maybe one anemone with a clownfish pair for my son's room. If I started this tank now though I would probably just do LPS
and/or soft corals for learning/experience which would move over into the big tank once it's going. Invertebrates are much more interesting to me than fish so I can be very patient on my fish stocking until I know for sure what is happening with both tanks.
My husband wants me to skip the small tank and just slowly accumulate the equipment needed for the big tank, he is a good plumber and doesn't mind helping with some DIY stuff to save some costs. He is also worried about electricity and overloading what we can manage in our house. Our home is 200 years old and I already have 4 freshwater tanks running so adding 2 saltwater tanks that use more devices and cords than the freshwater, he may actually have a point. He's even willing to upgrade but I don't know how much that will cost or when we will have the time to deal with that in the face of many other needed restorations in our living space. i know nothing about electricity so I can't tell if he has a legit concern or if he's just being cheap about 2 tanks instead of one
I'm excited and want to start soon with a nano because to do the big tank right we need to wait many months before even putting water in it. What do y'all think?